Monday, September 25, 2006

NY25 - New Poll Makes Maffei/Walsh Congressional Race a Dead Heat

NY25 - New Poll Makes Maffei/Walsh Congressional Race a Dead Heat

There is some really exciting news from Dan Maffei's campaign for a seat in the U.S. Congress. A September 24, 2006 communication at the Maffei campaign website shows a set of polling results indicating that the race for New York’s 25th Congressional District is a statistical tie, with 18-year incumbent Republican James Walsh leading Democrat Dan Maffei by just 4%, which is within the survey’s margin of error.

Support for Walsh is declining. After 18 years of incumbency, only one-third of district voters are inclined to reelect Walsh. 53% would consider voting for someone else or vote to replace Walsh. If the election were held today, Walsh would hold just a 4% edge but his support is well below 50%. Since March, Walsh’s advantage over Maffei has declined by 25%.

Sentiment toward Walsh has grown less favorable
Currently, Walsh has a 36% unfavorable result. President Bush’s favorability has been low but stable since March – today 62% are unfavorable toward the President.

Voters are looking for change. 69% of teh most current poll respondents say the state of New York is on the wrong track and 68% say the nation is on the wrong track.

Local voter frustration is being directed toward the GOP. While just 35% of district voters are favorable to President Bush, 63% are favorable toward Senator Clinton and 76% are favorable toward Attorney General Spitzer.

The Survey specifications: 408 likely, registered voters in New York’s 25th Congressional District; surveyed September 20-21, 2006. The margin of error is ± 4.85%. The survey was conducted by Pete Brodnitz, Principal of Benenson Strategy Group.

You can click the photo above to view the Maffei ad "Priorities"
View documentation for the facts in this ad here.

Is McCain's Reason for Bolton Support Good for U.S.?

Is McCain's Reason for Bolton Support Good for U.S.?

With pleas both domestically and internationally for the United States to return to good faith diplomacy, I wish someone would remind Senator John McCain that we don't need to shoehorn a dud like John Bolton into the U.N. simply because Hugo Chavez is a loose cannon and we want a macho counterpart to put him in his place.

That just isn't a good reason to perpetuate the once-influential U.S.' five-year-and-running failure to communicate and promote meaningful cooperation within the U.N.

We need to stop acting like it's the two-bit dictators' fault that the U.N. isn't working for the best interests of humankind or for America. Put a real human in Bolton's place and see what happens.

God Dwells in Cardboard Boxes

God Dwells in Cardboard Boxes

"God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill. I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff. Maybe, maybe not. But the one thing we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor.

God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. "If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places.

It's not a coincidence that in the scriptures, poverty is mentioned more than 2,100 times. It's not an accident. That's a lot of air time, 2,100 mentions. (You know, the only time Christ is judgmental is on the subject of the poor.) 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me' (Matthew 25:40). As I say, good news to the poor."

- - From a speech by Bono

The Clinton Global Initiative - A Model for a Sustainable and More Secure World

The Clinton Global Initiative - A Model for a Sustainable and More Secure World

The Clinton Global Initiative

As you may know, there was a meeting held last week in New York City of the Clinton Global Initiative. It was an invitation-only event intended to bring influential and wealthy people, CEOs, celebrities and former and current heads of state together with activists. Former President Clinton sees us through our nation's history and beyond the present. We are moving forward from isolation to interdependence to cooperation. The objective of the CGI is for each participant to make a commitment in at least one of four social categories: global public health, energy and climate change, poverty, and religious and ethnic conflict. If the commitment made is not a quantifiably serious one by the subsequent year's meeting, the participant's conference fee is returned if they should apply the next year. This year, almost 20 participants had their fees returned because their commitment had not been met.

Mr. Quigley Thinks President Clinton's Just Trying to be Cool

When I search Google News, I often run into articles from a source called the Free Market News Network. I went to a recent article that appears at Google News, where poet and writer Bernie Quigley has a piece titled "Beyond Elvis: Bill Clinton is Leviathan." What I gather from this piece is that the writer does not take President Clinton seriously, and I think that that is very unfortunate.

Mr. Quigley compares the celebrity that killed Elvis to the celebrity to which he believes former President Clinton is "falling victim." He calls the Clinton Global Initiative "kind of [Clinton's] own UN, but more hip." He says, "Giving away a billion dollars is getting to be a pretty cool thing. Everybody Bill Clinton knows now since he became President practically has that much money."

