Sunday, February 29, 2004

Trading positions on trade...

...seems to be a trademark of the Edwards campaign. Sandeep Kaushik has been keeping track for awhile now, and his latest piece in the Seattle Stranger is worth your attention.

When Kaushik quizzed Edwards about NAFTA in June of 2003, his view seemed to be that of a fairly conventional 'mend it, don't end it' free trader.

"His first instinct was to duck. He wasn't in the Senate when NAFTA passed, he said. I waited. Then he said he supported NAFTA, but thought it would benefit from some modifications."

That's downright, well, Kerryesque, isn't it. But things have changed...

" recent weeks, as part of his populist shtick, Edwards has been running around blasting NAFTA and slamming John Kerry as a bloodless elitist for supporting it. So Edwards is an anti-NAFTA populist after all. Except then I read in the New York Times that no, he is pro-NAFTA. Except in places where people don't like it. "NAFTA is important," but Edwards also has a "personal response" to the agreement, having seen his dad's mill close. So his big difference with Kerry on NAFTA turns out to be that when it comes to workers, he feels their pain more."

I have a personal response to candidates who try to have it both ways on a single question, myself...

Looking toward Tuesday...

There's not much to provoke disagreement with David S. Broder and Dan Balz' lede in a piece syndicated by the Washington Post. They write that "Sen. John Kerry is poised to lock up the Democratic presidential nomination — effectively if not mathematically — when 10 states hold primaries and caucuses Tuesday on the biggest and perhaps final day of the contest this year"

Despite speculation that the race is tightening in spots, the data doesn't really reflect any Edwards gains. New polling from ARG in Georgia and Maryland, for instance, considered two possible breakthrough states for the NC Senator, show Kerry's lead increasing in recent days. The latest Georgia matchup shows Kerry ahead by 10 points, 2 more than the previous survey, and well outside the MOE. It's similar in Maryland, where Kerry's 12 point lead shows a 5 point increase in four days. If Edwards plan is to close late, someone needs to tell him that Wednesday is too late.

SurveyUSA polls from the past few days show Kerry with comfortable margins in other key Super Tuesday states.

MD Kerry +25
RI Kerry +43
CA Kerry +35
OH Kerry +23
NY Kerry +36

Bear in mind that Edwards needs 62% of the remaining delegates to pass Kerry and snag the nomination. Everyplace he falls short of that number on Tuesday makes it higher later. Any guesses on where he might score 80 or 90 percent of the vote over the next month or so?

Did you see it?

The local CBS affiliate in Seattle didn't elect to show the Democratic debate this morning, so I've only seen the transcript and a couple of print reports. It's always hard to tell without the benefit of visuals and vocal inflection, but the impression is that it was a bit fiestier than the California debate.

Sometimes it's better, though, to view these things through the more dispassionate lens provided by text. While Edwards has been described in the reporting as having gone on the offensive, it would appear that Kerry landed some solid body blows against Edwards' 'outsider' claims and newfound protectionism, the theme that has become a bigger part of his pitch every week.

For example, when Edwards was offered the chance to pose a direct question to Kerry, he tried to throw a fastball, but Kerry tagged it with the sweet spot of the bat, as far as I can tell. Here's the exchange...

EDWARDS: "My question is, do you believe we're going to change this country out of Washington, D.C.?"

KERRY: "Yes, because that's where the Congress of the United States is, and that's where 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is. And the answer is, we're going to need a president who has the experience and the proven ability -- proven ability -- to be able to stand up and take on tough fights.

Now, I just listened to John talk about Washington, D.C. Last time I looked, John ran for the United States Senate, and he's been in the Senate for the last five years. That seems to me to be Washington, D.C."

Maybe, just maybe, spending $6 million on a US Senate seat isn't the best way to establish 'outsider' credentials in the political arena.

On the protectionist angle, Kerry went straight at Edwards.

KERRY: "On trade, there is no difference between what John Edwards would do today and what I would do today. And to listen to John try to carve out this -- what I think is sort of a protectionist point of view in the past, actually is not documented by the record. John Edwards has been in the Senate for five years. He's talked more in the last five weeks about trade than he has in the entire five years.

The fact is that he didn't vote in the 1994 election when he had a chance to vote about trade. He didn't talk about it, against it, in his election in 1998 when he ran for the Senate. And he went to The New York Times last week and said that he thought that NAFTA, in fact, was good for the prosperity of our country."

Edwards' response was essentially 'We are so different!" To which I can only reply, "Are not!"

I have to admit, too, that in print, at least, Dennis Kucinich came off worse than I have generally found in previous debates, particularly when he expressed his view that neither Kerry nor Edwards "... would be appropriate as nominees." In Kuchich's view, this should be a single issue election on the Iraq war, which would disqualify anyone who voted 'aye' on the October, 2002 resolution authorizing force. I like Dennis a lot when he's a forthright advocate for a full employment economy and single payer health care. I like him a lot less when he tries to narrow the range of the party to a level that spells sure defeat.

There was one statement from Kerry that I hadn't heard before, and that I think represents real progress. During the discussion of marriage rights v. civil unions, he said, in reference to gay and lesbian relationships, " I believe they deserve all the rights, all the support, all the love, all the affection, all of the rights that the state can afford. That's why I am for civil union. That's why I'm for partnership rights. That's why I'm for even the federal extension, with respect to tax code and other rights." (my emphasis) That's the first time I've heard him express support for federal protection of those rights. There's still the 'full faith and credit' question to be dealt with, but Kerry has taken as bold a position on the issue as I think is electorally possible at this point.

At any rate, those are the impressions I got from the transcript. Did you see it? What did you think?

Saturday, February 28, 2004

More catch up...

...although when it comes to scandal in the Bush administration, it's getting almost impossible to keep up.

This time it's a double whammy from a single family, with Federal Housing Finance Board Chairman John T. Korsmo and his wife Michelle, who has worked as deputy chief of staff to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, coming under fire from the Justice Deparment for obstruction of justice in an investigation of campaign finance irregularities.

Apparently the Korsmo's threw a fundraiser for a GOP Congressional candidate where they solicited contributions from banks overseen by the FHFB, a significant ethical breach at the very least, and likely a federal crime. With obstruction charges in process, there's every indication that they new that they were doing something wrong, and doing something to cover their tracks as a result.

So, add the FHFB and Department Of Labor to the list of scandal stained agencies in the Bush administration, and take away personal ethics and political fundraising as issues he has any ground to stand on in the general election campaign.

Quote of the day

Well, of a couple days ago, actually, but I'm in catch-up mode around here.

Anyway, the distinction goes to Travis County, Texas, District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who has issued some nearly 50 subpoenas in the process of investigating Tom Delay's Texans for a Republican Majority PAC, which is suspected of illegally funneling corporate cash to state races, part of Delay's scheme to capture the Texas legislature in order to railroad the redistricting scheme that brought state goverment to a halt on repeated occasions last year.

When Delay lashed out against Earle's attempt to fulfill his duty to the Texas electorate, the DA replied "Being called partisan and vindictive by Tom DeLay is like being called ugly by a frog."

Of course, Earle now faces a possible new source of criticism, since animal rights activists may find his comments defamatory to frogs...

Friday, February 27, 2004


Earlier today, a reader in Essex Junction, Vermont logged the 10,000th visit to Upper Left. Yeah, I know, the big guys would get nervous if they weren't pulling in 10,000 an hour or so, but it's quite a landmark for me.

Last November I was excited every time the site meter would log a visitor from a new state, and now the place has been looked at by folks from about 40 countries, including every continent except Antarctica. And hundreds of you have returned again and again! Thanks!

If you're one of those that thinks I'm doing a pretty good job here, it's in no small part because I don't have a job elsewhere. Yep, I'm the human embodiment of a Bush statistic, about 14 months distant from my last day job. Good for the blog, bad for the budget.

All that by way of saying that while I leave that little PayPal button over there as a silent nag, I don't do a lot of begging around here, but if you're inclined to join in the celebration of Upper Left's 10,000th visit, a donation would be a highly appropriate and vastly appreciated way to do so.

If your budget looks like mine and all you can offer is a silent 'hurrah,' well that's good too! Better yet, toss a couple comments at the occasional post. But whatever you do, keep coming back. Eventually, I'm bound to get good at this...

So, there was another debate...

...and I bet you can guess who I think won it.

Or, probably more accurately, didn't lose it. Kerry's performance was solid, but really, each of the candidates did fine in their own way. In the end, though, Walter Shapiro, writing for USA Today, summed it up best, saying that "Not a syllable that was uttered during the penultimate candidate meeting before Democrats in 10 states vote Tuesday appeared to change the contours of the race."

Since I've been generally very happy with the contours of the race so far, I'm generally very happy with the outcome of last night's debate.

I'm somewhat less happy with the reaction of the punditocracy. Two questions seem to prevail. First, why didn't John Edwards try to beat up on John Kerry, and second, why are Kucinich and Sharpton still invited to these things?

