Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Not So Little Norman Fact

I only learned yesterday Norman Siegel is Jewish. I mean, how do you know? I can't tell from his first or last name. I can't tell from his looks. There are people in my neighborhood who wear their cap, and have that hairstyle, and the Jewish clothes. That I can tell. But Norman?

All I knew was DFNYC was fanatically behind him. And I watched a debate where he scored real well for the most part: I think he won. And my earlier blog entry was not in any way designed to put him down. It is not adulatory, but I think that entry makes him look like the most deserving of the candidates.

A Little Siegel Incident

I met him yesterday, thanks to Tracey Denton, and I liked him a lot. We made small talk.

"You went to school in Georgia, I went to school in Kentucky."

"Really? Where? University of Kentucky?"

"No, a small school 30 minutes south of there. Berea."

"Oh, Berea. I know Berea. It is a good school."

That practically makes him a southerner. I mean, if he has heard of Berea.

He actually made a comical remark before parting: "Back to private practice!" He had a mischievous smile about him when he said that. I like that spirit among warriors. You give the contest your very best. And if you don't make it, you just dust it off. And move on.

I also learned Lewis is Jewish, the DFNYC Lewis. I can't tell from his looks. And I don't even know his last name yet. Although I am beginning to see a goofy side to him.

If I were on Norman's campaign staff, I would have advised him to handle the Betsy question about her stalker with a little more sensitivity. And post-debate, I'd have engaged in some damage control. I think saying that is being on Norman's side.

And I think he should have done a better job of integrating Tracey into his campaign. Tracey is a major plus. She is a political animal. She is sharp. She is nuts and bolts. She is good at the campaign thing. I have seen her in action. I mean, I have openly talked of her as the Campaign Chair for Dean 2008. Look at it this way. She leads the largest Dean group in the country. It is for a Deaniac to lead the Deaniacs. It would not be a bad idea to have a separate CEO and a CFO, but the chair has to be Tracey. I think. Bobby Kennedy was 35 when he became Attorney General. (Dean Was In Town Yesterday) Check out the photo. She looks like she is the candidate and Howard Dean and Fernando Ferrer are voters she is out to lock in.

And now that I know Norman is Jewish, I don't know what to make of this other DFNYC member's comment that Norman has fought for the right of Nazi groups to do this and that. I have been offered clarification by Tracey that Norman has been for the right of Nazi groups to express their opinions. That is a whole new fact that looks good on him. He is Jewish. He is a fierce civil rights lawyer. So he ends up supporting the rights of Nazis to talk hate. That is gutsy.

And Lewis. I like the guy. He is great. But when the local TV wanted a DFNYC comment on a mayoral debate, they did not get one of the two women Executive Directors. They got the Finance Director, the first male they could find in the hierarchy. To me that is so obviously sexist. It is a glass ceiling thing. I can't choose to not see these things. Although I do have a choice in terms of how I can react.

I feel like we as progressives should openly talk about these things. There is no point in being nice nice and sweeping things under the carpet. The dialogue can be positive. Dialogue is the most productive way to deal with these social schisms.

There is political progressive, and there is market progressive, and there is social progressive. Talking counts. Respectfully talking back and forth.

The Three Pillars

Claiming All The Real Estate For Myself

None of the other members are contributing. So I hereby boot them out.
(When Web Hosting Is No Longer A Problem)

Dean Was In Town Yesterday

69 Photos.

I just got back from my sister's. The event was on the West Side on the 85th Street, and she does not live that far north from there, and so I decided to drop by her place: I had not in months. I just wanted to drop by for dinner. I would have had to go back to my place and cook anyways, so why not let her do it, she is better at it. But then I ended up spending the night on her living room couch. And this morning over leisurely coffee, as we were talking, she proceeded to talk about my car and, bam, it hit me: my car was parked on the wrong side of the street. Today was Wednesday, cleaning day. I hurried back up. At least it did not get towed, but there was a ticket and a big, fat, ugly sticker on the side window that basically said, don't you want a cleaner New York, and you can remove this big, fat, ugly sticker with warm water and a scraper.

Dean was in town yesterday. Tracey introduced me to him. Tracey, you have no idea how much this means to me. She must have known. As soon as I spotted her, tapped her on her left shoulder and said, "Hey Tracey," she was like, "Here, let me introduce you to the Governor .... Governor, this is the guy who started Democracy For Nepal." She reads my face. It is speed reading. I was actually resigned to just taking Dean's photos from a distance. I did not expect to say a few words to him. Who was I? Nobody.

"I am a Dean veteran from 2004. I was in Indiana. I am already working on Dean 2008."

And then we stepped back from the spotlight. A handler then gave us this look and pushed herself between us and Dean. I was about to say, "Lady, this is Tracey Denton, Campaign Chair of Dean 2008. And I am Senior Advisor to Dean 2008. You mind?" But I let it pass. Howard Dean was working hard to keep the spotlight on Fernando Ferrer and I did not want to shift it to Tracey, even if momentarily, even if only in the background.