(After eight years of an enriching Clinton economy for all of us and after then reviewing the last miserable five years for low-wage and middle class Americans, who can look back and complain, already?)

Cool? So What the Heck Was I Doing There?

"Big bucks Nantucket Democrats who get their news from The New Yorker" is the way Mr. Quigley sees leaders like President Clinton, and this is the typical frame of reference used when pictures of "the elite" are presented to an imagined crowd of common-sense Americans who wear modest-yet-comfortable shoes and shop at the Wal Mart on Saturday after a long working week and go to dinner at Grandma's on Sunday after singing in the choir at church services.

What I found amusing about all of that is that I am the gal who sings with her choir on Sundays and works hard all week and drives my SUV to Wal Mart for supplies. My kid's working on his Eagle Scout project. I'm a big Garrison Keillor fan.

So, why was I asked by the Clinton Foundation to come and attend the meeting and to blog about it? I think it was a heart-to-head connection. I'm not a rock star. Heck, I'm not even a blogging star. I'm not part of the blogroll of the "Hillary apparatchik," although I deeply admire Senator Clinton's dedication to the rights of women in all parts of this world. I've never met Mick Jagger, but thanks to the Clinton Foundation, I now have had the occasion to meet Sir Richard Branson, the businessman who volunteered $3.1 billion of his company's profits - dedicating them over the next decade to clean energy investments. Sir Branson admits that he was inspired to this level of philanthropy by the impassioned efforts and activism of former Vice President Albert Gore, who surely has no rock-star tendencies or mannerisms. (Sorry, Al, but I'll bet you'd be the first to admit it's true! )

I just can't agree one bit with the general tone of Mr. Quigley's piece. It serves no one well. Not the free market, not Democrats, and certainly not humankind.

Chris Wallace and Fox News Takes a Hit for their "Hit-job"

Mr. Quigley saw President Clinton's reaction to Chris Wallace's choice to begin his Fox News Sunday interview about the Clinton Global Initiative with politically one-sided questions as an "unraveling" on President Clinton's part. I don't agree. I saw the former President's reaction as more of a case of a Democrat who was (finally) calling Mr. Wallace and Fox News on their poor professional judgement and their claim to being "balanced" when all they actually do is shake their pom-poms for the White House. The attitudes of Americans is not reflected realistically on this deliberately political network, and I believe that the perverted image of America portrayed on Fox News is only a microcosm of the wide misunderstanding present between people of different world views, faiths, ethnicities, and cultures, both within our nation and around the world today.

"Cool is Passé" - What About Caring and Activism in the Business World for Social Justice?

Mr. Quigley, labeling the Clinton Foundation as an attempt to be "cool," thinks that "Cool is passé" but if there's one thing I think we might agree upon, it's that caring about one's fellow human beings is never passé. If I went and dropped my dollar in the can at my local sandwich shop for a community member who is having cancer treatments and needs my help, I'd certainly hope that the community interest would not be seen as "cool," but would rather be viewed as "caring." Likewise, caring about the rights of your fellow human beings, their freedom, and about their perception of your nation's intentions is never a wasted or out of date effort.

The Clinton Global Initiative is like that collection-can, but on a much grander scale and with top-notch plans for implementation, sustainability, scalability, distribution, and success. It requires of those who have received much to give back on a voluntary basis. At the heart of the CGI is the recognition that we must do more to fight global poverty, disease, global warming, and to show that people of all races and religions can live together in mutual respect and harmony. Richard Swartz, President and CEO of Timberland boots, isn't trying to be "cool" or logical (in a business sense) when he places values at the core of his business philosophy. He's only one example of the many star business leaders in this nation and around the world who are not waiting for an ISO form to become socially responsible. I would hope Democrats would see this trend as encouraging, caring, effective for better world relations, and necessary for moving forward together - rather than a former President trying to be "cool." After being at the meeting and witnessing all of this first-hand, I find that to be an immature perception.

I found it to be unfortunate that Mr. Quigley would believe that Bill Clinton's post-presidential activities are preposterous. Where he criticizes President Clinton for what he sees as a misguided effort after 9/11, I say with conviction that President Clinton is a leader of great heart who is doing just what we should have been doing for the past five years while the neoconservatives of the Bush administration and the John Boltons of the UN have destroyed any pretense of good faith in diplomcy and a spirit of cooperation toward the developing world on the part of American leadership. We have seen nothing but a vacuum of vision - there have been no legitimate good-faith efforts on the part of the Republican leadership to move Israel and Palestine even one-sixteenth of an inch forward on the "Road Map," and this conflict is at the heart of most terrorist activity in the Muslim world today.

