Sunday, October 30, 2005


Running mate: Hillary.
Secretary of State in waiting: Obama.
Campaign headquarters: Jackson Heights, New York City.
Our Iraq: Nepal.
The South: Conquer it.
Dean 2004: Blog; Dean 2008: Blogalaxy.
Core vision: Three pillars.

I have offered these thoughts earlier. Today I would like to add to that.

Convention: Atlanta.

In 1996 it held the Olympics. In 2008 it gets to host the Democratic Convention. This is about taking the South in a grand way.

This is about paying homage to the past three Democratic presidents, all southerners. Atlanta is the capital of the South.

This is about a great city.

Atalanta just so happens to be the first really big American city I ever went to. It was a Maths Club trip to Georgia Tech first year at college.

And I took all the pictures above. From a 18 wheeler. That I was piloting.

Thinking thoughts on Dean 2008 feels like writing the script for a movie. It will be a blockbuster.

Blogging Is Scalable Media

My blog has become a minor topic of debate among the DFNYC leadership recently. The vision I am offering is very much a work in progress. And I feel the need to explain.

Do events, blog events.

I have offered that as a mantra to Deaniacs earlier. This is not a clash with old media, but the idea is to bypass old media. The vision I am offering is of a scalable media. Google Earth is scalable. You can watch the planet from outer space, or you can zoom in to literally see the house I live in in the city.

Blogging makes that kind of media coverage possible. I have covered some DFNYC events at this blog, and the coverage has expanded. The first one had no pictures and little text. The recent ones have tens of picutures. The most recent one even has video clips. But this is still old media, kind of, although there are bits that can read like my personal journal, and that is very much intended. Blogging is not newspaper gone online. And old media of course does not give that kind of space to these events, if any at all.

But if a half dozen bloggers were to cover one event, then we are talking. That is when you outdo old media. You offer pictures, audio clips, video clips, text. And free flowing text. And each blogger links to all others who covered the event. And you cover one event from many different angles. And if you do it well enough, the event breaks free from both space and time.

It is okay to create an echo chamber as long as you blog it, then it is not an echo chamber no more.

That's the rudiment of the vision. As I said, it is still work in progress.

I have no desire to climb up the DFNYC leadership ladder. It is mostly a structureless group anyways. But for me it is like saying, here is the leading DFA group in the country in the progressive capital of the world. How can it keep competing with itself to keep getting better and better? The passion does not have to depend on presidential campaigns. It can be month in and month out.

I almost function with the detachment of an outside consultant. I play with ideas. I enjoy the company of the people I meet. For me my DFNYC involvement is about doing more of what I have been doing. I really don't wish to get into things like event planning, for example.

For me it is about Dean 2008. DFNYC is one atom, one star in the galaxy, the brightest star, but still one star. I am a big picture person on ideas, and a boosting morale person on leadership. Maximal delegation is my style.

I feel like headway is being made.

First Mayoral Debate

I dropped by the Ferrer campaign headquarters earlier today: it was quietish. One staffer has been to Nepal. Another that I met for the first time today is from Kentucky where I went to school for five years. She now lives at the other tip of Prospect Park. "Kentucky is beautiful country physically, but the social conservative elements can be tough."

"I know. The Bible Belt stuff." She is from the western plains in the state, by the Ohio river.

I made some phone calls on behalf of Ferrer. I must be out of the loop. The first mayoral debate was today, and I did not know about it. I have only been aware of the one on Tuesday because DFNYC has a debate watching party going on. I plan to show up. I called up Abhi yesterday to ask if he was showing up. It was a yes, no, maybe kind of political answer.

I watched the debate online after I got back. Ain't that grand, being able to do that? All of TV should be like that. If I had to sum it up, it would be as follows.

Bloomberg: "I can pick up the garbage better."

Ferrer: "There are two New Yorks."

This is the first time I have watched Bloomberg speak. This is not a politician, this is a businessman. To some of the Ferrer attacks he simply responded with an "okay." He sees it, he understands it, but he does not feel like the exertion to hit back is worth it. Political barbs are foreign territory. I read one article where he was complaining about the horse-trading ways of politicians. He is a manager who happens to be mayor.

I tried to understand his appeal. He made his own money. And so people think he has the management skills. And he makes it sound like if you elect Bloomberg, there is you, the New Yorker, and there is Bloomberg, nothing in between. But if you elect Ferrer, there is this huge Democratic machine between you and the mayor. And he cashes on this with great political acumen. When he says he does not have a "machine" like Ferrer, he almost sounds like he is the underdog you need to feel sorry for. Look, I got to compensate for the machine, I got to spend a hundred million dollars on ads.

Looks like the Democrats have most of their fun during the primaries. And then they act spent.

As for Ferrer, I think he did really well. He was well prepared, he was aggressive. He was confident. He made Bloomberg look diffident. "Okay." His weakness though is he needs to focus more on his agenda. As in, this is what I will do if you elect me. That is the part where he is competing with himself. Ferrer spent so much energy trying to reduce Bloomberg to size after weeks of getting pounded in the media by the Bloomberg ads, he did not get a chance to put forth his own alternate vision.

Bloomberg has a 27 point lead in the polls. That is quite a lead. TV ads work. If it were only about policy logic, Hillary had great ideas for health care reform. But the anti-reform people flooded the public consciousness with TV ads. Not that I think Bloomberg is like those anti-reform people.

Bloomberg does have a decent record he is running on. But then Gore had it too and he still lost. Gore had a much better one. If I were Ferrer I would spend the better part of the final debate on offering an alternate vision. Not just on policy but also on management style. And it has to touch all issues. How will you better raise the morale of the police and the fire fighters and the emergency responders? How will you better raise the morale of the school teachers? What are all the things you will do and not just on housing? How will you interact with the City Council better? With Albany? With DC? With your Congresspeople and Senators?

Bloomberg tried to tie Ferrer to Howard Dean. As a Deaniac, I thought that was amusing. It almost sounded like Bloomberg was complaining Dean had appeared with Ferrer too many times in support. Bloomberg did not mention any of the others, not Edwards, not Kerry, not the Clintons. Just Dean. I am sure Dean and Bloomberg are on cordial terms. I can't imagine their not having met. Walking to the train station after watching Norman Siegel debate, DFNYC Executive Director Heather casually mentioned to me having met Bloomberg, so Dean must have. I think he genuinely does not understand how Dean can shake your hand, say hello, make small talk, and then go campaign so vigorously for the other guy. Some of the other Dems have been polite in their appearances with Ferrer. Dean has been outright.

Bloomberg is very aware of DFNYC. That is the impression I got. These are big cats I am dealing with at DFNYC.

