We are losing the argument about spying...

I've been spending a lot of time listening to Bush
administration officials vs. virtually everyone else about what seems to most thoughtful people (who can read black letter law) about domestic spying.

The problem is that thier argument is simple and emotional -- "we will do whatever we can to prevent another 9/11".  Our argument is to cite the plain meaning of the FISA law, this history of the act, the 4th Amendment -- there are so many reasons why it is clear that Bush's Spying program was against the law and is an unconstitutional power grab.

They are emotional.  We are legalistic.  We are losing.

Bush is not running away from the role of "big brother." He is embracing it.  His message is "I will protect you and your children." I believe if he decides, down the road, to go to war with Iran it will be the same message.  

I don't have the answer.  All I know that Democrats need to be credible on the security argument which is as much about psychology as real national defense.  I'm not sure how Democrats win, or at least neutralize, the argument that security trumps everything else -- everything including the Constitution.  

If you know how we win on this one, let us know!

Military Action Against Iran?

I'm surprised at the lack of discussion on blogs and even the mainstream media about the possibility of war -- probably a sustained bombing campaign -- with Iran, the OTHER four-letter word country over there.

Many folks seem to think that this is not a possibility and that the US is already stretched too thin in Iraq.  I sure hope they are right, but a war with Iran would be different from the Iraq model.  It would send the world oil market into turmoil and prices would skyrocket -- but since when was that a terrible thing for the folks that run the current administration?  Some think that Cheney/Bush would not dare involve us in another war, c'mon -- of couse they would!

War with Iran is, hopefully, not probable but folks, it sure is possible.  Again, I hope I'm just paranoid on a cold, windy Saturday night. I hope to wake up full of hope about ending the current war, not a new one.  The irony is that Iran probably is really developing nuclear weapons while Iraq was a paper tiger.  There is time to avert war with Iran but anything could happen.  Anything...

Al Gore, Continued...

Watching Al Gore "Give 'em Hell" (the full quote from Truman included "...just tell the truth & they will think it's hell." I could not help but thinking what a chance we missed in 2000.  Most of the crowd had been told about the Gore speech via MoveOn.org, many folks were the same as those who saw no difference between Gore & Bush in 2000 -- well, the differences are as deep as the Grand Canyon and as broad as an ocean.   If he does good for his entire life Ralph Nader should still be remembered for tipping the scales toward Bush in 2000, with a little help from the Supreme Court.

Gore was great.  He was freed from the army of consultants and blue suited know-it-alls who defined his campaign and the Kerrey Campaign in 2004.  I did not see Bob Schrum at Constitution Hall on Monday but Donna Brazile was there, front & center.  Bill Clinton wants to be the elder stateman now.  Gore is probably the best party leader we have.

What is is about our system that takes people of the caliber of Gore -- grinds them into mush during campaigns (names like Kerry, Clark, Bob Kerrey also come to mind) -- then reconstitute themselves into solid national leaders again only when thier real chance at being elected has passed.  

Gore has said he will not run in 2008.  Politicians change thier minds.  Having been through the experience I am sure he would be a better candidate than in 2000 (it was his to lose) and might do a better job than most of resisting the siren call of Democratic loser consultants that have dominated the party for 30 years.  I'm not ready to "draft Gore" but I'd sure reevaulate the race if he got in.  

DC Area Newsletter -- Va Senate, Meetup, Anti-War Demo


1.  Virginia 2006 US Senate Race - Harris Miller & www.draftjameswebb.com

In 2006 Virginia Senator George Allen will run for re-election.  It will be the opening period in his campaign for President in 2008 when he hopes to carry the banner of the extreme right and Christian theocrats against more moderate Republican candidates like John McCain.  For months, no Democrat has (publicly) stepped up to the plate to oppose Allen.  It is good news that there will be at least one, perhaps several, challenges to Allen, who epitomizes the very worst qualities of the current President.  

