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Saturday, August 23, 2003

BLOGGING AND DEAN:

The American Prospect gets it completely:

"Tapped knows the rap on Howard Dean is that he's surly, mean and doesn't like the press. Now, we've noted his downsides ourselves -- check out Prospect senior editor Garance Franke-Ruta's April assessment of Dean here, where she gets at both his defensiveness and his incipient rockstardom -- but all the same, the Dean campaign itself is the only one that makes Tapped laugh out loud just about every single day."

THE QUOTABLE ARNOLD:

From We Love Arnold.com:

- On Family Values -

"My mother called me on the phone and she said, you know, "Your dad died." And this was exactly two months before a contest. She said, "Are you coming home to the funeral?" I said, "No, it's too late. You know, he's dead, there's nothing to be done. And I'm sorry and I can't come, you know?" (from "Pumping Iron")

- On the Decision to Run -

"It's the most difficult [decision] I've made in my entire life, except the one I made in 1978 when I decided to get a bikini wax."

Read his campaign platform here.




DEAN IN THE NEWS:

Big article in the Washington Post this morning entitled "Dean shifts gears as status changes":

But... it does contain this idiotic passage: "Yet to win the nomination and defeat Bush, Dean will likely need to broaden his appeal to attract southern Democrats, who tend to be more conservative; independents, who often swing between the two parties, and even Fox News watchers and Journal editorial page readers, who tend to be Republicans."

Southern Democrats I can see (although, to be honest, he can win the nomination w/o them). He's already very viable w/ the McCain/Perot independents.

But Fox News watchers and Journal editorial page readers? He needs them to win the White House? Who wrote this article? Joe Lieberman?

Fox watchers and WSJ editorial board readers will not vote for a Democrat, usually.

GUESS WHAT: Gephardt may be *trying* to dig up dirt on Dean in Vermont. Here's the link and the excerpt from Vermont's alternative newspaper:

"What else?

Oh, yeah. The snoops are in town!

The other day a young woman stopped by Channel 17 on North Winooski Avenue. That’s our local government/public-access station on Burlington-area cable TV. Monica Lesmerises went through the station’s computerized logs trolling for tapes that included someone named “Howard Dean.” According to Channel Director Jess Wilson, there were 230 matches. Monica carefully selected 33 she wanted copied and shipped to her home in Washington, D.C.
....................................................
Blonde Monica is Gephardt’s “Research Director,” and we’re not talking about finding a cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s. Monica, we’ve since learned, has a very good reputation as an “opposition researcher,” a digger of the dirt in an enemy’s past. And at the moment, Howard Dean is her number-one enemy."
......................................................


HOUSE PARTY, KC:

Hey, we had a house party last night in KC. 20-25 folks showed up and watched a Dean speech on a laptop. It was tremendous fun and we will let you know when the next one is shortly. Thank you again to Nicole and Ann for hosting it.... you guys rule.



Friday, August 22, 2003

Into the belly of the beast... Dean has an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal today:

We Can Do Better
We can do better. As president, my economic policies will be focused and clear. I will begin by repealing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, and using the revenues that result from the repeal to address the needs of the average American, invest in the nation's infrastructure and, through tax reform, put money in the hands of those most likely to spend it.
It's a pretty ballsy read, especially considering the audience.

The Bat's Back. ...and the Sleepless Summer Tour Has Begun

STATE FAIR IN SOUTH WHIDBEY:

You are not going to believe this:

"On Thursday, the Island County Democrats caught heat from several Island County Fair Board members and from members of the public for distributing buttons, bumper stickers and signs some called unpatriotic. The dispute became so serious that the message and purpose of the booth was discussed at the fair board's Friday morning meeting, though no action was taken."
...............
Though the booth's primary purpose is to register Island County citizens to vote, Brant and other volunteers in the booth quickly discovered that the political materials were getting the most attention. When the Democrats were told to take several of their signs down, Brant said he was dumbfounded.

"I wonder what country I'm living in," he said.
................
This is exactly what Grethe Cammermeyer, chairperson of the Island County Democrats, feared. Though in speaking with Gabelein Thursday Cammermeyer learned of no specific rule barring her group from distributing its materials, she said the board could nonetheless kick the Democrats out of their booth area on the fair midway for next year's fair. That would be particularly damaging to the local party, she said, since 2004 is a presidential election year.

