Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween



What you can't see clearly is the small "Republicans for Kerry" button on my lapel. So I was a Republican for Kerry for Halloween. In truthm, nothing I was wearing was any different from what I'd wear to work, but hey, it was as creative as I could get. You can fill in your own economy, employment, or richie-based joke as you see fit. Noooo, not in the comments section. Unless it's reallllly creative. Phoblog is not a caption contest.

Hope you got some candy. After days of being out of the food delivery loop, tons of food rained down on the storefront today - deli trays, pizza, candy, etc. Never anything cold to drink though. But, cold drinks are for November 3.

You Can't Fault A Guy For Having Goals

Once you've pulled off the largest terrorist attack in history, starred in a large number of direct-to-video short films, and perfected your survivalist skills, what else are you to do? Duh, start your political career.

Not that he wasn't plenty political already, but:

[Experts] said Bin Laden appeared to be intensifying his campaign to "re-brand" himself in the minds of Muslims worldwide, and become known more as a political voice than a global terrorist . . . .

The official said "a political spinoff [of Al Qaeda] is one of the greatest fears" of U.S. counter-terrorism authorities, with Bin Laden and his network following the path of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah and the Irish Republican Army. Over the years, those organizations evolved from violent militant groups into broader organizations with influential, widely accepted political wings. . . .

"He has injected a political element into his work and has tried to appeal almost on an intellectual level," said Cressey, now a counter-terrorism consultant. "He's saying, 'I'm here and you better factor me into your calculations, political and otherwise.' "

"If people are concerned that he is evolving into more of a political figure, to a certain extent he already has," Cressey said. U.S. authorities, he added, "should be concerned if [Bin Laden's] message resonates with a broader portion of the Muslim world than his narrower messages of the past, in that he was declaring war. And only time will tell if that's the case."

Lee Strickland, who recently retired after 30 years at the CIA, said Bin Laden already had made inroads in some respects.

"He and his organization have matured and become more subtle and more effective in delivering their message and their policy," Strickland said.

In his most recent tape, Bin Laden "shows a great sophistication in thinking, in planning and in communication. It makes him much more dangerous," Strickland said."
Like a faulty innoculation, we've only served to make him stronger, it seems. Not great news. I'd think there's already plenty of evidence pointing to a new nationalism-sans-nation among those who "hate us because we're free." At any rate - at least the guy is endeavoring to be legit, right?

(Save the hate mail, please).

No Pressure

From Josh Marshall:

A simple point: This election is going to be won or lost on the ground, with organization and turnout. If you're part of the GOTV effort, on either side, this is in your hands.

Thanks!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Field Report - Philadelphia, PA

Culture Shock
As I've mentioned before, the transition from WV to PA was much harder than the transition from CA to WV. Shocking in itself. This is a nice city - I think, anyway, from what I've seen of it. Far from sampling the local culinary delights - I get most of my nutrition (if you can call it that) from, uh, Wendy's (baked potatoes and salad, only one cheeseburger in PA so far), Cosi, and some salad that appeared on my desk from somewhere yesterday. This morning, after passing them for days, I finally bought breakfast from a street vendor. Yummy. Egg, cheese, bacon, on a roll. Yeah, we're not so much going for health these days. All I want for Christmas is a personal trainer . . . .

Store highlights
Aside from the FNC, uh FNCW? (Fox News Channel Website) infiltrator, we deal with our daily schedule of crazed chum hunters. I've explained "chum" right? All those nifty bumper stickers, buttons, and signs you all want me to bring home? They keep me up nights. They haunt my dreams. They ruin my lunch. We had one lady literally hit another staffer today when he said she couldn't have anymore. Or the guy from a remaining-nameless organization of workers who came in, dropped the name of a staffer, and had loaded 500 (FIVE HUNDRED) assembled yard signs into his truck before I realized what was happening. Please remember, buttons don't win elections - if you're wearing one and just pinning it on makes you feel somehow proud, like you're doing something for the cause, you aren't. I left law school. You can walk a precinct - local race or whatever - go turn out the Dem vote. Geez, sorry for the sermon there. I'm quite tired . . . .

A few days ago, two women came into the store. They introduced themselves as animal rights activists and said they were protesting down the street but were taking a break and wanted to stop in. They wanted to register their disappointment that Kerry had shot a goose. My gut reaction was "he killed something? That's FANTASTIC! How big was it? Can we get him to take out something with antlers? A herd, perhaps?" But, remembering that I was no longer in West Virginia, I maintained composure, and said, I know, I love animals too. I also tried, gently, to explain that sometimes, the good of, you know, like, people (soldiers, 18 year olds in Iraq, those dying from diseases stem cell research could help) had to come before our animal friends. They just wanted me to know that they were still voting for him, but were dreaming of the day that they could have a true animal rights candidate. If I'd had a Jake Zimmerman card, I'd have given it to them. Perhaps that would've been bad. (CMCers of a certain vintage know what I'm talking about).

We have many messages pass through our office. How to run the campaign better. Just let whomever know, whom can let John Kerry know, this following bit of strategy that will win this campaign in 20 minutes. Part of me wants to thank them for thinking I - the girl in the chum t-shirt (that's all we got left - that and some business suits) and jeans - have a direct line to JK. Part of me thinks they are a little sad. But that's not really fair or true. I guess, in a way, it's kinda nice - this is the party of the people, and especially now, it seems, people take a lot of ownership in what's going on. Yeah, at a certain point in the afternoon before I've had my late day grande (skim, thank you) hot chai, I want them to shut the hell up and just walk a goddam precinct already, but really, you can't fault them for trying to be helpful.

You can, however, fault the volunteers who say they will do x task and then just don't do it - spending precious time instead asking questions about things that have no bearing on the assignment at hand or running around gathering more assignments until they can't do anything effectively at all. Those people drive me up the crepe-papered and postered walls.

Power, Politics, and Pennsylvania
When I arrived in Philadelphia a frighteningly few number of days ago, I barely knew my boss's name. Now, while I know his name, I really know very little about him. Or anyone, for that matter. Staff rains from the sky here - and while my week and a half makes me almost senior, or at least advanced, it makes me no more learned on my coworkers qualifications, non-campaign lives, or life stories.

This is both a blessing and the recipe for managerial disaster.

On the bright side - I'm not intimidated by anyone. I'm respectful, sure, but if you're super important in your other life and you think you can cheat me out of chum, pull some unfair crap, etc, I don't have a problem saying no. And I don't worry about talking to "bigwigs" because I don't know who they are.

The drawbacks are obvious: sometimes I do say no to people who really aren't supposed to hear no from anyone. But that's infrequently the case.

Today, a rather well known woman from the Clinton area was in the store asking for signs for an event. I noticed I hopped to it a bit quicker because she was who she was. The reality, however, was that she was just another staffer with a badge who needed more signs than she was going to get. She was, however, nice about it. That's not a general rule (though few denied what the need need need are rude to me directly. They know they can jump rank and get things in short order - which is fine).

The more serious consequence, however, of not knowing your coworkers' stories - even a little - is that every so often, no matter how passionate someone is about getting Our Guy elected, they have a moment of "wait a minute, I'm a [insert legitimately tough, smarts-requiring, high profile job here], what the hell am I doing dealing with this [broken copier, infantile intern, younger-than-me-supervisor, new arrival upstart, general snafu]?" Then that inner Type A, or CEO or super high paid consultant - the business shark, the legal eagle, the guru - comes bursting forth from inside. The result is usually an epic battle of egos that lets loose a flood of swearing, harshly placed stacks of paper, perhaps a few slammed doors, and general dances of "no I'm the bigger Indian Chief." There were fewer Personalities to manage in West Virginia, but this is a much higher profile state at a much later stage in the game. But things are calming here too. The ego-plotions are fewer, shorter, and less heated than they were even 36 hours ago. The team is forming, getting past all the crap, and remembering why they tried to check the egos at the door to being with.

The energy rises, the volunteers arrive, the dry-runs run tomorrow, and I hope hope arrives in four days.

Silver-Tongued Devil

Leave it to a Republican attorney. Here's one commenting on Democratic early-vote events that take busloads of folks to the polls in early-vote states immediately following major rallies:

William R. Scherer, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer working for the Republicans, said his party had no need for such stunts. "We don't need to bus," he said. "Most of our people have cars."
Well, then . . . .

[Ed. note: Before JG, CES, or any of my other Reep lawyer friends sent hate mail, yes, I know that this could be an example of that damn liberal media bias in the way the quotation was set up. Perhaps Scherer's tone was more, "nah, our people don't need rides, they brought cars," rather than "puhlease, our aristocracy has no need for such proletarian nonsense." but I think the latter is sooo much more fun, wouldn't you agree?]

In the Case of the Missing Explosives, Timing is Everything

In the case of the missing explosives, it seems, timing is everything. In today's NYT, an article about video taken after the fall, showing G.I.s in the weapons cache. Uh-oh. That would significantly change the Bush team's defensive lines about not knowing exactly when the explosives went missing. The article details the images capture and expert evaluation of the footage with shots of areas confirmed as Al-Qaqaa. I'm sure the push back will be of the "yeah, but you can't be sure" variety.