Well, on the Edwards v. Kerry question, it seems pretty obvious to me. There's just not all that much difference to highlight, and what there is doesn't really offer much help to Edwards. Sure, they have different biographies, but the strength of Edwards' is based on the circumstances of his birth, which he really can't take much credit for, and the strength of Kerry's is based on things like personal heroism and decades of committed public service, which can't really be attacked for much gain.

What differences there are between the two on issues are mainly in the margins, and where they're not (for instance, the death penalty), Edwards' position may in some cases have more appeal to the general electorate, but aren't really an advantage within the Democratic primary electorate. Besides, the more Edwards turns to issues, the easier the tables are turned, since Kerry is generally better informed, primarily as a result of his long tenure in the Senate, on a broad range of issues.

Beyond that, the differences come on style points, and you really can't get away with saying "Hey, I'm a real friendly guy and a lot cuter than my opponent" in a Presidential debate.

In essence, John Edwards doesn't beat up on John Kerry because John Edwards can't beat John Kerry. He won't say so out loud, but I give Edwards credit for enough intelligence to realize it. He's not going to be the nominee, and he won't reduce himself to a bombthrowing buffoon to delight the pundits.

Dennis Kucinich or Al Sharpton won't be the nominee either, but it's not the role of the debate sponsors to winnow the field. Like Edwards, Kucinich and Sharpton are running active campaigns, will be represented at the Convention by elected delegates and are on the primary ballot in California (and in New York, where Sunday's debate will be held). Unlike Edwards, they have genuine differences with Kerry (and Edwards) on key issues, and represent distinctive constituencies in the Democratic Party. I'm glad that the words "single payer Health care" are part of the debate. I'm glad Rev. Al put Haiti on the table before any of the questioners did. They belong in the conversation as long as they stay in the race.

And, as I'm always happy to repeat, Dennis Kucinich has finished ahead of John Edwards in more states than Edwards has finished ahead of John Kerry.

Hastert succumbs to pressure on 9/11 panel...

...but whose pressure what it? The White House has maintained that they've supported an extension for the independent 9/11 commission all along, but it's hard to imagine Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert putting up a very hard fight against his own Party's President, leading to widespread speculation that he was just fronting for a behind the curtain deal with the Bush administration.

But with support, at least rhetorical, for the extention coming from everywhere but the Speaker's office, Hastert has finally sent the signal that he'll move forward with the extension, although he hasn't said just when.

But why now? Frankly, I'm not willing to give him credit for simply coming to the right conclusion. Did the President's political shop finally realize the heat had been turned up too high, requiring them to cut new orders for Hastert? That's my best guess, frankly.

Whyever, however, I'm glad it happened. We shouldn't have had to wait this long, but at this point waiting two more months for a better, more complete report seems eminently reasonable. Whatever credit is due belongs to those who put the spotlight on the situation, and one of the most creditworthy members of the press turns out to be CNN's Aaron Brown, who led his post-debate broadcast last night with a scathing editorial comment. I've been watching Brown since he was a local anchor in Seattle, and l think last night was probably the finest moment in his broadcast career.

Here's what he said:

We admit we don't do causes very well on the program and I don't do outrage well at all, yet tonight a cause and an outrage. The decision by the Speaker of the House to deny the independent Commission investigating the 9/11 attack on America a sixty day extention, that's all, sixty days, to complete its work is unconscionable and indefensible, which no doubt explains why neither the Speaker nor any member of the House leadership nor any of their press secretaries would come on the program to talk about it, despite repeated requests.

The Commission itself has gone about its work quietly. It has had to fight tooth and nail to get necessary information, and now this. An abritrary decision to deny not just the Commission, that's the least of it, but the country the chance to know all of what happened, how it happened and how best to keep it from happening again.

Perhaps the Speaker and his team assume you do not care. I hope they're wrong. I hope you care enough to write them and call them and email them until they relent. Do that. Do it for the victims and their families, do it for the country that was attacked, and for history."

He was absolutely right, and I suspect he inspired a great many calls, letters and emails. Maybe even the one that turned the tide.

It's easy to bash the cable newsguys. Sometimes the get it right, though, and it should be just as easy to say so.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Endorsement update

Today brings the New York Times and the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, along with a fresh batch of Superdelegates, including:

Sen. Paul Sarbanes, Maryland
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
Rep. Tom Lantos, California
Rep. Steny Hoyer, Maryland
Rep. Ben Cardin, Maryland
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, Texas
Rep. Ed Case, Hawaii
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland

(Hey, how ya like our chances in Maryland next week?)

Depends on what you mean by "substantial"

"What I have to do is win a substantial number of delegates" John Edwards told the New York Daily News.

Asked whether he needs to win at least somewhere, Edwards replied, "I don't believe I have to. ... I believe I have a great chance of winning some places on Tuesday, but I'm not drawing that line."

Well, Johnny, you may not be ready to draw a line, but this Knight-Ridder report draws a picture.

"Kerry now has 663 delegates, which each state awards proportionate to a candidate's share of the vote. He could coast to the 2,162 needed for the nomination by winning 47 percent of the delegates that remain to be chosen. Edwards has 199 delegates, which means he must win 62 percent of all remaining delegates, including those up for grabs on Tuesday".

"And every time Edwards falls short of 62 percent in one state, he has to win an even larger percentage of the delegates in other states."

OK, then, let's imagine (and this will tap all of your imaginative power) that Edwards has a surge of such magnificance that he actually wins three states, say Georgia, Ohio and Minnesota, by a 60-40 margin. Let's say he holds Kerry to the same margin in the other seven states, pulling 40% of the vote everywhere else (Yeah, I know it's impossible, since he's not even on the ballot in Vermont).

What does that get him? The short end of a 631 to 520 delegate split. Where's that leave him? 575 votes down. Even a complete delegate sweep on March 9 wouldn't be enough to catch up, and it will never happen.

That's with wins in three states, while Edwards claims he doesn't even need one.

And they give Kucinich grief for stubborn optimism...

Aww, Kevin, don't feel bad...

...he clearly did do something wrong!

Kevin Drum at Calpundit has the blues. "I'm saddened, of course," he writes, "that my preoccupation with George Bush's National Guard record has been brought to a halt by the lack of any solid evidence that he did anything wrong. Sigh."

Au contraire! Thanks in no small part to Kevin's own invaluable research, lots of folks know that George Bush did many things wrong during his National Guard service. Something illegal? No, probably not, it appears. But the difference between the 'right' thing to do and what Bush did is a mile wide.

The right thing to do was to sign up and wait your turn. Bush used family pull to snag a Guard assignment. The right thing to do was to accept an assignment he was qualified for. Bush got a coveted jet pilot slot despite his shortcomings in those qualifications. The right thing to do was to honor the investment made in his training by maintaining his flight status, but Bush blew off the required physical. The right thing to do was to be where he belonged, when he belonged there, doing the work he was trained to do, but Bush had an erratic attendance record, and ended up doing much of his duty through prefunctory makeup dates with at best ill defined duties.

In other words, Lt. George Bush wasted a huge investment in time and training while denying an important billet to someone who may have valued it enough to actually perform the duty he enlisted for. That was wrong.

Of course, some things never change. Even now, he's wasting government time and money occupying an important office that someone who may have valued it enough to actually perform the duty he was elected for might have had.

That's wrong, too, and we can fix it in November.

Hey, as long as he's gone in January, I'm even willing to call it an honorable discharge.

Lies, damned lies...

and the seemingly inexhautible string of Republican lies about John Kerry's voting record catch the attention of Fred Kaplan at Slate.

Kaplan takes a detailed look at the broadsides launched by Bushco at Kerry's defense and intelligence votes, and find them sorely lacking in accuracy, let alone substance.

After quoting then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney bemoaning the Congress' refusal to make the cuts he wanted, complaining that "Congress has let me cancel a few programs. But you've squabbled and sometimes bickered and horse-traded and ended up forcing me to spend money on weapons that don't fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements," Kaplan continues:

"In other words, Kerry was one of 16 senators (including five Republicans) to vote against a defense appropriations bill 14 years ago. He was also one of an unspecified number of senators to vote against a conference report on a defense bill nine years ago. The RNC takes these facts and extrapolates from them that he voted against a dozen weapons systems that were in those bills. The Republicans could have claimed, with equal logic, that Kerry voted to abolish the entire U.S. armed forces, but that might have raised suspicions. Claiming that he opposed a list of specific weapons systems has an air of plausibility. On close examination, though, it reeks of rank dishonesty." (my emphasis)

And the infamous charge by RNC Chair Ed Gillespie that Kerry tried to gut the intelligence budget? Again, Kaplan offers the facts of the matter.

"The Air Force's National Reconnaissance Office had appropriated that much money to operate a spy satellite that, as things turned out, it never launched. So the Senate passed an amendment rescinding the money—not to cancel a program, but to get a refund on a program that the NRO had canceled. Kerry voted for the amendment, as did a majority of his colleagues."

