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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Seven Questions for Aldon Hynes

Aldon Hynes is a guru of local blogging.

Hynes, who blogs at Orient Lodge and can also be found, among other places, as aldon on dailyKos.com, is a mainstay of the Connecticut local blogging world. Whether it's the legacy of Aldon's work on Deanspace or his relentless support of local blogs in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Aldon's insights and technical savvy are relevant to bloggers and activists nationwide.

I recently had the following Q and A with Aldon as a result of his participation in Bloggers United. I converted the email exchange into an interview format and am sharing it here on k/o with Aldon's permission. I hope you find the insights useful.

Seven Questions for Aldon Hynes:

k/o: I am very interested in what you have to say about XML and bloglines.

Aldon Hynes: I like using Bloglines. It provides a nice list of all the blogs I'm interested in, sorted into groups, and showing how many unread messages I have for each blog as well as for each grouping.

Beyond that I am a big fan of XML. I encourage everyone to support both RSS and Atom, if possible. It makes it easier for other people to find and track your blog. When I covered the Democratic National Convention, Dave Winer set up an RSS aggregator which pulled in all the feeds from the convention, and a lot of people read that. There is also site in Connecticut that has RSS aggregation of Connecticut blogs. I don't know if Lefty Blogs uses RSS, but I would think they would.

k/o: I am torn, however, about passive information collection versus organizing. I think the key local blogger is the local connector: the blogger who personally links the local blogs and cultivates them. What do you think?

Aldon Hynes: A few different thoughts: I think you need a combination of passive and active collection. We need people to actively go out and scour the blogosphere for good blogs to pull into the community. Yet, as the community grows, passive collection, whereby people can join and self identify is valuable.

Another model that is really worth looking at is Global Voices. Global Voices has editors who provide summaries of what is going on in different countries. Perhaps Progressive Voices modeled on what they are doing would be a good idea.

k/o: I tend to do subject searches in Technorati and Google Blog search as a way to find new blogs that are actively writing about the political races I'm interested in. What about you?

Aldon Hynes: I use Technorati a lot, when I am searching by subject. However, I also like to search out blogs by location. This is especially helpful in actively building a local community.

k/o: What do you think of Lefty Blogs?

Aldon Hynes: I have mixed feelings.

A lot of my focus is to help people broaden their connections and appeal. It is part of the reason I write about all kinds of different things on my blog. Some people come for my commentary on video blogging, and delve into politics. Some people come to hear about my familiy, etc. Lefty blogs say, "Sure, the blog doesn't need to be completely about politics - but it should be mostly about politics." I'm not sure my blog is even mostly about politics, so I haven't listed it. In addition, they say "Of course, we reserve the right to accept or reject any submission. Blogs are free speech, but we don't have to give you our microphone if you're evil. (You know who you are.)"

An important part of blogging, to me, is to bypass the 'gatekeeper' mentality. I worry about them gatekeeping.

k/o: I see Bloggers United as tightly focused on supporting local blogs and bloggers. If possible, I would like to build a website that would enhance this...with wiki and info sharing as the main focus. DFA-link, imo, is not there at this point. Do you have thoughts? Is this reinventing the wheel?

Aldon Hynes: No, I do not believe you are re-inventing the wheel. DFA-Link is a tool created by DFA to help build DFA's membership and help the membership connect with one another. As such, it is probably an important tool to help Bloggers United, which can in turn, also help DFA. I like the idea of a Wiki to share information. That is very 'un-gatekeeperly'. I like the idea of 'Progressive Voices', based on Global Voices, where people can write up nice summaries of what is going on in a state by state basis.

k/o: Could you elaborate on wikis? What's your experience been?

Aldon Hynes: Vis-a-Vis Wikis, there have been a few interesting efforts to track local political races with Wikis. During the 2004 cycle, I set up 'Local Pols'. It was a site where I listed various candidates that were running for local office that had been positively influenced by the Dean campaign. It evolved into a general repository of progressive local candidates. CT Election 2006 is a neutral point of view wiki tracking all the races in Connecticut. Campaigns.wikia.com was set up by Jimmy Wales, of Wikipedia fame, trying to do the same sort of thing. Each have met with varying levels of success.

k/o: Aldon, any final thoughts along these lines?

Aldon Hynes: I would also like to point out some other tools that everyone can use. I use Stumble Upon, and I'm tagging people who submit their blogs in StumbleUpon. Take a look at Stumble Upon Tag for BlogsUnited06 to see what is tagged there. In addition, I'm tagging them in del.icio.us In terms of a progressive blog roll, there is also the Progressive Blog Alliance. I hosted it for quite a while, until it grew too big. You can see it at liquidtype.net. One of the ideas of PBA was that progressive blogs would add each other to their blog rolls, thus helping promote progressive blogs and get them better page rankings.

k/o: Thank you so much for participating in Bloggers United and sharing your knowledge with this group.

Aldon Hynes: Sure, glad to be part of it.

{A note on Bloggers United. Bloggers United is a DFA-link group for local political bloggers. If you are a progressive local or regional blogger and would like to participate in Bloggers United, please email me at kidoaklandactivism"at"comcast"dot"net.}


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

local blogs make an impact: Virginia

Get ready to read more op/eds like this one this fall. The "Macaca brouhaha" swirling around Senator George Allen has shown how local blogs make what used to be invisible and behind the scenes....visible and searchable on the internet.

That doesn't just affect the reporting of stories; it will affect how campaigns are run, and even garner some praise from the traditional press:

Judging by their traffic and their traction, Virginia's blogs are only going to grow in influence, a trend more than a few lament as they point out the blogosphere's penchant for fierce partisanship and fact-free opinionizing.

But judging the blogosphere by its worst members is like judging The New York Times by Jayson Blair, a foolish oversimplification.

Over time, blogs will be judged by readers. Those who keep their facts straight and their analysis honest will thrive, while others will wither into obscurity. In the meantime, the more voices that are part of Virginia's debates, the better off we all are.

Raising Kaine is just one of those blogs winning the trust of local readers in Virginia. (Check out this story on Congresswoman Thelma Drake). Blogs from Howling Latina to Not Larry Sabato are changing the local climate for local news and opinion in the Virginia Commonwealth.

It's not too late to start or join a locally-focused blog near you this election season.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

local blog goodness: up early and open late

Here's the latest servings at the k/o local blog diner: representing AZ, NV-Sen, NV-03, MN, IN-02, NH-02, VA, WA-05.

  • Blog for Arizona, where primary season is still on, writes a really interesting article about Single Shot District Candidates. (This is a great article for those who like the nitty gritty of local strategy.)
  • The Las Vegas Gleaner attends a Unity Day Event in Nevada and finds not enough of that "unity stuff." This is the strength of local blogs; they cover events...they provide constructive criticism from the netroots in real time...not in some bar two days after the election crying in a pitcher of beer. Here's a quote:
    Democrats don't need to have a silver-bullet solution -- or even agree among themselves -- to hammer the Republicans on Iraq. Democrats might start by giving the public something completely new with regard to Iraq policy, the truth...