Harris Miller is a Northern Virginia resident who is Director of the Information Technology Association of America.  Many think Miller has the backing of prominent Virginia Democrats.  He does not, to my knowledge, yet have a campaign website.  As soon as I am informed about a Miller website or events I will pass on that information.

www.draftjameswebb.com  is a project of several Virginia progressive netroots activists.  The group is promoting the candidacy of James Webb, a best-selling author, former Secretary of the Navy and decorated Vietnam war veteran.  Webb is also an Iraq war critic.  Webb is known to be considering the Senate race but has not yet made up his mind.  www.draftjameswebb.com includes an online petition which asks Webb to run.  Some think that Webb is on the verge of a decision.

2. DC area Democratic/Progressive Meetup Groups

It's a new year and in addition to common resolutions about weight loss, getting in shape and breaking bad habits, many of you, no doubt, want to break our country's worst habit, i.e. electing corrupt, war embracing spendthrift Republicans.  One way to get active is to participate in existing Meetup groups or revive existing groups which have become inactive.  For example:

The DC for Democracy group usually meets on the first Wednesday of every month, 7:00 PM, at Ben's Chili Bowl, 1210 U St., NW, right across the street from the U St./Cardozo Metro.  For more info check the group's local website, www.dcfordemocracy.com or www.dfalink.com or www.meetup.com  At this time, 2 other large Meetup groups, DC Pragmatic Progressives and one of the Washington Democratic Party Meetup (#112) groups meet with DC for Democracy, same time & place.  DC for Democracy had several successful projects in 2005.

The Mark Warner Meetup group usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month at the Front Page (back room) 4201 Wilson Blvd., near the Ballston Metro in Arlington.  

One of the several Washington Democratic Party Meetup groups (#153) usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month at Ben's Chili Bowl (see above).  The organizer is Susi Baranano (susigbf@yahoo.com).  The topic for the Meetup on Tuesday, Jan. 10 is for participants to discuss projects they are involved in such as producing PSA's (public service announcements).

The Washington Wesley Clark Meetup Group is currently inactive except for periodic notices about Wes Clark's activities.  Anyone interested in this group should contact Howard Park, hpark@trellon.com.

The Virginia Grassroots Coalition usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month (this Tuesday, Jan. 10) at the Capitol City Brewing Co., 2700 S. Quincy in Arlington (near bus lines but not walking distance from Metro).  The VGC also publishes a great newsletter about progressive events, sign up at www.vagrassroots.org

3. Drinking Liberally

Drinking Liberally is an open, informal group which meets three times every week in the DC area (except for some holiday periods -- please check to confirm times & locations).  There are no dues, passwords, ideological purity tests  or alcohol consumption requirements but you can sign up to receive notices directly from each group via www.drinkingliberally.com.  All 3 DC groups occasionally have speakers or video presentations but not always.  On Mondays, the Virginia group meets at the Rhodeside Grill, 6:30 PM, 1836 N. Wilson Ave. (downstairs) 3-4 blocks from the Courthouse Metro.  On Wednesdays, one of two DC groups meets at Mark & Orlandos, 6:30 PM, 2020 P St. NW (upstairs).  On Thursdays, the other DC group meets at Timberlakes 6:30 PM, (rear) 1726 Connecticut Ave. NW.  The closest Metro stop for both DC Drinking Liberally groups is Dupont Circle.  To check out recent photos of DCDL Wednesday please visit http://www.flickr.com/ and enter "DCDL" in the "Find a Photo field".

4. www.worldcantwait.org

The next major anti-war rally in DC will be Saturday, February 4 on the Ellipse, just south of the White House grounds, 11:00 AM on Saturday, Feb. 4.  I have no other details.  Regardless of the broader political agenda of the mostly far-left groups that are sponsoring this event it does send an important message and if you live in the DC area without attending one of these it would be like living in Las Vegas and never going into a casino.  The war in Iraq continues to bleed this country in many, many wars.  It needs to stop.

5. Kate Michelman
JAN. 11, 6pm - Join Kate Michelman as she discusses here new book "With Liberty and Justice for All". Woman's National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Ave NW. The longtime leader of NARAL Pro-Choice America tells how she helped mobilize millions of pro-choice activists into a powerful political movement and continues to guide the movement through its most perilous period in a generation. This event, including a reception, is free and open to the public. Reserve a place at reservations@democraticwoman.org or 202-232-7363 by January 9.

