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September 26, 2007

History in the Flesh

I met Representative John Lewis (D-GA) today.  I know, not a Washington story, but one, I believe, well worth sharing.  For those who don't know, Congressman Lewis is a living icon of the civil rights movement.  Rather than give you his background, I want to share his narrative.

I'm in DC for meetings this week, and I was fortunate enough to meet with Congressman Lewis in the Capitol building.  After an afternoon of often dry talk from Representatives and Senators of both parties, everyone was looking forward to meeting Lewis, and we were glad when he came in, as he's deserving of our respect for his personal story alone.  Once he started talking, it all changed.  I'd underestimated.

He began, in a preacher's booming baritone, by saying "I first came to Washington, DC, in 1963.  Had someone said at that time that I would have an office in this Capitol 40 years later, I would have said they were a fool."  Already, the room was enthralled; you could hear a pin drop.  No one was surreptitiously checking email on their phone, for the first time all day. 

He told us of his childhood.  A sharecropper's son in Alabama, he cared for the chickens, and before he was seven decided he wanted to be a preacher.  His father got him a bible, he learned to read it and, gathering his siblings, cousins and chickens, held 'church' in the front yard.  Soon enough, in school, he became personally familiar with racial discrimination and the results of segregation.  When he asked his parents why people could be this way, he was told it was "just the way it is," and to stay out of trouble.  After hearing of Rosa Parks and the bus boycott, he realized he could push back, and has been proudly in trouble for the last 45 years. 

At 15, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the radio, and his life changed.  He saw another way, and saw hope that change could come.  By the time he was 19, he had met with Dr. King and was already becoming a leader in the civil rights movement.

He told us of meeting, with Dr. King and others, with JFK in the White House in June, 1963.  How JFK urged them not to march on Washington, as it would cause violence and impede their ability to pass any civil rights bill.  They stressed that it would be a non-violent march, and that it was going to happen.  On July 2, they met in New York City with other civil rights and religious leaders to plan the march, and six weeks later, August 28, 1963, 250,000 American marched on the Mall for civil rights.  Congressman Lewis:

"There were 10 speakers.  Martin was tenth, I spoke sixth.  Of those ten speakers, I am the only one left."

Lewis This was, of course, the day of the "I have a dream" speech, which is memorialized by the words "I Have a Dream" engraved on the top step of the Lincoln Monument.  Over the course of his career as an activist, Congressman Lewis was arrested more than 40 times.  As you might imagine, few of these were pleasant or painless experiences, but he never altered his non-violent stance.

After his speech, we were invited to his office.  His aide showed us around an office filled with personal photos few can imagine.  Lewis with Dr. King.  Lewis with President Clinton.  Lewis on the steps of the Lincoln Monument, speaking.  We were shown a worn, framed cover of Time magazine, with Congressman Lewis leading 525 marchers across the Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama on Bloody Sunday.  As we looked at the peaceful and orderly marchers, all so young and powerful in our eyes, the aide said "What peoSelmaple don't know is that just after this photo was taken, they were attacked by the police and beaten.  The Congressman doesn't remember much of the day, as he was unconscious". 

Allow that to sink in.  In truth, despite a fractured skull, Lewis appeared on television that afternoon calling on Lyndon Johnson to act.  He was then taken to the hospital, where his injuries were treated, and it isn't difficult to imagine the memories of such a day being somewhat dim.  Dr. King led future marches, of course, and on the third try the marchers did make it into Montgomery.  President Johnson, a week after bloody Sunday, called a joint sessionLewisselma of Congress and got them to work on the civil rights bill.  On August 6th of the same year, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, and John Lewis was presented with the pen used to sign the bill.

He's been in Congress since 1986, and continues to be an advocate for the cause of peace and equality.  As he left the room this afternoon, he told us almost in passing, "Persevere, my friends, don't give up." 