The New York Times has a good piece on the debate, on the styles of the two deliveries. Some sentences and phrases:

The spirited, often testy encounter was dominated by efforts by Mr. Ferrer, the Democratic nominee, to score direct hits against Mr. Bloomberg, the Republican, while standing shoulder to shoulder with the incumbent mayor for the first time in a campaign in which the mayor enjoys a huge advantage in spending and in public opinion surveys.......... Mr. Ferrer, feisty and at times passionate, hardly let a speaking opportunity pass without criticizing Mr. Bloomberg ....... The challenger came out swinging from the start ....... Mr. Bloomberg, often matter-of-fact and at times visibly annoyed, stuck close to a nearly clinical recitation of his record and plans for the future ........ the Ferrer camp viewed the debate as a rare chance to press the case against Mr. Bloomberg in a way its candidate has not been able to afford to do in television commercials....... From the start today, it was clear that Mr. and that Mr. Ferrer was looking for a fightBloomberg was largely trying to avoid one ......Ferrer, who has frequently been criticized for being flat on the stump, was anything but. He often seemed to be trying to rattle the mayor, frequently standing to the side of his lectern and staring directly at Mr. Bloomberg as he spoke or listened, sometimes even stepping toward him or wagging his finger as he made a point....... Ferrer seemed more rehearsed and frequently used what appeared to be preplanned zingers ...... Bloomberg started the most heated back-and-forth during the debate, using a question about a spike in gun-related crime in the city to note that Mr. Ferrer had been "out campaigning with Howard Dean, who was eight times endorsed by the N.R.A....... at another point asking him pointedly if he was proud of Mr. Bush......

The wisdom is being mayor of NYC is second only to being president of the country in terms of job toughness. For his career, JFK skipped running for mayor of Boston because he was not eager to "sign sewer contracts." Some people are great at nuts, bolts, logistics. Others are comfortable with ideas and people in a general way. It might be a small picture, big picture thing. Atomic physicists are not less smart than cosmologists, they are just different.

Ferrer can afford to be less aggressive during the final debate, but he does need to focus on offering an alternate vision. Offer the program.

Delhi Bomb Blasts

Over 60 people dead and counting. People who were busy with their holiday shopping. Diwali, the festival of lights.

I went to Delhi when I was real small. I remember one of the places from then that was one of the sites for a bomb: Connaught Place.

These are not Muslisms. Muslims are like Hindus, or Buddhists, or Christians. They are people of faith, many are poor and illiterate, they just want the best by their families. These are Islamists. Islamists are like fascists, Nazis, like the evil brand of communists. The Islamists are like the KKK, they are a hate group. They will not think twice before they kill innocent Muslims. Their fight is not on behalf of Muslims of any ilk. Or they would at least spare Muslims, but they kill them too.

They are not seeking a debate. They are armed. They mean damage, physical damage. They mean to kill.

Mosquitoes are a problem. The drain has to be swamped. Proactively spreading democracy until every single country on the planet is a democracy is the only true solution. But it is also a military problem. It is also about fighting armed, evil men with arms.

They have to be fought on many fronts all at once.

The democracies of the world need to unite.

I am feeling a little numb right now. India is a poor country. For all talk of an emerging India, outsourcing, and software and calling centers, all that dazzle touches only a very small segment of the population. An average Indian is dirt poor. People die to diseases and train wrecks, to hunger. But this is different. This is murder.

Evil is for real. It exists. It has to be countered. Its sophistication and tenacity has to be understood. This is like medical science and a new strain of virus. They are not a standing army that can be fought in traditional ways. They ask for novel approaches.

"Move through the villages like fish through water," Mao advised his fighters. JFK countered that with the Peace Corps program. But also by talking from a position of strength.

It is not a choice between military strength and spreading democracy. And it is not just about military strength. The old tools are too blunt. New tools have to be shaped and put to use.

A social backlash against the Muslims would be the worst possible response. There are more Muslims in India than in any other country. Socio-economically speaking the Muslims in India are like the African Americans in the United States.

I would not be surprised if Muslims were among the dead.

Tomorrow is October 31. I think that is Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. Why did I just say that? It just occurred to my mind. I am a little confused.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Say Hello To Appu

For the 1984 Asiad Games held in New Delhi, India had adopted a baby elephant for mascot, named Appu. It was quite a craze. The mascot was long remembered after the event had escaped the public mind.

Race and gender are elephants in the room and they ask to be greeted. I have brought up social issues at this blog. And I believe that has been a little rattling in some quarters. For a lot of progressives and, frankly, also to many others, race and gender are issues they are beyond. There are others who are racist, sexist, homophobic, what have you, but they themselves are beyond all that.

My 1-10 spectrum concept challenges all that. Start by assuming noone is a 10. Then also for all progressives race and gender are work in progress, very much so. Your unwillingness to address these issues are perhaps a sign you are more likely a 5 or a 6, and less likely a 7, 8 or 9.

Progressives should feel comfortable talking about these issues.

Does that mean dialogue is the panacea, the cure all? No. But it is for otherwise open-minded progressives where the assumption already perhaps is that racism, sexism and homophobia are wrong. And dialogue perhaps is the best option for a 5 wanting to be a 6, and so on.

There are people out there who harbor the social ills as tools of political power. They are not racist or sexist because they do not know any better. They mean to be so. For them dialogue might not work.

There are other instances that ask for legislative and law enforcement initiatives.

For the progressives my message is, Say Hi To Appu. Keep the conversation alive. There is no need to feel defensive. You change your mind or not, that is your thing, but be willing to say where you stand, and be willing to see where others stand.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Mixer For Ferrer

Howard Dean, video clip (1 min 25 sec)
Fernando Ferrer, video clip (3 min)
Heather Woodfield, video clip (1 min 44 sec)

Ferrer Gets Aggressive At A Ferrer Fundraiser
Mixing It For Ferrer

The most important person I met today was Leecia Eve. (Who Is Leecia Eve?) Or rather yesterday, since it is already past midnight. Wow. I met Bill Clinton, now I need to meet Amitabh Bachchan. I met Leecia Eve, now I need to meet Barack Obama. She is a Ms. Sunshine, real cheerful, positive, with a warm personality. She is a bundle of energy. And of course she is whip smart.

"You are a great person. You need to go all the way. People like Barack Obama and you need to help take race relations in this country to a whole new, different level," I said.

"That is the plan," she said.

