Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Esquire Magazine, via Dan K.:
Dave Reichert, a freshman, took $20,000 from Tom DeLay's ARMPAC to fund his 2004 campaign, and then voted to dramatically limit the Ethics Committee's abilities to investigate representatives' misconduct. This from a former cop?

2004 DejaVu Coming? "Microtargeting" with a Twist of Evil

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, on Democracy Now!:
...a group called the Mighty Texas Strike Force showed up two weeks in advance, stayed at the Holiday Inn -- we have affidavit on this from a Republican night clerk there, who actually turned them in. They were data mining. They seemed to know -- and they were using payphones only -- who owned parking tickets, who was behind on their child support, who had traffic tickets, and they were caught making phone calls telling people if they showed up at the polls, they would be arrested. They were also calling people on probation and making the same threats.

When we contacted the Mighty Texas Strike Force through the Free Press and inquired about who they were, they proudly said that they were linked to the White House and Karl Rove and proudly bragged about their role. Also, fliers went up everywhere, telling people they were illegally registered and that Democrats had to vote on Wednesday and Republicans on Tuesday. All of this is in the book.

Monday, October 30, 2006

"Darcy Burner hopes her life story will appeal to voters"

A long story in the King County Journal:
If Darcy Burner has a muse, perhaps it's her 3-year-old son, Henry.

Uncle Francis let him stay up late to watch Mom debate Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert in Bellevue, in what is becoming an increasingly contentious race in the 8th Congressional District.

Henry was still up when Mom and Dad got home. "Who won?" he asked. "I did," Mom said.

"Good," he said. To Henry, that apparently meant the days and nights of Mom off running for Congress were over. He wondered whether tomorrow was a stay-at-home day.

Not quite yet, Mom said. To which Henry replied: "OK. Go beat Dave Reichert."

Henry, it seems, has been paying attention.

Just how much Henry's encouragement of his Democratic mom might change the nation's course will have to wait until after Election Day. The 8th District is a key battleground in Republicans' efforts to keep control of Congress and Democrats' efforts to wrest it from them.

For sure, it's concern for Henry's future that has the 35-year-old Burner, of rural Carnation, running for Congress. She talks about him, and perhaps for him, in one-on-one conversations and in political speeches.

She comes to the race with a bachelor's degree in computer science and economics from Harvard University and five years' experience as a Microsoft product manager.

This is her first run for elective office.

She has taken heat for not voting in several elections although, according to her campaign, the Republican list includes elections in Redmond, where she doesn't even live.

Her record of public service is spotty. She was chairwoman of the Ames Lake Community Club and is active in a teen leadership position with the Civil Air Patrol, which she joined as a teen.

But candidates, including Burner and Reichert, use their personal stories to touch the hearts and minds of voters.

Burner's story is somewhat nontraditional and at times heartbreaking. A daughter was stillborn. With Henry, she spent many weeks in bed during her pregnancy.

She won't tolerate ceilings that thwart a woman's upward progress.

Even her own birth shaped her political views.

Adopted, Burner met her birth mother, Florence, for the first time while she was in college.

Burner and her birth mother have talked about the choice the 19-year-old faced back in 1970. She was living in Alaska at the time, which allowed women to make a choice about having an abortion, Burner said.

"It was her choice," Burner said. "It was her body."

She chose adoption. "She was in no position to raise me," Burner said.

Her birth mother has been married for 35 years now and lives in the mountains of New Hampshire.

Burner's sister is an FBI agent. She draws a laugh when she talks of her brother's "public service" — delivering beer.

"I am fortunate to have this broad definition of family," Burner said.

She was adopted by Ralph and JoAnn Gibbons, growing up in a military family. She learned the value of hard work and treating everyone fairly from her parents. Today, she speaks out for veterans, arguing that Congress has cut their medical benefits.

She wants Henry to grow up in a nation where promises are kept, including those made to veterans, like her father, that they will receive medical care.

Her parents have campaigned for her, including making calls from their home in Fremont, Neb.

A Catholic, Burner said she's glad she lived a "goody two-shoes" life. There are no skeletons in her past, although she understands her friends' initial questions about whether she really wanted to run for Congress.

She calls the hard-edged battles for office that rely on personal attacks the "politics of personal destruction."

Burner and her husband, Mike, have made it a point to make sure her political schedule sets aside family time. One of Henry's favorite destinations is the Pacific Science Center in Seattle.

That's harder now, during what she calls "the crazy last part" of the race.

Burner says she's a country girl — the Burners live in an 1,800-square-foot home near Ames Lake close to Carnation. She likes the rural living, especially the quiet at night and the trees, but still they're close enough to Seattle to enjoy what a big city has to offer.

Henry thinks they live in a rain forest.

His mom would like those Northwest forests to still thrive when Henry is grown. Not surprisingly, she's concerned about the environment. Global warming is real, she said. Just look at Mount Rainier, where the glaciers are melting and the ice caves are disappearing, she said.

She argues that middle-class families are getting short shrift in the power halls of Washington, D.C. Those families face too many economic pressures, including expensive early childhood education all the way to the spiraling costs of a college education, she said.

"I think we need to invest more in the middle class," she said. If she could fix just one problem in America, it would be to ensure that all its families can do well.

But Republicans criticize Burner because they say she would allow billions of dollars in tax cuts to expire. The tax cuts have put money into the pockets of the middle class, but Burner said that the tax code is full of loopholes for special interests and the wealthy.

Indeed, she argues, it's the Republicans who might not renew some key tax breaks, including the one for Washington state residents that allows them to deduct the sales tax on their federal tax return.

Reichert talks openly about the pressures to vote a certain way in the nation's capital. She said she's disappointed that in her view Reichert has turned into a "D.C. politician." She said she will continue to hold herself to the highest standards.

If Burner doesn't know the answer to a question, she said, she'll say so. But a representative should have an understanding of basic issues, she said.

Like other Democrats across the nation, Burner is hammering away at President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and the lack of oversight of Bush's policies by the Republican-controlled Congress.

Those themes helped rally the Democratic faithful at a massive rally Thursday at Bellevue Community College.

It was the first political rally for Helen Bergerson, of Kirkland, a Democrat who has lived on the Eastside for nearly 30 years.

She's sensing a change in mood among her friends, even the ones in the political middle. The war is weighing heavily on their minds, she said.

Every day holds fear for those with a family fighting in Iraq, she said.

"It's time for a change," Bergerson said. "We are in desperate times."

"Dean Sends Letter to Mehlman"

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today sent a letter to
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman calling on the Republican leader to confirm that "the RNC will refrain from engaging in, assisting in or participating in any" program that could potentially disenfranchise voters in these midterm elections. The letter specifically calls on Mehlman to comply with both the letter and spirit of a "consent decree," which was entered into as a result of a lawsuit the DNC filed against the RNC over Republican so-called "ballot security" initiatives that targeted predominantly African American and Hispanic voters to keep them from exercising their fundamental right to vote.

This November it will have been 25 years since the RNC scheme was used in New Jersey by Republican operatives who compiled a list of 45,000 voters to challenge at the polls because mail to the address at which they were registered had been returned. RNC poll watchers tried to have those voters removed from the rolls, and Republican operatives employed off-duty county sheriffs and local police to watch polling places in predominantly African-American and Latino precincts where they had posted signs warning minority voters that it was a crime to violate election laws.

In 1986, the RNC tried the same tactic in Louisiana targeting 31,000 voters, and the "consent decree" was subsequently expanded forcing the RNC to obtain prior court approval for all efforts to allegedly combat "voter fraud" other than standard poll watcher activities. The amended "consent decree" remains in effect, and requires the RNC to provide the DNC with 20 days notice prior to going to court to submit "ballot security" programs for approval. Since the November 7th elections are less than 20 days away and the RNC has not notified the DNC of any such initiative, the letter calls on Republican Chairman Mehlman to confirm that no such activities are planned by the "RNC itself, its state or local parties, Republican candidates or allied organizations such as the Republican National Lawyers Association or National Republican Senatorial Committee."

In the letter Dean reminded Mehlman that "as the chairmen of the two major national parties, we have a responsibility to encourage people to participate in the political process and aggressively guard their constitutionally protected right to vote." Dean further urged Mehlman to reply promptly "so that all eligible registered voters can be assured of a fair election and of having the opportunity to vote free from harassment, intimidation or other efforts to deny them the right to cast their vote and have it counted."

Message from Charles Chamberlain: Emergency Meeting

I'm in Bellevue, Washington working to win for Darcy Burner, and I need your help to do it.