"I'm not quite sure why there is so much concern all of a sudden over buttons and signs being available at a booth we paid for," she said.
......................
Since the fair board did not choose to take any action against the Democrats, the booth will likely continue to distribute its materials through Sunday. However, material Brant said fair board members told him were "inappropriate" may not be an issue beyond Friday. By late Thursday, the Democrat had already give away all of its "Bush Sucks" lapel buttons and were well on their way toward handing out all of their signs.

"Business has been pretty good," Brant said with no attempt to hide his satisfaction.
......................

Let me get this straight. If you disagree with someone who doesn't like the President, you can shut him down? I agree with Mr. Brant's statement above. What kind of country is this, anyway? There are those who claim to be patriotic and wave the flag but they have no idea the principles that the flag represents. I don't want them running my country any more.




AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:

Tim Noah of Slate has a great breakdown of the "are Republicans stealing elections they can't win" question on a lot of Democrats' minds. Josh Marshall of Talking Points has wonderful posts (here, here and here) regarding the deterioriating situation in Iraq, who's responsible and how we can have a better policy.

The American Prospect raps Lieberman on the knuckles regarding his anti-Dean stance, which appears to have completely destroyed his candidacy in a month (a new record, I think, in the category of "non-obvious self-destructiveness by a political campaign). Seriously: does Al From, Lieberman and Mark Penn know (or care) who votes in Democratic primaries? Have they actually met voters recently? How stupid can two highly paid political consulants and one Senator and former VP candidate be in one year? The DLC: Democrats with Little Common-sense.

Pandagon has some fun with O'Reilly's assertion that Fox is some sort of independent truth-teller, while both Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter are ducking the Left's New Debater, Joe Conason. T-Bogg has fun with Fox News' complaint against Franken (how could you not).

Finally, T-Bogg on the dark horse of the California primary, porn star Mary Kelley, and how her campaign is waged on the same principles as Karl Rove's: prostitute yourself to big donors.


BUSH POLL # DROP:

Down to 50% approval, 42% re-elect in California (hey, they do have 50+ electoral votes), according to the Field Poll. Zogby shows a similar deterioration nationally.

Briefly:

He is not a popular President any longer. People understand the lack of progress on the economy and in Iraq. It is increasingly unlikely that he will "breeze" to re-election, as many GOP pundits suggested months ago.

Howard Dean will be the Democratic nominee. In the general election, he will face an increasingly unpopular President who is increasingly bogged down in Iraq (a problem of his own making) and the economy. It is an intellectually bankrupt Administration increasingly becoming politically bankrupt, as well.

I really am starting to like our chances.


Thursday, August 21, 2003

THE ARTICLE WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR:

"Democrats To Test Gephardt on home turf", on the front page of today's KC Star.

The thesis, which we've all known for some time:

a) Gephardt is in trouble in Iowa, which will hurt him in Missouri,
b) He isn't all that popular in Missouri outside of the Party Establishment,
c) Someone has to win in Missouri,
d) Why not Dean?

This article would not have been printed without everyone's hard work, from the volunteers who go to events, to the bloggers who post about it, and to the Meetup coordinators like Bob, Kate, Thurston and Dyan who have been doing great things with little recognition and no pay.

Savor every word of the article because we can, and will, win in this state. Our efforts are getting some attention and we just need to keep going. We've only started.

FINANCING DEAN

This week the Daily Kos “Cattle Call” places Dean in 1st place as the candidate most likely to win if the primaries were held now. Kos is concerned, however, that Dean’s endorsement of public financing will limit his resources in the general election, when he will need every penny to combat the powerful Bush campaign war chest. He recommends Dean should suspend his plan to receive federal matching grants until a uniform election financing system is in place.

But past experience suggests that Dean will not unilaterally disarm. Ross Sneyd writes in an Associated Press report that Dean faced a similar dilemma in his 2000 gubernatorial election:

2000 was the first year that candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Vermont could take advantage of publicly financed campaigns. The tradeoff was that they would not be able to spend more than $300,000. In Dean's case, because he was the incumbent, the limit would have been $255,000

Dean signed up to participate in public financing and began raising the small contributions necessary to qualify.

In the meantime, the law was being challenged by a number of groups and in August of 2000, a U.S. District Court judge declared it unconstitutional to impose spending limits on a candidate like Dwyer who was not seeking public financing.

That threw campaign financing into turmoil and drew the national parties into a race in which Dean was considered to be vulnerable because he had signed a few months earlier the civil unions law granting marriage benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

So Dean - who had signed the campaign finance law a few years earlier and expressed support for the concept of campaign limits as well as public funding - backed out of spending limits and public financing.

"I am not going to fight this campaign with one hand tied behind my back," Dean said at the time.





