Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Get Active: Deaniacs Houseparty Exceeds All Expectations

What a great party! Thanks so much to everyone who was part of it, in person or in spirit. There's nothing like hearing Dr. Dean talk to a roomful of smart, committed, politically active people to make one really BELIEVE we are going to TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!

As a fundraiser, the party blew away my hopes. As of right now, we raised $1564.68! That put us at least briefly in the position of being NUMBER 10 in the COUNTRY on the list of "which houseparty raised the most money." (Of course, later this morning, the West Coast hosts and hostesses woke up and entered their offline donations. But still ....) If you are checking our current status, add $50. Due to a little website confusion, two contributions won't be associated with the sit for a few days.) We had set the goal at $500 -- and the minimum for a houseparty was $200. Whoo-hoo!

As an activist event, the party also sizzled. We had lots of long-time Wake County Democrats mingling with lots of committed, articulate, hard-working Dean folks. Of course, some people fall into both camps -- like Wake School Board candidate Sam Brewer. Lots of people left the party saying they would be coming to a Meetup on Wednesday and would even be interested in organizing their precincts or getting involved in other grassroots activities.

There is still time to be a virtual guest if you want. Today is the last day of the 3rd quarter, so we're in for another round of reporting on who is winning the fundraising race. Give what you can today at:

Contribute to Dean for America and rsvp for my house party . Just click the Contribute button from this page.

Hope you are all going to a Meetup tomorrow! I'll be at the one at Greenshields in Raleigh.

Let's take our country back!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Get smart: Wesley Clark says Howard Dean was Right about Iraq

The New York Times asked new presidential candidate Wesley Clark about Dr. Howard Dean's criticism of the pre-emptive attack on Iraq. The Times reported:

"General Clark responded: 'I think he's right. That in retrospect we should never have gone in there. I didn't want to go in there either. But on the other hand, he wasn't on the inside the bubble of those who were exposed to the information.'"

Deaniacs would like to point out that we know now that those on the "inside of the bubble" knew that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction or links to the attacks on 9/11.

Would Clark himself have voted to give up the responsibility of the Senate and pre-authorize the President to attack Iraq? Yes. The Times again quotes Clark:

"At the time, I probably would have voted for it." He then waffles a bit, but winds up reiterating, "I probably would have voted for it."

Let's have put a person who believes in the balance of power into the White House. Let's put a person who believes that the doctrine of pre-emptive attack is tragically misguided.

Let's put Howard Dean in the White House.

Sources: Late-Arriving Candidate Got Push from Clintons, by Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times, 9/19/03.
The Terrorism Link that Wasn't, op-ed, New York Times, 9/19/03.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Get Active: The Party and the House Call

Deaniacs is throwing a house party for Dr. Dean on September 29th. Hope you are either holding one or going to one that night. The goal is to have 3,500 house parties nationwide and to raise a million dollars that night. Each party will participate in the world's largest conference call with the good doctor himself. Can you feel the momentum?

Check out the details for the nation-wide bash on the Dean for America site.

Hurricane Isabel is rapidly approaching Deaniacs headquarters. I hope the electricity stays with us. But if the blog is quiet for awhile or email goes unanswered, you'll know why.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Get Active: The Class

About 125 people gave up their Saturday a few days ago to go to an activist training class sponsored by the North Carolina Democratic Party. For my story and a few pictures, see the Wake County Democratic Party's site.

Sorry to take this short-cut again, but Hurricane Isabel is inspiring me to go get prepared for either a long time without electricity or the joy of having a stocked pantry, clean clothes, a tank full of gas, and no real emergency.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Get Active: Cheney, Burr Protest

About 100 people gathered tonight to protest Vice President Dick Cheney and the White House's influence on North Carolina state politics. See my story and pictures on the Wake County Democratic Party's site.

Just before going to the protest, I check the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to see how employment had faired under George W. Bush. I was shocked: our unemployment rate was 4.4 percent when he took office and 6.6% in July 2003, the most recent figure available. That's an increase in 50%!

Of the few rude comments from passing cars, the one that made the crowd hoot the loudest was "get a job!" Tell that to the folks at Pillowtex. Or Nortel, Midway Airlines ... and on and on.

Pride: An Open Letter to Presidential Candidate John Edwards

Here's a letter I just sent to Senator John Edwards, who announced this week that he will not be seeking re-election in North Carolina for one of its two senate seats:

Dear Senator Edwards:

Thank you for announcing that you will not be running again for Senate. If you win the Democratic Party's nomination, I will volunteer for you in your campaign for President.

