Questions for Nancy Pelosi

It's a bit short notice, but later this morning I will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Naturally I have a numer of questions in my mind already, but is there anything in particular you'd be interested in me asking her?

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MyDD Conversation with MN-Sen Candidate Al Franken

On the morning of Sunday, June 10, I had the opportunity to speak with Al Franken, comedian, satirist, talk radio star and now candidate for the Democratic senatorial nomination in the state of Minnesota.

Over the course of our conversation, Franken and I covered a number of topics, including how someone moves from the entertainment industry into politics, Franken's role in the netroots, the war in Iraq and much more. You can listen to the interview or read a rush transcript below, or download the audio as a very large .mp3 file here.

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Jonathan Singer: Some people liken your run to that of Jesse Ventura, another, well let's call it "non-traditional candidate" who ran statewide in Minnesota. I see, maybe, more of a comparison to a Ronald Reagan, someone who after their time in the entertainment industry spent a number of years honing a political message through a series of speeches around the country. Do either of these comparisons work? And more broadly, what do you have to do coming out of the entertainment industry running for office?

Al Franken: Well I think you're probably right that the arc of this is maybe a little bit more Reagan.

Ventura was in a part of the entertainment industry that is quite different from the part of the entertainment industry I was in, and Reagan was really in a different part, too. I did comedy and I did a lot of political satire. What I did was never completely divorced from politics. I'd say professional wrestling certainly was and much of what Reagan did...

I mean I did comedy that had nothing to do with politics, of course. But a lot of what I did at SNL and what Tom and I did in our act before we joined the show and after we joined the show was political in nature and satirical in nature. So there is a sort of continuum that runs through my entire adult life and in fact starts before my adult life because I was doing satire in school and political satire.

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MyDD Interview with OR-Sen Candidate Steve Novick

In the past several days there has been quite a bit of attention given to the effort to Draft Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio to run against the state's vulnerable Republican Senator Gordon Smith, an effort that has, among other things, raised more than $3,300 from 180 donors around the country. But as that draft campaign continues, another challenger challenger, a fiery progressive named Steve Novick (whom Jerome profiled back in January), is preparing to make a run against Smith.

Today, Novick is traveling around the state to announce his candidacy, and yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with him about the campaign, which you can learn more about here at his website and which you can support by making a contribution here through ActBlue (I just tossed in my $25 bucks in the hopes of helping get rid of my junior Senator next year, my second such donation after previously giving to through Draft DeFazio). The audio wasn't great because our conversation took place at a noisy Starbucks, so I won't be posting it. However, check out the rush transcript below:

Jonathan Singer: You're tomorrow announcing your candidacy against Gordon Smith, and I was just wondering what gives you the audacity to think that you challenge such a seasoned moderate and popular Senator like Gordon Smith.

Steve Novick: First of all, he may be somewhat seasoned at this point, although I've got more years of public service to my credit - well if you count any of his years as public service.

But "moderate." You're obviously saying that in jest. Gordon Smith votes with his party on every significant issue. Every once in a while he gets coverage for boldly stepping out and defying his party on an issue where 70 percent of those polled are against his party. And occasionally he'll vote for spending that some Republicans are opposed to because he's very committed to the moderation of the credit card. If it increases the federal debt Gordon Smith is for it. So occasionally he will say that his party is doing too much to cut Medicaid, for instance, although he'll never suggest how to pay for it by rolling back any of the Bush tax cuts.

But he's incredibly vulnerable. I mean here's a guy who voted to undermine Oregon's voter-approved minimum wage by allowing restaurants to pay waiters and waitresses less than the minimum wage while in the meantime he's claiming his greatest accomplishment in the Senate is passing a tax holiday for multinational corporations that have their money stashed overseas, a tax holiday that even George Bush's Treasury Secretary decried as ridiculous and which gave one drug company, Pfizer, $11 billion, which is enough to make any company excited - with or without Viagra.

The drug companies have rewarded Senators Smith by giving him over $130,000 in campaign contributions. So on the issue of inequality, which is the issue that Jim Webb ran on largely last year, I think Gordon Smith is clearly on the side of the rich and powerful and against the rest of us.

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In Which I Am Interviewed About Blogging, the Netroots and Politics

Usually I feel more comfortable asking the questions, but last week the tables were turned on me by Paul Van Heden of, who hosts a program, "Tips for Political Bloggers", on WPVM-FM in Asheville, North Carolina. Every week or so, Van Heden speaks with a political blogger of just about any ideological stripe about blogging, politics and basically what they do all day. If you're interested in taking a listen to some of my thoughts on the Netroots, how I got into blogging, how others might and things of that sort, you can check it out in the player below.

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I'm not the first MyDDer to go on the program. Back in November, Van Heden interviewed Adam Conner about his experiences in blogging, including for MyDD. You can listen to that interview below.

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Anyway, hope you enjoy it. Thanks for indulging me.

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MyDD Interview with John Kerry

As promised earlier, I am now posting the remainder of the transcript and audio from my interview yesterday with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in 2004. The Senator and his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, were in Portland, Oregon to promote the new book that the two co-authored, This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future. I have unfortunately not been able to obtain a copy of the book but will be reviewing it here on MyDD once I've had the chance to read it. For more information on the book, visit where there are links to reviews and other interviews, as well as details about the Senator's book tour.

For now, check out the interview in full, the questions for which were culled from among the ones you, the readers of this site, suggested, as well as those I've been chewing on for some time.

If you're having trouble with the Odeo player you can download the .mp3 file here.

John Kerry: What's important is that we confront the real issues and do what we need to do with respect to '08, and that's why we wrote the book. That's what we're focused on. I'm really not spending a lot of energy or time on the histrionics of the past, if you will [in reference to the earlier question, before his phone rang, on John McCain and 2004].

Jonathan Singer: Certainly. With issues like nuclear proliferation, North Korea exploding a nuclear bomb, but also loose nukes within the former Soviet republics, and all the other kind of issues that are facing the country, why the environment and why now is this so important to you?

Kerry: Because this is a life and death issue for all of us. And its urgency is growing by the day, by the hour. When the leading climatologists, scientists of the United States, Jim Hanson, tells us you've got a 10-year window to respond, you better get to work if you're in public life. And every day matters. Building a consensus and then connecting the dots for people. Not just on global climate change, though. Parents can't take their kids fishing and eat the fish in 19 states and 44 percent of all our rivers, lakes and streams are unfishable and unswimmable. If we're going to care about what we pass on to the next generation, this is the time to do it. And I think that these issues need to be front and center on the front burner. They affect people's healthcare and health. They affect people's education ability. If you are a kid and you have lead poisoning or you have mercury intake that affects your motor system, you're going to have a challenge for the rest of your life. These things ultimately come home to roost somehow. And that's the connection we're trying to make for people.

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