Saturday, November 29, 2003

Hey, Thanks!

Since I started tracking hits around here through Sitemeter a month ago, there have been 405 visits to Upper Left. The blog was around for a couple days before that, but I think I was the only one looking at the time.

Anyway, 405 isn't much compared to the blogging big leaguers, but it's a start that I'm kind of proud of, and I really appreciate everybody who's dropped by, and especially those of you who keep coming back or who leave a comment while you're here.

I've got some planned improvements - I'm still figuring this out myself - and if anybody ever tosses a few bucks at that PayPal link to your right, I'll start by dumping the Blogger banner ads at the top of the page, but mostly I'd just like to build up the traffic here.

If you've got a place to post a link, or a friend or two who might enjoy a pointer to these pages, I'd appreciate the help every bit as much as I appreciate you being here in the first place - which is a whole lot!

Thanks again!

Money changes, well, many things...

...but not, contrary to the tune, quite everything. Not in politics, anyway.

Although I'm generally sympathetic to campaign finance reform, I've long felt that the role of cash in elections is a little over-rated. While it's true that a candidate needs enough money (ie, suffient to buy the number of impressions needed to deliver a message through the appropriate media), that doesn't mean that the candidate with the most money will win. The content of the message and selection of the media do matter, and big bucks sometimes do lose.

Instructive examples from the recent Seattle City Council contests are offered up by Joel Connelly...

"No incumbent in Seattle City Council history ever collected a campaign war chest the size of that raised by Heidi Wills. No challenger ever started out as well-financed as Kollin Min.

Wills and Min took in, between them, nearly $400,000. Just goes to show that money isn't everything. Min finished fourth and out of the running in the primary. Wills was upset by a 10,000-vote margin in the general election."

"White House Defends Trip"

That's the headline on this story which details Condie Rice's spin on her boss' holiday travel. I'm sure it's not the headline they wanted - "Bush Makes Historic Heroic Journey" was more along the lines they'd hoped for I imagine - which points up one of the reasons I think Bush is incredibly vulnerable come next fall.

For the record, I think the trip to Iraq itself was just fine. Was it a big publicity ploy? Well, to some degree ever trip any President takes is a big publicity ploy. Was it a treat for the troops, regardless of their political predelictions or dissatisfaction with their assignment? You betcha. I was certainly no fan of Richard Nixon, or the war he sent me to, but I have to admit that if Dick Nixon had shown up at Tan Son Nhut to dish up turkey to me and some of my fellow troopers, I would have thought it was pretty damn cool, as war stories go. So to the degree that it provided a little morale boost for the troops, good enough.

As a play for positive political spin, though, it falls short, not because they didn't consider its value in those terms and do everything possible to exploit that value, but because the press and a good chunk of the people are cynical enough about this guy that even when he does something perfectly appropriate and even if it was perfectly well-intentioned, within a day he's going to get a headline like "White House Defends Trip." Not celebrates. Defends. And no defense offered is going to be good enough for a lot of folks, and especially a lot of reporters.

What's that mean? Well, I won't say it means he's toast, but the bread is sliced and the butter's on the cutting board. All the D's need is the right candidate (as you know, I have a suggestion along those lines...).

Meanwhile, Senator Clinton made her own 10 hour trek into the combat zone, and got generally good notices for the effort, but I'll bet the headline on this story isn't what she was looking for either...

"Sen. Clinton visits Baghdad; two more U.S. soldiers die "...

Friday, November 28, 2003

Let's hope he's prophetic...

Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie was in town last week, pinning high hopes on the state of Washington according to The Stranger.

"Washington is a priority for Republicans in the 2004 elections, Gillespie said, describing the state as "ground zero" in the party's efforts to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, expand its governorships, and reelect President Bush in 2004."

Well, Ed, if you're going to tie those races together, I feel pretty encouraged. While we re-elect Patty Murray and put any of our excellent gubenatorial candidates in Olympia, we'll watch Bush go down in flames here in the upper left corner - and if we're "ground zero," you're about to see all your plans blow up.

I'm feeling better than ever about snagging another House seat, too.

Ya gotta believe...

...and it's good to know Gov. Vilsack does. In a note from Iowa, the Boston Globe reports that "Iowa's Democratic governor, Tom Vilsack, has told some people close to him that he believes Kerry can still win the nomination. Vilsack has yet to declare whom he will endorse, if anyone."

Yes, in fact, Kerry can. So can several others, but I don't doubt for a minute that Kerry can.

The way I see it.

An e-mail correspondent noted that I seem to be pretty down on Howard Dean, and wondered how I feel about, for instance, Wes Clark. Well, yes, I am pretty down on Howard Dean, and I have mixed emotions about Wes Clark. In fact, I have mixed emotions about the entire Democratic field. I have a preferred candidate, but I don't see a perfect one.

Despite my enthusiasm for the Stop Dean forces, I'm still a charter member of the Anybody But Bush club, and if it came to it, I'd vote for the Doctor over the Resident. I'd prefer it doesn't come to that, but there it is. But in analyzing the candidates for the nomination on two scales - electability and acceptablity - I find Dean at the bottom of the pool of actual contenders on both. Here's how I see the field as it stands:

John Kerry - Kerry's my pick, based on the fact that I think he's the candidate most likely to send Bush packing after the general election, and the fact that I think he's likely to be the best of the bunch in the actual role of President.

Kerry's suffered a bit from early labelling as the presumptive nominee - although I've never seen any evidence that he made that presumption. Once he was built up, though, he was also the most prominent target to be knocked down, and because of his percieved strength in New Hampshire, he became the main target of the most negative campaigner, in the field, Howard Dean. It had an effect, but there was a reason he was given that early credibility. Kerry is a proven campaigner, with a record of winning tough elections against popular Republicans. He's a proven money raiser, and is the only candidate other than Dean to cross the $20 million threshold in this race. He adds to that an outstanding record as a US Senator - a leader on the enviroment, on education and on international policy. He's also the only candidate in the field that combines legislative, executive and military experience.

On the basis of his political history, I give him an 8 on a ten point electability scale. On the basis of his impressive - and impressively consistent - record as a Senator, I give him a 9 on the acceptablity scale. Not my perfect candidate, perhaps, but a highly electable candidate who's likely to make a very good President.

Total - 17

Dick Gephardt - Gephardt's my second choice. Except for his tilt toward a bit more protectionism than I think is economically sound (as a port city resident, I'm acutely aware of the economic importance of trade), and his insistance on giving up the Democratic tax relief that was inserted into the Bush tax package to finance his health care plan, his record is generally strong on issues important to progressive Democrats. Those two exceptions, though, have an adverse impact on both of my scales. Electability - 7. Acceptability - 8.

Total - 15

John Edwards - Although his tenure in the Senate too short for Edwards to have established the kind of consistency that would raise his acceptablity score for me, he's an appealing candidate in many ways. He's telegenic, well spoken and has a compelling personal story. How he would actually govern is a bit of a grey area for me, though, resulting in a 7 on the acceptability scale. His appeal as a candidate earns him a 7 on electability, making him a solid third among the candidates for the nomination. He belongs on any nominee's short list of Vice Presidential prospects, though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the White House someday.

Total - 14

Wes Clark - Although Clark's military background would make him formidable in a general election focused on security concerns, most of his views are still being fleshed out, and some are fairly disturbing, support for a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution and for the Pentagon's School for the Americas being cases in point. In Edwards case, I don't really know enough, but what I know is encouraging. I don't know enough about Clark, either, but the more I learn, the less I like. Electability - 6. Acceptability - 5.

Total - 11

Joe Lieberman - Poor Joe. He gets bashed all over for his perceived conservatism, but he's actually racked up a pretty good voting record with a variety of progressive inerests. He chooses, though, to emphasize his personal social conservatism in a way that disguises his many progressive credentials. That emphasis gives me the best indication of how he would govern as President, and holds him down to a 5 on the acceptability scale. Although he was on the national ticket just three years ago, he's failed to offer a good reason for choosing him to top it next year. Neither his personality nor his message are compelling, and I can't score him higher than 5 on the electability scale.

Total - 10

Howard Dean - I've asked in several forums for Dean supporters to suggest three areas in which Howard Dean has taken a consistent position based on principle over the course of his political career. I've conceded reproductive choice as the first, and I'm willing to offer up balanced budgets as a second. The first is an important Democratic issue, the second more in line with the Rockefeller Republicanism that I think best describes Dean's political stance. No one has offered a third, and those two just aren't enough. His near-mania for balanced budgets, in fact, is one of my greatest concerns about his likely performance as President. His record establishes his willingness to make the most draconian cuts to vital services. Combined with his pandering to the NRA and his general hostility to due process, that holds his acceptability score down to a 3.