Big power and big money come up with turf wars. Nowhere truer than on Capitol Hill and Wall Street. When you go swimming, you get wet. When you politic, you deal with turfwater. It comes with the territory.

Yesterday morning I woke up to an unhooked computer. Usually I am online before I go to sleep, and online right after I wake up. The night before I had done the unplugging to change the routine. But a few hours later, I was back online. And I am glad I did. There was an email from Tracey saying Howard Dean was in town to do an event for Ferrer. I was psyched. You mean I finally get to see the guy?

So what is he like in person? He is almost my height. He is very plain. His honesty just exudes. This is not your calculating, scheming, posturing politician. But then I knew that. He is vastly inspirational for some unmistakable personal qualities. That lack of evil also prevents him from seeing evil in others to an extent. But then having some good, loyal staffers can rectify that. Face it, the guy is a doctor. He is not trying to impress you when he looks in your eyes. Or when he shakes your hand. He almost takes a childlike pleasure in the banter or the handshake ritual. A kid and his candy.

I was even more impressed than I was all this time before I met him. He is a plain, normal guy. But he does need to be immunized against distortions and demonizations. The image factory has to be countered with an image industry.

I actually showed up half an hour early. The first event was at 4:30. I showed up at four. I first went to the elementary school right across the street. Then I went to the high school I was supposed to go to. Can't get in early, I was told. This was my first time inside a New York City public high schoool, if the foyer can be called "inside." I did not see any guns! Although there were lots of security officers.

So I walked over to a nearby pizza joint and treated myself to a slice and a can of pepsi. Then I walked back and spent some time watching some soccer. Must have been students from the same school. I like soccer so much, I actually look down upon baseball and football. There is sports, and there is the real stuff: soccer. At my very first MeetUp in town - Brooklyn Friends - a Bostonian had to give me a short intro talk on the Red Sox. "In Boston, we have T-pass."

"Don't root for the Yankees. Red Sox are better. More chutzpah." In Africa they have ethnic wars, in America they have baseball.

Finally I showed up at 4:30, and I was told the event is on the other side of the building. I hurried. But the governor was running late. I saw all these old media TV cameras. The audience was mostly the local media. With my digital camera, even I looked like one of them. The scene got me thinking about how best to blog events and beat old media at the game. Bloggers can blog events more richly than old media can cover events. Bloggers have literally limitless space to say what they want to say. Old media has teeny weeny time slots.

I must not have been reading the local news much. Looked like Ferrer was feeling the heat. One was about some post on his blog, later I learned he was also under fire for some comment he made at some church. That got me a little pumped. Immediately I was thinking punch lines.

Bloomberg is so rich, he is practically a carpetbagger in this city of the poor, the lower middle class, the middle class, the upper middle class, and the rich. Don't vote for him. He is not one of you.

That's one. How do you like that?

The media kept gravitating towards Dean and Dean kept pushing the attention back on Ferrer. Ferrer got all these questions about his blog, and it was so obvious to me the media was responding to the presence of the blogman: Dean. Ferrer does not even blog, his staffers do, although he does submit "drafts and ideas," he said.

The first event was in front of a public school so as to draw attention to the education issue. Then we walked over to a nearby subway station. It was during that walk that I spotted Tracey. And after Dean departed, I stuck around. And Norman Siegel showed up. And Tracey introduced me to him. "You went to school in Georgia, I went to school in Kentucky." Golley, it was like meeting the Who's Who of local New York City politics. Another mayoral candidate has-been was there. Scott Stringer was there. He is running for Manhattan Borough President. He is just such an affable guy with an easy smile, real friendly demeanor. Tracey also introduced me to a whole lot of others, like a "Siegel bodyman, sorry, person," and the guy behind the New Democratic Majority. He is from Seattle. "When I think Seattle, I think Bill Gates. I have not been to the city, but I have been to the state." An anti-war activist: "How long have you been in the country? Now you know we are not all bad."

The subway station event was fun. It is like there are all these animals deep in the burrows. And you throw smoke down one end, and they all show up at the other end, and you catch them. At least one out of 20 acted like it too: "I just want to go home." I-want-to-go-home-to-mommy look on their faces, all these middle age guys. Those must be card-holding members of Billionaires For Bush. And a few at the other end: "Give 'em hell, Howard." Some thanked the "welcoming committee."

The most interesting character of the entire evening was this girl, probably 10. She showed up next to me, on my right, and she was not talking to anyone in particular. She is like,"Where is the TV camera? I am an actress. I am going to be famous one day." I pointed to one camera that seemed to be pointing in our general direction. She made her way to the front. And then threw this high voltage Julia Roberts smile. She was going to be on the evening news, and you and I were not going to get in the way, that's for sure. I thought she had her 15 seconds of fame, and then forgot about her. A little later, boom, she emerges from the underground. She must have crossed the street, then crossed the platform, and then emerged like she were getting off the train. But Dean and Ferrer were busy talking among themselves because a train had not stopped in a little while and there was this lull. No animals were getting smoked out.

"Shoot," she said. And walked away. And then I forgot about her. And then she did it all over again. This time she got to shake hands, and I took a few pictures.