Darcy is on the cusp of victory but she needs OUR HELP to win. This race is extremely close and David Reichert is running scared, so the National Republican Congressional Committee is pouring $400,000 into negative ads in an attempt to save Reichert and protect the Republican majority in Congress.

It's crunch time. Democrats need 15 seats to take back congress. DFA can put Darcy over the top, but not without your help. Can you attend an Emergency Volunteer Meeting Thursday?

Let me be clear. We will not win this race without a massive volunteer effort. We need to get your boots on the ground now.

The good news is that we have an emergency volunteer plan and a field program in place across the district that can win this election. We want to let you in on our Get Out The Vote strategy from here to Election Day and fill you in on all the juicy details of the campaign.

I held an Emergency Meeting last night which was a great success and connected many new DFA members to the campaign. But we can't reach the critical mass needed to win without YOU! Please come to our Emergency Meeting Thursday! It is urgent and important. I need you to be there.

Bellevue Regional Library
1111 110th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98005
Meeting Room 3

Google Map

Thursday, Nov 2
5:30 to 6:30pm

I look forward to meeting you!


Charles Chamberlain
Field Director
Local # (425) 454-0519

"The Race for the 8th" (audio)

KUOW (today):
The battle between incumbent Republican Dave Reichert and Democratic challenger Darcy Burner is one of most closely-watched races in the country. The outcome could determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Dave Reichert could not join us. We'll hear his views using past interviews. Challenger Darcy Burner is in our studios. If you live in the 8th, how will you decide?

Two From Today's NY Times

"Hot House Races"(they only mention six):
Washington’s Eighth C.D.
In a district of socially liberal Republicans, a gradual party shift combined with a burst of anger at the Republican Party has created a tossup race ("Liberal Republican Suburb Turns Furious With G.O.P.") between Representative Dave Reichert and Darcy Burner, his Democratic challenger.

"With the House in the Balance, Pelosi Serves as a Focal Point for Both Parties":

The young women on the porch were whispering, their tittering just audible over Bill Clinton’s remarks to the 300 or so Democratic donors gathered here for lunch.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, mindful that some guests had paid $10,000 for a plate of chicken and bread pudding, shot a frown — the sort a grandmother gives when someone arrives at Christmas dinner in a wrinkled shirt — and in a split second, the whispers ceased. Ms. Pelosi’s face resumed its trademark molar-baring smile.

There it was in one brief moment, the three essential elements of Ms. Pelosi’s campaign to bring Congress under control of her Democratic Party, preferably with her favored alliteration: message, money, manners.

Comic Relief: "SNL’s Glimpse Into The Final Week Of RNC Ads" (video)

I couldn't resist posting this, from Crooks and Liars.

As they pointed out on The Young Turks, you don't see too many political ads that contain video produced by our "sworn enemy," referring to the actual RNC ad in this SNL piece.

"Obama? So Handsome, And Probably Delicious"

Another Howie in the WaPo:
If Obama decides to take the plunge, the free ride is over. As Page noted in his please-run column, the media will turn on him like a bunch of vultures. And they won't have far to look: Obama's acknowledgment in his book of having played around with marijuana, alcohol and "maybe a little blow" may seem a bit less charmingly candid in a declared presidential candidate.

The "free ride is over" for a "declared presidential candidate"? We already have a "declared President" who everbody knows has "played around" with that stuff already.


...the Democratic establishment has finally realized the value of GOTV -- one of the least sexy (and financially lucrative) parts of a campaign.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

"Democrats push to counter GOP in turnout race"

Ad Nags in the NY TIMES:
Evidence of Democratic attention to getting out the vote was on display here and in other parts of the country last week as turnout operations, many in the making for nearly two years, began to unfold their final-10-day plans.

For two cold and rainy hours the other night, Brendan Fahey, 27, a two-time Iraq war veteran, led a team of three Democratic workers on a door-knocking mission through a trim, middle-class neighborhood of brick homes in this city northwest of St. Louis. They careened from house to house - holding street maps and a computer-generated list of likely supporters gleaned from two years of market research, telephone calls and earlier visits - as they executed the final stages of a plan that began when Democratic Party strategists opened offices here 15 months ago.

In Florida, the campaign of Ron Klein, a Democrat challenging Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr., a Republican, made a final telephone canvass of voters who live in the state, but spend summers elsewhere, typically thousands of miles outside Shaw's district in southern Florida, to make sure they were returning to their winter homes by Election Day or had voted by absentee ballot. As part of the "Snowbird Program," the Klein campaign said it had tracked down the Northern addresses and telephone numbers of thousands of Democratic and independent voters.

Emboldened by polls showing rising public unhappiness with Republicans, Democrats tried to open new fronts in some unlikely places, including Kansas, where Nancy Boyda, a Democrat, is challenging Representative Jim Ryun, who is seeking a sixth term. The race is so overlooked nationally that some Democratic officials in Washington joked they would not have been able to name the Democratic challenger before last week.

Republicans said they saw no evidence that Ryun was in trouble and suggested that Democrats were trying to rattle them. Still, the Republican Party began running advertisements to defend five more incumbents, in states including Colorado and New York, who are showing signs of slipping. And President George W. Bush on Saturday began another series of swings into what had been solidly Republican territory to help generate more enthusiasm and raise money to help pay for the late advertising and voter turnout push.

In Dean's assessment of his party's get-out-the-vote apparatus, he said he thought the Republicans gained an advantage by running a centralized operation. He said that after the election, he intended to call the leaders of the House and Senate Democratic committees "to try to build a relationship the way the Republicans do it."

He added, "I don't admire anything that Republicans have done to this country, but I greatly admire their election model, and that's what we intend to build, if not surpass, by 2008."

"Election rides on get-out-the-vote work"

Detroit News:
Ground work essential--(snip)That's why candidates put so much of their resources into getting out the vote (GOTV) on Election Day.

GOTV has become as important as paid advertising and televised debates. A candidate must have a sophisticated ground strategy that includes phone banks, buses and volunteers to move lethargic voters to the polls.

Roger Martin, the reporter who wrote that Sunday poll story in 1990 and who is now a hot-shot Lansing political consultant, says a superior GOTV effort can boost a candidate by 2 to 5 percentage points.

The state GOP is two election cycles ahead of Democrats in GOTV. It's already made 2 million voter ID calls and has perfected a micro-targeting technique that finds Republicans who don't even know they are Republicans.

But Martin says ballot proposals on affirmative action and school funding may motivate more Democratic-leaning voters.

Ed Sarpolous, pollster for The News, says loyal Republicans are less enthused about Dick DeVos than loyal Democrats are about Granholm. That also could counter the Republican advantage.

But pollster Steve Mitchell says he's rarely seen an incumbent win if his or her poll numbers are below 50 percent going into Election Day. Undecided voters, he says, tend to break for the challenger.

In the latest Detroit News/Channel 7 poll, Granholm holds a 4-point lead, but at 48 percent she still hasn't topped that magical 50 percent mark.

The bottom line is that no matter what the polls say today, this election is still up for grabs.

The winner is less likely to be decided by a blitz of new ads or a last-minute bomb than by who wakes up Election Day best ready to do the gritty work of making sure his or her supporters vote.

Obviously, this also applies to WA-8 and all the other close races for Congress.

"Winning Women?"

Darcy in the NY Times today (hat tip to the Gen. JC Christian, patriot):
Darcy Burner has never held public office — the former Microsoft project manager is just 35 — but nonetheless she appears to have a good shot at becoming the first Democratic representative from Washington’s Eighth District. The timing of her bid is propitious: in this scandal-saturated election year, her lack of political experience may be a boon. And the fact that Burner is an adept fund-raiser has fueled her quick rise. There’s another, slightly more intangible factor at play, too: Evergreen-state residents are accustomed to female leadership. “You don’t have the hurdle of convincing voters that women can do the job when the models include people without a Y chromosome,” Burner told me recently. And in fact, Washington is the only state in the nation where both senators and the governor are women.

The West has always been known for “breaking the bonds of custom,” as the historian Fredrick Jackson Turner put it. That has provided opportunities to enterprising men, but women have left their mark as well. In politics, they’ve become a fixture to an extent not seen even in liberal bastions like Massachusetts. Women have resided in Arizona’s gubernatorial mansion for nearly a decade. Neighboring California’s two senators are female, as is nearly a third of that state’s House delegation. And the November elections could sweep more Western women into office. State Senator Dina Titus, Democrat of Nevada, is waging a campaign for governor, headlining an almost all-female ticket. Gabrielle Giffords is favored to win Arizona’s Eighth District for the Democrats. And one of the most tightly fought races in the country — a showdown between a four-term representative, Heather Wilson (Republican of New Mexico), and Attorney General Patricia Madrid — will send a woman to Congress no matter which party prevails.