People like Martin Luther King struggled against physical segregation. Jesse Jackson struggled against the backlash to the MLK achievements, and to consolidate those achievements. Barack Obama and Leecia Eve get to find solutions to both old fashioned racism experienced by the ethnic minorities in the lower income brackets, but also the racism of the glass walls and ceilings, the racism of social segregation. MLK marched, Obama and Eve get to master the electoral process, the political process. They get to do it the meritocratic way. They get to do it by having excelled at education themselves, by setting examples. They get to do it by keeping discussions on race relations alive. They get to do it by becoming role models. They get to do it by outsmarting their opponents.

Race and gender are elephants in the room and they ask to be greeted. The conversation has to be kept alive on both. Snuffing conversation on the two topics is to try and maintain the status quo of inequality and refuse to help make further progress.

And then Mason asked his question: "Let me ask you something political. Are you married?"

After about 10 seconds I said, "Let me ask you something political. What is Hillary like?"

She had great things to say about Hillary.

"I googled your name and ended up at the homepage of actor James Dean," I told Jim Dean, Howard Dean's brother who was in town for the event.

I showed up for the event about 10 minutes early, and Heather noticed.

Ferrer tore it apart all over again tonight.

"I listened to your speech at the fundraiser last night. It was fantastic. If we get to see that same Ferrer during the two debates, we are in good shape," I said to him.

To one of this staffers I was more blunt: "If we see during the two debates the Ferrer we saw last night, Mike Bloomberg just went to Las Vegas and lost a hundred million dollars."

Ferrer has this amazing track record as Bronx President, he is right on the policy, he is a Democrat in a progressive city. As long as he can present himself as an aggressive progressive, and as long as there can be a major get-out-the-vote effort, I don't see how Bloomberg could win. TV ads work, people end up hypnotized. But if white Dems on Staten Island will not vote for Ferrer because he is not white (he looks white to me), maybe we should kick Staten Island like Italy kicked Sicily. Maybe we should point that out explicitly so as to fuel a massive turnout among voters who get offended by racism, white and non-white alike. This is no cat and mouse game. The executive of the capital city of the world is at stake. This is not just about picking up garbage, although that it is, and Ferrer can deliver as good and better on that one too; this is about the urban agenda all over America, this is about the progressive agenda all over the country, this is about projecting America's inclusive heritage all over the world. A lot is at stake, and victory is in sight.

The first person I had a long conversation with was this Lebanese former diplomat, now an American, a DFNYC veteran from when Dean was still a presidential candidate. American politics is not about ideology, he said, it is machine. They want to know how many votes you can collect for them, how much money you can raise for them.

I disagree. I want to have the option to shape the progressive agenda if I can come up with good enough ideas. My strength is not that there are over 50,000 Nepalis in the US, although that it is, and not that an average Indian American family makes twice as much as an average white family, although that makes room for some serious money collection. When one Indian runs for Congress, Indians all over the country pour in money. I know that intimately. Ayesha Nariman ran for Congress somewhere in New York state, and she got that benefit, though she lost. I was an advisor to the campaign. I was at college. Telecommuting. Though I don't feel I got to contribute a whole lot.

My primary contribution is this blog itself.

But he had a great many experiences to relate to. He was retired. He said he had a factory in Egypt, and that is where his money came from now. A diplomat turned multi-national corporation person. He was cool. Percy, his name tag said. I had the longest conversation of the evening with him. I appreciated that. Otherwise people at parties sometimes can act like you are walking on the sidewalk, in a hurry. And it was before many had arrived. So it felt like we had the place for ourselves. He had a very pleasant presence about him.

Recently I have been feeling like I have been doing too many DFNYC events, meeting too many local celebrities. And I did not enjoy donning a suit today. I hate the tie. I had to pull it down an inch. I like the trouser and jacket individually, but not together. At least my suit today was brown and the jacket double-breasted, and it was tailor made in my hometown in Nepal, so those were plus points. But I don't want to put it on again for a long time. I like baggy shirts, but not with dress pants and a jacket. Comfortable shoes, could be leather, baggy jeans, or even baggy trousers, baggy shirt. Those are things I like.

I feel like stepping back from DFNYC a little bit, buying a monthly pass, and just seeing the city, meeting regular people, driving around in my car, meeting a whole bunch of regular people. Through DFNYC I have had a celebrity overdose. I want to see this city like I have seen this country. I want to get a feel for every neighborhood. I just want to meet a ton of regular people. For the sake of it, and also because that is what I need to be doing to kickstart my online marketing business that has taken a backseat to my political work. Stepping back from DFNYC will also give me more time for Nepal. Things are heating up at that end.

And the next few weeks are hectic. Leaders from the seven political parties in Nepal are passing through town. After they are gone, the leading human rights activist in Nepal will also be passing through town. Recently he got made honorary citizen of an Italian town. I hope to enage in some peace making work. That can get emotionally challenging. The logic part is actually quite simple.

I got to watch people like Stringer and Schneiderman talk. I asked the latter about how the Republicans did the redistricting thing to try to kick him out of the Senate. That really got his interest piqued. And he elaborated on that episode. I have heard he is a major presence in the State Senate.

"People up there in Albany don't like New York City. That is why it is important for us to take the Senate and the Assembly and the Governorship," he said during his speech later.

And Lewis gave a great speech. And Heather gave a great speech. And today I finally got to meet Bernadette. Now there is only one DFNYC Director that I have not met.

Lewis was acting naughty. Once after the program was mostly over and most people had left, I pointed my camera at him and a few others with him. He goes, "Paramendra has a camera. Duck!"

And the four of them acted like they were going to hide behind the bar table. I thought I had just complimented the guy on his great speech.

And Ferrer thanked Heather for her "leadership and all you do."

Abhi showed up. He is the coolest dude. And not only because he was the only Indian before I showed up at DFNYC. And not only because he is up there smart. We have easy conversations. While I was talking to Abhi, a DFNYC lady who I have seen before but have not talked for long, approached and mentioned the "controversial blog." I don't understand. What's controversial about this blog? All blog entries are invitations to conversations, all come with comments sections. Readers have the option to start their own blogs and engage me in dialogue.

The social progressive agenda is also an issue inside the progressive movement. For that I have introduced the spectrum concept. It is 1-10. 5-10 are progressive. But 5 is not a 6 is not a 7 is not an 8 is not a 9 is not a 10. It is important for progressives to maintain a respectful dialogue among themselves while they themselves work on climbing the ladder in their individual capacities. Race and gender are both elephants in the room. But my spectrum and dialogue concepts really help us deal with them both in a productive way.

Another highlight of the evening was to learn Dan Jacoby is running for State Senate. I hugged the guy for the first time. And I have been meeting him for months. His district is the western part of Queens. There must be a whole bunch of South Asians around there. Political acitivism is all good, but if you really want to make change, you got to get hold of some of the levers of power.