The whole article is indispensible for the well armed Kerry advocate.

I'm still gathering my thoughts...

...for a post on marriage rights, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

via damfacrats from calpundit

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Another step toward an Ohio victory for JK?

Sounds like it to me...

Toledo, OH
Former Senator John Glenn today endorsed John Kerry for the President of the United States. Glenn joined Kerry at the University of Toledo today where Kerry gave a speech outlining his plans to prevent the outsourcing of American jobs.

One down...

...and good riddance!

"A controversial associate of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has resigned from his seat on a key Pentagon advisory panel, ABCNEWS has learned.

Richard Perle, a lightning rod for critics of the Bush administration's national security policies, informed Rumsfeld more than two weeks ago he was quitting the Defense Policy Board."

I'll have something to say...

...about marriage rights, and who, and why, and why federal rather than state, and all that as soon as I gather my thoughts and put it all together.

Meanwhile, if you're wondering why this matters, Atrios has the goods right here.

Surely you didn't think...

...I could let another day slip by without noting some new Kerry endorsements?

Not when they include Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) and the American Nurses Assocation, I can't!

And it's not quite ready for announcement, but the Boston Globe tells us that there's news coming from Senator Bob Graham of Florida real soon now.

And, oh yeah, did I mention the San Jose Mercury News?

More scorecard stuff

There are a flock of new polls out for selected Super Tuesday races. Here are the Kerry leads, in every case over Edwards in second...


Survey USA Kerry +35
Field Poll Kerry +41


ARG Kerry +8

New York

ARG Kerry +33
Survey USA Kerry +36
Quinnipiac Kerry +39


ARG Kerry +21
Survey USA Kerry +23

(Dennis Kucinich is in double digits but shy of threshold in both Ohio polls)

Every once in a while...

...even the Rehnquist court gets one right. In fact, every once in a while, the Chief Justice his own self gets one right!

That was the case today when, by a 7-2 majority (only Scalia and Thomas dissented), the Washington State Constitution's prohibition against the use of state money for religious purposes was upheld.

At issue was the use of one of the state's 'Promise' scholarships by Joshua Davey to study for the ministry at an Assemblies of God bible college near Seattle. It was Davey's specific choice of a major, not the nature of the institution, that brought him into conflict with the state constitution. As Rehnquist wrote in the majority decision, "Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor. Indeed, majoring in devotional theology is akin to a religious calling as well as an academic pursuit."

Jay Sekulow, the attorney for the Pat Robertson backed American Center for Law and Justice that represented Davey, has called it the "most important case" of his lifetime, and to the degree that that's true, it's a sweet victory indeed. In fact, the ramifications go far beyond Mr. Davey's personal circumstances. This has a direct bearing on the ability of the 37 states which have similar constitutional provisions to fight attempts to force them to adopt voucher systems that would divert scarce public education resources to religious institutions. Sekulow would like to paint this as a civil rights matter, but it was a money grab pure and simple.

In fact, as Rehnquist carefully pointed out, not aspect of religious liberty was affected by the state constitution. "It imposes neither criminal nor civil sanctions on any type of religious service or rite," the high court majority said.

In fact, as real proponents of religious liberty have long recognized, anytime there's government sponsorship of religious activity, genuine religious liberty is impinged, not enhanced. Separation protects both church and state, and the ruling in Locke v. Davey protects us all.

Just braggin'...

...about our terrific Democratic Senators from the Upper Left again.

The Senate Democrats turned back another attack on the rights of injured consumers to seek redress in the courts, this one with the Orwellian title "Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Act ." A filibuster against the effort to deny patients of OB/Gyn's the right to have a jury determine damages according to the merits of their cases instead of the desires of the Republican caucus (and, of course, their sponsors in the medical establishment and the insurance industry) was upheld with 45 votes, two of which came from Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington.

Their comments:

Cantwell:"I have asked many of these individuals what they believed the cap on damages should be. The fact that I have received answers ranging from zero to $5 million illustrates the difficulty in determining what a damage limit should be without reference to specific facts."

Murray:"This bill tells women that if we are injured, we don't deserve the same legal protections as men. I find some sad irony in being told by this bill's sponsors that if I want to help women and babies, I should strip away their rights."

This looks like it will shape up as an issue in Murray's re-election, with her challenger, Rep. George Nethercutt, telling reporters "When high insurance premiums drive people out, that's when we're endangering people's lives, and I think that's wrong...I've talked to doctors in my district and throughout the state and they tell me the same thing: We're losing OB/GYNs. It's anecdotal, but it's consistently anecdotal. It's absolute fact."

Well, no, George. It's absolute anecdote. Here are the facts:

According to the Washington State Hospital Association, " emergency rooms or trauma centers have closed in recent years...A few very small hospitals have stopped delivering babies in the past two or three years...the reason was not directly related to malpractice insurance, but rather to broader economic issues, such as doing too few deliveries or nearby competition, administrators said."

Patty's right, George is wrong, but she's still going to have to defend against his unfounded attacks. If helping a real champion of women and workers is on your to-do list this election season, you can start right here.

Idaho & Utah finals and Dennis does Hawaii!

Idaho, 100% reporting

Kerry 54%
Edwards 22%
Dean 11%
Kucinich 6%

Utah, 100% reporting

Kerry 55%
Edwards 30%
Kucinich 7%
Dean 4%

and at last, Hawaii, 99% reporting

Kerry 46%
Kucinich 30%
Edwards 13%
Dean 9%

Looks like I'm 3 for 3 tonight, and my side bet came in, as well. Yep, it's true -

Dennis Kucinich has now finished ahead of John Edwards in more states than John Edwards has finished ahead of John Kerry!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

2 for 3 so far...

...and they're counting votes in Hawaii.

CNN calls Utah for Kerry with 85% reporting:

Kerry 55%
Edwards 30
Kucinich 7
Dean 3
Uncommitted 1


With 29% reporting

Kerry 84%
Edwards 16

(Idaho numbers reflect % of state convention delegates selected in local caucuses,
not raw vote percentages, but jeez...84%!

And of course, it was too good to last. With 51% reporting:

Kerry 68%
Edwards 22%
Dean 9%

But CNN is calling it for Kerry, so I'm at least 1 for 3 tonight.

And with 78% reporting, Dennis finally crashes the Party...

Kerry 58%
Edwards 21%
Dean 9%
Kucinich 5%

Utah, 37% Reporting

Kerry 52%
Edwards 32
Kucinich 6
Dean 4

(a couple adjustments made when CNN switche the totals without changing the percent reporting...just a point or two here and there...)

They're counting votes!

It's tally time in Utah and Idaho. Nothing from Idaho yet, but the first numbers out of Utah (admittedly less than 1% counted) look pretty good...

Kerry 59
Kucinich 8
Dean 7

That's based on about 500 votes, though, so I can't quite add it to my row of consecutive correct predictions.

Reports have the Utah turnout very big - NPR says they had to print extra last minute ballots in Salt Lake City. That's good news for Democrats in general, final results notwithstanding.

Is that all there is?

George Bush "blasts" the competition:

"The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions. For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts."

If that's all there is, my friends, then, as the lady sang, let's start dancing, all the way to the White House.

Not that any of that is true, exactly, but even if it was, it's a pretty weak basis to stake a re-election campaign on. Let's take a look...

"For tax cuts, and against them..." OK, for tax cuts for Americans who make less than $200,000 a year, against tax cuts for those who make more. I'll tell you what. I'll concede the vote of everyone in the higher income category (otherwise known as 'the Republican base') and take all the rest.

And win. Everytime. Everywhere.

"For NAFTA, and against NAFTA..." Well, in fairness, there's only one candidate who is actually 'against' NAFTA, and he's a Congressman from Ohio, not a Senator from Massachusetts. But revisit NAFTA? Keep what works, and renegotiate what doesn't? I don't think blind adherence to the original agreement is a winning position, and frankly, I'm a little amazed that Bushco hasn't tried to tie the failures of NAFTA to the Clinton administration with a 'mend it, don't end it' position of their own.

Sometimes I think Bush is just a liar, sometimes I think he's just stupid, but on this one I just think he's a stupid liar.

"For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act..." Or, in another formulation, for the Patriot Act as an emergency implementation with appropriate sunset provisions, appalled at the reckless implementation of the Patriot Act by Bushco, and grateful that those sunset provisions provide an opportunity to adjust the more onerous provisions that have allowed Ashcroft to get all medieval on our civil liberties.

Yeah, I'll buy that.

"In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it..." I've got to admit, my first impulse is to ask the Prez to get back to me on that one after Iraq's been liberated. Yes, a tyrant has been deposed, and I count that a good thing. But 'occupation' and 'liberation' aren't synonyms, and because of the foolhardy policies of Bushco, I don't see a practical end in sight for the occupation that could guarantee genuine liberation.