He also revisited his words at the beginning of his visit:  "If someone had told me in 1963 that I would have an office looking directly down on the Mall, where we made history at the Lincoln Monument, I would have told them they didn't know what they were talking about.  But today I have that office and that view."

I took a photo, because I now understand the story that a view that I love has to tell.  The view from Congressman John Lewis' office today:

Lewisofc

Posted by switzerblog on September 26, 2007 at 11:07 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (4)

September 25, 2007

Seattle Women's Commission Summit

The Seattle Women’s Commission will convene its bi-annual Summit on Saturday, October 6th at Seattle University’s Pigott Hall. 

There will be a wide range of workshops, facilitated discussions and a resource fair.  The topics include Women and Banking, "In Her Shoes" focused on battered women, Homelessness, Mental Health, Women and Work, Financial Planning, Leadership Skills and more.

Keynote speakers will be Kristen Rowe-Finkbeiner, author of the award winning book, The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy--Women, Politics, and the Future,” and co-founder and Executive Director of MomsRising.org and State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, the State Democratic Majority Whip.

To register or see the full day agenda, go to the Seattle Women's Commission website.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 25, 2007 at 06:34 AM in Taking Action | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 24, 2007

Sound Transit deserves praise for creating regional transit in the Puget Sound Region

I’m voting an enthusiastic YES! on the November ballot measure for sound transit and regional road funding.  Sound Transit Phase 2 is an exciting expansion of the existing hugely successful Sound Transit commuter rail, express buses and light rail.  The whole package contains many worthwhile projects that will help ease congestion, including eliminating choke points on many highways, improving the HOV network, new park and ride lots, and most importantly a dramatic expansion of light rail.

In this region there is generally a consensus that we are way behind in our funding of public transportation and that there is an urgency to catch up with what was a failure of previous generations to make a strong investment in mass transit in our region.  There is such a strong sentiment in our region for mass transit, and people want it built sooner rather than later.  The biggest complaint is that rail is not getting built quicker.  It’s really a myth that the general public is not supportive of light rail and mass transit.   The more the public learns about what has been accomplished by Sound Transit with the limited regional funding available the more the public wants light rail, commuter rail and express buses in this region.

Other cities are proud of their investment in light rail and see it as a sign that they’ve matured as a city.  I’m not the only one who feels a tinge of jealousy when I visit other areas of the country and really see how far the Seattle region lags behind when it comes to rail and mass transit.  In other regions you can see that they are building a legacy for future generations with regional, state and federal funding.  As with our Sound Transit light rail system this long-term investment creates a legacy that provides economic growth in an environmentally sensible way.

We’ve got to remember that we are building rapid transit with our light rail system in this area.  This is a mainline rail corridor not a neighborhood trolley.  When we have transit hubs at each rail stop with frequent local bus service connecting rail with the neighborhoods, then we’ll have the transit service that people are clamoring for.  The fact is Sound Transit light rail will provide frequent and reliable service 20 hours a day!

There is not a single solution to traffic problems and we need to do many things to try to make our dysfunctional transportation system work. Light rail is almost always viewed as one option, a long-term investment that requires a capital investment and takes us in a different direction with future urban growth.  There is also strong public support for expanding freeway’s.  Caution is needed when it comes to freeway expansion.  We must do this the right way, with congestion pricing (tolls) and using our resources wisely, such as the elimination of short trips on freeways by creating limited access.

When it comes to cooperation between state and local governments, there just doesn’t seem to be a mutual agenda for transportation.  State legislators, the very folks that created Sound Transit with a mandate to plan and build a regional transit system seem to be missing in action, when it comes to advocating for and funding Sound Transit.  This couldn’t be more obvious in pro-transit Seattle where voters have been clamoring for transit and rail for decades.  Where is the support for light rail among Seattle legislators?  If legislators from Seattle were focused on representing their constituents when it comes to transit, then I think we’d see a radically different dialogue around light rail in Washington State, where the state government would be focused on what they can do to pick up part of the tab to make the capital construction of a regional light rail a reality in a matter of years and not decades.

