Saturday, September 27, 2008

Are you registered to vote?

I know, most of you are pretty politically aware. But seriously - is every single person reading this message registered to vote?

Are you sure?

Have you moved in the last year? Did you switch your voter registration to the new address?

Is your spouse or partner registered to vote? How about your parents? Your kids (if they're over 18)? How about the people you work with?

This is going to be one of the most important elections in our lifetime, and there is no justifiable reason not to vote. Get to it now.

If you live in Washington, the deadline is coming very soon. If you're mailing in your registration or your address change, it needs to be postmarked by October 4. That's next Saturday.

Get it done now. Go to this website and find out how to register. (If you don't live in Washington, go here to find out what your deadline is and how to register.)

Don't sit this election out - there's just too much at stake.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


He didn't suspend his campaign. McCain's lying again.

Suspend?! He didn't suspend shit. Since when you say you're going to quit work and then go do a live interview with Katie Couric?

Oh, and he also spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative after he, ahem, suspended his campaign. (So did Obama - but Obama isn't pulling this phony bullshit about suspending his campaign, so it doesn't matter. Obama knows how to run for president and also do his job as a Senator. McCain apparently forgot how.)

And he somehow found time to meet with her royal fucking highness Lady de Rothschild after he suspended his campaign.

He's throwing another Hail Mary pass. He's dodging the debates. He's trying to get Sarah Palin out of the debate with Biden. I don't know what his real game is, but he sure as hell didn't go rushing back to Washington D.C. to do the people's business. He had two stops first to do his own business. So don't let anyone try and say he suspended his campaign. It's a lie. Another lie by John McCain.

Congress didn't need his weaselly ass to get a plan put together. The real leaders in Congress actually worried that McCain's sudden appearance would slow down a deal, not speed it up.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard, he did blow off appearing on Letterman's show. And Letterman is deeply, seriously pissed about it.

He did not suspend his campaign. Pass it on. He did not act heroically - he claimed an emergency, cancelled a couple of things, offered a paperthin charade of bipartisanship, and then went about business as usual. He didn't suspend anything.

And by the way, the ultimate last word has to go to Barack Obama on this. He spoke shortly after McCain announced that the campaigns shouldn't try and both campaign and save Wall Street at the same time. Obama's responded this way:

"Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time. It is not necessary for us to think we can do only one thing and suspend everything else."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama says No Deal

Okay, someone has finally come to their senses. Obama's announced that he's not necessarily going along with the bailout/buyout plan that Paulsen proposed.

It reads a bit like a negotiation, not a statement of refusal. But at least he's not automatically going along with the plan, as he appeared to be doing on Friday.

See for yourself. Here's his response in its entirety.

The era of greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street and in Washington has led to a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression.

But regardless of how we got here, the circumstances we face require decisive action because the jobs, savings, and economic security of millions of Americans are now at risk.

We must work quickly in a bipartisan fashion to resolve this crisis and restore our financial sector so capital is flowing again and we can avert an even broader economic catastrophe. We also should recognize that economic recovery requires that we act, not just to address the crisis on Wall Street, but also the crisis on Main Street and around kitchen tables across America.

But thus far, the Administration has only offered a concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan.

Even if the Treasury recovers some or most of its investment over time, this initial outlay of up to $700 billion is sobering. And in return for their support, the American people must be assured that the deal reflects some basic principles.

• No blank check. If we grant the Treasury broad authority to address the immediate crisis, we must insist on independent accountability and oversight. Given the breach of trust we have seen and the magnitude of the taxpayer money involved, there can be no blank check.

• Rescue requires mutual responsibility. As taxpayers are asked to take extraordinary steps to protect our financial system, it is only appropriate to expect those institutions that benefit to help protect American homeowners and the American economy. We cannot underwrite continued irresponsibility, where CEOs cash in and our regulators look the other way. We cannot abet and reward the unconscionable practices that triggered this crisis. We have to end them.

• Taxpayers should be protected. This should not be a handout to Wall Street. It should be structured in a way that maximizes the ability of taxpayers to recoup their investment. Going forward, we need to make sure that the institutions that benefit from financial insurance also bear the cost of that insurance.

