Matt Browner-Hamlin's Diary
  • Full name: Matt Browner-Hamlin

  • grassroots activist, netroots organizer, political strategist & a body surfer with no ocean. playing in new york and on the blogosphere instead. I formerly used the nom-de-plume "Philo."

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  • AIM: MattFreeTibet

November 13th, 2006

Shorter Conventional Wisdom, Rahm Emanuel Edition

Shorter Conventional Wisdom:

Rahm Foldedarms Portrait is Chucknorris.

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November 9th, 2006

Mark these words

Joe Lieberman won reelection to the Senate as an unaffiliated candidate on the Connecticut for Lieberman ticket. After the primary, when making his decision to ignore the results of an election that no one contended was gamed against him, Lieberman said that he would continue to caucus as a Democrat if elected on his personal ticket. Now, having won with a body-length mirror at his side, Lieberman has again promised to caucus with Democrats.

Now that he’s won re-election as a petitioning candidate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is pledging to remain a Democrat, if for no other reason than to keep his 18 years’ seniority in the Senate.

“I’ll sign up with the caucus to protect my seniority,” Lieberman said Wednesday. “My seniority is important to my ability to deliver for the state of Connecticut.”

Lieberman briefly joked about how the Republicans might coax him into joining the GOP, a switch that could keep the closely divided Senate under Republican control.

“There is a little playfulness in me that wants me to make a joke about that, but it’s too serious. The answer is no,” he said. “When I give my word I stick with it, and I am definitely going to organize with the Senate Democrats.”

Technorati Tags: Joe Lieberman

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Posted in Politics | 22 Comments »

November 3rd, 2006

Ohio Map Changers

Tomorrow morning I am heading to Ohio as part of the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2006 program. I am one of a handful of bloggers who are traveling to swing districts to talk about how labor and political campaigns are working for victory this election season. I’ll be covering the Ohio senate and governor’s races, as well as the OH-15, OH-12, OH-18, and OH-06 congressional races. I will be working with labor organizers, as well as with organizers from Working America, the DNC, and the campaigns I’m going to visit. I want to try to tell the story of how regular, working Americans are turning to political activism and how these people - you and I - are responsible for the Democratic wave that is coming on November 7th.

I’ll be posting all of my updates here and Emboldened, but more importantly I’ll have three posts on FireDogLake on Sunday and Monday. I will also have posts going up on the AFL-CIO blog.
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Posted in Campaign News | 2 Comments »

November 2nd, 2006

NH Register raises even more petty cash concerns for Lieberman

The New Haven Register has an investigative piece into Joe Lieberman’s $387,000 in unaccounted petty cash disbursements from the last days of the August primary (h/t DeanFan84). The article raises serious questions about what this money went for, as well as what itemized disbursements for consultants who claim to have never received them mean. Not surprisingly, the Lieberman campaign has declined to answer these questions.

The Register article raises three serious potential violations of campaign finance laws. The one that most interests me is the possibility that the Lieberman campaign laundered money through their field consultants to convert it to street money.

Also, [Tom] Reyes and another man, Daryl Brooks of New Haven, who ran a consultant service, said they each got one check from the campaign for their services, but they are listed in the third quarter campaign finance report as getting two checks, for a total of twice what the men said they received.

The report lists Reyes as getting two checks for $8,250, one on Aug. 4 and one on Aug. 15. Brooks received $12,200 on Aug. 11 and another check for the same amount on Aug. 15, according to the Lieberman report. Both men said this was inaccurate.

Technorati Tags: Joe Lieberman, petty cash, street money

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Posted in Campaign News | 2 Comments »

November 1st, 2006

Schlesinger on Lieberman’s petty cash slush fund: “It’s gotta be street money”

Connecticut Bob interviewed Republican senate candidate Alan Schlesinger tonight and asked him about Joe’s $387,000 in unaccounted petty cash disbursements.

Transcrip below:

Technorati Tags: Alan Schlesinger, Joe Lieberman, petty cash, street money

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Posted in Campaign News | 14 Comments »

October 31st, 2006

Tell me about “street money,” Joe

I had not heard of the term “street money” before about a week ago. Yet as I’ve looked into the story of Joe Lieberman’s $387,000 in unaccounted petty cash disbursements, the term keeps coming up. Street money is a term that describes cash campaigns use to pay people to vote for their candidate. Street money is vote buying. It can be handled by campaign staff, but more often is distributed to go-betweens that will spread it around their neighborhoods. Street money is apparently a phenomenon common to poor, urban, minority population centers - places like Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford.