If anyone who knows her - family, family friend, school teacher - that might run into this blog entry, please pass these photos onto her: this is a public service announcement. I do think she is an actress of great potential, and I think she is going to be famous some day. Aspiring actresses who want to shake Dean's hand deserve to go all the way!

Later in the evening, I also gave some thought to my career path. I am a little on the scattered side right now. I need to focus. I am gearing towards public service. Dean 2008 might end up defining me.

Theoretical work in group dynamics is to do with learning some serious maths. The IC idea is not an idea for one company, but two different industries, maybe three, and it is happening in fits and bounds. Google just made a breakthrough with the free, wireless broadband idea: companies will do it better than city governments. If I could focus on my online retail marketing for the money, and then focus on Dean 2008 for the politics, that would be great. Dean 2008 might be the best way to participate in a total spread of democracy worldwide, the best gift to the dollar a day people, my "constituency" of choice. Even my corporate visions have always been about public service: the IC idea is to reach out to the dollar a day crowd. But technology is at best a means. Technology is not the solution. Social and political challenges have social and political solutions. Although internet access helps greatly. No need to ditch anything, just prioritize, and focus on one thing for now. That might be Dean 2008.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A Great Mixer

Yesterday was the best DFNYC event ever for me. Too bad noone was dancing. Loud, fast, simple music. Large crowd. That is my idea of a cocktail. But I did dance on my own before leaving. Lewis: "We should make you the official DFNYC dancer." Is that a mascot?

Mark Green shows up just like that. "Mr. Green, Paramendra Bhagat, new in town." "Mark Green, old in town." And one member - Marion Ms. "Both Lewis and I were born in Manhattan" - works at Kofi Annan's office, and got to meet Richard Gere when he dropped by. (When people ask me what religion I am, I am prone to say, "I am a Buddhist, like Richard Gere." A-n-y association is good.) And a guy in advertising who had a copy of the New York Times, the Arts section, for the 25th! And Dan Jacoby finally learns my name. And Ms. Sunshine birthday girl Heather Woodfield claims her cheerfulness is just a "facade." What a twist. And queen Tracey Denton is all humble about DFNYC. Oh, we are just a small group, just getting by. And Leila shows up with Norman Siegel stickers. And I tell her about a movie I once saw about these Japanese soldiers on little islands out there in the Pacific in the middle of nowhere. It is ten years after World War II and they are still fighting the war because noone told them the war is over. And a guy who worked on this for months because his girlfriend temporarily does not have health insurace: And Andrew and Martha, veterans of the Cesnik machine, all pumped up. And an Austrian journalist who recently covered Katrina: she was associated with the Green Party in her country, but now is a US correspondent for a major newspaper in Austria. Two people running for Congress, one of whom can't tell Austria from Australia: "I guess I will just say Europe somewhere." One of them from Eery, PA. "I've been there!" And Mason from Boston from Cote D' Vere (sp?) who is outraged Goldman Sachs just got $1.6 bilion from the city for moving from one place in the city to another. "I need to tell Tracey about this." And Renna is all worked up about world poverty. "There is a Katrina a day out there."

I shoulda brought my camera along.

First to get there, last to leave.
- PKB.

Bloomberg Is No Democrat --- pass it on

From: "Larry P, member, Truth on Bloomberg Group"
To: "Paramendra Kumar Bhagat"
Subject: Re: was great meeting you at the mixer/TruthOnBloomberg
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2005 22:15:18 -0400


Thanks for the link to my site.

I am a professional advertiser, however I'm not a professional campaigner, fundraiser or organizer. Any help will be welcomed.

I really started this site as a push to build momentum. It's a push to remind Democrats of who they really are. It's a push to get people passionate.

While TruthOnBloomberg goes against the mayor, we'll soon have a new site that will display an issue-by-issue reason to vote FOR Ferrer.

When asked "Why should I vote for Ferrer?" these are big things to mention:

1. Ferrer will give universal healthcare to all NYC children.
2. Ferrer will actively get funding for the schools, something Bloomberg has not done.
3. Ferrer will require that developers who get tax breaks for housing MUST build units not only for low earners, but for MIDDLE earners.
4. Ferrer will install a high-level emergency management authority, instead of Bloomberg's NYPD-centric authority.

Talk to you soon,

Larry 1

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bloomberg Is No Democrat

Bloomberg has come out swinging against the Roberts nomination for the Supreme Court. That is a cynical attempt to play the NYC sentiments. Considering he has paid more money to George W. than any other individual in the solar system, and considering George W. has a clear track record of listening to people who bribe him, I bet Bloomberg could arrange for a breakfast, lunch and dinner with W. all on the same day. Well, why does he not do that? And tell the president, "Remember when I gave you money, lots of money? Payback time. Now listen to me. Take Roberts out of this nomination process. Please."

But Bloomberg will not do that. You know why? Because he really does not oppose the Roberts nomination. He does not care one way or another. He is opposing the nomination in an attempt to play to the gallery. He is being theatrical. This man belongs on Broadway, not at City Hall.