While plenty of Republican female stars — like former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — got their starts out West, most of the region’s female candidates for high office this year are Democrats. Representative Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says that regional and national trends make Democratic female candidates ideal standard-bearers. “Education, the environment and livability issues are coming to the forefront in that part of the country, and these women speak to the changing nature of the region,” he says.

To be sure, these candidates will not win or lose their races on the basis of their sex alone. Talent on the stump, credentials and fund-raising will be decisive. The fact that they have the opportunity to make their case, however, speaks to Western states’ receptivity to women in public life. That legacy dates back to the pioneer era and was partly born of necessity. The agricultural model of the ranch — unlike, say, the Southern plantation — often demanded that the sexes work side by side. Western states were the first to grant female suffrage, and allowing women access to the ballot was followed by electing them to high office: the first U.S. congresswoman hailed from Montana, the first female state senator from Utah.

To this day, political parties in Western states tend to be more open to women than the networks that reign in parts of the East Coast. “The process for getting on the ballot isn’t as transparent in states with entrenched machines,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. She points to her home state, New Jersey, where county chairmen — and they are almost always men — often determine who will run. “In part because those decisions are generally made behind closed doors, it makes it harder for women to get involved,” Walsh says. Indeed, the Garden State and Massachusetts — two states with strong machines — have all-male Congressional delegations, despite their progressive political leanings.

Of course, even this year, some of the Western women challengers will fall short. Incumbents aren’t shoo-ins, either. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington State Democrat, is facing a tough re-election challenge. Nevertheless, given the region’s more transparent political parties and history, it is well poised to retain its status as an incubator of female leadership. That may bode well for Senator Hillary Clinton if she decides to make a bid for the presidency. She would have trouble carrying states in the South, but if Western voters extend their embrace of female leadership to the highest levels of government, a promotion from the Senate to the White House could be within her reach.

"Emergency DFA meetng for DB in Bellevue tonite"

dinazina, commenting on Kos:
Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America whiz from Burlington VT, is working in Bellevue to help the DB campaign.

They are urging DFA members and ANYONE to attend this strategy meeting.

DFA has endorced DB and contributed money & expertise, thus Charles.

Bellevue Regional Library
1111 110th AVE NE
Meeting room 1---6:30 PM
Sunday October 29th: TONIGHT

Call him at 425-454-0519

Howie would love to go, but he has work for the The Orange Man tonite.


Bill Clinton, summing up this year's GOP message:
"If you elect the Democrats they'll tax you into the poor house, and on the way, you'll meet a terrorist on every corner, and when you try to run away, you'll stumble over an illegal immigrant."

"Getting Out The Vote: Doorbelling for Darcy" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: KUOW debate: darcy dares & delivers; dave ducks & dithers" (blatherWatch):
We just got word that 8th District challenger Darcy Burner will appear on KUOW's Weekday with Steve Scher, Monday from 9-10a, but getting Rep. Dave Reichert to appear with her has again proved futile.

Even though Reichert says "I've had people have pointed guns at me," this isn't the first time Reichert has chickened out and ducked Burner in such forums. His handlers have kept him away from venues where his and the smarticulate upstart's aptitudes and can be compared by voters side by side.

KUOW producers will cobble together a "virtual Dave" for Darcy to debate using tape from his past interviews and an old stuffed shirt they'll prop up in a chair. The canned mock-up couldn't be more boring than having him in studio.

Daniel K on Kos:

With only 10 days left until Election Day, and absentee voters already able to mail in their ballots, it is time for me to get out from behind my laptop and help get out the vote.

Living in the 8th Congressional District has given me a front row seat to one of the most hotly contested races this year, and I have been writing about it since February. Back then few were paying attention, but today Darcy Burner's campaign could decide whether the Republicans continue to drive this nation into the ground, or whether we will finally have a Democratic majority in Congress that can start holding the Bush administration accountable for six years of failed policies, at home and abroad.

Make no mistake about it, without a Democratic majority the last two years of Bush's presidency will be just like the past six years have been. The Iraq War will continue to fester, and the call by a large majority of Americans for a plan to reduce the level of troops in Iraq will go ignored. We will continue to see more than two U.S. soldier deaths a day, and could possible reach 5000 dead by the end of Bush's term in office.

Without a Democratic majority the national debt will continue to grow unfettered as we pour billions into the Iraq War debacle, and neglect investments in the education of the youth of this nation. Today, each American, adult or child, shares $28,500 of our $8.5 trillion dollar debt. By the time Bush leaves office expect your share to grow another $5,000 or more. Republicans want to scare you with talk of Democrats raising your taxes, but explain to me how this debt gets paid off without reducing spending and raising taxes? But that's the Republican plan: rack up massive debt so that when the Democrats inevitably regain control they will have to deal with it. Well, we can either start dealing with it now, or we can allow Republicans to continue growing their Debt Tax at our expense.

Without the checks and balances of a Democratic Congress while Bush finishes his term, he will be allowed to continue to abuse our Constitution, and attack our values as a nation. As Americans we are all now tainted by the policies of the Bush administration, supported by the Republican led Congress, that endorse torture, redefine the Geneva Conventions as Bush desires, and have buried habeas corpus. Americans don't stand for this, but this Congress and Dave Reichert have voted to allow it to happen. Other countries used to look to America as an example of positive values, opportunity and freedom. Now other countries are saying if America can torture, why can't we? Is this the America you believe in? Are these the values you believe in?

As I said before, I started writing about this congressional race many months before it was on the national, and even local political, radar. I have been doing so because I feel that this nation has been heading in the wrong direction and we must do all we can to fight back, say enough is enough, and vote in a new Congress that will help turn us back into the country we once knew.

I have asked people to make donations and to volunteer their time, and many of you have responded. Yet while I consider myself a politically engaged citizen, I know that most people are normally not. As a nation, even the record turnout for the 2004 elections was only 63% of potential voters, meaning that 71.3 million Americans who could have voted did not. Of those 71.3 million, only 16.4 million even bothered to register to vote. In essence Bush won re-election with the support of only 32% of potential voters. Another 31% voted against him, and the rest, by not voting at all, essentially approved of the decision others would make for them. I am sure a majority of them have not been happy with the events of the past two years, but if you don't vote then many will say you can't complain.

This year, following two more disastrous years of Bush and the Republican Congress, it is vital that as many as possible Democratic leaning potential voters become actual voters. People have come through in droves by donating money to help the campaigns produce television and mailbox advertising. You've surely received your fair share of such mailings and seen the ads on TV. However, now is the time to help with your time to reach out to potential voters and help get out the vote.

Last week I contacted the Darcy Burner campaign to volunteer my time. They called me back and arranged for me to help canvass today. I had done this before last month so I was familiar with much of the drill. I have also helped on the phones more recently.

Walking a neighborhood, knocking on doors or ringing door bells, is vitally important to the effort of getting people out to vote. It is also hard work. I was given a single precinct on Mercer Island - about 4 north south roads and 3 east west intersecting roads in a hilly neighborhood. I had a list of 85 houses to cover and it took me over four hours to do so. While the good weather surely accounted for a lot of folks being out and about, a good number were home. The general feedback I received was largely positive and in support of Democratic candidates. I was wearing my Darcy Burner button, so it was clear who I was for anyone wanting to check me out through their peep hole or window. People I talked to expressed their frustration with the current Congress, and the strong need for a change, many indicating strong support for Democrats. People liked the fact Darcy wasn't backing down in her television advertising, and was hitting back when attacked. In hindsight I was pleasantly surprised that most everyone I spoke to were not bothered by my brief interruption. One lady thanked me for doing what I was doing. A small number indicated they would be voting for the Republican canidates, but that was hardly a surprise given I was on Mercer Island - I actually expected far more. If I came across a "No Soliciting" sign (and there were a few homes displaying one) I did not knock or ring a doorbell, and instead left a flyer. I also left Darcy Burner flyers at every home where there was no answer, after talking a moment to add a short note with my pen at the bottom that generally read, "Please vote on Nov. 7th for change in D.C. - Thanks!"

While I definitely have an understanding of most of Darcy Burner's positions on the issues, the campaign also provided me with issue sheets should it have been necessary to answer a voter's questions on a topic. As it turned out I didn't need to refer to them. The purpose of my canvassing was certainly not to harass people or get into a debate on their doorstep, and if a voter was disinclined at this point to support a Democratic candidate I would have been wasting my time to try to convince them to do so. What canvassing to get out the vote comes down to is engaging with people face to face, to show that their vote matters - because it matters so much.