6. Progressive Religious Events

January 14th - 16th,  Washington, D.C.  Politics and Spirituality: Seeking a Public Integrity at the Hyatt Capitol Hill, FEATURING: Anne Lamott, Richard Rohr, and Jim Wallis. The Politics and Spirituality conference is sponsored by Sojourners and the Center for Action and Contemplation. Registration: http://www.cacradicalgrace.org/conferences/politics/politics_overview.html Contact: register@cacradicalgrace.org

March 11th - 13th , Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice. Progressive Christians invited to participate in fourth annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice in Washington DC.  Participants will develop strategies and tactics for nurturing peace, alleviating poverty and protecting the environment and will meet with their representatives in Congress to communicate their concerns about domestic and foreign policies that they do not believe reflect progressive Christian principles. For more information and to register, go to www.advocacydays.org, email info@advocacydays.org or (202) 230-2276.

7. Wes Clark Update

Check out the newly redesigned WesPAC/Securing America website for information about events, media appearances and lots of other information from Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.)  www.securingamerica.com

8. Unsubscribing

If you received this from an America Online address contact Howard Park to Unsubscribe, hpark@trellon.com or hpark4@aol.com.

If you receive this from a Meetup.com server it means that you currently are a member of the Washington Democratic Party Meetup Group, DC Pragmatic Progressives (formerly Kerry for President) or the Washington Wesley Clark Meetup Group.  To unsubscribe you must end your membership.

9.  Want us to publish your notice?  Please send me (Howard Park hpark@trellon.com) the information as far ahead of time as possible.  This newsletter is a volunteer enterprise and is
published on an irregular basis.  We are not able to publicize events on short notice.


Primaries in General, Virginia in Particular

For the most part, our friends who are in leadership positions in the Democratic Party, don't like primary battles.  Primaries, they argue, are costly and negative.  It's much better, the line of reasoning goes, for party leaders to anoint the best candidate and begin the campaign against the Republicans with a full war chest and lots of time.  It just makes life easier to avoid a pesky, divisive primary.

Sometimes they are right.  I can think of many, many cases where Democrats went after each other in junkyard dog dirty, mud-slinging primary battles only to damage themselves and lose the war against the Republicans in the General Election.  For example, the experience in 2004 in Missouri, when Claire McCaskill beat up Gov. Bob Holden in the primary only to lose to Roy "Baby" Blount, Jr., is an example of a primary that hurt the Democratic Party.

However, sometimes it works the other way.  Look at what happened in Maryland in 2002.  Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley wanted to run against Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend for the nomination to run for Governor.  The party establishment leaned on O'Malley, hard, to avoid a primary.  O'Malley is a good soldier and he complied.  Townsend was a poor, untested candidate and lost, in a blue state, to hard-right favorite Bob Ehrlich.  Sometimes primaries are good.  Parties need, sometimes, to have a fight over personality or policy (both?), in the open.  Sometimes candidates get better in the process, especially political new comers.  Primaries get people involved.  Primaries can expand the fund-raising base.  Primaries can get a positive message out. Primaries need not be dirty, though they often are.

Virginia in 2006 is the latter case.  I hope the Democrats have a great primary that excites people all over the state between James Webb, Harris Miller and maybe even Leslie Byrne.  Let 'em fight it out but keep it clean and fair -- let's have no "Hitler ads" among Democrats.  I hope James Webb gets in the race and others too.  Make no mistake about it, however, the insiders don't want a primary.  Gov. Mark Warner wants to spend his time exploring exciting new places like Sioux City, Ames, Concord and Portsmouth (maybe even Las Vegas too!).  Warner does not want to worry about James Webb or Harris Miller, he wants unity at home.  I don't blame him, but you can't always get what you want.  Democrats need the best candidate to run against the awful Sen. George Allen.  The best candidate would have been Warner himself.  In any case, let's unite behind whomever is the candidate against Allen.

Howard Park


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