In less than two weeks - you're either going to wind up with a strong advocate, unafraid of going against the establishment - or you'll wind up with two more years of Jane Harman, who's policies drift with whomever is in power at the time - and is fueled by corporate funding.
Harman's campaign talks about this race like it's an annoyance... as if simply calling herself a Democrat should mean she gets to keep her job without being challenged. (She's also called herself the best Republican in the Democratic Party!)
With your help, we can show Harman and her corporate backers that America isn't a private country club where you get to pick and choose who gets to play. If you betray the needs of the American people - voting to protect the banks you're invested in for example - you're the one who is going to get kicked out.
Democracy for America just got behind my race. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and United Teachers of Los Angeles are also on board.
We have come so far and an historic win for the Democratic grassroots is within reach. With only a few hours left to vote and the establishment working double time for our opponent, we need to close strong. We need you to vote, reach out to every single voter you know, and get involved.Polls are open until 8 PM. We’ve got the passion, we’ve got the momentum, and now is the time to fight. Go Joe!Make Calls from Home: http://www.facebook.com/l/ffb22;joesestak.ning.com/page/call-nowVolunteer at one of our Offices: http://www.facebook.com/l/ffb22;joesestak.com/Volunteer.htmlFind your polling location: http://www.facebook.com/l/ffb22;www.votespa.com/portal/server.pt/community/where_to_vote/13520Go to our voter page at http://www.facebook.com/l/ffb22;joesestak.com for more infoThis is gut-check time for Democrats.This campaign has always been fueled by the dedication and passion of grassroots supporters like you. We’ve got ten offices running across the state ready for your help. It’s time to bring it home – volunteer now!Thanks,Team SestakPS: Also keep emailing, gchatting, tweeting, and status updating to remind all your friends to vote today!
My good friend, Rebecca Faris, has landed an interview with none other than her personal hero and mine, Ralph Nader. Broadcast out of Richmond, the show will be simulcast on the Internet on May 18, 2010 (tomorrow) starting at 12:30 EST. To hear the broadcast tune your computer into http://www.wrir.org for the "live" streaming audio.
For those who may have forgotten, Ralph Nader brought us the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
by Steve Benen
* As Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary heats up, two new polls shows Rep. Joe Sestak inching past Sen. Arlen Specter. A new Research 2000 poll shows the challenger up by two, 45% to 43%, while a Suffolk poll shows Sestak by nine, 49% to 40%.
* In Arkansas' Democratic Senate primary, Research 2000 shows incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln leading Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, 46% to 37%. If Lincoln doesn't top 50% next week, the two will meet again in a runoff election.
* On a related note, a group called Americans for Jobs Security continues to go after Halter with racially-charged messages.
* In Kentucky, the latest Research 2000 poll shows Rand Paul leading Trey Grayson in the Republican Senate primary by 10 points, while Daniel Mongiardo's lead in the Democratic Senate primary over Jack Conway is down to three points.
* Linda McMahon, the faltering Republican Senate candidate in Connecticut, is trying to revive her campaign by calling for more offshore drilling. Seems like a bad idea.
* Florida Gov. Charlie Crist lost his Senate campaign staff when he left the Republican Party, but he now has a new campaign manager: his sister, who isn't a campaign professional, but is a public school teacher.
* Scandal-plagued Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) is trailing his Republican primary challenger, Brian Sandoval, by 18 points in a new Mason-Dixon poll.
* In Wisconsin, Democratic leaders have rallied behind state Sen. Julie Lassa as the strongest candidate to run for the seat Rep. Dave Obey (D) is giving up.
* And in Utah, Sen. Bob Bennett (R) has said he won't run as an independent in the wake of being rejected by his own party, but if he changes his mind, he'd have to go to court to challenge the state early deadline, which annoys independent candidates across the country. (thanks to NTodd for the heads-up)
by Kathleen Miller
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A first-of-its-kind law bars public high schools in Maryland from automatically sending student scores on a widely used military aptitude test to recruiters, a practice that critics say was giving the armed forces backdoor access to young people without their parents' consent.
School districts around the country have the choice of whether to administer the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam, and ones that offer it typically pass the scores and students' contact information directly to the military. Topics on the test range from math and reading to knowledge of electronics and automobiles.
The Maryland law, the first in the nation after similar California legislation was vetoed, was signed last month and bars schools from automatically releasing the information to military recruiters. Instead, students, and their parents if they are under 18, will have to decide whether to give the information to the military. The law takes effect in July. One other state, Hawaii, has a similar policy for its schools, but not a law.
Roughly 650,000 U.S. high school students took the exam in the 2008-2009 school year, and the Department of Defense says scores for 92 percent of them were automatically sent to military recruiters. In the fiscal year that ended in September, 7.6 percent of those who enlisted in the military used scores from the test as part of their applications.
by Josh Lerner, Megan Wade Antieau
For the first time in the U.S., the city’s 49th Ward lets taxpayers directly decide how public money is spent.
