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Finally heard Jim Webb speak in person

Erci and I finally got to hear Jim Webb speak in person at this morning’s Dulles Area Democrats breakfast session in Herndon at Amphora Diner. In person Webb is every bit as impressive as his many fans over at Raising Kaine have said. The great news is that both Harris Miller and Jim Webb will make fine senators, and I will be very happy to support the winner of the primary after next Tuesday (Reminder: get out and vote on 6/13). The tough news is that we have to decide which of these fine candidates to vote for in the primary.

A quick recap of Jim Webb’s breakfast talk at Amphora this morning:

Jim started the session with a firm pledge to support Harris Miller in the general election should Harris win the primary, and a call for everyone to do the same. He also clearly stated that he understands and expects the same from Harris Miller should Webb win the primary. Great start. The primary race was tending to petulant and negative at least in the web logging arena recently, I am glad they both got it together and refocused on the real problem: defeating Senator Allen.

Webb went on to say that he considered himself a Democrat until Jimmy Carter pardoned all the Vietnam Draft evaders during his presidency. While I think it was right for Carter to do that, I can also understand how any veteran would be upset by that move. Jim Webb talked a lot about how important it is for the Democratic Party to embrace the Reagan Democrats and bring them back into the active mainstream Democratic Party. It is a compelling argument, though I confess part of me wants to exclude anyone for ever supporting Ronald Reagan.

Webb talked a lot about economic fairness and global justice. He takes this stuff very seriously and very personally, and presents a compelling story about why we all should do the same. He got very critical of the WTO and the fact that the WTO does not take up, as part of it’s charter, nor part of it’s requirements for membership, the championship of worker’s rights and fair treatment. He stated that free trade and WTO membership are currently suppressing worker’s rights in all countries. He did not take the next logical step and tie his policies and campaign to fair trade rather than free trade, but he is clearly heading that direction in logic and rhetoric, and I am thrilled. He did say that with free trade comes an obligation to protect the rights of workers at both ends of the trade deal, or we should back out of the free trade deal. Excellent.

Webb went on to state that on social issues the power of government should stop at our front doors unless there is compelling reason why it should temporarily come into our homes. He firmly stated support for gay rights, worker’s rights, equal opportunity for all, and he is pro-choice as defined by Roe v. Wade. He wants to raise minimum wage as soon as possible, and get our arms around our immigration system and give workers who have been here a long time a way to stay and make things permanent. He was very pragmatic about the reality that America is a drug using society and that our the so-called “War on Drugs” is not effective, specifically that jailing people for possession alone is fruitless.

He is against drilling in ANWAR, and wants to handle energy policy with a four pronged approach utilizing ethanol, nuclear, solar, and continued expansion of petroleum efficiencies. Sounds very reasonable. He specifically mentioned replacing subsidies that pay farmers not to grow grain with subsidies to make them grow fuel based crops. He specifically mentioned that advances in solar and nuclear power since the 1970s have made both much more viable energy choices. He also talked at length about how our petroleum policy needs to involve the spread of peace in the Middle East and stability, that the war in Iraq has caused a larger hike in oil prices than the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001.

So to compare this event with my one, in-person, meeting with Harris Miller at the Sunday Supper Club last month; it boils down to a really tough choice. I like what Harris Miller has to say about public education and campaign/election reform better, but I like what Jim Webb has to say about worker’s rights and foreign policy better. I find Miller to be a more polished politician, with very detailed policies on a variety of topics, and I find Webb’s lack of polish on appealing too. I firmly believe that both of these men have the ability to oust George Allen in November General Election. I remain very optimistic on my feeling that the American voter has awakened to the manipulation of the Republican party and will throw the bums out with a vengeance this November.

I am officially torn, and will probably make up my own mind on how to vote early Tuesday morning, but I encourage you all to go find out more about these fine candidates and vote yourselves on Tuesday morning. A high turnout sends a clear message all by itself, no matter who you vote for. It shows we care, and we are not going to put up with the same old shenanigans any more. By the way, our current pack of idiots in congress are considering the quiet passage of Section 115 Reform Act of 2006 (SIRA) to steal more rights from consumers and voters and empower giant corporations with copyright coverage of personal copies of music and other media. Congress needs to be replaced with people who can do the job of representing people rather than corporations.

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