Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Blawger Caption Contest

Thanksgiving may have passed, but if all your table was missing was snarky, turkey-themed, Bush bashing - take heart! Neo Tokyo Times has a contest for you.

I gave NT a hard time for holding his own contest (see his comments section) - but that was just photo-envy.

Go, click here and play his reindeer game.

For the Record

Because I'm fiercely protective of both my specific hometown - San Pedro - and it's city- Los Angeles, I just wanted to clear something up.

Los Angeles Air Force Base, one of the bases that will likely face the threat of closure is not located in what one reader called "the ghetto."

I'm guessing there are worse places to be stationed. Generally speaking, the Air Force takes the best care of its people out of any branch of the military, though I'm biased. (And I welcome comments from my Army and Navy readers.) Not because I'm in the Air Force, nor was I raised an AF brat, but growing up in San Pedro, I attended church at the local AF housing installation. I spent most weekends on base with my friends, also dealt with the emotional goodbyes as best friends moved far away. The base is gorgeous, picturesque, and historic. The working base itself is in El Segundo. Sure, it's not Marina Del Rey (about two blocks to the North), but it's a far cry from a bad neighborhood - check it out.

Closing LA AFB would devestate my hometown, economically, culturally, and - at least for me - personally.

That's the last of my two-cents on the issue . . . . for now.

P.S. check out the tragic settings in which LA AFB families are forced to live. Really awful.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Open Season in LA Politics! Wohoo!

Happy Holidays - the guns have been hired!

These are the same hired guns as last time," said Joel Kotkin, an urban historian and fellow at the New American Foundation. "They are gunfighters. They are people you hire to win an election by destroying other people."
And god bless us, every one!

Those helming the major campaigns are veterans of local, state, and national campaigns: Joe Trippi? Seriously? Nice going, Bob. And Trippi calls Alarcon's Richie Ross a "scorched-earth consultant but a formidable one."

The article mentions the collection of out-of-town superstars and local, LA-experienced types as a nice case study on the efficacy of each approach. We're a crazy city, but I don't think there's quite as much antipathy toward out-of-towners as exists in, say, Philadelphia. If the consultants were from San Francisco, that might be a problem - though, not as much as if this were an SF race and the gun were from LA.

Only time will tell . . . .

High Court Weighs High

The Supreme Court heard arguments on California's medical marijuana law today:

A Bush administration lawyer told the justices they would be encouraging people to use potentially harmful marijuana if they were to side with the women.

"If they're right, then I think their analysis would extend to recreational use of marijuana, as well as medical use of marijuana, and would extend to every state in the nation, not just those states that made it lawful," said Paul Clement, acting solicitor general.
Well, no, actually. No more so than the legal use of valium or vicodin encourages the recreational use of such drugs. Such abuse occurs, of course. But most medications can be abused. So it becomes a balancing test (ah, like so many legal questions) - what it's worth to those in need vs. the risk of abuse in those who don't need it. What do the supes think?

Justice Stephen Breyer said the government makes a strong argument that as many as 100,000 sick people use marijuana in California, and "when we see medical marijuana in California, we won't know what it is. Everybody'll say, `Mine is medical.' Certificates will circulate on the black market. We face a mess."
If pop cultural references are any indication, then anyone who has a) been to college or b) been a teenager, hasn't needed a black market certificate. I'm guessing they don't need to go to that much trouble. I'm in no way making light of drug abuse. My point is simply that if the government believes making pot medically available to those with valid need will have any impact on drug abuse - other than rhetorically - they are, again, doing their best to SOUND like they're waging a war on drugs without actually having to do anything.

Maybe the interstate commerce clause will save California's sovereignty. No, really . . . .

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Phoblog Salutes . . .

The man who tried to sink my license plate bill, but decided not to - Senator Burton, thanks for the memories:

"John Burton helped keep alive the New Deal in the new millennium," said Kevin Starr, state librarian emeritus, a historian of California. "He has to go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Senate pro tems in terms of his mastery of parliamentary procedure and his ability to maintain a relationship with not only his own party but with the Republicans as well."

Burton departs as Sacramento's most outspoken proponent of liberal activism. Always willing to push the envelope in his tactics, he pressed for stronger child-support laws and to bolster unions of all stripes, to aid California's weakest citizens — the homeless, the poor, farmworkers, prisoners and Indians — and to impose responsibilities on corporations that he believed were more concerned with their bottom lines than with the health and welfare of employees, customers and the environment. . . .

"He's an old-time politician who understands that in a democracy, you're not supposed to liquidate your opponents, not demonize them, but rather to work with them, because democracy is the politics of compromise," said Tim Hodson, executive director at the Center for California Studies at Cal State Sacramento.

Nah, It's Cool. We Didn't Need Those Jobs Anyway.

So, current Administration - you're fighting a war (or is that two? what was that other place farther North again?), gearing up for another in Iran, dealing with personnel shortages that require recalling 1000s of troops who thought they had served their time already. What's the best thing to do?

Close some more bases.

But not just any bases. The smartest bases to close would definitely be those on th edges of the country - the ones close to borders or on the edge of the country closest to countries like, say, North Korea.

Yeah, that's the ticket:

Across the nation, state and local governments are gearing up, both to protect local bases and to grab jobs that will be lost in other states. Though California is widely seen as the most vulnerable state, it has been slow to react and made only a modest effort to influence the outcome.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld aims to eliminate nearly a quarter of the military's infrastructure, which is considered surplus to the Defense Department's long-term mission of fighting terrorists and limited wars. The closures could equal all the reductions in the four previous rounds of consolidation combined.
The article discusses, realistically, the role of politics (bases at risk in CA, with hard lobbying coming from Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, and Maryland. Three out of four of those performed quite well in 2004).

Hopefully, of course, these closures will enable the government to refund more tax money - maybe as much as the average $300 of the last refund. Families, of course, will be free to invest that in their own anti-terrorism measures like duct tape, gas masks, and cipro.

Is anyone else concerned with this kind of planning?

Wow, I SO Did Not See This Coming . . .

In a surprise twist, Iraqi parties call for poll delay.

I just never would've guessed there wouldn't be elections in January like we were promised.* I mean, I totally thought that naysayer was crazy - talking nonsense about not being able to hold elections in Iraq with all that chaos over there.** Oh well, hopefully they'll just elect people anyway. Just push it on through.

* ctrl+F "January" - first and second hits, Bush quotations.
** ctrl+F "elections" - first hit, Kerry quotation.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Southern Thanksgiving

Did you know the South rejected Thanksgiving as a Yankee holiday in the 19th, and even part of the 20th, century? I didn't. And some Virginian's have their own historical evidence about the real first Thanksgiving.

(By the way, note that I am not commenting on the most recent military campaign in Iraq being dubbed "Operation Plymouth Rock.")

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

10 Things For Which Phoblog Is Thankful

10. Not having to outline right now.
9. My dog Patches.
8. Lean Cuisine.
7. New DVD releases.
6. Still having enough idealism to believe those paychecks and reimbursements from the DNC will come.
5. The brief period of courage that allowed me to walk off to look for, and work to save, America.
4. Jack Pitney, The Rose Institute, and my Claremont McKenna College education.
3. *
2. Those spending Thanksgiving in far off deserts.
1. Posting this from home while looking forward to a day of cooking and eating with my family tomorrow.

