"We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that's what this election is about." -- Barack Obama, DNC keynote address, July 2004

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Monday, August 23, 2004


Column on Dean

posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, August 23, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
"Dean brought that passion back into national politics. He is regularly criticized for saying 'the wrong thing,' which usually turns out to be (a) true and (b) what a lot of us were thinking. Those of us who lack a national voice are grateful to him. Truly, we all owe him -- Democrats who want to be themselves, Republicans who are worried about huge budget deficits, and everyone who cares about the democratic process and wants to see people get involved, argue, campaign and vote."

And the redemption of liberal politics in the U.S. has only just begun.

(Via Blog for America)


New Open Thread

posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, August 23, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Discuss whatever. And by the way, over the weekend someone asked me if Muslims worshipped cats.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Dean vs. Bennett

posted by Brian Ulrich at Tuesday, August 17, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
"Republican William Bennett and Democrat Howard Dean will debate opposing political ideologies and key election issues on Thursday, September 30, in Portland, Maine, as part of the upcoming Fall Conference of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)."

Monday, August 16, 2004



posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, August 16, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
A group of anarchists has entered the political process:

"Anarchists generally pride themselves on their rejection of government and its authority. But a faction of them fed up with the war in Iraq say they plan to cast anti-Bush votes this fall.

"The voting debate was just one of the topics explored at the three-day North American Anarchist Convergence, which brought about 175 participants to Ohio University.

"Some attendees rejected the voting proposal."

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Dean Democrats Making a Difference

posted by Brian Ulrich at Sunday, August 15, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Late summer news got you down? Maybe reading this will cheer you up:

"Out of the smoldering embers of the Dean Presidential campaign, 1000 points of light are emerging nationwide. It was just over a year ago that the Democratic Party leadership stated that we wouldn't be able to retake the US house until 2012. Now suddenly the Party is imbued with a new spirit of optimism. Why? Because, that cold day in Iowa when the DLC and the Republican right-wing breathed a sigh of relief as the Dean campaign went down in defeat--few people noticed that the Dean movement continued to fight on undaunted..."

Thursday, August 12, 2004


Dean on CNBC

posted by Brian Ulrich at Thursday, August 12, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Sorry I missed this, but Howard Dean has been on CNBC.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Across the Aisle: Sudan

posted by Brian Ulrich at Wednesday, August 11, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
I've noticed from the comments a lot of people are closely following the situation in Sudan. This is a good issue for bipartisan cooperation, as Sudan has long been a pet issue with evangelical voters. These churches are usually tied to missionary work in places like Africa, and when the missionaries come back they're quite convinced it's a continent whose most serious problems require more international attention. Here is the text of a recent open letter to President Bush on the subject:

"It is imperative for your administration to take additional clear action. We represent organizations which led efforts to enact these ground-breaking human rights initiatives: the International Religious Freedom Act, Sudan Peace Act, Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and just last week House passage of the North Korea Freedom Act. Your Administration's goal -- to redefine our national interest not as power but as values, and to identify one supreme value, what John Kennedy called 'the success of liberty' -- could be jeopardized by not taking a strong enough position on Sudan's genocidal behavior. The World Health Organization estimates that ten thousand people are dying each month and that a catastrophe equivalent to what occurred in Rwanda a decade ago could unfold within weeks.

"Americans, especially tapping our resources within the religious and non-governmental community, must act quickly to alleviate this crisis. As representatives of our 51 denominations and 45,000 churches, we are urging our churches and related para-church ministries to give generously to the relief and development agencies active in the Darfur, and encouraging other national alliances in the World Evangelical Alliance to do same. Our agencies are willing to work with any and all international bodies, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, to alleviate the suffering. We are already consulting with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, Tony P. Hall."

There's more at the link. Do I know what to do about Sudan? No. But I agree that it is a problem we should all try to address.

Monday, August 09, 2004


Reflections on "Bush Hatred"

posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, August 09, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Tim Young reflects on whether he hates President Bush, and why he feels the way he does. His post is hard to excerpt, but worth reflecting on.

Saturday, August 07, 2004


Washington Post on Obama

posted by Brian Ulrich at Saturday, August 07, 2004 permalink 1 comments View blog reactions
Tina Brown had a column about Obama last Thursday:
"In the media-saturated Hamptons, the summer's poolside reading is emblematic of life in the 21st century: the 9/11 commission report and Us magazine. There doesn't seem much alternative to the daily diet of terror and trivia -- except for the lingering impact of Barack Obama, which continues to reverberate as the only bounce worth talking about.

"Obama-mania has reminded everyone that seriousness can be electric. The breakout keynote speech at the Democratic convention by the 42-year-old African American senatorial candidate from Illinois was one of those moments when the cultural momentum suddenly pauses. Could the world of ideas be exciting again? Star quality has become so debased it was almost spooky to see celebrity suddenly attached to the evoker of a political vision instead of the winner of a reality show or the star of an overhyped movie. Two days later when Obama emerged from the convention hall in Boston to climb into a modest white sedan he was mobbed like P. Diddy."