Back home I shot an email to Leila. "Meeting Leecia Eve was mind boggling."

93 photos.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

American Leftonistas

Takes Two Arms And Two Legs To Swim
The Saudi Royal Family Has Got To Go
What's Going On In Nepal

There is a need for a progressive party of near permanent power. For that a Democratic unity is a must. The tent should be large enough to host a large array of groups and thoughts, but ulitmately there has to be unity.

I have made an attempt to recoincile education, health and free trade in an earlier blog entry: Takes Two Arms And Two Legs To Swim. A lot of leftists ask, but what about fair trade? What about labor and environmental standards? I am all for the highest possible labor and environmental standards. But then America is the number one polluting country on the planet. How do you feel about that? And what are you doing about it? America burns so much fossil fuel on a daily basis.

I am all for high labor and environmental standards all over the world, but the legitimate way to do that is by proactively spreading democracy. Empowered people living in democracies themselves will demand and forge high labor and environmental standards.

So instead of hijacking the free trade agenda, dedicate yourself to the cause of global democracy.
And I have met American leftists passionate about the sweat shops issue, but it is more like, thank god I am not at the bottom of the pile as I have felt in the American context, there are others below me. That sentiment is a wrong reason to be against sweat shops.

Some leftists also preach that India and China should not grow their economies. The planet can not afford it. That is right wing hogwash. As they way, if you go far enough to the left, you meet the right wing idiots.

The choice between economic growth and the environment is a false choice. Progressives need to be pro-environment and pro-economic growth.

Progressives are pro-education, pro-health, and pro-free trade. Progressives are pro-economic growth and pro-environment. Progressives are for a total, global spread of democracy. And progressives are for perfecting the one person, one vote, one voice mechanism inside America, they are about turning this republic into a democracy.

So stay away from the false choices that prevent us from truly uniting.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ferrer Gets Aggressive At A Ferrer Fundraiser

Mixing It For Ferrer

Ferrer ripped it apart today. I have been to a few of his events, and he has been a little on the diffident side. But today I saw a whole different incarnation. Perhaps he has always been that way. I only now saw him. This was the first time I have seen him at a podium. Or maybe he is switching gears. Because even Howard Dean, who was sharing the stage, looked a little taken aback, in a positive way. Or maybe because Dean was the one who introduced him, he got some Dean effect. We all know the doctor likes to get straight to the point.

But Ferrer really got it going. What a speech! Since he does not have the Bloomberg money, he needs to compensate with choice words. Assertiveness, aggresiveness are good qualities to have when you are trying to represent the underdogs, "the little guys," like some people put it, but a phrase I dislike. To me the so-called "little guys" are like a potential rich harvest of votes. It is a cornfield, a paddyfield.

I mean, this guy Bloomberg. Considering he is spending $100 million on this race, you would think he is running for President of North America. I could run for president with half that money. If I had that kind of money to throw away, I would not be running for Mayor, I would become a venture capitalist.

He said enough one liners today that if he were to only rehash them during his two debates, he really could shake things up. Ferrer does have it. This is a man raring for a fight. He gave me the impression he can't wait for the two debates.

And Gifford Miller spoke real good on why he supports Ferrer. Miller is doing all he can for Democratic unity. That is commendable. I actually bumped into him during the course of the evening. He gave me a pleasant smile and a greeting and moved on. I often think, it is not easy being a politician. You have to make a whole bunch of people think they are important. Not that I was trying to feel important. I mean, the guy was/is City Council Speaker. That is big. That is one of those things about moving to New York City. You suddenly get to meet all these big shots. Howard Dean is the biggest shot, and I have already met him three times now and counting.

Like this guy Bill Perkins. I saw him at the Bill Clinton event, (Bill Clinton Had Icecream For Lunch) and he looked like someone important and pleasant, but of course I had no idea who he was. First time I was seeing him. Then his name shows up as one of the guys who will show up for the DFNYC Mixer. So I google his name, and I see his face, and I am like, wait a minute, I remember this guy from the Clinton event. And so he is standing right behind me today, and Ferrer is on stage and he goes, "And I have Bill Perkins with me." It was one of those goose bump moments.

Howard Dean gave a great speech himself. Every time I have met him I have wondered, will he run in 2008? I listened to his speech and I felt he will. What Newt Gingrich was for the Repubicans in 1994, Howard Dean can become for the Democrats in 2006. He is the only Democrat with a national name recognition who could help the Dems take back the Congress. You define the office you hold, you reinvent it if you have to. He has the option to fundamentally reinvent the office of DNC Chair.

Dean put a major emphasis on the voting machines issue. That is an issue I don't know a whole lot about, but I can just feel it that it is a civil rights issue in many communities.

Here is an example. Calvin Coolidge got elected president, went to the White House, and the guy basically dozed off. That was his idea of a small government. Coolidge is Reagan's hero. And Reagan is W's hero. Now you know why W goes for long vacations. He is not going for fun. He is for small government. Bill Clinton literally refused to sleep for his final few days in office: he was at the other end. And so Dean does not have to be like any DNC Chair before him.

Needed: a 10 point program.

And there was this Congressperson lady, apparently a childhood friend of Ferrer. First time I was hearing her name and seeing her face. There are so many people in Congress from the city, you would think they are members of the City Council. But I got to shake her hand, although I did not know how to address her. What do you say? Ms. Congressperson? But then she must have forgotten my face more promptly than I forgot her name.

If America were a democracy, New York City on its own would have had three Senators. Right now it is two for the entire state.

When Howard Dean thanked people and groups before he spoke, DFNYC was the first in line.

I left a voice mail over the weekend asking Lewis, the DFNYC Finance Director a.k.a moneyman, if I had to dress up, or it was okay to dress casual. He emailed me saying it was okay to wear casual, as long as you looked clean! And so I was the only person at the event in jeans. Larry Ellison wears a suit like a uniform in the casual attire Silicon Valley, and some people think that is his idea of giving the crowd the finger. But then I might try my brown suit for the event tomorrow.

I saw Lewis Cohen and Andrew Kling have long conversations with Howard Dean. And of course Heather is from Vermont itself. I was impressed. I went to the event today hoping to strike a conversation with Dean, but it did not happen. I think I am still in the star struck phase. Where would I start? Hello, Governor, I am with DFNYC. But then so are a few hundred other people. He is from Vermont, but he probably knows more about DFNYC than I do. And today I felt like I am at a chill phase with the DFNYC movers and shakers. I lost count of which blog entry offended which member, or which part of which blog entry. If a blog entry offends you, you make use of the comments section to the entry: that is what they are there for. I know it is temporary, but this is the first time they got to meet me after some emails and phone calls. To me screen time, phone time, and face time, it is all one continuum, but for a whole lot of people, there is a dichotomy, there is face time and there is everything else. Go figure.