On all the social issues, he sings the right tunes. If he has such fierce disagreements with the Republican party, why did he switch in the first place? If he went in to change it from within, he has no track record of making any attempts.

Bless his soul he spends his own hard-earned money on his lavish campaigns. But he has not made any efforts at campaign finance reform. So his spending his own money is not to say he wants to be a mayor who is not beholden to the special interests. Rather it is like saying, so you are not rich like me, tough! That attitude should generate a fundamental disconnect between this man and the people of New York City. And what's up with riding the subway? Bloomberg, a man of the people? Refer to the line above about Broadway.

Rudy Guliani rode the national Clinton economic boom of the 1990s, and took credit all the way to the bank. Good thing that boom has not ended yet. It has slowed down, but it has not entirely gone down. But give that time, George W. and his cronies are at it back there in DC.

Bloomberg can't see straight and does not have his priorities right. This man wants to wear an expensive stadium on his shirt sleeve. Has he heard of public schools? Has he heard of health care for those working poor who don't have it? If he can pay for his own campaign, and if he can pay George W., what stops him from paying for his own stadium?

Bloomberg's theatrics on the social issues, mispriorities on the financial issues and the early treason of switching parties should ring alarm bells. If he were to now go back and run his company like he has been running the city, I bet his Board would vote him out. It's been that bad. If it were not for the checks and balances of the City Council, this man would have run the city into the ground by now.

So why did he win in the first place? Democratic disunity. That's why. The party might be nationally out of power, but that does not mean the local party has to continue to be in disarray.

Party unity is the need of the hour. A victory in this race will ignite a national Democratic resurgence, so we can take back the Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008.

Bloomberg has been cynically trying to hang Amadou Diallo around Fernando Ferrer's neck. This is beyond cynical. This is shameless. I checked up on that. Ferrer is on record describing it as a crime. But don't you black folks in Harlem get holy on me on this one. Like my African friends at college used to say, "Those African Americans, man, they are not Africans, they are Americans!" Recent Hispanic immigrants might have more in common with the African Diallo than black folks who have been here for centuries.

Before Bloomberg can hang Diallo around Ferrer's neck, he himself needs to state where he stands on the issue. This is one of those problems he can't throw money on and wish away. This man Bloomberg does not feel your pain.

As a South Asian in America, I am all too aware of the rich ethnic tapestries. To a white or a black person, brown is brown all the way. But to the brown folks, there are endless shades of brown. And there are many animosities and hostilities among the brown folks.

But you have to look at the big picture. You have to look at the big money and the big power. And at that level, the African Americans and the Hispanics in this city need to be rallying behind Ferrer, one voice. Powerlessness leads to infighting, true. But that infighting has to be brought to an end to attain genuine power. Al Sharpton, homework time. Jesse Jackson, movement time, rainbow coalition time. Roll the national ball right here in New York City.

One Democrat - Bloomberg - betrayed the party back in 2001: he left. But you don't have to follow suit and bring shame to your name. Stay back and vote Democratic. Don't get deceived two times in a row. If the Democrats can only work the unity theme, victory is guaranteed. The rich are with the Republicans, and there just are not quite many of them. We got the numbers. The wisdom is, if you want to live like the Republicans, vote Democratic. You don't become rich by voting for a rich man. Rid the illusion.

Rise up, stand up. Lead the national revival. We are a progressive city for people of all colors: white, black, brown, red, yellow, you name it. The nation needs our leadership. Showtime.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fernando Ferrer

The primaries are over. In this Pacific blue city, the Democratic primaries can be dizzying. It was for a newbie like me. But my DFNYC comrades - brave people - stayed spirited and engaged. Even when some of our endorsed candidates did not make it, the spirit was not down. "I put my efforts into a good cause, and I feel good about it." That was the spirit. I was like, wow.

Now the picture is a little clearer. Democrats are rallying behind Fernando Ferrer for Mayor. I have not looked into the details yet much, but the Republican incumbent Bloomberg seems to have a wide edge. He is way ahead in the polls. I wonder why.

I think he manages to deceive the New Yorkers into thinking he is a Republican in name only, and he manages to sing all the right tunes on the social issues. For example, he is against the Roberts nomination for Supreme Court. Not even many Democrats in DC have come out swinging like that. And he was a lifelong Democrat. He became Republican just to run for Mayor. The national Bush wave did it for him, looks like.

Bloomberg and Arnold tease the Democrats more than anyone else. They are so in your face.

Another thing is the Democratic Party is in such disarray. So totally out of power. That makes it hard for the Democrats locally.

But Bloomberg is not that much of a Democrat after all, if you look closely. He is a Bush person through and through. If he so disagrees with the official Republican line on the social issues, why did he join the party in the first place?

I think a lot of New Yorkers like it that he is rich. In the rat race of life, Bloomberg is a distant glow. The lighthouse seen from the sea. And the guy does spend a lot of his own money on his campaigns. He buys into the airwaves with abandon. And TV ads work, or they would not get bought left and right. Bloomberg has the money edge.

It is like Jack Kennedy's super rich father liked being called Amabassador. There is something about political offices for the rich. Bloomberg wanted to be Mayor. Mr. Mayor.