After fours hours of criss-crossing the streets in the precinct in beautiful, sunny, 60 degree temperatures, I was pretty worn out (and in need of a bathroom break - Tip: don't drink too much liquid before heading out to canvass, but consider bringing a bottle of water to quench your thirst). My left hand was also pretty worn out from holding my clipboard and flyers. But it was a very satisfying feeling to have covered 100% of the addresses on my list, knowing that someone else wouldn't have to finish the job, even while over the next few days the campaign will want to try to contact by phone those voters that weren't available.

There are still many precincts that need such personal attention from volunteers, and if you have the time, any day of the week, please consider contacting the Darcy Burner campaign to let them know how you might be able to help. If you are a Cantwell supporter, please contact their campaign to help get out the vote. If you have a favorite state candidate you wish to support, get in touch with that campaign.

Every vote counts, we've seen just how much that is true in this state in recent years, and now that the fundraising is drawing to a close, there is a nationwide call for all hands on deck to get out the vote. On Election Day, November 7th, the focus will turn to ensuring all the votes that have been cast are counted, and volunteers will be needed for that. Regaining control of the nation from the Republicans, and setting us on a new course, will take a lot of hard work over the next 10 days, but faced with the prospect of two more years of a Republican Congress, and the possibility for change, that's a lot of very worthwhile hard work we cannot afford to not do.

Please help if you can.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"The Enemies of Truth"

The corporate media have finally noticed that a very large, very rabid skunk is busy spraying its caustic stink all over the 2006 election campaign. Some journalists, like the Washington Post's Michael Grunwald, are even acknowledging -- oh-so-gently -- that the varmint has a name:

While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year's version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion . . The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters.

It's an improvement, at least, over the spin being put on the story at ABC News, where Mark Halperin is taking his promise to keep conservatives happy this November literally, and blaming the Democrats for ads they haven't run yet.

But no one in the corporate media, to my knowledge, have even come close to putting an accurate lead on the story -- which would look something like this:

Faced with the likely loss of one if not both houses of Congress, the Republican Party has embarked on a massive, last-ditch effort to smear Democratic challengers in competitive districts across the country.

The resulting campaign has completely demolished whatever minor restraints remained on the use of lies and distortions in political attack ads, and has pushed the already debased American political process to a new low.

A "straight" journalist couldn't possibly write a lead like that and expect to get it past his/her editor -- even though the Republicans themselves revealed their intentions quite clearly some weeks ago:

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

Opposition research is power," said Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds (N.Y.), the NRCC chairman. "Opposition research is the key to defining untested opponents."

The only fresh "news" is that the resulting ads are even fouler and more despicable than any the Rovian machine has unleashed in the past -- to the point where some of them would probably have made Joseph Goebbels himself blush.

This alone tells you something about the almost complete breakdown of political accountability in this country. The Rovians now assume they can say anything, any freaking thing at all, and it will still come out the other end of the journalistic sausage factory as a "balanced" assessment that "both parties are doing it."

And so, after listing five specific cases of maximum, over-the-top GOP sleaze -- including Ken Blackwell's gaybaiting in Ohio, claims in Indiana that Democrats "want to abort black babies," and the now-infamous masturbating geezers and Vietnamese prostitutes ad in Wisconsin and North Carolina -- the Post story adds this caveat:

Some Democrats are playing rough, too. House candidate Chris Carney is running ads slamming the "family values" of Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), whose former mistress accused him of choking her. And House candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has an ad online ridiculing Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-N.Y.) for attending a late-night fraternity party.

And that's it: the sum total of the evidence produced for the case that Democrats are also "playing rough." Chastising Don Sherwood for beating his mistress, an affair (the sex, not the abuse) that he has already publicly admitted, and tweaking John Sweeney for his party habits. This is "balanced" only in the same sense that an elephant balances a mouse -- because, after all, both are mammals.

The way the media is currently handling the GOP's Swiftboat extravaganza is a textbook example of how the conventions of journalistic "objectivity" have become the enemies of truth, not its allies. It shows why so many on the left are so angry even with "responsible," non-Foxified news organizations: because they insist on describing a moral equivalence that factually doesn't exist -- and which many, if not most, reporters know does not exist.

The Democrats certainly aren't the Children of Light here, and there's no question liberals are perfectly capable of ignoring the motes in their own eyes -- and those of their political patrons. The general reaction in Left Blogistan to the reporting on Harry Reid's land dealings in Nevada was a good example. Lefty bloggers generally fell all over themselves excusing Reid's financial ties to an extremely dirty circle of local Las Vegas pols (to find out how dirty, Google "Operation G-string" or "Rick Rizzolo") and arguing that the Minority Leader's failure to disclose his partnership with a known mob attorney was a mere technicality. Reid's dealings may not have been illegal, or even unethical, but I have absolutely no doubt that if he had been a Republican pol caught with the same pair of pants around his ankles, the cries at Daily Kos for a special prosecutor would have been deafening.

But at some point refusing to recognize the disproportionality -- a disciplined, lavishly funded and utterly ruthless authoritarian machine on one side; the usual run of backslapping bribe takers on the other -- becomes a form of lying, and we're long past that point.

When even Chris Matthews can smell the odor wafting from "Ken Mehlman's cesspool," you know how strong the stench is, but most journalists, most of the time, continue to flee from the truth: that the GOP machine will use every totalitarian propaganda trick in the book, if need be, to keep all three branches of the federal government in its grip. Or, at a minimum, that the men at the top -- Rove, Mehlman and, of course, Junior -- show no signs of having any limits on their willingness to use such techniques.

The sinking sensation this produces in my stomach is comparable to the feeling I had after the Abu Ghraib story broke, when it quickly became clear that torture and sexual abuse had been used as routine tools of interrogation not just in Iraq but at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan, but the corporate media insisted on treating the Cheney Administration's lies as equal to, if not greater than, the events unfolding in front of their eyes.

I could, of course, cite other examples -- the WMD fraud, the secret wiretapping, the insane debate over whether the sectarian slaughter in Iraq qualifies as a "civil war," and so on. But the common denominator, in each case, was the corporate media's stubborn, and I would say deliberate, insistence on "balancing" obvious lies and partisan spin against the facts. Truth versus truthiness.

Needless to say, if the TV bimbos and the ink-stained wretches were willing to give the Geneva Convention that kind of treatment, it's no surprise they're willing to do the same in a political campaign -- which, after all, tend to be vapid, vicious, inane and dishonest even at the best of times. But every failure to draw some kind of line, to make a distinction between "both parties are doing it" and "one of the two parties is completely out of control," encourages the out-of-control party to behave even more outrageously. In the end, it will also force the Democrats to respond in kind (that is, if they want to survive) thus making ABC's prediction that the left, too, will unleash it's garbage a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Or maybe not, since the Dems also depend heavily on the votes of moderate, educated voters, male and female, who may not respond as readily to the kind of limbic politics the GOP now specializes in. But if that's so, then we're probably well on our way to the corporate one-party state, in which case the question may eventually arise: Why do we even need elections, or a bunch of arrogant, culturally liberal reporters to cover them?

Forgive me for belaboring the obvious here. I'm obviously not the first guy to make the point that ignoring the truth is not the same thing as telling the truth (genuflects before pictures of Paul Krugman and Stephen Colbert) but where I might go beyond most liberal critics is in arguing that the "objectivity" convention itself is primarily a commercial arrangement, not a political one. And, like all arrangements in a dynamic capitalist economy, it has a finite life cyle, one which may be nearing its end.

The mass media -- the TV networks, the news weeklies, the large, national circulation newspapers like the New York Times -- have been under enormous economic pressures for over a decade now, and those pressures are only getting worse. The mass market itself is being torn apart, into smaller and smaller niches. For most old media, the networks in particular, it's become a zero sum game. Just trying to hold the audiences they have is a losing battle. This loss of market power is one of the forces driving the trend towards consolidation (oligopoly). It's a defensive reaction in an industy that is getting more competitive, not less.

In this kind of environment, the old journalistic tradition -- balancing partisan viewpoints across a relatively narrow, centrist ideological spectrum -- becomes more and more problematic. So does the old "liberal bias," which could more accurately be described as a kind of cool, technocratic disdain for populist passions, which in this country since about the 1950s, has meant the populist right. The market for that kind of centrist pablum is receding almost as quickly as David Broder's hairline.

Combine those commercial realities with the progressive polarization of the electorate (and the conservative reach for hegemonic power) and the old media have a serious problem: That which appeals to some bits and piece of the old mass audience may drive away other bits and pieces.

One strategy for dealing with this dilemma is simply to avoid controversy whenever possible, and try to persuade your loudest critics -- which again usually means the populist right -- that you're bending over backwards to be "balanced." That was the initial corporate reaction in the '80s and early '90s, in fact you often got the feeling the networks wouldn't have minded getting out of the news business entirely, if their licences would have allowed it.