And of course, I'm very thankful for readers. If you're thankful for anything in particular that you'd like to share, you know where to click.

Happy Thanksgiving: may your turkey be large, your stuffing, uh, stuffy, and your tryptophan coma pleasant.

California Things I Missed

Okay, it wasn't bad enough that she changed a perfectly good museum name, then she wanted to turn it into a women's museum? Apparently, however, she's changed her mind.

Yes, Ms. Shriver, who saved us from the Golden State Museum, has dropped a plan to shift the focus of the now-California State History Center froma general history of, uh, the Golden State, to women.

Clearly, I'm not against women. Nor even a museum dedicated to them. However, I'd bet she has the juice to start a whole 'nother museum for that. There is, however, no less a need for a state museum.

Nothing Says Thanksgiving Like Puritanical Thinking

Stop worrying about crazed cell phones and start worrying about this:

The hypocrisy embedded in this tale is becoming a national running gag. As in the Super Bowl brouhaha, in which the N.F.L. maintained it had no idea that MTV might produce a racy halftime show, the league has denied any prior inkling of the salaciousness on tap this time - even though the spot featured the actress playing the sluttiest character in prime time's most libidinous series and was shot with the full permission of one of the league's teams in its own locker room. Again as in the Jackson case, we are also asked to believe that pro football is what Pat Buchanan calls "the family entertainment, the family sports show" rather than what it actually is: a Boschian jamboree of bumping-and-grinding cheerleaders, erectile-dysfunction pageantry and, as Don Imus puts it, "wife-beating drug addicts slamming the hell out of each other" on the field.

But there's another, more insidious game being played as well. The F.C.C. and the family values crusaders alike are cooking their numbers. The first empirical evidence was provided this month by Jeff Jarvis, a former TV Guide critic turned blogger. He had the ingenious idea of filing a Freedom of Information Act request to see the actual viewer complaints that drove the F.C.C. to threaten Fox and its affiliates with the largest indecency fine to date - $1.2 million for the sins of a now-defunct reality program called "Married by America." Though the F.C.C. had cited 159 public complaints in its legal case against Fox, the documents obtained by Mr. Jarvis showed that there were actually only 90 complaints, written by 23 individuals. Of those 23, all but 2 were identical repetitions of a form letter posted by the Parents
Television Council. In other words, the total of actual, discrete complaints about "Married by America" was 3.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What's America Overreacting to This Week?

Exploding cell phone batteries prompt recalls

As many as 83 - Eighty-three! - of the countries estimated 170 million cell phones have exploded! Local newscasters everywhere rejoice.

[Disclaimer: no, Phoblog doesn't enjoy making light of others' injuries. Phoblographer* assures readers it is 100% against exploding cell phone batteries.]

How Bridge Building Is Like College Food Service

So this one time, at CMC, these food service companies were competing for a contract. Two of the finalists provided bids that were within reach of each other and made sense in the industry. The third came in $500 per student below the next lowest bid.

A prudent person might ask exactly how a company could offer such drastic savings. What exactly are you serving there, Aramark? How old IS that milk? CMC went with the underbidders and the students quickly learned what $500 less per student tasted like (one word, rhymes with "wrap").

The Bay Bridge's east span has become the bridge that ate the Bay Area budget. Now, there is a proposal to change bridges mid-bay. For between $200 and $500 million in savings, current plans for an innovative, landmark structure could be scrapped in favor of a different design. But in a project with a multibillion dollar price tag that aims to be an architectual jewel in the Bay Area's crown of sparkling bridges - that, by the way, spans a few areas of historically nasty seismic activity - is $200 worth it? Especially when no actual plans for this Plan B bridge have been drafted?

Definitely check out this article for some more compelling arguements and concerns over this potential latest budget casualty.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Romancing the War

While in DC last weekend, I had a chance to catch a preview of a new french film, Un long dimanche de fiancailles. The film, the title of which translates to A Very Long Engagement, chronicles Mathilde's quest to find her fiance who was lost and presumed dead in The Great War.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an interesting film analysis and commentary of sorts: The Girl He Left Behind Gets a Movie of Her Own. The article's title alone fairly well captures a main reason I loved this film. It's about the girl. It's a war movie about the girl. The girl - girls, really - left behind. I'll admit now, after denying it for quite sometime (10 points to S. Angel), that things are more meaningful or provide more of a role model if the main character is similar to the reader or audience. I have to be honest: I read the Choose Your Own Adventures with the girls in the illustrations. I liked Nancy Drew, not the Hardy Boys. And no, I don't like war movies about only men. Well, I like some of them (especially the 1927 Academy Award winning Wings, oops that has a girl too). But for the most part, war films celebrate the linear nature of war in all its grand male-ness. Films that dare discuss or focus on the homefront, however, must confront that other half of the population.

That the film focuses on women, however, isn't the only thing that sets it apart. It's also a World War I movie - a war most of my generation understands solely through compulsory high school All Quiet on the Western Front term papers. There's little about World War I that doesn't turn your stomache. Millions of young men waited in muddy holes. Occasionally, they would run up over the top of their foxholes attempting to inch the line forward. Of course, doing so, put them directly in the line of enemy fire. Basically, from what I recall, each side took turns getting slaughtered until they called it quits on what we now celebrate as Veteran's Day.

The film captures the uselessness of WWI beautifully and heart-wrenchingly. As the NYT article describes it, "the trenches were where the romance of war went to die." A historical reality echoed in the film's narrative. WWI lessons, as imparted in literature and film, tie directly into current conflicts. From the article:

The antiwar argument practically makes itself, and part of that argument, powerfully stated in Lewis Milestone's famous 1929 film "All Quiet on the Western Front," is that indefensible wars are insidiously enabled by ignorance on the home front, by the dreams of vicarious glory dreamed by those who sleep in their own beds, far from the hellish reality of the battlefield. It's more or less unanimous, too, that the First World War signaled the beginning of a profound skepticism about the benevolence of states and the nobility of war: the Great War was, in the opinion of those lucky enough to survive it, a great con.
WWII mythology, captured in so many prominent, recent films and series, focuses less on the hopeless horror that permeates WWI narratives. Instead, it plays up the noble ends of the conflict - the bands of brotherhood, the sacrifices upon the alter of freedom. Alternately, post-Vietnam era films center on cynacism and confusion - though, I'd argue, since the 1991 Gulf War, they tend still to find a way to uplift the action. The article compares European war narratives with post-Vietnam Amerian war movies:
But for the French, who were fighting on their own soil, the girls left behind must have seemed tantalizingly close, less purely abstract than a G.I.'s sweetheart might seem to him after a few confusing months in Vietnam or the Sunni Triangle. The American experience of modern war has been primarily elsewhere; the chipper anthem of the relatively brief American involvement in the Great War was "Over
Our war movies are about thrusting forward into hostile territory - landing on a beach, taking a hill, bombing behind enemy lines - rather than about digging in and defending our own.

The different mind sets generate a different dramatic emphasis in the depiction of combat. In European films about the First World War, the narrative almost always centers on the frustrations of stasis . . . .

And since Vietnam, practically all our combat narratives have concentrated on the near-hallucinatory sense of dislocation that comes from moving forward blindly in a dark jungle, because there's no place else to go and nothing, in any case, will look like home. . . .