  • MN Publius, shows local blog power by breaking news on how two local Republican State legislators, have, violated Ethics Rules.
  • Cass County Indiana Dems track this local news article on how the Immigration Debate. Read it to see where IN-02 Democratic challenger Joe Donnelly stands...and how immigration is playing in the heartland. Eye-opening.
  • Local New Hampshire blogger keener covers the censorship of MoveOn ads at a local New Hampshire political TV station. Get ready for more stories like this from the front lines.
  • The Virginia Beach Dems have got a new way to reach their local citizens...their blog announces an E-Newsletter. Now, you may say, big whup. But one of the reasons people most consistently give for refusing to get involved in politics is that "No one ever contacted me. No one reached out." One local VA Central Committee has a blog and a newsletter: a trend to be emulated.
  • Gibney at Washblog has got a visual metaphor for Democrat Peter Goldmark's race against Cathy McMorris in WA-05.
  • Sunday, August 27, 2006

    the k/o list

    Below you'll find a blog entry version of the k/o list. This list, as I've explained before, is a work in progress and a tool for you to use to read about some of the close races in this country where Democrats are taking GOP seats back from Republicans:

    the k/o list: Wednesday Sept. 6th, 2006 edition


    candidate name = Democrat running for office
    CA-11 = dkos Tag
    local blog name or L = local blog
    G = google blog search
    T = technorati search
    R = regional blog
    C = Campaign website
    $ = ActBlue page

    The West

  • Harry Mitchell AZ-05 the Lofty Donkey G R $
  • Primary AZ-08 R
  • Jerry McNerney CA-11 SayNotoPombo G R $
  • Phil Angelides CA-Gov GovernorPhil R
  • Ed Perlmutter CO-07 SquareState G R $
  • Monica Lindeen MT-AL L R $
  • Patricia Madrid NM-01 NM-FBIHOP G R $
  • Tessa Hafen NV-03 LV Gleaner R $
  • Peter Goldmark WA-05 R $
  • Darcy Burner WA-08 Evergreen Politics R G $

  • The Midwest

  • Tammy Duckworth IL-06 WurfWhile G R $
  • Joe Donnelly IN-02 CCINDems G R L $
  • Amy Klobuchar MN-Sen MN Publius G R $
  • Tim Walz MN-01 BlueStemPrairie G T $
  • Claire McCaskill MO-Sen Blue Girl, Red State G R $
  • John Cranley OH-01 Ohios First G R $
  • Mary Jo Kilroy OH-15 Ohio 15th blog G T $

  • The East

  • Chris Murphy CT-05 CT-05.net G R $
  • Paul Hodes NH-02 NH-02 Prog G R L $
  • Linda Stender NJ-07 Dump Mike T R $
  • John Hall NY-19 Take 19 G R $
  • Joe Sestak PA-07 PA-7 Watch G $
  • Patrick Murphy PA-08 AboveAvgJane T R $

  • The South

  • Primary FL-13 R R
  • Ron Klein G FL-22 R $
  • John Yarmuth KY-03 BluegrassReport G L $
  • Heath Shuler NC-11 Blue NC G $
  • Harold Ford TN-Sen L R $
  • Jim Webb VA-Sen Raising Kaine G T $
  • Phil Kellam VA-02 VB Dems G $

  • I am not claiming that this list is exhaustive or a substitute for any of the other great lists out there. (Among them Blue America, the combined Netroots Candidates pages of the MyDD, Swing State and Dailykos communities, and eRiposte's amazing national local blog list.) Because I focus on local blogs and what Lynn Allen calls transformational candidates; this list leans towards what I hope is a sweet spot in the 2006 election cycle, races where, with a bit more support and effort from netroots bloggers and grassroots activists, Democrats might just well win and create downticket netroots waves across the nation.

    Exclusion of your blog or race is not meant to mean anything. This list is just my own start point in a much larger effort. Your comments are welcome below.

    Saturday, August 26, 2006

    Jerry McNerney on firedoglake

    Howie Klein's Blue America series on firedoglake showed bloggers everywhere how a candidate Q&A should be done today, this time featuring Democratic candidate in CA-11, Jerry McNerney.

    (If you missed my hat tip to campaign volunteers, written after volunteering for Jerry's campaign yesterday, click here.)

    local blog-o-rama: NV-03, MO-Sen, CT-Sen, CO-06

    Cuz' local blogs never sleep:

  • The Las Vegas Gleaner reports that ads praising Congressman Jon Porter's pro-medicare Drug Plan votes were paid for by...the pharmaceutical industry. Hmmm.
  • Blue Girl in a Red State's "spidey sense" is tingling. Check our her blog to see what all the fuss is about.
  • Branford Boy at MyLeftNutmeg narrowly averts blowing a gasket over Joe Lieberman's latest hypocrisy
  • Here's a nice little local political cartoon courtesy of Tancredo Watch. (Tipton is the GOP challenger running against Salazar.)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: still wrong for California's working families

    In case California Democrats needed reminding...and from what I've heard about town the last three days, we really do...medleysoul has a great post at MyDD entitled: "Arnold's Pension Plans and Heartless Vetoes." Medley documents how Arnold's fundamental start point is anti-corporate reform. (Translation: screw the little guy.)

    Think Arnold has changed his spots? Think again. This guy is in so deep with corporate interests and Grover Norquist it's not even funny. Despite that, some California Democrats seem to have taken their eye off the ball. These folks think that they have nothing to lose by "dissappearing" from the CA gubernatorial battle.

    The problem with that mindset is that Arnold is just as bad for working Californians in 2006 as he ever was. That fact is not going to change between now and election day. That fact won't change in the four years following election day, either. Any calcluating and conniving CA Democrat doing the political math and thinking of sitting this gubernatorial race out should realize:

    Arnold stinks. He's bad for our people and bad for our state.

    Arnold's lies and spin affect every Democrat in every race, state-wide. In my view, when you sell Phil down the river, you are selling out our people, plain and simple. That point is not lost in the GOTV trenches and in the netroots where California Democrats will increasingly need to look for support in coming years. (The 2008 presidential election cycle is one future case in point.) And what's going on is not lost on the young voters whose energy helped Phil Angelides win the primary, either. It's shameful to watch Democratic leaders and organizations standing on the sidelines while Arnold primps and struts and pretends to be moderate without lifting a finger to help.

    However, since that kind of thinking doesn't register with some of the connivers and jivers in the CA Democratic party...let me make my point another way. There is an anti-incumbent wave sweeping the nation, and no matter how it looks now, Arnold is not invulnerable to that wave. Not...in...the...least.

    What if the CW on the California Governor's race turns out to be misguided?

    I have a message for California movers and shakers who've failed to visibly and substantively get behind Phil Angelides and oppose the Governator: you may think that you have nothing to lose sitting this one out and letting Arnold bully his way around California politics for another four years. You're wrong.

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Lamont on Lieberman, Katrina and Michael Brown

    There's a great piece up on MyLeftNutmeg about Ned Lamont's critique of Senator Joe Lieberman's performance regarding Hurricane Katrina, FEMA and the nomination of Michael Brown.

    It's a must read. (h/t joe, joe, joe.)

    From the 'Roots: CO-04, IN-02, NH-02, FL-22

    Here's a quick tour:

  • Blogger MusgraveMustGo notes this Richard Pombo / Marilyn Musgrave synergy (CO-04). As if you didn't dislike either of them enough alone.
  • My advice to House watchers: pay attention to Indiana. Incumbent rubber stamp Republican Chris Chocola (IN-02) has an attack ad up. Ultrageek has a state-wide rundown. The GOP is far more vulnerable in Indiana than the current netroots attention would imply.
  • Every post on the Yankee Doodler (NH-02) is worth reading today. Immigration, fear-mongering and a NH rundown.
  • Markos has rightly paid attention to FL-22, when will a local blogger emerge to take on Clay Shaw? Even Floridians aren't commenting much.
  • Thursday, August 24, 2006

    building a netroots wave

    I have a piece up at MyDD called building a netroots wave. It's my attempt to merge my thoughts on local blogs and netroots waves...with Lynn Allen of Evergreen Politics excellent essay on transformational candidates.

    Wednesday, August 23, 2006

    CT: Courtney, Farrell and Murphy

    For Democrats following the Senate race in Connecticut, the suprising story may well be that it comes down to three names not often mentioned in this regard: Joe Courtney, Diane Farrell, and Chris Murphy.

    Those are the Democratic candidates in districts CT-02 (Courtney), CT-04 (Farrell), and CT-05 (Murphy). These are the candidates most directly affected by Joe Lieberman running an independent bid for the U.S. Senate after losing the Connecticut Democratic primary to Ned Lamont.

    The GOP candidates running against these Democrats (Rob Simmons, Christopher Shays and Nancy Johnson) are happy to use Joe Lieberman to hide and blur their rubber stamp voting records. And so far, it seems, Joe is happy to help...

    It breaks down like this. The voters Joe Lieberman needs to turn out to defeat Ned Lamont are the Republican and Independent voters least likely to vote for Joe Courtney, Diane Farrell and Chris Murphy. According to the poll cited in that link, Joe's got the support of those voters already; to win, he's got to get them to the polls.