But instead the rise of cable and its insatiable appetite for programming turned news into a profit center. It's cheap to produce, the scripts essentially write themselves and there are plenty of cross-selling opportunities (as ABC, Disney and Rush Limbaugh are busy proving). When it comes to filling air time, it's as cost effective as the reality shows, if not more so. If only the audiences didn't keep getting smaller, and older . . .

What finally appears to have dawned on old media is that trying to please everyone not only doesn't keep the critics off their backs, it doesn't help them hold their existing audience or build new ones. The geezers depart for Fox News, the 18-to-35 year olds get their news from the Daily Show. Meanwhile the opportunity costs, in terms of forgone revenues, have gotten higher. So hard choices have to be made: Which slices of the audience should they try to hold, and which can they afford to alienate if that's the price for keeping the ones they want?

It's a triage operation, in other words -- and to me it looks as if a conscious, corporate decision has been made to try to hold (or win back) the conservative "red state" audience even if it means losing the liberal "blue state" audience. Whether this is because the conservative audience is larger and more affluent, or because the strategists at Viacom, Disney, GE and Time Warner have decided that liberals are less likely to change channels when their ideological beliefs are offended, or because the more demographically desirable blue state audiences have long since "self selected" their way out of old media's reach all together, I don't know. But when Mark Halperin promises Bill O'Reilly he will feel his pain, or the CBS Evening News gives every conservative nut job in America a spot on "Free Speech," or NBC refuses to accept an ad for the Dixie Chicks documentary because it disrepects Shrub, or Time puts Ann Coulter on the cover, I think they're making economic statements as much as journalistic ones.

You could say: To hell with old media, they're just a bunch of senile dinosaurs anyway, who cares who they pander to? But old media, for better or worse, still set the news agenda, and still dominate the political process. And they're doing an energetic, if not yet totally successful, job of sucking up new media and sticking them in the same corporate straight jacket. If they decide, as matter of cold capitalist calculation, that one-party Republican rule is the smart way to bet, that could also become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Maybe I'm wrong -- I hope I am. But if I'm right, then in years to come progressives may look back and sigh for the good old days when journalistic "objectivity" still encouraged the corporate media to give the truth and conservative propaganda equal weight, instead of just mindlessly repeating the latter.

Dave Letterman Rips O’Reilly A New One (video)

Via Crooks and Liars.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Democrats Work to Bolster Rising Fortunes" (audio)

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean talks about his party's trouble raising money this election season, and what the Democrats prospects are in midterm elections. Dean speaks with Steve Inskeep.
Interestingly, I listened to this five minute interview three times and didn't hear a word about "his party's trouble raising money."

"The Myth of Karl versus 'Home Team'"

Matt Stoller takes 'Turdblossom' down a few notches:
Speaking abstractly, the right has a top-down centralized infrastructure that's more mature than ours. We have a legacy of political disagreements that translate into less efficient yet equally centralized infrastructure. They have little capacity for locally based decision-making, we have a great capacity for local organizing when we decided to use it. They own the media. We are building our own media. They are more experienced and have more savvy about how to manipulate the political system. We are smarter, younger, newer to politics, and we have the passion and energy of a new movement instead of the vicious cynicism of a dying movement.
In other words, they are just not that good, and we are just not that bad. And we are getting better at a far faster rate than they are. In fact, there's good reason to think that in lots of pockets all over the country, there's some incredibly innovative work going on with progressive organizing and campaigning. First of all, let's take the internet. We are so much better than they are it's not even funny. We have almost no investment relative to them, and yet, we have Actblue. Ben Rahn, a physicist from Caltech, is a progressive, and he's building our that site (along with MIT genius Matt Debergalis). We have Dailykos. We have Moveon. We have ColorofChange. What do they have? GOPUSA? Um, that kind of sucks. Church email lists? Yeah, those are valuable, but that's not new infrastructure for them. They are squeezing water from a rock. We are beating them badly on the internet organizing front. Badly. And they know it. We have a lot more talent and it's our medium.
But that's not all. On the 72 hour program front, have we forgotten that the RNC learned it from labor?!? I mean come on. This came from us. We can do it better, and in some places, we are doing it better. Take the New York 19th district, where John Hall is running hard against Sue Kelly in New York State. Tate Hausman is the architect of Hall's impressive field campaign called 'Home Team'. They have a thousand plus volunteers from all over the country that use a web-based popvox call system to phone bank. I've used one of these in Connecticut, and they change the phone-banking experience dramatically. Traditionally, phone-banking consists of dialing a number, asking questions, and filling out paper to record the answers, which then must be rekeyed later with more volunteer work (and errors). The popvox system works with your phone. You open the browser, and the program asks you for your phone number. About ten seconds later, the system calls you and places you on hold. A name, a script and a phone number appears on the browser, with several buttons that you can press. Once you press the call button on your browser, the system automatically dials the person's number on the screen, and you have the script laid out for you. If you get an answering machine, you can click a button and the system will automatically leave a pre-recorded message. When you're done talking, you classify them according to the script responses, click 'end' and a new script and person's name comes up on the screen.

I know it's sexy to say 'microtargeting Karl Rove boogeyman BOO' and we'll get all 'Diebold is scary'. And there's a lot of work to do. But Karl Rove doesn't control the world. Each of us, with our individuals actions and behavior, have our own part to play. We can convince America to be better than its worst instincts. As Wesley Clark says, we can do it, because we are doing it.

"Shut Up and Sing"

Watch the Dixie Chicks ad NBC "doesn't want you to see," via Think Progress.

Gettin' Wonky With Obama (audio)

Slake your thirst with one hour with Barack, one-on-one with Steve Scher today on KUOW.

"Ok, Time for the Hurt"

Matt Stoller:

Now it's time for all of us to put our last bit of campaign cash to our favorite candidates. After today, there's essentially no way to use money effectively. You can't really purchase media or do direct mail, and field campaigns are already planned and in the midst of execution. Today is the drop dead date for money being effective.

So please, go to the Netroots page, and drop as much as you can into your favorite candidate. If you can't decide, put a small amount of money into every candidate. We're trying to raise $100,000 today, but I think we can blow that out of the water.

Michael J. Fox on Katie's Show (CBS)

Michael J. Fox: "I was 'too medicated' in campaign ads": (text and video from RAW STORY).


Agence France Press on TODAY Online:
"This is a turnout election, not a persuasion election," said one MoveOn organizer this week.

"No amount of microtargeting is going to save Republicans," California Democratic Party adviser Bob Mulholland said.

Houston Chronicle:
"In a country where in our best elections half the people don't vote, the party that can actually turn out their voters with discipline and effectiveness is going to be a successful party," Richard Gephardt, former Democratic House leader and 2004 presidential candidate, said during a forum this week.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Barack Obama Rocks Bellevue for Maria and Darcy

Coverage by KING5, KIRO7 and KOMO4.

Andrew was there, live-blogging.

Why You Should Care A Lot About Darcy Burner

..whether or not you live in WA-8.

Not just because Al Gore and Barack Obama are campaigning here with Darcy Burner this week.

Not just because she is "Netroots Endorsed" and is considered one of the best chances Democrats have to pick up another seat in order to become the majority in the House.

Not just because the Northwest Netroots have supported and rallied behind Darcy.

Here's what Jim Dean, Howard's bro who is now in charge at Democracy for America (DFA), the national grassroots organization with chapters in 49 states and a mailing list with 500,000 supporters, had to say last night in Seattle:
"We're blessed to have people like Darcy Burner." Why?? Because DFA "brings new people in" and supports and develops new leaders like Darcy who will "move up the political food chain" and become our progressive leaders in the future. Without the next generation of candidates like Darcy Burner, we cannot change the political course of our country. DFA has brought in one of their staffers, Charles Chamberlain, to work in WA-8 until November 7th.
Darcy Burner is our future. We can't succeed if she, and many more new candidates like her, can't succeed.

Howard Dean on Ed Schultz Show

Click here to listen to DNC Chair Howard Dean discuss the latest on the upcoming election.

"What's Making Karl Rove So Optimistic about the Election?"

Steven D on Booman Tribune (text with video of Clint Curtis testifying on Diebold vote hacking):
One, assuming Republicans do lose control of either house of Congress, Rove's pre-election public statements (and those of President Bush) have laid the groundwork for Republican post-election lawsuits, recount demands, allegations of Democratic election fraud and other assorted post election chaos. The goal would be to mount a last ditch defense of Republican control of Congress, and to make that defense credible they have to nourish the meme in the minds of the media and the American Public that the polls now show Republicans should win the election. The objective would be to prevent seating enough Democrats to keep control of the House or Senate in GOP hands after the dust cleared, or to cast doubt on the legitimacy of any Democratic victory, and thus seek to limit the power and authority of any Democrats in a position to investigate the White House.