No real news there, but it's interesting to see the media find a liberal star they actually love.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


political intelligence: oxymoron for the 2000's

posted by Aziz P. at Tuesday, August 03, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Hiatus override! I've criticized Dean for being wrong on an issue before - but on the issue of politicizing intelligence, he's got it right. And just like his famous observation that capturing Saddam didn't make Americans safer, he's being vilified for pointing out the obvious once again.

This is what Tom Ridge, defender of the Homeland, actually said last Sunday:

But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the president's leadership in the war against terror, the reports that have led to this alert are the result of offensive intelligence and military operations overseas, as well as strong partnerships with our allies around the world, such as Pakistan.

emphasis mine. Of course, what Ridge neglected to mention was:

Much of the information that led the authorities to raise the terror alert at several large financial institutions in the New York City and Washington areas was three or four years old, intelligence and law enforcement officials said on Monday. They reported that they had not yet found concrete evidence that a terrorist plot or preparatory surveillance operations were still under way.

Here is what Howard Dean said:

It's just impossible to know how much of this is real and how much of this is politics. And I suspect there's some of both in it.

It strikes me that using four-year old information to issue a terror alert warning, a serious occassion which the director of Homeland Security uses to make a campaign pitch, does indeed have some politics interjected where there should be none.

Atrios points out that the media critics of Dean today have not been shy about saying accusing Presidents of politicizing intelligence in the past. But Dean is being accused of a straw-man argument he did not make, namely that all terror alerts are purely for wag-the-dog purposes. More on the relevance of this straw man later...

The Rightists immediately leapt baying for blood, with their same tired refrain of Repudiate This (hey hypocrites: Repudiate that yet?). Today, Glenn notes with pleasure that Kerry seems to have responded:

"I don't care what [Dean] said. I haven't suggested that and I won't suggest that," Kerry said. "I do not hold that opinion. I don't believe that.''

But Glenn is wrong - Kerry hasn't repudiated Dean's (correct) observation, he just disavowed knowledge of what Dean said - and Kerry was actually responding to a question about the straw man, not Dean's actual statement, in that quote.

It's actually a clever dodge, though blunted by the insistence by CBS that Kerry was "distancing" himself from Dean's comment when actually he did nothing of the sort. But Dean is useful to Kerry for the appearance of being "distanced" and still free to say things that are, once you get away from the talking head obfuscation, blatantly obvious to the average American (whose rationaliity I never impugn).

Sunday, August 01, 2004


a bit of a break

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, August 01, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Hey fellow Dean Nation denizens - just wanted to let you know that I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from political blogging for a few months. I will not post much here unless there is some new and major Dean- or Obama - related news, at least until after the conventions and debates.

I hope my co-bloggers will continue to post in my absence - things will likely slow down quite a bit, but this community is important to me and I don't want it to wither away. So I'm putting it on hold, and that way I can recharge, and come back stronger than before.

I'll post in a week or so with a review of Joe Trippi's new book, but other than that, I'll see you guys in October :)

Friday, July 30, 2004


Dean on Conventions

posted by Brian Ulrich at Friday, July 30, 2004 permalink 2 comments View blog reactions
Howard Dean has some ideas on what we should do with political conventions, though really what he wants for the conventions themselves doesn't seem that different from the way things run now.


Media Reform

posted by Brian Ulrich at Friday, July 30, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
I am a firm believe in the idea that quality grassroots political involvement - or even intelligent participation in the process - requires strong and reliable sources of information. This Capital Times editorial about media reform touches on that issue:
"The networks have replaced the civil and democratic values that once played a role in decisions about what to cover with commercial and entertainment values that dictate a denial of seriousness or perspective when it comes to political stories. That's one of the reasons why so many Americans objected last year to Federal Communications Commission proposals that would have lifted the cap on the number of local TV stations a corporation could own - and the amount of the viewing audience network-owned stations could reach."

Check out the rest.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


Tyranny of the Majority

posted by Brian Ulrich at Thursday, July 29, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
Sagacious Swarthmore professor Tim Burke has written a post which accuses the Bush administration of threatening a "tyranny of the majority," meaning that a majority of the population bend the country to their will while trampling on the rights and sensetivities of the minority:

"This is about more than Bush. One of the reasons I chide people on the left for not seeking dialogue and consensus, one of the reasons I am constantly looking for the presence of reason and the possibility of connection across the political spectrum, is that if we get ourselves into a situation where 51% of the voting population or a narrow majority of electoral votes is imposing a total and coordinated social and political agenda on the almost-as-large minority who has a radically different and equally coordinated social and political vision, we’re staring at the threshold of a very scary future, regardless of whom the 51% is or what they stand for.

"In this respect, we have to see past George Bush and his poor leadership for a moment, and see the people who strongly stand behind him. It is they who really matter, their choice which will shape the next four years. It to them that I make my most desperate, plaintive appeals, my eleventh-hour plea not to pull the trigger. To choose Bush is to choose to impose the starkest, most extreme formulation of the agenda that Bush has come to exemplify on a population of Americans to whom that agenda is repellant. To choose Bush is to choose Tocqueville’s tyranny of the majority (or even, judging from the popular vote in 2000, tyranny of the almost-majority). To choose Bush now—not in 2000, when he plausibly could have been many things--is to aspire to tyranny, to ruling your neighbors and countrymen. That some on the left have had or even achieved similar aspirations from time to time doesn’t change things: it’s wrong whenever it is the driving vision of political engagement, for whomever holds it."

