Monday, March 31, 2008

A Responsible Plan

A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq - Click here to add your support

Florida Progressive Coalition hereby endorses the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

Generally, we try to focus on state and local issues but we decided to go outside that for once. Why? A number of reasons:

a. It's the right thing to do. The plan, while it might not be flawless, is a good one.

b. It isn't simply pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. It is a practical, progressive plan. It has a legitimate chance of success.

c. The plan wasn't created just by politicians. It was made with input from generals and foreign policy experts.

d. Floridians are highly interested in the issue, particularly progressive activists

e. The war is having a disproportionate impact on Floridians. The projected state share of each of the 50 states in terms of their residents who have died in the war should be 1.25% of the total. Floridians account for 4.2% of the total.

f. We want to encourage Congressional challengers to pursue strong policy proposals and to work together to improve America.

So what is the plan? What are the details? There are a lot of them. You'll need to go read the full plan, but here is the general idea:

a. End U.S. Military Action in Iraq (without leaving residual forces)

b. Use U.S. diplomatic power

c. Address humanitarian concerns

d. Restore our Constitution

e. Restore our military

f. Restore independence to the media

g. Create a new, U.S.-centered energy policy

This covers every aspect of the mess and how we got into it and the specific proposals aren't just wishful thinking, they are real, concrete and, most importantly, possible. We endorse this plan and we encourage you to do the same.

Action Alerts

The first fundraising quarter of the year ends tonight at midnight. Pick your favorite candidate and slip them a bit of money...

Donate Money: To Stephen Blythe for U.S. House District 15.

Donate Money: To Clint Curtis for U.S. House District 24. (Also through ActBlue)

Donate Money: To John Dicks for U.S. House District 9.

Donate Money: To Joe Garcia for U.S. House District 25.

Donate Money: To Judy "JJ" Juliano for Fla. House District 72.

Donate Money: To Suzanne Kosmas for U.S. House District 24.

Donate Money: To Mark LaFontaine for Fla. House 92.

Donate Money: To Bill Mitchell for U.S. House District 9.

Donate Money: To Fred Taylor for Fla. House District 11.

(The above list is not an endorsement, simply a list of candidates who have sent specific requests about fundraising to me.)

Donate Money: Support Choice Today and DOUBLE the Impact of Your Gift! (NARAL)

Sign the Letter: Tell Sen. McCain to Support Comprehensive Reform! (PCAF)

Write Your Comments: Defend the Family and Medical Leave Act. (WA)

Write an E-mail: Keep Idaho Forests Wild. (TWS)

Call or E-mail: The Senate Equal Rights Amendment Bill (362) is on the agenda in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which meets at 1pm on Tuesday, April 1st. We're asking every DEC member living in the following Republican Senators' districts to call their officers and urge them to support this bill. All of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are ERA supporters and do not need to be called, other than to be thanked and encouraged for their support. The same is true of Senator Villalobos. Below are members whom we should call and/or email, asking them to support SCR 362 on Tuesday. Members to Call and Email:

Senator Carey Baker (R) (850) 487-5014, (352) 742-6490

Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R) (850) 487-5109, (305) 643-7200

Senator Mike Fasano (R) (850) 487-5062, (727) 848-5885

Senator Don Gaetz (R) (850) 487-5009, (850) 897-5747

Senator Burt L. Saunders (R) (850) 487-5124, (239) 417-6220

Senator Daniel Webster (R) (850) 487-5047, (407) 656-0066

Hillsborough: Call or e-mail: Hillsborough County Commissioners and County Administrator Pat Bean to tell them what you think about the county's Environmental Lands Aquisition Protection Program (ELAPP) ASAP. Information about ELAPP.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

McCain Hates Ethics


On the stump, Sen. John McCain often cites his work tackling the excesses of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff as evidence of his sturdy ethical compass.

A little-known document, however, shows that McCain may have taken steps to protect his Republican colleagues from the scope of his investigation.

In the 2006 Senate report concerning Abramoff's activities, which McCain spearheaded, the Arizona Republican conspicuously left out information detailing how Alabama Gov. Bob Riley was targeted by Abramoff's influence peddling scheme. Riley, a Republican, won election in November 2002, and was reelected in 2006.

In a December 2002 email obtained by the Huffington Post -- which McCain and his staff had access to prior to the issuance of his report -- Abramoff explains to an aide what he would like to see Riley do in return for the "help" he received from Abramoff's tribal clients.

An official with the Mississippi Choctaws "definitely wants Riley to shut down the Poarch Creek operation," Abramoff wrote, "including his announcing that anyone caught gambling there can't qualify for a state contract or something like that."

The note showed not only the reach of Abramoff, but raised questions about Riley's victory in what was the closest gubernatorial election in Alabama history.

And yet, despite the implications of the information, McCain and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee sat on the controversial portion of the email. According to an official familiar with the investigation, McCain also subsequently refused to make the email public after the report was released.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Action Alerts

The first fundraising quarter of the year ends on 3/31. Pick your favorite candidate and slip them a bit of money...

Donate Money: To Stephen Blyte for U.S. House District 15.

Donate Money: To Clint Curtis for U.S. House District 24. (Also through ActBlue)

Donate Money: To Judy "JJ" Juliano for Fla. House District 72.

Donate Money: To Suzanne Kosmas for U.S. House District 24.

Donate Money: To Mark LaFontaine for Fla. House 92.

(Candidates who would like to appear on this list should e-mail me or put me on your mailing list, my e-mail is

Make a Phone Call: Call Rep. Frank Attkisson at 850 488-8992 and tell him you are calling him to "urge him to calendar the Equal Rights Amendment Ratification bill 8001 as soon as possible.

Sign the Petition: Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz, Step Up or Step Down.

Donate Money: Support the candidates who support the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. (Including Florida's Larry Byrnes)

Sign the Petition: Stop the Stop-Loss. (Credo)

Donate Money: Keep Medicare Fair. (AARP)

Donate Money: Please donate now to the Choice Challenge 2008 Fund and DOUBLE what we can do to protect a woman’s right to choose. (NARAL)

Sign the Petition: Lift Women Out of Poverty with the GROWTH Act. (CARE)

Donate Money: Support Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots Fund.

Send an E-mail: Justice for the Angola 3. (COC)

Donate Money: To save the Supreme Court. (PFAW)

Create a Video: Obama in 30 Seconds. (MoveOn)

Finally, Call Your Legislator (AARP):

The House of Representatives in the Florida State Legislature is proposing changes to the state budget that could affect some of our frailest citizens. Since 2001, AARP has fought to increase minimum staffing standards in nursing homes, which were finally realized in 2007. These increased staffing levels have contributed to a higher quality of care for residents. Yesterday, the House Healthcare Council presented the Chairman’s recommendations for the House Budget which removed minimum nursing home staffing standards for 2 years!

What this means is that nursing homes will have no minimum staffing standards in place for the next two years. Currently if a home goes below the staffing standards they are not allowed to admit any new residents until they return to required staffing levels. This would remove that provision and allow facilities to continue to admit new residents no matter the staffing level.

Lori Parham, AARP Florida State Director, issued a release yesterday stating, “Florida’s nursing-home staffing standards were enacted for good reason. The suffering of a frail elder harmed by poor care can be unbearable. Many residents harmed by poor care never regain lost ground. We urge the members of the House Policy and Budget Council to reject this irresponsible proposal. This recommendation is unacceptable and, frankly, appalling.”

We urge you to contact your State Representative to express your concern regarding this proposal. In essence, these impacts are taking the nursing out of nursing homes and could affect you, your loved ones, friends or family who may reside in nursing facilities. Please contact your House member and tell them to vote against the budget if this provision remains. Your House member, Representative Loranne Ausley may be reached locally at (850) 488-0965.

Please contact your legislator today in opposition of this proposal.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

McCain in Lockstep With Bush on Iraq From the Begging

Don't take my word for it, take McCain's:

John McCain Loves the French, Wants to Ship Our Jobs Threre

Action Alerts

Donate money: Give to Clint Curtis for Congress before the end of the quarter 3/31.

Donate money: Give to Suzanne Kosmas for Congress before the end of the quarter 3/31.

