Saturday, June 30, 2007

"We Start 6,000,000 Votes In the Hole"

Booman Tribune:
According to figures from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, we're going to go into the 2008 election roughly 5-6 million votes behind the Republicans. As detailed in Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse, 5,220,576 votes were lost in 2004, the vast majority of them from minority voters that voted heavily Democratic.

2004 Election (actual)

Registrations rejected: 1,614,196
Voters wrongly purged: est. 300,000
Voters turned away, wrong ID: 300,000

Ballots cast and not counted:

Provisional ballots rejected: 1,090,729
Ballots 'spolied': 1,389,231
Absentee ballots rejected: 526,420

Total votes disappeared: 5,220,576

It's safe to say that at least 80% of these lost votes were intended for John Kerry. It's probably higher than that. And this doesn't cover it. What about those impossibly long lines of five to seven hours in Democratic areas? Palast's study estimates that long lines cost the Democrats 85,950 votes in Ohio alone.

Changes in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that took effect on January 1, 2006 require Secretaries of State to clean up their voter rolls. If history is any guide, this will dramatically raise the number of minorities (and active service members) that are wrongly purged from the rolls. Palast estimates that 2008 will see 2,400,000 voter registrations rejected (a rise of 50%).

The Republicans have resorted to every trick imaginable to reduce the minority vote. Voter ID requirements, caging lists, felon purges based on nothing more than a similarity in name, provisional ballots that are rejected, machines with high spoilage rates, machines that don't register votes for Democrats, deliberately long lines and more. And when that doesn't work, they just stuff ballots in Republican areas.

Palast estimates that we will begin election day down by 6,400,000 votes.

Maybe his estimate is a little high...maybe it isn't. The point is that we need to highlight this Republican strategy because it is deeply un-American. Only the most strident and dedicated Republican voters would support these tactics if they were really aware of them. The whole scam relies on a compliant media and a spineless Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party isn't totally innocent. In New Mexico the Dems were all too happy to let the Indian and Latino vote go undercounted because it meant they had less delegates in the state party. And in Georgia, a Democratic Secretary of State, Cathy Cox, was so afraid of blacks taking over the state party that she undermined her own gubernatorial aspirations by instituting (ultimately ruled unconstitutional) rules against 'all bundled registration sheets, barring groups from helping voters fill out the complex forms, outlawing photocopying of forms (necessary for groups to track if voters are rejected), and preventing anyone who is not 'deputized' by the state from collecting a form.'

In other words, she made all the work I did for ACORN in 2004 illegal in the state of Georgia.

They don't have to rig the machines. They just have to keep us from voting in the first place.

Friday, June 29, 2007

"McDermott to Cheney: ‘Resign or face impeachment’"

The Hill:
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) told Vice President Dick Cheney to “resign or face impeachment” Thursday night as three more House Democrats lent their support to a plan to impeach the vice president.
“The vice president holds himself above the law, and it is time for the Congress to enforce the law,” McDermott said in a floor speech. “For the good of the nation, the vice president could leave office immediately.”

McDermott was one of three House Democrats to come out in favor of impeachment Thursday, along with Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.) and Hank Johnson (Ga.). Including the three lawmakers, seven members in June have shown new support for impeaching Cheney.

McDermott cited Cheney’s refusal to cooperate with the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which, pursuant to an order signed by President Clinton, oversees the handling of classified documents by executive agencies. McDermott denounced a 2004 claim that Cheney’s office is not part of the executive branch.

“When a sitting vice president claims that he is not part of the executive branch of government to which he was elected, it is time to remove him from office,” McDermott said.

Johnson also cited the refusal to submit to ISOO oversight in his decision to support impeachment.

McDermott, who was lambasted by conservatives for opposing the Iraq war, said he anticipates a barrage of attacks in response to his support for impeachment.

“The intent of this administration, and this vice president, has been to silence all dissent,” McDermott said. “Fear is what kept this administration in office in 2004, and fear is the only public discourse this administration understands — and practices.”

The articles of impeachment, introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in April, have garnered support from 10 House cosponsors.

Unlike the other impeachment backers, McDermott voted against an amendment proposed by House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) to deny funding to the Office of the Vice President Thursday night. Emanuel proposed the amendment earlier this month as Cheney’s document secrecy gained more attention.

The amendment failed 217-209, receiving votes from two Republicans: Reps. Ron Paul (Texas) and Walter Jones (N.C.).

"Howard Dean in Seattle" (photos)

Courtesy of dinazina!:

Get the whole collection here. I'm posting these in spite of my displeasure with my own visual presentation.

Two Views of the Howard University "Debate"

Roger Simon (Politico):
Who won the Democratic debate at Howard University Thursday night?

The American people. As always.

But if you want a more reckless, immature and irresponsible view, you have come to the right place!