On Chicago's far north side, citizens are taking democracy into their own hands. Through the first "participatory budgeting" experiment in the United States, residents of Chicago's 49th Ward have spent the past year deciding how to spend $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars. Over 1,600 community members stepped up to decide on improvements for their neighborhoods, showing how participatory budgeting can pave the way for a new kind of grassroots democracy, in Chicago and beyond.
Chicago may seem an unlikely site for participatory democracy, given the city's famous patronage system and lack of transparency in public finances. Faced with this system, community groups end up competing for budgetary scraps—an exhausting struggle. But frustration with backroom dealing is in part what makes Chicago and the United States ready for new ways of managing public money.
In 2007, Alderman Joe Moore discovered an alternative at a US Social Forum session on participatory budgeting. There, he learned about Porto Alegre, Brazil, where since 1990 tens of thousands of people have been directly deciding how to spend as much as 20 percent of their city's annual budget. Moore also learned how participatory budgeting has gone global, spreading to over 1,200 cities around the world and winning the United Nations' recognition as a best practice of democratic governance.
No U.S. city had let citizens directly decide how to spend public money, but Moore saw Chicago's 49th Ward as the perfect place to try.
According to news reports, Facebook has called an "all hands" meeting today to discuss its privacy policies. That's because they are facing a brewing revolt among Facebook users alarmed by the company's cavalier attitude toward protecting your privacy. In recent months, Facebook has rolled out some very privacy-unfriendly practices, from the "privacy transition" that took away privacy controls to "instant personalization" that instantly shares your personal information with third party pages without your consent. At every step, the ACLU has been there to push back. Why? Because the less control you have over your own personal information, the more likely that information could end up in the wrong hands—including the government's. Sign the ACLU's petition. Tell Facebook loud and clear that you want control of your personal information. Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that "the default is social." That means Facebook starts from the assumption that your personal information will be distributed far and wide without your consent. But, tens of thousands of you have signed the ACLU petition to make it clear that you want to share with your friends, not a spying government. Facebook is feeling the heat. It's time to hold the company's feet to the fire and take back control of our personal information. You—not Facebook—should decide who to trust with private information about your political interests, sexual orientation, and more. Sign the ACLU Facebook privacy petition. Make it clear you want to share with the people you choose, not the ones Facebook chooses for you. Today's reported all-hands meeting at Facebook means we've got their attention. Let's keep the pressure on until Facebook adopts policies that respect the privacy of its users.
It's a survey from a Democratic pollster, but a new poll in Nevada shows Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) pulling ahead in his re-election bid, now leading Sue "Bring a Chicken to the Doctor" Lowden (R) by five, 42% to 37%.
* On a related note, Lowden also seems to be slipping among Nevada Republicans. A Mason-Dixon poll shows her leading the GOP Senate primary field, but only with just 30% support. Her two closest Republican rivals are both within single digits.
* A new Quinnipiac poll might give Rep. Joe Sestak another boost in his Pennsylvania Democratic primary against Sen. Arlen Specter. Testing general election match-ups, Quinnipiac shows Sestak faring better against Republican Pat Toomey than Specter does.
* On a related note, Specter made an unfortunate mistake at a key moment: he opened and closed his remarks to the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's Jefferson-Jackson dinner this week by thanking them for their support. Regrettably, he called them the Allegheny County Republicans.
* Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) has decided he's going to hold onto the money he received from Republicans before leaving the GOP Senate primary.
* With less than a week to go before Kentucky's Senate Republican primary, a new SurveyUSA poll shows right-wing ophthalmologist Rand Paul easily beating Secretary of State Trey Grayson, 49% to 33%.
* Speaking of Kentucky, the latest Bluegrass Poll shows a far more competitive race in the Democratic Senate primary. Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo now leads state Attorney General Jack Conway by just one point, 38% to 37%.
* And in New York, activist Jonathan Tasini announced today that he's dropping his long-shot primary bid against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), and will instead take on Rep. Charles Rangel (D).
first published www.washingtonmonthly.com
Liberal House Democrats are unhappy with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to coast into the November elections rather than drive through more big legislation.
Although they’re outnumbered and outranked, a number of liberals are pushing their leaders to finish the year strongly and to reject the assumption that it is safer to avoid difficult votes in the run-up to Election Day.
After the Senate healthcare bill passed, House leaders declared their heavy-lifting days over. With their top priorities either signed into law or stuck in the Senate, Pelosi and her lieutenants are clearing the deck for a stormy campaign season.
Now, some in the caucus are second-guessing that strategy.