Since Vietnam, too, movie audiences demand a far more graphic portrayal of violence; even in pictures about the Second World War, whose necessity was questionable, we expect to see gushing blood, blown-off limbs, exposed viscera - all the gross physical insults that movies made during that war discreetly protected us from.

This enormous increase in sensory detail in the war films of the post-Vietnam era helps reinforce the widespread cynicism about war that took root in Europe in the second decade of the 20th century and in America in the late 1960's: a saner attitude, on the whole, than the romanticized notions of battlefield glory that prevailed before the slaughter in the trenches. The downside of the orgiastic vividness of the combat violence in movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Black Hawk Down" is that it frequently seems to be about nothing but itself, to exclude any possibility of meaning in the terrible events. Mr. Jeunet, searching for a sort of intensity that doesn't altogether kill hope, settles on a magic-realist style for his battle scenes: a once-upon-a-time tone that suggests that some moral might actually emerge from this hell.
A Very Long Engagement succeeds because it manages to pull somekind of human hope out of a hopeless war. The film's basic truth, of course, is that all war is hell - hopeless, meaningless, linearly aimed at death. Yet, it doesn't relax into this truth - nor does it apply it beyond the battlefield. As the NYT frames it, Engagement doesn't dwell in the trenches. Credit the circular nature of a female narrative (literarily speaking, though, literally in this case as well) which mandates the departure from the kind of war narrative we're used to (as does the non-American experience).

On a less academic note, the movie itself is finely made - beautifully acted, filmed, and scored. I have never seen Amelie, but this film also stars Audrey Tautou and both were directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. From what I understand, the magic realism that echoes in Engagement is one of the director's hallmarks. It works well here. I was going to link to the trailer, but having watched it, I'm going to suggest you just trust my recommendation and go check out the film, which is in limited release starting November 26. About the only worthwhile part of the trailer are the titles describing the movie as about "The Beauty of Hope and the Absurdity of War" (wonder how long until there's a Presidential decree that anyone calling war absurd is unpatriotic - and anyone attending a FRENCH film on the absurdity of war shall be deported). The rest of the trailer has to carefully avoid letting interested people know the whole thing is in French. It just isn't the best advertisement for the film. Go check it out for yourselves. You'll like it.

By the way, just because I find these types of differences interesting, the poster above seems to be for the American release. The French poster is below. I'm guess Tautou's more of a marquee name in France - while here she's just That Pretty Girl Who Was In That Other French Movie. Our poster, however, implies sex. God bless America.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

When It Rains, It Pours

It's been a big week for Congressional procedural antics. First the DeLay rule, now a small provisions in a huge omnibus spending package that would've allowed specified committee chairs and their designees (staffers) access to anyone's IRS records. Sound like fun, eh? Josh Marshall addresses the issue in a string of posts starting with this one and continuing up the site, ending with this most recent post.

The amendment, which almost made it past the Dems, was apparently entered on behalf of House Approps Transportation (yea, trans) Subcommittee Chairman Ernest Istook of Oklahoma. Of course, lots of specified MOCs have access to all kinds of sensitive information - though nothing seems to stike the collective American nerve like tax returns (which are totally sacred, unless, of course, you're running for office, in which case, what are you hiding you fiscal and moral deviant?).

Josh asks whether Istook will face any disciplinary action, formal or informal.

Let's evalute that from technical and practical perspectives.

Technically speaking, I'm almost positive no rule was broken. This kind of slip-it-in tactic is hardly new. It's crafty and hard to do in the information age, but when you're passing phonebook sized bills, sometimes the temptation is too great. Also, I'm assuming (dangerous, but it's late and I wouldn't do a good job getting this all down right now), if it was, indeed, an "amendment" that it was voted on somewhere. Unless this bill was in conference (and even then), you can't just tack something one without following certain procedures. Either way, legislative bodies are responsible for regulating the behavior of their membership. See, e.g. DeLay, Tom. And, as we've seen, those rules are subject to change at any time for any reason. It's one of those perks of democracy the minority party isn't always in love with.

That leads us into the practical evaluation. Again, see DeLay, Tom for all the indication you need. 1) Istook likely did nothing "wrong," as easy as it is to vehemently disagree with the amendment. 2) If it was "wrong," it certainly wouldn't be "wrong" in a legal sense (immunity trumps all, my friends, since I figure you'd be hard pressed to prove this wasn't within the scope of his office). 3) If it was "wrong" according to any internal Congressional rule, he probably won't really pay for his actions.

The great thing about democracy, however, is supposed to be accountability. So I hope the DNC is out actively scouting strong challengers for that seat. There's great fodder for commercials here. Have at him.

I can hear the adds now: So call Rep. Istook today. Tell him to stay out of our private lives.

Josh's other questions are technical in nature - in terms of who authorized the amendment, etc. These things don't fall from the sky. There's a paper trail. (Here, however, I step way back, since I'm far more versed in California Legislative procedure anymore. But I'll admit these latest Congressional hijinx make me itch for another shot at the Hill.)

Friday, November 19, 2004

Just What the World Needs

A big Phoblog congrats to readers SJK, BL, and former roomie RM for passing the California Bar. I hear it's a pretty tough exam. (Fortunately, I won't be taking it for quite awhile.)

Rising Rhetoric: Building the Case Against Iran

Another term, another enemy. Iraq is SO last season.

For your consideration, this SF Chron article about the administration building a case against Iran:

Adam Ereli, the department's deputy spokesman, acknowledged Friday that "there are differences of opinion" on whether Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program.

However, he said, "we believe the arguments stack up in our favor. We will continue to press this case."

Ereli said the public should take a broad view of the situation.

"Don't just focus on a uranium enrichment program, on a nuclear plant here or a nuclear plant there," he said. "Look at the totality of the picture. And the picture is you've got undeclared nuclear activity, deliberate misinformation on nuclear activity, development of delivery systems and other technical research that, added all up, paints a very troubling picture."

Iran was one of three countries singled out by President Bush as part of an "axis of evil." He went to war with one, Iraq, and is backing diplomacy to try to halt nuclear weapons programs in a second, North Korea.

His approach to the third, Iran, is only now starting to take shape. It is marked by rising rhetoric.
How many fronts is too many?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Going, Going, Back, Back, to Cali, Cali

A general update:

To celebrate waking up in my own bed (heaven) and my first day back in San Francisco, I did some of my favorite things: Kickboxing at Golden Gate Fitness, burrito from L'Avenida (heaven in a tortilla), coffee at Reverie, and some badly needed body work at Relax Nails (I do believe I am now the blogger with the prettiest toes). Oh and I had to go up to campus. But whatever.

It's my goal to steer this blog back toward its roots and away from the diary-esque tone it's had lately (with reason, granted). I still owe some more postage on the campaign - which is coming - promise.

But for now, I direct your attention to the newly unveiled Around the Capitol upgrade. It has some nifty features: you can personalize it for bills or races you may be tracking, editorials you like to keep up with, or blogs you like to scan (and I think we all know who you need to include on that list, right?). Props to Scott Lay and the gang for continuing to provide a good round-up of California political information - all in a very user-friendly format.

Go on - check it out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

Return to Cali: A Preview

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Governor Schwarzenegger for helping ease Phoblog's transition back into state coverage and commentary by providing material for articles such as this one:

Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, after campaigning as a reformer who would cast special interests out of the Capitol, smashed every fund-raising record in his first year in office with a $26.6 million haul that doubled the amount raised by former Gov. Gray Davis in his first year.