He really can't do much better on the electability front. Although his willingness to enlist his feisty temperment in an often effective assault on Bush (and, unfortunately, almost as effective an assault on his own Party) is very appealing to a substantial majority of the Democratic primary electorate, his inability to keep an appropriate check on that feistiness when challenged and his record of remarkable inconsistencies on nearly every issue limit him to a 3 on that score as well. As a nominee, he's a likely general election loser. If he beats the odds, my best hope is that he'd simply be an ineffective President, but my expectation is that he'd be the worst Democratic President of my lifetime.

Total - 6

Carol Mosley Braun, Al Sharpton and (I hate to say it) Dennis Kucinich are simply irrelevant. None of them will ever be the Democratic nominee, let alone the President of the United States.

There it is, then. Of course, since the electability scale is in reference to a
run against Bush, he can't get any points there, and he's a definite 0 on my acceptability scale, so I'll be voting for the Democratic nominee, even the guy I rank in the single digits. I have a stubborn faith that I won't have go there, though. While there's a scenario for any of six to get the nomination, I still think the strongest chance ultimately resides in the strongest candidate, and I still expect to be voting for John Kerry in November, 2004.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!

There's football to be watched, turkey to be consumed, relatives to be related to and tryptophan to sleep off right around the corner, so Upper Left won't be back until Friday, but I've got a good one planned, so be sure to check in.

Meanwhile, I'm thankful for each of you that's taken a look, left a note, dropped me an email and generally helped get this project underway. Have a great day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The dark side of Bush-lite...

Blog4Kerry points out that the guy who's been pointing his finger all year has some similarities to the current occupant of the White House himself.

"Both Bush and Dean preach a simplified version of the facts that leaves no room for the actual complexities of the situation. How can criticize George Bush for simplistic foreign policy of good versus evil and then nominee a candidate to represent our party with a different direction, but equally as simplistic. While Dean misuse of the war is certainly much less frightening and milder than Bush’s misuse, both show a certain level of opportunism and an unrelenting willingness to win power even at the cost of destroying their opponents through distortion."

So does a "less frightening and milder" Bush sound like your dream nominee?

Texas 'Killer D's' strike again!

Bad news for US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is always good news to me.

"Texas Democrats have subpoenaed DeLay as a witness in a lawsuit to overturn a congressional district map DeLay helped push through the state Legislature. Besides their testimony, Democrats want letters, e-mails and other material the congressmen exchanged with state Republican lawmakers as the new districts were drawn."

This just compounds the investigation into DeLay's leadership PAC and the possibility of illegal contributions being pumped from his corporate patrons to Texas legislators while he was trying to set up the anti-democratic (not to mention anti-Demcocratic) redistricting scheme.

There seems to be so much self-evident hubris and corruption surrounding DeLay that it's pretty easy to imagine him taking a big and embarassing tumble, hopefully before next fall's elections. Democratic Congressional challengers have to start asking "Why did you make this crook your leader?"

How about a big, bloody primary bash for the Republicans?

The Seattle P-I reports that the Republican race for Washington's 5th Congressional District has widened to four candidates with the entry of former State Rep. Todd Mielke.

"Mielke joins a growing field of Republicans seeking Washington's 5th District nomination...Republican state Sen. Larry Sheahan, state Rep. Cathy McMorris and Spokane County Sheriff Mark Sterk already have announced they will seek the House seat that Nethercutt will give up to battle Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray."

This sounds like good news for Don Barbieri, so far the only Democrat running for the seat, long held by former Speaker of the House Tom Foley. A four way primary for the R's promises to suck up lots of cash and hopefully expose lots of weaknesses for their candidates. I wouldn't mind seeing four more.

It's nice to be nice...

...I suppose, but sometimes there's just no point, as Paul Krugman points out in a new column.

"One of the problems with media coverage of this administration," wrote Eric Alterman in The Nation, "is that it requires bad manners." He's right. There's no nice way to explain how the administration uses cooked numbers to sell its tax cuts, or how its arrogance and gullibility led to the current mess in Iraq."

The dishonesty and incivility of the Bush administration and their Congressional co-conspirators inspires various degrees of anger, dismay and distrust in Democrats generally, and the rank and file especially. That's really the fuel that drives much of the Dean machine - he has a knack for sounding as pissed off as many of us justifiably feel.

The problem, though, is that Krugman sees it, I see it, lots of you see it, but just the same, about half the country swallows the Republican line whole, and a good part of the remainder just isn't as pissed off as I agree they should be. Discontented? Sure. Willing to consider an alternative? OK. But fully realized self righteous and well deserved anger? I don't think there's an electoral majority available on that basis.

We need to tell the truth on the fools in power, and call their outrages outrageous. There's no doubt about that. But we need to do it in the context of real alternatives and real leadership. We need to send them a President, not just a message, in the '04 general election.

Monday, November 24, 2003

You don't have to drink the Kool-Aid... recognize the qualities of experience and leadership that will make John Kerry an excellent President. Blogger Dan Conley's not a Kerry supporter - Wes Clark is his choice - but he sure get's it right with these words.

"All of this sets up the important point -- that as President, Kerry will never back down from defending this country, but because he knows the human costs of an ill-conceived war, neither will he lead us to battle without just cause. Forget the campaign, forget the Bush foreign policy. If America faces a foreign policy challenge in the next four years, would you feel more comfortable with Howard Dean's detached manner or John Kerry's patriotic instinct to protect us?"

Thanks, Dan. And I'll happily return the compliment with regards to Clark's superiority over Dean on the foreign policy front.

Up to my elbows in turkeys.

No, I haven't been watching Republicans defend the Medicare fiasco. I've been pitching in at a local foodbank for the holiday rush. As a result, I'm very grateful to the dedicated Americans that have been holding down the Dean bashing front while I'm otherwise occupied.

Like former Senator Max Cleland...

“Now, at a time when young Americans are being killed and wounded by President Bush’s failed policy in Iraq... Our country can not afford to have another leader who took the easy way out like George W. Bush who hid out in the Houston National Guard. We can not afford to have a leader who weaseled out of going to Vietnam on a medical deferment for a bad back and wound up on the ski slopes of Aspen like Howard Dean.”

and The New Republic...

"...he twisted convenient stories to give his ideas a human face, one that audiences can't refuse. For a candidate who's not a Washington insider, Dean's learning the tactics pretty quickly."

and (maybe especially this round), Dick Gephardt...

"Time after time, when faced with budget shortfalls, Gov. Dean's first and only instinct was to cut – cut education, cut prescription drug coverage, cut Medicaid funding, cut aid to the elderly, blind, disabled. Gov. Dean wears his bravado as a budget cutter like a badge of honor … There is no place for governance without compassion."

I don't know what he means, either...

...and I don't much want to find out.

The New Republic quotes Howard Dean on why he can appeal to the African American vote:

"I've got soul. ... I don't know what I mean by that--I wish I could tell you."

Maybe he can tell us what diddy wah diddy means instead, or maybe he can just square his self professed 'soulfulness' with The New York Times observation that the Dean campaign’s "heavy use of the Internet has largely bypassed poorer pockets of African-Americans and Latinos, and issues like crime, drugs and failing public schools have not been centerpieces of his message."

I didn't get to see Teresa...

But faithful Upper Left reader and commenter DiAnne did, and now she's a celebrity, with a featured spot on the official Kerry blog. Not to be outdone, we offer this photographic evidence of DiAnne's encounter with Teresa.

PI columnist Joel Connelly got some face time with the future First Lady, too, asking the question "What type of first lady would she make?"

Her response? "You can be an inspiration, or you can leverage things. I am lucky in that I have enjoyable work. I would continue. I would do that. Inasmuch as I can help other spouses, especially women, achieve more validity -- and be an asset to their communities -- I would do that, too."

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Well damn.

Teresa Heinz Kerry is due at the Seattle campaign office in a little while, and I'd hoped to be there, but unfortunately it looks pretty doubtful that I'll make it. Damn. She's an amazing woman, and I've been looking forward to this one.

Anyway, I'd like to extend this online welcome to my home town to Teresa, and offer a shout out to my pals at Seattle 4 Kerry. Hope it's a grand time.

But the polls!

I'm as obsessive about tracking every movement of every point in every poll as anyone, I suppose, but it's important to keep these things in perspective. About this time in 1992, those of us who were working for other campaigns (like Joe Trippi, I was a Brown guy back then) were pretty dismissive of the former Governor of a small state who was hovering around 2% in New Hampshire. Things move fast in politics, and faster in those early primary/caucus states than in most places.

Fox News isn't one of my typical sources for factual reporting, but once in a while they do say something that's true, and these data points are worth keeping in mind...

"In 2000, a Los Angeles Times poll two months before the New Hampshire Republican primary put Bush ahead of Arizona Sen. John McCain 44 to 36 percent. McCain trounced Bush by nearly 20 points.

A New Hampshire poll three months before the Democratic primary showed former Sen. Bill Bradley with 45 percent, ahead of former Vice President Al Gore's 41 percent. Gore fought back to win.

Two months before New Hampshire's 1996 Republican primary, Sen. Bob Dole was leading 27-17 over commentator Pat Buchanan. Dole lost to Buchanan by one point.