Legislators should ask themselves whose interests they are working for in Olympia.  Are they working for the public to build an infrastructure that supports urban development and smart growth and offers options to the public?  Or are they working for some other agenda or perhaps some special interest?

Now, as we approach November and a ballot that will create regional funding for the expansion of light rail, express buses and commuter rail, we need to rally behind Sound Transit as an agency and as a solution to our regional gridlock.  It is not if we are going to build light rail, it is when.  Lets learn from the lessons of Denver, Salt Lake City and Portland and focus on how we can create a great regional transit system anchored by the effective bus service provided by the counties.

In Seattle we need to be particularly concerned about the effect of heavily funded special interests who are fighting light rail.  The majority of suburban voters are not only pro transit, pro light rail and are willing to pay to make the system work, but they are stuck with a land use pattern and growth rate that has crippled the regional road network.  Creating different travel choices, such as the different modes of transit that are being created by Sound Transit is exactly what it takes to make the whole transportation system work.

Cross Posted on The Urban Environmentalist

Posted by EzraBasom on September 24, 2007 at 01:25 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 15, 2007

A Bad Idea: Police Surveillance of Downtown Seattle

I often disagree with Robert Jamieson, but this time he's right on: building a video surveillance system for downtown Seattle is a bad, bad idea.

They don't help prevent or solve crimes, and they create huge potential violations of civil liberties.

Seattle should be smart enough to nip this bad idea in the bud.  Where is the leadership from the City Council?

Posted by Jon Stahl on September 15, 2007 at 12:34 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 12, 2007

Wouldn't it be Nice if Our Representatives Looked Like Us?

At its best, America has been about enabling more and more people to be part of the process of governing, of earning and making money, of determining the direction of this country.  It's been hit and miss for sure but there has been progress. 

One of the things I most like about the group, Progressive Majority, an organization dedicated to electing more progressives up and down the ticket, is their focus on assisting women and people of color to acquire the skills and get the attention that makes them viable candidates and then effective elected officials.  Progressive Majority finds progressives to campaign in state races from the legislature to fire districts and school boards.  They help those folks learn to raise money run an effective campaign and communicate with their voters.  They take progressives of all stripes but they have a program called the Racial Justice Program, the goal of which is increasing minority representation. 

Progressive Majority recently conducted a study of minority representation in Washington state.  They found that people of color are underrepresented at all levels of Washington's governments, most particularly at the local level.  Dean Nielsen, Washington State Director of Progressive Majority has written in Progressive Majority's blog, about a candidate for Tacoma City Council, Marilyn Strickland, whom they endorsed, and about why it is so important that she win.  He says,

Despite people of color making up 31% of the population of Tacoma, there's not a single person of color currently serving on their school board, city council or on their county governments.

Marilyn, who comes from both Korean and African-American ancestry, believes that voters embrace diversity, but that comparatively few people of color are willing to become candidates.  Of her own candidacy, Marilyn says that she feels a "responsibility and duty[...]to have a seat at the table" and represent minority viewpoints. 

Dean points to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal which cites Progressive Majority's study and also interviews Matt Barreto, a political science professor at the University of Washington:

Barreto cites research which shows that better minority representation leads to increased public confidence and trust in political institutions, as well as increased "support for legislation that otherwise would not have been considered."

Dean goes on to discuss the added value of having minorities run competitively, quoting again from the PSBJ article (which only appears to be available on a pdf file, found at the PM blogsite):

When candidates of color win, things change.  In her City Council race, Marilyn earned almost double the number of non-partisan primary votes as her closest rival and has raised almost double her rival's campaign money.  Marilyn has noticed the effect of her powerful campaign on her community: "there are more people involved and interested in politics who normally wouldn't be - people who are younger, some people of color."