(Candidates who would like to appear on this list should e-mail me or put me on your mailing list, my e-mail is

Send an E-mail: Demand a pledge from Clinton, McCain, and Obama to enact the DREAM Act in their first 100 days. (ADD)

Write Your Healthcare Story: If you have a negative personal experience with the health care system, write it in. (DGA)

Donate Money: Help elect a 60-seat majority in the Senate. (DSCC)

Sign the Petition: Join the Petition Drive for a National Cesar E. Chavez Holiday! (UFW)

Donate Money: To stand with Tibet. (TM)

Sign the Petition: Protect Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. (TWS)

Send an E-mail: Congress Must Protect Our Drinking Water. (LCV)

Vote: Choose the 2009 Defenders Calendar Cover. (DOW)

This Looks Good

Trailer for "Recession: The Movie":

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Action Alerts

Sign the Petition: Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz, Step Up or Step Down. (DFA)

Send an E-mail: Help Verify Florida Elections in 2008! (VV)

Send an E-mail: Help Save Florida Forever! (DOW)

Sign Complaint Letter Against John McCain: To the FEC for his violations of campaign finance law. (FDL)

Sign the Petition: It's Time for the Chemical Industry to do Their Part. (FPIRG)

Send an E-mail: Protect Yellowstone and the Greater Rockies. (NRDC)

Send an E-mail: White House NOT for Sale! (PC)

Send an E-mail: UFW files complaint over guest worker violations. Tell the DOL to do its job. (UFW)

Send an E-mail: Save Troy Davis from potential wrongful execution. (AI)

Sign the Petition: We Won't Be Distracted. Not This Time! (Petition Site)

Send an E-mail: Tell Your Senators: Pass the Foreclosure Prevention Act. (Credo)

Sign the Petition: Get Big Money Out of Politics. (CC)

Send an E-mail: Tell the Park Service to Save Yellowstone's Buffalo, Not Slaughter Them! (NRDC)

Donate Money: Celebrate Cesar Chavez' birthday and support UFW.

Send an E-mail: Support Clean Energy and Stop Global Warming. (EDF)

Sign the Open Letter: Help honor the sacrifice of those who have served in the past five years and demand that the media increase their coverage of the war. (IAVA)

Donate Money: To build a 60-seat majority in the Senate. (MoveOn)

Donate Money: Stop Big Oil's Invasion of the Polar Bear's Home! (NRDC)

Sign the Petition: America's Veterans Deserve Adequate Medical Care! (AMA)

Sign the Petition: FOX is a Republican mouthpiece, not a legitimate news organization. Real news organizations must reject FOX's smears of Barack Obama, not parrot them and distract Americans from the pressing issues of the day. (MO)

Sign the Petition: Recruit 1,000,000 People to Fight Animal Cruelty. (ASPCA)

Sign the Petition: Animals Who Heal Children. (AH)

Send an E-mail: Stop Discriminatory Sentencing. (COC)

Create a Video: Obama in 30 Seconds. (MoveOn)

McCain's Foreign Policy Fantasy Land

John McCain gave a speech today on foreign policy that was filled with nonsense and hypocrisy. Not surprising.

You can read the text of the speech here.

The National Security Network points out some of the major problems with the speech:

* McCain spoke eloquently about the horrors of war, yet has a long history of being too reliant on military action.

* McCain's own rhetoric since 9-11 helped promote the Bush Administration's failed war and mocked and alienated many of the important allies McCain now says we must re-engage.

* McCain's Iraq war-first view of the world that is the greatest obstacle to the kinds of changes McCain says he wants to make.

* McCain cannot repair our relationships with the world as long as there are more than 100,000 American troops still in Iraq.

* McCain ignores the alarms sent up by our nation's intelligence agencies who believe that the central threat to the U.S. homeland is in Pakistan - not Iraq.

* McCain rejects reality on the ground in Iraq, which today includes a flare-up of the civil war between various Shi'a factions that threatens the most basic foundations of our effort there.

Think Progress has more on McCain's French-bashing. It's this kind of rhetoric that has created the climate of incivility in international relations that McCain is railing against in the speech. Pot, meet kettle.

McCain's Free Ride

Media Matters has a new book out on McCain and the free ride the media has given him in this election. It's called, not surprisingly, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media. Very important stuff. You can learn a lot more about the book and the story at the web site. They also have a Facebook group.

McCain Is Lying and Breaking the Law

The Republican nominee for president is in violation of campaign finance laws. Mike Stark has a great summary:

In a nutshell, McCain signed on to public financing when it looked like his campaign was finished and he needed the matching funds to pay off remnant debts. He pledged those matching funds as collateral so that he could secure more financing. For legal purposes, he might as well have spent the funds: he used the promise of receipt to secure an advantage.

firedoglake has a lot more (Jane Hamsher, on behalf of many others, is behind the official complaint that is being filed against McCain). See Jane file the complaint:

Jason Rosenbaum has more:

You see, McCain has spent $58.4 million on his campaign so far, surpassing the $54 million limit for public financing.

You can sign the complaint letter here

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Action Alerts

U.S.-14 District Residents Sign Petitions to get Larry Byrnes on the Ballot: Petitions must be submitted by Monday and the campaign is very close to hitting the magic number.

Send an e-mail: Help Save Florida's Religious Protection Clause from the Chopping Block. (PFAW)

Sign the Petition: Seat Florida & Michigan Delegates NOW!

Endorse the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq

Send an e-mail: Keep Medicare Fair.

Send an e-mail: Stand with Tibet. (TM)

Create an Original PSA: Create a video to help fight to keep kids of tobacco. (CTFK)

Send an e-mail: Fight McCain, Not Each Other! (DFA)

Send a letter to voters: About the Real John McCain. (NARAL)

Sign the Petition: Healthcare NOT Warfare. (PDA)

Send a Letter to the Editor: Letting people know about the real costs of the Iraq War. (TM)

McCain Has No Plan to Deal With Mortgage Crisis

This makes me feel really confident, particularly considering the fact that Florida is particularly negatively affected by this problem. What is McCain going to do? He doesn't know:

"Time and again John McCain shows that he doesn't care to understand the challenges facing Florida's families. On his signature issue, the Iraq War, McCain has appeared dangerously confused about a key fact of the situation there. On the issue he admitted he knows little about, the economy, today's speech does little to reassure Floridians who are carrying the burden of this Republican recession," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Alejandro Miyar said.

"Many Floridians can't afford to pay their mortgages and others are held hostage in homes with plummeting market values. But instead of offering plans to help or deal with the problem, John McCain is content to let people rot," Miyar said. "The fact is that McCain supports the same Bush economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place, from the huge tax cuts for the extremely wealthy to the reckless special interest handouts to the billions being spent in Iraq every month."

Is McCain Presidential? Survey Says: No

From Firedoglake:

...Mr McCain's policies would not be so worrying were it not for his notorious quickness to fury in the face of perceived insults to himself or his country. Even Thad Cochran, a fellow Republican senator, has said: "I certainly know no other president since I've been here who's had a temperament like that."


In interviews with Salon this week, several experienced military officers said McCain draws mixed reviews among military leaders, and they expressed serious doubts about whether McCain has the right temperament to be the next president and commander in chief. Some expressed more confidence in Obama, citing his temperament as an asset.

It is not difficult in Washington to find high-level military officials who have had close encounters with John McCain's temper, and who find it worrisome .....the concern is that McCain has, at times, come across as out of control. It is difficult to find current or former officers willing to describe those encounters in detail on the record. That's because, by and large, those officers admire McCain. But that doesn't mean they want his finger on the proverbial button, and they are supporting Clinton or Obama instead.


"I like McCain. I respect McCain. But I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004 and is now campaigning for Clinton. "I think it is a little scary. I think this guy's first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Desire For Simple Answers (The Florida Primary)

In the realm of logic and argumentation, there is a fallacy sometimes referred to as the "Desire for Simple Answers." Simply explained, it is the idea that human beings, by their nature one an answer or explanation for things that is easy to understand and where it is easy to lay blame for how something turns out. Quite frequently, people will reject answers that are not simple enough or they will glom on to answers that are simplistic, rather than go for the more complex explanations that are the reality. This is, obviously, a fallacy. In the real world, almost everything has a complex explanation and to leave out any part of that complexity is to ignore reality.