Two months before the 1984 Democratic primary, former Vice President Walter Mondale (search) was at 46 percent and then-Sen. Gary Hart was at 8 percent. Hart beat Mondale by 10 points."

I know it sounds trite, but it's still true - the only poll that counts is taken in the voting booth on election day.

I just can't resist...

This list from the Arizona outpost of Indymedia isn't really a bash, is it? I mean, these are fair questions, aren't they?

Ten Questions For Howard Dean

1. Why did you support sending Vermont's nuclear waste to the poor, mostly Hispanic town of Sierra Blanca, Texas, 16 miles from the Mexican border -- a plan described as "blatant environmental racism" by Paul Wellstone?

2. Why did the Dean administration increase funding for Vermont's state colleges by only 7% while you increased funding for prisons by 150%?

3. Why did IBM, the leading polluter in Vermont, receive your Environmental Achievement Award nine times?

4. What did you mean when you said, "I've had 40 or 45 private meetings with IBM since I've been governor. And IBM has gotten pretty much everything they've asked for"?

5. When you talked about moving the retirement age to 68 or 70 which was it?

6. Why did you wait for the courts and legislature to bring about the civil union bill before you supported it? Why did you sign the bill in private when you finally did sign it?

7. Why do you oppose the Israeli Labour Party candidate for prime minister Amram Mitzna's call for unconditional peace talks with the Palestinians?

8. While you acknowledge that you "haven't condemned Congress for passing the Patriot Act," Bernie Sanders from your own state of Vermont is leading efforts in Congress to overturn the Act. Why are you not supporting Bernie Sanders' efforts and condemning Congress for its attack on civil liberties?

9. How do you respond to Annette Smith of Vermonters of a Clean Environment who says: "Dean's attempt to run for president as an environmentalist is nothing but a fraud. He's destroyed the Agency of Natural Resources, he's refused to meet with environmentalists while constantly meeting with developers, and he's made the permitting process one, big dysfunctional joke. EP under Governor Dean meant Expedite Permits, not Environmental Protection"?

10. Since you pride yourself on your "fiscal responsibility" why do you refuse to even consider any decreases in the bloated Pentagon budget?

So, what's up, Doc?

Good news at the DNC

While some Democrats (the former Governor of a state that wouldn't let him exercise his enthusiasm for capital punishment comes to mind) seem to spend as much time targeting DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe for removal as they do targeting George Bush for a similar fate, the American Prospect takes a more objective look at the changes McAuliffe has wrought at the DNC and determines that "Working largely under the radar, McAuliffe has actually made the DNC better prepared for a presidential election than it may ever have been. "

It's an interesting piece, and worth looking at in its entirety.

Good news from the Kerry trenches...

Much ado has been made about fundraising troubles for the Kerry campaign, but there seems to be a pretty dramatic swing in his favor lately. Last week the campaign pulled down a quick quarter million in an online blitz, and the Miami Herald reports that a quick swing through Florida was similarly successful.

"Kerry fundraising officials said Thursday that the pulled in about $200,000 after just two days of events in Miami and Tallahassee -- a surprisingly high total, they said, equal to more than one-fourth the amount he raised in the state as of the end of the third quarter, Sept. 30.

''I sense a real sea change in our ability to raise money,'' said Kirk Wagar, a Miami trial lawyer and leading Kerry fundraiser. ``We're going to be the last ones standing with Dean.''

That's the kind of good news you can, as they say, 'take to the bank.'

It's been a couple days since I bashed Dean...

...but plenty of others have taken up the slack.

Like these undecided voters in New Hampshire.

"Joan Szoak of Windham: “I just find in Dean a little bit of that arrogance, that it’s my way or the highway. That’s the only thing that bothers me about Dean.”

Democrat Aime Labrie, 78, of Manchester: “Dean is ahead but he gives you the impression he’s not humble enough.” "

Or these Iowa voters.

"Lester Jones, a retired farmer and insurance salesman in Carroll, Iowa, who is backing Gephardt, said, “I don’t think Dean has got the experience. That’s what bothers me with him...There’s been some things he’s said that he has had to retract. So he probably doesn’t think things through as far as he should before he makes a statement.” "

Chris Fink, a retired high school chemistry teacher from Council Bluffs, has a son in the National Guard who is serving in Iraq.

Uncommitted to a candidate, Fink says she is “intrigued by Dean” but has doubts about his foreign policy bona fides. “Whenever you have somebody who is going from state government to national government you wonder about the foreign policy angle."

One of Fink’s former students, Paul Shomshor, is now a member of the Iowa state Legislature...In June Shomshor told that if Dean won the nomination, “that would pull the party so far left” that the Democrats might lose to Bush in November. “You have to nominate somebody that can win,” Shomsor said then."

Or The New Republic.

"...if we took Dean at his word, we wouldn't even have a judiciary. Both sides would be locked in a cycle of vengeance, where they blindly oppose each other's nominees, leaving a massive void on the bench.

And if this is any indication of the style of a Dean presidency, it is a recipe for the most gridlocked Washington since the Civil War.

Finally, he's being extremely ungracious to the Senate Democrats, who have done an extremely effective job in fighting Bush on the judiciary...So is this what it means to be part of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party? You demogouge the failings of your own teammates for cheap political points?"

And yet another New Hampshire voter.

"Cynthia Capodestria, of Sanbornton...thinks Kerry is the candidate who can win.

“I really only care about beating George Bush,” Capodestria said. “All my friends are voting for Dean, and Dean bugs me.

I don’t think he’s going to be able to sell himself to the whole country. He’s too New York. (Kerry) has got the poise.”"

Saturday, November 22, 2003

The day that really changed everything....

On November 22, 1963, the entire student body of Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School in Port Angeles, Washington, was summoned to the school auditorium. Though we weren't told why, there was a great deal of apprehension in all of our minds in those days of air raid drills and missle crises. None of us, though, imagined the news that would be delivered by the principal that day. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the President of the United States, had been shot.

A short time later, it was announced that the President was dead, and school was dismissed. For me, the single most lasting impression of that day came while I was walking up Lincoln Avenue on my way home. About halfway between school and home was a shop with a window full of television sets for sale, and the sidewalk in front of that shop was crowded with adults, watching the news through the window and openly weeping. The sight of mill workers and longshoremen shedding public tears on a city street was almost as unimaginable as the idea of President Kennedy being dead in Dallas.

There have been any number of tragic events in the intervening years, but for those of us who remember, I don't think any has had as deep an impact, except for those personally touched by later events. The impact on our society at large, both socially and politically, is incalculable.

The normal blather and bashing will be back tomorrow. Today is a day for reverance and rememberance.


Friday, November 21, 2003

Energized Opposition Wins Round 1

One story warming up on the back burners is now heating up the newswires. Via Yahoo! New a few minutes ago...

WASHINGTON - Opponents Block Energy Bill in Senate

57-40 is about as razor thin as it can get, and there were six Republicans breaking ranks and voting with the good guys, but even if it only turns out to be a brief delay, this is a very big deal, as the Senate Democrats get tougher as the Republican offensive becomes ever more, well, offensive.

Not as good as a Congressional majority, but a win is a win and this news brightens my day considerably.

Kerry Cares, and so do I, so....

MSNBC reports that "...the Iowa campaign is announcing the “Kerry Cares Food Drive,” an effort to gather canned food items for local food banks and the homeless."

I care, too, and blogging will be a little hit and miss over the next few days as I pitch in to help a local food bank with the Thanksgiving rush. Remember to check in from time to time, though, because I'll be around and about, and there are some hot stories on the burners.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Political Nirvana?

The Seattle Times reports that Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic may be moving from the ranks of activist/lobbyist to enter politics as a candidate.

"Novoselic is attracted" the paper reports "by what he sees as the bully pulpit opportunities of lieutenant governor, a job whose biggest public role is presiding over the state Senate during the legislative session."

This could be a development that really 'rocks the vote', and the Novoselic name on the ballot might have an interesting impact on any number of elections next year. I'd expect most of that impact to be positive. It would involve a challenge to a Democratic incumbent, but I don't think anyone would claim that there's been a full measure of partisan enthusiasm for the generally conservative Lt. Gov. Brad Owen.

Novoselic's a bright guy with some intriguing ideas, and I hope he makes the run.

Speaking of Senators...

Are Maria and Patty a latter day Scoop and Maggie? Well, not really, or at least not yet, but it's not really a fair question. For many years Washington enjoyed a Senatorial one-two combination that's really beyond fair comparison. While Henry Jackson may have been the better known of the pair, largely thanks to his Presidential campaigns, there's a case to be made that Warren Magnuson was the more formidable.

A good reason to think so popped up in Joel Connelly's reminiscience about JFK. The tale Kennedy told was apocraphyl, but the political potency of the man he described was accurate.