Will the real Elvis Please Stand Up?

Due to a steady series of strategic mistakes and wrong thinking, extremism is now King, not Elvis.

"Wise men say only fools rush in" Iraq.

Hole Blasted in Bridge to 21st Century on 9/11
...Bush Bridge Built with Faulty Material

Mr. Quigley says that the millennium changed after 9/11 went off without a hitch, and I imagine he's right. Yet, as much as the current President loves to keep Americans fearful about their security, we know that 9/11 was something President Clinton tried to warn us all about while, every step of the way, the right-wing hunted him down, fought every political move he tried to make, and accused him of 'wagging the dog.' We also know that 9/11 was not the great unraveling of America, even though disillusioned extremists would like it to be true. President Clinton has said
"We won't be undone by terror. We will defeat it, but we must take care that in doing so, we do not compromise the character of our country or the future of our children. Our mission to form a more perfect union is now a global one."
I'm not Bono and I don't have Sir Richard Brnason's money, but there is one thing we possess in common: A mind and a heart. You don't have to be a member of the elite to understand that there is sincere hope and heart behind those billions of dollars for a sustainable and clean world where we can better understand one another; where we ease the health care burdens of all human beings; where we move them from their poverty by microfinancing; where we expand their rights through the rule of law; and where political and economic solutions replace the need for war, hatred, and death.

Lake Wobegon and Bill Clinton's CGI Share Same Values

Mr. Quigley turns an article about populist politics vs. fear-mongering into an attack on Bill Clinton (quite a stretch). He refers to the NYT article from 9/24/06 by Charles Baxter. Mr. Quigley says, "Democrats are in a position to make progress in the country by accentuating the solid values of Lake Wobegon. But not if they can’t get past the Clintons." He implores Democrats to move away from "the Clintons" and embrace "new ideas."

I disagree wholeheartedly. Local issues will always be important and people will always gravitate toward an authentic-sounding political populist, but in this new "flat world," Pakistan is our new next-door neighbor and because of globalization, India has as big an effect on Joe Six-Pack's economic opportunities as Main Street USA. If we Democrats put political blinders on and fail to grasp the importance of what happened last week at the second meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, we will be missing something that will be key to humanity's survival this millenium - and to the health of our democracy as well as our economic well-being, and the freedom and security of those living in the developing world.

Humanity's "bridge to the 21st century" had a big hole blasted through it by extremists on 9/11 (and in the Muslim world, it occurred long before 9/11 - we just weren't paying attention here in the West.) That blast didn't take away the core meaning or intent of President Clinton, who the people of this world have trusted and looked up to. However, directly because of some of the worst leadership America has ever seen, the past five years have been a deliberate move away from the path we'd been set upon. We don't need to act as if we're lost, even though the Bush administration has created a culture of fear and despair. The values of Lake Wobegone are far more similar to the holistic Bill Clinton Democrats than the George W. Bush "bowling alley" values club (anti-choice and anti-gay).

Democrats Must Show They'll Go Boldly Beyond Half-Hearted

In the face of right-wing claptrap and Disney disinformation flicks, it would behoove Democrats to embrace our former President and say: We know where we've been and we know where we want to go. We'll be tough as nails to get ourselves there, with the security of the American people always in mind. We will fight terrorism and extremism in effective ways, and those ways will not always look "macho" to the political John Waynes, so be prepared for non-conventional real-world solutions for success. When enough mothers and their babies in developing nations have been saved by modern health care, their world view will change. When genocide is eradicated and people of different ethnicities began to learn to live together in integrated and peaceful societies, the West will be viewed in a more positive light.

It isn't going to happen tomorrow, and it isn't going to happen through magical thinking. This is not a Republican or a Democratic notion, but instead it is a notion of humanity. Mother Teresa, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dalai Lama - none could call them "macho," yet they are figures that will forever be associated with the way we revolutionized the path to a cleaner and more secure world, to peace, to justice, to compassion, and to understanding. Businesses and NGOs as partners with good governance with a mind on a global consistency of best practices will go a lot farther to win hearts and minds than bombs ever could. Iraq was a major mistake. We'll never win a war on terror by causing more despair and extremism. We can't go about the monumental and important effort to bridge the ever-widening East/West gap in a half-assed way. Leave that to Bush and the Rubber Stamp Republicans - you've seen how good they are at 'half-assed.'