Second possibility? C'mon, what do you think it will be? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count.

"Let's Take the House Before We Measure the Drapes"

Gerald McEntee:

It's one thing to be optimistic about Democratic chances on November 7. It's quite another to convince ourselves of certain victory - tempting as it is. So with less than two weeks until Election Day, consider this: If we assume that good vibes and poll numbers will result in good turnout, we'll lose.
The signs of October overconfidence are everywhere, particularly when predicting control of the House of Representatives. In Sunday's New York Times, former Iowa Democratic State Party Chair Gordon R. Fischer said he had "moved from optimistic to giddy" about the party's prospects on November 7. Sunday's 60 Minutes practically handed Nancy Pelosi the Speaker's gavel. And behind-the-scenes jockeying for committee chairmanships has already begun.

Sure, we have plenty of reasons for optimism. In recent weeks, independent analysts have suggested that more and more Republican seats are now in play, expanding the field at a time when it is usually narrowing. The Iraq War, stagnant wages and the multiple ethics investigations have exposed the GOP as corrupt and dangerously inept. And then there's the depressing effect the Mark Foley scandal may have on the GOP base.

But those who believe these political pratfalls will translate into Democratic gains should remember that in three of the last four federal elections, the party expected to win big but lost huge. In 1998, analysts predicted that the Lewinsky scandal would net Newt and the GOP up to 30 House seats; the Democrats won five.

In 2000, exit polls showed Al Gore winning Florida and, with it, the presidency. And in 2004, many pundits confidently predicted a Kerry victory. Exit polls bore out their predictions all the way through election evening, with even Karl Rove reportedly offering a dire assessment of his boss's chances. Fast forward to midnight, and Democratic jubilation had evaporated into downright dejection.

History aside, there are more practical reasons to be wary of overconfidence. First, the GOP has gobs more money than we do. Last Friday alone, the NRCC dumped $8.5 million into close House races across the country, most of it for negative ads. And though the AFL-CIO, AFSCME and progressive organizations are committing record amounts (of troops and money), we simply cannot match Republican spending.

Second, as many in our movement have pointed out, the Republican GOTV operation has been superior to ours. If news accounts of Ken Mehlman's "Weekly Grassroots Report," are accurate, GOP volunteers broke a record this year in voter contacts, reaching more than one million voters in the past month. Need more proof? Look at the Rhode Island primary results, where the GOP managed to identify and coax just about every moderate Republican to the polls on behalf of Lincoln Chafee.

To be sure, we're catching up to the GOP on GOTV. For our part, AFSCME is deploying thousands of volunteers as part of our "Labor to Neighbor" program. Our members will walk and phone bank precincts in their own neighborhoods, rather than in other parts of the country. It is our most aggressive and targeted midterm GOTV operation ever.

Finally, Democrats must remember that wounded animals will do anything to survive - and elephants are no different. In 2002, Republicans lied about Max Cleland's patriotism and commitment to fighting terrorism. In 2004, they demonized gay Americans. This year, it's immigrants. And just last week the desperate GOP nominee for governor in Ohio, faced with a double-digit deficit in the polls, tried to link Democrat Ted Strickland to child sex predators.

I raise these issues not to crush our confidence, but to temper it. If we desire victory on November 7, we must back up our optimism with hard work. In the next two weeks, each of us must volunteer a night or two to phone bank and door knock. We must engage our friends and neighbors at church, high school football games and every other social function in our communities. And we must open our wallets. If any progressive leaders have a dime left over on November 8 that could have been used to change the climate in Washington, they should have their heads examined.

So for the final two weeks of this campaign, let's not measure the majority office drapes. Let's take the House.
Andrew agrees. Or maybe I should have used Andrew's post and said, "Gerald agrees."

"The 15% Lie"

Political Wire:

The Wall Street Journal uses Tennessee's U.S. Senate race to explore the "15% lie" -- "when whites, bowing to societal pressure, tell pollsters they intend to vote for a black candidate but fail to do so in the voting booths. Indeed, several political experts believe that despite Harold Ford Jr.’s strong showing in the polls, some whites may desert him at the last minute."

The New York Times also explores the racial overtones of the race using a recent GOP ad attacking Ford that still may backfire on Republicans who claimed they were "powerless" to take it off the air.

"Data Unravels Voters' Political DNA"

CBS News Video (text and video):

Micro-targeting is all about unraveling a voter's political DNA, including data such as where people shop. The data suggests Target customers are more likely to be Democrat, while Wal-Mart shoppers tend to be Republican.

Republicans also like bourbon, but Democrats prefer gin. Even a voter's morning cup of coffee is figured into the equation: Starbucks drinkers lean left, while Dunkin' Donuts patrons lean more right.

The Republicans say micro-targeting played a big part in getting George Bush re-elected in Ohio the last time around.

Democrats are now catching on. One neighborhood outside Cincinnati usually votes about 70 percent Republican. But Democrats are campaigning there anyway.

Chris Gafney, a Democratic strategist, says it's not quite enemy territory — "we like to think of them as misguided friends," he quips.

The micro-targeters don't go to every house, just the ones their computer has determined might be Democrat-friendly.

It's not a perfect science. There are plenty of Target-shopping Republicans and rifle-toting Democrats. However, both sides agree that micro-targeting is better than a shotgun approach to politics, especially when the races are tight and both sides need a secret weapon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Thom Hartmann said today that framing the tax issue should be around the fact that every person born in the US today starts out with a $28,000 tax bill, courtesy of out-of-control spening by Reagan and Bush.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Jim Dean of DFA in Seattle Wed Oct 25--tomorrow!"

dinazina on Washblog:
I invite all to attend a reception with Jim Dean, Director of Democracy for America (and brother of Howard Dean) Wednesday, 5:30 pm, downtown Seattle, 615 2nd Avenue, a few blocks from the Federal Building.

If you've never met Jim Dean, he's a great guy, very friendly and unpretentious, super sense of humor, a fast talker and tireless organizer.

DFA has endorsed Darcy Burner, promoted her nationally, and raised thousands $$$ for her.

Details and RSVP here.

"MoveOn's campaign to win Congress"


The November election is our best opportunity in years to change the direction of our country. We can end Republican control in Washington if we get progressives in key districts to come out and vote.

That's why we've launched Call for Change, one of the largest volunteer phonebanking efforts in American history. MoveOn members will make more than 5 million phone calls to voters in 30 highly competitive House districts plus key Senate races.

This works! We tested this program in a special election in April, and our calls boosted voter turnout more than any volunteer phonebank ever studied. MoveOn members also made 77,000 calls to put Ned Lamont over the top in the recent Conecticut Senate primary.

Now, if we all pitch in, we're going to win back Congress.

Phone volunteers are the backbone of Call for Change. As a phone volunteer, you'll start right away phoning progressive voters in targeted congressional districts. We'll tell you who to call and what to say. Your calling can be from home (whenever it fits your schedule) and at neighborhood calling parties.

"Tennessee Mud: Of Porn and Substance"

Courtesy of the NY Times blog, "The Caucus," comes this ad that looks like something posted by a crazy Young Rethuglican on YouTube. It's not. Should we be expecting more trash like this from the RNC on our local airwaves?


NY Times:

“When I was a kid, I inhaled,” Mr. Obama said here to an audience of magazine editors. “That was the point.”

"Potential problems loom in U.S. election voting"


Long lines and long counts threaten to mar next month's U.S. congressional elections as millions of Americans put new voting machines and rules to the test, election officials and experts say.

The result could be delays in knowing whether Democrats capture one or both houses of the U.S. Congress, or whether President George W. Bush's Republicans keep control.

"In close elections, it may be days and weeks before a winner is known in a particular race," said Paul DeGregorio, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, created to oversee a 2002 election law overhaul.
He forecast, however, an improvement over previous elections and said, "I think voters can trust the system."

The election overhaul was passed after the 2000 vote, in which problems deciphering paper ballots in Florida helped fuel a five-week recount fight in which the U.S. Supreme Court handed the presidency to Bush.

The law mandated electronic voting machines with a "paper trail" backup, statewide voter registries and opportunities to cast a "provisional" ballot when a voter's eligibility is in question.

Many of the changes take effect this year, when one-third of voters will cast their ballots on new electronic machines, whose reliability in a national election is unproven.