    And that's the point.

    All three of these Democrats are running in districts where they can win in 2006...if they can successfully tie their GOP opponents to the Bush Administration and the GOP Congress. Joe Lieberman, however, running as a "party of one" can only beat Ned Lamont by blurring those lines and creating a wave of GOP and Independent turn-out that will take all three Democratic campaigns down with it. That's the crux of the matter. Joe's political interests overlap with the GOP incumbents and not with their Democratic challengers. Joe has no reason to point out how these CT GOP incumbents have been rubber stamps for the Bush Administration. If he was honest, he would.

    It's critical to realize that the issues now being used by the GOP to separate Courtney, Farrell and Murphy from their Republican opponents are the wedges that Joe Lieberman will have to use and blur as well to gain traction in those districts. Issues like taxes, government spending, support for the military. That's the battleground. When we talk about Connecticut, the more we talk exclusively in terms of simply Joe Lieberman versus Ned Lamont, the more we frame these races in the terms of the recent Senate primary, the more we miss the point.

    There will be a real debate on the issues in Connecticut, but it won't be the debate from the Democratic Senatorial primary. (Link to piece pointing out similarities in Diane Farrell's and Christopher Shay's Iraq war positions.) The debate in these three CT districts will turn on local issues, on the influence of huge sums of national GOP money ($10 million of the $40 million in national funds spent by the GOP is focused on CT), on an appeal, shared between the Lieberman campaigns and the three GOP incumbents, that is calculated to pull Connecticut independent voters away from the Democrats by blurring political distinctions, even in convoluted and surprising ways.

    That last link is to Nancy Johnson's website. Today, on August 23rd, Nancy's website features photographs of Nancy with Joe Lieberman and Bill Clinton! Think about that for a second. Here's Joe Lieberman's voting record. Here's Nancy Johnson's. Joe may currently be "no Democrat," but Nancy Johnson is, to a much greater degree, no moderate "independent voice,"...not in the least. It's in both Johnson's and Lieberman's interests that no one bring this reality up.

  • Joe + Nancy blurring lines and working the turnout = a defeat for Ned Lamont and Chris Murphy.
  • Joe + Nancy working together = a big lie about Nancy's voting record.

  • In 2006, they shouldn't be allowed to get away with that.

    Now, the voters of Connecticut are smart. They can decide whom they want for their next United States Senator. They can decide whether to give Joe a "do-over" in his race against Lamont...or not. But bloggers and commentators must realize that this race isn't about Joe versus Ned anymore. This race is about Joe versus Courtney, Farrell and Murphy. It is these three less well-known candidates that are critically important for all Democrats focused on Connecticut right now.

    These are the names that Joe must face, front and center. These are the races we need to hold Joe accountable on. It's his critical weak point. Joe can't win unless he forms common cause with Simmons, Shays and Johnson. We need to ruthlessly point this out.

    Simmons (CT-02), Shays (CT-04) and Johnson (CT-05) have voted time and again to support this President and this GOP Congress and they will gladly use Joe Lieberman to confuse, distract and bamboozle Connecticut voters from paying attention to that fact.

    Joe Courtney, Diane Farrell, Chris Murphy: these are the names we must keep front and center in Connecticut.

    Joe Lieberman's party of one must not be allowed to sink the campaigns of three Connecticut Democrats making viable challenges to rubber stamp GOP incumbents.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Bloggers United

    I've made this call out before, but now that it's election season, I'd like to ramp it up: you are welcome to join the DFA-link group I moderate called Bloggers United.

    There's about 70 of us right now from all over the country, with new people joining pretty much every day. DFA-link is an "organizing tool" in progress...but it's cool because it has social networking and organizing components. I like it because it's also a very open and trustworthy platform to welcome people from. Democracy for America is a known quantity.

    If you are a local blogger interested in joining up, just send me an email with this information:

    An email that you're okay with receiving group emails at.
    Your blog, or where you blog at.
    The name you want to go by. (ie. Your own or a handle)
    Your state.

    And I'll send you an invite to join DFA-link and Bloggers United.

    If you just have questions, that's cool too.

    You can reach me at kidoaklandactivism"at"comcast"dot"net.

    BlogMorning! NC-11, PA-07, MN-01, OH-01, CO-07

    It's Tuesday August 22nd, that much closer to Labor Day....when the whole tenor of this "election thing" will change immensely:

  • Every local blogger fighting a GOP incumbent should take a look at this piece from NC Blue. It's a rundown of the political significance of Congressional mailers and how franking works. NC Blue covers NC-11, a race where Jonathan Singer at MyDD writes " incumbent GOP Rep. Charles Taylor's attepts to paint Democratic challenger Heath Shuler as a "San Francisco liberal" allied with Nancy Pelosi have fallen on deaf ears."
  • Meanwhile, PA-7 Watch notes a fine WaPo article that spells out that Democrat Joe Sestak: "...has a message that resonates with voters dissatified and disenfranchised by Bush and the Republican controlled Congress. Sestak now has enough financial resources to reach the voters in the 7th district with his message."
  • Pesky blogger Evil Bobby follows up on the Gil Gutknecht wikipedia brouhaha with an important point: the content erased by Gutknecht's staff referred to his term-limits pledge which Gutknecht is breaking.
  • Ohio's First the blog covering Cincinnati Councilman Steve Cranley's run to unseat GOP Congressman Steve Chabot does has some positive poll news that I missed last week.
  • The folks at Square State have fresh polls showing a tight race for Ed Perlmutter in CO's open seat.
  • Meanwhile, do not miss Lynn Allen's excellent piece at Evergreen Politics called Transformational Candidates. It dovetails with my own writing on building a netroots wave. Great stuff. A must read.
  • Monday, August 21, 2006

    Angelides, Bowen, McNerney and the grassroots angels

    Occasionally, in the process of blogging and writing about local politics, something arrives in your email inbox that just hits you over the head and spanks your ass.

    I'd like to use this essay to share just that email experience with you. I hope you'll find it powerful. If you're anything like me, it will give you a real kick in the pants. By way of providing background for this email, I'd first like to address the political situation here, on the ground, in my home state of California...


    Let's face it, the races in California are tough this year. There's no getting around that fact. Even my own personal top three are tough:
  • Democrat Debra Bowen is locked in a tight race with GOP incumbent Bruce McPherson for Secretary of State.

  • Phil Angelides is taking it to a resurgent Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

  • and Democrat and environmentalist Jerry McNerney is trying to topple, against all odds, entrenched GOP incumbent Richard Pombo in CA-11.

  • These are difficult, difficult races. But all three of them have deep political meaning and will impact the lives of every citizen of California for years to come.  In way of background, allow me five seconds to share my thoughts with you:

    Debra Bowen stands for election reform. She gets it. Further, Debra Bowen centers her campaigning squarely on that cause.  As countless activists have emphasized here in the netroots: there is nothing more sacred in American politics than one's vote.  California deserves no less in a Secretary of State than Debra Bowen, and every Californian who cares about elections, should start caring about this race.

    Phil Angelides is a veteran California Democrat with a progressive core.  As California State Treasurer, Angelides initiated two programs that have impacted California families across the state. First, Angelides launched Scholar Share, a savings program that has seen 40,000 California families sock away $170 million for their children's education taxed at the rate of the beneficiary, not the parent. Second, Angelides spearheaded the Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program whereby over 1000 California teachers have purchased their first homes and put down roots in communites that might otherwise seen a revolving door of teachers move in and out. Home ownership, education, innovative programs run with sound fiscal oversight...programs that lend a helping hand to Californians willing to help themselves: these are the mark of Phil Angelides leadership and exactly the focus that California's citizens can expect from Phil as governor.