I'm disappointed that so many Democrats voted in favor of a resolution that allowed (although it certainly didn't mandate) those policies, but I'm glad that John Kerry recognizes the fundamental failure of those policies and has developed a constructive set of alternatives that can, in fact, produce an Iraqi liberation to replace the Bush occupation.

Bush has tipped his hand, and it's a bust. That's all there is, and there's nothing there.

Strike up the Inagural Ball band, because we're coming, they're going....

Quote of the Day

One of the more disgraceful aspects of George Bush's 'war presidency' has been his failure, apparently on the basis of political calculation, to pay personal homage to our war dead by attending their memorial services. OK, he's a busy man. He can't be everywhere, but to this veteran, it's unconscionable that he hasn't been anywhere to be found as the men and women who have fallen under his orders have been laid to rest.

With that in mind, former Senator (and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient) Bob Kerrey gets the Quote of the Day for this line from the Boston Globe:

"I, for one, thank God that Karl Rove wasn't advising Abraham Lincoln, or else President Lincoln might never have gone to Gettysburg."

On the other hand, given the quality of contemporary Presidential rhetoric, maybe we're better off...

Election Day!

It'll be a long wait for the first returns tonight (the Utah primary polls are open until 7:30 Pacific, and the Hawaii and Idaho caucuses will wrap a couple hours later) but I'll be up to report what look to be three more Kerry victories.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised Edwards didn't put a little effort into taking one of these. A day's worth of visits and a minimal media investment might have paid large PR dividends for a supposed contender still in search of a second victory. He cancelled his scheduled appearance at Idaho's annual Frank Church Dinner, though, while Teresa Kerry spent several days in the state. In Utah, Edwards didn't even send a surrogate to the Beehive State's J-J dinner, while Kerry was represented by former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and Kucinich sent actress Mimi Kennedy.

Gee, John E., you can't win if you don't try.

Whatever happens with Idaho's 18 pledged delegates, Kerry already has a head start, with endorsements from 4 of the state's 5 Supers, including Democratic Party Chairwoman Carolyn Boyce, state Vice Chairman State Sen. Edgar Malepeai, and the state´s two Democratic National Committee members, Gail Bray and Peter Richardson.

In Utah, local polls have Kerry comfortably ahead, leading Edwards 49-23.

If there's a suprise at the end of the night, it may benefit Dennis Kucinich, who has made two trips to Hawaii, the only candidate to campaign in the state. Since the state caucuses are primarily an activist venue with a traditionally light turnout, Kucinich may see his best result of the year.

In fact, I'm going to predict that by tomorrow morning, Dennis Kucinich will have finished ahead of John Edwards in more states that John Edwards will have finished ahead of John Kerry.

You hold the stake...

...I'll swing the hammer, and we can go all Buffy on the Republican Congresscritters that have been sucking the blood out of our civil liberties, job market and international prestige.

Or I'll hold the stake, and you swing the hammer. All I know is it's going to take working together to get the job done, and it's going to mean working on every possible front, including Congressional as well as the Presidency.

All that by introducing a new entry into the blogosphere, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's The Stakeholder.

It looks just fine so far - nice clean design and some quality content. All it needs is some more attention from folks like you and me to help them hammer the stake home.

It was a great place to follow the DCCC involvement in the special election in Kentucky, giving a look at just what kind of impact those Caucus committees can have in a key race. One encouraging note that came in on the heels of the victory of Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) (gee, it felt good to type that!) was...

"Bush doesn't appear to have any coattails. In fact, he appears to have hurt Kerr. At the beginning of this race, she claimed in TV ads that she was "cut from the same cloth" as Bush. When they saw her negatives rise and no positive movement in the polls, she and the NRCC changed the message - Spokesperson Carl Forti claimed it was “ election between Alice Forgy Kerr and Ben Chandler. President Bush is not part of this campaign.”

Anyway, The Stakeholder is worth a bookmark.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Who needs Nader....

...when we've had an essentially Naderite message delivered from supposedly Democratic podiums for over a year.

Yep, you guessed it. I'm off on another Dr. Dean rant.

One of my strongest points of contention with Dean was always his scattergun approach which condemned Democrats at large, and Congressional Democrats in particular. As a former Governor who had compromised and worked both sides fo the aisle to pursue his legislative agenda, he must have known better. He could never, though, seem to grasp the responsibility he held as an aspirant to the position of Party standard bearer, a large part of which should have included bringing his adherents, especially the politically inexperienced, into the Democratic Party as well as into the Dean campaign cult.

What's set me off this time? Well, I think Dean bears a great deal of personal responsibility for the kind of thinking that lies behind this post by Josh Hammond at Best of the Blogs.

"What better way to start remaking the Democratic Party," writes Hammond, "than for Dr. Dean to lead a charge now for a Tom Daschle sacking, cutting the leash of this pathetic lap dog who is so tethered to the Iraq policies, practices and posturing of this war-mongering administration."

OK. That's fine, I suppose, as far as it goes, rhetorical flourishes about 'pathetic lap dogs' aside. I can think of several good reasons that the Democratic Caucus could make a better choice than Tom Daschle for their Leader, even without his hawkishness on Iraq. But Hammond takes it further, to a point which is really the natural conclusion, I think, of Dean's Naderite rhetoric of the past year.

"Fighting this fight is more important than keeping faint hope alive that the Democrats can take the Senate back. While such a move would hurt Daschle’s re-election chances, this concern is secondary to reforming-and disciplining the Democrats. Screw the traitor." (my emphasis)

Get that? A Democratic Senate majority is a secondary concern to punishing Tom Daschle, even at the expense of Daschle's own seat. Because Tom Daschle is a "traitor."

But to who, I wonder? Not, apparently, to the pro-choice voters, who, despite his avowed Roman Catholicism, Daschle has been loyal enough to to gain a 100% rating from NARAL. Not, one assumes, to African-American voters, who, although they hardly represent a formidible voting block in South Dakota, find Daschle on their side often enough to compile a 100% voting record with the NAACP. He must have betrayed the gay and lesbian consituency in the Party, then, right? Well, that would be hard to square with his 100% voting record with the Human Rights Campaign.

Oh, I get it. It's his betrayal of working Americans. After all, his AFL-CIO record is only 92%.



If Dr. Dean needs a constructive activity for his summer vacation, may I suggest that he spend it helping to insure the re-election of people like Senator Daschle, who, whatever his flaws, has served the overwhelming majority of Democratic constituencies faithfully for nearly two decades in the Senate. When he's done that, he can get busy in places like Alaska and Oklahoma where we have a real chance to pick up seats that could move the Democratic Party toward a Senate majority.

First, elect Democratic Senators. Then, let the Democratic Senators choose their leadership. It's the, you know, democratic way.

And those who want to condemn every Democrat who doesn't meet some Naderite standard of purity as a Party 'traitor' would do well to get smart and check the actual record at someplace like Project Vote Smart first.

Quote of the day...

...honors go to Clay Shirky, writing for the Many To Many blog at

"My new rule is: If I hear someone talking about using the internet to transform democracy, I’ll listen for 5 minutes. If, in that time, they don’t use the words vote, voter, or voting, I’m going to go back to reading slashdot."

Speaking truth to power... a phrase I first learned from Daniel Ellsberg, more years ago than I care to admit. My first copy of the Pentagon Papers was purchased at a Stars & Stripes bookstore at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in Vietnam, and he's been one of my teachers ever since.

There's a fresh Ellsberg interview up at Salon, worth waiting through the ad for (or better yet, worth buying a subscription for), which includes the following...(my emphasis)

"The question after any scarring episode in history like Vietnam is, "What did you do in the war, daddy?" That must be applied here. If you did not come to believe that the war was false, a moral catastrophe, then it was not a credit to your wisdom or character or maturity. But if you did realize it, like most Americans, the next test is, "Then what did you do upon realizing that?"

And I will say that certainly the most creditable role for a citizen at that point is to do everything possible to stop it. And the highest standard was set by the people who went to prison for nonviolent draft resistance. And the other highest standard was set by the vets, who came home and put themselves on the line by speaking out and marching against the war. Vets like John Kerry set a standard for the whole country.

I think this is Kerry's strongest qualification to be a leader of this country.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

A geek note

You may (but probably wouldn't) notice the disappearance of the BlogRSS link in the sidebar. The feed never seemed to work too well, anyway, and on the recommendation of a reader (thanks Morgan!) I've added a link to an Atom formatted XML feed which seems to work just fine.

If you're into those things, there's one of those things you're into.

The truth? No hope.

I've been poking around the web, reading various post-mortems and analyses of the Dean 'legacy,' looking for the appropriate hook for my own diagnosis of the Doctor's demise. I haven't really got my thoughts fully formed on the matter, but I've stumbled on some interesting stuff along the way.