Of note, the Pentagon's efforts to ease the initial reports of the missing material:
The Pentagon also notes that it has destroyed 400,000 tons of munitions from thousands of sites across Iraq, and that the explosives at Al Qaqaa account for "one-tenth of 1 percent" of that amount.
I suppose this is somehow supposed to make us feel better. Such a teensy weensy amount is missing. I mean, come on, think about all the weapons we HAVE destroyed. But there was something about percentages. What was that again? Oh yeah:

The best way to defend America in this world we live in is to stay on the offense. We got to be right 100 percent of the time here at home, and they got to be right once. And that's the reality.
Well, Mr. President, when you insist, repeatedly, (and that's just 2, google around for more items to refresh your memory) that we have to bat 1000, you can't really have your people tout 99.9 as a success . . . .

Thursday, October 28, 2004

They Have a Direct Mail Campaign?

Well, we have letterhead.

There's a lot wrong with this picture: apparently, the College Republicans national org has over $6 million in the bank, most of which comes from 'milk[ing] vulnerable senior citizens'.

They're practices and the sheer volume of money moving about is pretty awesome (I mean that in the technical, not vernacular way):
The College Republicans had another warning in September 2003, when the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group, issued a report on the explosive fund-raising growth by the College Republicans. The report noted that several elderly donors who were contacted did not appear to know to whom they had given money.

Response Dynamics, its affiliates and other companies related to the fund raising get most of the money raised by the College Republicans.

About $9 million of the College Republicans' reported spending this year appeared to go into fund-raising expenses, according to a Times analysis of reports filed with the IRS.

About $313,000, roughly 3 percent, went for travel, convention expenses and "hospitality." About $210,000 went to payroll expenses, helping pay for campus organizers who have been drumming up support for the GOP ticket among young people.

The large amount of money devoted to fund raising, and the small amount for
political activities, is unusual among the top ranks of the burgeoning field of so-called 527 independent political groups.

Of the $20 million the anti-Bush group MoveOn.org spent, according to its filings, 93 percent went to media, advertising, marketing and polling.

Of the $13.7 million spent by the anti-John Kerry group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, 90 percent went to media, advertising and media consulting. . . .

The group says it has tripled in size in recent years, with 120,000 members on 1,148 campuses.

Rove, Bush's top political strategist, spoke to College Republican leaders during the GOP Convention, and said the group's organizing was "absolutely vital to the election."

The group goes door-to-door at college dorms and fraternity and sorority houses to register voters and recruit volunteers.

The College Republicans this year got $220,000 from another GOP group, the Republican State Leadership Committee.

They also received large donations from two more-traditional political donors, businessmen John Templeton, who gave $400,000, and Carl Lindner, owner of the Cincinnati Reds, who gave $375,000.
Wow. I don't even know what to say about that kind of money, or operation. If it weren't conducted the way it is (which, frankly, is on par with many fundraising efforts, including Dem mailers - though nearly all I've received are from one, clearly identified organization).

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Caption Contest: Campaign Edition

Thanks to reader Fred for the link to this photo that's just begging for some good captions. So get to it:


This Gov Jock Approves

The LAT rightly focuses on Phoblog's own alma mater, Claremont McKenna College, in this article about the campus's political culture. You know any article opening with Jack Pitney is worth reading . . . .

And, a nice shout out to Taryn Benarroch, who gets a lot of good ink here. She's the president of the Democrats of the Claremont Colleges - a particularly strong YD chapter with a history of fabulous, attractive, talented, witty, fun leadership.

Wink.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

PA Photo Album, Vol. I

Short but sweet - a couple of shots I like . . . .




Each paper in that shot says the same thing. Any questions? I guarantee you, the person working as a bouncer in the room still had to say "11th of 19th Floor" at least 48 times in an hour.




This bike belongs a guy who's making his own movie. Once I find the card with his website, I'll link to it (so expect this post to be edited soon). By the way, the bike's owner is even more decorated than the bike. Yeah, I said more.

Ben's Great Letter

Gotta give a shout out to Ben, a superstar team member out here who tirelessly walks the streets of Philly (song cue, no, song cue) signing up volunteers for his letter published in today's Philadelphia Daily News. His point: buttons and stickers won't win this campaign.

Amen, Ben.

Informing the Public

Ah, Condi. Toeing the line like a good staffer. She spoke to a Florida group this week with a speech that Dems decry as being blantantly campaign in nature:

Although Condoleezza Rice did not mention Bush's Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, by name, her speech reflected the Bush campaign's portrayal of Kerry as having a too narrow view of the war on terrorism.

"For some it is a limited engagement whose goal is to go after Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, assume a more defensive posture at home and one day be able to put it out of our mind," Rice told the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee.

"But this is not the struggle that we face. The global war on terror calls us, as President Bush immediately understood, to marshal all elements of our national power to beat terror and the ideology of hatred that protects them and recruits others to their ranks."

Democrats say Rice and other officials like Treasury Secretary John Snow and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge have been making most of their federally paid trips in swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, all of which may be critical in deciding the outcome of the Nov. 2 election.

The White House dismisses the criticism and insists Rice's speeches are not campaign events but reflect her responsibility to inform the public on national security issues.

Riiiiight.

Also - I wonder how many times the phrase "the White House dismisses" has appeared in relation to this particular administration. I know, I know, all Whit Houses dismiss things - but it seems like this one has made it an art . . . . .

Cover-Ups and Campaigns

Krugman addresses the Bush Administration's culture of cover-ups today, citing the recent disclosure of the loss of 377 tons of explosives from Iraq (falling under the category of Major News Items I've Missed Since I Hit The Trail). It's good - check it out.

Philly's Big Day

Here's the Philadelphia Inquirer coverage of yesterday's rally. Sounds like it went pretty well . . . .

It's 7:14 EDT - I've been here for about 20 minutes. Last night I left at midnight. I'm thinking I'll need to start getting more sleep somewhere if I'm to be alive on election day. I tried to brush my hair with my perfume bottle this morning . . . . Taking a page from Bar takers, I'm moving myself into a downtown hotel on Sunday - at the latest.

Following up on one of my last audio posts, I thought I'd share more about the Fox News gal and her feeble attempts at talking her way out of getting caught. I learned about her presence when a regular volunteer began yelling in the back. I'm not sure how she figured out to whom she was speaking - but when she did . . . . So, in front of my stood a short woman who introduced herself as Jane Ro with Fox News. Googling didn't turn up much, so maybe I got the name wrong. Not local Fox, The Fox News. Fine, I have zero problem handling problematic Fox News employees. She gave me a wide-eyed, "what's that woman freaking out about" stare. She swore up and down that of course she wasn't putting anything on the record and she was just across the street at dinner and was curious.

Fine, I said. Can I call my press office for you, they'd be happy to come down. Do you have a cameraman who wants shots? No, she writes for the website. Ah, I thought, how lame. She repeated over and over that it was all off the record, she was just curious. Of course, every question she asked me was very on-the-record in manner and type. What we did there, what the plans for the next days event were, why on earth would Kerry come to Philly when it's clearly going to go his way anyway? Golly gee, I don't know. I hate people who feign stupid. She asked the volunteer, who was making a "Haitians for Kerry" sign, who wasn't visibly Haitian herself, why she was making such a sign. I'm sure she had purely off-the-record curiosity.

She seemed to take [fake] umbrage at the volunteer's verbal beating, but I mentioned to her that this perhaps wouldn't be the friendliest place for Fox Newsers. She seemed indignant at this too. I said not to feel bad because her ratings were excellent (which is actually the point in the conversation when she copped to the internet job). She said it wasn't about ratings, it was about respectability.

Of course. I can't imagine why a Democratic office would lack respect for Fox News . . . .

Other interesting press visits: a few days ago, a young teacher stopped in to help for a few hours making signs. Ten minutes later, a French radio journalist came in asking if there was anyone who wanted to be interviewed and whether, per chance, anyone spoke French. Turns out my teacher volunteer was a French teacher - she interviewed him for about 20 minutes. Pretty cool. It was just one of a million ways in which things you need around here seem to just fall out of the sky when you need them.

Except 6 hours of extra sleep time.

Monday, October 25, 2004

That's It

I broke down and bought 3 T-moblie day passes. This in no way means I'll be blogging regularly - or hell - even at all, but it sure feels a lot better to know that I can when I need to . . . .
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, October 22, 2004

You Know You've Been in Politics Too Long When

You read this headline, Boxer accused of hammer death of sportswriter, and think, "Barbara, no!"

And since we're in a California State of mind tonight, here's a story on Schwarzenegger finally sort of making good on his Hummer promise to drive less murderous mammouth vehicles. I love the H-Hwy idea, but still dislike his stable of excessive vehicles.

We Get It Already . . . You're running, you're running, fine . . . .

Lockyer subpoenas flu shot distributors amid gouging reports.