A prime example of this is the Florida Democratic presidential primary. Almost everyone -- in Florida and out -- has their own pet theory about who is to blame in this situation. The problem is that almost everyone has the explanation narrowed down to one main culprit in the situation. That's nonsense. Here's who contributed to the current problem and without any of these parts coming together, then we probably wouldn't be where we are now (These are in alphabetical order so as not to give extra weight to anyone in particular):

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama: Neither side seemed willing to work out a deal that benefitted the only people who really matter in this election -- the voters. They also signed on to that ridiculous pledge that really made this a problem when it didn't have to be.

Democratic National Committee: They cowtowed to the early states, giving them preferential treatment for no legitimate reason. They also chose to play bad cop and did little to work out a compromise, playing the "it's my way or the highway" game.

Democratic party rules: I could point to any number of arbitrary rules at the national and state level that created this fiasco without having any real legitimate argument to back them up.

Florida activists and bloggers: Of the many people now complaining about this situation, very, very, few of them said much before the vote in the legislature took place. And those who did said what they had to say online. Very few people called or met with their legislators to give input on this situation.

Florida Democratic Party: They did a poor job of handling both the public relations and the interparty relationships in dealing with this. They should've communicated more frequently and with more of an open mind with both voters and with the national party.

Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina: There is no valid reason for these states to go first and their dogmatic devotion to their privileged position not only hurt Florida (and Michigan), but could hurt the country as well. I have never heard even one semi-legitimate reason given by anyone as to why these states get to go first.

The mainstream media: They reported this story in a fashion designed to make it as controversial as possible, to stoke voter fear as much as possible and to enflame state vs. national party tensions as much as they could. In Florida, they did Republican talking points so well, the Republican party quoted stories verbatim on their web site because they didn't have to add anything to get their spin out.

Republicans: In addition to creating and passing the bill that started the whole mess, they used (and continue to use) every opportunity to make the situation worse. They have no problem with voter disenfranchisement, just so long as it happens to Democratic voters.

Voters in other states: Seriously, if they had just picked a darned nominee by now, none of tihs would matter and the whole thing would be over! ;)

Another aspect of all of this that has been bugging me is the huge amount of misinformation going around about the whole situation. There are too many fallacies to hit all of them and I'm not going to go to the extent of identify the fallacy for each, but here are a few things that we should clear up:

The Dems in the legislature could've stopped this: Some peope use the fact that the Dems didn't vote against the primary move as evidence that they supported it. It didn't matter how the Dems voted, the primary would've been on January 29 either way.

The Democrats didn't try to stop this: They did. They didn't expend excessive energy fighting what they knew would be a lost cause, but they did attempt to stop it.

Fighting every quixotic battle is good: I politics, not all battles are worth fighting. A battle that you are guaranteed to lose and will hurt your chances at winning other battles is not a battle worth fighting. It's different if you are talking about a battle for civil rights or for equality or some other grand principle. But when that battle is simply about a vote that has no direct impact on anything, then there really can't be much of a reason to fight that battle.

FDP had the power to stop this: A state Democratic party has no power over elected officials from that party. People seem to think that a state party chair has some mystical power to control legislators. They don't. They can't control them in any real way.

A mail-in re-vote could've been done in Florida: Once the Republican-appointed secretary of state said that they wouldn't verify the voter signatures, this plan was dead. The fact that the candidates weren't both on board hurt as well, as did the lack of funding to pay for it. State laws prevented this one as well.

A statewide primary could have been done: No one would have paid for it and the costs would've been high.

A statewide caucus could have been done: FDP Chair Karen Thurman was strongly opposed because this option would've disenfranchised too many, including military and overseas voters.

A re-vote would be different: Maybe, but probably not. Some recent polls have showed movement, others haven't. But since the delegates are awarded proportionately, there wouldn't have been any real noticeable difference.

Florida's votes could play a big role in the outcome of the election if they were held now: No they wouldn't. No combination of state results that included any kind of revote for Florida and Michigan would give either candidate a significantly different number of delegates. If I remember correctly, Clinton is +38 delegates in Florida right now. Obama is ahead by well more than 100 more than that, these votes would have no impact on the outcome, which has long been about the superdelegates. It still is.

Florida would've been influential if it had kept their original March date: If the primary wasn't on January 29, it would've been on February 5. The March date was the date from 2004 and in the past, that date was never going to be used this year.

Florida broke the rules and the DNC just enforced them: Florida did break the rules. So did the DNC. DNC rules specify that people who break this rule lose half their delegates, not all of them. Additionally, South Carolina moved their election ahead of DNC-stated guidelines in response to Florida and received no penalty, which violates the rules as well.

Following the rules is the right thing to do: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Arbitrary rules and immoral rules should never be followed. They should always, in fact, be broken. Nobody yet has made an argument as to why these rules are valid. "Tradition" isn't enough. Many things have been traditions in American history that were either arbitrary or wrong that were defended solely on the basis of tradition. They were still wrong.

Howard Dean treated Florida too harshly: Howard Dean didn't do anything. The rules committee did. Again, some people think that Dean, as chair, has a magical power to control a democratic committee that has an absolute vote that he can't veto. He doesn't have that power.

Hillary Clinton got an advantage in Florida: Both candidates were on the ballot and neither campaigned in Florida. That gave Clinton a little boost based on her previous name recognition. But in the big scheme of things, it had no impact on the race based on the small number of delegates that the candidates differed by.

The whole thing was simply about Florida getting to go first: I defy anyone to find any comments or arguments to support this claim. It was never about Florida being first. It's about changing the system so that unrepresentative states don't make decisions by themselves that affect al lof us.

The fact that the candidates didn't campaign in Florida hurt turnout: Florida had record Democratic turnout in the primary, more than one million more voters than voted in 2004. Sure, there were a few people who might have voted who didn't, but it's hard to argue that this mess affected turnout, when it was a record high. In 2004, we didn't have this problem, and more than a million fewer people voted in the election.

The voters care heavily about this issue: I've seen little or no evidence that the average Florida voter really cares much about this at all. There are two dimensions upon which you measure public opinion -- preference and intensity. At least one poll has shown that a majority of Floridians have the preference for a re-vote, but there doesn't seem to be much of an intensity about this feeling form most people.

The voters should pay the penalty for party/legislative squabbles: The voters of Florida had no input or impact on the primary date. Why should they be punished and disenfranchised for something that someone else did?

It's wrong for people to sue over the primary fight: Not at all. People who feel that they have been wronged always have the right to sue over that. It is up to the legal system to determine whether or not their arguments are legitimate, not public opinion or political opinion.

Florida's delegates won't be seated at the convention: I've heard no one in any legitimate position make this claim. The only way there will be any problem is if the delegates from Florida and Michigan would change the outcome of the election. If we have a nominee, the delegates get seated no problem. Otherwise, they still get seated, they just won't have full voting power.

A large number of Dems won't vote in the general because of the primary: A few might, but the conclusion that this is going to be significant has no real basis. Sure, as much as 25% of the population has said that they are "less likely" to vote for the nominee if Florida's delegates don't count. But the phrase "less likely" is one of the most poorly-defined phrases in opinion polling and it really means something. If someone was 100% likely to vote for the nominee and that falls to 99% likely, that is "less" likely. If someone was 1% likely to vote for the nominee and falls to 0%, that's less likely. These situations, and many like them, mean nothing.

The primary mess will help John McCain win Florida: Not likely. If people are upset about Bush, Iraq, the Economy and the general direction of the country, that will be true no matter what happens with the primary. Some polls show McCain winning in Florida by a few points. That's without any campaigning by the Dems in Florida, no money spent in Florida and no nominee. These numbers are likely to change extensively before November.

Refusing to vote for the Dem nominee in November if our delegates don't count will "teach them a lesson": No it won't, it'll help John McCain win the election and continue America down the path it has been going down, a path that we can't afford one more year, much less four more -- or 100 more.

I'm actually quite tired of this debate, so this will probably be my last post on it. I'm not planning on bringing it up on the radio show, either. It's not that it isn't important, it's that it isn't as important as all the fuss that's being made over it. There are four key things for us to do in Florida this year:

1. Deliver the 27 electoral votes of the state to the Democratic candidate, no matter which candidate it is.

2. Win as many state legislative seats as we can.

3. Fight and defeat the anti-marriage amendment and any other crazy amendments the Republicans bring up before now and November.