I want to use this post to explain how street money works, because I imagine there are many other people out there who aren’t familiar with the term.

A campaign will rely on the influence or outreach abilities of people who know their community to distribute street money for votes. This can mean local political organizers, ministers, labor leaders, or often drug dealers. There are three basic ways street money can be used to buy votes.

Technorati Tags: Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, petty cash, street money

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October 29th, 2006

Petty cash story getting into the press

Media coverage of Joe’s $387,561 in unaccounted petty cash disbursements has been effectively zero. Today, though, Timothy Brennan has a great op-ed in the Hartford Courant calling for Lieberman to account for all of his petty cash and answer the question of why he is spending so much money under the table. Jennifer Medina’s article on the CT senate race also includes three paragraphs on the petty cash scandal. Jennifer Medina writes:

The latest sparks came early this week, when the Lamont campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about nearly $380,000 the Lieberman campaign listed as “petty cash” to pay for volunteers in the final two weeks of the primary. Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lieberman, said the money was used to pay for young workers used in the field operation in the last days of the campaign.

By law, a campaign must keep a journal of petty cash payments of less than $100, but it is not required to make the contents of the journal public. Ms. Sun declined to allow reporters to examine the journal, saying there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Several campaign finance experts said that while the expenditure was an unusually large sum of money to be listed as petty cash, it would be legal as long as each of the payments was less than $100.

Technorati Tags: Jennifer Medina, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, petty cash

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Posted in Campaign News | 6 Comments »

October 29th, 2006

In Praise of Netroots Activism

We bear the weight of the nation on our shoulders. We activists, bloggers and informed citizens are giving all our energy to political campaigns. We believe in earnest that the candidates we work day and night for will help restore dignity to our country and make America a better place. And as November 7 comes closer, the weight we feel bears down on us ever more.

Over the last year I’ve watched more and more people get involved in progressive politics because they fear what will happen if they do nothing. While I was volunteering with the Lamont campaign before the August primary I met people who came to help because they found hope in what Ned could accomplish as the personification of sorely needed accountability in American politics. The idea that we, the people, could hold an entrenched Washington insider like Joe Lieberman responsible for allowing the regressive Republican agenda captivated countless of thousands around America. Volunteers came from all over the country to help Ned win. I met Americans from California, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania who took it upon themselves do something, anything, to help regain control of a country adrift. One friend broke down in tears after Ned gave his victory speech in front of her and hundreds of cheering supporters. The catharsis of victory vindicated all the hard work she had put in, at the same time revealing the weight of emotion that all of us bore in our efforts for change.
We of the netroots, we bloggers and blog readers, canvassers and phone bankers, ActBlue donors and meet-up hosts are agents for change. Most don’t think of it in these terms, but we are all activists. We are fighting for a shared vision of an America that takes care of our weakest, shelters our neediest, leads the world as a force for peace, and whose government is run with the highest standards of openness and moral integrity. We fight for these things because we believe that our work can bring change. We believe that our actions today will reverberate for years to come, continuing to echo the principles that we expend all of our energy for today.
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Posted in Current Affairs, Weblogs, DailyFeatured | 5 Comments »

October 26th, 2006

My Interview with Monticello

On Thursday I was interviewed by blogger and podcaster Joh Padgett for the MonticelloCast. We spoke about Students for a Free Tibet’s work for Tibetan independence, our recent Action Camp in India, and what campaigns SFT is working on now. The interview can be heard below. Please stop by Monticello and check out Joh’s other work.

powered by ODEO

Backup audio link here.

Posted in Gonzo's Grab Bag, China | No Comments »

October 26th, 2006

The Amoebic Slime of the Johnson Campaign

Nancy Johnson’s campaign manager David Boomer strikes me as about as low a form of amoebic slime as one finds in politics. Boomer has led a dirty campaign against Chris Murphy and now, as Murphy’s challenge is conceded by the NRCC as likely to unseat Johnson in a wave, Boomer reaches deep into the barrel of Republican smears like those used against Harold Ford and Mike Arcuri, and accused Murphy of buddying up with drug dealers.

The ad closes when Murphy reaches another house, where he is warmly embraced by a garishly dressed drug dealer.

“Murphy!” the actor playing the drug dealer says. “You want to weaken penalties for drug dealers, man! That’s so cool. Come on in.”