Could I have said my name? Governor, my name is Paramendra. Para what? That is an interesting name. I don't expect him to go, where you from? He talks casually about "white people" or "racist white people" like I talk casually about "sexist Indian men." We are both progressives deep into our bones.

But what I wanted to say to him was this. "I know you can't talk about it until at least January 2007. But if I could give you two pieces of advice, those would be, one, read as many presidential biographies as you can, birth to death, especially of presidents you admire, a half dozen of them. There is no school you go to to become president. And meeting and reading about presidents is not exactly it either." If Howard Dean were to become president, he will have to realize less than 50 individuals have gone through the experience, and most of them are dead. But reading biographies really gives you perspective. Two, make as many friends as you can inside the Democratic Party and old media. We are going to screw them both all over again, but this time we are going to do it with a smile on our face.

I know of at least one person at the DFA headquarters who reads this blog. If I end up saying something significant, she will probably pass on the message.

That second point, what do I mean? The Democratic Party before and after Howard Dean is president is going to be two different entities. The party stands to be reinvented. And 2008 will be the first new media election, like 1960 was the first TV election. 2004 was still a TV election.

We need to have Dean as a two term president so Bill Clinton has someone to hang out with. That guy has been spending too much time with Bush Sr.

On the way back, I met some mildly heavy rain. My hair got wet. I am trying to grow my hair for winter. And I also want to go back to be able to comb it.

I took a bunch of pictures. Since I had a camera dangling around my neck, I got a lot of requests from people who wanted their pictures taken with Howard Dean. I complied to each such request. I would take a picture, and either they would give me their business card, saying please email it to me, or I would give them my card. One guy earnestly offered to pay me. He thought I was a professional. In terms of photo quality that I am, but I have never made any money through photography. I should have said, today is my day off, just give the money to the Ferrer campaign. 20/20 hindsight.

And Mason treated me like I was his personal photographer for most of the evening. He is cool like that.

A DFNYC lady pointed out to me this black man who she said had run for Governor against Pataki and lost. He was supposedly the most senior black politician in the state. I had never heard of him, and I still don't know his name, but I sure got my picture taken with him. Revenge is wild justice. I did not have my camera with me when I got to meet Jesse Jackson. (Jesse Jackson On Martin Luther King Boulevard)

I even recorded two small video clips of Howard Dean speaking. My digital camera has that feature. And I am glad it does. All videos of me speaking a foreign language you will find at Google Video were taken with this camera.

And there was Jimmy. I met him for the first time at a DFNYC After MeetUp. He got my attention because he is running for the State Senate from Long Island somewhere in 2006. I like to get to know people who run for public office. I usually like to ask about the mechanics of the process. And there he was today telling Howard Dean his girlfriend has a huge crush on him. "She has a huge photo of you." He got Dean to write her a personal note. Dean looked amused. How do you know Dean got amused? He throws out a blunt smile.

It was a fundraiser. I donated $50.

"There goes my laundry budget for six months," I told Lewis.

"Now I know to stay away from you." Is that a reference to body odor?

At another point he told someone, "Watch out for this guy!"

It sounded like, watch out for this guy, he might elbow you. He also introduced me to the person behind The Daily Gotham blog. By now I have figured out Gotham is New York City's private name, like my family calls me Pappu, they don't call me Paramendra. Once a friend of mine came over to our house and asked for Paramendra, and my grandfather waved him away.

The event ended just when I was warming up. I did not get to have any real long conversation.

Somewhere along the way I approached this guy in the crowd. "I know you are not, but you look awfully like Joe Trippi. Are you?" He was not.

Trippi is a great guy, a visionary, but terribly inefficient.

I got myself a coke at the open bar.

At the end of the day I was feeling real good about Ferrer. And I was also giving some thought to as to what a 10 point program might look like.
  1. Balance the budget.
  2. Have an exit strategy for Iraq.
  3. Proactively spread democracy to win the War on Terror.
  4. Tax cuts for the middle class.
  5. Raise taxes on the top 1%.
  6. No pension for George W.
  7. Enhance quality of public education.
  8. Health care reform: introduce market forces into the sector so it gets into a position to take a lead on adopting information technology. Universal insurance coverage for all children.
  9. Focus on universal wireless broadband like they built the interstate highways a few decades back.
  10. Campaign finance reform, electoral reform.
This is the first draft, mind you, and needs some serious rewriting. I like the broad message of it, but the words don't read like poetry as yet.

86 photos.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Mixing It For Ferrer

On the 25th, the DFNYC Mixer is for Ferrer. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Eric Schneiderman, State Assemblyman Scott Stringer, and Councilman Bill Perkins are going to show up, as is Howard Dean's brother Jim Dean.

Where: Stir, 1363 First Ave. (btwn 73rd & 74th)
When: Tuesday, October 25, 7-10 PM

A day before that Howard Dean is hosting a fundraiser for Fernando Ferrer.

Where: Session 73, 1359 First Ave. @ 73rd Street
When: Monday, October 24, 6:30-8:30 PM

I just wanted to familiarize myself with the names a little.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler: "Congressman Jerrold Nadler represents New York’s Eighth Congressional district. The Eighth, one of the most diverse districts in the nation, includes Manhattan’s West Side below 89th Street, Lower Manhattan, and areas of Brooklyn including Borough Park, Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sea Gate, Bay Ridge, and Bensonhurst...... He was re-elected to his seventh full term in 2004 with a resounding 80 percent of the vote....... the September 11th terrorist attacks on his district ...... a prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee ...... a third-term representative in 1998, he rose to national prominence as a vigorous defender of the Constitution during the Presidential impeachment hearings........ There is nothing more fundamental to being an American than the assurance against unwarranted government interference in one’s personal affairs, and the guarantee of due process under the law....... the first to challenge the Republicans’ “doom and gloom” solvency forecast....... ratings of 100 percent from such groups as the League of Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, Children’s Defense Fund, and the American Federation of Teachers....... an intimate knowledge of every neighborhood and community feature, and tireless advocacy at all levels of government........ even securing free cellular phones for the Shomrim ...... “I don’t believe that New Yorkers work hard and pay taxes so they can line Mr. Trump's pockets,” Nadler said ....... the often-complex world of government services...... The district includes one of the nation’s largest communities of new immigrants—especially from the former Soviet Union........ one of the largest and most diverse Jewish communities in any congressional district, nationwide........ a principal supporter of federal hate crimes legislation....... worked extensively on Black-Jewish relations...... the 2003 Legislator of the Year Award from the International Association of Firefighters....... Nadler launched his public service career in the late 1960s while a student at Columbia University....... credited with authoring much of New York State’s body of law on domestic violence and child support enforcement...... the only male to be honored as Assemblymember of the Year by the National Organization for Women...... from CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live to PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lerher to NBC’s Meet the Press......