For instance, you may remember Eugene Hedlund, the self-described "...lifelong Republican and a fervent supporter of George W. Bush in 2000," who formed the explicitly pro-Dean 527 organization Tapping the resources of Deaner's who had reached their $2000 personal contributions to the campaign proper (and just how many of those there were in the ranks of the '$100 Revolutionaries' is one of the questions remaining unanswered), Hedlund produced and ran a series of spots against John Kerry in several markets.

Well, the site appears to be gone, but Mr. Hedlund didn't disappear without leaving a note for the gang over at blogforamerica. A couple points that I found of interest...

"First, let me make very clear that we will not give, raise nor spend ANY of our money to support Senators Kerry or Edwards."

This in response to Gov. Dean's earnest plea to his followers to join him in supporting the Democratic nominee. Of course, with the need to slam Democrats in support of the Dean campaing over, how will Mr. Hedlund spend any remaining Deaner cash in his coffers?

"My personal intention is that on March 2, I will vote for Howard Dean in the California Primary as my choice for President. After that, I will change my party affiliation, until such time as the Democratic Party supports a platform which I believe in."

Presumably one similar to the one that made Mr. Hedlund a "...lifelong Republican and a fervent supporter of George W. Bush in 2000" in the first place.

One thing that may not be part of my own Dean wrap up is fervent appreciation for his success in 'activating the Democratic base', I'm afraid.

Update: Well, Mr. Hedlund's site is back up, still pumping out hate progaganda against Kerry and drumming up dollars for hit pieces...and still proclaiming his intention to switch parties after casting what is now clearly a interloping vote in the California Democratic primary.

And the truth is still that there's no hope for Mr. Hedlund's futile efforts.

The other Washington takes note of the Upper Left

In a review of competetive US House races, the Washington Post makes favorable mention of the 8th District of the State of Washington...

"Democrats are also well positioned in Washington state's 8th District, where former RealNetworks executive Alex Alben has more than $250,000 cash on hand and his GOP opponent, Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R), has announced plans to retire. Last week, one Republican, King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, entered the race."

"Anytime a popular incumbent retires, it makes the race wide open and helps the challenger," said Alben, who said his fundraising and volunteer efforts have risen in recent months. "I've been feeling the bounce already."

You can help Alex bounce even higher by following the link to your right.

I keep hearing about this "cold and aloof" stuff...

...but my impressions from the Kerry events I've watched and attended are confirmed by stories like this one...

"A decorated Vietnam war veteran with a reputation for being cold and cautious, Kerry frequently had his audience bursting into gales of laughter, cheering and stomping their feet. "

Among the Kerry laugh lines...

"Hi, I'm Doris and I'm a recovering Republican," one woman began.

"I have a single step program," the senator interjected. "Vote for Kerry."

Well, it's pretty funny for a Boston Brahmin.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

It's enough to make you...

...ummm, well, ralph.

I've been a Ralph Nader admirer and advocate in various degrees over the years, and I don't even blame the 2000 election on him, really, but there's really nothing he can do to positively impact American electoral politics this year. I really can't add anything to Atrios' spot on observation.

"And, well, if people are stupid enough to vote for him either because they believe "BUSH=Democrat Nominee" or because they believe voting for him will help build a third party movement even though he's running as an independent or because they believe it will force the Democratic candidate to pretend to move "to the Left" during the campaign in order to get their votes even though they've already decided to vote for Ralph or because they believe Ralph could actually win...

well, go ahead. Nothing I can say is going to change your mind."

Yep. Me neither.

If you really want to keep up with everything that's wrong with Ralph this time, Dan Conley's started up a blog evocatively titled Ralph Nader Sucks which will doubtless keep you posted on any new developments in Ralph's tired old act.


No, that's not the latest John Kerry Superdelegate tally.

That's the number of hits returned by a Google search on "John+Edwards+cute".

I'm not going to make an aesthetic judgement about the gentleman from North Carolina, but I have to admit that the quip he delivered after the Wisconsin primary, which has been replayed by every week end campaign wrap up I've heard, was pretty cute in its own way.

"Objects in your mirror," as the Senator says, "may be closer than they appear." Of course, those objects, he should remember, only appear in your mirror because they're behind you.

How far behind?

Well, SurveyUSA offers a snapshot of a few key places:

California Kerry +45 over Edwards
Florida Kerry +51 over Edwards
Georgia Kerry +31 over Edwards
Connecticutt Kerry +55 over Edwards
Rhode Island Kerry +59 over Edwards

And in New York, the latest Marist Poll has it:

Kerry +51 over Edwards

But hey, "Vice President John Edwards" sounds kind of, ummm, "cute," too...

Sometimes one slips by...

...but John Kerry received an endorsement this week that deserves more than a spot in one of my usual lists anyway.

Representative John Lewis, (GA) has been a moral force in America since his days as one of the original Mississippi Freedom Riders. He keynoted the 1963 March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and he's been a beacon for justice and hope in our country for over four decades.

When John Lewis says "The presidency of John Kerry is needed now more than ever before," he says it with a voice that deserves attention.

This is an endorsement that makes me as certain as ever that I've been on the right team all along.

A Senate trio...

...has been added to the Kerry endorsement list.

Senators Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Daniel Akaka (HI) and Mark Dayton (MN) are the new entries, swelling the number of Superdelegate on the Kerry list to 190, including 14 US Senators, 67 US Representatives and 100 members of the Democratic National Committee, along with sundry other Party luminaries.

Friday, February 20, 2004

You may not have noticed...

...that there are three more states voting before 'Super Tuesday,' but Team Kerry did.

In Idaho, the campaign is going full speed, with weekend visits from Teresa Kerry and stalwart supporter Carole King, an Idaho native. (If you're in that Upper Left outpost, you may be able to catch Carole's Boise concert tonight!) They're arriving to support the efforts of former Governor John Evans, who's leading the Idaho Veteran's Brigade and a great team of staffers and volunteers.

Prediction: Kerry to win.

The Utah effort benefits from the hard work and enthusiastic support of Salt Lake City Councilman Joe Hatch, State Senate Minority Leader Michael Dmitrich, State House Minority Leader Brent Goodfellow and Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros will be making the Kerry pitch at the Utah J-J on election eve.

Prediction: Kerry to win.

Hawaii? Three words. Senator Daniel Inouye. But that's hardly all. Former State Party Chair Richard Port and dedicated Party activist Jane Sugimura are the co-chairs of the ground effort in the Aloha state, and their efforts will produce a Feb. 24 hat trick for Team Kerry.

Prediction: Kerry to win.

Not even that fast, John Edwards...

...because you're not even that close.

For instance, "Of the major candidates, Kerry has received endorsements or pledges of support from nearly 20 percent of the 725 superdelegates named by the Democratic National Committee, while Edwards has less than 5 percent, according to an AP survey."

An Outrageous Lie

USA Today published an op-ed by former Navy Secretary James Webb which contains the viscious accusation that in his 1971 Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony John Kerry "testified that fellow veterans had routinely 'raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.' "

I'm not sure if I'm more outraged that Webb would repeat this easily falsifiable piece of slander against a highly decorated combat veteran, or that USA Today would publish it without making even a routine effort to fact check such an inflammatory statement.

I'm pretty damned outraged with both, though, and dashed off a letter to the offending journal. Odds are this is the only place you'll ever see it, but here's what I wrote, with a little extra highlighting:

To the Editor, USA Today

Former Navy Secretary James Webb suggests that Senator John Kerry owes Vietnam Veterans "a full and complete apology" for accusations that Mr. Webb claims Senator Kerry made against veterans in his 1971 Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony.

In fact, it is James Webb who owes the apology to Senator Kerry for promulgating the lie that Kerry's testimony contained any such accusations. As anyone who bothers to review the testimony and familiarize themselves with the facts will quickly learn, Sen. Kerry did not accuse anyone of anything, but in fact cited the testimony of veterans who admitted to performing the acts described, expressing not condemnation, but sympathy for honorable men who found themselves in tragic circumstances.

As a Vietnam veteran myself, I have paid close attention to not only the statements, but the actions of those who claim to speak for or act on behalf of us. John Kerry has been exemplary on both counts for over thirty years, and Mr. Webb serves every veteran poorly by spreading defamatory misstatements about a man who served his country heroically and has served the interests of all veterans faithfully.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Not so fast, John Edwards

In his haste to declare this a two way race for the nomination and forclose other voices from forthcoming debates, John Edwards might do well to contemplate this.

Dennis Kucinich has finished ahead of John Edwards in as many states as Edwards has finished ahead of John Kerry.

And the voters who live where Kucinich was born haven't voted yet.

A few more facts for the Senator from North Carolina to ponder when he's digested that:


1st place finishes: 15
2nd place finishes: 1
3rd place finishes: 1
4th place finishes: 0


1st place finishes: 1
2nd place finishes: 6
3rd place finishes: 3
4th place finishes: 7

# of states where Kerry has received 10% or less: 0
# of states where Edwards has received 10% or less: 6

Average Kerry vote share: 45%
Average Edwards vote share: 19%

% of remaining delegates Edwards needs to catch Kerry: 60

You can't scare me....