• Help homeowners stay in their homes. This crisis started with homeowners and they bear the brunt of the nearly unprecedented collapse in housing prices. We cannot have a plan for Wall Street banks that does not help homeowners stay in their homes and help distressed communities.

• A global response. As I said on Friday, this is a global financial crisis and it requires a global solution. The United States must lead, but we must also insist that other nations, who have a huge stake in the outcome, join us in helping to secure the financial markets.

• Main Street, not just Wall Street. The American people need to know that we feel as great a sense of urgency about the emergency on Main Street as we do the emergency on Wall Street. That is why I call on Senator McCain, President Bush, Republicans and Democrats to join me in supporting an emergency economic plan for working families – a plan that would help folks cope with rising gas and food prices, save one million jobs through rebuilding our schools and roads, help states and cities avoid painful budget cuts and tax increases, help homeowners stay in their homes, and provide retooling assistance to help ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built in America.

• Build a regulatory structure for the 21st Century. While there is not time in a week to remake our regulatory structure to prevent abuses in the future, we should commit ourselves to the kind of reforms I have been advocating for several years. We need new rules of the road for the 21st Century economy, together with the means and willingness to enforce them.

The bottom line is that we must change the economic policies that led us down this dangerous path in the first place. For the last eight years, we’ve had an “on your own-anything goes” philosophy in Washington and on Wall Street that lavished tax cuts on the wealthy and big corporations; that viewed even common-sense regulation and oversight as unwise and unnecessary; and that shredded consumer protections and loosened the rules of the road. Ordinary Americans are now paying the price. The events of this week have rendered a final verdict on that failed philosophy, and it is a philosophy I will end as President of the United States,” said Senator Barack Obama.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Deal

You might not be hearing about it yet, but there's an insurgency building against this bailout plan for the financial industry. People aren't just uncomfortable with the proposed $500 billion $700 billion buyout. They're deeply and righteously pissed.

Cenk Uygur
...when the American people find out what's been done here, they are going to be livid. Conservatives, liberals, moderates, everyone. Why should we have to pay a trillion dollars of our own money to save the asses of bankers who already made a killing from these loans? Now, they get to unload all of their "toxic assets," as Paulson is calling it, on us. Who in their right mind would support that?

Wall Street is ecstatic. The market is through the roof right now because they can't believe they got such a good deal. Understand this is not an isolated bailout here and there. The Treasury Secretary just said he is going to take ALL of their bad loans off their hands. Why wouldn't they be elated?

Glenn Greenwald
The way it works is that Bush officials decree how things will be, and then everyone -- from Congressional Democrats to the Serious Pundits -- jump uncritically and obediently on board, even if they were on board with the complete opposite approach just days earlier, and then all real dissent vanishes. That's how the country in general works. As Atrios says: "We've seen this game played before." I don't pretend to know anywhere near enough -- in terms of either raw information or expertise -- in order to opine on the necessity or lack thereof of The Latest Plan in terms of whether the alternatives are worse. But what I do know is that an injustice so grave and extreme that it defies words is taking place; that the greatest beneficiaries are those who are most culpable; and that the same hopelessly broken and deeply rotted institutions and elite class that gave rise to all of this (and so much more) are the very ones that are -- yet again -- being blindly entrusted to solve this.
Paul Krugman

I hate to say this, but looking at the plan as leaked, I have to say no deal. Not unless Treasury explains, very clearly, why this is supposed to work, other than through having taxpayers pay premium prices for lousy assets.

As I posted earlier today, it seems all too likely that a “fair price” for mortgage-related assets will still leave much of the financial sector in trouble. And there’s nothing at all in the draft that says what happens next; although I do notice that there’s nothing in the plan requiring Treasury to pay a fair market price. So is the plan to pay premium prices to the most troubled institutions? Or is the hope that restoring liquidity will magically make the problem go away?


But here's all you need to know. Hank Paulson is asking for $700,000,000,000. That's $2,333 from every man, woman, and child in the United States.

In exchange for that money, Paulson is unwilling to accept any demands to make markets more transparent, limit executive compensation, or assist homeowners fighting foreclosure. The sole purpose of that $700,000,000,000 is to bail out Wall Street and only Wall Street, but not to fix it, or our larger economy.