4. Build a sustainable progressive infrastructure in the state.

Notice what's missing from the list? That's right, obsessing about the primary. In the long run, the primary isn't that important in the scheme of things. In November, the people who are still upset about this and still talking about it will be part of the problem, not part of the solution. I understand you think this was a problem. I understand that you feel that you wrong by whoever you blame for this situation. I also understand that we can't let this drag us donw. It will if we let it, and that will play into the hands of the conservatives. We can't let that happen, no matter what we think about the primary. There are only two choices over the rest of the year that are available -- 1. let the primary hurt us, 2. not let the primary hurt us. Many people are talking lke the favor option 1. I can't understand that and can't respect it. I do respect all of the various opinions about what happened, why and whose fault it is. I don't, however, respect any decision or action that hurts the overall movement we are trying to build, the positive changes we are trying to make in Florida and in the country.

Kos posted about this earlier and I think he's been pretty right on this whole thing all along:

To me, this was never about Obama or Clinton. It was about breaking the stranglehold that Iowa and New Hampshire have enjoyed at the top of the nominating calendar for far too long.


So the message had to be sent, no matter how unpopular, that the DNC calendar was sacrosant, and that its rules would be enforced. That message has now been sent.

Florida and Michigan played a valued role in this battle, proving they would risk their representation in order to demand a say in our nominee.

To me, that was what this whole thing was about from the beginning. As this election has very clearly shown, the current system is broken. It isn't fair. It isn't democratic. It isn't even really comprehensible. And it hurts Democrats in the general election, therefore hurting everyone.

We have a system that doesn't work and hopefully this election will help guarantee that is changed. If it does, and I think it will, everyone will be thanking Florida and Michigan.

If you want to take action on this, you can sign the petition at Count Florida Votes!

(I apologize. I had a long list of links to go with this about what other people think about this topic -- and many of them disagree with me -- but my computer crashed and I lost the list. If you have posted about this, feel free to e-mail me or put the link in the comments. I'll add any links about this topic that you have written to this post)

TBA2008 -- New Media, New Motion: New Avenues for Activism

3:22: This session is being led by Robert Greenwald, Jane Hamsher, Michael Kieschnick, Adam Green and Dr. Alan Bean.

3:25: Adam Green is moderating the discussion.

Adam Green

3:29: Robert Greenwald is first. The idea that they are working on at Brave New Films is the The War on Greed.

Robert Greenwald

3:33: It's not just enough to be pissed off, that's easy, it's to translate that anger into action.

3:36: A great way to get a message across is to use personal stories about people that are affected directly and negatively by policies.

3:39: The elements of good video (or blogpost, really) are: messaging, content, politics, and storytelling.

3:40: Jane Hamsher: The idea is to use the Internet to serve the same role for the left as the conservative churches fill on the right.

Jane Hamsher

3:46: Michael Kieschnick: Works with a group called Credo Mobile. They use their phone system, to register voters, GOTV and other activism. They use texting to get people to vote, which led to a boost in turnout of 4% with very little cost. It worked out to about $1.62 per vote, which was only 5% of the cost per vote of the second cheapest cost per vote of any method.

Michael Kieschnick

3:50: In collecting e-mails and info, you also need to get mobile numbers, which lead to the cheapest method of voter contact.

3:53: Alan Bean is next. The reason that things like Tulia and Jena are successfully raised into the public consciousness is for someone to take the various details and combining them into a coherent story/narrative. That can lead to media coverage and interest groups active.

Alan Bean

3:57: In the Jena 6 case, bloggers helped spread the story and brought the story to the attention of the mainstream media. It wasn't the so-called A-list bloggers that drove the story, either, it was the African-American bloggers who drove the story.

3:59: A narrative-based advocacy model is what is needed.

4:01: Michael Kieschnick: Peer-to-peer GOTV e-mail messages works pretty well, e-mail from organizations don't seem to be as effective.

4:25: When you see a media story presented 50%-50% when it is really 90%-10%, write a respectful and well-thought-out message and send it to the reporter asking for more accurate reporting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Iraq Press Conference

I never got my battery back until too late. I'll have some more analysis of this plan once I get back to Florida. I think this is something that we really want to push forward on.

(You can see this press conference live here and you can read the plan here)

5:40: The name of the new plan is A Responsible Plan to End the War In Iraq.

5:42: Speakers in this press conference include Tom Andrews, Darcy Burner, Jared Polis, Sam Bennett, Chellie Pingree, and Donna Edwards. Things are about to get started.

Iraq conference

5:55: They had a few difficulties, but have now started. Andrews is the moderator.

5:57: Andrews: We need to elect a Congress that will stop this war. The survival of our nation is at stake. What do we do?

Tom Andrews

5:58: Darcy Burner (Washington-8) was the sparkplug behind this plan.

6:00: Burner: Ending the war is a bigger problem than just removing our troops from Iraq.

6:07: We have to restore the Constitution to fix this problem.

6:08: The plan addresses specific bills that will attempt to solve the problem. If we take the steps in this plan, we'll be able to make progress on all the other challenges we face.

6:10: It is going to take public pressure and political will to end the war. The candidates participating in this program, all have shown the courage to take up the challenge to end the war.

6:12: Donna Edwards of Maryland's 4th: The war may have disappeared off the front pages of the newspapers, but it hasn't disappeared from the minds of the voters or from the hearts of the families and men and women who have sacrificed for this war.

6:21: The full list of current endorsers of this plan is Darcy Burner, Washington; Dona Edwards, Maryland; Eric Massa, New York; Chellie Pingree, Maine; Tom Perriello, Virginia; Jared Polis, Colorado; George Fearing, Washington; Larry Byrnes, Florida; Steve Harrison, New York; and Sam Bennett, Pennsylvania.

6:22: My laptop is about to die and I don't have access to an outlet. I'll go offline for a while and will come back with more info later...

(The stuff below is from an earlier false start to the session. Not really a false start, I just came in too early and caught the tail end of an earlier session. The Burner et al. conference stuff is above).

5:21: It appears I got the wrong info, I'm here now and the press conference has already started.

5:21: On the stage are John Cavanagh, Darcy Burner, Camilo Mejia, Leslie Cagan, Tom Swan and Nita Chaudhary.

5:28: Darcy Burner: If you want more and better Democrats in Congress, you (the reader), need to get them there.

5:29: Maybe I'm not too early. It could be that this is the end of an earlier session.

5:32: Confirmed. This was the end of an older session. See, that's what I get for showing up early for something.

Iraq Policy Announcement Shortly

Please pass this far and wide.

Shortly several Congressional candidates are going to announce a new strategy for dealing with the Iraq War fiasco. Among those involved in the plan are Netroots candidate Darcy Burner, blogger Matt Stoller, and Florida 14 candidate Larry Byrnes (who appeared on yesterday's episode of Florida Progressive Radio,

The plan will appear at their new website once available (

I'll be liveblogging the announcement at Florida Speaks beginning at 5:30 p.m. (

TBA2008 -- Voter Contact 101: Connecting with Voters, Part I

2:46: This session is being conducted by Kristen Crowell and Rudy López.

2:54: Kristen Crowell: The only way to win an election is to do direct voter contact. But it has to be targeted to the right audience.

Kristen Crowell

2:57: The first number to start out with is 50% + 1.

2:59: The most effective voter contact is always that which allows the candidate to reach as many voters as possible in the most personal and interactive way possible.

3:00: Targeting...Where you will find the votes you need. To find them, you have to use increasingly detailed voter lists. You never target those who always vote conservative. Priority list:
A. Swing voters who always vote (Target for persuasion No. 1)
B. Someties vote, always vote progressive (Target for persuasion No. 2)
C. Sometimes vote, swing voters (Target or GOTV)
D. Always vote, always vote progressive (Target for volunteers, money)
E. Nover vote, always vote progressive (Target for voter registration)
F. Never vote, swing voters

(This is a snapshot, these priorities could vary based on the dynamics for your particular race).

3:05: Targeting:
Geographic: Birds of a feather flock together
Demographic: Groups that tend to vote progressively -- race, gender, SES, etc.