"At an Olympic Hotel party feting Sen. Warren Magnuson," Connelly relates, "Kennedy rose and described the malaprop-prone pork barreler:

"He (Magnuson) speaks on the Senate floor so quietly that few can hear him. He looks down at his desk ... he comes into the Senate late in the afternoon ... he is hesitant about interrupting other senators. When he rises up to speak most other senators have left. He sends a message up to the chair and everyone says, 'What was it?' and Maggie says, 'It's nothing important.' And the Grand Coulee Dam is built."

Maybe this is a week to remember JFK, but I'll never forget Maggie.

More Senatorial applause

Whenever you praise a politician for a laudable action, there's always a chance that you'll be faced with disappointment the next time they hit the news. It was with considerable satisfaction, then, that I awoke to the news that Senator Maria Cantwell is taking a lead roll in the attempt to filibuster the ill-conceived energy bill passed by the House.

It's a long-shot filibuster, especially with Minority Leader Tom Daschle leading the ranks of mid-western Democrats who are backing the bill, primarily because it's salted with ethanol subsidies that are very important to their agricultural constituents. Still, it's always good news when your elected representatives are on the right side of an issue, and even better when they're out front on it, as Maria was on unemployment extension, and as she is on the engergy bill.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Hey kids, don't scare the candidate!

Alexandra Pelosi seems to feel OK about Dean, but she's not so sure about some of his supporters in this New York Daily News item...

"He's definitely hot right now. It's like his supporters are a cult. At the Jefferson and Jackson dinner in Des Moines last weekend, it was tons of screaming kids, but they weren't from Iowa. They'd been bused in from across the Midwest, and they didn't clap for anyone else - only Dean. Afterward, there was a party at the Fort Des Moines and they acted out Dean's stump speech, waving their arms and mouthing the words, like it was 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.' Dean was there, and at first he was smiling, but after a while he looked pretty freaked out. You have to remember that the 70-something Iowa voter is not into the screaming kids."

Checking in on the Challengers

I'm reasonably optimistic about the chance to pick up at least one, and possibly two, new Democratic Congressional seats here in Washington. While our challengers aren't necessarily 'Seattle-style' Democrats, once you cross the Lake, and especially when you cross the mountains, that's a good thing. And they're good candidates.

In the 8th District, Alex Alben has found a weak spot in Jennifer Dunn's armor - her disgraceful lack of performance on issues important to our nation's veterans, even during time of war.

"The House of Representatives recently voted on awarding servicemen and women a one-time $1500 bonus in recognition of their service during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom." reports the Alben website. "Rep. Dunn voted against this proposal and it was defeated."

“I am dismayed that Rep. Jennifer Dunn wouldn’t support this deserving cause and instead cast the deciding vote that prevented our men and women from receiving this well earned money.”

In Eastern Washington's 5th District, left open by George Nethercutt's Quixotic quest for Patty Murray's Senate seat, Don Barbieri is building on his impressive background as a businessman to mount an equally impressive bid for Tom Foley's old Congressional seat.

He explained his decision on a recent stop in the Palouse. "I began with five employees and we grew to 5,000 employees," he said. "I decided it was either time to grow to 10,000 employees or take on a new challenge where I might, in the long run, help create even more jobs.

"So, I looked into my toolbox of experience and personal skills and decided to make my first run for public office," he said.

Whether it's an investment in green energy or sweat equity, these are campaigns worth a measure of your attention.

Upper Left - Where the hits just keep coming...

Some days I wake up with the urge to write a bitter polemic about the former Governor of a state with a population about equal to the male residents of San Diego, CA, but I look around and find that my work's been done for me.

Today, I don't have to bash Howard Dean because...

Mickey Kaus does it for me in Slate...

"Was Dean unaware of Bush's steps toward war, and Clinton's criticism? Or did he become the most vocal foe of the Administration's Iraq initiative for tactical reasons--out of an accurate calculation that it would bond him to the party's grass roots and set him apart from the field?"

And the New Republic does it, too...

"Dean doesn't have to be in favor of the Iraq war or in favor of the post-Iraq war, but, if Dean can't see that rebuilding Iraq and keeping American troops there to secure peace is needed "to protect America," then maybe he shouldn't be commander-in-chief."

Harold Myerson pitches in at the Washington Post...

"The decision of the Service Employees International Union to endorse Dean, for instance, was in large part due to the prodding of the union's New York and California locals. The Midwestern locals were, with one exception, distinctly less gung-ho.

Dean has changed his position on trade to one that privileges labor as much as capital, but having signed Vermont's civil union law, he's a sitting duck for what is sure to be Karl Rove's campaign of calumnies."

And the Gephardt camp just beats the Governor like a drum, whether it's campaign manager Steve Murphy...

"Once again, we see Howard Dean's motivation is a political calculation on what is best to win this campaign, and not a leadership decision on what is the right thing to do,'' Murphy said."

or Representative Gephardt himself...

"My job is to keep the people of this country safe, and that's what I've tried to do. I don't mind (Gov. Dean) disagreeing with that, although I am having a little trouble understanding what he disagrees with or what he even believes in."

Let's see - he's inconsistent, hypocritical, wrong where he takes strong positions and has weak positions where he seems right. And there's some softness to the underbelly of his support, raising the perpetual electability question.

Yep, that about covers it. Thanks to all of the above for the help.

Kennedy on Kerry

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. weighs in with praise for John F. Kerry on the environmental front.

"...Kerry has the best record of any senator; he has a 96 percent lifetime rating with the League of Conservation Voters. This has been a passion for him since he got into public life. He was the Massachusetts organizer for Earth Day in 1970, and he has fought hard for fuel efficiency standards, which is now the holy grail of the environmental movement. He's been the one consistent champion on that issue."

He weighs in with praise on other issues, too, at the official Kerry blog.

No slack for Nethercutt

Some stories just won't go away, and thanks to Paul Krugman, the story of George Nethercutt's casual attitude toward American casualties is one of them.

Krugman's latest column contains the latest reminder...

"Some Americans may share the views of the Republican congressman who said that progress in Iraq is "a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day." (The congressman, Washington Republican George Nethercutt, added, "which heaven forbid is awful.") (Support the troops.)"

Of course, the Congressman is awful himself, and heaven doesn't have anything to do with it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Yuppie janitors for Dean?

The Note quotes an 'SEIU local leader saying "Dean's style on his campaign has impressed a lot of the powerhouse locals that hire 'yuppies' and college educated, motivated and dedicated organizers. Obviously, those hires have moved SEIU into no. 1 in union membership. The connection is very 'cultural.' I mean Dean groupies look exactly like many new hires at SEIU, so the fit is interesting. If SEIU can pull off some African-American and Latino worker support, Dean's camp looks great for the election in some key states. But getting the rank and file energy around Dean may be a challenge. We will see.'"

(my emphasis above)

Wasn't this endorsement supposed to be about a new wave of diversity in the Dean camp? Seems like there are some mighty important "ifs" and "buts" involved to me...

I don't have to bash Dean today...

Because the Christian Science Monitor does it for me...

"Mr. Dean fudges the issue of more federal controls by saying any new gun laws should be up to the states - hardly a sound policy when guns easily travel across state lines."

and so does Will Saletan...

"Dean might want to stop saying of Bush, as he did again Saturday night, "The word quota … is a race-coded word." Nobody who uses the phrase "Confederate flag" to attract the support of white racists has any business complaining about somebody else using the word "quota."

and E.J. Dionne...

"One top aide to a Dean rival noted that House and Senate Democrats in the South are alarmed at the damage having Dean at the top of the ticket could do the party in their region."

and Stuart Rothenberg...

"...among operatives, Rothenberg says, the thinking is that while Dean may bring in 2 or 3 million new voters with his brash, "truth-telling" style, he may alienate 5 or 6 million others."

Some days this is almost too easy...

Washington Senators Fight For Washington Workers

With thousands of displaced Washington workers about to lose their unemployment benefits, as outlined in a P-I editorial today, Senator Maria Cantwell is taking the lead in fighting for the extension Washington needs. Cantwell has said that she and her Democratic colleagues are being forced to "embarrass" the administration and congressional Republicans into doing the right thing before they take off for the holidays. Maria won't let the issue go away. Be sure to log onto her website to track this issue and offer a message of support!

Our Senior Senator, Patty Murray, is waging another battle for Washington workers. The Bush administration is trying to close the Seattle office of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration's Seattle regional office. Not only would this cause the direct loss of the family wage jobs the Department offers, but it would have an even more dramatic negative impact by moving resources away from the very region hardest hit by the national crisis in job losses.

With Washington, Oregon and Alaska rotating through the 1, 2 and 3 spots on the national unemployment lists, the elimination of more jobs and valuable services in the region is unconscionable, and Senator Murray has taken dramatic action on behalf of Washington workers, placing a hold on the confirmation of the Bush administration's nominee for Labor Solicitor, Howard M. Radzley.

I don't know anything about Radzley, who may be a fine choice for the job, but I do know that I appreciate Senator Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment, Safety, and Training, delivering a clear message that there won't be 'business as usual' at the Department of Labor while the needs of Northwest workers go unmet.