Yep.  Doing the right thing tends to make more of the right thing happen.  Thanks, Progressive Majority.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 12, 2007 at 08:22 AM in Media, Policy, Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (5)

Port of Seattle Backtracks on Dumping PCBs

This is one of the quickest turnarounds I can recall, but the unified outcry against the Port's plans to contaminate our waters was obviously too strong for them to beat back. The Port is now in negotiations on how to dispose of PCB-laden toxic mud in a more environmentally responsible manner.

Port of Seattle commissioners unanimously directed their staff Tuesday to work with King County on a proposal to send the material from a dredging project in the Harbor Island Superfund site to a landfill.

The project had cleared the environmental hurdles set for it by federal and state agencies, but environmentalists -- with support from the state's newly formed Puget Sound Partnership, King County Executive Ron Sims and various scientists within the state's Department of Ecology and Department of Fish and Wildlife -- said the current momentum toward a cleaner Puget Sound calls for higher standards.

"We need to leave the waterways better than we found them," said commission President John Creighton, who as chairman of the five-member elected board set environmental stewardship as one of its top priorities.

The fact that this toxic mud will end up in a landfill is not necessarily something to dance about. But it's a hell of a lot better than the original plan of dumping it into the Puget Sound's ecosystem, especially at a time when Washington State is putting so much heft behind its commitment to save the Sound. Kudos are in order for all those who organized on behalf of this change, and King County Executive Ron Sims and the Puget Sound Partnership responded appropriately. This is an excellent example of how good governance can result from the public making noise about a terrible policy that, if put into practice, would have negatively affected the health of the Sound, its salmon and Orcas, and Washington's citizens -- in particular, its children -- for years to come.  Hats off to everyone who resisted the plan.

Posted by shoephone on September 12, 2007 at 12:50 AM in Environment, Policy, Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 11, 2007

A Machinist News Network?

Who knew?  Well, apparently almost no one, judging from the number of viewers.  But we'll hope that changes with time. 

The IAM, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, has created what they call the Machinist News Network - Labor News For Working Families.  They have made a couple dozen YouTube clips talking about issues of importance to Organized Labor.  I stumbled across it while looking for something else and my curiosity led me to investigate more.  It is a pretty amazing set of video clips.  Information on the growing threat to labor from China, a clip of John Edwards speaking at the IAM Hall in Seattle in April, even a report on the YearlyKos convention

Check it out - here or here.  The clips are reasonably well done and very interesting.  It is hopeful that this exists at all - a way to communicate with the American people, another way to integrate the various segments of people-powered politics and step around the traditional media.

Next step is to let people know about it.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 11, 2007 at 11:42 AM in Media, National and International Politics, Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 10, 2007

Port of Seattle's Plans to Contaminate Puget Sound

It seems it's becoming de rigeur for some of Washington's public officials to pay lip service to cleaning up the environment. The mayor 's pronouncements on making Seattle the "number one biking city in the country" -- while quashing plans to put bike lanes in on Stone Way -- are but one example. Now the Port of Seattle's CEO, Tay Yoshitani, has set in motion a plan to pollute the Puget Sound with highly toxic PCBs from a dredging project to create shipping lanes.

PCBs are polychlorinated biphenyls, toxic chemicals used as fire retardants in the 1970s. They are so toxic and so long-lived that they are usually measured in parts per billion -- yet the port proposes to dump 9 pounds of them into the bay for an upcoming dredging project. The mud to be dumped would come from an area being studied for cleanup as part of the Harbor Island Superfund site.

The project has been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State's Ecology Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Natural Resources. That's tragic. PCBs are known to cause serious health problems, especially to children. And our region's salmon are so easily affected by the toxicity that warnings will go out cautioning us to limit our salmon intake. But the Orcas who feed on those salmon aren't going to be able to heed the warning, and many may die.

As usual, the decision is based on cost -- in this case, an estimate of $1.8 million saved by not disposing of the dredging material in a landfill. But how much will it cost in the long run if we allow the port authorities to contaminate our waters? I say the cost will be too high to accept.