3:07: Rudy López: Take the resources you have and use direct, personal, repetitive contact to connect with them.

Rudy López

3:10: Time is the most valuable resource, since it is the only resource that you can't get more of.

3:11: Field is the center of the Wellstone way of campaigning.

3:11: The candidate should only be doing two things -- talking to people and raising money.

3:12: Field philosophy:
Heavy emphasis on field - it is an integral part of the campaign.
Winning an election and developing leadership
Energizing your base as a winning strategy
Heavy emphasis on on volunteers

3:13: Elections are not the goal, they are a tool towards building power so that progressive change can be made.

3:14: Part of the goal isn't just winning votes, but also about building the base. Think longterm. If you start early enough, you can go into more populations that you might otherwise approach.

3:17: Volunteerism should be talking about "do this for me," it should be about the volunteers making a change and them getting something out of the deal. We find out people's interests by talking to them.

3:22: The three types of direct contact are doors, phones and mail. All of these

3:23: You also have earned media and paid media, but they aren't direct voter contact.

3:24: Voter ID program: Call the universe of voters and ask if they are with us or against us. Some people hire a company to do this or them. Research has shown that this doesn't do a lot of good. Volunteers who knock on doors or on the phone is much more effective in doing an ID program. You should do the ID in-house.

3:25: It's not really about "persuasion," it's about connecting with people.

3:28: How you identify people:
1=Strong supporter
2=Leaning toward support
4=Leaning opposed
5=Strongly opposed

3:29: You can determine the difference between a soft ID and a hard ID by having them sign a commitment card or list.

3:35: Voter contact tools
Door-to-door 10-15 doors/4-6 contacts/hr
House parties: Must be done early to have much impact.
Phones (ID 12-18/hr, persuasion, 9-15/hr): Should not be verbal mail
Mail (3-12 pieces depending on budget)
Dropping literature (35-60 doors/hr)
Robo calls: Use with your base to get them to attend events or have a familiar and respected voice on the call, although not necessarily a celebrity. These are cheap but aren't super effective.
Internet: Good web sites are important, but don't overspend on them, since they aren't likely to have a huge direct effect on turnout or persuasion.

3:36: The key to winning voters is repeated conversations with actual voters.

3:38: Voter contact should be a conversation that is give-and-take. Gauge the voters, ask questions, try to get them to give affirmative answers in the conversation.

3:40: Steps in good communications:
Introduce your self and your purpose
Identify a problem/ask an engaging question
Pose a solution that is about hope
People need to see themselves as part of the solution
This is the drive to do action -- ask them to vote, volunteer, donate, etc.

3:42: Dropping literature is ineffective unless you layer it with another form of contact. The best way to use literature is to prep your door-to-door canvass.

3:43: Mail can be very effective if done well. Use pictures, bullet points, something that is interactive and easy to use. Most people don't care and won't read long text. Pictures help. People decide what they think about a piece of mail within 3-7 seconds. Doing something different is more likely to catch people's attention. Use visuals to make point (guard dog vs. lap dog, if it looks like a duck...)

3:46: If you aren't going to do a minimum of three mail pieces, don't waste your time.

3:47: It needs to be a combination of types of contact and you should dominate one of them. López likes to dominate the door-to-door.

3:48: You need not just the voting data for an area, but also some local on-the-ground intelligence to inform the data and give you knowledge of the area.

3:49: Don't be afraid to change strategies if one isn't working.

3:51: Personalize the conversation, include the name of the neighborhood or something that shows you know what's going on.

TBA2008 -- Campaign Planning 101: Developing the Right Campaign Plan to Win

11:44: This session is being led by Gia Vitali, Michael Obermueller and Luis Navarro.

11:52: Luis Navarro: You have a far greater chance of winning a campaign if you have a campaign plan. You can win without one, with specific circumstances, but the chances are a lot less.

Luis Navarro

11:53: With a plan you are trying to quantify three resources: money, people and time.

11:54: Time is non-renewal. So in your plan you need to start with election day and work your way backwards. You need to create a calendar that includes dates for filing.

11:56: You need to prepare a budget. You need to determine how many volunteer hours you need so you can plan for the number of people to get the job done.

11:57: A campaign plan is a living document and needs to change according to the real world circumstances.

11:59: The importance of a plan increases the higher the office you run for while the impact of a plan increases the lower the office you run for.

12:02: Getting started in writing the plan, by Gia Vitali...

Gia Vitali

12:03: Collect and analyze data:

District profile
Past election results
Likely opposition?
Filing deadlines
Legal requirements
What's it going to cost
Likely donors and supporters
Voter file access
Resume (including personal history)
Financial/credit history

12:05: Creating a "Kitchen Cabinet"

Volunteer committee
Who needs to be on it
This is a working committee
These should not just be yes people

Key staff/volunteer jobs
Campaign treasurer
Campaign manager
Field director
Volunteer coordinator
Policy researcher

12:08: Rule No. 1 of campaign planning: If it's not written down, it doesn't exist.
2: Time people and money are your resources, use them wisely.
3: Know your win number 50%+1 + 4-10% cushion.
4: It always takes longer and costs more than you expect.
5: Plans should be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. Build in a cushion.
6: Knowing and following the legal rules minimizes stupid risks and mistakes.

12:09: Five key questions:
What needs to be done?
Who will do the work?
When will it take place?
How much will it cost?
Is it necessary to help you win?

Key Campaign Plan Components
Message development & delivery
Message development
Paid and earned media

Voter contact and field
Voter registration
Voter ID and persuasion
Base building

12:14: Four rules of creating a budget
1: Create a realistic budget
2: Budgets reflect priorities
3: Minimize overhead and maximize voter contact: Learn to say no to fancy gadgets that don't win you votes.
4: Pay bills and avoid debt

12:15: Cost breakdown
Less than 20% of your budget should be overhead
Research 2-8%
Fundraising costs 10-12%
Voter contact 60-70%

12:18: In high Democratic precincts (60% Dem performance), the key reason to spend money is drive turnout, since they are likely to vote for you anyway. The precincts (40% Dem performance) focus on new Democratic registrations, new residents or groups that are more likely to vote Democratic. The bulk of your funding and persuasion would be to focus on the precincts in between 40-60% performance.

12:24: Michael Obermueller: The way to run is to figure out what you think first and then go out and run, don't start running before you know why you are running and what your values are.

Michael Obermueller

TBA2008 -- Opening Plenary

10:45: Okay, I'm not even sure where to begin with this conference. I guess I could direct you to the agenda here. It's hard to figure out which of the many sessions and events to attend, but I'll try. The opening speech is being given by Robert Borosage of the Institute for America's future.

Robert Borosage

10:48: The conference is going to focus on Iraq, energy, health care and two other key issues.

10:50: The plan is to announce the launch of the largest effort in memory to register and educate voters.

10:55: The next speaker is Diane Archer of the Health Care for All Project. We rank 37th in the world in terms of health care and our health care insurance system is broken. A coalition of health care organizations is organizing Health Care of America Now in order to improve America's health care system and move toward a more fair and equitable health care system.

Diane Archer

11:01: They back a program that backs a private-insurance system for those who like it, but also creates an expanded form of Medicare that is a public system for those who don't like the private system or can't afford it. This would drive $80 billion in annual savings on health care.

11:06: The next speaker is Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of If we do not have a WWII-level mobilization to change our energy infrastructure, then we might not have a future. We have to beat the polluters, push back against Big Coal and forge a new energy future.

Van Jones

11:10: The government is on the side of the problem-makers -- the polluters, those who oppose new energy -- and we need to get the government on the side of the problem-solvers.

11:11: The movement towards creating a positive and progressive energy movement in the U.S., it will create thousands of contracts and millions of jobs. We can beat global warming, decrease poverty and eliminate the need to ever have a war for oil again.

11:13: Martin Luther King Jr. was killed not because he stuck up for African-Americans, but because he linked issues like race, poverty, war and others in a way that endangered the power of entrenched interests.

11:16: We do not believe in sink-or-swim politics. We are all in this together.

11:17: We are becoming the people who offer solutions not problems. We can build a movement that can say we are strong enough and innovative enough not just to take America back, but to take it forward.

11:18: The next speaker is Donna Edwards, Democratic nominee for Maryland's Fourth Congressional District.