We re-elect Senators exactly so they'll develop the kind of clout and savvy that's needed for the tough fights, and Patty Murray is demonstrating exactly why we need to re-elect her again.

But enough about Kerry...

...let's talk about Kerry's Campaign Manager. Under the headline Kerry's New Aide Known For Winning Ways, the Boston Globe profiles Mary Beth Cahill.

The piece describes her work for Senator Kennedy, Senator Leahy, Governor Dukakis, Congressmen Barney Frank and Ed Markey and President Clinton, as well as her stewardship of EMILY's List. It's more than a long resume - it's an impressive record of accomplishment.

One of those accomplishments, apparently, was to give Pat Leahy long enough coattails to drag a doctor from Vermont out of obscurity and into the State House as Lieutenant Governor. That's OK, though. Just nail down that nomination for John and we'll forgive you, Mary Beth.

Bulletin...Bulletin...Bulletin...Pigs Fly!

Oops. I mean William Saletan has words of praise for John Kerry in his Slate column. If that seems as unlikely as winged swine to you, you're not alone. Words like this have been the source of shocked all across the Kerryscape...

"Last week, I made fun of Kerry's campaign shakeup and his promises of a new theme. Saturday night, he unveiled that theme, and you know what? It's terrific.

This is what Kerry's message should be, because it's who he is. He's the guy to whom battlefield bloodshed is real and foreign policy isn't a foreign language. It's what distinguishes him—now that Wes Clark has bowed out—from every other contender in Iowa. Kerry isn't pretending to be the guy who makes your heart race. He's saying, go ahead and have your fling, but when it's time to marry, you know who to count on."

Sounds like the new stump speech as a real shot as a momentum-turner.

Meet Theresa Kerry In Seattle

Teresa Heinz Kerry will be the featured guest at an open house to celebrate the opening of the campaign's Seattle office (it's been up and running, but waiting for Theresa's visit for the official christening). It's this Sunday, November 23, from 2 to 4 pm. The office is in Pioneer Square at 316 Occidental Ave. S., 3rd floor, and you can RSVP here.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere....

Our friends at Seattle 4 Kerry have the full text of Kerry's new 'Real Deal' speech, as unveiled at the Iowa JJ Dinner.

Meanwhile, fellow Kerryites from the lower left coast, the East Bay for Kerry bloggers, offer a pointer to Cal's Congressional Progressive Quotient, a nifty survey that reveals that the most ideologically consistent and forward looking Democratic candidate for President is...why, it's John Kerry!

Monday, November 17, 2003

And now the bad news....

For the NRA. While some people think that Democrats need to back away from a principled stand against the proliferation of the wrong weapons in the wrong hands to win elections, the latest CBS News poll on the question proves we've been right all along, according to most Americans.

"In general, do you think gun control laws should be made more strict, less strict, or kept as they are now?"

All respondents:

More Strict 51%
Less Strict 10%
Same 35%
Don't Know 4%

That's right. 86% of those polled think we've done the right thing about guns, and a majority think we should do even more. Even most Republicans agree that we shouldn't back off from current gun control standards, and 40% of them think those standards should be stronger.

And this is an issue some would-be national candidates want to run away from?

"I want to be a uniter...

...not a divider." George Bush said that. Of course, he didn't mean it in the way it's turned out. He's united almost every traditional America ally in opposition to our foreign policy, and he's united a huge block of voters in the Anybody But Bush brigade with his foolishness at home and abroad.

He's been so good at it that we have a real chance of removing him from the White House next year. To do it, though, we need to keep our eyes on the prize and bring the Democratic Party together with a positive focus on the future that will attract the independent voters we need for a national victory.

Emphasis on "bring the Democratic Party together." That's the necessary first step.
That's why we need to pick a nominee carefully. This time we need a real uniter. That's also why I continue to invest hope in the Stop Dean movement. He's had enough success, and been declared the front runner in enough quarters, that it's high time he took responsibility as a national leader with a duty to unite the Party, but just take a look at the Des Moines Register's summary of the theme's struck by the top three contender's at the Iowa Democratic Dinner this weekend...

"Kerry did not use the platform Saturday to criticize Dean, whom he trails in Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, he offered his sharpest attack to date on President Bush."

"Gephardt stuck to his campaign's basic themes, calling Bush "the vanishing president."

"Dean...continued as he has for a year to criticize his rivals, including Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt and Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman."

There are people who get paid to criticize Democrats, Dr. Dean. They're called Republicans.

How long can he get away with it?

When will Dean's free ride end? When will the corporate media start calling him on lines like this?

"Dean said he is the only candidate running a national campaign, with all of his rivals focusing on a single state or region. "

Let's see. John Edwards is active in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, for starters. Dick Gephardt is leading in Iowa and has scheduled a major TV buy for New Hampshire. John Kerry is campaigning personally in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida this week, and Theresa Kerry is traveling to Washington, where the Kerry staff outnumbers the Dean camp by about 4 to 1.

Or maybe Iowa, New Hampshire, Florida and Washington all seem like the same place to Dean.

If we can't believe you about the little things, Howard, how can we believe you about the big things? And when are the big media machines going to start calling you on this stuff? When they get the cue from Rove? Because that's coming eventually...

and then some more of the good news!

John Kerry unveiled a new stump speech at the Iowa Democratic Dinner, and it's a good one. Calling for a Real Deal to replace the Bush Raw Deal, he declared "Iowa Democrats, it’s time to get real. George Bush thought he could play dress-up on an aircraft carrier in front of a sign saying “Mission Accomplished” and we wouldn’t notice that our troops are dying in Iraq every day. That Americans on the farm and in our factories are hurting and struggling every day. That George Bush has lost two jobs every minute and run up the deficit a billion dollars every day.

But we did notice. We reject the cynicism and radically wrong direction of this Administration. And we’re here to say that tonight marks the beginning of the end of the Bush Presidency."

Right on, John!

First the good news...

Things do stack up on a day off from the blog. Among the brighter notes since my last post, Louisiana went and elected itself a Democratic Governor. A big cheer from way up here to way down there!

Some have observed that Gov Elect Kathleen Blanco is nearly as conservative as her Republican opponent in some ways, but for right now, she's my kind of Democrat - the kind that gets elected.

We needed one, and we got it.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

"I will not yield!"

"Not only will I not yield the floor, but we will not yield on this point," declared Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu during the Republican slumber party on the Senate floor. And she didn't.

Whatever you think of the Republican's 'reverse filibuster' tactic this week, I for one am grateful to them for giving me the chance to see Senator Landrieu in action. Facing off with Orrin Hatch, she gave him a full dose of hard core, old school, decorum be damned Democratic moral outrage. It was a wonder to behold.

I haven't been able to track down a transcript, but the Senator's press office graciously provided an mp3 file of her remarks, which I happily make available for download here. It's 7 megs, but worth the wait even for a dial up download.

This just in - Bush still bad...

Compliments to Carl Whitemarsh, who provided this dandy piece of research via email...

Children’s Hospitals

Bush Rhetoric
“This is a hospital, but it's also - it's a place full of love. And I was most touched by meeting the parents and the kids and the nurses and the docs, all of whom are working hard to save lives. I want to thank the moms who are here. Thank you very much for you hospitality…There's a lot of talk about budgets right now, and I'm here to talk about the budget. My job as the President is to submit a budget to the Congress and to set priorities, and one of the priorities that we've talked about is making sure the health care systems are funded.” – Egleston Children's Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia 3/1/01

Bush’s first budget proposed cutting grants to children’s hospitals like the one he visited by 15% ($34 million). His 2004 budget additionally proposes to cut 30% ($86 million) out of grants to children’s hospitals.

First Responders

Bush Rhetoric
“We're dealing with first-time responders to make sure they've got what's needed to be able to respond. “ – Bush, 3/27/2002

Bush had been saying that he was proposing $3.5 billion in “new” money for first responders. However, his budget tried to cut more than $1 billion out of existing grants to local police/fire departments to fund this. Then, in August of 2002, Bush rejected $150 million for grants to state and local first responders. Bush’s decision prompted the President of the Firefighters Union to say, “President Bush, don't lionize our fallen brothers in one breath, and then stab us in the back by eliminating funding for our members to fight terrorism and stay safe.” The President of the Virginia firefighters association said, “The president has merely been using firefighters and their families for one big photo opportunity.”


Bush Rhetoric
“I said when I was running for President, I supported ethanol, and I meant it. (Applause.) I support it now, because not only do I know it's important for the ag sector of our economy, it's an important part of making sure we become less reliant on foreign sources of energy.” – Bush at South Dakota Ethanol Plant 4/24/02

According to the AP, Bush’s 2004 budget proposes to eliminate funding for the bioenergy program that funds the Dakota Ethanol Plant he visited. [4/22/02]

Even Start

Bush Rhetoric
Under the headline “Bush lauds Albuquerque woman for volunteerism” the AP reported on Bush’s visit to New Mexico to tout Lucy Salazar, a volunteer with the Even Start literacy program. “One of the things I try to do when I go into communities is herald soldiers in the armies of compassion, those souls who have heard the call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself, and have followed through on that call; Lucy Salazar is a retired federal government worker. She teaches reading skills to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children -- incredibly important…And oftentimes, citizens such as her never get the praise they deserve. Lucy, thank you for coming and representing thousands of people like you.” - Bush, 4/29/02

According to the Associated Press, Bush proposed “to slash funding 20 percent for the Even Start program, which offers tutoring to preschoolers and literacy and job training for their parents” – the very program he was touting in New Mexico [2/4/02].