State Senator Eric Schneiderman: .... a B.A. in English and Asian Studies at Amherst College..... two years as a Deputy Sheriff ...... graduating with honors from Harvard Law School ...... an anti-crime advocate for his entire career...... eviction proceedings against crack dens and drug dealers..... elected to the New York State Senate in 1998...... In 1999, he led the campaign to block the National Rifle Association's "Eddie Eagle" program from becoming a part of New York's elementary school curriculum....... In 2002, the Senate’s leadership redrew Eric’s district to eliminate most of his base and then undertook an unprecedented campaign to throw Republican support behind his opponent in a Democratic primary...... won re-election with over 67% of the vote....... has continued his work as a public interest lawyer throughout his years in office...... challenging the unlawful practices of the Metropolitan Transit Authority .... exposing fraud in the MTA’s bookkeeping...... his only title was “#1 Target of the Senate Republicans.” ..... the incompetence and gridlock that sustain Albany’s status quo......

State Assemblyman Scott Stringer: .... in his sixth term representing Manhattan's Upper West Side and Clinton...... Scott highlighted how Governor Pataki's budget plan amounted to a tax increase of nearly $2,000 for most New York City households ..... his bill to allow battered women work release when their crimes were committed under abusive duress became law in 2002..... documented the shocking lack of textbooks in City schools...... renewed the public's focus on the "ad-ization" of residential neighborhoods throughout Manhattan...... led the fight against Light Emitting Diode (LED) or ultra-bright, digital advertiser, screens that have begun to proliferate the cityscape....... Introduced legislation to prevent cell phone companies from charging customers a full minute's rate for fractions of time as small as one second ...... and John F. Kennedy High School..... In 2001, Scott was a candidate for New York City Public Advocate... Scott represents the 67th Assembly District, the highest voter turnout district in the City.

Councilman Bill Perkins: ..... started his political work as a tenant leader at Schomburg Plaza in Harlem ..... served as the Chair of the Council's Select Committee on Pest Control, which, for the first time, created a comprehensive strategy to solve the city's growing rat problem....... has opposed racial, ethnic and religious profiling .... lead sponsor of landmark legislation to protect the rights of the gay, lesbian and transgender community...... graduate of the Collegiate School and Brown University...... the NAACP New York Branch Executive Board...Represents: Central Harlem; parts of Morningside Heights, Upper West Side, East Harlem

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bill Clinton Had Icecream For Lunch

Bill Clinton Has Left The Building

Finally I not only got to see Bill Clinton, I also got to shake his hand, and have a brief conversation with him. Now I want to see Amitabh Bachchan.

Yesterday late at night I got an email from Castro, not Fidel, the other one. The email gave me specifics of Bill Clinton's appearance with Fernando Ferrer. Where, when, that sort of thing.

I got out of bed late. After the morning essentials, I walked over to the train station. By the time I got off the train I was running a few minutes late. I started running. But I was an hour early, it ended up.

I took a few pictures and then became part of the ropeline. Bill Clinton works the ropeline like noone else. To him each person truly is unique, and each moment is unique, and he considers himself to be the master of the spoken word segment of it. How do you know Bill Clinton is breathing? His mouth is open. How do you know he is thinking? His mouth is open. I think he keeps his mouth in an open position because he never knows when he might speak yet another word. And this man wants to meet everybody, literally everybody. He thrives on the ropeline act. He empathizes with people who come to see him. He knows how much it means to them that they get to shake his hand. And he complies.

It was in 1996. He was on the campaign trail. I read in the news. He worked the ropeline at one event. When he got done, he felt like he had not shaken enough hands. So he went back to the beginning and worked the same ropeline all over again.

The ropeline is this man's icecream.

When Bill Clinton was in kindergarten, his friends would say, "Let's go watch Billie Clinton think!"

JFK had a different approach. He hated shaking hands. It is said none of his friends, buddies amounted to anything. When he went into the White House as a President-elect, that was his first time. He had been that insignificant in the Senate. In the Senate his colleagues put him on an insignificant committee. When he first entered the Congress, he took one look at the well, and said, looks like a bunch of worms. He was interested in the presidency, and that is all he cared about. But then he was also up against the WASP glass ceiling. He had to invent his path to the top. The trodden path was not going to work for him.

So Bill Clinton gets out of his car. And he comes down the ropeline. He is doing the unique person, unique moment thing. And finally it is my turn.

"Mr. President, you are Elvis," I say, his hand in mine.

"Thank you, thank you," he says. Then he realizes I am not done talking. He looks down to the ground.

"I have been to Arkansas several times. I have also passed through Hope."

At that point he has not yet left me quite, but he is not yet with the next person.

That is when Fernando Ferrer grabs my hand.

I have attended so many of this man's events by now. Hopefully I get to strike a conversation the next time I get to see him. I am already lined up to see him two more times. Howard Dean is doing a fundraiser for him, and the evening after Dean's brother is showing up with Ferrer at the DFNYC Mixer.

Then I move on, kind of following Clinton and Ferrer, from a distance.

I find myself standing next to this cute, black woman perhaps in her late 20s. She is with her girlfriends.

"Just look at him. He is so cute. Gorgeous. Just look at his face."

And I am thinking, I got a line I can quote in my blog entry.

"He is so cute even the men wanna shake his hand," she adds.

And I burst out laughing. I got outed. She joined me. We were both howling.

Then there was this part when the two of them spoke.

"In 1991, when my mother and my wife were the only people who thought I could get elected president, Freddie Ferrer endorsed me. When I became president, I sent $100 million over to the Bronx because I knew Freddie had the leadership to make good use of it," Clinton said. He said some more.

This part of the event became controversial later.

There were all these white boys with TV cameras who were outright hostile to the Ferrer team. They wanted to know why the microphones were turned off. "If Ferrer can not manage an event, how can he manage a city?" And there was this use of the children metaphor. Children. Women and children. Women, children, blacks and Hispanics. I am all too familiar with that racist children metaphor. "Why were children holding the microphones?"