Donna Edwards

11:21: She lost to Al Wynn in 2006, but that loss was a win that served as a springboard to her victory this year. She says a loss can build the groundwork for future success. The victory was based on a movement that was a coming together of groups like MoveOn, DFA, PDA and others.

11:24: In 2008, the voters get it on the Iraq war, Congress needs to get it, too. We need to invest in peace and progress, not war.

11:28: The media needs to return to talking about the war and putting stories about the war and the soldiers who are dying there back on the front pages of the newspapers. We need to contact our newspapers and get them to cover the stories again.

11:29: Edwards is signed on with the plan to end the war proposed by Darcy Burner and others (including Floridian Larry Byrnes, who appeared on Florida Progressive Radio yesterday).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

NOI Summit --Special Session

11:34: In between sessions, we got a bonus session here with Congressional candidate Darcy Burner, Brian Katulis, and Matt Stoller.

Darcy Burner

11:35: Burner says that the media narrative that the war is no longer an issue to voters is completely at odds with what voters are telling her.

11:36: Tomorrow, a group of candidates are going to roll out a comprehensive plan to discuss the national security narrative and get us out of Iraq in a comprehensive and positive way.

11:41: Burner says politicians are a lot like golden retrievers, if you give them a biscuit, they'll repeat their positive behavior.

11:48: This plan will be rolled out Monday and will be online at

11:55: This plan will help identify those candidates who really support progressive ideas about the war, who are willing to work for change and who are willing to take a risk in order to improve the country.

11:59: Key points of the plan:

No residual troops

A diplomatic surge

Doing humanitarian aid

Calling an international summit to deal with the problems in Iraq

Fixing the structures in this country that let us get in this problem in the first place

Ending signing statements

End use of private military contractors

(And more)

12:00: This plan will draw a lot more volunteers and money to campaigns, so candidates who endorse this are likely to get a boost from progressive voters.

12:01: This plan has been seriously considered by military experts.

12:03: A lot of the plan comes from listening to what voters, bloggers and activists have said about the war and related issues.

NOI Summit Session 8 -- Media

10:47: This session is led by Cliff Schecter of BraveNewFilms. The session is largely about how to handle media appearances.

Cliff running the show

10:48: Use body language and verbal language to communicate that the other side is wrong.

10:49: Use humor, have a smile on your face. If you have passion, that needs to come across.

10:55: Start off in the interview by being very polite from the beginning, help make the other side uncomfortable with one-liners, quips that are funny but can throw the other side off its game.

10:56: Factual knowledge is very powerful and make the other side defend themselves rather than you going on the defensive.

10:57: If your eyes dart to a monitor, you look guilty, so avoid it. Tape a picture of the person you are talking to the monitor (for a live remote) or keep a monitor of the other person on so you can see them. Remember that you are on the air and that people are watching so you have to be on your game.

11:00: Cliff's view is that either he's going to talk or nobody is going to talk, don't let the host badger you or control the conversation. You don't have to play along with their rules.

11:02: Get there early and be really nice to the staff and producers and they'll remember you and it gives you an advantage and help at a later time.

11:08: The key is to stay on offense. You have to be confident, stay on message and put them on the defense.

11:10: A good plan is to give a few good examples and then go into a list of factual details that shows your side is right and the other side is wrong.

11:12: As a blogger, they will try to paint you as the "angry blogger," but don't let that happen.

NOI Summit Update

If you wondered about the lack of a session 4 on yesterday's liveblogging, don't worry much, the session existed, but I was leading a session on Podcasting and BlogTalkRadio, so no notes.

There was a Intro to Media Training this morning (Session 7), but I came in too late to really liveblog it. Session 8 I'm attending is on John McCain, so check back in a little while for that coverage.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

NOI Summit Session 6 -- Holding the Media Accountable

4:27: This session is being run by Erin Hofteig, Karl Frisch and Jeremy Schulman of Media Matters.

Media Matters

4:30: Whatever issues are important to you, the media should be your second-most important issue.

4:34: Conservative misinformation is defined as "News or commentary that is inaccurate, unreliable, or not credible and that forwards the conservative agenda." It isn't simply conservative thought, it's inaccurate or incomplete information.

4:38: For a long time there has been a conservative spin that the media is liberally biased. It isn't particularly true, but they have repeated it as a mantra for years and the image has taken hold.

4:41: Media correction has to be done on a bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece basis.

4:42: Reporters read blogs. You should get to know them and they probably want to get to know you.

4:43: Need to build a media list of all of the relevant reporters, radio shows, and television.

4:43: Being attacked by right-wing media is a badge of honor and means that your

4:44: They aren't going to come to us. We have to be proactive and reach out to them.

4:44: Communicate respectfully with the media, don't make it personal. If you make it personal, you have little or no chance of influencing them or getting them to do their job correctly.

4:48: It is important that you accurately portray what they are doing. Quote them accurately and be careful about attributing intent, which is something you may not be able to accurately discern.

4:52: Media accountability doesn't work particularly well in a solitary fashion, when a lot of groups work on getting the media criticism message out. Blogs and groups need to help spread the word.

4:55: Reach out to the organizations that might be interested in the issues that you are writing about and let them know about what you are writing.

5:03: When media isn't doing a great job, one of the best ways to focus on them is to target their advertisers. Listen to a show and write down the advertisers and then contacting them (in significant numbers).

5:08: If you have the type of influence that gets right-wing media people talking about you and your criticism, then they aren't slandering liberals or other things like that.

NOI Summit Session 5 -- Bridging the Blogosphere Divides

3:28: There are clearly divides in the blogosphere, based on race, gender, sexuality.

3:38: Code words are being used in the body politic that have a history and that send race-based appeals in a negative way.

3:41: Links are currency and there isn't enough linking to blogs with different voices. On the national level, this has gone far enough that a separate afrosphere has been created.

3:50: There are a lot of basically separate spheres in the blogosphere that often have barriers as far as conversation, linking, etc.

4:00: There is a lot of discussion in the black community about being ignored by the Democratic Party and there is potential for serious danger to the party. This is just as true with other communities as well.

4:02: Some people assume or say that simply because someone is progressive that they "get it" on every issue. They don't always.

4:05: We have to reach out on both sides of these divides.

NOI Summit Session 3 -- Blogging As A Business

1:35: Julie Fanselow of RedStateRebels is leading this discussion, which is set up as a brainstorming sesson.

Working for a campaign or working for a candidate (as a blogger)

Working for a progressive nonprofit or creating one (as a blogger)

Have high enough traffic to bring in ad revenue

Sell audience access (e-mail lists/readers/etc.) to groups

1:40: A benefit for advertisers on blogs is that the audience that reads the blog is much higher-level.

1:41: Create a postcard of how people can make money at your site and send it out.

1:42: If you don't have a donate button on your blog, then you don't understand how it works.

1:43: In larger donor circles, it's difficult to raise money unless you are a non-profit (501c3).

1:45: Center for Independent Media offers "fellows" money for blogging in certain states (Florida isn't currently one of them).

1:47: Syndication model. People pay into a fund and can reproduce media on their own websites.

1:49: Media Matters has worked with specific bloggers with money to blog on media issues.

1:51: ChipIn is a widget that can be used to raise funds.

1:53: GoogleAds, Blogads and other well-known services.

1:55: Click To Blue is new progressive ad service.

2:06: If you do freelance work for various organizations, create a rate card and standards and the like.

2:12: Create a state Blog Hive.

NOI Summit Session 2 -- Building Coalitions and Moving an Agenda

11:25: This session is being led by Adam Green of and Matt Stoller of OpenLeft.

Matt Stoller and Adam Green

11:27: We can shine the spotlight on places it hasn't been shined on before and creating media narratives that don't currently exist.

11:29: It isn't just about getting people angry about an issue or an injustice, it's about giving them the opportunity to do something about it. An example of a successful campaign based on blogs was the activism used to get the Fox-sponsored Democratic debate canceled.

11:32: Constant pressure, through regular blog posts, phone calls and other actions are the most effective way to hold people accountable and get them to do the right thing.

Adam Green

11:34: Solo activity, even by one organization, doesn't work very well. Building a coalition is necessary and planning together and in advance of the campaign is key.