    Finally, Jerry McNerney is in the race for Congress in CA-11 for two reasons.  First, as Jerry has proven, time and again, he's in it to win. And second, the Democrats in California's 11th district have kept this ardent environmentalist and engineer in the race. Jerry won the June 2006 Democratic primary over the DCCC-favored candidate with 53% of the vote. That story means something: California 11's voters want Jerry McNerney and when the going gets rough, Jerry doesn't quit. Two years ago the Cook report and Larry Sabato wrote off Jerry in CA-11: not this time. In 2006, with strong grassroots support and, critically, the active support of labor and groups like the Defenders of Wildlife Fund, Jerry is taking the battle to Richard Pombo in CA-11 down to the wire.  This election will come down to turn-out and grassroots energy in the precincts. It's critical that the citizens and activists in CA-11 know that they have, in Jerry McNerney, a candidate who will never quit...not this fall, and not when he arrives in Washington in 2007 to provide real leadership for CA-11.


    Now, that's the background for an email exchange and discussion I had with my friend, Matt Lockshin, of SayNotoPombo, expressing some of my thoughts and fears about all three of these races. When I wrote Matt I was brainstorming...I was trying to come up with a blogging strategy and rhetoric that would help all three of these candidates overcome a persistent problem I have with the California Democratic Party: timidity in going after the GOP and a failure to generate a powerful and optimistic message of hope that we can use to energize the grassroots.

    Matt wrote back, like all good friends do, and what he wrote in his email put me in my place. In fact, it was so powerful I asked him if I could share it with you:


    The obvious conclusion stemming from the Lamont victory is that the people in DC don't know what the hell they're talking about. Their "expert" pronouncements about the futility of fighting demoralizes a lot of the Democratic base. We need to convince people that every time they knock on a door or make a phone call for a candidate or issue, a little Democratic angel gets its wings.  

    You see, the point about the Democratic Party is that it cannot continue to be a party of people running for office. It must be our party. We need to see Jerry McNerney and Phil Angelides as our vehicles, not us as theirs. If we're unhappy with the campaigns they're running, then it's our own fault. You think the Democrats in CA don't have the power to go and rattle political cages and make our leaders address our issues in the way we need them to address them? It's not about making them ideologues. It's about ensuring that whatever latitude they have to stray from the Party line is latitude that we give them.  

    Of course, this isn't how things are now. But that's what will happen when people get invested in the Democratic Party instead of allowing themselves the luxury of simply being alienated from it all.   We can't win by not trying.  But if everyone tries, there's nothing that can stop us.


    That's the kind of hopeful and fighting attitude that will help us win all three of these tough races. That's the kind of attitude we Californians can take to every district in the State: whether it's Charlie Brown's battle against John Doolittle in CA-04 or Francine Busby's effort to unseat Brian Bilbray in CA-50, or David Roth's uphill insurgent struggle against Mary Bono in CA-45.  Hell, it's the kind of thinking that should light a torch under every Democratic ass this fall.

    As Matt says, these are our races, these races are about us. And every phone call we make, every dollar we give, every door we knock, every block we walk is one more step in reclaiming this party for our children, our parents and ourselves.

    Matt's vision of a little Democratic Angel getting its wings is funny and spot on.  I couldn't not share it with you.  I hope it brought a smile to your face.

    I'm still frustrated and angry that with GOP opponents like Richard Pombo, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce McPherson that we California Democrats are so lackluster at this point in generating public energy for our cause. But there's one thing I'm sure of: if we do win in November, it will be because of the persistent and determined work of people like Matt Lockshin and thousands of grassroots angels across these United States.

    Jerry McNerney on Huffpost: 'the Squeeze'

    Check out the Squeeze.

    Oh...and for all of us Bay Area folks who've been inspired by local blogs like SayNotoPombo and Pombo Watch thinking in the back of our minds about eventually getting involved in the McNerney campaign either by volunteering or donating...well, the time for action is now:

    ( You can volunteer with Left on 580, or donate here.)

    The race in CA-11 is one that we will win only with grassroots effort. Pombo won't go down just because the wind is blowing against him. This will be a tough, tough fight, and Jerry needs all the help we can give him.

    Let's help Jerry put the Squeeze on Richard Pombo.

    Whirl-a-blog: NJ-07, VA-Sen, CA-04, OH-15

    This week, 78 days to election day, starts off with hot posts all over:

  • Dump Mike features a cogent letter to the editor. That New Jersey 07 citizen nails it.
  • Todd Smyth at Raising Kaine takes readers on the ground in the Virginia Senate race.
  • Dump Doolittle in CA-04 features a local iteration of Jonathan Alter's Stem Cell Pledge idea.
  • Ohio06win has another great post breaking down the distinction between what Deborah Pryce (GOP, OH-15) says to voters come election time and how she actually votes. Kudos. Nice post. That's how it's done.
  • the netroots wave

    I have an essay up at dailykos called the netroots wave where I run down how local bloggers are interacting with netroots candidates and creating downticket energy in different states.

    Check it out for the comments as well.

    Sunday, August 20, 2006

    blogswarms and blogvacuums

    One thing that compiling the k/o list (see blogroll) has taught me is that there are locales where the local blogs are thriving...and other places where there are vacuums:

  • New Hampshire is rocking right now, with NH-02 Progressive, the Yankee Doodler and Blue Granite cooking up a storm of progressive blog goodness.
  • MN's blogswarm features blogs like MN Publius, Minvolved, and MN GOP watch...as well as local blogs that I mentioned yesterday covering MN-01, and the not to be missed Blanked Out.
  • Here in the West, check out Arizona where Blog for AZ, Maneegee and the the Lofty Donkey are shaking up business as GOP usual.
  • However...where's the local blog dedicated to electing Tammy Duckworth in IL-06? (Jeff at SoapBloxChicago has some answers.)
  • And who's keeping an eye on Clay Shaw in FL-22?

  • It's not that there aren't bloggers covering these races....but I'm not finding the local blogs dedicated to these races. There is plenty of potential for blogswarm energy in Illinois and Florida...but it takes interaction between regional blogs and local blogs. In some ways, it's easier for two or three blogs to support each other's efforts than for one blog to go it alone.

    That's something to think about as election season heats up.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    meet Ollie Ox: why local blogs matter

    Anyone who's been reading my stuff on dailykos and MyDD or here on k/o, knows that I've  dedicated the home stretch of the 2006 election cycle to local blogs and to local races.

    It's not that I don't want to write the kind of pieces that I usually write online, it's that I can't: not with Congress on the line, not with so much work to do and so much great work being done under-the-radar by grassroots local activists.

    I have to admit that I've been searching for the words to persuade and energize folks to see how important and vital local blogs and races are right now.

    What an idiot I've been.

    Local bloggers make the case better than I ever could...


    Meet Ollie Ox.  Olllie Ox runs an excellent blog called A Bluestem Prairie.

    She covers the race in MN-01 between Democrat Tim Walz and GOP incumbent Congressman Gil Gutknecht. That's her focus. Today, in a post titled Is Gil Gutknecht rattled? Ollie laid out the case not simply for the power and importance of local blogs, but for how everyday citizens across this country are creating a wave of grassroots activism that is changing politics as we know it.

    This is crashing the gates in action, and I hope Ollie can forgive me for quoting so much of her piece, it's that good:

    In reading newspapers around MN-01, it's obvious that Gutknecht is running a very traditional incumbency campaign. He shows up at a ground breaking for a project that was funded by USDA Rural Development funds, travels around with an Undersecretary of Ag, attends local dinners, and sits down for friendly chats with small town newspaper reporters and editors.

    Increasingly, though, it's clear that the local reporters are asking questions based on the national feed. And, as in the case of the Pipestone Star and New Ulm Journal articles, Gil Gutknecht's responses appear to be predicated on the notion that the small town readership won't read beyond the pages of the local paper, nor will his remarks be picked up beyond the county line.  It's not unlike the White House strategy of granting regional editors access to the president during his flyarounds while shutting out the national media.

    Is this the wisest strategy? My Twin City friends can be forgiven--I suppose--for assuming that rural Minnesota still labors in the digital dark ages. Those of us who live out here know that's not the case for much of Greater Minnesota. While some still use dial-up connections, broadband and satellite internet access are sweeping across the prairie. 

    What is said in Pipestone or New Ulm can be read in Rochester or Washington D.C. or Mankato. Minnesota Central was the first blog after BSP to pick up on Gutknecht's comparison of Iraq and Vietnam (a comparison that the Republican party has scorned in Democrats).  We're thinking that his remarks about the Wikipedia editing will travel far beyond New Ulm.