The Nepal peace process will continue to be my top political priority. But the mayoral race might be a good way to learn a little more about city politics. And I noticed Ferrer is Hispanic. The name should have told me, but I had to look it up nevertheless. I feel that is important. In this diverse city that is especially true. I doubt the city has ever had a Hispanic mayor ever.

The thought concurrent is it is a long shot. But that does not mean this will not be a spirited campaign. And there always is hope.

Fernando Ferrer
United Democratic Party Challenges the Mayor - New York Times
Key Endorsements: Fernando Ferrer (Gotham Gazette. September 5, 2005)
Democrats Rally Behind NYC Primary Winner - Yahoo! News
Fernando Ferrer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fernando Ferrer -- A Democratic Front-Runner

Saturday, September 10, 2005

To: The Good White People In The South

Dear Good White People In The South.

I grew up in Nepal being thought of as an Indian, and when I showed up in Kentucky for college, some people asked me if I was from New York because I spoke so much faster compared to their leisurely southern drawl, and I moved to New York City a few months back, and some friends welcomed me as a man from Kentucky. Just so you know where I am coming from.

I write to you today because ever since I have become involved with the group Democracy For New York City, and have thought about national politics in a serious way, the South keeps banging on my mental screen in a big way. If the Democrats were to make a serious bid for the Congress next year, and for the White House in 2008, they better carry some southern states, or they are in trouble.

So what is it about you? I consider myself more a social scientist than a diplomat. And I will try and be clear on this one.

I think you should abandon those who appeal to your baser instincts that get you caricatured as racist, prejudiced, bigoted, homophobic people. I have a track record of denouncing the super sexism and the caste and ethnic prejudices in South Asia, where I grew up, in the Global South, and I believe that gives me a right to confront you bluntly.

You have not copyrighted the social ills: they exist all over the country and all over the world, although the degree might vary. So don't feel like I am putting you on the spot.

The entire country looks down upon you, and so you look down upon blacks and foreigners, is that what it is?

Used to be there was a Roman Empire. Today Italy is a relatively insignificant country. Used to be the sun never set on the British Empire. Today Britain is but a small island. In the long span of time, there are ups and downs. Look at how India and China have been growing. I take it for granted this is to be the Asian Century.

My point being, the South can hope to rise. But in this era of the internet and globalization, those who have trouble with diversity, cultural and otherwise, will be left behind. The pie will expand most for the open-minded. And so I invite you to open your minds.

And not just on social issues. What about the money issues? You are the poorest segment of America, and you vote for people who give massive tax cuts to the rich. That is money taken away from your schools, for one. The Republicans have been swiping your children's stolen credit cards with abandon. How do you like that? Because they think they have you on the social issues, they take you for a ride on the economic issues. Break that chain of bondage. Vote Democratic.

I was on the phone with Jesus last night. He also feels like you should open your minds. Open mindedness is more than a lack of hate, it is an active pursuit of differences that exist in kaleidoscopic forms. Thank god we are not all alike. Things are far more interesting the way they are.

Switch your party affiliation. Embrace grassroots organizing and politial activism.

You have what it takes. You can do it.

Eric Cesnik For District 5

Andrew Kling, Eric's Campaign Manager, who I met at my very first Democracy For New York City, DFNYC, MeetUp in the East Village, singled me out to take me to the after MeetUp MeetUp, where DFNYC MeetUp organizers from all over the city gather afterwards. More importantly, he singled me out saying, "I have just the campaign for you." He had Eric in mind. And I met Eric at a Mixer. And it all gelled for me.

Too bad Nepal has been taking all of my time: Democracy For Nepal (DFN). For the first time in 10 years, permanent peace feels possible in Nepal. And I am basically telecommuting into the peace process. There are Nepali democrats also in the city, as the country at large. And we all put in our efforts. Our recent success is the king cancelled his trip to the UN and it was partly because of the huge protest rally we were going to organize on September 16 near the UN building. The rally will still happen, but now the goal is to move and shake world opinion on behalf of Nepal. Andrew, Eric, I also have had to put my business ideas on the backburner for the same reason.

But then yesterday evening I got to watch an Eric Cesnik debate online. Andrew emailed me the clip. And I was reminded all over again why I so strongly support Eric. He is just the man for the job. Google's Blogger was temporarily down at the time. So I have had to wait to post my blog entry. The paragraph below is culled from a comment I left at the campaign blog.

Eric comes across as a sensible candidate, someone who will really look into problems from many angles and work towards common sense, well thought out solutions. That is not your run of the mill, soundbite politician. The other gentleman running, he looks a little too rehearsed, a little too soundbitey. And Jessica gave a wrong, long answer to a yes no question that really matters. A million and a half gone for mail fraud! Taxpayer subsidized snail mail spam, campaign literature? Has her boss heard of email? But then that would qualify for spam, right? Whatever happened to just going out to meet people, like Eric is shown doing on the video? I just want the world, especially my fellow bloggers in the district, to know Eric is a candidate who really excited me and does today.