...because the union is signing on and sticking to John Kerry!

Welcome the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations to Team Kerry!

Quote of the Day

In her last dispatch as the ABC Dean campaign reporter, Reena Singh racks up one more Upper Left quote of the day...

"...that Edwards sure is nice. In fact, that Edwards is so damn nice it makes this former Dean reporter want to … SCREAM."

Noony Loony sez Tooney

Kevin over at the Tooneybin deconstructs Ms. Noonan's latest love note to Shrub.

Peggy writes:

"Mr. Bush is the triumph of the seemingly average American man. He's normal. He thinks in a sort of common-sense way. He speaks the language of business and sports and politics. You know him. He's not exotic. But if there's a fire on the block, he'll run out and help. He'll help direct the rig to the right house and count the kids coming out and say, "Where's Sally?" "

And Kevin reminds us that:

"...while super normal George is busy risking his life counting kids and asking where Sally is, John Kerry will be in the house that's on fire rescuing Sally."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Quote of the Day

This time it goes to the LA Times Ron Brownstein.

"Always finishing second, as every Boston Red Sox fan knows, at some point looks less like a moral victory than a defeat."

And if it really is a two man race, well, second place hasn't even got much moral value, does it?

Congressional Clarkies come aboard

The roster of Kerry Superdelegates has swelled to 151 with the official announcement of the endorsements of a cadre of Members of Congress who have followed Wes Clark to Team Kerry. The coast to coast contingent includes:

Howard Berman (California)
Marion Berry (Arkansas)
Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut)
Charles Gonzalez (Texas)
John Larson (Connecticut)
Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota)
Mike Ross (Arkansas)
Vick Snyder (Arkansas)
Tom Udall (New Mexico)

And there are more to come...

(Big) Dig this...

Joel Connelly reports that the Washington State Republican Party has already been issuing a series of email hits on John Kerry, but they may want to do a bit more research if they plan to keep it up.

One story they chose to share was an AP story about Kerry's support for a major public works project in his home state (something that kind of goes along with the job description of US Senator, IMO) and the involvement of the American International Group, an insurance company that profited from the project. Subsequently, they made donations to Kerry's leadership PAC and Presidential and Senate campaigns totalling under $50,000.

So, a firm, and it's employees, with an interest in a major federally funded public works project gave financial support to a Senator who provided legislative support for the project. It's a story, I suppose, but in real terms the money involved is modest, the contributions are all within the parameters of legal campaign finance and the whole thing is in many ways completely unexceptional.

Joel notices, though, that what "...was not reported, however, is that the American International Group has made $961,700 in soft money contributions to Republican campaign committees since George W. Bush became president. Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, AIG's chairman and CEO, was a Bush 2000 "Pioneer" -- part of the select group who raised more than $100,000 for the campaign -- and has become a Bush 2004 "Ranger" by raising more than $200,000."

What's that bit about "glass houses"?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Well, that was kinda scary, huh?

Those early returns almost blew a hole in my perfect primary prediction record! With 60% reporting though, the Kerry lead is pushing 20,000 votes and the networks have long since declared me right again.

Edwards will declare this a strong enough comeback effort to justify his continued presence in the race, which is fine. Dean's going to have a much harder arguement to make, though, finishing with less than 20% in a 'do or die' state - well, it was a do or die state. Then it wasn't.

But it really is, you know.

HoHo may push on, but the dream has died.


No, no, don't be scared. HoHo hasn't taken over Upper Left. I'm pretty excited, though, by this news out of Kentucky.

"Democrat Ben Chandler won a special election Tuesday for a vacant U.S. House seat formerly held by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, a Republican. Chandler's victory ended a losing streak for the Democratic Party.

Chandler, who had great name recognition after two terms as attorney general, but had lost decisively to Fletcher in the gubernatorial election in November, defeated Republican state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington. A Libertarian candidate, Mark Gailey of Berea, also was on the ballot.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Chandler had 83,786 votes, or 55 percent. Kerr had 65,155 or 43 percent. Gailey had 2,947 votes or 2 percent. "

Two things worthy of note in this one, I think. One was that the R's targetted this race bigtime, with Hastert personally stumping for Kerr and offering a rich plate of tobacco flavored pork if the voters would get in line.

The other is that Chandler spread ads around heavy hitters in the lefty blogosphere and generated a terrific financial return, which means there's gonna be at least one Congressman who knows we're out here.

One more step on the path to majority...

Back to Burlington?

That's where HoHo says he's going to rest and regroup after his immanent defeat in Wisconsin. Hope he gets a chance to catch up on local news while he's in town, including this editorial note from the Burlington Free Press.

"It's over. Dean will not be elected president in 2004... Dean should exit gracefully from the presidential contest. Barring an electoral miracle today in Wisconsin, Dean will have lost every one of this year's first 17 presidential caucuses and primaries."

I feel as confident that there will be no Wisconsin miracle as I was that there would be an Iowa surprise.

They miss you in Burlington, Doc. Hang out for awhile, and hang up your campaign spurs.

It's not quite man bites dog...

...but when a US Attorney brings suit against the Justice Department, it's worth taking note of.

A report in the Seattle P-I says that "Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino of Detroit accused the Justice Department of "gross mismanagement" of the war on terrorism in a whistleblower lawsuit filed late Friday in federal court in Washington."

While prosecuting a terror cell in Detroit, Ashcroft's Department "
failed to turn over evidence during the trial that might have assisted the defense, including an allegation from an imprisoned drug gang leader who claimed the government's key witness made up his story." When Covertino reported these facts to a US Senate committee, the Department started up an internal investigation to retaliate, and leaked details of the probe to the press as punishment.

So much for the Bush-Ashcroft 'War' on Terrorism. Seems they've targeted their real enemy - career attorneys with a real commitment to justice.

It's not my boldest prediction of the year...

...but Shaun sez Kerry wins Wisconsin.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Dumb as a Post?

Today's Washington Post editorial page carries a piece that purports to point toward a number of elements of John Kerry's career that they say "can lead to puzzlement." Oh, please.

It's one thing to disagree with some, or even all, of the positions that Kerry has taken on a range of issues during his career. It's another thing altogether for the editors of a prominent journal of American news and opinion to claim that those positions aren't clear, or are somehow contradictory. They just can't be that dumb, can they?

Case in point. Kerry, says the Post "...says he opposes gay marriage, yet voted against the federal Defense of Marriage act." Well, yes. But he's been abundantly clear that his position on the issue of gay marriage is one personal to him, and that he believes that it is ultimately a state's rights matter and that any legislative approach to the issue must allow for the equal protection of rights through state laws which permit civil unions. You don't have to agree with his position on this issue (I, for instance, would argue for more expansive federal protection for the rights of gay Americans) to understand it, or to grasp that DOMA was in its essense a nasty bit of hate legislation designed to divide the country, one that defended nothing but bigotry.

They go on, saying that "He voted for the North American Free Trade agreement yet now talks in protectionist terms, promising he will provide American workers "a fair playing field..." I'm not sure I'd equate supporting a fair playing field with 'protectionist' in the sense that term is ordinarily meant, but yes, John Kerry has observed, as have many others, that the implementation of an agreement which seemed to offer many benefits has produced an outcome that has produced a number of negative consequences as well. Sometimes you try something, it doesn't work as intended, and you make appropriate adjustments. It's called learning. Smart people do it all the time....but maybe the Post editors are that dumb.

"The most important confusion," though, according to the Post, "surrounds Mr. Kerry's position on Iraq." Why? Because "In 1991 he voted against the first Persian Gulf War, saying more support was needed from Americans for a war that he believed would prove costly. In 1998, when President Clinton was considering military steps against Iraq, he strenuously argued for action, with or without allies. Four years later he voted for a resolution authorizing invasion but criticized Mr. Bush for not recruiting allies. Last fall he voted against funding for Iraqi reconstruction, but argued that the United States must support the establishment of a democratic government."

To conflate these four circumstances and argue that one must support or oppose all of them or be somehow inconsistent seems to require a willful level of stupidity. Take the two war resolutions. The circumstances in 1991 and 2002 couldn't have been more different.

In the first case, it was a vote to abandon ongoing diplomacy and move immediately to armed conflict, with a massive armed force that was already staged. In the other, it was a vote to mobilize force in order to support the resumption of diplomacy in the face of Iraqi intransigence. Again, a reasonable arguement can be made for or against either position, but it's plainly nonsense to argue that different votes in dramatically different circumstances is an indication of self-contradiction.

To wrap the Clinton administration's policy of limited strikes on specific military targets into the discussion of the Bush wars, well, it's simply nonsensical piling on. The $87 billion dollar question at least has the merit of being an arguably debatable point, but can the Post editors really be so dense that they can't distinguish between supporting the original resolution, which authorized force, and opposing the manner in which the resolution was implemented, with unilateral action, sweetheart contracts and the total absence of end-game planning? Again, disagree if you will, but don't pretend to misunderstand.