Go get 'em, tiger. Never one to miss an ink opportunity - inkortunity? - Lockyer is busting vaccine distributors.

Of course, perhaps, in this case, he is motivated by pure, consumer protection factors. But even as they are coughing up a lung, Democrats should remember this. Especially in 2006.

More Frosting for the Cakewalk

From the New York Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 21 - Senior American officials are beginning to assemble a new portrait of the insurgency that has continued to inflict casualties on American and Iraqi forces, showing that it has significantly more fighters and far greater financial resources than had been estimated.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Readers, This is the Kind of Stuff I Count on You to Catch

While I'm out taking back the country . . . .

I had heard about Jon Strewarts ball-busting turn on Crossfire - but I haven't seen it yet. And you KNOW it's something that would be, like, so me to comment on. I heard it's online - I'll try to find it tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a link to an NYT article on the show (seems pretty uniformative, but whatever). Anyone who saw Crossfire, or has a comment on Stewart's appearance - please comment below and catch me up. (if there are 0 comments there for too long, i'll be real, real bummed. no one wants a bummed blogger, do they?)

Please don't stop reading. I'll be back soon - at the very least, in 13 days. (Uh, 14, there will be some recovery time, I'm sure).

WV Within 3

The little state that might.


(click on the link above for the interactive map.)

Go, fight, win, WV Victory. Miss you guys . . . .

PA is a lovely shade of pale blue as well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Chapter 19 - in which Phoblog loses it

First full day in Philly, what fun. Phoblog finally (enough with the "f"s already) has a job - and if I could describe it to you accurately, I would. It's vastly different from my WV duties, but this state is vastly different as well.

The day started, however, with my already damaged LG-6000 phone falling onto a carpeted floor from about 18 inches up and splitting into two pieces. So I did what anyone would do. I lost it. I cried.

No, not really, Phoblog doesn't cry as a general rule. But I came damn close. There, locked within the now faceless phone body were all my phone numbers, my connection to the world, and photos 14 and 15 in the cd-and-ggd photo series. Long story short - there was a nearby Verizon store and I'm now the proud yet pissed off owner of a new Samsung (not in the budget at all) - my phone book was transfered, but all other data and photos are lost. Or just locked in the LG body. (if there's a geek out there who can help with that - please let me know.)

These are the most boring posts ever, dear readers. But understand that, a) they kinda keep me sane, b) the help me not have to call home as often as I should/would like to by letting my parents know I'm alive, and c) as of yet, no helpful soul has forwarded this site address to the whole office, so, as stupid as it sounds, it's at least a bit of a my-secret-life thing. The state effort here is massive. It's about 4x (or maybe, more accurately, to the 4th power) larger than WV. And now, less than two weeks out, there's not as much time for inspirational blog posts to be circulated around. It's just go time. Which is great.

I wonder what's going on in the rest of the world . . . . I'd give a lot for some time with the papers.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Country-Roads-Take-Me-Homesick

It's funny. While I skipped off to West Virginia and settled in not at all missing much of anything in SF (except my friends and readers, of course), I got to Philadelphia this afternoon and immediately got a little homesick for the comforting vastness and quiet of the Mountain State. And while most of my West Virginia friends asked constantly about culture shock, I hadn't really felt any until I pulled into downtown Philly this afternoon. People! Restaurants! Diversity! The Banana Republic!!! It was too much. Philly looks like a fantastic city - but one that won't get explored until November 4 at at the earliest.

I haven't read the papers today, haven't seen the lates polls, don't know my way around anywhere, don't know much of anything right now, including what, exactly, my role here will be. I think my low point was arriving here, walking in, having a girl ask me for my resume, and being so highway-hypnotized and out of it, I just gave her a puzzled look and pointed to the back of my KE'04 staff sweatshirt and said, "I'm staff." Fabulous first impression, I'm sure.

And if I thought there wasn't much time to learn the ropes in WV when we were 32 days out . . . . The organization here is just massive, compared to WV (though our organization, organizationally speaking, was and is absolutely top notch) - and when I talk about WV, I still say "we."

It's 11:25pm here, I'm still at the office (my office? an office?) and I woke up at 6 am and drove the whole day - so I'm damn near walking into walls. The buzz here is good, which makes me feel better about the whole thing. But oddly enough, this leap was scarier than the one from California out - kinda counterintuitive.

Stay tuned - we'll see what happens . . . .
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends



These are the amazing FOs of "JK Central" - our region, cutting a wide swath down the middle of the state, from Charleston to the Ohio River, and points all around and in between. Some of us are leaving, some are staying - but wherever we are, we fight the same good fight. To them, I say thank you, and with them, I thank all the Mountaineers who have given their all to this campaign and will continue to do so until 7:30pm, November 2.

Get'r Done.

Keystoni Semper Liberi

Regardless of the state, all of this still applies.



Readers, meet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - and my home, for the remainder of the election. You'll hear some negative things about West Virginia's current polling, you'll hear from gloating Reeps - but I assure you, don't buy the hype. This is the little state that could - home to hard workers, good people, and high spirits. The fight continues here, and while I'm sad to leave, I go where I'm needed - and from now on, that's in Pennsylvania.

No word yet on where - so at this moment in time, I'm operating on a Road Rules schedule of waiting for the phone to ring or the email to arrive.

I have loved my time in West Virginia. In a short amount of time, I grew to care deeply for the people here - all of them harder workers than almost anyone I've ever met elsewhere. They have welcomed me into their homes, into their communities, allowed me to help them take back their state and help fight for the things they deserve - like jobs. I'll have a better wrap-up of my time as a Mountaineer soon. But for now, wish me luck and stay tuned - there's still a lot of fight left in this blogger, and a lot of fight left to be fought.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Everything's Fine

Nope, nothing wrong here, or there. And certainly not back there.

And I wouldn't worry about this either, they're just plain unpatriotic.

It's all good . . . . .

West Virginia Photo Album, Vol. 2

Readers who keep up with things may wonder why I'm ignoring the elephant in the electoral college today. The main reason is that I don't know enough now to tell anyone anything more than what's in the papers. But I'll know more by the end of the day. For now, here are a few more snapshots of my West Virginia adventure:



In downtown Point Pleasant, on the otherside of the flood wall, lies this riverfront walkway on the Ohio River (I think - 3 rivers converge here, the Ohio, Kanawha, and some other river that escapes me right now). Today was the first day I strolled beyond the wall to check it out. It's very cold and windy today - the morning was rained out, but as you can see, it cleared up.

The most remarkable thing happened while I was taking this photo - the air filled with what sounded like soft pipe music - not quite an organ, but more like a pan flute or soft wind instrument. It was everywhere - strange, discordant, but still enchanting. After looking around in confusion, I noticed that the green railing along the walkway had dozens of small holes at the joints and weld points. The harsh, cold wind rushing over them acted just like a flute - thus the strange, haunting music. It was both lovely and creepy (as you can tell from my horrid overuse of adverbs in this description).

Speaking of creepy:



Shriek!!!! It's the Mothman! Runnnnn! Okay, this is just an amazing Mothman-like facsimile. This is what it says below the statue:



Uh, well, it's not quite Nessie - but it's creepy. And, I'm told, has nothing to do with what High Times rates as one of the 10 best breeds (strains? types? whatever) of pot grown over in the next county.

The biggest mystery for me, however, remains: how the hell did this potato thing end up in the planter outside?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Did You Ever Have One of Those Days?

Where you thought things were going kinda well for a change, then you read a news article and you couldn't decide whether to post on it or not, even though some of your readers have already mentioned it?

Yeah, me too . . . .

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Enough to Make You Sea Sick

As the frequency of polling increases, the colors on this animated electoral map blink like so many Christmas lights.

It's best to focus on one state and track the changes and then start over again. Though, at the end of the cycle, California is a light blue Weak-Kerry, which I gotta think is a margin of error thing . . . . Seriously, I'm out here, don't joke about the hometown going soft.

If you click on a state you go to the source map, where a second click on the state reveals a sort of metagraph of polling data. Check out Ohio Polls for a particularly schizo dance of voter preferences. The West Virginia Polls graph illustrates where we got hit by Bush and related interest lies (Swift Boats, "he'll take your bibles," "he'll take your guns").

The lists Iowa, New Hampshire, and NEW JERSEY as exactly tied. New Jersey? Come on now, folks....

Okay well that's enough of looking at THAT data. It's making me blue while job here is to make my state blue . . . .

Don't Call My Gay Daughter A Lesbian!

I just don't get it.

You're telling me the GOP takes umbrage to Kerry's comments about Cheney's openly gay daughter? Seriously? This comment is a problem:

Mr. Kerry: We're all God's children, Bob, and I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice. I've met people who struggled with this for years, people who were in a marriage, because they were living a sort of convention, and they struggled with it. And I've met wives who are supportive of their husbands or vice versa when they finally sort of broke out and allowed themselves to live who they were, who they felt God had made them. I think we have to respect that.
Yeah, what an asshole.

Of course, wonder why the Cheneys weren't hopping mad before?