    And today's debate at the Steele County Fair will not be kept behind the subscription firewall of the Owatonna People's Press, for at least two bloggers will be in the audience. We, for one, hope to post photos.

    Yesterday, our advance material about the debate drew our second highest number of unique visitors in the short history of this site, with folks coming in from the Citizens League to ordinary MN-01 citizens. What might have been an attraction for Steele County residents now may well draw a larger audience.

    Okay, not only is that great blogging and great journalism...the links and analysis are spot on... I don't think anyone could make a better case than Ollie just did above for the significance of grassroots local blogs.

    Grassroots activists and local bloggers are working together to change the way elections are covered. They are literally changing the political landscape by changing how local citizens interact with politics. That campaign event last night? It's being blogged about here. And whether it's George Allen making an ethnic slur or Gil Gutknecht's staff revising his Wikipedia page...incumbents have to realize that the era of zero accountability and an easily distracted local press is over. Bloggers are covering the local press and campaigns. People are showing up and blogging about it, and that changes everything.

    In exactly the same way that Media Matters and Crooks and Liars transformed the media playing field with instant coverage of the latest radio and TV clips, local bloggers have the power to impact every single race in this nation. And where a Media Matters piece might impact someone like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, local bloggers like Ollie Ox are impacting vulnerable GOP incumbents across the United States.

    Ollie Ox is not alone. Minnesota Central and Vox Verax are just two of the Minnesota grassroots local blogs working alongside Ollie to change the Minnesota political landscape in MN-01.  In fact, across the country, local bloggers are making a difference in the races that matter, just under the radar:

  • Washblog and Evergreen Politics are Washington blogs dedicated to grassroots support of Democrats Darcy Burner WA-08 and Peter Goldmark WA-05.

  • Dump Mike and Blue Jersey are two New Jersey blogs doing everything in their power to send Democrat Linda Stender to Congress to replace GOP Congressman Mike Ferguson in NJ-07

  • VB Dems and Raising Kaine are two Virginia Blogs that are keeping the pressure on Senator George Allen and vulnerable GOP incumbent Thelma Drake in VA-02.

  • And dailykos's own keener is doing exactly the kind of local energized reporting on NH-02 that Ollie Ox is doing in MN-01, in this case covering Democrat Paul Hodes run to overtake Republican incumbent Congressman Charlie Bass. (On top of that, keener is organizing fellow New Hampshire grassroots activists on dailyKos itself.)

  • All this points to a simple message to the netroots: the focal point for grassroots citizens making a difference in 2006 is the local blog. Of course, large community blogs will raise the most money and garner the most attention. However no national blog can match the power and effectiveness of the local blog in the districts themselves. When local citizens begin to talk to each other about local races, things start happening. That's the kind of democracy this nation is premised on.

    It's not too late to start or join a blog and make a difference in 2006. Blogs, large and small, that have emerged in just the last two weeks like Governor Phil here in California or Louisiana kossack Sunday Highway's one-week-old blog called Louisiana Fourth are already getting citizens in California and Louisiana involved and informed.

    Further, it's not that hard to start a blog. With Blogger you can literally have one up and running in minutes. Or, if you'd like to think about the process...especially how to frame your blog...you could follow the discussion started here by Chris Bowers. Wikihow has a nice intro to blogging and there's plenty of other guides out there that give practical tips and refer to other blogging platforms.

    Even if you're not able or ready to start your own blog, I can't emphasize how powerful it is to frequent a local blog near you. Blogs like Calitics and SquareState and Blue Jersey run on a familiar community platform and turn local citizens into local informed activists..and provide a way to meet your neighbors too.

    I've turned my own blog k/o over to the coverage of local blogs and races for the rest of this election season. Please continue to stop on by any time for a taste of what's going on blogs around the country in the races where Democrats are making a difference.

    However, if you want to know where it's really happening you have to go no further than to visit Ollie Ox at A Bluestem Pairie and the other local bloggers working to change this nation, one district at a time, many of whom are listed in the blogroll on the right..

    In 2006 bloggers like Ollie Ox are proving that local blogging matters.

    Who are you calling a Californian?

    Lowell at the Raising Kaine blog has a great post pointing up this little bit of hypocrisy from the Virginia Senate race.

    George Allen, GOP Senator from Virginia, likes to talk about his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb's "California ties" and "Hollywood connections"...I guess that means something pretty bad, huhn? Let's see, after serving the United States as a decorated infantry officer in the Viet Nam war Jim Webb served as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy in the administration of that "notorious" Californian and Hollywood employee, President Ronald Reagan

    In the context of the Virginia Senate race in 2006, California is now a bad word. Hardly a surprise. For Senator Allen, slurs and innuendo come easy, it seems.

    Now, given the above, you'd think that when the folks at Raising Kaine searched the FEC Database for Allen's contributions there would be nary a California dime, right? Wrong.

    Hey, there's nothing hypocritical about taking money from Californians and then bad mouthing the state at the same time, right? And, unlike George Allen's use/denial/apology for that ethnic slur, we Californians can cut Senator Allen some slack. After all, Senator Allen was born here...and graduated from Palos Verdes High School.

    Now, for Californians upset about the way folks in this GOP Congress take our tax money, donations and technology and then attack our state in campaign after campaign, all the while propping up corporations like Enron that suck dollars from our senior citizens' bank accounts, there's an easy way to reply. Hell, even if you're not from California, but hypocrisy bothers you...it's a safe bet that Jim Webb will accept your dollars, too.

    Friday, August 18, 2006

    tour de blog: MN-01, NH-02, OH-12, NJ-07, CA-11

    Oh what a beautiful morning, to read some blogs...

  • A Bluestem Praire reports on how the local press is tracking GOP Congressman Gil Gutknecht's Wikipedia troubles.
  • Paul Hodes, Democrat running to unseat Charlie Bass in NH-02 has been getting good press lately...(I guess everyone's anonymous in the Granite State.)
  • Bob Shamansky, Democratic candidate in OH-12, headlines a diary on dailykos, "They can buy their own damned lunch."
  • Ohio06Win keeps track of Deborah Pryce's record on Social Security.
  • Dump Mike, the blog dedicated to dumping GOP Congressman Mike Ferguson, NJ-07 notes that Democratic challenger Lisa Stender won't take false attack ads lightly.
  • Have you Said No to Pombo lately? Babaloo always has a fresh post. Today there's an action item for us Californians.
  • two diaries

    I've been busy.

    I wrote a diary last night on dailykos called: the Top Five Project.

    And I wrote a fresh diary this morning on MyDD called: Node races, rankings and Connector blogs.

    Both pieces explore maximizing netroots effectiveness for this fall's elections and invite reader participation and input. Check them out if you are interested; I'll be surveying the data we generated and using it to help create further entries for the k/o list.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    Bill Winter on Square State

    Bill Winter the Democratic candidate for CO-06 has a fine post up at Square State right now. Former Governor Mark Warner of Virginia paid a visit to Colorado...and the event got Coloradans energized to work on turning Colorado's Congressional delegation blue.

    Now, Winter's opponent anti-immigrant, GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo deserves all the opposition local Democrats can give him, but what I take from this post is the cohesiveness of the Colorado netroots community. The post is worth reading for the window it gives on the Colorado netroots Democratic community...on how local candidates can blog in a local context...and on Mark Warner's continued netroots outreach.

    maximizing your effectiveness with XML

    Matt Lockshin is a good friend and member of the CA-11 blog SayNotoPombo. Over the last year, Matt and I have discussed how to maximize the power of local blogs, often over a beer or two.

    Matt's a big fan of XML...or the use of RSS feeds. He's written an essay for a workship on blogging he did called: "Fun with XML: 10 things you can do with XML to make your political life easier." It's a must read. And, since I've wanted to run a series of essays about blogging here on k/o...courtesy of Matt, I'm launching that effort by sharing the whole thing here with you.