Yoshitani has claimed to have the environmental health of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound as priorities. He's said he wants to make the area "green". More lip service. This project cannot be tolerated at a time when so much effort and expertise are being devoted to saving the sound.

Puget Sound is the subject of intense focus right now from a consortium of state and local agencies, tribes, scientists and businesses that is crafting a road map to ensure the health of its wildlife and the people who depend on it.

<snip>

That means keeping PCBs out of the system, said scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Is anyone manning the wheel of environmental stewardship?

For starters, King County Councilman Larry Phillips says he's troubled by this dredging plan and would be in favor of having the county contribute money to dispose of the materials in a landfill, rather than in the bay. Port commissioners John Creighton and Alec Fisken have agreed with that approach. Now's the time to get the other port commissioners and their election challengers on the record with this issue because tomorrow will be too late.

This is what one might call the "moment of truth" for the Port of Seattle. If we want real accountability from those on the commisssion we'd better let them know there are consequences for their actions. Election season makes everything glare just a little more sharply.

Posted by shoephone on September 10, 2007 at 02:32 AM in Environment, Policy, Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (5)

September 04, 2007

What the Republicans Think Women Want

More of the same.  That's what a WSJ article by Kimberley Strassel, entitled "What Women Want:
How the GOP can woo the ladies"
, says.  The article suggests that the GOP has a huge opportunity with women.  Forget the tired old Democratic canards about "equal pay" and "a woman's right to choose".   Focus more on the benefits of free markets. 

Strassel goes on to advocate talking about the Republican free-market policies that favor women whose income is less than their husband's and health savings accounts.  Huh?

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon rips the thinking behind the article although she hopes that the Republicans take the advice anyway.  Yeah, go ahead and keep making those buggy whips.  Good plan.  She adds:

One thing Strassel gets right is that women are human beings and thus make voting decisions like human beings, which is to say we look at the big picture and don’t have significantly different takes on genderless issues than men do. But since Republicanism is at its heart about class warfare of the rich trying to take the working class for every penny, and since women on average tend to live hand-to-mouth more than men, then there’s no real way for Republicans to get around that problem. Privatizing Social Security, health savings account, tax cuts for the rich—every program to move money from the hands of the workers into the hands of the wealthy will disproportionately affect women’s pocketbook.

With that in mind, I do think the Democrats are in a good position to angle for more of the women’s vote by using the general principle that women are people. Economic policies that ease the burdens of the 90% of us who have to work to eat will help women, especially the coveted single woman voters,* and as such will be a good way to get the “woman vote”. Universal health care in particular will be attractive to women, who not only make less money, but tend to go to the doctor more and have more immediate need for continual insurance. Plus, women tend to be in charge of child care and of elder care, which means they not only have their own health care issues to think about, but those of their dependents.

And it’s not like women are going to stop needing reproductive rights any more than we’ll stop needing the fire department. A solid commitment to that from the Democrats might not seem like an immediate vote-getter, but if the Republican SCOTUS overturns Roe vs. Wade, that could very well change.

Strassel’s problem is “everyone else is just like me” syndrome—her definition of “woman” seems to exclude single women, single mothers, non-white women, and women who didn’t luck out and marry someone above their tax bracket. The vast majority of American women don’t seem to fall into her definition of “women”.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 4, 2007 at 07:43 AM in Media, National and International Politics, Policy | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 02, 2007

Labor and the Democrats

Organized labor has been a stalwart and incredibly valuable supporter of Democrats.  While the split across voters was 49/49 in the last election, union members went 64/36 Democratic/Republican.  And that's just the beginning.  In a post yesterday on Firedoglake, Ian Welsh reminds us:

They give money, and they give it early. They do field and GOTV, and indeed, they probably have the best field organizations in America. Kerry ate Dean’s lunch in large part because of the International Association of Fire Fighter’s (IAFF) organizers out organizing (sometimes rather brutally) the Dean machine.

