Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is


Longtime members of the DFA community might bristle at the memory of "liberal hawks" and pooh-poohing of prewar concerns about Bush's [lack of a] strategy. Still, we all agree these days that Bush has monumentally screwed up in Iraq — and hasn't shown a scintilla of the sacrifice needed to turn the war around.

That makes it all the more remarkable when a onetime "liberal hawk" — unlike, say, any immediate relatives of Karl Rove — puts his life on hold, and himself on the line, to fight in this conflict. Phil Carter — a progressive writer who blogs at Intel Dumphas done just that.

On Thursday, I received orders from the Army mobilizing me for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These orders followed an earlier set, cut on Tuesday, which transferred me from the Army's individual ready reserve into the 101st Airborne Division. It's an honor and privilege to deploy with such a storied unit -- a band of warriors who have nearly all deployed at least once since 9/11. I'm scheduled to report for active duty in a little under 3 weeks to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After some period of pre-deployment training and preparation, I will deploy with my unit to Iraq.

It's difficult to describe the swirl of emotions I have now. I'm excited about this opportunity to serve, but also apprehensive about what lies ahead. I'm worried for my family and friends (this will be harder on them than me), and I will miss them terribly; but I'm also comforted by the strength they have displayed over the past few days.

Let this show just how serious progressives are about national security — even while believing, as many left-of-center Americans and a growing number of responsible conservatives do, that the Bush administration has thoroughly bungled it. Whatever your political stripe, the willingness to sacrifice — far more than blowhard attempts to claim national security as the province of radicals in a political party — stands as the truest sign of commitment to protecting the American people.

So best of luck to you, Phil Carter; you make us proud. Come home safe.

Thursday News Round-Up


House Republicans Offer Own Social Security Plan

Republicans in the House have proposed a new Social Security plan of their own that they expect to vote on later this year. According to a summary posted on a House Committee Web site, surplus Social Security funds would be deposited annually into accounts for workers under age 55. This flow would end once Social Security is no longer running a surplus, probably around 2017. Democrats, however, believe this new proposal is worse than President Bush’s plan. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland said [the Republicans] are spending it the first time on a so-called private account and then they borrow it back and they give other bonds for government spending. So they are creating two liabilities for one.”

Frist and Reid Discuss Judicial Nominees

On Tuesday, Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist and Democratic leader Harry Reid met to discuss nominees for a possible vacancy on the Supreme Court. While Frist would not mention any names, Reid later offered the names of four Republican senators whom he believes would be excellent Supreme Court members.

Gay Marriage Legal in Spain and Canada

The Spanish Parliament approved a bill today legalizing same-sex marriage in the country. Spain is the only other nation in the world, besides Canada, to offer complete equality for both same-sex and heterosexual couples. Canada voted on Tuesday to make it legal for same-sex couples to marry.


Comments on Blog for America will be shut down for several hours this evening as we undergo server upgrades. The comment shutoff will begin at 9:00pm EDT. —Thank you.

—Annalouise Venturella

How are we doing?


As we reach the halfway mark of 2005, I need your help grading Democracy for America's performance. Your feedback is crucial as we chart our course and continue the fight to take our country back.

Our mission is to take our country back so that we can build healthy communities at home and project a moral foreign policy. To do this, we need an organization that only you have the power to fuel.

Below are 10 initiatives we have undertaken together over the last 6 months. Some actions had near universal participation, some we're just getting started, and some you may not want to do again. But, your feedback is important because it helps steer the course of DFA.


1. In January and February we dedicated ourselves to electing Governor Howard Dean chair of the Democratic National Committee. And we won! Now, Dean is reforming the Party and laying the groundwork for Democrats and progressives to win in all 50 states.

Stop USANext
2. When USA Next -- a right-wing fringe group -- launched an anti-soldier, anti-gay campaign, you responded. Over 80,000 people called on television stations to keep USA Next's hate off the air. And we haven't heard from them since.
Social Security Stories
3. Thousands of Americans submitted their personal stories about Social Security in March. In April, DFA groups partnered with True Majority Action and met with over 80 congressional offices throughout the country to deliver a simple message: "Don't Privatize It." We still have a fight on our hands -- but we have put the president on the defensive.

Tom DeLay Billboard in Texas
4. Tom DeLay's ethical lapses are well known. When DFA hosted a slogan contest, over 23,000 suggestions poured in. After a grassroots vote your billboards went up in Houston and in Tom DeLay's district. DeLay's not done—but he's become damaged goods.

DFA Training Academy
5. Grassroots activist trainings -- on strategy, tactics, message and planning -- have been held in CA, NV, SC, TX, VT and VA. We'll be working in FL, IL, KS, NJ, PA, OR, and VA (again!) over the next few months.

We're driven by the grassroots. Your feedback on these initiatives is essential:


DFA Meetup
6. 2,400 skills-building and social Meetups have taken place in 2005. We've written letters-to-the-editor, undertaken framing exercises with Prof. George Lakoff and promoted community service through DFA Corps.