The vast majority of the money came from special interests deeply vested in the outcome of legislative and regulatory decisions in Sacramento, including financial companies, auto dealers and manufacturers and health care concerns. In some cases, the governor, who took office a year ago today, has taken positions that benefited his contributors.

For much of the year, Schwarzenegger used a legal loophole to raise sums greater than a state law's $21,200 limit. And in recent weeks, as a deadline approached to close that loophole, Schwarzenegger stepped up his acceptance of those donations, raking in individual contributions as high as $500,000.

"He's taken more money from special interests than anyone in this state ever has," said David Fink, a policy advocate at the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which has been a vocal critic of the Schwarzenegger administration. "He hasn't changed the political culture in Sacramento. It's the status quo. He made everyone believe in him, that he wasn't the typical politician, and he's just like everyone else."
Now, before my R-side Capitol readers take issue with my selectively quoting from this Chron article, let me say, yeah, I'm leaving out the parts where the reporter says that the Governor has not always acted in the interests of some of his biggest donors. And, in fact, the part that I do select implies that he's more often than not gone the way of the check-writers, while later in the article, it clearly says:
Schwarzenegger's largest industry backers are real estate and development interests, and even critics of the administration are hard-pressed to find evidence that he has done anything in office to benefit that industry.

That's good. I applaud that. In fact, I've long been idealistically believed that representatives and executives can take money from whomever they want and not necessarily partake in the activity that would earn them the "sell-out" title. So good for Schwarzenegger.

But since his activities are focused on bypassing representative government and forcing policy change via ballot measures, I'm going to continue to hammer his fundrasing and policy choices. The article mentions the possibility of Schwarzenegger calling a special election to deal with redistricting reform. Regular readers know that redistricting reform is actually something of which I'm in favor, and a good example of a case where the initiative process is probably necessary because it saves electeds from pressing a button akin to pointing a revolver at their collective foot (not that the same idealistic side of me doesn't believe enough members would have the courage to vote for badly needed reform - but just to be safe . . . .).

Of course, if the measure is any way associated with Ted Costa, my yes vote will be a lot harder to win. There are people in the state I trust to write that law - and until I see them holding a pen and a map, I'm far from convinced.

Mmm, feels good to be back on the Cali soapbox. I may be rusty, but I should be back in fighting shape in no time.

Headlines that Make You Go 'Hmmm'

Sometimes, you just have to react to the headline:

Cabinet Choices Seen as Move for More Harmony and Control.

Thank God. Because what this country really lacked for the past few years is wholehearted agreement within government.

Phoblog's Procedural Roots

In Congress, rules aren't made to be broken, they're just real easy to change fast.

Ah, Congressional rulemaking. It used to be a Phoblog speciality. Let's step into the wayback machine for a moment: The year is 1999, and Jack Pitney's Congress class helps me realize a life-long love of procedure and rules (hey, I was the kid who always wanted to be the door monitor in grade school). While in Washington, DC, I wrote a fat paper on Majority party procedure-wielding. And, of course, who could forget my stunning turn as Senator Robert C. Byrd during the Congress simulation. Watch me do procedure-circles around you, foolish Republican majority! I have an autographed copy of Walter J. Oleszek's Congressional Procedure (4th Edition) - yeah, I'm THAT nerd. Ah, the good ol' days.

So, you can imagine my delight this morning as I read about the GOP's push for a rule change to protect DeLay. Seems that rule they demanded to punish such indicted democrats as Dan Rostenkowski bacjk in the early 90s just rings unfair when it's about to be applied to the guy who helped them jam through an ethically-questionable Texas re-redistricting. The Reep argument goes something like this: aww, come on, now, the guy got us like 5 more seats - so what's an idictment anyway? It's an unproven allegation. Unproven!

From the article:

"That's why this [proposed rule change] is going to pass, assuming it's submitted, because there is a tremendous recognition that Tom DeLay led on the issue to produce five more seats" for the Republicans, Cantor said after emerging from a meeting in which the Republican Conference welcomed new members and reelected Hastert and DeLay as its top leaders.

Other Republicans agreed the conference is likely to change the rule if given the chance. An indictment is simply an unproven allegation that should not require a party leader to step aside, said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.). Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.), a former trial judge, said it makes sense to differentiate between federal and
state indictments in shaping party rules because state grand juries often are led by partisan, elected prosecutors who may carry political grudges against lawmakers.
Ah, yes, and the Federal judiciary is completely free from bias or partisan encumbrances. But I digress. Do any of those rule changing arguments really persuade you? More likely, they persuade the American public to believe more strongly that Congress is full of self-interested, self-serving rule-changers - like a playground bully who can magically decide who's "it" based on his say-so. The state judge/fed judge dynamic is embodied in one proposal to allow leaders merely indicted by state grand juries to stay, but require leaders to step down (at least temporarily) if a federal court indicts. That's probably good. I mean, why should a MOC be held more accountable by a state court, a body closer to his constituents and community? I think that's just foolishness. Does that mean state representatives should take federal indictments less seriously?


The House ethics committee on Oct. 6 admonished DeLay for asking federal aviation officials to track an airplane involved in the highly contentious 2003 redistricting battle, and for conduct that suggested political donations might influence legislative action. The ethics panel deferred action on a complaint related to TRMPAC, noting that the grand jury has not finished its work.

The Texas investigation is headed by Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, an elected Democrat who has been bitterly criticized by DeLay supporters. Yesterday, Cantor called Earle's efforts "a witch hunt."

"It's a totally a partisan exercise," Cantor said. "It's coincidental with what's going on up here [in the Capitol], where they are trying every avenue to go after Tom DeLay because they can't beat him" on the House floor or in congressional elections. Changing the rule is not a sign that lawmakers think DeLay will be indicted, Cantor said, but rather a public rebuke of an investigation they feel is wholly unwarranted.
At a certain level, I suppose at least everyone is singing off the standard songbook. Dems cry partisan-foul at investigations (rightly or wrongly instituted) that can be shown, in any small way, to have a Republican involved. So I won't feign surprise at the Reep rhetoric on the investigation's legitimacy. At the same time though, if you connect some of the dots, we have DeLay pulling federal strings to interfere with a state process that basically guarantees he's electorally untouchable and now that the board is perfectly set, he's also positioned to cry foul at anything a Democrat dares do.

And changing the rules as a public rebuke of an unwarranted investigation? Congress writes it's own rules and its up to every legislative body to control its own members, from rule creation to enforcement. So, yes, it's within their rights to change a rule whenever it suits them. But the creation of the rule was a public rebuke of a sitting Congressman. Now it's a public rebuke of the type of rebuke. Too much rebuking here. From an acadmic perspective, it's a lovely, made-for-the-classroom example of the axiom: pass not a minority rule today that may return to bite you in your majority ass.

It just rings hollow, guys. The party of ethics and values is sure quick to excuse itself, isn't it? That's real leadership, kids. Do as I enact, not as I amend.

Update: From Josh Marshall comments twice on the topic - cleverly headlining one post, "House Republicans Embrace new pro-crime agenda." Love it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Rebuilding A Temporarily Dead End Country Road

Our West Virginia field listserv still keeps us in touch and today, this NYT article on what the hell happened in West Virginia was the topic of choice (see comments for entire text).