From the Edwards/Cheney Debate:

EDWARDS: Now, as to this question, let me say first that I think the vice
president and his wife love their daughter. I think they love her very
much. And you can't have anything but respect for the fact that they're
willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that
they embrace her. It's a wonderful thing. And there are millions of
parents like that who love their children, who want their children to be
happy. . . . .

CHENEY: Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he
said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much.
No, Cheney didn't comment past that. But this guy has a record of, shall we say, expressing himself forcefully if need be. Just ask Senator Lahey.

One reader has argued that there is a difference between calling her "gay" and calling her a "lesbian." I'm not sure what it is.

I suppose on a certain level the GOP should be applauded for standing up for gay Americans. Oh wait, but they aren't. Their attitude is based in a presumption of shame: how dare Kerry "out" the Cheney's daughter? What's the problem, y'all? She's gay. Deal with it.

Now, if the question was on boozy college graduates and he picked on Bush's kids, THAT would've been wrong.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

L.A. Observed posts on the Schwarzenegger Administrations increasing disarray and confusion. Ah, so glad we ousted Gray for his "reformer." The post links to this L.A. Weekly piece cleverly subtitled: "Will the real Governor Schwarzenegger please stand up - for something?" (the article also quotes Phoblog friend and fellow amatuer Italian iron chef - okay, he out pastas me everytie - Steve Maviglio. Gotta give a shout out when it's due).

And Donna Arduin is leaving as early as Friday.

Well, Arnold, I'd love to see what you have in mind for the sequel, because I'd say Arnold The Governor I was a flop.

More Debate Reax

From the NYT:

Neither candidate made anything that would count as a major gaffe, and neither seemed to score a knockout punch. But Mr. Kerry repeatedly chastised Mr. Bush for lost jobs, the growing gulf between rich and poor, inequitable pay for women and lack of health insurance. Mr. Bush ignored the specifics of many of Mr. Kerry's complaints, instead frequently citing his efforts to improve American educational standards. . . .

By many empirical measures, the race has been Mr. Kerry's to lose all year.

For months, Mr. Bush has struggled to raise his job approval ratings above 50 percent, polls have shown a clear majority of the public thinks the country is on the wrong track and events on the ground in Iraq and official inquiries in Washington have combined to raise widespread questions about the administration's rationale for war there, and widespread doubts about its conduct. All that is bad news for any incumbent, especially one who owed his ultimate victory to a single vote on the Supreme Court.

But since Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush has remained buoyed by his consistently strong ratings on handling terrorism, and Mr. Kerry has never managed to open a clear, sustained lead in the horse race - even when polls showed viewers believed by lopsided margins that he had outperformed Mr. Bush in the first debate. That is bad news for any challenger, especially one in such an otherwise favorable environment . . . .

Mr. Garin added, "The biggest challenge for Kerry is how voters ultimately work through their comfort level with making a change in leadership during the war on terror."
That last statement drives home how effectively the Administration has tainted American thinking. It implies that the "war on terror" is finite and limited to the next 4 years.

This collection of pundit highlights illustrates how annoying pundit highlights are. Especially the Fox News crew - who can never go wrong just arguing against practical reality - one head called Kerry's mention of Cheney's gay daughter "an underhanded outing." Which would be true if she weren't, you know, like, already out.

I'm glad the debates are over because it means I don't have to organize anymore debate parties and I can focus on just getting folks to the polls. There's so much left to do it makes me a bit dizzy sometimes. Okay, most of the time.

There's always another voter to find and drag to the polls. And now that we can actually drag them, the game is much more real. Remember, you non-WV readers (99.9% of you) can still call in and help us get those sporadic Democratic voters out to the polls before election day. . . . .

A non-campaign aside: It's Phoblog's mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom! I didn't get a card in the mail, but I'm working on giving you your country back.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Final Debate Reax

1.) What is it with Bush/Cheney and their constant "Jobs? Well, how about education" tactics?

2.) Bush made some mumbled joke about citing newspapers - I'll have to check the transcripts to see what that was about. He sucks at humor higher than playground-level.

3.) Questions sucked. Faith? Wives? Are people born gay? I didn't like 'em.

4.) On behalf of West Virginia FOs, thank you, Senator Kerry, for your answer on guns.

5.) Did any CMCer besides me think, when Kerry started listing his mother's advice to him, fill in "commitment" and "achievement" after "integrity?"

6.) Bush does get a bit of credit by "asking for your vote" at the end. It's campaigning 101, but still important.

7.) Bush's scramble to reclaim John McCain after Kerry's second (3d?) time name-dropping him was fun to watch ("John McCain is for me for President!")

8.) Number one line of found humor - Bush saying the ports are "much better protected today than when I was the governor of Texas." How Daily-Show-Governor-Bush-v.-President-Bush-Debate-esque. Runner up: Bush's "gosh I sure hope it's not the administration."

9.) Number one intentionally funny line: Kerry's regarding the Sopranos. Runner-up: Kerry regarding how far up he married.

10.) Your word of the day is litany.

Psst, You forgot something


Look closer.

This photo is from this site, recommended by another FO, chock full o' the funny. As well as this apt representation of the Vice Presidential debate:


My point exxxxxactly.

(oh hey, that second link there - my title was spot on for this site.)

The Gray Lady on Mountaineers

West Virginia: Where Kerry Is Trying to Avoid Gore's Pitfalls:

Stronger turnout in the south, combined with anti-Bush sentiment in the northern steel belt, where many voters are angry about Mr. Bush's stand on steel tariffs, could be enough to win the state, they contend. Mr. Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel in March 2002 and lifted them at the end of last year, citing an improving economy and cost cutting by domestic steel makers.

Mark Glyptis, president of the Independent Steelworkers Union, said many mill workers in the northern panhandle voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 out of disgust with the free trade policies of the Clinton administration. The union even backed Patrick J. Buchanan in 2000 in protest. But it has come out enthusiastically for Mr. Kerry this year.

"People feel betrayed," Mr. Glyptis said. "Bush said he would stay the course on tariffs, and then he lifted them."

The Kanawha River Valley around Charleston has also struggled economically, with Dow Chemical, an automobile plant and other companies laying off thousands of workers in just the past year. The toll has been so severe that the long-serving Republican mayor of South Charleston, who is also a presidential elector, recently said he might cast his electoral vote for Mr. Kerry, even if Mr. Bush wins the state.

The mayor, Richie Robb, said he was uneasy about Mr. Bush's policies on tax cuts and Iraq.

"I have admired President Bush's resoluteness," Mr. Robb said. "But at a certain point, I have to wonder whether it is a misguided resolve."

Republicans say that the economy is improving and that Mr. Bush's proposals for tax cuts and limits on lawsuits will create employment. But they acknowledge continuing problems. . . .


[note in that last graf, the mention of lawsuit reform Along with "liberal," it seems to be Bush's 3d act talking point. Aiming, I'd assume, at taking knocking down some of Edwards's southern popularity.]

Republican mailings have accused liberals of wanting to ban the Bible. And fliers distributed in church parking lots say Mr. Kerry favors "anti-Christian, anti-God, antifamily" judges, same-sex marriage and abortion.

Mr. Kerry says that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that states should be allowed to decide their rules.

The attacks have clearly affected people like Bill Poston, 47, a printer here. Mr. Poston is upset about the Iraq war and says many of Mr. Bush's domestic policies have been failures. He even likes what Mr. Kerry says about health care. But he is upset about the possibility of same-sex marriage and is convinced that Mr. Bush will be a "more moral leader." "My minister thinks Bush is a very moral person," Mr. Poston said. "He believes he is being led by God."


[The terrorists are also led by "God." In case anyone was wondering.]

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning

Early voting begins here in West Virginia this morning. From now on, everyday is game day. Twenty of them. In a row. It doesn't stop until 7:30pm, November 2, 2004.

I stumbled into the gym at 6:30 (okay, closer to 7:00), bleary-eyed, foggy-headed, grumpy, and feeling a little ill. The circles under my eyes were so apparent even the guy at the front desk asked if I needed more sleep. Then he chatted with me while I fumbled with the eliptical machine buttons. He knew I was in town for a campaign, today I got to the part of the story about being from California. I had been intentionally a bit dodgy about for whom I was working because I wanted to become more of a regular before trying to secure votes. Turns out, gym-guy is for Kerry too. So we talked about the debates (he talked, I gasped and eeked out words between intervals), Bush, etc. It woke me up as much as the workout. So much so I managed to get out an extra mile on the treadmill to Black Eyed Peas's "Let's Get It Started" (my official, 2004, get pumped up song, at least lately). Now, of course, in the office, I'm exhausted - but at the time, man, was I amped.

This morning is the first day of the rest of our fight.

I say, bring it.

West Virginia Photo Album, Vol. 1



Charleston HQ



Signs we just love . . . my first assignment from HQ . . . .



Senator Harkin and our diehard fans, the Sheet Metal Workers



The Jackson County HQ - my office.



Our sign - Joe hates it, I think it's fun.



Inside central command . . . .



