Heading Home and Thanks
My quick little trip to New York turned out to be huge fun because of the diverse cast of characters and the best weather I've experienced in New York in years. I'm just about to head to the airport to fly home.
I spent yesterday afternoon taping two tv shows which will air sometime in the next few weeks with Montel Williams, CNN's Lou Dobbs, MSNBC's Rita Cosby, Former EPA Secretary (and N.J.Governor) Christine Todd Whitman, Political guru Joe Trippi, actor Joey Pantoliano (who played the now deceased Ralphie on the Sopranos and as co-President of the Creative Coaliton has testified before Congress on First Amendment protections, actor and political activist Esai Morales (La Bamba, NYPD Blue, to name a few) and conservative Phoenix attorney Rachel Alexander, who also is co-editor of the blog Intellectual Conservative and private investigator and tv pundit Rod Wheeler.
It was a political free for all, where we covered everything from immigration, Bush's poor poll ratings, the lack of difference between Republicans and Democrats, voter apathy, reinstatement of the military draft and the gasoline crisis to the Duke lacrosse case and mandatory DNA testing for minor offenders.
There were two shows. The first had Lou Dobbs and Montel Williams co-hosting a panel with Joey Pantoliani, Joe Trippi, Rachel Alexander and me. The second show was co-hosted by Montel and Rita Cosby, with the panel being Christine Todd Whitman, Esai Morales, Rod Wheeler and me.
Immigration was definitely the hot topic, with Esai and I (on the same side) particularly fired up. Esai was really passionate if you get a chance to see it, you should, just for him on immigration. Montel pointed out that my view was way too radical for America to accept, which I acknowledged, but said that doesn't make it any less correct. My position, for those that haven't read it the umpteen times I've posted it, is legalize everyone now, don't separate families, eliminate the criminal penalties for undocumented presence, provide health care and other employee benefits to undocumented workers and let them have driver's licenses so they can get auto insurance in case there's an accident.
Rod Wheeler was passionate in his belief that we can't do that because the terror threat is real and at our door any day now, and I said that was typical Bush fear-mongering.
Christine Todd Whitman was suprisingly sensitive to the rights of the accused on crime issues. She was also very friendly and open about her views. She has just started a new venture called It's My Party Too, a tool for moderate Republicans to take back their party from the radical right.
On the draft, it was me against Lou Dobbs, Montel and Joe Trippi. They all seemed to believe that if everyone's kids were subject to the draft, Congress would think twice before authorizing a President to go to war. I think the rich will always find a way to have their kids avoid serving. But I was even more adamant that I was not about to allow someone like Bush make a decision to go to war under false pretenses and for the purpose of regime change and thereby put my child in harm's way.
Mandatory national service is fine, so long as there is an alternative to military service. Some on the panel believed you have to go with the flow. There should be a draft, and if the President says war, your kid has to go. I'm pretty shocked by that position. Later, I had dinner with the TL kid and asked him what he thought. He was as antagonistic as I was to that view and totally on my side. Good, because whether it's Iraq or Iran or China or the North Pole, if it's an unjust war entered under false pretenses for any reason other than to defend our country against an imminent threat, he's not going, period.
Other than those topics, I did a bunch of pitching the netroots, urging people to focus less on issues and more on values (a la Crashing the Gate), get online and get involved.
Both shows will air on Montel Williams, as part of a "town hall" series he is doing on politics to get people more engaged in the political process. The shows have live audiences and are completely unscripted and very free-wheeling. Because it's "live to tape," they can edit the tapes and hopefully come up with two fast-paced, intelligent and passionate shows. I was really impressed by everyone who participated.
We finished around 6pm, and then I raced downtown to the East Village to meet the TL kid at his apartment. He lives on the 6th floor of a six story walk-up. I love the apartment, but the stairs -- healthy for him, I could have used an oxygen tank afterwards.
We walked through the East Village, had a great dinner at Indochine, then walked over to the West Village to mosey around before I headed back to my hotel.
I'll be back in Denver and a regular blogging schedule tonight.
Major thanks to TChris who has kept TalkLeft alive the past few days. I'm going to send him some great wine when I return.
And most of all, thank you to the readers who responded to my donation request yesterday. You sent enough to cover my hosting costs for the next quarter, including the extra bandwidth I posted to be able host major pleadings in the Libby (and soon hopefully Rove) case and to cover my PACER bill for accessing and downloading them.
Rumors are flying Rove was indicted Weds. by the grand jury and it may be unsealed today. I'm going to put up an open thread so you'll have a place to discuss that or anything else happening today.
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