11:35: One of the key strategies is to show decision-makers that they are disjointed from the base is the set of circumstances that is most likely to succeed.

11:36: Fights that you engage in should be realistic and have a chance of success. Often, this means pressuring your friends -- people who care what you think -- to do the right thing.

11:37: When you give people opportunities to do the right thing, they are more likely to do it, particularly the second time around. Consistent campaigns that approach the same people are likely to have a growing impact over time.

11:38: Politicians want to say certain things, but don't have the ability to do so. But if bloggers create the space where the topic becomes more acceptable, then politicians gain the opportunity to say it once someone else (us) has already said it.

Matt Stoller

11:42: You can also create a domino effect. After the first politician makes a public statement in support of your issue/agenda, then others can follow up and it can create momentum.

11:43: Creative use of video can be very inspiring and get a lot of action. Blogs can help shape the message. Organized groups such as MoveOn, DFA and others can provide the troops for phone calls, letters, e-mail's, etc.

11:44: Just working as a commentariat isn't as effective as working as part of a strategy that coordinates with others.

11:46: Can possibly work as an embedded blogger working inside a particular campaign. Since campaigns can't coordinate with interest groups or activist groups, a blogger covering the race closely can provide the information and messaging to the outside groups. If the blogger isn't an official member of the campaign, then they can pass information along without violating the laws.

12:07: To help control the message, bloggers should establish communication and connections with interest groups in advance of an issue coming up, so that an established link is already in place.

NOI Summit Session 1 -- Building a State/Issue Blog

blogger's summit

9:28 -- This session is led by Laura Packard, but is meant to be a group discussion.

Laura Packard

9:31 -- How do you find/motivate/keep regular contributors?


Remind people as to why they are doing it in the first place.

Use a Google group to keep in touch.

Create a managerial team that makes important decisions for the group -- this keeps them loyal and interesting.

Turn over leadership every six months.

Comment on people's posts, which is one of the biggest motivators.

Paying someone, even a small amount, can be a strong symbolic motivator, as a measure of respect. Typepad has an easy to install tip jar feature.

Do some offline activity to create personal connections.

9:40: Finding people...

Periodically run a post asking people to participate.

Balance the kind of readers you get.

Look for people who post things on Daily Kos or other national blogs about the state and ask them to cross-post it to your site.

Juan Melli of Blue Jersey

9:44: How do you find more readers?

Find a scandal and cover it well.

Put your blog name and url in your sig line for comments/e-mail/etc.

A daily news round-up that is posted at a regular time.

Using tags helps increase search results.

Feedburner automatically pings Google and Technorati.

Posting videos are likely to attract people.

It helps to post things worth reading.

Frequent content is important.

Link frequently to other similar blogs.

Wiki drives people to the site.

Going to local chapters of party, DFA and other organization.

Doing things that grab attention, such as following around a lame duck politician in a duck costume and a crutch.

Make press contacts and send out press releases.

Make contacts with people who are regularly cited in newspapers or appearing on television/radio.

Write an op-ed for a traditional media outlet.

Media cuts are creating a vacuum in newsrooms and they may find your content interesting.

Be at events and be visible so that others can see you.

Negotiate to provide content with weeklies or alternative press.

Provide original content, not just analysis, but original reporting.

Commenting on other blogs.

Send e-mail to state legislators.

Feedburner allows you to set up a free daily e-mail.

10:03: How do you balance partisanship with providing news?

Feel free to take shots at Democrats if they are out of line.

Multiple blogs working together allows for different voices and different approaches to dealing with various topics.

It can be a liability, particularly if people are also active in the party.

Potentially institute a conflict-of-interest policy.

Offer full disclosure when necessary, particularly if you are working on a campaign that you are commenting on.

Remember what the mission of your blog/organization is.

Include a diversity of opinions and viewpoints -- go out of your way to find other voices and include them.

Include a disclaimer with a particular post.

Be good at perceiving where other people come from.

Ask yourself the question: are you trying to persuade or are you trying to score points?

Steve Medellin of 43rd State Blues

10:25: How do you turn lurkers into posters and commenters?

Ask them!

Find a way to get people into their comfort zone, might not know their voice, find a way to provide them a gateway.

Caption contests. Question of the day. Open thread.

Have fun.

Post on a wide variety of topics and try to find thins that are interesting to those lurkers.

Do liveblogging of events such as primaries and the like.

From time to time, throw out subjects that are non-political as sort of an icebreaker.

Have a poll and have a comment thread with it.

Recurring topics that educate people on the topic so that they begin to know enough about the issue to talk about it.

NOI Blogger Summit - Day 1

The first day (yesterday) was little more than meet-and-greet type of stuff and I met so many people I couldn't remember half of them if I tried. Our first session is about to begin, so I'll have a lot as the day develops. When I get an updated schedule, I'll post it.

I'm posting pics on Facebook as I get them.

More info on the summit can be found at the NOI Wiki (They'll be adding a lot more as things moves on).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reporting Live from D.C.

Okay, from tomorrow morning through next Wednesday night, I'll be leaving the Sunshine State behind to head off to D.C. For the first few days I'll be at a national Bloggers' Summit. Among the many things that we'll be discussing are:

Building a State/Issue Blog

Building Coalitions and Moving an Agenda

Holding the Media Accountable

Red State Blogging

Bridging the Blogosphere Divide

Policy Briefings and Discussion: Energy, Iraq, Healthcare, Economy

Working with Campaigns

Online Advocacy and Mobilization

Working with the Majority Party

Research Tools and Resources

Media Training

How To Be A Progressive But Still Productive Voice In America's Political Wilderness

The sessions will include bloggers from 28 states and D.C. and will include a few names you might know (Chris Bowers, Atrios, Jane Hamsher, Ezra Klein, Matt Stoller, Baratunde Thurston, Laura Packard, Oliver Willis, Cliff Schechter); representatives of a few national blogs you might know (OpenLeft, Daily Kos, FireDogLake, Huffington Post, Pam's House Blend, Eschaton, Feministing); a few state blogs you should know (Left in Alabama, Calitics, Square State, Blue Hampshire, Blue Jersey, Burnt Orange Report); and organizations most of you are familiar with (ProgressNow, New Organizing Institute, Center for Independent Media, Brave New Films, Media Matters, MoveOn, the DNC, Center for American Progress, Think Progress, the young Turks, Harry Reid's office). There will also be quite a few others that I'm not yet familiar with, but hopefully will be soon.

The rest of the week, I'll be at the Take Back America Conference, whose scheduled or invited speakers include: Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Norman Lear, Arianna Huffington, Kathleen Turner, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Van Jones, Bill Moyers, Jane Hamsher, Eli Pariser, David Bonior, Digby, David Sirota, Barbara Ehrenreich, Robert Greenwald, Rich Trumka, Christy Hardin Smith, Naomi Klein, Anna Burger, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rick Perlstein, Matt Stoller, Gloria Totten, and Cenk Uygur.

Check back here over the next week and I'll have many and frequent reports...

And if you are interested in joining this blog, send me an e-mail at

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Action Alerts

FL-15: Sign and Mail in Petitions: Help Steve Blythe make the ballot for the 2008 election -- print off, sign and mail in the petition if you live in the District.