    1) If you consistently read a blog, then put it’s XML feed into your feed reader. It’s much more efficient to read blogs through a feed reader because you can, at a glance, know whether there are any new posts, what their titles are, and when they were posted. Thus, you won’t go to the site when there’s nothing new for you to read. Alternatively, when there is new content on the site, you’ll be able to know very quickly.

    2) Persistent searches: Most search engines offer an XML feed once you have submitted a search. If you plug that XML feed into your feed reader, you can get notified whenever the search engine crawls a new page that matches the criteria of your search. Be sure to check out the various advanced or specialized features of the search engines. For example, you can take an XML feed to do a persistent search of Google News ((http://news.google.com) or Yahoo News (http://news.yahoo.com) for a given set of keywords.

    3) Is there a newspaper that doesn’t offer an XML feed? You can still get the stories delivered to your feed reader by using the Advanced Search functionality of Google News, Yahoo News, or Topix.net (http://www.topix.net). With any of them, you can restrict a search to a particular source (e.g. the Lodi News-Sentinel) and take an XML feed of a search restricted to that one source. You can either include keywords you want to search for or you can leave that part blank if you want all of the articles from that source. Just be sure (with Google and Yahoo) to sort the results by date before you copy the XML feed into your feed reader.

    4) See who’s linking to your site. Are they adding to the conversation? Are they talking trash? Regardless, it helps to know that they’re talking about you. To find out, do a persistent search through Google (or Google Blogsearch) by typing in "Link:http://yourURLhere" or through Technorati using the Website URL Search function (you’ll have to create a free Technorati account and add something to your Watch List to get the XML feed using Technorati). You can do this either for a particular entry, your blog itself, or your entire site.

    5) Let people get your blog via e-mail. Feedburner has the functionality built in. There is also a free service (that does not look as good) called R-mail (http://www.r-mail.org). A lot of people aren’t comfortable with XML, and won’t navigate to your site regularly. Giving them the option of receiving your posts by e-mail will increase your readership without forcing your readers to learn a new technology (i.e. XML) that might be a little out of their comfort zone.

    6) Some blogs have XML feeds for their comment sections. You can stay abreast of an active comment thread through the feed.

    7) Take an XML feed for users (you’ll see when they post new diaries) or tags on Daily Kos, the granddaddy of American political blogs.

    8) Take an RSS feed for del.icio.us tags. http://del.icio.us (I know it looks screwy) is one of the premiere social bookmarking (look it up in wikipedia) programs. By taking a RSS feed of the del.icio.us tags, you can see what other people think is important for certain topics. One of the benefits of looking at del.icio.us tags is that a human being has entered them, so they might lead you to something that is conceptually relevant that wouldn’t appear using a standard keyword search. For example, a Google result for the term "Bill Clinton" wouldn’t find a blog post in which the author only referred to Clinton as "Slick Willy." But a del.icio.us user might read the post and tag it "Clinton."

    9) Use XML feeds from Google Groups and Yahoo Groups to get the messages you need without clogging your inbox. (This feature is only available for Yahoo Groups which are set to make messages available to non-members. This might also be the case with Google Groups)

    10) Import/export your list of XML subscriptions. A lot of feed readers will allow you to import or export a list of XML subscriptions via something called an OPML file. Don’t get turned off by the tech jargon. If you hire a new person to cover the blogs, it’ll help if you can just copy your list of feeds to their program and/or computer. Trust me, you won’t want to manually copy and paste the URLs of all of your feeds. And it’s helpful to save your feeds as an OPML file in case something happens to your feed reader.

    -© 2006 Matt Lockshin

    tour de blog: NV-Sen, MN-01, PA-04, NC-08

    While work on the k/o list continues, here's some fresh local blog posts to tide you over:

  • Democratic Senate Candidate, Jack Carter (NV) just won his Democratic primary. Reno and its Discontents has an interview with the candidate. Turn Tahoe Blue gives Harry Reid some hell for his lack of support in this race.
  • Local blogger Vox Verax, who covers Democrat Tim Walz's effort in MN-01, asks, Just Whose Dairy Farms Does Gil Gutknecht Represent?...while fellow local MN blogger Evil Bobby gets personal and writes Gil a letter.
  • 2 Political Junkies speculates on when we'll get to see vulnerable GOP incumbent Melissa Hart (PA-04) debate her Democratic challenger Jason Altmire on health care. "Any time" doesn't look like "any time soon."
  • If you've been following the 2006 netroots blog buzz, you've seen the name Larry Kissell come up. Howie Klein's Blue America has locked onto this NC race. Kissell is up against GOP Robin Hayes in NC-08. Local blogger, The Southern Dem takes on the race in local style with a piece called the Politics of Barbecue...while the Hotline covered an innovative Kissell campaign strategy you may have missed.
  • Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Local blogs: OH-01, PA-07, MO-Sen

    Try some of this morning goodness with your cup of coffee:

  • Ohios First (the race against Steve Chabot in OH-01) covers GOP fundraising.
  • PA-7 Watch is using looking at minumum wage story in Joe Sestak's run to defeat GOP incumbent Curt Weldon in PA-07.
  • RBH at Swing State Project had a nice piece the other day analyzing the demographic breakdown in Missouri, where Claire McCaskill's run for Senate is one of the races to watch this year.
  • the k/o list

    The k/o list is a work in progress. You can find it in the sidebar to your right when you are viewing my home page.

    (The k/o list is only visible on the home page of k/o...if you came to this piece through a direct link, you can see the k/o list now by clicking above or, for your convenience, I'll provide the home page link again at the end of this piece.)

    The idea is simple. I'm going to break down the critical races in this country where Democrats are fighting vulnerable GOP incumbents and for each race I will:

  • identify one local blog that covers that race relentlessly
  • provide links to google and technorati searches for that race
  • provide a link to the dailykos TAG for that race
  • provide links to the Campaign website and an ACTBlue page when possible.

  • Now, the Blogspot sidebar is notoriously picky. If this proves impossible to pull off or slows the site to a trickle, I'll have to change tactics. However, between now and election day, I'm dedicating this blog to local bloggers...and in particular, the folks in the districts who are writing about their races day in and day out. I'd like the sidebar to reflect that fact.

    There's two elements here that require judgment.

    First, the races. I'm choosing the races based on the best knowledge and demographics available to me. I know there are some folks dedicated to races that are VERY uphill battles. I hear you and, where I can, I will link to you. But politics is about making choices, and for me that means choosing races where we have, and continue to have, a reasonable chance at winning...ie. defeating a GOP incumbent. If it's hopeless...or a battle that is based more on supporting ideology and "example" than pragmatics...I'm not including it on my list this year. Trust me, there will be plenty of races to read about and follow even given the above standard. My goal is to feature at least sixty races.

    Second, the blogs. Here's a reality about local blogs. Where there's lots of Democrats, there are lots of blogs. Where there are fewer Democrats, there are fewer blogs and fewer choices. Where we are out to defeat GOP incumbents, quite often, there isn't a highly develped netroots. That being said, my first, and overriding standard is how a blog I link on the k/o list is covering the race. In particular, I like to see well-written articles critical of a GOP incumbent...and a steady stream of commentary that shows follow through and an eye for critical reporting. Blogs that seem to come straight from the Dem campaign are a bit less interesting to readers.

    Blogs that stop covering a race will be exchanged for blogs that do if necessary. That's also a reality of local blogs. I'm out to provide readers of k/o with the best possible info and links. That's my priority. Please remember, I'm out to support you and welcome your emails (kidoaklandactivism"at"comast"dot"net) when you have written something new, regardless of whether you are listed as the point blog for a race or not. (The last thing I want to create is hard feelings or resentment. We need to save that for the Republicans.) Wherever I can, I will help local blogs dedicated to kicking vulnerable Republicans in the races I'm focused on out of office. I intend to cover and link to many local blogs frequently in the next three months. You can count on that.

    There are, however, other characteristics I look for in choosing a local blog to feature for a race. First, does it link to other local blogs? This is critical. I'm not a big fan of blogs that don't try to link to allies who are covering the same territory. I'd hope blogs I link to would try to provide as many links as possible to other local blogs so that their readers can learn about the entire netroots resource in their district. Second, I think a local blogger should have an email account listed somehwere on their site. I know that many folks value anonymity. I would point out that email can be anonymous. But bloggers should be reachable. If I can't reach you, that means the press can't reach, and either campaign can't reach you either. Availability is something to strive for and lends credibilty to your blogging. I reserve the right to prefer blogs that serve this connector/availablilty function.