One Ferrer person was getting pounded by a hostile TV reporter after Clinton had already left. The cameraperson was a woman, white woman. She took the camera off her shoulders. I think the hostility was too much also for her. It was a tribal white boy, white woman, minority male triangle. I was watching from the sidelines.

I should have intervened. "Excuse me, I happen to have a Ph.D. in race relations. I think you are being a racist jerk. This is not only unprofessional, it also goes against the spirit of this great city."

Another Ferrer person complained the media largely boycotted the Ferrer press conferences. Most except the Spanish media.

I think there are a few things coming into play.

One, Bloomberg has double digit leads in the polls. Part of the pounding Ferrer is getting is just for being the underdog.

Two, Ferrer's couter offensive has not been aggressive enough.

Three, racism is an issue, sure. I smell these things. The white boys in the media can get so predictable at times.

Four, the Democratic Party is not united behind Ferrer. A lot of white Democrats think as long as they send Democrats to Congress, it is okay the city does not go to a Democrat.

One was openly mocking how maybe the Ferrer campaign had thought the Clinton event would be their turnaround. But instead they, the media, were going to focus on the microphone issue.

Later I met a reporter - white - who played the Clinton speech to me on tape. His microphone apparently had worked.

This one New York Times reporter who was getting interviewed by a TV reporter took a break from the interview and asked me, "Are you with the Times?"

"No, I am with the DFNYC."

He looked puzzled. He probably thought I was with some TV station. DFNYC? WNYC?

Going by skin color, Ferrer looks white to me.

This is a little confusing.

Social progress is a tricky issue. Race, class, gender, all of them.

Bill Clinton has been at the receiving end of some regionalism himself. He will tell of something called the Arkansas bias.

Do I think that race is the number one issue in the Ferrer-Bloomberg tussle? No way. Do I think it is an issue? Sure.

For me it has been an experience in demystification with Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton claimed he wanted to demystify the presidency through his autobiography.

Bill Clinton is in a league of his own.

At the train station on my way back I met an elderly Hispanic lady who asked me if I had been to the event. She knew the answer. When you are her, it is touching that a president cares about you. Presidents are not known to much care about people like her. They are distant objects busy doing their own important things. But Bill Clinton shows up in your neighborhood.

I chose to get off the President Street station on the 2 train in Brooklyn, even though it is quite a walk from there to my place. This has been a special day. I also had two slices of pizza at two different joints. To celebrate this great day. And I had paan in my neighborhood. Paan is considered auspicious.

148 Photos.

In The News

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bill Clinton Has Left The Building

Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005 22:28:05 -0400
From:"Dorcas Castro"
Subject: Clinton Meeting The People Of New York With Fernando Ferrer!

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Please join us on Thursday, October 20th at 1:00pm on the Triangle Corner of 170th Street & Charlotte in Seabury
Bronx, NY

President Clinton will be meeting the people of the
City of New York on their own turf, rallying for Fernando Ferrer,
the next Mayor !

Bring your enthusiasm, hopes & desire for change!

take the #2 or #5 train to 174th Street & Southern Blvd. Walk 3 blocks South to Jennings turn right to Charlotte.

Hope to see you there!

Dorcas Castro
Volunteer Coordinator

New Yorkers For Ferrer
14 East 38th Street 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10016
212-684-2005 ext. 147

Please donate your time & volunteer for us!

100 Hours Of Video Online Will Elect Ferrer

Polls show Bloomberg has a 27 point lead. That is inaccurate. He had a 14 point lead before he pulled his dishonest security stunt. (Bloomberg: No Mr. Security) I would say there is a 10 point error. I know enough about polling techniques to point out the inaccuracies, deliberate and otherwise. That still gives Bloomberg a five point lead or so.

Bloomberg has blanketed the media. He thinks the New York City media is like a house in the Bermuda where he goes for weekends - he is too good to enjoy NYC during weekends: it can be bought. And considering how the local media has been boycotting Ferrer events, makes you think he just might be right. Whatever happened to Thomas Jefferson's idea of a free press?

Ferrer has been doing a ton of events, Bloomberg hardly any. But the public thinks Ferrer has been hiding. New Yorkers don't have the time to show up for events. They are busy working. They are the ultimate worker bees.

The Ferrer campaign needs to video record all Ferrer events, hours and hours of them, and put them online at the campaign website. That is inexpensive, and the campaign's best shot at bridging the exposure gap. Hours and hours. Five hours of video a day or more. Show the crowds, the enthusiasm.

Ferrer is beyond qualified. He was Bronx Borough President from 1987 to 2001. That is not like being president, that is practically being the King of Bronx. Ferrer implemented urban renewal in the Bronx in ways that it became the talk of the planet, literally. Mayors all over the world wanted to know how he was doing it.

I have yet to meet a single Indian entrepreneur who has read a Bloomberg biography or thinks of him as an inspiration.

Ferrer is right on the policy, and he is right on the leadership.

But then a campaign has its own realities, and those have to be faced.

Do a ton of events, and video blog all of them. Bypass old media. If they were fair, they would have been showing the events on the evening news. But they are not. Maybe they are like those handful of white Democrats who are for Bloom.

100 hours of video online will elect Ferrer. That is to be the launch pad.

And the real clincher will be the two debates. Ferrer has to win both of them.

Jay Leno is the top comedian in the country and he rehearses all his lines. Nothing wrong with rehearsing lines. There has to be thorough preparation. Many mock debates. Ferrer should face all possible Bloomberg jibes in the rehearsals. And he should be ready with solid one liner rebuttals. And he should be willing to go on the attack, keep Bloomberg on the defensive.

Do events. Video blog events.

Hold many mock debates.

Might as well start with the event with Bill Clinton tomorrow. If the event lasts four hours, the video should be four plus hours. Make it possible for people to participate even if they can not attend.

Uh, I finally get to see Bill Clinton tomorrow. (Amitabh Bachchan, Bill Clinton, Amitabh In Town)

Jesse Jackson On Martin Luther King Boulevard
No Taxation Without Representation
The Bloomberg Machine
Ferrer Can

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jesse Jackson On Martin Luther King Boulevard

There was supposed to be some kind of a DFNYC event where you get together and call a bunch of people, but instead I got an email saying the Ferrer campaign would rather DFNYC people showed up at the campaign headquarters to help any way they can.

So I showed up a little after noon. Not far from Times Square. That must be the campaign headquarters district in town, because I think Siegel had his headquarters somewhere around there as well. I was just going to soak the atmosphere, and try and throw in a few ideas.

I got to meet last name Castro. "Where I come from, people talk of Castro like he were Bob Marley. Any relation?"

Jesse Jackson was in town, and Castro was on her way to attend an event with him. How lucky of me! Too bad I did not have my camera with me. But, oh well.