He is asking to be absolutely unbound by any law when he spends that money.

Something stinks. Obama's going along with the plan. McCain's going along with it. Intelligent Democrats and Republicans - people who should know better - are buying into the "this is the only thing we can do" panic talk. Something is very wrong here, and we should all be very nervous about an action this large happening this quickly.

I don't propose to know all the answers. But you don't need to be a weatherman to know when your roof blows off. If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

Here's the questions to ask yourself: who does this help? Who does this relief plan leave out in the cold?

And if this doesn't work, what's the next move? Mark my words - this is not going to bring the economic crisis to a sudden stop. More steps will be needed. If this doesn't work, what's the next step?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Adrian Belew-Oh Daddy

My friend Nancy is hurting today. It's the first birthday she's celebrated since her dad passed away.

I promised I'd post some stuff to make her smile, so here's my first try. It's also the goofiest song I know about being a dad. Hope it helps, Nancy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Musical Weekend

Sunday was the 10th Anniversary of the opening of Benaroya Hall. To celebrate, they had an entire day of musical performances all over downtown Seattle. We went down for a few hours.

These guys were the first performance we saw, and I think they were the highlight for Oliver. This video captures some of the energy of the group, but if you live in Seattle, go to a Seahawks game or find somewhere to see them live.

They had demonstrations of various instruments, so he got to play a violin and a cello. He was scared of the horns, though, so he watched his daddy try to play a trumpet and a trombone.

We also saw the Cascade Symphony perform in Benaroya Hall and caught a few other small performances. There was a band (the Raggedy Anns) playing inside the Seattle Art Museumn that got Oliver all revved up. He started running around and jumping around like a maniac. Clearly the boy knows good music when he hears it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

ACORN in Chaos

“Why are they still negotiating with Wade Rathke? Why are the people on staff who knew about this embezzlement still on the staff?”- Coya Mobley, ACORN Board Member

Two members of ACORN's board just filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the organization, seeking to remove Wade Rathke completely from the organization and to have financial documents related to the organization released.

Apparently, after Rathke left his position as "chief organizer" of the organization, he went to work with ACORN International, which is a separate organization that just happens to share office space with ACORN. Mr. Rathke has allegedly been making a bit of a nuisance of himself, walking into the offices of the organization he left in pieces and attempting to talk to the employees. They've asked him to stop.

“Mr. Rathke stubbornly refuses to do that, so he sort of haunts that office, tries to talk to folks doing their work,” according to Bertha Lewis, the interim chief organizer.

Rathke's huffy response isn't going to win him any friends. “I was with the organization for 38 years, and there are many people I hired and supervised, and I have great relationships with them. I haven’t been involved in supervising them. Are they saying that simply because I breathe, I exist, they have a problem?”

No, stupid. It's because you can't let go. You utterly failed the organization you created, and they have asked you to leave. It's one of the fundamental rules of community organizing. When the community asks you to leave, you find the door. You don't whine, you don't complain, you don't pout. You don't keep dropping in to see how things are doing. You get the hell out. It's time for Wade Rathke to find the door.

ACORN's lack of transparency, and Rathke's inability to honor boundaries, are only going to prolong this disastrous scandal in the public eye. The lawsuit is a reaction to bad behavior. The best way to make this thing go away is to act honorably, openly, and swiftly, and they aren't doing any of that so far.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Sunday Scene

"Look at what you did. You just peed your pants! You lied to me!"

One moment, he was happily building a sand castle, planting a flag made of seaweed and driftwood in the turret. He was just another kid. And then, in an instant, everything changed.

He wasn't quite six. I knew that because the man - his father? stepfather? - shouted it loud enough for everyone to hear. "He's not a baby anymore! He's almost six - five and three-quarters - and he shouldn't be doing this anymore!"

He was just a boy who had an accident. But the man didn't see it that way. It was an act of vengeance, of defiance. "I went to the bathroom, and I asked you if you needed to go. You said you didn't need to go. Why did you lie to me?!"