WASHINGTON - May 13 - Young Americans face "lasting damage" from the dual crises in the financial sector and in personal finance, making it urgent that Congress pass strong financial reform legislation.
Risking Our Future Middle Class: Young Americans Need Financial Reform (PDF), released on Thursday by three leading youth advocacy organizations - the United States Student Association, U. S. Public Interest Research Group, and Demos - documents how hard youth have been hit by the country's economic crisis.
A primary reason Bush and Cheney succeeded in their radical erosion of core liberties is because they focused their assault on non-citizens with foreign-sounding names, casting the appearance that none of what they were doing would ever affect the average American. There were several exceptions to that tactic -- the due-process-free imprisonment of Americans Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, the abuse of the "material witness" statute to detain American Muslims, the eavesdropping on Americans' communications without warrants -- but the vast bulk of the abuses were aimed at non-citizens. That is now clearly changing.
The most recent liberty-abridging, Terrorism-justified controversies have focused on diluting the legal rights of American citizens (in part because the rights of non-citizens are largely gone already and there are none left to attack). A bipartisan group from Congress sponsors legislation to strip Americans of their citizenship based on Terrorism accusations. Barack Obama claims the right to assassinate Americans far from any battlefield and with no due process of any kind. The Obama administration begins covertly abandoning long-standing Miranda protections for American suspects by vastly expanding what had long been a very narrow "public safety" exception, and now Eric Holder explicitly advocates legislation to codify that erosion. John McCain and Joe Lieberman introduce legislation to bar all Terrorism suspects, including Americans arrested on U.S. soil, from being tried in civilian courts, and former Bush officials Bill Burck and Dana Perino -- while noting (correctly) that Holder's Miranda proposal constitutes a concession to the right-wing claim that Miranda is too restrictive -- today demand that U.S. citizens accused of Terrorism and arrested on U.S. soil be treated as enemy combatants and thus denied even the most basic legal protections (including the right to be charged and have access to a lawyer).
You can not change a party when the party leadership drives people who want change from the races.
by Sol Wachtler
SINCE its adoption after a landmark 1966 Supreme Court decision, the Miranda warning has worked its way into not only everyday police procedure, but American culture as well — even if you’ve never been arrested, you probably know the words “anything you say can and will be used against you.”
But as the Obama administration considers carving out an exception to the Miranda rules for terrorism suspects in the wake of the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, the Connecticut man accused of being the Times Square bomber, it’s important to note how little most people understand what Miranda does and doesn’t mean.
First and foremost, the failure to give a Miranda warning does not result in a case being dismissed. It only results in the inability of the police to use a confession and its fruits in evidence. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of successful criminal prosecutions do not involve confessions.
* With less than a week until Pennsylvania's Senate Democratic primary, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Sen. Arlen Specter's lead over Rep. Joe Sestak shrinking to two points, 44% to 42%. Last month, Quinnipiac showed Specter leading by 21.
* Would Sen. Bob Bennett (R), defeated at Utah's Republican Party convention over the weekend, seek -election as a write-in candidate? He hasn't ruled it out.
* Republicans launched an effort last week to mock Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, this year's Democratic nominee for Senate, for footage of him shirtless. Yesterday, Ohio Democrats presented a rebuttal -- Republican Rob Portman is responsible, they said, for literally taking the shirts off workers' backs.
* Next week's special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district is drawing quite a bit of attention, and the latest Susquehanna Polling & Research survey shows Mark Critz (D) leading Tim Burns (R), 44% to 38%. (thanks to reader V.S.)
* In Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is facing a tough race for a second term, Rasmussen shows the incumbent leading the three-way pack. Patrick enjoys 45% support in the poll, followed by Charlie Baker (R) with 31%, and Tim Cahill (I) third at 14%.
* New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) hasn't formally announced his gubernatorial campaign, but the latest Marist poll nevertheless shows him crushing his GOP challengers by about 40 points each.
* Looks like the Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa in 2012.
* And Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) controversial new ad on immigration has a new problem: the sheriff shown patrolling the border doesn't actually represent a county on the border.
first published www.washingtonmonthly.com
SOUL OF A CITIZEN:
Living With Conviction in Challenging Times By Paul Rogat Loeb Buy the book
In April 2010, St. Martin’s will publish a new edition for a new world, a completely revised edition to speak to the challenges and opportunities of our time. It will help get new people involved and encourage active citizens whose spirits are flagging, or feel let down and disappointed from their hopes of not long ago. Based on thirty-five years studying the psychology of social involvement, Loeb describes how ordinary citizens can make their voices heard and their actions count in a time when they often feel neither matter. Soul explores what leads some people to get involved in larger community issues while others feel overwhelmed or uncertain; what it takes to maintain commitment for the long haul; and how community involvement and citizen activism can give back a sense of connection and purpose rare in purely personal life.