    Finally, I'm linking extensively to national and regional blogs. First, by providing a link to the dailykos Tags for each race. Second, by creating a whole new section of blog links focused on regional and broader connector blogs. If there's a regional blog connected to a race, I will try to provide a "key code" link to that blog too...one more code for the k/o list.

    All in all, the k/o list may turn into a resource for folks interested in 2006 politics and local blogging. To tell you the truth, I intend that it will be my "yellow pages" for covering the story of the local blogs as the election process unfolds in 2006. If you find it useful, you'll see that I've been using it.

    I firmly believe that the undercovered blogs and races deserve someplace to get some attention in 2006 and I am opening up my blog to that function. It just happens that I was interested and had the platform. This list will take some time to build the right way. I have no intention of just slapping up whatever. I hope you enjoy this project as it unfolds.

    (Link to home page of k/o, where you can see the k/o list.)

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    this is kid oakland blog

    (or, as you can see above....k/o...for short.)

    Welcome to kid oakland blog. I'm Paul and I live and work and write in Oakland, California. I've been writing online as kid oakland since the first days of scoop at dailykos.com (2003) and you may know me from there, or from my participation at blog communities like booman tribune or MyDD. However it may be that you've found your way here...welcome!

    This blog is a place to find articles on politics and culture from a progressive point of view. I try to keep the content here fresh and the links reflective of the best writing and voices available on the net. Topics of interest include: progressive politics, local and regional blogging, electoral politics, national and international news stories mixed with essays and links on music and culture. If you liked my writing on dailykos, you'll find news stories and links to other writers who work in a similar way and covering similar territory.

    Your comments and tips are always welcome. Your readership is very much appreciated.


    Paul, kid oakland

    Contact me: kidoaklandatcomcast.net

    Site content published under a Creative Commons license. All citations and links on this site are made in the spirit of fair use to promote and comment on the work cited, with a link to the original whenever possible. Comments are subject to moderation.


    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Get to know Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)

    Colorado's 7th District is an open seat where, like so many districts in 2006, the future of the House of Representatives will be decided by local citizens deciding which candidate best represents their interests. On August 9th, the same day Ned Lamont won the much ballyhooed Connecticut Democratic Senatorial Primary, Ed Perlmutter defeated Peggy Lamm in the race to determine who would represent the Democrats in Colorado's 7th. Let's call it...a quiet storm.

    It's worth taking this chance to get to know Ed Perlmutter. And the best way to do that...you guessed it...is to visit some local blogs.

  • Jeralyn Merrit, blogging for 5280.com's Elevated Voices blog is pretty damn incisive. (k/o sez read it!)
  • Go visit veteran blogger Amygdala's account of the race, and, please, someone leave a comment on that blog! It's official k/o policy to show love to the local blogs.
  • Meanwhile TakebacktheHouse at Square State.net covers a Democratic Unity event following the primary. CO has got blog!

  • It's August and a sleepy, 'on vacation' America is just beginning to wake up to the hard work ahead if we're going to make a sea change in our politics in 2006. Ed Perlmutter in CO-07 is a race to watch. You can bookmark that!

    Stem Cells, Chevron and Saudi Arabia

    You can express most everything essential about the contrast between the Democratic Party and the GOP with three concrete examples understandable by Americans in every district in the nation: Stem Cells, Chevron and Saudi Arabia.

    A). Stem Cells

    Stem Cells represent one of the most promising scientific breakthroughs of our times. Research into embryonic stem cell therapy offers hope to millions of Americans faced with chronic and debilitating diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Diabetes. Like so many breakthrough moments in our nation's history, from Dr. Salk and the Polio Vaccine to Thomas Edison and the Light Bulb, innovative science has offered American citizens the promise of a new day.

    Science and innovation reside at the heart of what has made our nation great. Unfortunately, President Bush and the GOP Congress have stalled the funding for research into embryonic stem cells. Science and hope have taken a back seat to Republican special interests and pressure groups. Now, that's nothing new in American politics. But, in 2006, this much is clear, there is only one political party that will put science above special interests. Americans can trust the Democratic Party to advance the science of stem cell research.

    B). Chevron

    Chevron made a $14.1 Billion profit in 2005 and they are still at it.  Heck, Chevron is not alone:

    Exxon Mobil Corp., British Petroleum PLC, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell PLC reported second-quarter [2006] profits ranging between $5.18 billion and $10.36 billion.

    Now, the GOP will tell you that those profits have nothing at all to do with the price that American consumers pay at the pump or the donations made by special interests to GOP members of Congress. Of course, those same politicians will tell you that Social Security is broken and the only way to fix it is for every day Americans to play their hard-earned retirement savings on the Stock Market!

    You can't blame Chevron for making money. Chevron is a corporation, that's its job. However, there's another group of Americans who haven't been doing theirs. You see, it's the job of the United States Congress to pass laws and regulations that put the long-term interests of American Citizens over the short-term profits of Big Corporations. Now, that's a simple concept; Congress should pass laws and regulations that work for everyday Americans. Our Founding Fathers expected no less.

    And that gets to the heart of the difference between the Democratic Party and this GOP Congress. Next time you fill up your tank, ask yourself, has George Bush's GOP Congress done anything to address your family's energy needs? Hell, believe it or not, this Congress is still giving big oil companies billions of dollars in tax breaks while we pay double at the pump. h/t Buffalo Girl.) You can ask the same question about education, the Medicare drug plan or our health care crisis. The answer is clear. If you want Congress to do its job, you should cast your vote for a Democrat.

    C). Saudi Arabia

    Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich monarchy in the Middle East.  What does an oil-rich country run by kings and princes have to do with American politics? That's a good question. Of course, since the tragedy of September 11th, 2001, we've all  had to learn much more about the complex politics of the Middle East.

    We have a long history of strong, sensible, bi-partisan foreign policy in this nation. Americans should expect nothing less than just that from either political party. Every patriotic American knows that is true.

    American foreign policy is at its strongest when it best expresses our national values. Democracy is one of those values. Two other bedrock American values are freedom and independence. This GOP Congress, however, like the Bush Administration, can't bring itself to talk about freedom and independence when it comes to energy and oil.

    This failure to address our dependence on foreign oil explains why President Bush gives glowing speeches about "democracy in the Middle East," but fails, time and again, to stand up to the monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Under the current leadership of the GOP, the United States is, sadly, neither independent or free when it comes to our energy needs.

    We all know that energy independence will take shared sacrifice and innovation. Energy independence will take conservation, long-term planning, investment in innovative energy initiatives and a careful accounting of how our nation uses it energy resources. That is language, however, we Americans haven't heard from this President or from this GOP Congress.

    The world's beacon of democracy should not have to tip toe around an oil-rich monarchy. We are better than that. And that is a crucial difference between the Democratic Party and this Republican Congress. Simply put, the United States will never end its dependence on foreign oil under GOP leadership. The Democratic Party is the only party in the United States serious about energy independence.

    D). Conclusion

    Stem Cells, Chevron and Saudi Arabia, these are three concrete examples that express values Americans already intrinsically knew about the Democratic Party. They are narrow particulars that express broad themes.

  • Democrats put science that helps people above special interests.

  • Democrats put laws that favor the long-term interests of everyday Americans above easy corporate profits.

  • Democrats stand for a strong, sensible, bi-partisan foreign policy that reflects our nation's deepest values; the Democratic Party will put the core American values of independence and innovation at the heart of our foreign policy by working to make our nation energy independent and free of foreign oil.

  • These three examples epitomize the difference between the two political parties. They represent a way to get a discussion started at a point where the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is crystal clear.

    There's a clear choice facing American voters this fall. We can choose more of the same from this GOP Congress under whose leadership we remain mired in Iraq, inactive on global warming and ineffective on core issues that face everyday Americans like health care and education, or we can embrace the leadership and values expressed by the Democratic Party.