Frankly, this is the kind of (I hope) feigned stupidity that I fear far more than the bludgeoning attacks that will come from the Rovian forces of darkness or the gutter journalism of Drudge, et al. Much of that will be so transparently foul and partisan that it can be dismissed. This kind of nonsense must be confronted directly and forcefull wherever it's found.

Because they just can't be that dumb, can they? And if not, what is their point, and who do they serve?

Andy & I clearly aren't on speaking terms...

"Right now there is nothing that (Dean) is doing that anyone I've spoken to believes is detrimental to the Democratic party," said Andrew L. Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union..."

The scorecard...

...via The Carpetbagger Report.

"In the last three weeks, Dean's lost his campaign manager (Trippi), his campaign chairman (Grossman), his director of Internet operations (Gross), his biggest union (AFSCME), and every primary and caucus that's been held."

Hey, Doc? It's over, OK?

It was all lies, OK? So stop, already.

Every word on the latest Drudge slime job that matters:

"Breaking her silence four days after the allegations surfaced on the Internet, Alexandra Polier issued a statement to The Associated Press, saying, "I have never had a relationship with Senator Kerry, and the rumors in the press are completely false."

"In a separate statement, Polier's parents, Terry and Donna Polier of Malvern, Pa., dismissed the "completely false and unsubstantiated" allegations about their daughter. "

"We love and support her 100 percent and these unfounded rumors are hurtful to our entire family," the statement said. "We appreciate the way Senator Kerry has handled the situation, and intend on voting for him for president of the United States."

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Like I've been saying....

...we've got a couple of key Congressional races shaping up up here in the Upper Left. But don't take my word for it. Check out Stephen Yellin's list of the top 30 Congressional races in the country over at DailyKos where you'll find these entries:

4. WA-8 (R): Open Seat. GOP Primary vs. Democratic Primary. Likely Democratic Nominee is Alex Alben , a former Internet executive. Likely GOP nominee is King County Sheriff Dave Reichert.

(Upper Left note - The race has been complicated a bit by the entry of Democrat Heidi Behrens-Benedict, who's faced off with the retiring Jennifer Dunn three times, drawing 38% in 2002, but my money's on Alben for the primary win.)

13. WA-5 (R): Open Seat, GOP Primary vs. Democrat Don Barbieri. This Eastern Washington district includes Spokane. Barbieri's website is . GOP candidates include Cathy McMorris and Larry Sheahan.

These really are two we can win, and we need every win we can get.


Reliable information's the best ammo in a political battle, and the Presidential race is shaping up to be a hell of a fight, so I'll keep trying to find the best stuff I can to refute the ongoing disinfo campaign that Kerry will face.

I've already dealt with the nonsense about Kerry's fundraising record, but here are a couple of resources to fight back against some of the other spurious charges he's facing.

One of the most disreputable slanders has been the distortion of his 1971 Senate testimony on behalf of Vietnam Veterans Against The War. The New Republic, which has proven to be anything but a Kerry campaign vehicle, calls the the Washington Times and National Review to task for their accusations that John Kerry charged his fellow vets with a variety of atrocities, a charge they support by editing the text of his statements in a grotesque acts of journalistic irresponsibility. Check the facts and arm yourself for a response.

Similarly, Health of Nations offers point by point refutation to charges that Kerry has supported the Bush tax cuts or failed to stand up against the Administration's irresponsible policies. Another must read for the well armed Kerry Freedom Fighter.

Depends on what you mean by 'honorable,' I guess...

...but everytime I hear Ed Gillespie or some other Republican drone make the claim that George Bush's Honorable Discharge is some kind of proof positive that his service record was unblemished, stories like this come to mind:

"John Allen Muhammad, convicted last November for his participation in the D.C. sniper shootings, served in the Louisiana National Guard from 1978-1985, where he faced two summary courts-martial. In 1983, he was charged with striking an officer, stealing a tape measure, and going AWOL. Sentenced to seven days in the brig, he received an honorable discharge in 1985."

Saturday, February 14, 2004


In a campaign appearance in Wisconsin, Gov. Dean declared "We're going to start with the African-American community, we're going to start with women. I'm tired of being divided in this country ... by race, by gender, by income or by religion."

So, let me get this straight, Doc. You're going to end divisions on the basis of race and gender by targetting voters on the basis of race and gender.


Kind of like supporting the ticket and attacking the Party, I guess...


As predicted here, chalk up two more states in the Kerry column.


Kerry 63
Dean 17
Edwards 10
Kucinich 7

Washington, DC

Kerry 47
Sharpton 20
Dean 17
Edwards 10
Kucinich 3

The list gets longer

Add Rep. Ellen Tauscher (CA) to Kerry's Superdelegate endorsers and count the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry as one more step on the road to a full AFL-CIO endorsement, probably in the coming week.

Cutting out the middle man

By now we've all heard ominous stories about the potential for felonious manipulation of election results in elections conducted with electronic ballot machines.

Here in King County, WA, though, election officials, perhaps with an eye to increased efficiency in government, have cut through a couple steps and gone directly to the employment of felons to design, print and sort the ballots.

The Seattle Weekly report in this week's issue details the involvement of Jeff Dean, convicted on 23 counts of embezzlement by manipulating the computer records of a law firm, and John Elder, who served time with Dean at the state's Cedar Creek Corrections Center on a cocaine dealing charge, in the work of the King County Records and Elections department.

I can't really draw hard conclusions from the information in the article, but at the very least it appears that Dean was employed to develop voting software without revealing his criminal background, despite such revealation being a condition of his original sentence.

The image issues alone are a problem, though, for a Department that's been plagued with problems in the recent past (the last two Directors of Records and Elections have lost their jobs as a result of various problems in delivering absentee ballots and other snafus), and Elder's supervisory postion with Diebold, which holds a County contact related to absentee ballot production, distribution and sorting is enough to bring out the conspiracy theorist in many folks.

The pair may well have rehabilitated themselves, but the County really doesn't need the heat. I'll keep tracking this one.

Keeping track of Congress

Frequent inhabitants of the blogosphere will be aware of the Congressional special election in Kentucky next week, if only because Democrat Ben Chandler has papered most of the major political blogs with advertising (which have reportedly shown a terrific return on investment in terms of fundraising).

In the latest Bluegrass Poll Chandler is holding nearly a ten point lead, 49.4 to 39.6 %, over his Republican opponent.

Winning this seat will not only be a Democratic gain in the balance of the House, but a terrific momentum piece for Democrats to kick off the election year with.

Go Ben!


From Jay Leno:

"The White House has now released military documents that they say prove George Bush met his requirements for the National Guard. Big deal, we've got documents that prove Al Gore won the election."

Friday, February 13, 2004

Gotta slip this in...

...between a wonderful anniversary dinner and bedtime.

Tomorrow Democrats in Washington, DC and Nevada caucus.

DC is kind of a black hole, information-wise, but I predict a radically different outcome than was seen in the non-binding primary in January. This time serious people will make a serious choice, and I believe it will be John Kerry.

Nevada is an easier call. JK is the only candidate who will campaign there and Dean made more than a few enemies when he supported turning the state into a nuclear dump for Vermont's radioactive waste. No one else has made anything like a persuasive case to Nevada's Democrats, and Kerry should score another easy win.

By the end of the day, JK should have wins # 13 & 14.

It's going to take something pretty monumental...

...for me to do much more blogging today. I've got quite a bit of work to do, and a whole lot of celebrating, because 16 years ago today I became the luckiest guy in the world, thanks to the brilliant and beautiful bride of Upper Left.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

And it's official!

Welcome General Wesley Clark to Team Kerry!

Fading photos...

...of aging crowd shots notwithstanding, this Quote of the Day speaks for me and legions of my Vietnam vet brothers and sisters.

"I believe the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and the movement in general brought us home. If it wasn't for them, how many more panels (on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) would there be?"

Vietnam veteran Will Gilmore, Madison Wisconsin

Speaking of 527's...

Well, actually, I wasn't, but HoHo sure has been. Bob Torricelli's $50 K contribution to Americans for Jobs, Healthcare and Progressive Values has been a big piece of Dean's stump rant lately, but he hardly mentions the $100 K the same group got from Slimfast tycoon S. Daniel Abraham. Maybe that's because DeanforHimself has banked their own $2000 check from Mr. Abraham. Likewise California attorney Ken Ziffren, who pitched five grand to the 527, and another two grand at the Dean campaign.

In fact, Americans for Jobs, etc. , wasn't the work of any particular campaign and wasn't created to benefit any particular candidate, which explains the broad coalition of Democrats and Democratic interest groups who kicked into the coffers.

The purpose of is somewhat clearer, although there is some push and pull between its specifically pro-Dean stance and it's ardently anti-Kerry program. They've been raising money for hit pieces in selected markets, with two airing in Wisconsin this week.