Unions provide organizing space, they provide media surrogates, they conduct training, they support think tanks and so on. They provide a lot of the infrastructure that keeps the party going - and that pushes the party to pursue liberal and populist policies when in office.

Jumping to the end of his article before coming back to an analysis, Welsh has a map that supports his conclusion:

Where unions are strong, Democrats win. But Democrats seem to have forgotten that at a very fundamental level and have allowed unions to sicken till they are but a pale shadow of what they once were. If Democrats want to win, they need to rectify that. If unions want their strength back, they need to hold Democrats to policies that aid unions, knowing that in so doing they are serving both sides. And the middle and upper classes that run the Democratic party need to get over their disdain for unions and recognize who their real friends are - even if only for hard-headed pragmatic reasons. There will be no new permanent Democratic majority like the one that ruled most of the post-war period, until the unions recover.

My interest is in Welsh's thinking about this underlying separation between organized labor and the core Democratic "deciders".   Welsh talks about how the Democrats "have often disrespected union, even while paying them court".  Democrats have not actively supported either of the two prime labor issues - fighting NAFTA-type free-trade bills and supporting universal health care.   He digs deeper.

Meanwhile the deeper reason that unions don’t get the respect they should in Democratic circles (and by “should” I mean on totally pragmatic “they make us win” terms) is probably because unions get little respect from white collar workers. Two episodes stand out for me on this - the first was that long period the 90’s where techies used to disrespect unions and resist unionization because they were being paid so well because “they were smart, and, like, knowledge workers” and therefore didn’t need unions. What they didn’t realize, because everyone who gets paid well always wants to think its because they, personally, are so wonderful, is that it was just a tight labor market for people with specific skills and that as soon as that skill set became common enough, the gravy train would stall. Sure enough, in the 00’s techies took it on the chin, and companies outsourced and offshored as much of their technical functions as they could. Suddenly a Bachelors in Comp.Sci wasn’t a ticket to the gravy train any more. Techies had made the classic error of attributing to themselves (genius knowledge workers who are each individually unique flowers with a skill set that can’t easily be replicated) what was a property of the situation (new technology, moving fast, not enough early adopters with the necessary technical skill set, therefore a labor crunch in the field).

And then, of course, there was the New York City Transit Strike - and the comments, I, as a blogger defending them, received from my commenters about how they should just be grateful to have decent jobs, shut up and go back to work, because my readers didn’t have half the benefits those blue-collar transit workers did and they didn’t deserve them anyway. No one seemed to make the connection that if the transit workers were costing the economy billions of dollars every day, then the economic value of what the transit workers did must be, ummm, rather larger than they were being compensated for. What was revealed then was a lot of ugly class hatred and envy - people with BA’s who felt that if they weren’t making it, neither should be blue collar workers without a degree. Fortunately, the majority of citizens of NYC actually backed the union (despite a full court press offensive against the union) and things worked out reasonably well.

But this middle class contempt for unions, and for the sort of people that make them up, boils up so frequently that I’ve come to believe it’s a deep malaise in the American middle class psyche. I’m not entirely sure why it exists, other than as manifestation of the very human emotion of envy, but it definitely exists. And as the middle and upper classes (who never liked unions to begin with) have become the powers in the Democratic party (try and get started in politics and you will quickly find that the easy route - internships - is mostly only available to you if mommy and daddy can afford to support you while you work for nothing) a fundamental misunderstanding, and often, outright contempt, for working people has taken hold (again, at the end of the day… remember all those “free” trade bills, passed by Democrats despite Labor’s strenuous objections).

In the three campaigns I've been closely associated with over 15 years, I've found much of what Welsh is talking about.  Sometimes it has seemed as if labor and the Democratic party folks were in two separate silos, aiming for much the same thing but not much at ease with each other.  However it has been getting better as the years go by, thankfully.