Bush Rhetoric
"Part of being a secure America is to encourage homeownership." He also went on to talk about his experience meeting the residents saying, "You know, today I went to the -- to some of the home -- met some of the homeowners in this newly built homes and all you've got to do is shake their hand and listen to their stories and watch the pride that they exhibit when they show you the kitchen and the stairs...They showed me their home. They didn't show me somebody else's home, they showed me their home. And they are so proud to own their home and I want to thank them for their hospitality, because it helps the American people really understand what it means." – Bush, 6/17/02

According to AP, “President Bush's proposed 2004 budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, announced Monday, phases out HOPE VI” the program Bush visited and touted in Atlanta. “Renee Glover, executive director of the Atlanta Housing Authority said. ‘We didn't anticipate that HOPE VI would be eliminated.’” [AP, 2/5/2003]

Port Security

Bush Rhetoric
“We're working hard to make sure your job is easier, that the port is safer. The Customs Service is working with overseas ports and shippers to improve its knowledge of container shipments, assessing risk so that we have a better feel of who we ought to look at, what we ought to worry about.” – Bush, 6/24/02]

The President’s 2003 and 2004 budget provides zero for port security grants. The GOP Congress has provided only $250 million for port security grants (35% less than authorized). Additionally, in August, the President vetoed all $39 million for the Container Security Initiative which he specifically touted.

Retirement Security

Bush Rhetoric
Bush in Madison “calls for worker pension protection “We've got to do more to protect worker pensions.” – Bush, 8/7/02

Just four months after touting pension security, Bush’s Treasury Department announced plans to propose new rules that “would allow employers to resume converting traditional pension plans to new ‘cash balance’ plans that can lower benefits to long-serving workers. Such conversions are highly controversial. Critics contend that they discriminate against older workers in violation of federal law” [Washington Post, 12/10/02]


Bush Rhetoric
“Our workers are the most productive, the hardest working, the best craftsmen in the world. And I'm here to thank all those who work hard to make a living here in America.” – Bush, 9/2/02

Bush’s 2003 Budget proposed a 9% ($476 million) cut to job training programs and a 2% ($8 million) cut to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Similarly, his 2004 budget proposes a $60 million cut to adult job training programs and a total elimination of the Youth Opportunities Grants, which provide job training to younger workers.

Border Security

Bush Rhetoric
Bush touts border security with Canadian Prime Minister Chretien in Detroit
“A secure and efficient border is key to our economic security.” – Bush, 9/9/02

While Bush did hold a photo-op to sign legislation promising more INS/Border Patrol staff and facilities, his budget provided no additional money for this. Additionally, in August, Bush vetoed $6.25M for promised pay upgrades for Border Patrol agents. Additionally, he vetoed all $39 million for the Container Security Initiative. His 2004 Budget slashes total total “Border and Transportation Security” by $284 million.

Fiscal Responsibility

Bush Rhetoric
“One of the ways we've got to make sure that we keep our economy strong is to be wise about how we spend our money. If you overspend, it creates a fundamental weakness in the foundation of economic growth. And so I'm working with Congress to make sure they hear the message -- the message of fiscal responsibility.” Bush, 9/16/02

Less than 6 months after this pronouncement, Bush proposed a budget that would put the government more than $300 billion into deficit. As National Journal noted on 2/12/02, Bush’s own 2004 budget tables show that without Bush’s tax and budgetary proposals, the deficit deficit would decline after 2006, but with Bush’s proposals the deficit would grow indefinitely.

Vocational/Technical Ed

Bush Rhetoric
“I want to thank the good folks here at Rochester Community and Technical College for your hospitality…The most important issue -- the most important issue for any governor in any state is to make sure every single child in your state receives a quality education.” – Bush, [10/18/02]

Bush’s 2004 budget proposes to cut vocational and technical education grants by 24% ($307 million). His budget also proposes to freeze funding for pell grants for low income students.


Bush Rhetoric
“These men and women are still the best of America. They are prepared for every mission we give them, and they are worthy of the standards set for them by America's veterans. Our veterans from every era are the finest of citizens. We owe them the life we know today. They command the respect of the American people, and they have our everlasting gratitude.” – Bush, 11/11/02

According to a letter sent to the President by the major veterans groups, Bush’s 2003 budget “falls $1.5 billion short” of adequately funding veterans care. [Independent Budget, 1/7/02].

The Disadvantaged

Bush Rhetoric
Bush talks about the importance of funding foodbanks at a DC Food Bank
“I hope people around this country realize that agencies such as this food bank need money. They need our contributions. Contributions are down. They shouldn't be down in a time of need. We shouldn't let the enemy affect us to the point where we become less generous. Our spirit should never be diminished by what happened on September the 11th, 2001. Quite the contrary. We must stand squarely in the face of evil by doing some good.” - Bush, 12/19/02

The 2003 and 2004 Bush budgets proposes to freeze the Congregate Nutrition Program, which assists local soup kitchens and meals on wheels programs. With inflation, this proposal would mean at least 36,000 seniors would be cut from meals on wheels and congregate meals programs. Currently, 139,000 seniors are already on waiting lists for home-meal programs. His 2004 budget continues the freeze.

No Child Left Behind

Bush Rhetoric
Bush talks up the need for education funding at the one-year anniversary of the No Child Left Behnid Act [1/8/03]
“This administration is committed to your effort. And with the support of Congress, we will continue to work to provide the resources school need to fund the era of reform.” – Bush, 1/8/03

The President’s 2003 budget – the first education budget after he signed and touted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) - proposed to cut NCLB programs by $90 million overall, leaving these programs more than $7 billion short of what was authorized under the bill. Bush’s 2004 budget for NCLB is just 1.9% above what he proposed in 2003 - $619 less than needed to offset inflation.


Bush Rhetoric
Bush touts the importance of veterans medical care at Walter Reed Army Hospital [1/17/03]
“Having been here and seeing the care that these troops get is comforting for me and Laura. We are -- should and must provide the best care for anybody who is willing to put their life in harm's way.” – Bush, 1/17/03

Bush's visit came on the same day that the Administration announced it is immediately cutting off access to its health care system approximately 164,000 veterans [W. Post, 1/17/03].


Bush Rhetoric
Bush touts the need to adequately fund Medicare in Michigan [1/29/03]
“Within that budget I proposed last night is a substantial increase in Medicare funding of $400 billion on top of what we already spend, over the next 10 years. This is a commitment that America must make to our seniors. A reformed and strengthened Medicare system, plus a healthy dosage of Medicare spending in the budget, will make us say firmly, we fulfilled our promise to the seniors of America.” – Bush, 1/29/03

Under Bush’s proposal, there should be a roughly $40 billion increase in Medicare each year for a decade. However, Bush’s 2004 budget proposes just $6 billion – 85% less than what would be needed to meet his goal. Additionally, his budget would leave 67% of the total $400 billion pledge to be spent after 2008. [Bush Budget, pg. 318]

Gallup agrees - It ain't over.

The latest Gallup poll looks at the Democratic primary campaign and concludes that not many others have looked very closely at all. A key conclusion?

"2. Is there a clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination nationally?

No. Five Democratic candidates are now within seven points of one another when Democrats who are registered to vote are asked whom they want to be their party's nominee next year..."

Let the South sit?

Thomas Schaller suggests that the Democratic South isn't likely to rise again, and it's time to look at a different national stragegy in the Sunday Washington Post. "Trying to recapture the South is a futile, counterproductive exercise for Democrats because the South is no longer the swing region. It has swung..." he writes, and he may be right.

It's an article worth a full read and a lot of thought.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Actually, John, you are better off.

It was noble, I suppose, for John Kerry to take the high road and apologize to former staffers for remarks that implied that his campaign is better off without their services. The nobility of his apology notwithstanding, though, his comments were, in fact, true.

I respect Jim Jordan, who has done lots of good work for lots of good people for a long time. The fact is, though, he just wasn't able to put together an effective campaign for a candidate who, by any measure, should be showing better results at this point in the race. Kerry's a proven campaigner with an excellent record and substantial financial resources, with or without his own checkbook. Blaming the campaign on the candidate just isn't good enough in this case. It's pretty hard to argue that the campaign isn't better off with a change at the top of the staff.

As for the pair of staffers that left in his wake, well, how would the campaign be better off by retaining people whose loyalty is clearly more with their old staff boss than with the candidate whose interests they're supposed to serve?

So, Senator Kerry, a tip of the cap for your noble gesture, but, in fact, you're better off.