Jonathan Schell in the September 1 issue of The Nation is optimistic about the 2004 election:

Events have suddenly and unexpectedly handed the Democratic Party an opportunity to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. His main justifications for his war in Iraq (existence of weapons of mass destruction, connections with Al Qaeda) have collapsed, while the war itself intensifies. At home, his tax cuts have sent deficits out of control and jobs are disappearing at a gallop. Each of these conditions seems likely to be either chronic or permanent: The prospect of finding actual weapons of mass destruction, though conceivable, has dimmed to the vanishing point; the cost in blood and treasure of the occupation seems likely to increase; the deficit is likely to remain high or get higher. On other issues--healthcare, the environment, education--the public trusts Democrats more than it does the President. His poll numbers have fallen, from the high sixties and mid-seventies a month or two ago to the mid-fifties today.

But Katha Pollitt finds reasons to worry:

Every time the press pooh-poohs [Dean’s] chances, every time they gloat over some trivial misstatement, every time they make fun of Vermont and describe his supporters as "Birkenstocked" "Deanyboppers," I think about the free ride the media give Bush, who says more false and foolish things in an afternoon than Dean has said in a lifetime…

Wednesday, August 20, 2003



Originally published in the Boston Globe, Kerry's hometown paper.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

FUNDRAISER PRESS COVERAGE:

Well, here's the St. Louis Post Dispatch's article on the fundraiser on Friday.

Not to be narcissistic or anything, but: complete with a T-shirt emblazoned, "Berkeley, California?" I mean, first off, it was California Berkeley. Second, it was the only t-shirt available to me at the time. Next time, I'll wear a "Good Jobs at Good Wages" or "Multilateral Foreign Policy for a Globalized Economy" t-shirt, to amplify our message. Third, I was not front and center. I was in the bathroom.

Finally, we need to give props to the following important people who did show up: Thurston Cromwell and his wife Tanya (KC Coordinators), Rep. Vicki Walker, Scott Glabe (Columbia) and Kate Gould (Springfield). They are part of the backbone of this campaign and their presence was welcome.

To everyone in St. Louis who is a part of the Steering Committee, thank you. It was great fun, very successful and, frankly for one living in KC, hard to match or top. We'll try our best.

THE DARK SIDE:

Bush is reaching out to GOP Bloggers.

My favorite portion of the article:

"Campaign manager Ken Mehlman said the site's purpose is "sharing the president's positions and tying them to grass-roots activities so that everyone who wants to, has something to do." The site allows a user to type in a Zip code and find local and national radio talk shows. A letter can be automatically e-mailed to newspapers, and all the supporter has to do is paste in pre-scripted text such as, "President Bush should be commended for his strong leadership on the economy."
---------------------------------
Oh, good. Nice to get "independent thought" out of the electoral process. Get ready for thousands of cyborgs, mindlessly reciting "Bush Show Leadership. Saddam bad, Democrats Bad. Fire good."

As a special bonus, I hear they have a paste icon where it shows that lying to the American people is acceptable, as long as it angers the French.

FUNNY STUFF:

Paul Newman weighs in on the Al Franken suit here. It reminds me of the old Robert Wuhl joke where he states that Burt Reynolds has made so many bad movies that when someone else makes a bad movie, Burt gets a royalty.

The KC Star has a hilarious piece on the Bush Action Figure doll, but, as always, Tbogg has the best joke regarding the subject.

Uggabugga has a mock ballot for a recall election in 1862.

As always, though, Neal Pollack proves he is the Greatest Living American Writer. Here he is, mocking each candidate's blog.



Monday, August 18, 2003

WEIGHING GRAHAM

Will Sen. Bob Graham be the first to bow out of the race? An article in the St. Petersburg Times suggests that Graham is doing serious soul-searching:

Sitting in an RV lumbering through Iowa farmland last week Graham questioned whether "the Howard Dean phenomenon" would have happened had Graham entered the race earlier.

"I would not only have been saying similar things that have gotten Howard such a surge in support, but would have been saying them on the basis of, "Look I wasn't just talking about voting against the war, I actually did it,' " Graham said, as a granddaughter napped with her head on his leg.

"And in terms of executive experience, yes, Howard was governor of Vermont, but I was governor of Florida. There is significant difference both in the scale and the complexity of those two states and how much they can tell you about what sort of president this person would be."