RX for Wal-Mart
7. In conjunction with Wal-Mart Watch and Wake-Up Wal-Mart, we have begun a campaign to make Wal-Mart a better company. Producer Robert Greenwald released the trailer of his new movie on Wal-Mart at the June Meetups and we're working with our brothers and sisters in organized labor to continue the fight.

8. The coalition of fiscally responsible, socially progressive grassroots organizations is growing. Statewide organizing conventions have been held in 14 states and Washington, DC, including: CT, DC, FL, KY, IL, MD, MA, NJ, NH, NY, OH, OR, PA, VA, and WA. More are scheduled for: CA, FL (again), IA, LA, NC, TN and WI. Local groups like Democracy for NYC and Change for Kentucky are taking our country back!

DFA-List: Candidates for America
9. The A-List of endorsed candidates is growing. The grassroots have helped select candidates for mayor in 5 cities, a county commission candidate in South Carolina, a state senator from Philadelphia and a city council candidate in Pittsburgh.

Downing Street Memo
10. You've helped spread the word about the Downing Street Memos. Through tabling and the internet, tens of thousands of copies of the memos have been distributed to reporters, recruiters and Republican representatives in Congress. Front page stories on the memos are cropping up all over. You're exposing the lies that got us into Iraq—in order to speed our exit.

This is our mid-year report card. And you are the grader. Let us know how we are doing:


Thank you for everything. Have a great Independence Day.

Tom Hughes
Executive Director

P.S. If you like what you see—and you want to help DFA even more—I hope you'll join nearly 20,000 other Americans in making a contribution today:


VT Grassroots Activists Training


Most people might cringe at the idea of spending an entire weekend in a non air-conditioned building, but for over 60 DFA supporters from Vermont and other nearby states, last Saturday and Sunday were worth it, even in the heat. Those supporters participated in a two-day grassroots training activists program organized by Democracy for America and Latinos for America.

Burlington Campaign Training
Participants are hard at work on a group assignment
during the Vermont Grassroots Activist Training
at Burlington High School.

Gathering inside Burlington High School's cafeteria for coffee and bagels, participants received their grassroots training manuals, DFA bumper stickers and schedules for the weekend's events. Trainers, who included DFA's own Tom Hughes, Arshad Hasan and Chris Warshaw, taught classes ranging from coalition building to volunteer training. Other guest speakers such as Ralph Miller, Carolyn Dwyer and Zephyr Teachout held lectures on working with the media, fundraising and online organizing.

DFA Political Director, Chris Warshaw
Chris Warshaw, DFA Political Director, leads a discussion
during one of the training sessions this past weekend.

By the end of the weekend, participants left with an abundant amount of knowledge on how to effectively run a campaign and how to get the progressive message out to the public. And continuing the fight to take our country back!

—Annalouise Venturella

The Power of Community


Remember that bat thingy?

You know what I'm thinking about: a small wooden object, stick shaped, which — when put in the hands of the Democracy for America faithful — possesses the capacity to raise enormous amounts of money. You've probably seen it around here.

thermo_art.gif Well, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) apparently wants to know how the bat works. Problem is, Republican fundraisers haven't quite mastered the secret.

See that graphic? It's the GOPSenators.com fundraising target for the month of June: $50,000. With just a day left in the month, the Republican team still has $10,000 to go. [Oooooof — might be time for a bake sale ... ]

Now, here's an amazing comparison: the last time DFA put up a bat, y'all beat a $50,000 goal in less than 24 hours.

What does that tell you? Only the key point the NRSC needs to know: the secret of the bat is that it isn't about fundraising at all. The bat represents the dedication and hard work of outstanding citizens like you, and every time you swing the bat, you show how much progressive Americans — working together — can do.

So thank you — sincerely — for all the work you do. You've built this into a beautiful, powerful community. And something tells us that — try as they might — Republican imitators are gonna have a devil of a time duplicating it.

Live Blog Discussion with Tara


When people ask what I'm responsible for at Democracy for America, the usual answer from nearly everyone is, "anything with a plug."

Whether you're curious about the type of mailserver DFA uses, tips on managing an email list, instructions on rewiring phone extensions, who makes those snappy bat graphics, or the pitfalls of allowing a (mostly) open online community, you're in the right place tonight.

What do you want to know?

Jim Dean on Bush's Speech


The American people deserve an honest leader. But, as last night proved, President Bush does not plan on filling those shoes.

Last night, the president had the opportunity to address the nation with a real plan for the war in Iraq—but instead, he offered the same old rhetoric with no real solution. He continued to exploit America's sadness and outrage toward 9/11 as justification for the war claiming that waging the fight in Iraq is containing terrorist.

But, the unfortunate reality is that Osama bin Laden is still free and Iraq has now become a breeding ground for terrorist camps.

The American public deserves better, and our troops deserve better. We will only win this war on terror when our political leaders are truthful about the risks and held accountable for their mistakes.

Wednesday News Round-Up


Bush Addresses Nation on Iraq War

Last night, President Bush spoke to the American public in a nationally televised address from Fort Bragg, N.C. In his speech, Bush recognized the problems the United States is facing, but did not offer any new policies or changes in the current ones. Meanwhile public support for the war in Iraq continues to decline.

