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Those of you who know me and my politics know I’m a big fan of the third way-type politics of moderate Democrats like Bill Clinton and the organization he once headed, the Democratic Leadership Council. Once a required stop for any presidential hopeful, the Politico reports that the DLC got dissed this cycle, as every single ’08er will be skipping over its convention in Nashville this week (even HRC, whose husband built the DLC into the political powerhouse it is today). But the Big Three, Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, (+Gravel and Kucinich, if you care, which I don’t) all managed to find time to swing by Columbia, South Carolina last week to address the annual College Democrats of America convention at the University of South Carolina.

I was there, and let me tell you, it was electrifying. Being surrounded by hundreds of other informed, active college students is nothing short of inspiring. I met dozens of future officeholders and political staffers, and it was refreshing to be surrounded by young people who can school you in political history by day, rattling off the names and victory margins of all our 2006 senatorial candidates, and drink you (should you be of legal age, of course) under the table by night.

Barack Obama spoke on Friday and wowed the convention with a powerful speech exhorting College Dems to "prove the cynics wrong", saying "let's show that you do make a difference, that America is ready to listen to the next generation." After the speech, the crowds surged towards Obama the way most college students would towards Dave Matthews.

Ask any College Dem, and I’m sure they’ll tell you which one is the bigger rock star.

391 days ‘til CDA 2008 in Denver! Hope I’ll see you all there.


Some useless historical trivia: in Joe Biden's last race (1988-- he's older than he looks!), the media widely labeled the Democratic field as the "seven dwarves"-- and whether it was accurate or not, the label was pretty catchy.

So I've been wondering... why haven't any Hillary supporters rolled out a "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" label for 2008? It sure sets one candidate apart.


A few ramblings about Monday's YouTube debate:

1) CNN tried hard to play up the "revolutionary" angle, but there really wasn't anything super exciting about the debate. Sure, the moderator was young, hip, sexy (ask any girl I know...) Anderson Cooper, but the debate was basically a town hall format transposed to the 21st century. Questions were, after all, screened by CNN, so nothing revolutionary was going to get through.

2) Instead of revolutionary questions, CNN focused on unorthodox delivery.
I'm a huge fan of YouTube humor, and rednecks are funny, but is having people dressed as rednecks really informative in any way, shape, or form? And I'm not going to lie: I cried inside when they had a snowman ask the question on global warming. Here's a surefire way NOT to get one of the most serious issues facing America taken seriously: animatronic snowmen. I can just see Inhofe playing that clip on the Senate floor.

3) As always, the biggest problem was the format. Seven and a half people, standing side-by-side on a stage, delivering their own little 90-second soliloquies with the occasional Anderson-moderated response. Wouldn't it be infinitely more exciting and revolutionary to just let the candidates go at it?

All told, the debate was a huge improvement over the last few, but still left me disappointed-- not in our field, which is by all accounts terrific, but in the media that mangles politics time and time again. Until they get it right, I'm going to go watch Gordon Brown fisticuff his parliament on Question Time.



Max Blumenthal, contributing writer to The Nation, The Huffington Post, and Media Matters, recently released a short documentary-style video showing a behind the scenes look at the College Republicans National Convention. It's a must-see video that exposes the inherent contradiction in the pro-war views espoused by College Republicans who refuse to serve in the armed forces.

Thanks to Chris D. for pointing this out!


On myDD this morning, a post analyzing a recent Quinlan Rosner poll explains that unmarried men and women are wayyy more likely to vote for Democrats.

Go ahead and read RFK Action Front's post, because he probably did a better summary than I could, but think about this interesting poll. He says that marriage is a better indicator of voting preference than income, age, education or income. Bottom line, Quinlan Rosner explains that if unmarried women (ahem, young women...) would vote in larger numbers, they would probably swing elections everywhere - in our favor!

From a Edison/Mitolsky/CNN Network 2006 exit poll
Married Men voted Democratic 47%; Republican 51%
Married Women voted Democratic 48%; Republican 50%
Unmarried Men voted Democratic 62%; Republican 36%
Unmarried Women voted Democratic 66%; Republican 32%


Dean Judy Feder of the Public Policy Institute announced at the start of June that she would again seek Virginia's 10th District Congressional seat. Upperclassmen may remember Ms. Feder when she spoke about healthcare policy with former Senator Daschle in White-Gravenor in the spring of 2006. She is a strong, spirited woman with great ideas on health policy and I'm very glad she trying again!

In the fall of 2006 the College Dems did some campaigning in NoVa, mainly for both Judy Feder and Senator Jim Webb. My greatest memory from this coordinated campaign work was the amount of people who did not realize Rep. Frank Wolf had any opponent. Rep. Wolf is in his 14th term and had never really had much opposition, so many just assumed they had no choice.

Take into account that Cook puts VA-10 at R+5, a 26-year incumbent with enormous name recognition (as well as having been in the majority for a while so he could tout the pork he brought back), and her mere 10-month race (as well as the DCCC's late arrival) and Feder's 41% doesn't seem so bad.

Feder has already filed the paperwork and begun raising money. In fact, she raised about $110,000 in the first month of her campaign, not bad! Her name recognition is up, as are gas prices, discontent with the war, and continuing disgust with the Republican party. 2008 just might be the year for her, so keep your eye on this hard-working member of the Hoya family!


It was when Dispatch brought out the African Children's Choir that I knew last night's concert was going to be a little different from the band's shows I'd seen before...