Officemate and Jackson County FO Joe Stanford.



West Virginia is all about signage - here's an introduction to Mason County, Phoblog's turf.



Veterans for Kerry at the Battledays Parade in Point Pleasant, WV



The Mason County Democrats HQ in Point Pleasant.



Who wants a 4x8?



Ahhh, another sign we love.



Dammit, if the Ninjas are voting for Kerry, why aren't you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I'd Prefer a Big Mac Attack

Phoblog's metroblog boss Sean Bonner posts a heebie-jeebie inducing memo from a friend on a possible imminent terror attack on US soil. Well, heebie-jeebie if I weren't all wolf-cried out from the past two years . . . .

The numbers are New Mexican. Maybe eventually they'll also be WV-ian, OH-ian, FL-ian, or Il-ian.

Ask Not For Whom The Courthouse Bell Tolls

Tonight's selections - "We've Only Just Begun" (this town likes it's Carpenters) and an "Impossible Dream" reprise.

Oddly fitting given the date: tomorrow West Virginia starts voting.

More Boycott Info

Boycott Sinclair Broadcasting

Go, fight, call, win.

Iraqi Car Bombs as In-Kinds to Kerry Campaign

And this passes for rational thought? Josh Marshall posts Sinclair's Mark Hyman from CNN this morning as he argues that if Sinclair's media event is an in-kind to Bush then Iraqi car bombs are in-kinds to Kerry.

How bad might this be if allowed to go through? Where are Sinclairs markets? No place important, unless you count Nevada, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconnsin, Maine, Virginia, and - yes - West Virginia's own population core of Charleston-Huntington.

Josh also has a post on how to call these stations and threaten them. For my Capitol readers, channel 13 in Sacto is a Sinclair station. Hit the Phones.

Or if you want to help me out, hit these phones - the national advertisers (the site doesn't have a list of Charleston specific advertisers yet).

Everyone Loves a Catholic Girl - especially the GOP

As one of many Catholics voting for John Kerry, stories like this one from today's New York Times make me nuts.

The article opens with an archbishop's presentation to Colorado college students about how abortion is a foundational issue. He never says explicitly for whom to vote. Like that matters.

The same thing happened in my church in San Pedro shortly before I left for West Virginia. I shook with rage as the priest used the pulpit to direct Catholic votes - decrying abortion but never once mentioning deaths in Iraq, lying, pride, or any number of other sins Bush commits daily. There's no cry for a more humble Bush. No plea for peace. No admonishment of leaders who have lied repeatedly to their followers. None of that. The Catholic Church is happily allowing itself to become just another pawn - a tool of distraction - for a bloodthirsty, unrepentant campaign.

As I've said numerous times before, my quest isn't to shine light on every instance of hypocricy in this world - or even in this campaign. For starters, I lack the time. But mainly, that's just life - there can't be black and white rules for full-color humans. I even argued somewhat against this tactic when I argued against "outting" David Dreier under a hypocricy-elimination-squad cover. But remember when I said there weren't hard and fast rules? So, here we are.

Galvanized by battles against same-sex marriage and stem cell research and alarmed at the prospect of a President Kerry - who is Catholic but supports abortion rights - these bishops and like-minded Catholic groups are blanketing churches with guides identifying abortion, gay marriage and the stem cell debate as among a handful of "non-negotiable issues."

To the dismay of liberal Catholics and some other bishops, traditional church concerns about the death penalty or war are often not mentioned. . . .

In an interview in his residence here, Archbishop Chaput said a vote for a candidate like Mr. Kerry who supports abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research would be a sin that must be confessed before receiving Communion.
To me, the bottom line, blackest humor in all of this is that while Bush has done a great job courting the Catholic vote and trying to unite conservative fundamentalists with conservative Catholics, it's all predicated on one big set of crossed fingers. Why? Because if Bush is a true-blue saved believer then HE DOESN'T THINK YOU, CATHOLIC VOTER, ARE CHRISTIAN AT ALL. NOT EVEN ONE LITTLE BIT. You haven't been "saved," you with your pagan saint worship and crazy belief that the wafer and wine become body and blood. They pander to your dogmatic thought and all the while pity your poor, unfortunate, going to Hades soul because you're a Catholic and not really Christian at all.

So pay no attention to that liar behind the curatin, my Catholic brothers and sisters. The one who says Kerry and liberal, sinning Catholics kill babies for sport or so they can save money and time on condoms. The one who lets people hold up photos of broken babies between your eyes and the photos of dead Iraqi children and American soldiers. The one who ruins God's natural treasures in the wild, sacrifices the needs of the poorest Americans for the portfolios of the richest. Pay no attention at all. Listen only to your priest, who has surely lost his way, and maybe part of his mind. War is not God's teaching. Democrats don't support abortion, they oppose the legislative prohibition of what should be taught in churches and families: don't have sex or use reliable contraception.

When accused of telling parishioners how to vote, one priest's response was "We are not telling them how to vote. We are telling them how to take Communion in good conscience."

Amazing.

Technical Issues

It seems Blogger isn't loading my posts right now, which means even this notice won't be seen by anyone until the problem is fixed - but it can't hurt to try.

They're going onto the blogger site, but not getting loaded to my domain. I paid the bill this month, so who knows what the problem is . . . . Please stand by.

Monday, October 11, 2004

More Memo Madness

So this time, an ABCer wrote a memo about there being no need to hold both sides equally accountable for campaign distortions, etc.

And I understand the handwringing and the liberal-media-biasing and the rest. But I can't help but think, you know what, he's kinda right.

No, stick with me, I'm still kool-aid free - but, really, the maliciousness with which the Right pursue victory is breathtaking. (You California readers have NO IDEA, trust me.) Is all spin created equal? Hell no. There are some (sad) days when I wish we'd hit back like they hit. We won't, because despite what some wacky "dems" and Nader types say, we do have a teensy bit of our souls left.

But underlying the Halperin memo is the increasingly noted tendency of mainstream media not to report or to achieve actual balance, but to simply hold the mic in front of each candidates' attack dog for the requisite amount of time and in a fit of trumped up let-the-viewer-decide-ness. Is Halperin biased, pro-Kerry, and activist in his advice? Maybe. Probably, even. But that doesn't negate the truth of the situation - that it's possible, nay, probable, that one side may be wronger here.

Halperin's please-catch-me memo hurts the fight for now, because it draws attention from the base problem (lies, distortions, out and out crazy talk) and back onto process (lib media nutsos and who did or did not call whom a "liar" and when).

So as with so many other almost developed stories in the course of this campaign - the real meat of this flap will remain undigested.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Quick Take

My officemate's computer kicked the bucket today, so for the good of the cause, I have to hand over the keys for a bit.

But the overall, the debate ran about what I expected. Bush's style came off a bit less fidgety with this staging, since he could be - well - fidgety. Kerry still managed his reactions better. Bush reset his jaw more often than I could count. (Also - I remember a science class exercise once when we held mirrors over half our school photos - your right and left brain can send mixed messages to your mouth: so when you're smirking, or just faking a smile, it really is all over your face). Highlight: Bush running over Charlie Gibson in a fit of "me-ness" to get his point out. It was 100% pure Bush. Someone should tell him that the madder he gets, the more he plays into Kerry's hands.

To me, as I mentioned below, the Bush statement I'd hammer on was his assertion that he'd caught 75% of the terrorists. I pity an America that believes there is a finite supply. It can be managed. Maybe it can be contained. It can't, however, be completely erased. Not now, especially. (Remember the starfish.)

Bush, for the most part, took his fight to the audience - though the format made things touchy. It's fine to imply a moderator is wrong - but a voter? Heaven forbid. He seldom talked at Kerry however - at least not to the same degree as Kerry did when he - I think the best description is - got all up in Bush's grill at a certain point. It was stunningly effective.

Also effective: the statistic highlighting Missouri's contribution to the war - were it a country, it'd be the 3d largest in the coalition in Iraq.

Lastly - and I'll return to this later - Bush should stick with the schoolyard mocking type humor he's honed so well over the last 4 years. All other attempted jokes tonight fell flatter thana red state.

Duty calls - if you have your own reax, do your blogger a favor and make the comments section lively . . .

'Plus I Want Them All Voting For Me'

RE: Supreme Court Justices -

I'll have to wait for the transcript to get this all just right, but somehow, I think he just said a judge who said the pledge couldn't contain "under God" would be following personal opinion - and it would have to be based on the Constitution . . . .

And: "No litmus test except for how they interpret the Constitution."

Ah. Right. No test. Except for how they'd do their job.

Breaking News: The Universe of Terrorists Is Finite

The President says 75% of Al-Q terrorists have been brought to justice.

So we can get them all. And there won't be anymore.

What do you have when you've caught 75% of a starfish. How many are left?

Many, many more. You make one for each bit you cut off . . . .

Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear, Every Time, You Post, Dear?