It's a bit of a discouraging article for Democrats - especially to those of us who were in West Virginia. Here are a few points of interest:

1.) The article begins by saying that WV Dems "could practically taste" a Kerry victory on the eve of the election. I guess I was already out by then. It never felt like anything less than an uphill climb - which, I'd argue - was actually a good thing for us field organizers. I woke up each morning with a burning sense of fight.

2.) "This election will make it respectable to be a Republican," said ousted WV Justice McGraw's campaign manager. That may be true - and it is a very bad thing for a state where FDR still hangs over many a fireplace.

3.) From the article:

But they were deeply dismayed by Mr. Kerry's showing. Four years ago, Vice President Al Gore all but ignored the state, and his loss could be written off to neglect. This year, Democrats were out in force for months registering voters, recruiting volunteers and defending Mr. Kerry's positions on gun control, coal mining and steel tariffs. Yet the margin of defeat grew.

"The Democrats did everything right by the playbook and still got blasted," said Robert Rupp, a professor of political science and history at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
It's the "playbook" reference that is a harbinger of bad things. Of all battlegrounds I can think of - West Virginia should have been the place where the old book still worked. With the exception (albeit important) of the eastern panhandle, increasingly a Washington, DC bedroom community, West Virginia isn't undergoing a lot of demographic change. Well, except in the wrong direction. People aren't coming - they're going. But the folks who remain should've been life-long, diehard, yellow dog voters. But those dogs don't hunt anymore. So while I don't fault anyone for using the old playbook, it's clearly time to start drafting a new one.

4.) Most terrifying of all: The Reeps are "confidently looking to challenge" Robert C. Byrd in 2006. Sweet Jesus. Were he to lose, it would be as sure a sign of the coming apocolypse as anything I could think of. According to the article, Byrd's anti-Bush campaigning will prove a liability in 2006. I'd hate to think that's true - but then again, Joe Manchin certainly displayed his cautious side by doing - in a word - nothing for the Kerry campaign. And he won by 60 points. I'll let you guess as to who I think more admirable. In his defense, Byrd says:

"I have always known where the values of West Virginia lie - patriotism, faith, family, opportunity, a clear sense of right and wrong, and justice," Mr. Byrd said. "The Democratic Party needs to get back to reflecting those core principles."
And that's what hurts most. At what moment was our guard down long enough to let the Democratic voters think that Bush was a better embodiment of those values than the Democratic party and its candidates?

West Virginia is the perfect case study - the confusion of the Democratic Party in real-time. And it had an excellent field program - at least from my vantage point. Strong people who wanted to win getting up everyday and doing what needed to be done. If we can fix West Virginia, I think we can fix the world . . . .

Post-Election Lameness That's Starting to Bug Even Me

I'd heard about the website on which people were posting photographic apologies to the world for the re-election of George W. Bush. Today, a friend traveling abroad emailed the link so I took a quick look.

Sure, it's funny. It's a bit of a net novelty. But then I came to this picture. Then it wasn't really funny anymore. It's a nice little graphic of what I can only assume is this tech-savvy, guitar player in San Francisco, who lists all the things he did, only to close woefully with, "I guess I didn't do enough." What did he do? Let's see, he marched in a war protest (I give some credit for that, I was anti-war as well), he gave money to Dean, then Kerry (I appreciate that, I did the same). Here's where he loses me, though: he tried to convince his Republican friend in Florida; and - oh yes, dear readers, he hung a sign in his window.

Sorry, world, indeed.

Now, the way I read it, this could go either way. As an ironic tribute to those who hung signs and mailed in $20 and felt like they'd worked really hard. But I'm guessing this is an irony-free creation. So allow me a moment of "I quit school"-itude.

But now let me step off my medium-height pony and return to constructive commentary.

Not everyone could have, or should have, ditched their normal lives to hit the trail for the Democratic nominee. In a perfect world, government - and parties - should be working for the people in such a way that enables people to not pay attention at all. Sadly, we don't live in that perfect world - and frankly, my life would be very boring if we did. But that's still the overall goal.

But the time for apologizing is over. I recall, while growing up, my mother instructing me that "sorry" was not an excuse. It was a small request for forgiveness that contained an implicit promise not to commit the offend action again. So, American apologizer, cut it out. Just make sure it doesn't happen again. Start the conversations that need to happen. Start reclaiming the country all over again. Enough with the wallowing already.

But - really - don't ever, ever, include "I hung a sign in my window" (especially if that window is in San Francisco) as proof of exertion.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Per Our Prior Conversation

A discussion of Josh Marshall's recent post about the Democrat's "aristocracy of operatives."

His main point: some top level Dem operatives, most fine, expert folks, are just not so relevant today. As he puts it:

So for all these reasons there is something rich and precious about hearing some of these folks sagely noting how the leadership of 'the party' is out of touch with the Red States when they are the party, when they're the folks who've been in the drivers' seat for years. If there’s a problem and especially if it revolves around being out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans, then by all means the first place to start is for some of these folks to say a collective, my bad, my time has passed and depart the scene --- especially if their proposed remedies are as clich├ęd and pathetic as the ones many of them are offering.

The problem for Democrats is not that they don't cite scripture enough or that they don't live for NASCAR, though they do need to be able to appeal to both. Democrats who just tack a few gospel references on to their standard speeches will simply compound losing an election by losing their dignity. That's not a disparagement of religion; it's a recognition that mere pandering will achieve nothing politically and invite deserved ridicule.

Those aren’t the heart of the problem. The difficulty for Democrats today is that they excel at the libretto of politics but have little feel for the score. . . .

This doesn’t mean Dems should just stand-pat or be satisfied with what they have. They shouldn’t; indeed, they can’t. It is only to say that there are real limits to how many positions and rhetorical styles Dems can ape to good effect. And it means having a little more respect for themselves, their voters and what they claim to believe in than to collapse into a puddle of self-doubt just because this election didn’t go their way.
I certainly agree with that last part - and, in fact - with most of his sentiments here. It struck me as odd during the home stretch of the campaign, just how many higher-ups were veterans of the 2000 election. It was comforting and disconcerting, I suppose. They knew just how off-track things could go, but I worried about them re-fighting the last cycle.

Josh's post comes down to the now age-old strategy question: do you just need to get out all your base or do you need to get the swing? Clinton found success in the latter, and we'll never really know if the former works at the presidential level nowadays because, I'd argue, Dean wasn't the nominee. For that matter, are we using the right language anymore at all? That is to say - is our base really our base? There was plenty of 2000 cross-over and 2004 cross-over as well. Perhaps we need to reevaluate our arithmetic as well.

Today, Josh has posted a response from a reader who, from the information given, has much more direct experience with the "aristocracy" than I. His argument is that the potential stuck-in-the-past-ish-ness of the Party is systemic: credible candidates need credible consultants. Credible consultants are given "credibility" by old-school, K Street fundraisers. Upset the apple cart at any level and, presto, instant credibility gap. From Josh's reader:

This creates a different problem. For those of my generation of political operatives, the searing election experience was 1994. And the animating ideas, strategy, and tactics of the Republican House majority still dominate the way the Republicans do their politics. Unfortunately, for most of the folks still at the top level of our party, the 1994 election was just one of many elections, and you win some and lose some. For example, it would have been impossible for anybody who lived through 1994 as their baptism into politics to assume that the Swift Boat Veterans attack was anything but harmful and required any reaction but a vicious and immediate counter attack. Yet, that is what the Kerry campaign did….inexplicable. But clearly a decision made by our “older” party hands…one that I believe proved decisive.