The smallness of this slur on Murphy’s moral fiber is so low that it merits no mention other than as a representation on how scared Republicans are of their Democratic challengers this election cycle. No insult is too false, no attack too uncouth.

But what really gets me angry isn’t the childish attacks based around the words and actions of actors in their own commercials, but Boomer’s promiscuous attitude towards the truth with  Hartford Courant reporter Rinker Buck. Buck debunks the Johnson campaign’s accusation that Murphy had voted twenty-seven times to raise taxes. Boomer’s response, though, is ripped straight from Ken Mehlman Book on Etiquette and Morality.

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Posted in Right Wing Nut, Campaign News | No Comments »

October 24th, 2006

Google Bomb Republican Candidates

Check out the following articles on Republican incumbents that need to go. Spread the word and spread this strategy to inform voters online about the true color of these GOP hacks. Courtesy of Chris Bowers‘ creative mind.
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Posted in Politics, Right Wing Nut, Campaign News | No Comments »

October 24th, 2006

NYT chronicles Lieberman’s ever-changing position on Iraq

Jennifer Medina and Anne Kornblut of the New York Times have published an analysis of Joe Lieberman’s constantly changing position on the war in Iraq over the last five years. Not surprisingly, the analysis shows that Lieberman has changed his position with the political winds, while primarily supporting the White House view at the expense of his former colleagues of the Democratic caucus.

A close examination of hundreds of Mr. Lieberman’s statements on Iraq over the past five years shows that while he repeatedly praised President Bush, he was far more likely to criticize him. But those critiques dropped off markedly in the last two years, even as the insurgency in Iraq gained strength.

At the same time, Mr. Lieberman made negative comments about fellow Democrats three times as often as he made positive comments, particularly after his failed campaign for his party’s presidential nomination in 2004.

The study began with statement after September 11, 2001 and my guess is the period between then and the months immediately before the Iraq War contained most of Lieberman’s critiques of Bush. As the article says, “those critiques dropped off markedly in the last two years, even as the insurgency in Iraq gained strength.” That fact undercuts previous critiques of the president Lieberman may have made. Joe has refused to read the writing on the wall about the failures in Iraq, just as he refused to accept the fact that he was not his party’s de facto nominee in 2004. As a result he’s been overly supportive of the president while being consistently critical of Democrats. No wonder the people of Connecticut decided to throw the bum off the Democratic ticket.

Technorati Tags: Anne Kornblut, Iraq, Jennifer Medina, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont

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October 22nd, 2006

Obama might run in 2008

Shorter Barack Obama: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like me.”

‘’Given the response I’ve been getting the last several months, I have thought about the possibility'’ although not with any seriousness or depth, he said. ‘’My focus is on ‘06. … After November 7, I’ll sit down and consider it.'’

On Sunday, Obama dismissed notions that he might not be ready to run for president because of his limited experience in national politics. He agreed the job requires a ‘’certain soberness and seriousness‘’ and ‘’can’t be something you pursue on the basis of vanity and ambition.'’ [Emphasis added]

So, Patrick Kennedy is out?
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October 18th, 2006

Continental Minerals Partners with Murderers

A Reuters article on the Nangpa Pass shooting is comprehensive in its rejection of China’s provably false assertions that their border forces opened fire on a group of seventy Tibetan refugees after the Tibetans attacked the troops.

But [China] defended the shooting, saying the group was trying to cross the border illegally and attacked the soldiers when they tried to persuade the group to return home.

The video shows no such confrontation, and the London-based International Campaign for Tibet, which said a Tibetan nun was killed in the incident, rejected China’s defense.

What comes next, though, is a remarkable revelation into mining operations going on inside Tibet without the consent of the local Tibetan population. The unnamed Reuters reporter breaks the news that a group of Tibetan villagers held a demonstration outside of Continental Mineral Corp’s site at Shethongmon, near Shigatse, an action that resulted in Continental temporarily halting work on the project.
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Posted in World News, China | No Comments »

October 18th, 2006

English language video of Nangpa Pass Shooting

The Romanian TV video of the Nangpa Pass murder of two Tibetan refugees by Chinese border soldiers is now viewable on YouTube. Again, I warn that this news report includes video of Kelsang Namtso, a seventeen year-old nun, shot and killed in cold blood.