So, one of the highlights of my day are the several times daily concerts provided by the courthouse bell tower across the street. When I first arrived, it was show tunes - "Moonriver" (not really a show tune, fine), "Matchmaker" (the most Jewish thing in WV, as far as I can tell), "Surrey with a Fringe," "I Could Have Danced All Night," "Impossible Dream" (oddly, I dunno, inspiring?), "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," "On the Street Where You Live."

Then came the melancholy - "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Yesterday."

Then the juxtaposed-with-Ripely classics - "Piano Man," "Downtown," "New York, New York."

And now, the Carpenters' "Close to You," causing me to pause data entry to chime in "ahh, ahhhhh, close to you . . . ."

Great Expectations

Job numbers, Debates, Homecoming - yup, this Friday is all about games.

First up - the jobs report. The Administration had predicted about 150k jobs added, but only hit 96k, prompting this NYT headline:U.S. Added 96,000 Jobs in September, Fewer Than Expected.

"Fewer Than Expected." Unemployment stayed steady at 5.4%. And the August new jobs estimate dropped about 16k's worth as well. So what's the spin? For us, it's all about expectations - and the undeniable fact that Bush has overseen little but job loss over the last four years.

For them - we still gained, despite not gaining as much.

The rest of the day will be spent gaming the debates tonight - it's a town hall format and it will focus on domestic issues. I've seen Kerry work high school gyms and local firehouses - he does well. He can get folksier than you'd think. Bush, however, has built his presidency on appealing over the heads of press directly to the people. We'll see what shakes out.

Oh - and that homecoming game? Point Pleasant faces the 3d in the state Polka (wait for it) Dots (not making it up) tonight. Dots are expected to dance over the lower division Black Knights . . . .

Something to Support

May as well continue alienating my conservative readers (miss you, SK), by urging you to check out and support BlogPac.

Their front page statement is enough to hook me - and it should grab other bloggers and blog readers as well:

Writing a blog post is not enough. Reading a blog post is not enough. Commenting on a blog is not enough. Being educated is the first step toward political change. But the next step requires doing something.

BlogPac.org is that next step -- a group of bloggers not content to simply write words or read them, but eager to take action on the pressing issues of our day. We will not sit idly by and merely chatter as everything we care about burns. And you join us in our efforts.
On a related note: A lot of people have become big internet shoppers - and while I appreciate the ability to access pretty much any store and any product with ease - I'm a fan of the instant gratificaiton that comes from planking down plastic on a counter in a brick & mortar. What I've taken to, however, is contributing online to political campaigns and PACs. It's just so damn easy. I'm strictly small dollar (duh) - but watch the ticker at BlogPac site counting money raised for those Ohio commercials. It doesn't take that much per donor to raise some serious cash. So make it a blockbuster night and contribute that extra movie money to the effort of your choice .

I'm Sorry - But Is that Honesty I See on the House Floor?

From Phoblog reader JP, this link to a Daily Kos post featuring a clip from Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan delivering a truly impassioned speech about the draft bill - but more powerfully, about the "pattern of behavior" exhibited by our President.

Also - a plea for contributions to pay for an ad featuring this speech to run online across Ohio. Frankly - I'd say up the ask and run it on TV. Go kick in your nickel and help effort.

A note to all my YD readers - this congressman was born in 1973. Yeah - what have you done so far? He's got aspirations - clearly - but he's got passion, which counts for a lot.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Scenes from a Meeting

.... So please, with just a few hours a week, you really can make a big difference in this election.

Where are all the yard signs?

Well, they just can't print them fast enough. That's why it's so important that while we're short on yard signs y'all help us make phone calls and knock on doors because there's no substitute for voter-to-voter contact.

So when are you getting the yard signs?

Well, I'm not sure, as soon as Charleston let's me know that they're -

We've got folks coming over from Ohio because they don't have any over there either.

Yes, I know, there's such a run on them. But you see if we [phone phone phone, walk, phone, phone, walk walk walk phone walk phone, save the world, John Kerry, great debate, phone phone, Dick Cheney lied, phone bank, oust Bush, phone walk phone].

Oh okay - well then I have a question. How can those polls be what they are when so many people want yard signs?

Winner: Effective Use of Chirping Crickets Award

And effective use of C-SPAN clips, as well. Here's a movie capturing the greatest Republic talking points of 2004. Worth playing a few times.

(thanks to LJ for the link.)

Shameless

Via TPM, more unabashed denial of reality in this AP Report describing how the weapons report justifies the decision to go to war:
MIAMI - Vice President Dick Cheney asserted on Thursday that a finding by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that Saddam Hussein's government produced no weapons of mass destruction after 1991 justifies rather than undermines President Bush's decision to go to war.

The report shows that "delay, defer, wait wasn't an option," Cheney told a town hall-style meeting.

While Democrats pointed to the new report by Charles Duelfer to bolster their case that invading Iraq was a mistake, Cheney focused on portions that were more favorable to the administration's case.

"The headlines all say no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Baghdad. We already knew that," Cheney said.

He said other parts of the report were "more intriguing."

Cheney's comments reflect a GOP strategy to use portions of the report, including abuses of Iraq's "fuel for food" program, to try to move discussion away from the central conclusions on the absence of weapons of mass destruction.

Although the report says Saddam's weapons program had deteriorated since the 1991 Gulf War and did not pose a threat to the world in 2003, it also says Saddam's main goal was the removal of international sanctions.

"As soon as the sanctions were lifted he had every intention of going back" to his weapons program, Cheney said. . . .

Thus there was no reason to wait to invade Iraq to give inspectors more time to do their work, Cheney said. . . .

So - just to get this completely straight. Saddam was trying to . . . change the law? He wasn't going to recreate his program in spite of the sanctions, he was just going to work tirelessly for their removal and then develop them to protect himself - as he saw it - from his nearest regional nemeses? And I love that the lack of existing WMD is now old news that doesn't really deserve any comment since "we already knew that." Mr. Vice President, you do get the whole timeline thing here, right?

If Saddam was working to end the sanctions so he could restart his weapons programs, couldn't big, powerful, whole-world-loves-US-circa-2001 USA have convinced the international community to stand up for the sanctions? If he was waiting for there to be no sanctions so he could arm himself, doesn't that mean the sanctions were working?

Why is Cheney allowed to get away with this stuff? Hello - people, come on. This doesn't even pass the laugh test.

The Ever-Faltering Case For War

FromFred Kaplan on Slate:

Had the CIA's recent conclusion been reached two years ago, either within the administration or by Congress, the case for going to war would have been greatly weakened. In fact, as NBC News reported last March (and as almost nobody has picked up since), the Bush administration had several opportunities to bomb Zarqawi's camp well before the war. On at least two occasions the U.S. military drew up plans for an attack. But the White House rejected the proposals—mainly because shutting down Zarqawi's operation would have removed a key rationale for invading Iraq. This was a jaw-dropping bit of cynicism: Bush sold, and continues to sell, the war in Iraq as a major campaign in the global war on terrorism, yet he repeatedly passed up the chance to neutralize or kill one of the most dangerous terrorists Zarqawi has spent much of his time lately chopping off the heads of foreign contractors) for fear of weakening the case for war.

Today comes the long-awaited 900-plus-page report by Charles Duelfer, the CIA's chief weapons inspector, which concludes pretty much what his predecessor, David Kay, figured out—that on the eve of the war Saddam Hussein had neither weapons of mass destruction nor a viable program for producing such weapons; that his capabilities were deteriorating; that his military might was diminishing, not gathering; that, in short, he posed no real threat. Duelfer did find that Saddam intended to reconstitute his programs once sanctions were dropped. Another way of stating this point: The sanctions were working; they were keeping Saddam Hussein in his box.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Fumbling for the Switch

Phoblog's officemate asks THE question of the 2004 campaign for Democrats:

What do we have to do to get people to bridge the gap between badly wanting John Kerry to win (or George Bush to lose) and actually doing something toward that end?

As he correctly says, it's huge belief and small action. Not even a huge action. It takes so little to change so much.

At least here, in my county, there are union people working 12 hour shifts for a week straight who legitimately lack time right now. They are, of course, those cared about least by the Bush administration. But it's the other folks - the students, the young people, the ones with regular workday jobs, the teachers - it's their absence that is perhaps the most disheartening.

Just a few hours from each Democrat who claims to back Kerry 100% would put this election to bed in a matter of days.

I guess it's like weight loss or kicking an addiction - I can't necessarily force them to flip that switch. The best I can hope for is to lead by example.

But, for the record, it's go time. The house, as JS says, is on fire and burning down around us. For the love of God and country, do something.

Rabbit Season! Duck Season!

West Virginia local lesson #589:

Rabbits are vermin. There is no rabbit season.

You know what is game? Squirrels. There is a squirrel season. And it starts on Saturday. Putting a major crimp in the number of high school students I'd hoped to have precinct walking for me. Apparently after a long off-season, nothing gets in the way of the kids and their first day armed.

(before you hit that comments button, however, and post something poking at this state, let me warn you, i'm already pretty protective of my new peeps. this state is populated by extraordinarily kind people. though, alright, it's okay to make fun of squirrel hunting a lil'bit. frankly, i'm kinda fond of the critters.)