Every town worth its salt in the South has some street named after Martin Luther King. They despise you while you are around, and they worship you after you are gone. And there was this street in Harlem. Only later in the day I learned Bill Clinton's office was on the same street.

If he were not black, or if this country were not racist, Jesse Jackson would have been president somewhere along the way. That man understands the contours of race relations like a physicist and quantum physics. He has the instinct for the political process, for power. He has fought so many battles by now, on his face rests the cool of a statesman.

Sharpton has unique hair. I mean, I have seen it on TV and in pictures and stuff, but when you walk right behind him for a little while, you really notice it.

The first meetup for Howard Dean I attended was in Bloomington, Indiana, in October 2003. It was a home setting, over a dozen Deaniacs in attendance. Bloomington is a progressive town, but it is the Midwest. Everyone was white. We were there to watch a Democratic presidential debate. I got this clear impression people were laughing harder to Al Sharpton's jokes because I was in the room. So I guess Al Sharpton and I are not that unrelated after all.

For much of the walk, march, rally, whatever you will call it, I was distributing Ferrer campaign literature. Towards the end I got to shake the Sharpton hand, and the Jackson hand. Jackson looks you in the eyes, and then he locks you. Suddenly the rest of the world goes away for a small frame of time. Suddenly all the background noise is gone, he is so looking at you. I was not nervous. But I was too happy, this was too big a moment. This was my moment to say a significant one liner. I said hello. All I could say.

You should see the crowd react to Jesse. In Harlem. I saw women who were literally delirious and shaking. Jumping up and down on their feet. These people were not going for handshakes. Nah. Not their style. They wanted full-blown hugs, hugs that last a while. Young men, old men, schoolchildren. This is not your run of the mill politician. This man is in a league of his own, a Senior Statesman of the Democratic Party for life. This man has a gift.

Whoever is the first black to make it to the White House, perhaps Obama, he or she will be standing on the shoulder of this particular giant.

The black woman president of Manhattan was also there. I got to shake her hand as well. Virginia.

I hope this really boosts Ferrer among the blacks. It is the strange psychology of the powerless that a lot of blacks in Harlem seem to be behind Bloomberg.

Jackson and Sharpton spoke. Jackson mentioned Ferrer had helped in his 1984 and 1988 bids for the White House. And Sharpton said Bloomberg was "Guliani with good manners." That is not a compliment. These black leaders, they speak poetry. They have a slightly different grip on the English language. There is this rhythm. This sway. Sometimes words rhyme, if not the metaphors do. They speak different. Maybe it is the cocktail of the undercurrent of black culture and an European language. Something is going on.

Sharpton mentioned some figures. 50% of blacks unemployed, 40% of Hispanics. That was heartbreaking to hear. They should be calling the National Guard on this one, maybe the Fire Department. That is not a campaign detail, that is a crisis. Really made me think. What's going on? Either democracy and the market are not working, or they have not been introduced. I would like to believe it is the latter. The chronic unemployment is a tragedy. But it is also policy level fascination. Unemployment should be more in the 10% or a 5% range. And I do believe it can be done. You introduce democracy and the market, that is what. A functioning democracy would be where each voter feels direct ownership of the top office and the city budget. Currently there is a disconnect. Market would be about micro credit. Credit without collateral, credit at lower rates than usual.

Black America continues to be so very neglected. Martin Luther King started the work. He sure did not come anywhere close to finishing it. I mean, one should be able to imagine a high tech boom in Harlem.

"Keep hope alive."

After the event I dropped by again at the Ferrer headquarters. I was there for a few hours. Got to stuff quite a few envelopes.

But I was trying to suggest an idea: I did talk to quite a few people.

Bloomberg has blanketed the airwaves with his ads because he has tons of money. He is the one sitting at home, Ferrer has been out doing a ton of events. But the image out there is the opposite. Use a few camcorders, record all the events, and put them up at your website.

The idea did not make much headway in the maze of bureaucracy.

"We do take pictures and post them."

"All our five or six TV ads are at the site."

"I have been here only a week."

"All our events are listed at the site."

Political consultants with years of experience are very good at the details they have mastered. But a paradigm shift is something else. Experience and expertise are great stuff, but new, good ideas stand in a class of their own. Ferrer is not as behind as the polls would have you believe, but he is behind, and that asks for something inexpensive and drastic. Or at least that is where I stand.

Towards the end of the Jesse Jackson event, one elderly volunteer kept emphasizing upon me the point that it was okay to take Bloomberg's money if he gives it to you to work on his campaign, just take the money and don't do the work. And he did that in a polite way. Granted it was a largely black and Hispanic crowd, but did I look that out of place? Are a lot of Indians Republicans? I know the most famous one is: Congressman Bobby from Louisiana.

First he started talking to Castro in Spanish. He did not want me to understand. Then Castro eased him into English. And that is when he gave me his advice.

Before I left he pulled out a letter of endorsement he had composed, in English and Spanish.

"I wrote it myself," he said with pride glistening in his eyes.

"Where did Bloomberg make his money? It must be drug money." He was not trying to sound clever. He totally meant it.

Pass me some loyalty stripes I can spray on myself.

Bobby, you are giving an entire subcontinent a bad name, man. Switch, please.

No Taxation Without Representation

Non-citizens should be allowed to vote. To not allow is to disrespect the very essence of New York City. Suddenly I am a single issue person against Bloomberg: I feel so strongly about this issue. This reminds me of Boston and the American revolution.

DFNYC endorsing Gifford Miller was a mistake. Anthony Weiner is a whiner. And I don't even know the guy, directly or indirectly.

Campaign 2005: Much At Stake For Immigrants (2005-09-01)

For the first 150 years after the founding of the nation, non-citizens voted and held public office: alderman, coroner, school board member. Yet the policy fell casualty to the anti-immigrant backlash of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

While many European countries have been allowing legal immigrants to vote for public offices for many decades, only a few municipalities in Maryland and Massachusetts allow non-citizens to vote for local affairs. Non-citizens in Chicago vote in school board election. New York had the same practice from the 1970s until 2002 when the school boards were disbanded.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on his weekly radio program on WABC-AM in April of 2004 that he opposed giving legal immigrants who are not United States citizens the right to vote in New York City elections.

The mayor said that while he sympathized with the plight of immigrants, particularly those who pay taxes, he still believed that "the essence of citizenship is the right to vote, and you should go about becoming a citizen before you get the right to vote."

Gifford Miller and Anthony Weiner have said they agree. Fernando Ferrer and Virginia Fields say they disagree, that non-citizens should be able to vote in local elections.