The further problem is that in order to succeed with careers in Dem politics – well, you got to join the big boys -- i.e., the young successes in Dem politics tend to hold the same ideas as the people in charge.
This phenomenon isn't limited to presidential politics, of course. My Sacto readers could easily come up with their own examples of the weighty hand of history smacking down novel strategies or ideas (both in the Building and on the way there). Josh and his reader contend that these problems demand open, immediate Democratic discussion - which is badly needed.

My take on things doesn't vary much. And though I did spend a lot of time entangled in the effects of operatives' decision-making, as a field organizer, well, it wasn't my place to argue (though there were a few "field organizers" who did waste a few precious hours strategizing ways to win swing voters. Not our job).

But here's where I come in - and where bloggers, generally, come in. We're part of the conversation. At least, I hope we are. We're marginally influential (I'm not influential at all, except to maybe, like, 4 people. And even then, not so much). But as part of the collective murmur of Democratic politics, eventually, our ideas of today may become the ideas of tomorrow. I doubt very much that current A-listers will step aside gracefully to make room for ideas that might work. And, frankly, leave aside the "blogger" ID - I consider myself part of the Party to stay. So whatever medium I choose, the conversation and risks are the same. Unfortunately, only time will tell if what I write here now will bolster my reputation as a forward-thinking, action-oriented young leader or whether it will provide that albatross my opponents (inter-, and, most dangerously, intra-party opponents) will be looking for.

In the most simple terms I can think of, it seems that: a) we lost in 2000, b) we lost in 2004, c) some of the same leadership was present for both losses, d) we ran some of the same drills and hid behind some of the same thinly-constructed messaging, and e) the time may have come to look in a new direction.

I remember someone explaining how something becomes a "law" in physics when it happens repeatedly. It stays a "law" until it not longer happens. The sun rose yesterday, and today, and will rise tomorrow. Unless it doesn't.

The sun did not rise for the Democratic Party this time around. But I believe it will again. We have to come together and evaluate where, exactly, our sun went, and how we hoist it up there again. The current Administration's dusky policies are dangerous, disregard working men and women, and, most dangerously, the world population generally. We have about 18 months to hash out our problems and help new blood - already boiling over the state of our country and the world - rise to influential Party posts. I'm in for the long haul.

Are you?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Diary of a Photograph

Thanks to reader, and fellow Stag, RJ for tracking down this photo by Associated Press photographer Kevork Djansezian that ran on page 3A of the 4 November 2004 USA Today. All my web searching prowess couldn't find it (or Mr. Djansezian's email address), but with RJ's luck and persistence, here it is, along with the caption from the print edition:

Downcast Democrat: Christiana Dominguez takes a breather Wednesday while helping clean up a Democratic campaign office in Philadelphia.

Now, I wasn't despondent or anything, but I suppose downcast was accurate for that day. Ever-hopeful and forward-looking, yet temporarily downcast. Mr. Djansezian had been around Philadelphia at least for most of that last week of the campaign. I repeatedly chased him out of the storefront for not having a handler with him from our press office. I like to think of it as a friendly battle. He showed up on election night after the polls had closed and we were calling other states. He waited by my desk for me to finish a call, looking at me, expectantly, I suppose waiting for me to chase him out again. I didn't. The polls were closed. We were busy. What was I going to do? The next day, when I stumpled, exhausted and a wee bit sad over the impending concession speech, into the storefront, I found Mr. Djansezian along with a Philadelphia Inquirer photographer and a camera crew from Comcast's CN8. It was a photogenic scene - a few of us staffers surveying the damage, stacks of leftover yard signs (the CN8 guy asked why any were left. Does a blank stare qualify as an erudite answer under the given circumstances?) I joked a bit with them and chatted with the 3 or so other storefront stalwarts present. Then I plopped myself down on the stack of yard sign wickets and just sort of took in the situation - both in the storefront, and, at a certain level, globally, I suppose. Seeing their moment, the two still photogs began snapping a mile-of-film (okay, pixels) a minute. I looked at them at one point and quipped about suddenly understanding how a crime scene must feel having its every aspect preserved for history. The photogs and I chatted a bit more and then I left the storefront - passing back out into the cold, crowded streets of Philadelphia, bound for the Happy Rooster and the company of the rest of the GOTV staff so we could watch together as John Kerry officially brought to a close the 2004 presidential contest.

Read This

From Josh Marshall. Because we're definitely talking about it later.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Phoblog Fashion Report

Like Rugby Without the Rules.

And I missed by just a few days.

H&M is also seeking to broaden its customer base. "We want to bring in people who had not shopped at H&M before," said Jennifer Uglialoro, a spokeswoman for the company in New York.
Here's an idea then - open a %#%&* California store! Sheesh. I know the clothes only last for 10 minutes or 2 washings - but still, there's like one on every corner in New York City. Can't they spare one for us frontierswomen?

(yeah, I know, this isn't biting social commentary - but even the Times has a Style section.)

'The Depressed Democrats Guide to Recovery'

Phoblog's farthest-flung reader, KR, emailed a link to this clever Mark Fiore piece on tips for voters feeling a bit blue these days. Check it out! (Best with sound.)

On A Much More Serious Note

Josh Marshall points to the Washington Post's Faces of the Fallen - something we've pointed to before, but it's been updated so now, when you click on the face of a lost service member, you get their name, age, where they were killed, and how they died. For all of them. Since the beginning.

Haunting, and worth visiting. Often.

Simulblogging: Leaders in the Blogging

Boston, MA - Continuing my East Coast tour, I arrived in Mass. after a LONG and snowy drive. I'm staying with the one and only Class Maledictorian - making this the second real-time-blogger encounter I've had this week. Go Stags!

What I learned on the road today:

1) Toll roads are a pain in the ass - I mean, c'mon, you have to stop at one booth for a ticket and another one to pay, and you have to do this over and over again? Right, sure. Don't these people pay taxes? Shoot, this is Massachusettes. Tax and spend, people, tax and spend!

2) Snow - it's cold and it falls from the sky. In California, we keep that stuff in the mountains where it belongs. That way, it doesn't interfere with driving or surfing and stuff.

3) iPod - great for road trips. I found music I didn't even know I had.

I'm only in Boston for a day or so (which seems to be the case whenever I'm here) and there's a lot of folks to fit in. But it's good to start with the college friends first. And so, I suppose Class Maledictorian and I should stop blogging and actually have a conversation since we're sitting in the same room.

MSM v. 'Sphere, Round 87

From the NYT, an article on vote fraud theories, blogs, and the 2004 bunk/debunk cycle.

Much of the article revolves around specific allegations of vote fraud in Florida, "discovered" by a blogger in Utah (whose stats went through the roof thanks to a few choice inbounds). I'm pretty sure you could find at least a little funny business in every state, regardless of voting system. At the very least, any 15 year old with time and a computer can hack into and mess around with anything - and that's without a compelling reason, that's just for kicks.

Several themes run throughout the article:

1) Humans love patterns and will seek them even where they don't exist.