Now, please protect your Senate seat for a Democrat by resigning and allowing another Democrat to campaign as an incumbent ... and to spend the time that you cannot in representing North Carolina in the Senate. With the full Bush administration supporting Burr's candidacy, it is essential that we run the strongest possible replacement candidate for you from the strongest possible position. Please make this one last show of support to the Democrats who voted you into office.


Republican Elizabeth Dole holds the other North Carolina Senate seat. Although she is a welcomed change from our long-time senator, Jesse Helms, she's doing an excellent job of representing Republican ideas and the Republican party in North Carolina. Karl Rove was behind her candidacy. Karl Rove has already held a fundraiser for Burr. Tonight, I'll be protesting Vice President Dick Cheney as he comes for another fundraiser for Burr at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh from 4:30 to 6:00.

Deaniacs supports good Democrats in all elections. We hope that Senator Edwards will do the same.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Wrath: The "Cops" are Back

Do a little memory test. Remember how you felt about police officers before 9/11/01?

If you are like me, they weren't "police officers" at all. They were cops. Growing up in suburbia, I didn't know any of them personally. But my images were fueled by the beating and firehosing of civil-rights activists, the shootings at Kent State, and the violence against anti-war protesters.

But on 9/11, the cops became heroes. Firefighters, soldiers, and even security screeners became our noble protectors in a country joined together by tragedy. It wasn't "us vs. them;" it was "the U.S. vs. terrorism."

Yet last Saturday, I found myself at a protest shouting at police officers. They had gathered to hear John Ashcroft promote the Patriot II act. And about 400 of us gathered on short notice to tell the officers, loudly and repeatedly, "We are watching YOU."

The chant felt wrong somehow, but it took me a few days to understand why. I don't want to be watching the police. And I don't want them to be watching me. We live in an age where the constant surveillance described in "1984" is technically possible. Our government can and should use some of this power to protect the country from real threats, following constitutional procedures.

But it should not arrest and hold people without trial. It should not use the airports as a training ground to get citizens used to being stripped and frisked by guards. It should not tap my phone, "sneak and peek" on my computer, or track my every movement using traffic-light cameras and cell-phone trackers. The ACLU says: "For example, without a warrant and without probable cause, the FBI now has the power to access your most private medical records, your library records, and your student records... and can prevent anyone from telling you it was done."

Think this only goes after the "bad guys"?

A reporter asked me at the Ashcroft protest, "What is it about you that you don't want John Ashcroft to know?" Brilliant trick question. The point is that given enough data about enough people, the government can create a police state in which most people will be willing to inform on each other to protect themselves and their families.

Think this doesn't mean you? Do you speed when you drive? It's easy for the government to take away your driver's license by slapping you with enough speeding tickets based on undisputable evidence. What would happen if everyone in your family lost their driver's licenses? Could you still get to work? The store?

Surely you have at least one neighbor who, when threatened by a loss like this, would be happy to testify that you associate with "terrorist supporters," which can include some anti-nuclear and peace activists.

Am I being paranoid? Decide for yourself after reading the ACLU's analysis of the proposed Patriot II act. Two highlights point out that the act will diminish your civil rights by:

"Stripping even native-born Americans of all of the rights of United States citizenship if they provide support to unpopular organizations labeled as terrorist by our government, even if they support only the lawful activities of such organizations, allowing them to be indefinitely imprisoned in their own country as undocumented aliens." You can lose your citizenship for writing a check to what seems to be a good charity or cause but that has a branch that commits what our government secretly judges to be terrorist activities -- such as getting too close to a nuclear plant. And by:

"Permitting arrests and extraditions of Americans to any foreign country“ including those whose governments do not respect the rule of law or human rights“ in the absence of a Senate-approved treaty and without allowing an American judge to consider the extraditing country's legal system or human rights record. (Section 322)"

Sign the petition

Please sign the petition on the DeanForAmerica site to stop John Ashcroft and his attempt to once again divide the police officers from the general citizenry. The petition says:

To John Ashcroft:

Stop compromising our freedoms. Stop eroding our basic civil rights. Stop trying to teach our neighbors to spy on each other, and American communities to mistrust each other.

I will not stand for your using fear to threaten what it means to be an American.

The rule of law and due process are at the heart of the American tradition. There is no contradiction between protecting the country from terrorism and ensuring the protection of our basic civil liberties every step of the way.

Sign the petition now. Let's return America to its resolute, honorable best. Let's take our country back.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Pride: Bush and Biden Rewrite History

I'm so angry after hearing Bush's speech tonight and Senator Biden's response that I'm still breathing hard.

Let's invade a country without cause and without international support and then spend $87 billion dollars to rebuild it. Let's insist that it's only logical for the countries who opposed our assault on Iraq to now chip in, big time, with people and money to support America Inc.