I said 'Caption Contest Returns'

I have more readers than ever, yet y'all are slacking on the contest. I don't care if you don't think it's the best photo ever - go get creative.

What's the Mens Rea Necessary to Legitimize Invasion?

'Cause the big report comes out today and the administration will surely focus less on reality ("posed little immediate threat") and wholly on intent. He INTENDED to develop WMD, as determined by precogs.

Let's focus on the word "yet," right?

("What would you say if I said I haven't see Evil Dead 2 YET")

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Quick Note

All of Josh Marshall's points on the debate are great. Especially Cheney's URL troubles. Whoopsie daisy.

Oh, Dick, Everytime With You Feels Like the First Time

12:44am EDT: "The reason they keep trying to attack Halliburton is because they want to obscure their own error. And senator you have a record in the senate not very distinguished. You missed 33 out of 36 meetings of the judiciary committee, 70% of the meetings in the intelligence committee. You have missed a lot of key votes on tax policy, on energy, on Medicare reform. Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you senator gone. You have one of the worst attendance records in the United States senate. In my capacity as vice president, I am the president of the senate, the presiding officer; I'm in the senate most Tuesdays in session. The first time I met you was when you walked on the stage tonight."



(2/01/01)

(props to DT)

It's Hard To Know Where To Start, But This Post Speaks For Itself

First off - my event was a smashing success. Things in Mason County are looking up already. Oodles of people and some great leads for young dem outreach. Also my first chance to test my speech delivery. I give myself a B. Better on content that style. But my peeps love me already, I think.

So then there's the debate. I haven't heard the early punditry yet, but I think the sense is that Edwards won by doing better against a seasoned veteran (sorta) but the practical outcome was a draw. Which I'll take - since that maintains the status quo (being Dems up, Reeps down). Reaction shots weren't quite as key this time - Edwards does it well, no doubt from awareness of jury eyes. Cheney maintained his level of visible peeve. But he won with the seating arrangment. He was an immoblile moutain of conviction. He filled the split screen well. And the camera man slow zoomed in on him several times while he answered questions (and slow zoomed out on Edwards at least once) - perhaps accidental, but led to an almost subconscious audience connection.

Each of these surrogates ran their principle's lines. Oddly enough, because Kerry did so well last week - his lines were so good, had such gravity - when Edwards echoed he sounded like he was .... echoing. Guess it's like what Bush said - we won so much better than we thought we would we couldn't win as well tonight. Crazy, dude, crazy.

I don't have the transcript yet - and it might be up - but since I'm barely up, bear with me until tomorrow - but I do believe there was at least one "labor" oriented question (perhaps a question and a follow up) where Cheney's response didn't even include the word "labor" once.

Also - at one point, Cheney retorts that he never said there was a link between Al-Q and Iraq, only that there was a link between Iraq and the war on terror (will have to confirm this tomorrow, there IS no transcript as of yet).

To which I say (and by I, I mean, the fruits of me pestering skilled oppo guy DT):

-- He delivered one of his typical speeches Friday at a dusty fairgrounds in Warrenton, Mo., about 40 miles west of St. Louis. Speaking of Hussein, Cheney said: "He provided safe haven for terrorists over the years. He was making $25,000 payments to the families of suicide bombers, and he had a relationship with Al Qaeda, and Iraq for years was carried by our State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism." [LA Times, 9/27/04]

-- Cheney: "His regime has had high-level contacts with al Qaeda going back a decade and has provided training to al Qaeda terrorists." [Cheney Remarks, 12/2/02]

-- Cheney: "I think there's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government." [National Public Radio, "Morning Edition," 1/22/04]

Update - hmmm - seems Cheney said tonight:

--The senator has his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between iraq and 9/11. But there's clearly an established iraqi track record with terror. [tonight]

So does he win on semantics? Maybe. But there's more webcrawling to do on this one. And I think it's really, really splitting hairs if he draws a line between Al-Q and 9/11. We know they DID have something to do with THAT.

My officemate reports that many "flash" polls have Edwards at between 60% and 70% on the win side. I think we'll see those slide a bit by tomorrow (er, later today).

With my Mason County audience, Cheney's jobless answers to the job questions were greeted with laughter and incredulity at his disconnection from reality (and the moderator, apparently). They like Edwards's "I don't think the country can take 4 more years of you" comment. (correction: what he said was, "Mr. Vice President, I don't think the country can take four more years of this kind of experience." Which amounts to "you" but wouldn't be claimed as such.) They enjoyed Edwards, but I'm not sure they were as enthralled as they were with Kerry (slightly different crowd - different county - but similar demos - that's 'graphics and 'crats).

When they closed - Edwards got his small town lawyer on and I expected Cheney to say "vote for us or this puppy gets nuked, grrr, grrr."

It wasn't the show of Kerry v. Bush, Round 1, but it was solid. Cheney, though just as repetitious as Bush, didn't come off as wild-eyed and robatic. Edwards, filled with the same strong lines that weren't quite as fresh the second time out, came off as a pleasing counter to the screen-filling ogre of a Veep.

Some have called it boring. I call it a draw - mainly because of the now really bizarre expectations battle that keeps so many fine heads gainfully talking.

More tomorrow - after I have the transcript, some sleep, and a little more time to consider the event.

25x5 - A West Virginia Challenge

For my partisan Democrat readers:



Greetings again from Wild, Wonderful West Virginia!

The campaign goes well - it's inspirational to so many people in this state (native and non-native) pulling together to get out the vote. It really is a thing of beauty.

I wanted to issue a challenge to you all - knowing full well how busy you are.

I challenge you to take one hour this week to make 25 calls to West Virginia Democrats who are sporadic voters. Then I challenge you to get 5 friends to do the same.

It's super easy - all you have to do is email me your name (see the link on the side) and I'll send you a simple spreadsheet. Use your cell phone minutes or whatever cheap calling method you have to call - anytime of the day (before it would be ridiculously late out here, if you're a West Coast reader, of course). Enter the results on the spreadsheet and email it back. And you're done. The same process works with your five friends - or you're free to coordinate with them. My advice? Make it a party, or use your drive time when you're carpooling to work, other campaigns, the grocery store, whatever.

I've issued the same challenge to the CYD Board, about 30 people. If they each make 25 calls, and get 5 friends to do the same, that's 4500 West Virginia Democrats that will be reminded why they are vital to this election. And it all gets done in ONE HOUR.

I know you're busy, I know you feel like you don't have an extra hour in the week. But I know you do, if you look for it.

Ask not what West Virginia can do for you (like give you a better president), ask what you can do for West Virginia.

First 3 readers to accept the challenge (and follow through) will get a choice piece of West Virginia "chum" (collectable, e-bayable, tell-the-grandkids-about-it, piece of political paraphernalia). Can't beat that . . . .

It takes so little to affect such change.

Clarity

Can anyone put together a hard count of the number of times this Administration has had to issue statments clarifying its prior statements?

Now we have Bremer and Rumsfeld issuing "wait-what-I-actually-meant" memos on whether there were enough troops in Iraq and whether Saddam and Al-Q were in Al-Cahoots.

There's too much fun stuff in this article - so I'm pasting it in the comments section below. Knock yourselves out.

Warning: This Registration Drive May Not Be Suitable For Children

This cycle, absolutely everyone is getting in the, uh, act and registering voters:

Yet the dancers' efforts are having trouble winning respect themselves. "We're
raising money and registering voters here," said Ms. Maker, the organizer of the event. But it is hard to get political groups to accept the support, she said,"because they don't want boobie money."
Not a surprising problem, considering most strip-club based charitable contributions are refused because people would rather deny their own habits as well as food and clothing to kids, help to battered women, etc, etc.

And yeah, of course these clubs are only registering godless, heretic Democrats, I'm sure. I'm also sure no Republican has ever been to a strip club or worked as an exotic dancer. And, of course, they should be on welfare instead of being gainfully employed. Can the Reeps resist making this another liberal travesty? Nope:

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, worked a dig into her comment. "All Americans have a right to be involved in the political process, including John Kerry's supporters in the adult entertainment industry," she said.
Clever, clever.

This article goes well with this site, if you haven't checked it out yet (may not be suitable for work surfing . . . . then again, if you work for the state and get lobbied by these guys, as I did, then I guess you could make it work).

Vote Sean on November 2

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd's campaign sign is up. Go check it out and volunteer or send him money. Actually, volunteer AND send him money.

Wired in West Virginny

Thank God and internet cable . . . .

Down The Tubes

So the aluminum tubes weren't really right for nukes. You know, people make mistakes. It happens. And hey, this Administration is all about forgiveness after all. But that mean old gray lady keeps laying the heavy on Bush and top advisor Condi Rice. Unfair. After all, she said she knew about the "dispute" over the tubes, but, as her spokesman so elegantly explained, "it was not her job to question intelligence reports or 'to referee disputes in the intelligence community.'"

I suppose she just reports and others decide. Guess I misunderstood the role of an adviser.