The boy sobbed, shouted that he still didn't need to go, while urine dripped down the crotch of his pants. They exchanged insults. "Let me go, you big stupid head!" the boy growled. They seethed at each other as if they had had this same fight a hundred times before.

He had a hold on the boy's arm. The boy tried to go back to his sand castle, back to the sand and seaweed. The boy either took a swing at him or his accuser thought he did. "Are you trying to hit me? Did you try to hit me?"

The shouts got louder. The boy's insults sounded feeble, and to write them out would make them seem childish and funny. They weren't funny. They were the sound of a boy who was accustomed to being abused. This was a boy who was used to spankings, and maybe worse. He was used to fighting back against abuse, however futilely, using the methods that had been used against him. He struck out. He shouted names. He used sarcastic insults.

But he was a boy, not even six, and finally he just kept sobbing while the man berated him.

He never hit the kid while we were there. By that, I mean he never slapped him across the face, never pushed him down in the sand, never took off his belt. At some point, the boy turned his back on the man and the man swatted him on his behind a few times.

The boy asked him why he was being spanked, and the man smugly said, "that wasn't a spanking." So there were different levels of violence in the house. There were spankings, and there was just hitting your kid for the sake of hitting him.

Everything about it was wrong - the tone in the man's voice, the rage in that little boy's voice, the way his mother sat idly through the entire scene, only offering a feeble attempt at compromise once. We left sickened, grateful that Oliver had been out of earshot for most of the confrontation.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Organizers Strike Back

Note: thanks to Jaime Mulligan, whom I have never met, for the awesome picture.

"And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities." - Sarah Palin

Yeah, I'm still stuck on that one line. Because it pissed me off, friends and neighbors. Because it was a cheap shot at every organizer in the country. Everyone who's ever held a clipboard on a street corner, everyone who's ever knocked on the door of a stranger, everyone who's ever invited someone to a rally or a community event. Sarah Palin just spat in the faces of every single one of those people.

She attacked us.

And it wasn't just Palin who attacked us. Rudy Giuliani took a swing at community organizers. So did George Pataki.

Here's the truth, folks. Cesar Chavez was a community organizer. Ralph Nader was a community organizer. Martin Luther King Jr. was a community organizer. Mahatma Gandhi was a community organizer. Susan B. Anthony. Lech Walesa. Vaclav Havel. Aung San Suu Kyi.

But what about the other side? Gary Bauer and Pat Robertson were community organizers when they created the Christian Coalition. Focus on the Family's James Dobson, whether you like him or not, is doing community organizing. Hell, even Rush Limbaugh has a bit of community organizing to him. Change happens in this country and in this world because community organizers - on the left and on the right - are doing the hard, frustrating, thankless work they do. And Sarah Palin and her Republican buddies think we're all worthless.

Now, I could go on and on, but I'm not the only one who's offended by this. Some big names have joined the chorus of outrage against this cheap shot.

When Sarah Palin demeaned community organizing, she didn't attack another candidate. She attacked an American tradition --- one that has helped everyday Americans engage with the political process and make a difference in their lives and the lives of their neighbors.

All across the country, in every state and every community, there are community organizers helping people find shared solutions to the shared problems they face. The candidates for President and Vice President should be working to solve our shared problems, too, rather than attack others who are trying to do the same. - Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Center for Community Change

Contrary to Palin’s disparaging remarks, organizers have major responsibilities for creating policy changes. Feeding the hungry and housing the homeless are clearly responsibilities of people of faith. We do that by providing food and shelter and more importantly, by organizing to address the causes of injustice and inequity which lead to hunger and homelessness. - Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice and the co-author of “Organizing for Social Change"

Politicians should thank community organizers, not insult them. As a longtime organizer, I’ve seen time and time again the we are the ones who make government work for the poor, the powerless and the marginalized. Politicians’ policies and promises would amount to nothing without grassroots activists to hold them accountable. We are leaders of faith and stewards of democracy. In a time when the face of faith in politics is often ugly, community organizing is a valuable example faith’s positive role in public life.- Pastor Mark Diemer, senior pastor of Grace of God Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio and a DART community organizer.