U.S. Copter Crashes in Afghanistan; Fate of Service Members Unknown

According to the U.S. military, hostile fire may have caused the crash of an American military helicopter in eastern Afghanistan today. Col. Jim Yonts, a spokesman in Kabul, said the helicopter came under fire as it was preparing to land. The military has not determined yet if hostile fire was indeed the culprit and there is still no word regarding the fate of the 17 service members on board.

Heading Back Home Nearly 4 Years Later

An unwavering group of 5,000 Sudanese refugees are making a 435-mile journey back to their homes in southern Sudan after being displaced during the civil war in October 2001. Many of the refugees include elderly or ailing individuals, children and pregnant women. On Tuesday an aid agency said they are at the halfway point in their trek after walking for two months through dense forests, swamplands and dry riverbeds.

Live Blog Discussion Tonight

Join us at 8:00pm DST tonight for a discussion of all things blog-related with DFA Technology Director, Tara Liloia.

—Annalouise Venturella

Bush on Iraq: The Reaction


As expected, President Bush raised the specter of September 11, 2001 several times in his speech last night in order to justify the drawn-out conflict in Iraq. Despite the lack of a credible connection between the two events, Bush continues to exploit America's sadness and outrage at 9/11 as a justification for war.

...in Britain, Lynne Jones, a lawmaker in Prime Minister Tony Blair's ruling Labour Party, said any attempt to suggest that Iraq was a response to the September 11 attacks was "absolute nonsense."

"There is absolutely no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," she said.

"What they have ensured, in invading Iraq, is they have actually promoted al Qaeda's involvement in other countries, including Iraq."

The reaction to the speech in the United States was anything but unanimous support. While talking heads on both sides of the aisle today claimed that the President made his points well, most chose to ignore the fact that those points are based on fallacies. One of the biggest blunders of the night was Bush's assertion that no more troops are needed to bolster our already-strained forces in Iraq. Yet, he took the time to make his first direct pitch to young Americans, encouraging them to enlist. Furthermore, some key lawmakers disagree:

Sen. John McCain , interviewed on CBS's "The Early Show," maintained that "one of the very big mistakes early on was that he didn't have enough troops on the ground, particularly after the initial victory, and that's still the case."

Sen. John Kerry, Bush's Democratic opponent in last year's presidential election, told NBC's "Today" show that the borders of Iraq "are porous" and said "we don't have enough troops" there.

Sen. Joseph Biden Jr., appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," disputed Bush's notion that sufficient troops are in place.

"I'm going to send him the phone numbers of the very generals and flag officers that I met on Memorial Day when I was in Iraq," the Delaware Democrat said. "There's not enough force on the ground now to mount a real counterinsurgency."

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) takes on the President's deafening silence on the accountability gaps in Iraq, the "fixed" evidence that led us into war, and the recontruction efforts that have been saddled with waste and mismanagement:

"President Bush spoke tonight and his silence was deafening. If anyone was surprised... if anyone was shocked to see their Commander-In-Chief so divorced from reality, they really haven't been paying much attention. But day by day more Americans are seeing the light."

"Each day they see the news... More casualties. More wounded. Billions of dollars lost or wasted. Congress cutting off veterans benefits. New memos discovered detailing White House plans to invade Iraq using manipulated or manufactured evidence. The list goes on and on."

Rep. Slaughter is also calling on Congress to pass H.J.Res. 55—a measure that will require the President to create an exit plan from Iraq.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) somberly warned before the speech that the war will only get worse:

Even some of the hawkish members of Congress are disheartened. The President's going to say that if you don't support the war, you're against the troops. That's nothing but politics. He doesn't believe that Americans are entitled to know how we got into the war, and refuses to reveal how he plans to get out.

Clash of the Titans


Holy moly — who put their Halliburton into my Gitmo?!

A Halliburton Co. unit will build a new $30 million detention facility and security fence at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States is holding about 520 foreign terrorism suspects, the Defense Department announced on Thursday.

The announcement comes the same week that Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the jail after U.S. lawmakers said it had created an image problem for the United States.

Critics have decried the indefinite detention of Guantanamo detainees, whom the United States has denied rights accorded under the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war. The prison was called "the gulag of our times" in a recent Amnesty International report.

An air-conditioned two-story prison, known as Detention Camp #6, will be built at Guantanamo to house 220 men. It will include exercise areas, medical and dental spaces as well as a security control room, the contract announcement said.

The contract announcement did not specify whether the new prison would also hold foreign terror suspects.

Under the deal with the Norfolk, Virginia-based U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, the work is to be wrapped up by July 2006. It is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million if all options are exercised, the Defense Department said.

Ahhhhh, yes: yet another hard-fought competitive success for Vice President Dick Cheney's favorite company. Must have been a ree-e-e-e-e-e-ally tough bidding process.

Seriously, guys — we can't make this stuff up. It's like truth has so far outpaced fiction that it's lapped it and passed it in the outside lane.