UPDATE: Joel Connelly has a nice piece this morning on the importance of time with family as a labor issue and illustrates a point I circled around but didn't quite get to - labor issues are all of our issues; organized labor is often effected more, push harder and articulates better - although all of us have some work to do to more consistently help the larger society see that.   


Posted by Lynn Allen on September 2, 2007 at 09:59 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Who Will Replace Abu Gonzales?

Steve Zemke over at "Majority Rules Blog" has researched the possibilities and lays out information on the five most serious candidates. 

And, no, Slade Gorton is not on the list.   That's a standard sop to the locals, one that the Seattle Times is pretending to take seriously. 

Take a read.  Personally, I'd guess Ted Olsen gets the nod.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 2, 2007 at 07:48 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 01, 2007

GOP Continues to Get it Wrong on Technology

On the Democratic side, we've been grateful that the Republicans seem to be so out of touch with the blogs and the tubes.  Perhaps it's endemic.  Perhaps they just can't do better, given their arrogance.

Last year we made great use of their lack of understanding and so far this year seem to be continuing the pattern.  George Allen's "macaca moment" was only possible because they hadn't caught onto the power of video backed by a new distribution system that by-passed the traditionally feckless media.  Republicans everywhere are much more careful in what they say in front of a video camera now. 

An interesting new-to-me blog, called "The Right's Field" writes exclusively about the GOP candidates for President.  A writer there, Paul Curtis, wrote about a newspaper article he found in the North Jersey Herald News, written by a conservative Republican blogger, George Ajjan, who is frustrated by the GOP's reaction to the proposed YouTube presidential debate.  The Democrats seemed to enjoy their CNN/YouTube debate on July 24th but the Republicans have been shying away from the one that was scheduled for them on Sept. 17th.  None of the three front-runners, Guiliani, Romney or McCain, has yet committed to attend and, at this point, the debate seems unlikely to happen.

Says Ajjan about the Republican's fear of making use of the new technology:

The comments of those skeptical about the YouTube debates sadly exemplify many of the traditional and stereotypical shortcomings of Republicans. The GOP has got to shatter the image of country-club elitism that plagues the party. Giuliani's campaign prioritizing fundraising over a one-day commitment to appear before millions of viewers and answer tough questions directly from the electorate is deplorable and plays right into that regrettable typecast.

This is not just an esoteric concern; it is empirically demonstrated by many Republicans, who tend to prefer the cocktail-party chitchat of lavish fundraising affairs to rolling up their sleeves and walking neighborhoods to solicit actual votes. Giuliani's campaign tactic indicates this same mentality: money before people. We Republicans must work to change that.

Good luck on that one, George.  He dreams some more:

We absolutely must break the trend described by the late conservative guru Sam Francis, who cynically identified the drivers of successful conservative movements as "greed and hate."

As far as YouTube itself goes, the issue is not that national Republicans don't want to use new technologies. Both Giuliani and Romney have invested heavily in their online efforts and have specifically touted their embrace of YouTube as a campaigning medium. But their behavior seems to indicate the belief that the internet is a switch they can turn on and off, depending upon whether they're in the mood to communicate. But the internet is always "on," although it's not always "on your terms."

Until our party truly grasps that, we will continue to alienate voters and activists, especially young people for whom the internet is not "new," but an integral part of their political upbringing.

Curtis agrees with Ajjan's analysis but comes to a different conclusion:

The Republicans don’t have a technology problem, per se. They have an arrogance problem, and it’s spilling over into their online outreach efforts. Coming at a time when polls show young voters abandoning the GOP en masse, this bodes ill for the elephants.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 1, 2007 at 06:10 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (10)

Larry Craig Cartoons

This collection is pretty funny.  The full hypocrisy of the Republicans as a whole is on display.  Take a look.

Posted by Lynn Allen on September 1, 2007 at 04:59 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (1)