Bush is bad. But you knew that...

Sometimes I forget to bash Bush, not because he's not a bashworty subject, but because the sheer volume that's possible is simply overwhelming. Still, it's important to focus in just how awful his administration is on so many things once in awhile.

Let's just take one issue close to my heart - veteran's affairs. You'd think that a President who has a sketchy relationship to the military already, given his own record of dereliction while supposedly wearing the uniform, and who has put hundreds of thousands of Americans in harms way would take care of a group that a lot of people assume is a component of his constituency.

Not hardly. This piece from the Columbus, Ohio Free Press provides a good outline of the Bush betrayal of America's military veterans...

"...he has now frozen $1 billion in financial settlements won by 17 U.S. combat veterans who were whipped, beaten, burned, electrically shocked and starved by Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The vets and their families filed for compensation under a 1996 law, citing the Geneva Convention.

On July 7, U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts ordered Iraq to pay the 17 ex-POWs and their families $653 million in compensatory damages, plus another $306 million in punitive damages. But Bush has cited "weighty foreign policy interests" and has sued to withhold the money.

Meanwhile Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has blatantly violated a 1990s law requiring the military to keep baseline medical data so the health of the US soldiers now serving in Iraq can be properly monitored. The demand derives from Gulf War Syndrome, which may have caused disabling diseases among as many as 220,000 vets. But Rumsfeld has ignored the law.

The Administration is also denying service women access to reproductive care, including abortions. And it has failed to provide body armor to some forty percent of the soldiers serving in Iraq.

Meanwhile Bush has fought to slash long-standing benefits due surviving veterans of the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. The GOP has opposed repealing the Disabled Veterans Tax, which mandated that money due some 600,000 surviving vets in disability pay be deducted, dollar-for-dollar. At one point Rumsfeld told the White House to veto the Defense Appropriations Bill if it gave the vets that money. "

Well, Mr. Bush, I'm a veteran, and I vote. Millions of us do.

Remember in November...

We approved 98% of his judicial nominations...

Pat Leahy displays the latest in Democratic Senatorial fashion.

No, not that Gore

Marc Cooper interviews Gore Vidal in the LA Weekly, which is bound to be a fun read. This sample should inspire you to check out the whole thing...

"But getting back to Bush. If we use old-fashioned paper ballots and have them counted in the precinct where they are cast, he will be swept from office. He’s made every error you can. He’s wrecked the economy. Unemployment is up. People can’t find jobs. Poverty is up. It’s a total mess. How does he make such a mess? Well, he is plainly very stupid."

Do you know this woman?

I only paid slight attention to Senator Mary Landrieu before I watched her during the Republican talkathon debacle last night. She was sensational, standing up against Orrin Hatch, giving much better than the assembled R's could give.

So I started wondering, why not a bright, dynamic, attractive Southern woman for Vice President? I think Mary Landrieu has become 1/2 of my dream ticket for '04.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Things to remember next November...

Among the things that deserve to be preserved in the minds of Washington voters when they cast a US Senate ballot next year is a letter that George Nethercutt filed with the Clerk of the US House of Representatives when he took office in that body.

"Should I be elected to serve more than two additional terms in the U.S. House of
Representatives following the 104th Congress, by this letter I hereby resign and direct you to remove my name permanently from the roll of the members."

Of course, he was elected to a third additional term, and he didn't resign, and that tells most folks all they need to know about the kind of weasel the Republican's are going to run against Patty Murray.

As one observer remarked at the time, "... Nethercutt, by breaking his promise, has committed one of the most brazen political betrayals of our time..."

Character counts, George, but we deserve a Senator that means you're supposed to have character, not be one.

"With these votes in your face, there's no doubt in the race..."

Ah, that's Dino.

With the Republican's in desperate need to put on a moderate face in their quest to recapture the Washington State Governor's mansion, they've take a wrong turn - to the right.

Just take a look at the radicalism of his record on issues related to working people. In 2001, he voted with the anti-worker Association of Washington Business 100% of the time, while voting against the worker friendly AFL-CIO agenda 80% of the time.

Business is always right, and labor is nearly always wrong? That's moderate?

That's hardly the most radical part of his record, though. Over at Pleasing To Remember, a blog maintained by one of Rossi's constituents, they've compiled a must read list of some of his stands, usually with a small minority of his most extreme colleagues, on a variety of issues.

The fact that Rossi can be considered a moderate by the current Republican leadership in this state shows just how far they've strayed from any kind of ideological realism.

It's about the general election, stupid...

If the nomination is still in play, as I keep insisting, then we all need to remember that the choice we'll end up confirming sometime in March, and ratifying in July, is all about November. I know that the preferred rallying cry is "Anybody But Bush," but the fact is that it's going to be somebody against Bush, and that's got to be somebody that can win.

That's why the Stop Dean movement is growing, and why I hope it's successful. As John Kerry has said, Dr. Dean will make a great Surgeon General. I don't see a chance in hell that he's ever be President , and Will Saletan points out one of the biggest reasons in Slate.

After noting that despite his bid to become this year's "Mr. Populism," Dr. Dean's blood is bluer than his collar, Saletan notes the incongruity of Dean, in T-shirt and necktie, onstage with his new buddies in Labor, saying that he looked like "a lawyer who has wandered into the wrong bar."

That's not his biggest problem, though. Saletan looks hard at Dean's uncomfortable populist stance and judges that " combination with his position on Bush's tax cuts, it's fatal."

"On its face, it's a losing argument: Bush gave you so little money that Dean needs to take it back." the columnist writes, and concludes "That's one postwar fight Bush can expect to win."

I'm afraid he's right, and that's a big reason that I'm afraid of Howard Dean.

The other news from the House Of Labor

I've heard rumors that there are more than two big unions in the AFL-CIO, although recent news might confuse some folks on that point, but it seems to be true. Yesterday, The Note quoted Teamster Government Affairs Director Mike Mathis claiming his folks still had a word or two to say about the Democratic nomination, pointing out that "We represent over 50,000 members in Iowa, which is more than SEIU-AFSCME combined, and we are going to gain more."

Today, it's the Auto Workers in the news. The UAW freed up its locals to endorse without waiting for the International, and the big midwest (including Iowa) coalition, UAW Region 4, did just that. Apparently they think they have something to say, too, and they're saying it on behalf of Dick Gephardt. News from the New York Post is that "Dean called every member of the Iowa United Auto Workers (UAW) board to try to talk them out of going for Gephardt — and the local UAW rebuffed him."

I'm really not particularly gleeful about divisions in the House Of Labor, but divisions there are - and along with Gep's long list and Dean's short list of Internationals, don't forget John Kerry's IAFF and Utility Workers endorsements. The Dean endorsements are a big deal, but they don't mean a done deal, despite the claims of some of the corporate media.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I don't have to bash Dean today...

Because Princeton political scientist Fred Greenstein does it for me in USA Today.

"Character, whether you mean it as moral fiber or psychological soundness, is really the bottom line in an office in which the incumbent is never more than a couple of dozen feet away from the nuclear button. You want to be very comfortable with the personal wiring of your chief executive," says Fred Greenstein, an authority on presidential leadership at Princeton University.

He adds: "It's easy to feel uneasy about Dean in the Oval Office."

And he's right...

A small cheer from the home crowd

The Boston Globe hasn't always been as kind to the Kerry campaign as you might hope from a candidates hometown paper, but columnist Alex Beam, certainly not a Kerry cheerleader, offers a fairly positive assessment of recent developments and points out "There are 77 days left until the New Hampshire primary, and, even with the Thanksgiving to New Year's blur, that is more than enough time for the junior senator from Massachusetts to overtake former Vermont governor Howard Dean in the Granite State polls."

He quotes another hometown observer, writing that "Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan has correctly observed that a generation of pundits and failed politicos have fashioned careers out of underestimating John Kerry. Maybe they will get another chance."

Tuck this into the 'it ain't over 'til it's over' file and hang onto your hats. We're gonna have a wild ride.

Reaching out? Looks like Kerrry's the leader.

There's been a lot said about reaching new voters in the Democratic caucus and primary cycle this year. The John Kerry campaign seems to be actually doing something about it, though.

Take Iowa, for instance, where Kerry has lined up a volunteer corps of 1,000 military veterans to reach out to a key new caucus constituency.

According to MSNBC, "Kerry spokesperson David Wade said veterans are “a core constituency” that “if mobilized could make a huge difference” in Iowa and New Hampshire. The campaign estimates 281,000 veterans live in Iowa. Of those, 158,359 are registered to vote and 142,185 have never caucused before. "

The impact of 142,000 new faces in the Iowa caucuses is nearly incalcuable. If only ten percent of that number could be inspired to caucus for Kerry, it would affect the landscape of the nomination campaign substantially. Hard work on the ground in critical contests makes lousy TV and doesn't sell many papers, so you rarely hear about this kind of thing, but it's really what wins elections.