But there's no question that it's work being done for the benefit of a single campaign, no matter how much that work does to the detriment of the Democratic Party. It is, by it's own statement, " opportunity for those who wish to give more to and for the cause, but who have already allocated their maximum $2000 contribution," the cause being the personal ambition of Dr. Dean (and here you thought HoHo raised all that money in $50 chunks...).

What's not clear is where the money comes from. A search turns up no FEC record of contributions, and the groups website offers a link to 'sponsors' that provides the notice "To Be Announced."

We do know one name, though. provides a bio of its founder, an Orange County, CA mortgage broker by the name of Eugene Hedlund, a self-described "...lifelong Republican and a fervent supporter of George W. Bush in 2000." Ah, yes. A sterling example of the 'Democratic base' that the Dean campaign claims to have energized. Mr. Hedlund has been brought to the light, though, by the magical political healing power of HoHo.

When the scales fell from his eyes, Mr. Hedlund realized that his mission was to construct a website that is dedicated to revealing the John Kerry is really no different than John Ashcroft and Rick Santorum (and you thought 'Bush-lite was a slam!) and conspiratorial muttering about Skull & Bones to finance a series of negative ads against Kerry around the country. My God! The man even reveals that Democratic Senator John Kerry has sometimes voted the same way as Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman!

He's not saying who's paying for his efforts, though, or what he'll do in November.

And HoHo isn't saying anything at all.

So the next time Dean or a Deaner invokes former Democratic Senator Bob Torricelli's name and demands an explanation, just remember "lifelong Republican and a fervent supporter of George W. Bush" Eugene Hedlund and demand that Dean drop out.


Enough damage has been done.

No Mo HoHo.

A passel of polls...

...that have been released in the last few days:


(Journal Sentinal/WTMJ) Kerry +32 Clark
(ARG) Kerry +26 Clark
(Badger Poll) Kerry +49 Dean

March 2

(Shapiro Research)Kerry +21 Edwards

New York
(Quinnipiac) Kerry +41 Dean
(Survey USA) Kerry +33 Dean

March 9

(Survey USA) Kerry +30 Edwards

March 16

(Survey USA) Kerry +38 Dean

I detect a trend....

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Pardon me for bragging...

about a home girl, but I'm just pleased as can be with Senator Patty Murray from right here in the Upper Left.

She's introduced legislation that "among other things, requires the government to fill the pay gap between a federal employee's full-time job and his or her soldier's pay. It also increases health care benefits, provides more money for child care and more generous student loans." according to a report in the Seattle P-I.

The "other things" include tax incentives to encourage private employers to help Reservists and Guard members fill the income gap cause by activation, as well.

With tens of thousands of part-time soldiers pulling full time duty in a war zone, this is a basic and long overdue mark of respect and appreciation for our troops. Why it wasn't proposed by someone from the party of the President who put them there, well, I can only say I'm not suprised.

I'm not suprised Patty stepped up to the plate, either. Everyone who claims to care about our men and women in uniform owes the Senator an expression of thanks right now, and a vote come November.

More endorsement news

Add Senator Jeff Bingham (NM) to the Kerry list and bump the Superdelegate count to 125.

Yes, Bingham's a transfer from the Clark column, and yes, I've heard that there's a very big transfer from the Clark camp scheduled for official announcement tomorrow, but I try not to get too far ahead of the campaign on this stuff.

I do note, though, this item from CBS News. " Thirteen of Clark’s 18 House backers gave their support to Kerry, including Reps. Marion Berry (Arkansas) and Charlie Rangel (New York), the two leaders of the general’s forces on Capitol Hill..."

And since that's not the big news I'm talking about, well, you probably know how big the news wil be...

Just wondering...

...what Dean was thinking when he said "I'm just deeply disappointed that once again, we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils."

I mean, I get that a heady mixture of undiluted ego and intense paranoia has driven the Doc to a seemingly pathological hatred of John Kerry, but what's up with that "once again" business?

I mean, the lesser of two evils is still evil, right?

So, HoHo, in the interests of full disclosure, which Democratic nominees for President of the United States do you think were evil?

Lock and Load!

Some stories aren't worth responding to, and some are. One line of attack that deserves the kind of rapid fire response the twin 50's on Lieutenant Kerry's old swift boat could deliver is Howard Dean's baseless line slamming JK as being "so much like Republicans, both in his voting record and now in his political practices for fundraising."

The claims about the voting record are nearly in the 'too absurd to respond to' category (find a Republican who can beat Kerry's National Journal Composite Liberal Score which shows him voted more liberal on economic, defense and foreign policy issues than 87 percent of the Senate).

On the campaign finance front, though, well HoHo's repeated the charge enough times in enough ways to to some damage if ignored. Happily, our supply lines are wide open and have delivered high powered ammo for firing back.

A joint statement from Nick Nyhart, Executive Director of Public Campaign Action Fund; Chellie Pingree, President of Common Cause; and Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen provides the facts:

"...Not only has Kerry historically refused to take PAC money, but his record shows that he been a leader for more than a decade in full reform of campaign financing, advocating for clean public money not only for presidential but also congressional campaigns."

Hit the link, read the whole thing and you'll have all the info you need, from unimpeachable sources, to lock, load and lay waste to the lying liar from Vermont.

Don't worry, be busy.

The Moonie press and online scandal sheets are full of falsehood and innuendo these days, as they attempt to drag down John Kerry's upfront and full scale assualt on their patron in the White House. Heck the're hitting him almost as hard as HoHo.

If you didn't know this was coming, you just haven't been watching the Rove machine and the gutter press (I think there's a difference, but I can't prove it any more than they can prove their slimy attacks). It's been a routine element of Republican politics since at least the Lee Atwater era.

Nothing to get excited about.

You want to get excited? Get busy. Just got a minute? Or a few?

Jim Stack at East Bay for Kerry weighs in with 10 Things You Can Do During Your Coffee Break To Get JK in the White House.

While the opposition (Rebublican or otherwise) drags the gutter looking for sludge to hide their record with, just follow Jim's advice. "...between now and November 2nd, ask yourself this question every day: What have I done today to get John Kerry elected?"


Big endorsement news left over from yesterday. The 19 International Unions in the Alliance for Economic Justice have voted to endorse John Kerry for President.

With this endorsement, the total number of Internationals supporting John Kerry individually or through the Alliance and the Building and Construction Trades Department increases to 34. This is the strongest expression of solidarity from the House of Labor for any candidate in this election year.

And lest we forget, God bless the International Association of Fire Fighters, who got the whole thing started!

Member Unions of the Alliance for Economic Justice include the Air Line Pilots Association, American Maritime Officers, Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Graphic Communications International Union, International Association of Iron Workers, Laborers’ Union, Machinists Union, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way, Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, Office and Professional Employees Union, PACE International Union, Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons Union, Seafarers Union, Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Union, United Steelworkers of America, Teamsters Union, Transport Workers Union of America and United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Five More!

Congressional endorsements for Team Kerry, that is. Today's additions to Team Kerry include:

Sen. Herb Kohl (WI)

Rep. David Obey (WI)

Rep. Ron Kind (WI)

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA)

Rep. Tom Allen (ME)

And yes, those are three from Wisconsin up on top...

It's hard to fight when he's finished.

Almost cruel, even. As a result, I get feedback from some quarters that it may be time to lighten up on Dean a bit. After all, he's a Democrat, he's pledged to support the nominee, and a continued assault on the Doc might alienate his supporters, the legions of new voters and disaffected youth that he claims to have attracted to the process.

Of course, they don't seem to vote for him, so I'm not sure we should count on them to vote for anyone else.

As far as his status as a Democrat goes, the voter registration card in Zell Miller's pocket has a 'D' on it, too. I'm somehow unimpressed.

And his pledge? Well, here's the way he describes the frontrunner for the nomination.

From the New York Times: "But for more than a week Dr. Dean has been portraying him as a "Washington insider" beholden to lobbyists."

And the AP: "What we now see is that John Kerry is part of the corrupt political culture in Washington."

And the absolute last straw, to Reuters: "Kerry "supports the kind of corrupt fund raising, politically corrupt fund raising mechanism, that George Bush has also employed...we find he is more like President Bush than we ever imagined. This is exactly what we don't need in Washington." (my emphasis)

There it is. Howard Dean describes John Kerry as "exactly what we don't need in Washington." And I'm supposed to play nice to impress the people who continue to finance his increasingly destructive role as a political bomb thrower?

I don't think so.

Howard Dean has lost the race for the nomination because voters in 14 states have rejected his persona and his program. It's way past polls and pundits. It's real, live Democrats who have cast ballots that have rejected his candidacy again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.

This weekend, they'll reject him in Nevada and Hawaii.

And next week, they'll reject him again in Wisconsin.

And all he can do is throw mud at the man who has won 12 of those 14 contests, and who will win the next three, in a delusional, ego driven tantrum.

Enough. Bring it to and end.

Don't just quit, HoHo.