    We're Democrats and, in 2006, we are the change you're looking for.

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    Samm Simpson vs. C.W. Young in FL-10

    Local blogger, Andy Ostroy of the the Ostroy Report echoes Dan Walter at Joe Trippi.com, Samm Simpson is turning heads and raising eyebrows in her race to unseat 18 term Congressman C.W. "Bill" Young in Florida's 10th Congressional District.

    First-time candidate and grandmother Samm Simpson is, for someone so unorthodox, impressive. Per Dan Walters:

    Simpson, with the help of volunteers, qualified to be on the ballot by obtaining in five weeks more than 4,000 signatures of people in the district, which Al Gore barely won in 2000 and President Bush barely won in 2004.

    Four thousand signatures in five weeks. That’s pretty impressive.

    Or take Simpson's response in this interview with Andy Ostroy:

    Ostroy Report: Why run for Congress and take on an 18-term incumbent in a solid Bush country?

    Simpson: Anybody who is concerned about their individual freedoms needs to sound an alarm. I've been watching our Constitution crumble since 2000, and in January of 2006, after watching more of the President's rhetoric about terrorism and the war in Iraq, I felt compelled to run. At first I thought I'd be a write in candidate. I told the Democratic Party I'd like to do this and discovered they had no one else. Then I found out that it cost $9726 to have my name on the ballot. This is set by the Florida legislature and part of the problem, don't you think? The other alternative was to get signed petitions. So we got 'em. First time in the history of Pinellas County that a Federal Candidate qualified by petitions. But it's not just the war, the corruption, the greed the sellout out of our public policy to corporations and the eroding of the social contract and middle class purchasing power that propels me to run for elected office. It's also about the Constitution and the sacred fabric of the law that my father fought for, and our forefathers died for. Congress is standing by blindly allowing this President and administration to flagrantly disrespect our own Constitution.

    Sheesh, sounds like a potential netroots candidate to me. But is C.W. Young vulnerable in the least? Let's see. Far from being solid Bush country, Joshua Grossman of Progressive Punch.org classified this district as a pure toss-up. Bush won FL-10 with 51% of the vote in 2004 after losing it narrowly in 2000; do any of us think GWB and the GOP Congress will be more popular this time around?

    Why don't we take a look at C.W. Young's voting record? This guy never met a tax break for the wealthy that he didn't like. And as far as pork goes, well, C.W. Bill Young could be called one of the "Kings of Pork"...per the NYT (via the Economist's View):

    The culture of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee is one of great power and little scrutiny. Mr. Wilkes said every member appeared to have a personal allowance of millions of dollars to disburse without public disclosure...

    In the spending bill for this fiscal year, each member took credit for an average $27 million in earmarks, with the chairman, Representative C. W. Bill Young, Republican of Florida, claiming about $125 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that tracks earmarks.

    The question for the voters of Pinellas County and FL-10 is who best represents their interests in 2006, and whether anyone outside the district will help all those folks inside FL-10 hoping to give Samm Simpson a fighting chance. Will local bloggers like Andy Ostroy and the Florida Progressive Coalition continue to write about and focus on this race? I certainly hope so.

    If there's a year for a political unknown to defeat an entrenched incumbent in a toss-up district, 2006 is it.

    Netroots Resource list of Vulnerable GOP Incumbents

    For those of you interested in picking a local race and writing about it from now till election day, I've created a list of races where your input can make a difference. Despite the title, the list includes some Democrats who are running for open seats or in races where they are the main focus. As it stands, however, this list is long on opposing vulnerable GOP incumbents because that's where we start to take Congress back.

    This list is broken down by region and focused on races where we are within striking distance but are not anywhere near the "sure thing" mark. Your help can make a difference. The links are to google blog searches of the names of the candidate or incumbent. Google blog search is a potent tool that complements Technorati. (If you are a local blogger you should ping both of these great tools.)

    You can use the following links for more information and to hook up with local blogs that are taking the fight to the GOP. You can also track how much is being written in the netroots about these races and pitch in where we need help.

    Western Region:

  • Heather Wilson (GOP Incumbent, NM-01, opposed by Democrat Patricia Madrid)
  • David Reichert (GOP Incumbent, WA-08, opposed by Democrat Darcy Burner)
  • Jon Porter (GOP Incumbent in NV-03)<
  • Jack Carter (Dem, US Senate, NV)
  • JD Hayworth (GOP Incumbent, AZ-05)
  • Ed Perlmutter (Democratic Candidate CO-07 Open Seat)
  • Elton Gallegly (GOP Incumbent, CA-24)
  • Debra Bowen (Democratic Candidate for California Secretary of State)
  • Ted Kulongoski (vulnerable Democratic Governor of Oregon)
  • Gabrielle Giffords, Patty Weiss and Jeff Latas (Democrats running for the open seat in AZ-08)
  • Dennis Rehberg (GOP incumbent Montana At Large)
  • David Dreier (GOP, CA-26, lean GOP district, tough one)
  • Jim Ryun (GOP, KS-01) or, the longer shot effort by Dem John Doll in KS-02 (h/t Scout Finch).

  • Midwestern Region:

  • Mark Kirk (GOP Incumbent in IL-10)
  • Deborah Pryce (GOP Incumbent in OH-15)
  • Pat Tiberi (GOP Incumbent OH-12)
  • Joseph Knollenberg (GOP incumbent MI-09)
  • Claire McCaskill (Democratic Candidate for US Senate, MO)
  • Tom Latham (GOP, IA-04)
  • Amy Klobuchar (Democratic Candidate, US Senate, MN)
  • Gil Gutknecht (vulnerable GOP incumbent, MN-01)
  • Chris Chocola (vulnerable GOP incumbent IN-02)
  • Bruce Braley (Democrat running for the open seat in IA-01)
  • Paul Ryan (GOP, WI-01, tough one)
  • Thaddeus McCotter (GOP, MI-11, another tough one)
  • Steve Chabot (GOP Incumbent in OH-01)

  • Eastern Region:

  • Curt Weldon (a vulnerable GOP incumbent in PA-07, opposed by Joe Sestak)
  • Jim Walsh (below-the-radar GOP incumbent in NY-25)
  • Frank LoBiondo (GOP incumbent in NJ-02 feeling the heat now)
  • Jim Saxton (GOP, NJ-03)
  • Paul Hodes (running against GOP incumbent Charlie Bass, NH-02, h/t Miss Laura)
  • Tim Murphy (GOP, PA-18)
  • John McHugh (GOP, NY-23)
  • Charles Dent (vulnerable GOP incumbent, Pennsylvania's 15th CD)
  • Deval Patrick (Dem Candidate, Governor MA, h/t dnta)
  • Nancy Johnson (vulnerable CT incumbent GOP Congresswoman, CT-05)
  • John Bonifaz (Dem voting rights champion for MA Secretary of State)
  • Jeb Bradley (NH-01, another vulnerable notheastern GOP incumbent)
  • Phil English (under-looked at GOP incumbent in PA-03)
  • Melissa Hart, (GOP incumbent in PA-04)
  • Shelley Moore-Capito (the GOP West Virginian Congressperson, deserves our attention)

  • Southern Region:

  • CW Bill Young (GOP incumbent in Florida-10)
  • Clay Shaw (GOP, getting a run for his money in FL-22)
  • Robin Hayes (GOP incumbent, NC-08 v Dem Larry Kissell)
  • Democrat Jim Webb v. GOP George Allen for US Senate in VA (h/t Delicate Monster)
  • MZM encrusted Republican Congressman Virgil Goode in VA-05
  • Charles Taylor (GOP incumbent in NC-11, hot race)
  • Mike Rogers (little known GOP Congressman in Alabama-03)
  • Thelma Drake (a GOP incumbent in VA-02 who I really hope gets some attention)
  • And three longer shots....Erik Fleming, (Dem Candidate for US Senate in MS)
  • Steve Sinton (Democratic Candidate for Congress, Georgia)
  • Anne Northup (the incumbent GOP Rep from KY-03, more Conservative than district by a mile)