Democrats must go beyond half-assed and half-hearted and present a message of vision wisely consisting of social justice and the strength that can be derived from global cooperation. It would behoove the Democrats to embrace the concepts behind the CGI-style and methodology of philanthropy and make social justice (and attention to Global Warming and alternative fuels) a hallmark of the Democratic platform. If they can find a way to shore up Homeland Security, the American worker's economic and social security, save Medicare, make education more affordable, and develop a universal health care plan, I don't see how the Democrats can lose as we look toward 2008.

While blogging this conference, no one twisted my arm to become a tool of some secret Hillary conspiracy to win the White House. I'm not "cool" (believe me when I say that), but I'll tell you that it was an honor to have been invited to the 2006 CGI meeting and I am only beginning to share with others the great hope and realistic plans that come hand-in-hand with those billions of corporate and private dollars from the "cool" and the "elite". You need not be powerful or rich to do something. See comments from some of the people who have made personal commitments.

Rosh Hashanah and the Green Menorah

Rosh Hashanah and the Green Menorah

I spent Rosh Hashanah with my dear friend Barbara in New York City. Barbara is an observant Jew. I am a Catholic. We teach one another about our respective faith traditions and we enjoy diverse and rich discussions and experiences that neither of us could know unless we knew one another.

Rosh Hashanah is a celebration of the Jewish new year which falls on the anniversary of the sixth day - representing the Biblical day that speaks of the first human who was created. God wanted to have a reflection and a revelation of godliness in this physical world It is the human beings who have the full capacity to recognize God, to praise God and to choose between right and wrong. Despite the rest of the wonders of God's marvelous creation, it is only humans who have this free choice. I consider this holiday to be a universal one, for those of multiple faith traditions believe we are all descended from Adam. Those of us from multiple faith traditions acknowledge and praise the one called our Creator who calls each and every one of us to transcendence.

The Shalom Center has pioneered in many areas of religious life since they began in 1983. The Shalom Center's Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who both Barbara and I were honored to spend time with last summer at the Progressive Faith blogging conference in Montclair, has a Green Covenant for all to consider on this Rosh Hashana, Jewish Year 5767. In the spirit of protecting the one earth we share, we can see Rosh Hashanah as a rebirthing of our world and a last chance to reverse so many of our human sins against our forests, rivers, fields, and skies.
We will bring forward the earth-protective aspect of all the seasons of our joy -- Rosh Hashanah as the rebirthing of the world and the time of Tashlich meditation on reversing our sins against the rivers and the earth, Sukkot as the time of harvest and Shmini Atzeret as the season of renewing rain, Tu B'Shvat as the rebirthing of trees, Pesach as the flowering of life, Shavuot as the time when both first fruits and the Torah come to fruition, Tisha B'Av as the moment of seeing the danger to the planetary macrocosm of which the Temple was the microcosm.

Rabbi Waskow and Russ Agdern, national organizer of the Beyond Oil campaign, are asking that you join them in making a commitment for the sake of future generations of life on our planet in seeking to heal our planet from its wounds. They wish to invoke our responsibility to carry out God's promise:
"I will send Elijah the Prophet to turn the hearts of parents to children and the hearts of children to parents, lest the earth be utterly destroyed."
To see the goals to be met by next Rosh Hashanah, go to this website.

The Public policy debate to be advocated will be at least one of the following:
A) Better public transportation
B) Government investment in and conversion to clean renewable energy
C) Pushing both the government and the automobile industry to develop and make available more energy-efficient vehicles.
D) Support for an "carbon tax" on energy sources scaled according to how much CO2 they force into the atmosphere.
The Green Menorah covenant needs your help. Your tax-free donations can be made here.

DMI's Tort Deform Blog Features Guest Bloggers

DMI's Tort Deform Blog Features Guest Bloggers

The Drum Major Institute has a two-week-old Civil Justice Defense blog called The blog focuses upon the need to protect access to the courts and to dismantle the arguments put forth by the tort "reform" movement - "one post at a time."

This week's TortDeform features guest blogger Henry Greenspan, founder of Justice in Michigan, on the fact that Michigan is the only state in the nation in which drug companies enjoy absolute immunity from civil liability.

Professor Charles Silver, McDonald Chair in Civil Procedure & Co-Director at the Center on Lawyers, Civil Justice, and the Media guest blogs on the IRS lacking necessary skills when it comes to collecting taxes from America's wealthy elite.

Sibonile Khoza, Co-ordinator and Research Director, Socio-Economic Rights Project of the Community Law Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, will discuss the South African constitutional right to access the courts.