Posted in World News, China | No Comments »

October 12th, 2006

Kelsang Namtso, Murdered by Chinese soldiers


This is a picture of Kelsang Namtso, a seventeen year-old Tibetan nun who was viciously murdered by Chinese troops while she was making her way through Nangpa Pass to escape into exile. The photograph was provided by a Slovenian mountaineer, Pavle Kozjek, who witnessed the shooting and submitted the picture to (Found via the International Campaign for Tibet).

Kozjek also took and submitted this picture of Chinese soldiers with a group of Tibetan captured refugee children, all aged between six and eight. The children were among a group of eight to ten kids marched through the Cho Oyu advance base camp shortly after the Chinese troops opened - and sustained for at least fifteen minutes - fire on a group of at least seventy Tibetan refugees. The children were arrested and held at gunpoint. There whereabouts are currently unknown.
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Posted in World News, China | 5 Comments »

October 9th, 2006

Unmitigated Atrocity: China murders Tibetan refugees in plain view

It’s truly hard for me to adequately express the outrage and horror my colleagues and I at Students for a Free Tibet are feeling as more details emerge about the murder of at least two Tibetan refugees as they and over seventy others tried to cross the Nangpa Pass from Tibet into Nepal. Their journey was one borne out of their desire for freedom from Chinese oppression, attainable only through escaping their homeland along a dangerous high altitude, snow-packed route. Chinese forces opened fire on a caravan of seventy Tibetans, including children as young as ten years old, and deliberately shot to kill, never giving warning of the coming onslaught. Here are two passages from International Campaign for Tibet’s (ICT) report on the shooting. Be warned that they explicitly describe the cold-blooded murder of these innocent Tibetans.

“I saw a line of Tibetans heading towards the start of the [Nangpa] pass - a common sight. Then, without warning, shots rang out. Over, and over and over. Then the line of people started to run uphill. Watching the line snake off through the snow, as the shots rang out, we saw two shapes fall. The binoculars confirmed it: two people were down, and they weren’t getting up.”

The British mountain guide, who was summiting Cho Oyu at the time, told ICT: “There could have been as many as 60 climbers at Advance Base Camp who witnessed the incident. They could see Chinese soldiers quite close to Advance Base Camp kneeling, taking aim and shooting, again and again, at the group, who were completely defenceless. We didn’t know what the targets were but the climbers could see they were human beings. A couple of hours later, a caravan of yaks came along the pass from Nepal and there was no shooting. Clearly distinctions were made between intended targets. This was a deeply shocking incident for all of us.” [Emphasis added]

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Posted in World News, China | 3 Comments »

October 3rd, 2006

Shameless self promotion

The Baltimore Group is excited to announce a long-awaited addition to our team over at Emboldened. Antonino D’Ambrosio started posting yesterday. His primary area of expertise is political popular culture, though he will be contributing in other areas as well.

Antonino D’Ambrosio, a writer, filmmaker, photographer and musician based in New York, is the author, most recently, of the critically acclaimed Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer – now in its fourth printing. Chuck D of Public Enemy describes D’Ambrosio as “the voice of a new generation whose work educates and inspires.” His writing appears in The Nation, Monthly Review, The Progressive, among many other publications. A frequent guest on TV and radio, D’Ambrosio has hosted a radio show on WBAI and East Village Radio. He has lectured at universities all throughout the country.
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October 3rd, 2006

Constituent emails not reaching legislators

The Washington Post has a deeply disturbing article in Monday’s paper about the shockingly high number of constituent communications submitted electronically that never reach their intended representatives and senators. Legislators have put barriers in place to stop emails from reaching them or once they arrive, they aren’t given the respect due to correspondence sent from constituents to their representatives. Quite simply, this is an unacceptable response to the uses of technology. Electronic communication should allow for more communication between legislators and their constituents - and, on one side, it has. But the same technology that allows constituents to send more communications for less money now seems to stand in the way of response: emails are considered spam and programs that facilitate communications between the constituent and their rep are stymied with devices that try to block advocacy.

Congress has had an e-mail problem for years. It is deluged with an estimated 200 million constituent messages annually, the vast majority of them electronic. The number is so large and is growing so quickly that lawmakers are desperate to find ways to throttle the volume.

The number of e-mails has mushroomed in part because of the now-common practice among interest groups to rally their troops via cyberspace. Generally, a lobby will send an e-mail to its most eager members, which directs them to a Web site. Once there, the members fill out a form that routes to lawmakers e-mails that advocate whatever it is the group is pressing for at the moment.

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Posted in Politics | 3 Comments »

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