More bad stuff probably went on in 2000 than in 2004. In 2000, however, the margin was SO close that fraud really could've changed the election. And because the election was so close last time, it should've been that close this time. Because it should've been that close this time, finding irregularities in voting is integral in re-fighting the 2000 outcome. Of course, this time around, with several million votes seperating my guy from the winner, the same arguments just don't carry the same conspiracy-theory-weight. And though I believe absolutely that every vote should be counted, and counted fairly, I think that focusing on one bad machine in Ohio or one questionable county in Florida (or some rumpled coat in a photo) takes attention off the real conspiracies: Bush's reasons for war, his entire foreign policy, you know, that kinda stuff.

2.) (With apologies to Bill Cosby) The MSM brought bloggers into this world, and they can take them right out again.


"It becomes a snowball of hearsay," said Matthew Damschroder, the director of elections in Columbus, Ohio, where an electronic voting machine malfunctioned in
one precinct and allotted some 4,000 votes to President Bush, kicking off its own flurry of Web speculation. That particular problem was unusual and remains unexplained, but it was caught and corrected, Mr. Damschroder said.

"Some from the traditional media have called for an explanation," he said, "but no one from these blogs has called and said, 'We want to know what really happened.' "

Whether that is the role of bloggers, Web posters and online pundits, however, is a matter of debate.
Ah, yes, the role of the bloggers. We've been punting that around since when? About the Democratic convention when bloggers were the first 2 news cycles? (Which should've been cause for concern for Democrats to begin with, but I digress). Of course, while I take issue with the Times implicit smack-blog rhetoric, I also take issue with the so-what-if-we're-wrong bloggers:
John Byrne, editor of an alternative news site, BlueLemur.com, says it is too easy to condemn blogs and freelance Web sites for being inaccurate. The more important point, he said, is that they offer an alternative to a mainstream news media that has become too timid. "Of course you can say blogs are wrong," he said. "Blogs are wrong all the time."

That's nothing of which to be proud, is it? Both MSM and blogs are wrong sometimes, but that it happens doesn't make it okay. And at the end of the day:
"I'd give my right arm for Internet rumors of a stolen election to be true," said David Wade, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign, "but blogging it doesn't make it so. We can change the future; we can't rewrite the past."

I'd agree with that - although, actually, I think I'd rather they not be true because I still, foolishly, like to think no one really would mess with another person's vote.

The biggest challenge facing Democrats - okay, one of the big challenges - is to get them to waging the 2000 campaign in perpetuity. The challenges facing bloggers are a) to stop helping Dems live in 2000 and b) to break the MSM and world at large from its annoying habit of lumping all bloggers in the same category. More on that later . . . .

For now, I'm off to Boston. Where I can safely, and proudly, wear all my Kerry chumwear.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

KE'04: A Preface

As it usually happens, my best post-thoughts come to me while I'm driving. Sadly, those are also the times when it is least safe to use a pen and paper or a laptop to get anything down on the permanent record.

The driving phenomenon is likely linked to the music I hear in the car: that song that played at the election night party, the one from my last night in Philly, several from Charleston karaoke nights. They trigger all the memories I've been pretty much ignoring since I left the trail - or the trail ended, I guess - a little over a week ago (just a week? You're kidding).

Coldplay's Everything's Not Lost reminds me of the Nodding Head in Philly and our post election night socializing before I ran the heck away from PA. I suppose it would waste keystrokes to explain the Country Roads/campaign nexus. Then there are the other songs that I never heard on the trail - at least outside of my own head - that create the soundtrack to the last 6 weeks. Much of the Garden State soundtrack, some Simon & Garfunkle, a touch of Bob Dylan.

I'm trying very hard to bring this blog back to its stated purpose - or at least, what, in practice, that sidebar material became: more objective commentary and criticism on state and national policy - ranting and pointing and sometimes raving about the day's news and events. The songs discussion actually does help me with that. See, once I can be done with the business of fond-memory-ing my time on the trail, I can get on with the business of working on what actually happened. To be worthwhile in the long run, the lessons of '04 have to move from "and I really learned a lot about myself that autumn" to "and I really learned a lot about the American voter, the Democratic voter, and how to structure policy and message in a way that both appeals to voters and saves the world."

Of course, right now, the policy I'm most concerned with is internal, Democratic policy. Why are we seeminlgy okay with being the party out of power? Why are we letting anyone (the media, ourselves) say that Hillary Clinton is the '08 frontrunner? Do we just like losing? I have to tell you, it really isn't that much fun. In the on-going battle of base vs. swing, what have the last 4 elections taught us about what the voters want?

What the voters want. There's a concept. Note Jim Pinkerton's Tuesday column on the Democrats and the voters. It's absolutely true that for most of last week, I've been blaming the voters. How could the re-elect Bush? How could my unemployed, impoverished, ignored, downtrodden, dying Mountaineers continue putting their faith in a man who doesn't care about them? Well, that kind of thinking and a buck-fifty can get you a cup of coffee, but it won't get you into the oval office. Surely, there must be a happy medium - I wouldn't really want to just sell them what they want - some medicine must be delivered also. But it's possible that voters aren't the dummies the losing side makes them out to be. So, as in life, balance in message is everything. From Pinkerton's column:
Now the Democrats must have a debate. If, after two straight losses, they still believe that their defeats are the result of bad luck, or "not getting our message out," they will be on track for yet another defeat in 2008. On the other hand, if they get the hint from the voters and go looking for their next presidential candidate in a red state, their fate might change, because after eight years of one party in the White House, the voters themselves are usually looking for a change.

Now, again, this isn't to say that Democrats should jettison everything they hold dear to become a shabby GOP-knockoff (frankly, we tried some of that already in Kerry's still-bad war vote messaging. It didn't work this time, and it won't work next time). But it's possible to be ourselves and be appealing to the voters. Otherwise, we all need to find new lines of work. We'll certainly be exploring the "how" in later posts, though that presupposes that we needn't ask "if" at the start.

All of this brings us back to this, a fundamental question, in yet another iteration:

Democrats - especially current, or would-be, leaders - must ask not what the voters can do for them, but what they can do for the voters.

It's Veterans' Day

So thanks Kendall, Meghan, Kris, and everyone else who just did or is currently voluntarily putting him or herself in harm's way for us. I may vehemently disagree with the war and with President Bush, but I will never take your service for granted.

And, of course, a special thanks to my Dad - decorated Vietnam veteran and always my greatest American hero (cue song).

Monday, November 08, 2004

Phoblog On Ice

Check one more item off my lifetime list of Things to Do . . . .

Well, I never saw the one in Philly . . . .

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Phoblog on the B-lawgs

Gotta give the courtesy shout outs (shouts out? attorneys general?) to my two favorite blawgers: Class Maledictorian and Neo Tokyo Times - for showing some love in recent posts. We heart links!

Will Phoblog Be In A City Near You?

Seems that way . . . .

I'll be spending a few more days in the Big Apple, before heading back to DC. A well-timed bit of IMing with a campaign friend led to weekend plans taking me to Boston, Mass next Friday (because why be cold in NYC when you can be even colder in New England?). Then it's back to DC (DC friends, yes, I'm going to call all of you - or email me if you're worried - and we will be hanging out), and finally, inevitably, back to California sometime next week. It'll end up being a bit more whirlwind than the ideal, but, what the hell. Friends of Phoblog know she's not one for the unplanned anything. Consider this a brief spat of new-leaf-dom before the return to hideous law school life.