It is between Jessica and Eric. I think Jessica comes across as personable, and I value her experiences as Chief of Staff to the current officeholder. But I think Eric is more qualified and deserves to get elected: his is the more in-touch approach, he has the vision and the style. Perhaps Eric should rehire Jessica to be his Chief of Staff. I think that would be a great combo. Jessica is qualified, but she is qualified to be Chief of Staff.

Some Suggestions To The Cesnik Campaign (August 19)
Eric Cesnik For City Council (August 19)

Below is a press release I got in an email from Andrew.

For Immediate Release:
Citizens for Cesnik 2005

September 9, 2005

Competitive District 5 Race Takes a Turn

Eric Cesnik Confronts Jessica Lappin on Resume Omission and Miller’s Mailings

The District 5 City Council candidates vying to replace Speaker Gifford Miller sat down Wednesday night for an intense televised debate on NY1’s Road to City Hall.

The eleven-minute discussion turned heated after candidate Eric Cesnik confronted rival Jessica Lappin regarding her misrepresentation of her prior work experience. Lappin’s official campaign website states that she “first began working as an aide to Councilman Miller in 1998, and†served until April 2005” and in the debate she referred to her “seven years” of work in Miller’s office. After listening to Lappin describe her work in Miller’s council office, Cesnik stepped in to “set the record straight” noting that “in 2001, [Lappin] was actually working for Gifford Miller’s...political action committee” where she was “doling out checks to politicians.” Lappin’s campaign literature makes no mention of her experience working for Miller’s PAC.

Questions about Miller’s PAC, Council 2001, have dogged Miller and Lappin since 2002 when The Village Voice published an exposÈ on Miller and the PAC.

Further controversy erupted in the debate when Cesnik asked Lappin if she would join him in calling on Miller to repay New York City for the $1.6 million in taxpayer funds that the Speaker used to mail out thinly veiled campaign literature in June. Lappin conceded that the mailers were “a mistake” but refused to give a yes or no answer despite repeated requests by Cesnik and the NY1 moderator, Dominic Carter, for her to clarify her response.

Today, Cesnik noted, “Jessica should offer us a clear answer regarding whether or not she will join me in calling on Miller to return the taxpayer money. If she won’t call on Miller to return the $1.6 million, how can we expect her to act more ethically than he has acted?”

The full video of the debate is available at

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Step-Up For Barbara Bush

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas."

"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality."

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this is working very well for them."

"Almost everyone I've talked to says 'we're going to move to Houston.'"

Mrs. Bush toured the Astrodome complex with her husband, former President George Bush, as part of an administration campaign throughout the Gulf Coast region to counter criticism of the response to the storm.

The person who reminds so many Republicans of their mothers and grandmothers has stepped up to the plate. She also happens to be the wife of a president who voted against the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s during his days in the Congress. And the mother of a president who is a creationist. (See: Dumb And Dumberer: Creationist Bush)

The Barbara Bush remark puts her in the same category as Trent Lott.

These insensitive to the extreme remarks are the surface of a value system that puts people of certain socio-economic backgrounds down. They have real impact. They have ongoing impact. The remark should not really be making news. You mean you did not know these people have those thoughts all the time?

She also approached Bill Clinton with the offer reportedly to adopt him. Clinton sidestepped it: "I wish I could get them to adopt Hillary."

These poor Kennedy imitators have occupied the national stage for too long anways. JFK takes the country to the moon, so Bush wants to take you to Mars! Flattery? I don't think so. This guy has a very poor grasp of things scientific.

Barbara Bush took her son's request for a PR campaign a little too literally, it seems. There is love, and there is l-o-v-e!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Little Siegel Incident

Before I moved to NYC, I had never heard of the term Public Advocate. Of course I had never heard the Norman Siegel name. Then I move to the city, and Siegel is the biggest name the DFNYC is attached to. He is running for the biggest office at stake, and he actually has a good chance of winning.

I am not a voter. I am not much into city politics: I am a total novice. So largely I have stayed away from the fray.

But then I showed up to watch a Public Advocate debate that was a DFNYC event. I just wanted to get a feel for the guy that DFNYC was so behind. And I actually liked most of what I heard. He was easily the most passionate about the job. He came across as someone who really wants to be your attack dog. But primarily because he was endorsed by the DFNYC, I had this tribal feeling of extending my moral support to him.

But then there was this one Rick Lazio moment in the debate that kind of froze me for a little bit. He cornered the woman - I never got her name - who holds the office now and is up for reelection by suggesting because she is complying by the police guidelines in response to a persistent stalker, she is unfit for the office.

It is like in a Hillary, Rick Lazio debate, the guy actually walked over to her, and hovered over her, insisted she sign something to do with campaign finance this or that. Made me so utterly angry.

And then I show up for a DFNYC Research and Advocacy meeting, and you know how there is the main meeting, and then you break into smaller groups, to work on specific issues in a more focused way. And there was this woman sitting next to me. And she mentioned how Siegel had fought for the right of some Nazi group to protest in a neighborhood where many Holocaust survivors lived. And that totally threw me off. I am like, what is this guy up to?