Meanwhile, up here in the Upper Left corner of the contiguous 48, the Seattle Times reports that the Kerry campaign has built the largest staff organization in the state and is making another pitch for new involvement. The Times quotes David Wade on the Kerry camp's Northwest strategy which emphasizes finding new caucus participants.

"Washington could be the perfect storm for the Kerry campaign, with huge numbers of people who care about the environment, an enormous veterans' population, and a tradition of electing leaders who understand foreign policy and national security."

Only three campaigns have operations in Washington now, and Kerry is a clear leader, with seven full time staffers manning four regional offices. Going where the others aren't and finding voters the others can't sounds like a pretty good strategy to me.

Back to the archives...

George Nethercutt must have taken some good advice from somewhere, because he's been keeping a low profile since he decided to pick a fight with the Seattle P-I. Try as I might, I haven't been able to find a fresh example of Nethercutt nuttiness for days.

It's OK, though, because he's piled up a record long enough to provide plenty of solid bashing material until he speaks up againg (and when he does, it's bound to provide fresh ammo, given his track record).

So it's back to the Spokane Democrats' Nethercutt Watch for this golden blast from the past.


"Some of my friends said, 'You are nuts.' But I think I am right."

George Nethercutt, Lewiston Morning Tribune, Dec. 8, 1999

We think you're right, too, George. Far right. But we think your friends are correct.
You're nuts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Some give all...

...all gave some. On Veterans Day, a heartfelt welcome

home to my brother and sister vets who made it, and a prayer for

Godspeed to those who didn't...

Monday, November 10, 2003

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman went north to meet the people that know Howard Dean best, reporting that...

"They see him on TV, firing up the liberals, and they're dumbfounded, because they always knew him as a tightwad governor who spent 10 years excoriating liberals..."

Of course, by now we know he's not a liberal. Nope, he's the guy who's going to get up in George Bush's face. I mean, check the record...

"...whatever happened to the Howard Dean who, when asked to render an opinion about the governor of Texas back in 1999, always gave the same answer: "I like George Bush, he's a good guy."

Or don't. That doesn't matter, though, because this isn't a campaign about Dean, right? This is a campaign about the people. Right?

"He's an adulation junkie who has always wanted to be famous, the most self-consumed man I've ever met," said Garrison Nelson, a local academic who met Dean more than 20 years ago..."

OK, then, wrong. But he's the guy we need to bring the world together, a natural diplomat with a common touch, right?

"...he would often rant at his detractors, calling them "lunatics," or confronting them with "the finger in the face," as Nelson calls it. At times he would get so mad that the skin on his thick wrestler's neck would redden to the color of raw meat. No some folks used to call him "Little Napoleon."

Oh, well, at least he's a champion of civil liberties, willing to take political risks to make sure that everyone gets equal protection under the law, right?

"The state Supreme Court had virtually required the legislature to write such a (civil unions) , and Dean received antigay mail from all over the country. He replied in letters saying that he had no role, that it was all up to the legislature...

Uh huh.

More quotations from Doctor Dean

"...this campaign has become larger than the candidate; it belongs to the community of more than 500,000 people who have built it. I concluded that this decision must be placed in their hands.”

Or at least the 18% of the 'more than 500,000' that bothered to vote.

Of course, the decision may be in the people's hands, but the Washington Post reports that the place the decision is made is being marked off limits...

"The Burlington HQ is officially full. Security has been upgraded, with a magnetic door that is always locked, a receptionist who screens visitors, and ID badges around all necks."

How grassroots of you, Howard!

A week later...

...and Dean's appeal to the flaggers still haunts him. There have been some big Dean stories since he spouted off to the Des Moines Register, and there are big stories to come, but this one has remarkable legs.

From David Broder...

"The can of worms that Howard Dean opened with his ill-conceived effort to identify himself as "the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks" is not one that can be resealed with the words of regret the former Vermont governor belatedly offered. By inadvertently reopening the deepest wound within the nation, the race issue, Dean hurt himself and did a disservice to his party.

When I was with him in Iowa more than a year ago, the line was somewhat different. Then he was promising his outreach would include "the guys driving pickups with gun racks on the back." When his opponents started criticizing the stands that had earned Dean an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association back in Vermont, he switched the description to the flag decal."

(So much for the arguement that he should have said "gun rack")

The New York Post points out some of the real, measurable cost of the Doctor's prescription for the South...

"November 10, 2003 -- HOWARD DEAN'S controversial crack about "guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks" has cost him the endorsement of a top New York Democrat, The Post has learned.

Democratic sources said Senate Minority Leader David Paterson of Manhattan, the highest-ranking African-American in the Legislature, dropped a planned endorsement because he found Dean's comment racially offensive."

I don't know if it's enough to cost him the Presidency, or even the nomination, but it's certainly a story with staying power. The real problem is that it's part of a pattern. "Straight talk" doesn't have to mean just saying any damn thing that pops into your head, but for Ho Ho, it often seems to.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Southern Strategy?

While the debate ranges around which Southern Stragegy the Democrats should pursue, Dan Conley asks the question few want to tackle. Why have a Southern Strategy? Why not a Mountain West stragegy? A Southwest stragegy? Where do we need to win in order to win?

Dan runs one of the more consistently thought provoking blogs around over at You're not getting everything you should out of the internet if you don't check it out.

From the 'it ain't over til it's over' file...

While there's talk of inevitability over at the Dean camp, there are doubts being raised around and about.

From Tom Hayden at Alternet:

"It is still possible for Dean to recover, but the assault on his frontrunner status has only begun. If Dean's not tough enough, some consultants already are saying, better to finish him off now..."

And the LA Times' Ronald Brownstein:

"A senior strategist for one of Dean's rivals said that by aligning behind Dean, the SEIU and AFSCME are repeating the mistake that an array of labor leaders made in 1984, when they helped power former Vice President Walter Mondale to the Democratic nomination — only to see him crushed by President Reagan in the general election. "I know from having traveled in the South and Southwest you are going to end up with a candidate [in Dean] who is virtually unelectable in the general election," the strategist insisted."

And the New York Times Adam Nagourney:

"Given the size of the field, Dr. Dean's lack of experience in national politics and his tendency for intemperate remarks, his success at navigating the very early months of the Democratic nomination battle hardly means he is assured of being nominated in Boston next July."

The questions keep coming faster than the answers. What's up, Doc?

Fair is fair

I might not like it on a philosophical basis, but I can see the practical arguements against Democratic candidates going into the post-primary, pre-convention season financially disarmed against the bulging budget of the Bush campaign.

So, OK, Doc, you're out of the public financing system. Sure, you said you'd stand by it on principle, that political considerations didn't matter, that public financing was an important idea for all Democrats support. But, hey, principles aren't your strong suit anyway.

Of course, John Kerry avoided that conundrum by saying all along that while public financing is important, he would reserve the right to access the tools and treasure needed to wage a winning campaign. Still, the important thing is to have enough resources to beat back Bush without using that as an excuse to bury fellow Democrats under an avalanche of televised flim-flam. While he hasn't taken the pledge to stick with public financing, he's taken one that's every bit as honorable by Democratic Party standards, and laid down the guantlet for Dr. Dean to do the same.

From Kerry Press Secretary Robert Gibbs:

“Senator Kerry has pledged, should he opt out of the public financing system, to abide by the spirit of the law by agreeing to limit his spending in the Democratic primary to no more than $45 million until a nominee is effectively chosen.”

“If Howard Dean is truly forgoing public financing to compete with George W. Bush’s wealthy special interest friends rather than for political expediency, then he too will pledge today to live up to his word and to the spirit of the law by limiting his primary spending to $45 million until a nominee is effectively chosen."

C'mon Doc, do the right thing!

"Surely they wouldn't..." not an operative phrase when talking about the Bush White House. Their list of outrages, both petty and grand, grows daily. An example? This item plucked from Kicking Ass, the DNC blog...

"The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers."

It seems that no matter how outrageous the notion, when you apply it to the Bushistas, the answer is always "Yes, they would."

Saturday, November 08, 2003

More good news...

...on the Congressional candidate front in this item from 8th District challenger Alex Alben's blog.

"We were listed as the #2 Challenger Campaign in the Country, by the Washington D.C., publication Roll Call, based on our fundraising report for the 3rd Quarter of 2003. Of course, we were only actively fundraising for a few weeks in September, so this is very encouraging."

No matter how you feel about Presidential politics, there should be one notion that truly unites Democrats everywhere - the importance of recapturing the Congress.
We're blessed with a couple of strong candidates with real opportunities in Washington. Those of us who live in the 'safe-seat' Districts need to do what we can to support our outstanding challengers.

The best way to bash...

...George Nethercutt is to put the Congressional seat he's leaving back in the Democratic column!

Don Barbieri's set out to do just that, and he's invited interested parties to a get together at the Red Lion Hotel River Inn on Thursday, November 20 from 5:30 -
7:30 pm.

It's a meet & greet, with a promise of learning more about the candidate, his issues, his stragegy and, most importantly, how you can help.

Even better, Don's buying the pizza! If you're near there, be there.