Ohio, where Democratic voters in 2004 complained that long lines in their neighborhoods kept them from voting, and Pennsylvania are two states with major races where the voting process will be closely watched on November 7.

Other states include Maryland, which had problems with its September primary election, and Georgia and Missouri, where courts threw out new voter identification requirements and experts see a potential for disputes.

"We don't know about the security flaws, we don't know about the error rates," said the Rev. DeForest Soaries, former chairman of the Election Assistance Commission.


About 172 million Americans are so far registered to vote; 175 million registered for the 2004 presidential election, according to the Election Data Services consulting firm. A smaller share will cast ballots, in 183,000 voting precincts.

In some states there may be confusion after court battles over new state identification requirements. Voters whose eligibility is in dispute can cast provisional ballots, which could add to counting delays in close races.

Election officials also expect more absentee ballots, which take longer to count, cast by voters distrustful of the new machines. In Maryland, for example, the state's Republican governor has encouraged absentee ballots.

There is also a shortage of trained poll workers.

"There's a rather combustible confluence of events taking place in our elections right now," said Century Foundation researcher Tova Wang.

"Where we may find ourselves at the end of Election Day is actually with stacks of paper and long, drawn-out, possibly contentious vote counting," she said. Any delays could spur concerns over the legitimacy of the outcome, she added.

The largest U.S. civil rights group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said it would monitor voting in 10 states.

In a predominantly black neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio, Democrats have pushed hard to ensure people like Melvin Steward, 72, can vote. Steward said he stood in the rain for four hours in 2004 trying to vote but eventually gave up.

"In my district they shorted us on voting booths. It bothered me because I never missed voting before," Steward said. This time he applied for an absentee ballot.

"I've already turned my papers in," he said.

Al Gore at Seattle U. TODAY at 10:15AM (UPDATED)

UPDATE: The Seattle P-I says

Gore will continue his crusade for environmental consciousness today when he makes a campaign stop at Seattle University with Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. House candidate Darcy Burner, both Democrats.
Couldn't find a peep about this in the Bothell Times.

Everett Herald:

Today at 10:15 a.m., Gore will talk about halting global warming and building an industry around alternative energy at Seattle University.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"The Fresh Face"


It is 9 A.M. on a fresh, sunny Saturday in Rockford, Ill., and nearly a thousand people have gathered in the gymnasium at Rock Valley College to participate in a town meeting with their Senator, Barack Obama. It is an astonishingly large crowd for a beautiful Saturday morning, but Obama--whose new book, The Audacity of Hope, is excerpted starting on page 52-- has become an American political phenomenon in what seems about a nanosecond, and the folks are giddy with anticipation. "We know he's got the charisma," says Bertha McEwing, who has lived in Rockford for more than 50 years. "We want to know if he's got the brains." Just then there is a ripple through the crowd, then gasps, cheers and applause as Obama lopes into the gym with a casual, knees-y stride. "Missed ya," he says, moving to the microphone, and he continues greeting people over raucous applause. "Tired of Washington."

There's a sly hipster syncopation to his cadence, "Been stuck there for a while."
But the folksiness pretty much disappears when he starts answering questions. Obama's actual speaking style is quietly conversational, low in rhetoric-saturated fat; there is no harrumph to him. About halfway through the hour-long meeting, a middle-aged man stands up and says what seems to be on everyone's mind, with appropriate passion: "Congress hasn't done a damn thing this year. I'm tired of the politicians blaming each other. We should throw them all out and start over!"

"Including me?" the Senator asks.

A chorus of n-o-o-o-s. "Not you," the man says. "You're brand new." Obama wanders into a casual disquisition about the sluggish nature of democracy. The answer is not even remotely a standard, pretaped political response. He moves through some fairly arcane turf, talking about how political gerrymandering has led to a generation of politicians who come from safe districts where they don't have to consider the other side of the debate, which has made compromise--and therefore legislative progress--more difficult. "That's why I favored Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal last year, a nonpartisan commission to draw the congressional-district maps in California. Too bad it lost." The crowd is keeping up with Obama, listening closely as he segues into a detailed discussion of the federal budget. Eventually, he realizes he has been filibustering and apologizes to the crowd for "making a speech." No one seems to care, since Obama is doing something pretty rare in latter-day American politics: he is respecting their intelligence. He's a liberal, but not a screechy partisan. Indeed, he seems obsessively eager to find common ground with conservatives. "It's such a relief after all the screaming you see on TV," says Chuck Sweeny, political editor of the Rockford Register Star. "Obama is reaching out. He's saying the other side isn't evil. You can't imagine how powerful a message that is for an audience like this."

Obama's personal appeal is made manifest when he steps down from the podium and is swarmed by well-wishers of all ages and hues, although the difference in reaction between whites and blacks is subtly striking. The African Americans tend to be fairly reserved--quiet pride, knowing nods and be-careful-now looks. The white people, by contrast, are out of control. A nurse named Greta, just off a 12-hour shift, tentatively reaches out to touch the Senator's sleeve. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I just touched a future President! I can't believe it!" She is literally shaking with delight--her voice is quivering--as she asks Obama for an autograph and then a hug.

Indeed, as we traveled that Saturday through downstate Illinois and then across the Mississippi into the mythic presidential-campaign state of Iowa, Obama seemed the political equivalent of a rainbow--a sudden preternatural event inspiring awe and ecstasy. Bill Gluba, a longtime Democratic activist who sells real estate on both sides of the river in the Quad Cities area, reminisced about driving Bobby Kennedy around Davenport, Iowa, on May 14, 1968. "I was just a teenaged kid," he says. "But I'll never forget the way people reacted to Kennedy. Never seen anything like it since--until this guy." The question of when Obama--who has not yet served two years in the U.S. Senate--will run for President is omnipresent. That he will eventually run, and win, is assumed by almost everyone who comes to watch him speak. In Davenport a local reporter asks the question directly: "Are you running for President in 2008?" Obama surprises me by saying he's just thinking about the 2006 election right now, which, in the semiotic dance of presidential politics, is definitely not a no. A few days later, I ask Obama the obvious follow-up question: Will he think about running for President in 2008 when the congressional election is over? "When the election is over and my book tour is done, I will think about how I can be most useful to the country and how I can reconcile that with being a good dad and a good husband," he says carefully, and then adds, "I haven't completely decided or unraveled that puzzle yet."

Which is even closer to a yes--or, perhaps, it's just a clever strategy to gin up some publicity at the launch of his book tour. The current Obama mania is reminiscent of the Colin Powell mania of September 1995, when the general--another political rainbow--leveraged speculation that he might run for President into book sales of 2.6 million copies for his memoir, My American Journey. Powell and Obama have another thing in common: they are black people who--like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan--seem to have an iconic power over the American imagination because they transcend racial stereotypes. "It's all about gratitude," says essayist Shelby Steele, who frequently writes about the psychology of race. "White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn't rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that."

When I asked Obama about this, he began to answer before I finished the question. "There's a core decency to the American people that doesn't get enough attention," he said, sitting in his downtown Chicago office, casually dressed in jeans and a dark blue shirt. "Figures like Oprah, Tiger, Michael Jordan give people a shortcut to express their better instincts. You can be cynical about this. You can say, It's easy to love Oprah. It's harder to embrace the idea of putting more resources into opportunities for young black men--some of whom aren't so lovable. But I don't feel that way. I think it's healthy, a good instinct. I just don't want it to stop with Oprah. I'd rather say, If you feel good about me, there's a whole lot of young men out there who could be me if given the chance."

But that's not quite true. There aren't very many people--ebony, ivory or other--who have Obama's distinctive portfolio of talents, or what he calls his "exotic" family history. His parentage was the first thing he chose to tell us about himself when he delivered his knockout keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004: his father was from Kenya and his mother from Kansas. He told the story in brilliant, painful detail in his first book, Dreams from My Father, which may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician. His parents met at the University of Hawaii and stayed together only briefly. His father left when Obama was 2 years old, and Barack was raised in Hawaii by his Kansas grandparents, except for a strange and adventurous four-year interlude when he lived in Indonesia with his mother and her second husband. As a teenager at Hawaii's exclusive Punahou prep school and later as a college student, Obama road tested black rage, but it was never a very good fit. There was none of the crippling psychological legacy of slavery in his family's past. He was African and American, as opposed to African American, although he certainly endured the casual cruelties of everyday life--in the new book, he speaks of white people mistaking him for a valet-parking attendant--that are visited upon nonwhites in America. "I had to reconcile a lot of different threads growing up--race, class," he told me. "For example, I was going to a fancy prep school, and my mother was on food stamps while she was getting her Ph.D." Obama believes his inability to fit neatly into any group or category explains his relentless efforts to understand and reconcile opposing views. But the tendency is so pronounced that it almost seems an obsessive-compulsive tic. I counted no fewer than 50 instances of excruciatingly judicious on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-handedness in The Audacity of Hope. At one point, he considers the historic influence of ideological extremists--that is, people precisely unlike him. "It has not always been the pragmatist, the voice of reason, or the force of compromise, that has created the conditions for liberty," he writes about the antislavery movement of the 19th century. "Knowing this, I can't summarily dismiss those possessed of similar certainty today--the antiabortion activist ... the animal rights activist who raids a laboratory--no matter how deeply I disagree with their views. I am robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty--for sometimes absolute truths may well be absolute."