The lady had this air about her that made me feel she had watched the same debate I had, and she had been taken totally aback by that stalker episode, and she could not bring herself to talk about it directly, so she brought up the Nazi episode. Progressives don't instill fear among women.

I don't know much about this guy at all. And I really don't want to rush into conclusions. But in my book that is two strikes.

I have heard he is a damn good civil rights lawyer, and I am glad for that. But I want the option to approach him and be able to confront him on these two issues. Maybe he needs some help seeing things a little differently. Maybe he needs sensitivity training.

Or if he is beyond reform, do I have doubts about him? I sure do. How does this concern me? Sexists tend to have a high chance of also being racists.

And our own leader of DFNYC who had signed up to work for him full time stepped down from it and I see obvious signs of the glass walls and ceilings thing there. A progressive is not one who creates and sustains glass walls and ceilings. Progressivism is about breaking them.

I will skip this particular election cycle locally. I plead ignorance.

But DFNYC is the group that will born the next President of the United States. We sure can afford to pick and choose. We are important. We are very important.

We should be gunning for Mayor and Governor of New York. We should be gunning for Governor of California.

We are out of power in New York City. That is a mystery to me. Lack of power can lead to much infighting. That is why I want to restrain myself on this seagull topic. But if my outspokenness of the issue of glass walls and ceilings might hurt you, you should be extra eager to let me help you reform yourself. Right?

Pragmatism might ask for some restraint on my part. But it is not like my blog has the readership of Wonkette.

It can not be accept me in totality or you are hurting the cause. That is blackmail. It should be more like, I am a progressive, help me become one. And if you think there are chinks in my armor, help me fix the chinks.

A party nationally out of power is in much local disarray. We need to patiently and persistenly think long term.

(Also see: Landscape Talk)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dean-Hillary-Obama Ticket

I think that would be great.

Howard Dean for President.
Hillary Clinton for Vice President.
Barack Obama for Secretary of State.


Democracy For Nepal, DFN

Yesterday I renamed my Nepal blog, now it is called Democracy For Nepal, DFN. DFNYC has been my homebase since my move to New York City. And this renaming has been inspired by my association with DFNYC.

My involvement with the movement in Nepal is easily the most important political work I ever did. I am doing it for emotional reasons, but it curiously also has global ramifications. I think it has major ramifications for US politics also.

When Howard Dean ran for DNC Chair, he said he has no plans to run for president again in 2008. And ever since then I have figured the 2004 candidacy was his last one. But then I revisited my impression yesterday after I renamed this blog. Democracy For America. Democracy For New York City. Democracy For Nepal. It started gelling for me.

When Bill Clinton ran for re-election in 1990 in Arkansas, he pledged he will complete his four-year term. A year later he went on a listening tour across the state to seek permission from his voters to run for president and he declared he heard the people were okay with the idea.

I guess Howard Dean could go on a similar listening tour across the country in early 2007. And he could change his mind, and he could run.

Ronald Reagan ran for president in 1976 and lost early and bad. We all know what happened four and eight years later.

Should Dean decide to run, I am not even looking at anyone else. It might be a Dean-Kerry-Edwards tussle all over again. I keep thinking Hillary has no intention to run. She thinks this is a sexist country, and it is not ready for her. That is just my reading of the situation. I think Bill Clinton's unyielding enthusiasm on a potential Hillary candidacy is partly his apology on the Monica matter. When Hillary wrote her autobiography, she said in there that she had forgiven Bill Clinton, but it was so obvious to me when I read that book that she was still hurt.

That is a second dimension to the Monica story that perhaps only women truly understand. The first I mentioned was my first thought, and lasting thought, that Bill Clinton got sick and tired of Ken Starr hounding his wife and Monica happened. That is the ethnic minority reachout to the underdog fighter. I guess. I never hid the disclaimer, that I am a huge Bill Clinton fan.

There is a third dimension to the Monica thing. An individual is an organism. A unit. Crowds are also organisms, the social scientist in me sees that quite plainly. That crowd as an organism has sex and money thoughts just like individual human beings. Monica is sex, Whitewater is money. Progressive, activist kind of politicians like Bill Clinton was tend to become vocabulary. They help break social barriers, and they make the crowd think more of the sex thoughts, because, if you think about it, all those ethnic and cultural boundaries are sexual. If people were to freely inter-marry, we would not be able to categorize people along ethnic and cultural lines.

And so Bill Clinton is just vocabulary for the crowd as an organism through which the crowd thought sex thoughts. The crowd was basically consuming porn.

Why do I mention these in the case of Howard Dean? First, he might run again. If he runs and wins, he will be a progressive-activist kind. He will also fist into the beehive with abandon. I don't expect to hear Monica and Whitewater in Dean's case. But I do expect him to arouse intense emotions among the status quoists, and the special interests, and the social conservatives, and the rich who are not self-made rich, but were born so and whose idea of entrepreneurship is tax cuts. Why do I say so? Because I have seen so. They will come after Dean again if given a chance.

Those of us like me who never left Dean need to think through things. And it is never too early.