Campaigns try to project an aura of invincibility even when it is clear to everyone else that the bull's eye is not within their reach. A few minutes into any speech by Al Sharpton you will hear him say that he--Al Sharpton--and not anybody else will be the next President of the United States. That is why this interview, in which Graham is not only accepting the success of one of his rivals, but is openly contemplating the causes of his own underperformance, does not augur well for the Graham campaign. It sounds too much like a concession speech. In the interview, Graham comes close to complaining about not having Dean's poll numbers, despite his similar and arguably better qualifications. That does not convey winning vigor. Graham may still stay in the race in hopes of landing the VP spot, but don't be surprised if he suddenly decides to spend more time with the grandkids.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

THE IOWA STATE FAIR: Here's the Washington Post's account. Anyhoo, here are some selected quotations:

“Excuse me, Governor [Dean],” she says, “It’s time for your pork on a stick.”
-----------------------------
“Hey, who are you?” the big man says to John Edwards on Friday morning. “You running for president or something?”
------------------------------
Meantime, Joe Lieberman is standing nearby, getting ready to stuff a deep-fried Twinkie in his face.....“I have been issued a challenge to eat a deep-fried Twinkie,” Lieberman says in his deep, crumbly voice. “I do not resent this challenge. And I will not shirk from this challenge.”
--------------------------------
[John Kerry]...thinks the John Deere tractor display is sublime.

THE FUNDRAISER:

Was, quite frankly, a great success. $5K raised and everyone seemed to have a great time. I haven't seen anything in the local papers yet (but the St. Louis site honestly stinks), but will post when I receive (or Matt will beat me to it... whichever).

Thanks to all who attended and for Dyan Ortbal and the St. Louis steering crew for making it a great time and a successful fundraiser.

PS: Next time I'll dress in something more classy than a t-shirt and jeans.

HOWARD DEAN NEWS:

Dean has the Young Democrats on his side, as this article attests (BTW, if you're a candidate for President, why wouldn't you visit the Young Democrats in person? Really. I want to know.).

The Washington Post has a writer from Vermont suggesting that Dean, far from being an ideologue, is simply an intelligent pragmatist.

And Eleanor Clift hangs out in Burlington and meets the cool kids of politics.

THE BELLWEATHER:

In 1991, the first significant blow to George H.W. Bush occurred when his hand picked candidate for the Senate in Pennsylvania, Richard Thornbough (former AG), lost a special election to Harris Wofford (who made up a thirty point deficit over the issues of health care and the economy.

Well, the Kentucky Governor's race seems to be a similar harbinger for things to come for the current Administration. The Democrats are on the attack in this Kentucky race, even adopting a mascot called "The Job Terminator", and it appears to be working.

RELIGION AND TAXES IN THE BIBLE BELT:

This might be the most interesting story I've read for a while. It doesn't have to do with Dean, at least directly, but has to do with taxes and morality. The Governor of Alabama is proposing raising taxes and is asserting that it is the Christian thing to do. The punchline: the Governor of Alabama is a Republican. Excerpts:

"Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors paused on a recent day over hash browns and eggs in a local Cracker Barrel, struggling to make sense of the latest turn in Alabama politics.

"We've got a conservative, evangelical Christian,Republican governor," he said, enunciating each word as if to get his head around the details, "trying to get a massive turnout of black voters to pass a tax increase so he can raise taxes on Republican constituents."
----------------------------------------
The born-again Baptist governor is telling voters in this Bible Belt state that their tax system, which imposes an effective rate of 3 percent on the wealthiest Alabamians and 12 percent on the poorest, is "immoral" and needs repair. "When I read the New Testament, there are three things we're asked to do: That's love God, love each other and take care of the least among us," Riley said in his office in the antebellum state Capitol.
------------------------------------------------
"We have a philosophical difference of opinion," Riley said of these one-time supporters. "I believe in a fair tax code. They don't. I believe we have to make investments in education that keep us from being tied for dead last. They don't. They have had special treatment at least for all of my adult life. And even after this modest increase, they'll still be paying less than in any of our surrounding sister states."
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But the Christian Coalition of Alabama, which opposes all tax increases, staked out the other side. "We applaud tax relief for the poor. You'll find most Alabamians have got a charitable heart; they want to do that," said the group's president, John Giles. "They just don't want it coming out of their pocket."
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I have absolutely no idea what to make of this. It may not pass and the Governor will probably face a fierce primary battle when he comes up for re-election. But... anything, even (especially?) by a Republican, that states the honest truth that funding education and health care for poor people out of the pockets of those that have the ability to pay as a moral policy is a good thing, I would think.

Besides, it is better than the alternative: states, particularly Southern ones, have relied upon lotteries and gaming, a regressive (and dishonest) tax if there ever was one.


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