Yikes. But then Obama is nothing if not candid about his uncertainties and imperfections. In Dreams from My Father, which was written before he became a politician, he admits to cocaine and marijuana use and also to attending socialist meetings. In The Audacity of Hope, I counted 28 impolitic or self-deprecating admissions. Immediately, on page 3, he admits to political "restlessness," which is another way of saying he's ambitious. He flays himself for enjoying private jets, which eliminate the cramped frustrations of commercial flying but--on the other hand!--isolate him from the problems of average folks. He admits that his 2004 Senate opponent, Alan Keyes, got under his skin. He blames himself for "tensions" in his marriage; he doubts his "capacities" as a husband and father. He admits a nonpopulist affinity for Dijon mustard; he cops to being "grumpy" in the morning. He even offers his media consultant David Axelrod's opinions about the best negative TV ads that could have been used against him in the 2004 Senate campaign. (He once--accidentally, he says--voted against a bill to "protect our children from sex offenders.")

There is a method to this anguish. Self-deprecation and empathy are powerful political tools. Obama's candor is reminiscent of John McCain, who once said of his first marriage, "People wouldn't think so highly of me if they knew more about that." Obama's empathy is reminiscent of Bill Clinton, although the Senator's compassion tends to be less damp than Clinton's: it's more about understanding your argument than feeling your pain. Both those qualities have been integral to Obama's charm from the start. His Harvard Law School classmate Michael Froman told me Obama was elected president of the Law Review, the first African American to hold that prestigious position, because of his ability to win over the conservatives in their class. "It came down to Barack and a guy named David Goldberg," Froman recalls. "Most of the class were liberals, but there was a growing conservative Federalist Society presence, and there were real fights between right and left about almost every issue. Barack won the election because the conservatives thought he would take their arguments into account."

After three years as a civil rights lawyer and law professor in Chicago, Obama was elected to the Illinois state senate and quickly established himself as different from most of the other African-American legislators. "He was passionate in his views," says state senator Dave Syverson, a Republican committee chairman who worked on welfare reform with Obama. "We had some pretty fierce arguments. We went round and round about how much to spend on day care, for example. But he was not your typical party-line politician. A lot of Democrats didn't want to have any work requirement at all for people on welfare. Barack was willing to make that deal."

The raising and dashing of expectations is at the heart of almost every great political drama. In Obama's case, the expectations are ridiculous. He transcends the racial divide so effortlessly that it seems reasonable to expect that he can bridge all the other divisions--and answer all the impossible questions--plaguing American public life. He encourages those expectations by promising great things--at least, in the abstract. "This country is ready for a transformative politics of the sort that John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Franklin Roosevelt represented," he told me. But those were politicians who had big ideas or were willing to take big risks, and so far, Barack Obama hasn't done much of either. With the exception of a bipartisan effort with ultra-conservative Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to publish every government contract--a matter of some embarrassment to their pork-loving colleagues--his record has been predictably liberal. And the annoying truth is, The Audacity of Hope isn't very audacious.

A few weeks ago, I watched Obama give a speech about alternative energy to an audience gathered by MoveOn.org at Georgetown University. It was supposed to be a big deal, one of three speeches MoveOn had scheduled to lay out its 2008 issues agenda, a chance for the best-known group of activist Democrats to play footsie with the party's most charismatic speaker, and vice versa. But it was a disappointment, the closest I had seen Obama come to seeming a standard-issue pol, one who declares a crisis and answers with Band-Aids. In this case, he produced a few scraggly carrots and sticks to encourage Detroit to produce more fuel-efficient cars. The audience of students and activists sensed the Senator's timidity and became palpably less enthusiastic as Obama went on. Just two days before, Al Gore gave a rousing speech in New York City in which he proposed a far more dramatic alternative energy plan: a hefty tax on fossil fuels that would be used, in turn, to reduce Social Security and Medicare taxes. I asked Obama why he didn't support an energy-tax increase married to tax relief for working Americans in the MoveOn speech or in The Audacity of Hope. "I didn't think of it," he replied, but sensing the disingenuousness of his response--talk of a gas tax is everywhere these days, especially among high-minded policy sorts--he quickly added,"I think it's a really interesting idea."

I pressed him on this. Surely he had thought about it? "Remember, the premise of this book wasn't to lay out my 10-point plan," Obama danced. "My goal was to figure out the common values that can serve as a basis for discussion." Sensing my skepticism, he tried again: "This book doesn't drill that deep in terms of policy ... There are a slew of good ideas out there. Some things end up on the cutting-room floor."

Universal health insurance also found its way to the cutting-room floor. I asked about the universal plan recently passed in Massachusetts, which was a triumph of Obama-style bipartisanship. The plan requires everyone who earns three times the poverty rate to purchase health insurance and subsidizes those who earn less than that. Shouldn't health insurance be mandatory, like auto insurance, for those who can afford it? Obama wouldn't go there. "If there's a way of doing it voluntarily, that's more consonant with the American character," he said. "If you can't solve the problem without the government stepping in, that's when you make it mandatory."

After we jousted over several other issues, Obama felt the need to step back and defend himself. "Look, when I spoke out against going to war in Iraq in 2002, Bush was at 60-65% in the polls. I was putting my viability as a U.S. Senate candidate at risk. It looks now like an easy thing to do, but it wasn't then." He's right about that: more than a few of his potential rivals for the presidency in 2008 voted, as a matter of political expediency, to give Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq. Then Obama returned to the energy issue. "When I call for increased fuel-economy standards, that doesn't sit very well with the [United Auto Workers], and they're big buddies of mine ... Look, it's just not my style to go out of my way to offend people or be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. That's offensive and counterproductive. It makes people feel defensive and more resistant to changes."

Talk about defensive: this was the first time I had ever seen Obama less than perfectly comfortable. And his discomfort exposed the elaborate intellectual balancing mechanism that he applies to every statement and gesture, to every public moment of his life. "He's working a very dangerous high-wire act," Shelby Steele told me. "He's got to keep on pleasing white folks without offending black folks, and vice versa." Indeed, Obama faces a minefield on issues like the racial gerrymandering of congressional districts and affirmative action. "You're asking him to take policy risks? Just being who he is is taking an enormous risk."

There is a certain amount of political as well as psychological wisdom to what Steele says. The most basic rule of presidential politics is that you run against your predecessor. If Obama, 45, chooses to run in 2008, his consensus seeking would stand in stark contrast not only to the hyperpartisan Bush Administration but also to the histrionic, self-important style of baby-boom-generation politicians. Or it could work against him. An old-time Chicago politician told me Obama's thoughtfulness might be a negative in a presidential campaign. "You have to convey strength," he said, "and it's hard to do that when you're giving on-the-other-hand answers."

Meanwhile, back in our interview, I offer a slightly barbed olive branch: Maybe I'm asking for too much when I expect him to be bold on the issues, I suggest. Maybe my expectations for him are too high? "No, no," he says, and returns for a third time to energy policy--to Gore's tax-swap idea. "It's a neat idea. I'm going to call Gore and have a conversation about it. It might be something I'd want to embrace."

But he's not ready to make that leap just yet. Boldness needs to be planned, not blurted--and there are all sorts of questions to ponder before he takes the next step.Would the arrogance implicit in running now, after less than one term in the Senate, undercut his carefully built reputation for judiciousness? Is the Chicago politician right about the need to be strong and simple in a run for President? Or can Obama overturn all the standard political assumptions simply by being himself? "In setting your expectations for me now, just remember I haven't announced that I'm running in 2008," he concluded. "I would expect that anyone who's running in 2008, you should have very high expectations for them."

Senator Barack Obama, Darcy Burner, and Maria Cantwell will rally at my own place of work - Bellevue Community College, this Thursday, October 26th. Doors open to the public at 10 a.m., with speeches starting around 10:30 a.m. I strongly recommend public transportation for any of you coming. Because this event is taking place during school hours (and at the worst time, too, when most students are on campus) you will not be able to park in student lots or the student parking garage (or employee lots).