These groups, and the millions of individuals they represent, are dismayed by the recent dismissal of their efforts in the form of political attacks. Community organizations have been at the heart of every major reform in modern history – from the Boston Tea Party to the civil rights movement for example, the quest for civil rights began when community organizers mobilized the disenfranchised. - USAction

ACORN members, leaders and staff are extremely disappointed that Republican leaders would make such condescending attacks on the great work community organizers accomplish in cities throughout this country. The fact that they marginalize our success in empowering low- and moderate-income people to improve their communities further illustrates their lack of touch with ordinary people. Every great movement in the history of the world has community organizing. - Maude Hurd, President, ACORN

(Note: I know I talk a lot of smack about ACORN, but they're doing good work and I've said that over and over again. And the fact that they underpay their community organizers doesn't change the fact that they're doing righteous work.)

This is just a sampling. More responses can be found here and here. And also, you must read this Kos diary.

Don't piss off community organizers. There are a hell of a lot of us, and we're proud. We work damn hard to make the change that happens in this world, and none of us are going to stand still while someone uses for a political punching bag.

Oh, and also this: community organizers don't just know how to use a rapid response network. We run the rapid response networks. We run the phone trees. We're activists. We're hellraisers. Don't pick a fight with people who fight for a living.

The Meaning of Community Organizing

I was going to post a long response to Sarah Palin's nasty remark yesterday. I was a community organizer for years, you see, and I resent being accused of having a meaningless job.

I may still write that long response. But for now, I thought I'd let our organizer-in-chief respond himself. This video was posted about five months ago, and seems more appropriate now than ever.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Democrats Don't Attack Working Mothers

Look, there are a hundred reasons to oppose Sarah Palin's nomination. One is that she was nominated by John McCain, who is a frightening prospect for president.

Her astonishing lack of qualifications. The lies about the Bridge to Nowhere. The lies about her connections with Ted Stevens. Her near-impeachment as mayor of Wasilla. The firing of the head of public safety for personal reasons. The earmarks she got to benefit her small town. The fact that she fought to keep polar bears off the endangered species list.

Lots of valid, political, meaningful reasons to oppose her nomination.

The fact that Sarah Palin is a working mother is not a reason to oppose her nomination. Mean-spirited attacks like Sally Quinn's piece are not going to help our case at all.
Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job? She is the mother of five children, one of them a four-month-old with Down Syndrome. Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make? I'm the mother of only one child, a special needs child who is grown now. I know how much of my time and energy I devoted to his care. He always had to be my first priority. Of course women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I've done both. Yes, other women in public office have children. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has five children, but she didn't get heavily involved in politics until they were older. A mother's role is different from a father's.
Mrs. B is a working mother. Do we really want to start attacking mothers for working outside the home? Take away the number of kids, the concerns about the kid with Down's Syndrome. This is an attack on working mothers.

And it's also an attack on fathers, incidentally. I was a stay-at-home dad for nearly a year of Oliver's life. He was still nursing when Mrs. B went back to work. I fed him bottles of breast milk. I put him to bed. I took care of him. He survived. A mother's role is different from a father's, true, but if Palin's husband is the chief caregiver in the family, there is no shame and no harm in that. And shame on Sally Quinn for insinuating otherwise.

We are attacking our own best interests as progressives and as Democrats when we attack Sarah Palin for daring to work while raise children. Let's get back to the issues at hand and not get distracted by the circumstances of her family. We're better than this.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Sarah Palin's place on the ticket didn't last the week. If/when she resigns her position as vice-presidential candidate, she will blame the Democrats for attacking her and her daughter. She will accuse us of trying to destroy her and her family, and she will say that the Democratic party is anti-working woman and anti-family. Sally Quinn's piece feeds into that argument. Every time a progressive gleefully talks about what a terrible mother Sarah Palin must be, they feed into that argument.

We're better than this.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Diddy on Sarah Palin

I don't think enough people have been asking themselves this question: "what does Diddy think about John McCain's choice for vice president, Sarah Palin?"

But apparently someone asked him, because here's his response.

Note: I do not necessarily endorse the views of Diddy, nor do I endorse his tilt-a-whirl camera work. There's some questionable language in this video, so don't watch it with your kids.