The Caption Contest Returns!

Been awhile, hasn't it? I know you miss 'em (you enjoyed the others: here, here, here, and here) and I was just thinking that it was about time for another photo - but there just didn't seem to be any out there. Until today:



Gee, thanks, Mr. Rove!

Have at it . . . .

'You forgot about Poland'

Which is fine, apparently, because Poland is about to forget about us. Or to just fuggetaboutit, generally.

Thanks to readers Josh and Roomie B for commenting below about this fabulously helpful CNN story:
Poland may reduce its commitment of forces to the war in Iraq by 40 percent by January 2005 and have all its troops out by the end of that year, Polish officials said Monday.

To be fair to the Polish - they do have 2,500 or so troops there - and unlike President Bush, I like to think I can appreciate the human capital side of that commitment (rather than punt them around like so many political footballs). The administration will emphasize that the pullout is to happen after the mythical, life-affirming, problem solving January elections (exceedingly helpful to base an entire campaign on future contingencies).

Reminds me of a case I worked on this summer - this part took place at a public city council meeting, so don't fret about client confidences. A particularly troublesome local attorney was fighting for his position on a commission and within the community. His parting shot - after 20 odd years working on development in the town, he had finally come up with THE answer for balancing suburban growth, ag, business, and every other interest. The threat was basically: kick me out and I'm taking my toys and going home. Huh? Seriously, THAT's an argument? Not really. Why not implement such a brillilant plan when you had the chance?

Which leads nicely into B's next point in her comments: what was up with Bush's debate statement that we're having a hard time fighting insurgents now because we expected to fight them before. ("I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in.") To which Roomie B responds - okay - so how would you have beat them when you expected to and why not just do that now? It's a good question.

Of course - the whole statement is even goofier:
No, what I said was that, because we achieved such a rapid victory, more of the Saddam loyalists were around. I mean, we thought we'd whip more of them going in.

But because Tommy Franks did such a great job in planning the operation, we moved rapidly, and a lot of the Baathists and Saddam loyalists laid down their arms and disappeared. I thought they would stay and fight, but they didn't.

And now we're fighting them now. And it's hard work. I understand how hard it is. I get the casualty reports every day. I see on the TV screens how hard it is. But it's necessary work.

So, we did such a great job planning that they all left and we didn't need our plan until they came back and so now we have to kill them now instead of before so you see we won but we just won for a little bit now we have to win again apparently the way we thought we'd win the first time which was slower but now we're winning longer but we're still killing lots and lots of them somewhere else so that the [not involved in Sept 11 at all] Iraqis aren't killing us here because they hate us because we're free and we're not-occupying occupiers. Get it?

And did you know it's hard work? And he apparently started watching TV. Who knew? (a blogger with more time would google-and-grab Bush/McClellan statements confirming the President's farming-out the newswatching to staff - but that blogger isn't trying to win a damn presidential election).

I suppose I should let Bush's idiocy in this debate go - since I'm sure we'll get to have a lil fun with Dick Cheney this evening. Of course, I'm already concerned about the expectations gaming on tonight and Friday. So, Kerry should've done poorly on foreign affairs (because Democrats are weak and care about - like OTHER PEOPLE) and should've waited to be great until the domestic issues. But he kicked butt already. So now, what, he should suck, just to give the newsies something over which to express shock and awe? Or should Edwards just suck to debunk that fabled fab trial ad style? If Boy Wonder slays C. Montgomery Burns tonight (exxxxcccellent), and Bush continues to blink, stupefied, into the camera, will they let us have the win?

[Note: Consider, also, Bush's oft-repeated statement: "We will fight the terrorists around the world so we do not have to face them here at home." I suppose, it makes sense. And while I obviously don't want another Sept. 11 or any sort of attack here in America, doesn't that sentence seem like the ultimate in NIMBYism? We're fighting terrorism in somebody's home, aren't we? Once on The West Wing, the President asks Will, "Why is a Kundunese life worth less to me than an American life?" Charlie replies, "I don't know, sir, but it is." It's in our nature to identify with, and wish to protect more, those who are like us: our men and women in uniform, our civilians in office towers. But does that give us license to chalk up the nearly daily high loss of Iraqi lives to acceptable collateral damage?]

Monday, October 04, 2004

Pitney Polysighing About Edwards v. Cheney

Personally, I can't wait for Tuesday's celebrity death match debate between C. Montgomery Burns and the Boy Wonder . . . .

Phoblog mentor (we'll let him go for that working-for-Cheney business) Jack Pitney posts on the Veep-fest:

GOP handlers tend to assume that ordinary voters share their aversion to trial lawyers. It's not quite so simple. In popular culture, trial lawyers are often the heroes: think of Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action. Suppose that Cheney criticizes frivolous lawsuits. Edwards could then strike back: "Frivolous? Ever heard of Valerie Lakey? She's a little girl who got trapped in a defective swimming pool drain. She lost half her intestines, and she'll need tube feeding for the rest of her life. I fought for her in court. Does the Vice President think she's frivolous? I don't think so. I think she's just as important as Dick Cheney or John Edwards -- or Halliburton."
We'll be at Village Pizza in Point Pleasant, WV - if anyone cares to join us . . . .

Each Day Bigger Than The Last

Or so it seems. Actually, it's true.

Here in West Virginia, voting begins October 13. As one of an increasing number of states with Early Vote, West Virginia gives us a great opportunity to run some field ops before E-day. We can practice persuading undecideds (okay, we do that everyday anyway), get people to the polls, and most importantly, start crossing people off the list so there's less to do on Election Day. That's not how it will work out, of course, since there's always one more voter out there.

The southern part of the state - Coal Country - is 4 to 1 Democrat. But as with California, the disparity (statewide, rather than in gerrymandered districts) means the action is in the primary. As one Mason County man described it to me yesterday - it's Uncle Joe vs. Cousin Lullabelle vs. your wife's nephew and it's one bloody mess until a nominee emerges. Then it takes about 3 voters to confirm the primay pick. Great for local politics, bad for national general elections. The situation in California isn't wholly different, except that I think people there still take more stock in general elections rather than in primaries. It's funny, really, considering the amount of attention focused on West Virginia right now compared to how much given to Cali.

It's morning here in Ripley - the bank sign read 37 degrees this morning, and while I think that was a bit low, it felt like it for most of the night in my new digs - a cozy (looking) garage apartment that lacks for nothing except . . . . a bed. My regional director provided me with an air mattress and bedding - which would've been fine if not for the cold. I'm going to look into that for tonight. So far I've been running fine on 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night, but that only counts if I actually sleep. I'm back at the Cornerstone Coffee Co in historic downtown Ripley, across the street from the Courthouse and kitty corner from my still dank, internetless, but cheerfully decorated office (pictures forthcoming). We had a conference call last night at 9:30 and one again at 8:30 this morning. That's pretty much what we do - we're on the phone. Constantly. Calling volunteers, calling voters, calling other FOs, offices, labor, etc, etc, etc. Our office here is technically the Jackson County Exec Committee's HQ. Mason County has one as well (its address, unsurprisingly, also a number on Main Street). Mason's office, however, has no phone line nor plans to get one. It's not a big deal - kinda - but it does mean a lot of driving. Which isn't so bad since it's gorgeous here. But there's always the fear of deer . . . . ("don't swerve, just slam on the breaks and keep driving straight.")

My first event is planned - a VP Debate Watching Party ("at Village Pizza over on Jackson, 8:00pm, hope y'all can make it") - and I'm moving into heavy volunteer recruitment mode. The median age in West Virginia is 40 - making it the oldest state in the country. It's also very poor, very unhealthy, and very unemployed. It's elected Robert Byrd since about its entrance into the Union - and the soon to be elected Dem governor has about a 30 point lead in the polls. So what do we have to worry about?

They get us, I've been told by many, on the 3 Gs: guns, God, and gays. Apparently John Kerry will force you to marry your same-sexed friend at a ceremony where he takes your gun and burns your bible. Nevermind that he's a sportsman, Catholic, and opposes gay marriage. The Swift Boat Veteran ads ran here - making August a particularly dark month for the campaign. There are plenty of pro-Kerry veterans however. In fact, on Saturday, there's a house party for "Mason's Own and West Virginia's Only" Swift Boat Veteran - one for John Kerry, that is.

Besides it's natural beauty, West Virginia is a calm place - despite the feverish campaigns trying their damndest to inflame voters' passions. The people are wonderful - infrequent stereotype notwithstanding (the absolute most terrifying place I've been so far is the sporting goods section of Walmart - I know, I know, but the nearest Target is like 80 miles away. It's huntin' seaons - so the camo and guns are a' flowin'. I asked a clerk about flashlights and his response was Boomhauer-esque). The people I've talked with, however, Democrats, Republicans, Kerry volunteers have been warm, friendly, and curious about how a California girl ended up not just in West Virginia, but in rural West Virgina. Sometimes, it still surprises me too . . . .

Cable internet has been promised for today. We'll see. For now - it's time for another decaf and some data entry - there'll be conference calls soon.