Let's tell hide our biggest mistake with a half-truth. Bush said, "And we acted in Iraq, where the former regime sponsored terror, possessed and used weapons of mass destruction, and for 12 years defied the clear demands of the United Nations Security Council." Yes, Saddam Hussein did possess and use nerve gas. And I had the measles. But both of those situations occurred years ago. We justified our attack Iraq with two lies. One, that they could deploy weapons of mass destruction on 45 minutes' notice. And two, that they were developing nuclear weapons.

Let's forget American history. Bush says "They know that a free Iraq will be free of them -- free of assassins, and torturers, and secret police." A free American hasn't been free of these things, why should Iraq be? Remember Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy? Remember Guantanamo Bay and other post-9/11 violations of international standards of behavior? Remember the Patriot Act?

Let's assume that the terrorists are so stupid that they can only plan from within Iraq, which is now becoming a terrorist center in response to American actions. And that force will inspire an occupied citizenry to respect Americans. Remember the devilish simplicity of the Oklahoma City bombing? Remember how British force continues to be so ineffective against the Irish Republican Army?

OK, I could go on and on about Bush's mendacity. And if you've read this far, you probably can too. If not, read the New York Times analysis of the speech.

But where was our Democratic response? Poor Tom Brokaw kept asking if someone should be held accountable for using lies to get us into Iraq. Senator Joe Biden said no.

Let's say that again. The Democratic leadership response on this speech rejected the need for accountability. It praised President Bush. It said we should admire the president for admitting past mistakes. Did Senator Biden watch a different speech than the rest of us? And then he finished up his hero-worship of Bush with the jingoistic non-sequitur "We must win this!" Where was the call for impeachment?

Howard Dean is right. We can do better than this. And we've GOT to take our country back!

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Get Active: Deaniacs and Many, Many More at Ashcroft Protest Today

What a great way to spend a Saturday morning! Check out the story and pictures of a protest of John Ashcroft's Patriot Act Roadshow.

Friday, September 05, 2003

On Popularity

During our Great American Conversation at the Wednesday Meetup, Vince Rozier made an insightful comment about the Presidential primary race. He was saying that many people seem to feel that it is important to support the most popular candidate. In North Carolina, there is a great deal of "hometown boy" sentiment in favor of our Senator, John Edwards. But as Vince said:

"This isn't high school. This is our country we're talking about."

Vince came to the Meetup to learn more about Howard Dean. He may or may not support Dr. Dean, but he will understand why he supports the candidate he chooses. And I feel confident that the majority of Americans who take time to learn about the candidates will choose Dean. We've got momentum, Dean is leading in the polls, but he's no mere football hero or prom king. Howard Dean is our best choice for one of the most important jobs in the world.

New Word: "Frienemy"

My father, Tom Parks, sent the following letter to the editor to the News & Observer yesterday. Go, Dad! The letter says:

Saddam Hussein is a perfect example of a new word I've coined, "Frienemy." That's someone who acts like a friend but is really an enemy, or vice versa. Saddam was a brutal dictator, and certainly acted like an enemy, but in reality he may have been one of our best friends in the Middle East.

Osama bin Laden is, and the 911 attackers were, mostly Saudis. They were not from Iraq, nor were they harbored there. Saddam and his Sunni minority ran a secular state. The threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction may have been a bluff to keep Iraq's Shiite majority and Iran at bay.

Now Iraq has become the center of al Qaeda's anti-American terrorism. Our soldiers are being systematically killed with impunity. Our Army is stretched too thin. Our real enemies are emboldened and we are rapidly losing the few friends we had.

President Bush talks like a friend, but he too may be a frienemy. He has plunged us into an unnecessary war. His policies ruin our environment and have staggered our economy. His cohorts are getting even richer rebuilding Iraq, while our children bear the cost of the war.

In the next election remember that we need leaders who will follow our Founding Fathers' clear advice to avoid foreign entanglements. We should repair our own house before forcing our building codes on others. We must be very certain that there is a real threat to us before we attack another country.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Lesson: Don't Assume, Just Organize.

I was flabbergasted to find out that neither of the clerks at my county Board of Elections had ever heard of Howard Dean. I had thought that people whose very jobs involved the elections might at least recognize his name. And this was on the day after our local paper ran a front-page article on Dean's momentum.

Well, I've got a county precinct map now. And the clerks have at least heard of Howard Dean.

Meetup Day

Hope you will all be going to Dean Meetups tonight. I'll be at Greenshields in Raleigh, NC. This month, we're going to talk with each other and strengthen the grassroots movement. And the plan does not include writing letters in a dimly lit bar or coffee house.

Check out Meetup.com to sign up for your local gathering.

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