The concert was titled Dispatch: Zimbabwe, but, to be honest, I was a little cynical about the motivation behind the show. When I first heard the band was reuniting for three nights at Madison Square Garden, I was beyond excited. I love Dispatch, and I was anxious for any shot to see them, now that they've been defunct for three years. The purported purpose of the show was to raise money and awareness for the people of Zimbabwe who are suffering countless horrors and have little hope or opportunity to change. It was a noble goal, to be sure, but not necessarily attainable.

"How much could a rock show do?" I wondered. In the end, I wasn't sure how much it mattered, and I wanted to see the concert so I bought tickets, and made the trip from DC to NY to find out.

When I made it to the Garden, my faith in Dispatch to effect change through music was tested even more. I stepped out of Penn Station and into a sea of teenagers wearing tie-dyed concert t-shirts and $200 Tory Burch flats. My friend commented that it was like our prep school "Lawrenceville threw up on the Garden."

The audience (including us) was there for the show, not the cause.

But when we made it inside, a bunch of NGOs were tabling next to the souvenir stand. While I bought a nifty new t-shirt, my friend stopped by the KickAids table, and learned about their efforts to use what they call "grassroots soccer" to bring AIDS awareness and prevention education to children in Zimbabwe and other African countries devastated by the disease. It was a pretty cool group with a pretty cool idea, and they completely understood their audience. For a donation of $10, you got a woven bracelet that had KickAids beaded onto it. I saw tons of people wearing them, and the group must have raised a decent amount of money.

During the concert itself, the band interspersed their (amazing) performance with short documentaries about the problems facing Zimbabwe. The half of the audience that wasn't too drunk or stoned paid attention, but the videos weren't particularly informative, to be honest.

The best part of the show, and the band's best attempt at fulfilling the mission of the concert, were the handful of songs during which they were joined by the African Children's Choir. The choir is a really talented group of kids, and they were able to bring African dance to a very American genre of music and make it work really well. The kids were the more effective part of the show for the audience, as well. Every time they took the stage, the audience completely woke up and started paying attention to what the band was saying.

Okay. Now that I've rambled for what feels like pages (and for that, I apologize), here's my question:

As progressives, we are for fairness and equality and education and healthcare and social change and political integrity. We are for all these things in America, and we are for these things everywhere else. If music or celebrity can be used to open the eyes and ears of people who might not otherwise pay attention, is that enough?

In the aftermath of Dispatch: Zimbabwe (and on a much larger scale, Live Earth) , can "awareness" events really effect change? Or are they (as I've sometimes thought) just vanity events for the organizers?

I don't know if it really matters, but it's what I'm thinking about right now.


P.S. Go listen to "Elias" by Dispatch if you don't already know the song. It's about a man they met while traveling in Zimbabwe, and the death of his brother to AIDS is what inspired this weekend's concerts.


Kudos to the House for passing important legislation today that will make it easier for America's youth to attend college!

The bill, which passed 273-149 (47 Republicans joined Democrats), cut almost $20 billion from subsidies to lenders, increases available loans and grants, and affords loan forgiveness for those who need it the most. Although President Bush has gone on the record opposing the bill, it is likely he will sign it into law later this year.

While the bill itself is a huge step in the right direction, it also represents a larger ideal. This Democratic Congress was elected on a promise to do work for the American people, and its commitment seems resolute.

It's only been half a year since Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, and I look forward to seeing what she and her progressive colleagues achieve in the future.


A lot of you know that when the New Jersey legislature decided to establish same sex civil unions a few months back, I was hesitant to celebrate. I had concerns that any institution that claimed to be "separate but equal" could truly ever be the latter. A recent dust-up with international shipping magnate UPS proves that the law is much weaker than even I imagined. On the front page of today's Newark Star Ledger, there is an article that describes the struggle faced by UPS employee Gabriael Brazier to have Heather Aurand, Brazier's same-sex partner, covered by her company health insurance. UPS denied coverage to Aurand, claiming that their decision was the fault of the NJ Legislature.

In a letter to Brazier, UPS wrote that the NJ Legislature, in enacting the state's civil union law, "did not go as far as Massachusetts and afford same-sex couples the ability to marry. Had the New Jersey Legislature done that, you could have added Ms. Aurand as a spouse under the plan." In other words, because NJ law does not call couples joined in civil union "spouses", they are denied equal benefits by UPS and 160 other companies who employ citizens of the Garden State.

Members of the legislature have expressed surprise that the law has been misinterpreted so severely, but I wonder how genuine their responses are. The applicable federal law on this subject-- the Defense of Marriage Act-- is clear. Corporations like UPS that employ people across state lines are governed by federal law, and federal law alone. The are allowed-- even encouraged--to deny benefits to partners in same sex unions.

The New Jersey legislature isn't naive. They have-- collectively-- been around the block quite a few times. In the face of this new loophole, the intentions behind their actions are questionable.
Now that they've done something it takes off a lot of the pressure to do more. Did they pass the civil union law to stave off debate of the true issue?

Even if the legislature had the best of intentions, the law they passed was, quite frankly, a wussy move. New Jersey is one of the bluest states in the nation, and if progress is not going to start there, where will it begin?

Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality sums up the difference between marriage and civil unions just about perfectly. "In the real world," he is quoted as saying, "civil unions are to marriage what artificial sweetener is to sugar. It's not the same thing and it leaves a bad aftertaste."