One is Judy Dean. I have seen her on TV a few times, and she comes across as simply adorable. That word was coined for her. She comes across as so genuine. She does not come across as prepared and polished.

Maybe she is a post-feminist working woman who likes her work so much, and whose husband is so open-minded, he is just fine she is not on the campaign trail and instead is tending to her patients. Or maybe she is a loving wife who does not want her Jewish background to become an issue for Howard in the wrong parts of the country. I don't know. Frankly, I don't even want to know. It is husband-wife stuff, private stuff. The voters should be concerned with Dean's policy prescriptions and his leadership style and his political track record.

But I am personally too aware of these undercurrents. I went to a school in Kentucky where the question "Are you Christian or are you Catholic?" was mainstream. And Joe Lieberman in 2004 painfully kept trying to push his first name and at some level it felt like he was trying to get attention away from his last name. And the biggest proof: when the Dean tire hit the road, there already were organized groups in the red meat states who had started talking about Howard Dean's Jewish wife. There was a building momentum. Dean had to be stopped.

Appeasing the racists, the xenophobes, the bigots works as well as appeasing Hitler worked back then. And let's face it, Hitler and those groups do share ideology. If we are serious about a Dean candidacy, we are going to have to confront this issue head on. I wish this were not so, but it is. Dean's candidacy will be a progressive one. And the social progress aspects are the trickiest. But they have to be faced.

If we raise 40 million dollars, we should be willing to spend about 2-5 million dollars of that money to sue such organized groups into bankruptcy, to find the list of names of officers of all those groups to show up in their towns to run stories and ads on their lousy childhoods in their local papers and on their local TV, so as to give them some taste of the politics of personal destruction. Politics is a contact sport. Those who stay above the fray lose. Unilateral disarmament is bad politics.

I have a Southern strategy. It is called conquer the South.

Identity politics is fundamental. The Bush machine ended McCain's hopes of becoming president by running ads that claimed he had a black child. In South Carolina. I guess the McCains have adopted a child from Bangladesh. If you think about it, I grew next door to Bangladesh. Don't tell me Bush is a nice guy.

It happened to Hillary. She was attacked non-stop. When was the last time a Republican's wife got attacked that way or ever? Leaders who will vouch for us, we need to vouch for. Often all it takes is standing up and speaking up. Should we go after Republican wives for standing by men who are anti-choice? Like Newt Gingrich told Bob Reich at the time, "Mr. Secretary, we like your president, but his wife should not be making policy." The issue was not health care, the issue was Hillary.

These people who attack leading Democrat families with their perfected art of the politics of personal destruction then turn around and claim they are for "family values." These people who attack other religions habitually present themselves as pro-faith. And that also affects me personally. I am a Buddhist. In the 1996 election cycle, the Republican machine demonized some Buddhist monks from California who might have donated some money to the Democrats. In the red meat country, it was material enough to put the Democrats in the same basket as the Buddhist monks. That insinuation was dirty picture enough.

These so-called Christians are like Communists: they are so unflinchingly dogmatic.

I mean, I absolutely, totally despise Jesse Helms. That redneck made a career out of demonizing the Third World. I intend to make a semi career out of taking offense on behalf of the Global South. I know 10 years from now I still will not have one good word to say about Jesse Helms.

Identity politics matter. And we need to practice and perfect the art of naming and shaming. As Eminem says,"If I am wrong enough to think it, I am wrong enough to say it." If my political enemies are wrong enough to say and do wrong, I should at least be wrong enough to point it out, and preferably wrong enough to hit back.

In politics those who treat enemies and opponents the same do not go far. Opponents can be respected in both victory and defeat. Enemies are a different category.

I mentioned Hillary. There is another thing. Looks like every Jesus ends up with his Judas, someone in your inner circle, or a few people in your inner circles who end up really hurting you. It is almost statistical. George Stephanopoulos got the Whitewater ball rolling, and was the first to use the "I" word. Whitewater begot Monica begot Al Gore going more after Bill Clinton than after boy George.

Howard Dean had his Judas or a few of them in 2004. I don't know those inner circle names and characters at all well enough. But a few people might have played foul. A campaign that raised 46 million should not have run out of money in New Hampshire. Makes no sense.

So watch out for Judas. And protect Judy.

Then we will have the luxury of countering old media with new media.

Raise a lot of money, but spend little or no money until two months before the first primary. The money goes to the bank and stays there. Before that, do take Dean all over the country, and cover all events in full through text and photo and video blogging. Be our own media. If he appears some place for an hour, put the entire hour in video online. And use old media for free air time, for free press coverage.

Tell the Dean story. We need biographical details. We need people who know him talking about him. He has to show like the guy next door that he is. We don't need to package him, but we do need to present him like he is.

Tackle the media. Tackle the money.

Then you get to do the juicy stuff, the real stuff. The politics and the policy, especially policy. It is not too early to start work on a vision. We need to sculpt the platform. The platform should be one word - progressive - and a phrase - People Power - and also a book, like Bill Clinton's Putting People First in 1992.

Just my early thoughts. And I really would like to contribute to shaping the platform.