Miami -- Give Feedback on Comprehensive Plan: Attend public hearings or e-mail your comments. (CBC)

Sign Petition: Start Early: Take a Stand on Pre-K (pre[k]now)

Sign Petition: Demand Strong U.S. Action on Global Warming Today (UCS)

Vote and Donate Money: Hold Blue Dog Democrats accountable for FISA vote. (FDL)

Your Liberal Media At Work

A good example of how the media and many Democrats have falling into the trap of repeating and reinforcing conservative Republican frames is tonight's coverage of the Mississippi primary and the Geraldine Ferraro dust-up. The phrase "playing the race card" is a conservative Republican attack phrase used to undermine legitimate claims of racism by creating a theoretically reasonable doubt as to whether or not racism is present. I don't believe I've ever heard of a single instance where someone accused another of "playing the race card," when the person using that frame wasn't defending someone who had made a racist statement or taken a racist action. We have to banish the use of this phrase and call the media on framing an issue in this conservative Republican way.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Action Alerts

Hillsborough -- Sign Petition: Bring equal representation to all the communities in Hillsborough County by changing the Board of County Commission to 7 single-member districts (CECR)

Donate Money: Help fund our campaign to reveal the horrible damage Elaine Chao has done to workers' rights. (ARAW)

Send an E-Mail: Protect the Yukon Flats From Oil and Gas Development (TWS)

Donate Money: Donate to the League of Conservation Voters and have your dollars doubled! (LCV)

Donate Money: Help Us Save Whales Today! (HS)

Sign Petition: Demand Real Protection for Giant Sequoia National Monument (SC)

Send an E-mail: Tell the Senate to Veto the FCC (FP)

Send an E-mail: Tell the EPA to protect children from dangerous airborne lead (NRDC)

Send an E-mail: Urge Your Senators to Shift Budget Priorities (FCNL)

Donate Money: Help support Democracy for America (DFA)

Send an E-mail: Don't Allow Discrimination in Text-Messaging (WA)

Sign Petition: Tell 2008 Presidential Candidates Your Ideas About Nuclear Nonproliferation (BWC)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Action Alerts

Send an e-mail: Florida Support Pre-K Degreed Teacher Legislation. (CCI)

Send an e-mail: Stop the Home Foreclosure Crisis! (NOW)

Send an e-mail: URGENT: Senate to Vote on Consumer Safety (Public Citizen)

Send an e-mail: Tell your Senators to support renewable energy development by cutting oil industry handouts! (Public Citizen)

Sign the petition: No New Coal Power Plants! (Care2)

Send an e-mail: Tell the Senate to Veto the FCC. (SBM)

Take a poll: Vote for Elaine Chao's Dirtiest Deeds. (ARAW)

A Run-off?

An FDP e-mail from earlier tonight floated the idea of a run-off in Florida between the top two finishers in Florida. This is definitely a idea worth considering. We have a long historical precedent with run-off primaries in Florida. It allows full participation for both candidates. It allows for full participation of the voters. It is within the rules as far as I can tell. It doesn't send the message that the January 29 vote was meaningless. The only concern, it seems is the cost. Rubio said the legislature won't pay for it. The DNC doesn't appear to have the money. Who will pay? My suggestion? Obama and Clinton raised a combined $85 million in February compared to a mere $12 million for McCain. This is primary money. What better way to spend it than to fund a run-off in Florida (and something for Michigan as well, although it couldn't be a run-off)? What better way to make it up to the voters of Florida and signal McCain that Florida is on the table.

You're welcome.

(The Spencerian has the full text of the e-mail).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Media Coverage Atrocious

I've been watching CNN tonight for the news on the election and have read about coverage of MSNBC as well (we won't even get into Fox), and what I have to say is that most of the coverage borders on idiocy. The most common claims are:

1. Clinton won a "dramatic" win in Ohio.

2. McCain won a "dramatic" and "historic" victory in the Republican race.

3. The numbers don't matter.

4. Clinton has momentum, regardless of what else happens tonight.

5. Clinton has a legitimate shot to win the nomination.

6. The fact that McCain's race is over now and the Democrats are moving forward helps the Republicans in the general election and hurts the Democrats.

7. Obama can't close the deal because he can't win the big states.

Each of these claims is demonstrably false.

1. The word "dramatic" should be reserved for things that include some drama. Winning a state where you were ahead by 20 points two weeks ago, ahead by 10 points yesterday and gaining ground in the latest polls does not qualify as dramatic.

2. McCain won when Romney dropped out of the race. There is nothing historic about winning a race against someone who was polling in the 30s. It is historic, I guess, in the way that some history books include all major party nominees, but beyond that, this isn't a particularly notable victory. It's mildly interesting because of how bad McCain's early campaign was. Regardless of what the TV people seem to think, though, this isn't a good sign for McCain.

3. This is clear lunacy. The numbers (meaning the delegates) are ALL that matters. Using Slate's handy delegate counter, after tonight's results, if Clinton wins 60% of the popular vote in every remaining state (something that is impossible), she would still lose the pledged delegate race. Period. And that's giving Clinton the benefit of the doubt in Texas, something that she doesn't seem to deserve, since the primary numbers are a toss-up and the caucus numbers (although early), favor Obama (as do anecdotal reports from the caucus sites). And keep in mind, because of the complicated procedures through which delegates are selected, it's still possible Obama could come away with a delegate victory in Ohio.

4. If Clinton loses Texas, she has no momentum. She was supposed to win Ohio and Texas and if she loses one of those, she doesn't have any momentum. Sure, she stopped Obama's win streak, but nobody thought he'd win 100% of the remaining states, so that means nothing.

5. Again, if she wins Texas, 60% of the vote in every remaining state would still be a loss in the pledged delegates. The chances of the superdelegates going against the will of the people seems slim. Barring a major Obama scandal, Clinton is done. Obama has a big lead, not because his delegate number is so much higher than Clinton's, but because the states remaining are NOT winner-take-all, and a second place finish in pretty much any state still gets you a high number of delegates. A big win in a big state gets you only a couple dozen more delegates. Not enough.

6. From now until the end of the Democratic race, Clinton and Obama get nonstop free coverage. McCain doesn't. The Democrats get to go on TV every day and talk about hope and how bad Republicans are and change and all that. McCain gets painted as Bush III and he has no one to focus on. This is a huge boost for the Democrats. Remember the old adage -- there is no bad press? It's almost true. The only bad press is no press. McCain will be getting a whole lot of "no press" in the coming weeks, maybe months. Also, keep in mind that this race started early (In 1992, Clinton didn't lock up the nomination until June), so it'll end early and there will be more than enough time to focus on McCain.

7. The big-state argument is a myth. Daily Kos:

2 voted but there was no campaign: MI and FL

5 haven't voted yet: TX, OH, PA, IN, and NC

5 have voted for Obama: IL, WA, MO, VA, and GA

and 5 have voted for Clinton: CA, NY, NJ, MA, and TN

Two of these states will go towards a candidate tonight and Obama will come away from one or both of them with more delegates than Clinton. The post also goes on to note that no matter how you define "big state," these numbers hold relatively well.

As for the "can't close the deal" nonsense, since it is the system that doesn't allow anyone to close the deal, not the candidates. Because of the close proportionality of the delegate allocation system, nobody can close the deal in a tight race like this.

Neal Boortz is Crazy

We get Boortz's show here in Tallahassee and I happened to catch a bit of it the other day. My mp3 player was in my wife's car, Click and Clack were on NPR and I can't stand listening to "music" stations owned by Clear Channel or Cumulus, so I figured I'd catch a few minutes of what the other side had to say.

Boortz was on. It didn't take him 10 seconds to launch into a lie. He claimed that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were pursuing nationalized health care, something that both of their plans explicitly avoid. This is why so many liberals have complained about their plans, they aren't particularly liberal plans. That didn't stop Boortz from going crazy and talking about how health care in Canada sucks so bad.

The biggest problem with this is that Canada is not nationalized. It is mostly private care which about 70% of is paid for with public funds. "Nationalized" health care is a program owned wholly by the government. That isn't what Canada has and isn't what Clinton or Obama or any pretty much any other major Democrat is pursuing, either. Some are pursuing single-payer health care, but not nationalized. Also, Canada does better than the U.S. on pretty much every health statistic possible. Sure, they have some problems, but not nearly as many as we do and they pay a lot less per person for health care (as a percent of GDP) while getting significantly better results. For clarification, the countries that have nationalized health care, for the most part, beat both Canada and the U.S. in health statistics.

He claimed to know of a doctor who makes a living off of Canadian citizens who come to Florida for treatment because the treatment is so bad up north. This sounds like complete nonsense for several reasons (like a Reagan "welfare queen"), but most importantly is that my father is actually Canadian and he recently moved back to Canada because the care was better and cheaper than here in the U.S.

Boortz went nonpolitical for a while and let a guest (who was sane) talk for a while, then he went to commercial and I mercifully didn't have to listen any further, since I had arrived home. I did happen to catch Boortz air a commercial where he claimed credit ("That's the kind of guy I am!") for a promotional discount that I heard about two years ago on the Al Franken show. It's a discount the company offers on all kinds of shows, but Boortz claimed that it was his doing. He can't even be honest in commercials.