It's also been mentioned that I should likely find something productive to do over the next few weeks. Personally, I think blogging is productive, but yeah, okay, maybe something MORE productive. I'm dreading the return to school (did I mention that?) - so much so that I'm researching whether the whole degree thing is really necessary for the Bar. It is. What a load of . . . oh, sorry, this is a family site. If there are any lawyer-type readers out there with advice, shoot me an email. Also, if there's anyone out there in publishing (academia-side, I'm not a novelist), I've got a winner in my noggin' just looking for a meager advance.

There have been a few requests for more from-the-trail mix. It's coming, promise. Right now, I'm sifting through the tiny mountain of email that's piled up in just the past few wireless-free days. I'm also still processing the experience. I mainly talk about the campaign with others who were there. It's easier to start with that knowledge base than to start from scratch with anyone else. But it IS coming. Promise.

Meanwhile - I've had a request for more caption contests. Anyone have a photo? Send it or a link to it via the email link on the left. (reader MS: no, I'm not using that one you sent. Sorry, Charlie). If I can get the one of me from USA Today up here, I'll let you break the rules and caption me. Won't that be fun.

The Phoblog World Tour Continues

Okay, I'm still in New York. But it feels pretty global, does that count?

Yesterday was a little academic - I went to a few lectures at NYC on coverage of the 2004 election; a little touristy - I went to an Aztec art exhibit at the Guggenheim; and a little old-friend-catch-up-y - I had lunch with (well, I'll leave out his name so I can give him a link) the author of Neo Tokyo Times.

One of the things mentioned during the academic part of my day was the New York Times cover photo from yesterday's paper (can't find it, or I'd post it). It depicted some U.S. Marines practicing medical evacuations, etc, preparing for potential Fallujah casualties. One panelist made the point that the NYT was editorializing already just by choosing that particular photo. Surely, U.S. forces were also drilling down heroic marching patterns or practicing bombing things. It was a pretty dark photo. I had noted it myself that morning - though not as a commentary on the paper's editorial decision making for the front page.

By now, of course, you see why the discussion interests a blogger with a site name playing on photography. Of course, image football has been a journalistic, punditry pastime since the war started. Images of coffins, of injured soldiers, etc. So here's a photo of soldiers who aren't even injured yet. They're fine. But it strikes a creepy cord because - well, shoot - think about what they are prepping for.

So is the New York Times just beating the liberal bias drum or are they showing truth? This IS what soldiers practice. Is it all they practice? No. But I bet it sells more papers. Your thoughts?

[On a personal photo note: Yours truly was in a pretty cool photo in Wednesday's USA Today. I can't find the image online, but at the very least, I'll scan it in and get it up soon. In the meantime, on the off chance you have, or can get ahold of, extra copies of the Nov 5 USA Today, save it for me. Page A3, or 3A or however they paginate.]

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I'm Okay

I've received several worried calls from readers, friends, my mom - and several comments/emails of the "where'd she go" variety. I'm not going to off myself or anything, never you fear. But, as you could imagine, I'm a bit down. And a bit run down. So this blogger needs some maintenance time.

I'm going to run around and catch up with all my East Coast friends, skate at Rockefeller Plaza, shop - uh, window shop - in New York. Get depressed staring at the White House. Who knows, maybe even head up to Boston. Maybe I'll take myself on an American history vacation. Basically, I'm going to figure out how much money I have left, subtract return airfare, and just, kinda, be, for awhile.

But I'll get back to blogging much sooner than I get back to California, don't worry. You'll get good campaign stories soon, promise.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


I suppose, in a way, ending this election year with a last barrage of phonebanking. It's sort of the cornerstone of campaigns and something I've been doing for a long time. It's as grassroots as you get, along with precinct walking - which makes me feel a little bit better about leaving the grassroots job I had in West Virginia for the urban wilds of Philadelphia.

In about 34 minutes, the polls close in CA, HI (is that right? that seems soon), ID, OR, and WA. I'll never know the names of everyone who pitched in today here at the Walnut Street storefront. Most of the signs are already off the walls. But a lot of people gave their all. Even with us barking orders at them. Even after we - okay I - refused them yard signs or buttons. Even after all the fights and the feudalism and the fun and the frantic activities. It's thinning out here. Hawaii has been called. Nevada is done. All that is left now is waiting. Blocking out the pundits we don't like, clinging to the life rafts offered by those with whom we agree.

My heart is very much with the Charleston gang tonight - and those in Ripely and in Mason County. They're almost certainly red tonight. But I'm hoping that we in PA, and across the country, have Kerryed the weight for the party faithful there. They are good, extremely hard working people and I miss them.

No matter what - or when - the outcome, coming here was the right decision. I'm not sure what we'll wake up to tomorrow. For that matter, depending on how this goes, who knows where I'll be tomorrow or the next day. Did I tell you I only bought a one-way ticket out here? So at the very least, it will be 7 to 14 days before I'm back in Cali. I'll likely need at least 7 of sleep.

In this bubble, I've had no sense of the national campaign. No way of knowing how the rhetoric turned, which way the nuances broke. I didn't read it, didn't watch it, couldn't blog it, and probably couldn't have blogged it well given my job. It'll be fun to try to catch up. I wish I could freeze time and do that now, before we know how it ends. But I guess that's the fun now - if there's fun at all in the waiting. We really don't know. No one does. Voters who might decide the election are still voting.

For now, I'll finish this last list of Hawaii calls, figure out where the part is. And wait.


Mahalo for voting . . . .

Mason County, Nooooooo!

Red? Aww, man, I feel so guilty.

So THAT'S Why I'm Usually GOTVing in Cali

Because when you're in the first wave of closed states - you don't get to stop when the polls closed. We're calling other states now . . . . We're all in this together.

I'm shaky, past exhausted, the numbers on my cell phone - as well as the keys on the keyboard - are blurry and impossible to press accurately on the first try.

This is your brain on campaign.

For the Record

Josh Marshall on the Drudge Report of Philly antics.

42 minutes

Please, please, let it be 8pm.

Word of the Day: Turnout

1:45 pm EST:

Word from Phoblog friends across the U.S. is the same: reports of record turnout (which you can see in the MSM as well). It's raining in OR (what's new), OH (okay, can't be raining in the WHOLE state, can it?), but it's gorgeous here in the City of Brotherly Love. Last weeks rain forecast went out the window - sunny day, mild temperatures, smiling faces.

High turnout is historically good for Democrats. We'll see.

The general mood here is good. Energy is high - storefront is running like a well-oiled machine. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it (and been running part of it) myself. All credit to BF and MF for coming up with a workable plan. And of course, fellow honorary Mountaineer, Sam, the kid from Cornell, without whom, this flow of volunteers probably wouldn't have been possible.

I can't help but think - regardless of the numbers for this election - that even though young voter turnout is usually lower than desired - young voters still make the difference. Campaigns - like Congress - are run by 20 to 30 somethings with the energy to save the world.

I'm working off about 3 hours of sleep but I'm feeling surprisingly good. My body is cranky, but my heart is light. Can't ask for much more than that.

Anyone in other states who has anecdotes on the day so far, please comment below . . . .

7:04am EST

Let's Get it Started . . . . .


It's go time.

So what I'm saying is - game's on . . . .