This sort of argument has a troubled history, as it was famously used before the Civil War by southerners defending the right to slavery against the abolitionist north. Against the need to compromise is the need to stand by principle, and the key is perhaps to determine which principles are worth fighting for. Still, Burke's argument in the present context is powerful, and points toward the idea that this election is not merely about "the next four years" but what sort of democracy we might become in the forseeable future.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Remember Iowa?

posted by Brian Ulrich at Wednesday, July 28, 2004 permalink 1 comments View blog reactions
I'm missing this issue, so I don't know the context in which it appears, but U.S. News and World Report has another article on what happened to the Dean campaign in the Iowa caucuses. It's all stuff we've read before, but it does mention Dean Nation near the beginning.


Dean's Speech

posted by Brian Ulrich at Wednesday, July 28, 2004 permalink 1 comments View blog reactions
"We're not going to be afraid to stand up for what we believe. We're not going to let those who disagree with us shout us down under a banner of false patriotism. And we're not going to give up a single voter, or a single state. We're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats, not just here in Boston. We're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats in Mississippi, proud to call ourselves Democrats in Utah and Idaho. And we're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats in Texas.

"Never again will we be ashamed to call ourselves Democrats. Never. Never. Never. We're not just going to change presidents, we're going to change this country and reclaim the American dream.

"To everyone who supported me -- you've given me so much, and I can't thank you enough. But this was never about me. It was about us. It was about giving new life to our party, new energy to our democracy, and providing hope again for the greatest nation on earth.

"And so, today, even though you have already given so much-I want to ask you to give one more thing: Give America President John Kerry. Together, we can take our country back. And only you have the power to make it happen."



posted by Brian Ulrich at Wednesday, July 28, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
This is going to sound canned, but I have to say it anyway. Part of the reason I'm so inspired by this convention is that it represents democracy in action. People are making speeches about policies, and we will then vote, and then the winners will enact policies for the future. As much as I may have liked Morocco, that didn't happen there, and when you spend your days reading about Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and most recently North Korea, you start to appreciate the American political climate, despite its imperfections.


Barack Obama's Speech{4C624248-27E9-4F67-A685-921F17AEFF00}&DE={FFC97208-2B20-4DFC-9346-39A933A3C66D}

posted by Brian Ulrich at Wednesday, July 28, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
"A belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief-I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper-that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E pluribus unum." Out of many, one.

"Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America-there's the United States of America.

"There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States.

"There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

"In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here-the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

"In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!"

Speaks for itself. A video link is here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Free Speech Zones

posted by Brian Ulrich at Tuesday, July 27, 2004 permalink 3 comments View blog reactions
President Bush has often been criticized for his administration's "Free Speech Zones" by which dissent is kept off camera and away from the President in his public appearances. I haven't followed this issue, but Bill at Hawken Blog has a collection of links to support charges that the Democrats are now doing the same thing. Can protests get out of hand? Yes, and certainly security has to be maintained, but this is one of those cases where we need to remain vigilant at all times in defense of our right to peacefully assemble.


Dean Day

posted by Brian Ulrich at Tuesday, July 27, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
So this is the Kerry convention...but we are Dean Nation, and can root for our guy if we want =) I can't find exactly when he is to speak - if you know, please post it in the comments. This USA Today article, however, gives a nice portrait of his current political status. The people who thought he would fade into obscurity are rapidly being proven wrong.

UPDATE: Praise be unto Robert Deeble for posting that Dean is scheduled to speak at 9 p.m. EST.

UPDATE: C-Span's schedule update just said Dean would speak at 8 p.m. EDT.

Monday, July 26, 2004


Conventional Convention Coverage

posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, July 26, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
In an attempt to save money, I've been out of the cable TV news circle for about a year, and so have forgotten how shallow a lot of the coverage can be. Playing meaningless "Gotcha" games about whether Wesley Clark really thinks John Kerry is "the best" possible candidate is one example of this. Very seldom is there actually a clear-cut "best" nominee - everyone generally votes on subjective things that matter most to them. The point of this questioning is not even to look for fissures in the party, as the questioner has to know Clark won't give him one. It's all just the conventional set of things to ask that leads to very little information whatsoever.

This, I think, is why blogs are such a breath of fresh air. Sure, there's plenty of mindless "Gotcha"-type stuff and purely partisan hits from across the political spectrum. But there's also time for a real exchange of ideas and digging for the meat of an issue. And in the 2004 election, this is something I don't think the Bush administration counted on as they erected an array of smoke and mirrors to cover their real record.


Democratic Convention

posted by Brian Ulrich at Monday, July 26, 2004 permalink 0 comments View blog reactions
And the Democratic Convention is off to the races! Use this as an open thread to discuss today's events, as well as what you think of political conventions in the modern age and how the Internet might one day change them.

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.