Once again, here are the winners and losers with Simon Scores that are guaranteed accurate to three decimal places:
FIRST PLACE: Hillary Clinton

Analysis: Hillary was chewing nails and spitting out tacks. In the first Democratic debate in April, she vowed “as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate” against any terrorist attack on the United States. Now, a few months later, she is way into air war. To protect those suffering genocide in Darfur, she would create a no-fly zone over Sudan. “If they fly into it, we will shoot down their planes!” she said with such relish it was almost scary.

The debate was explicitly devoted to “issues that matter most to black America” and, of course, it was a panderfest, but not to any greater extent than Democratic candidates pander to organized labor (or Republicans pander to the business community).

And, once again, Hillary, as her campaign officially refers to her, looked like she was in charge, with a command of the issues and even some soaring rhetoric now and again: “Yes, we have come a long way. But, yes, we have a long way to go. The march is not finished.”

She seemed to get carried away only once, when she said, “Nonviolent offenders shouldn’t be serving hard time in our prisons!”

You mean like Scooter Libby?

But time and again, she spoke clearly and compellingly. At the beginning of this campaign, her opponents had hoped she was going to turn out to be Humpty Dumpty, just waiting to fall and shatter into a million pieces. Instead, she has turned out to be King of the Hill. If anybody is going to really challenge her, they better find a way to do it in these debates.

Simon Score: 93.044 points (out of 100).

SECOND PLACE: Barack Obama

Analysis: Spoke with passion and conviction and has gotten better and more confident with each debate, which bodes well for him because we have plenty of debates to go. He had a certain kind of homefield advantage as the only African-American onstage, but he used it modestly. While others could show sympathy, he could show empathy. “We have made enormous progress,” he said, “but the progress we have made is not good enough.”

And he did speak with refreshing candor when he talked about the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in the black community, and said: “We must overcome the stigma that still exists. We don’t talk about this. We don’t talk about this in our schools. We don’t talk about this in our churches. It is an aspect of homophobia that we don’t talk about it.”

But that was about the only thing less than a pander in the entire debate. I am not saying Obama had any responsibility to pull off a “Sister Souljah” moment. He did not.

But it could have been very dramatic and memorable if he had. Bill Clinton enjoyed considerable black support each time he ran for president, and he still has considerable black support now. Which was why it was dramatic, when he used to emphasize to both black and white crowds: “Opportunity for all is not enough. For if we give opportunity without insisting on responsibility, much of the money can be wasted and the country’s strength can still be sapped. So we favor responsibility for all.”

Still, Obama comes in a very close second.

Simon Score: 93.000

THIRD PLACE: Dennis Kucinich

Analysis: Hey, what can I say? The numbers don’t lie. This guy has a command of the issues and a slick bunch of one-liners. (Which is what debates are about, aren’t they?)

“If Sudan had oil, we’d be occupying it right now.” “Government leaders say, ‘Pull yourselves up by your bootstraps,’ and then they steal your boots!” “Stop financing the war; start financing education!”

He could get some traction until people find out Ralph Nader really likes him. Then he’s finished.

Simon Score: 85.708

FOURTH PLACE: Chris Dodd and Joe Biden

Analysis: As always, solid jobs, but these guys are beginning to blur. If I didn’t have my notes, I might not remember which one said what. But I do have my notes. Dodd said: “The new frontiers of the 21st century are the barrios, ghettos and reservations.” And Biden said with praiseworthy frankness, “How do we prevent 17-year-olds from getting AIDS/HIV? I am trying to get men to understand it is not unmanly to wear condoms and women to say no. I got tested for AIDS, and I know Barack got tested for AIDS.”

Obama looked disturbed by that and said to the audience, “I just wanted to make clear, I got tested with Michelle. I don’t want any confusion here.”

Everybody laughed but I still don’t know exactly what the joke -- or the point -- was.

Anyway, if Dodd and Biden are going to really run for president and not somebody’s cabinet, they are going to have to make their differences with the top tier much more explicit. As in: Stop being so polite and give us a reason to vote for you.

Simon Score: 80.666

SIXTH PLACE: John Edwards

Analysis: Edwards wants to own the “two Americas” inequality issue, but he didn’t really seem to own it. He just kept trying to remind us that he did. “This is the cause of my life,” he said. And, “This is an issue I care about personally and deeply.” And, “This is something I don’t have to read about in a book, I’ve seen it up close.”

Me, me, me.

Simon Score: 75.007

SEVENTH PLACE: Bill Richardson

Analysis: The perils of live TV. Asked about how to deal with HIV/AIDS, Richardson said, “We have to use needles” and “Finding a way to increase needles.”

I am going to assume this was Richardson’s endorsement of a national needle-exchange program, in which addicts turn in used needles for clean ones. Such a program would be very expensive and very controversial, since some view a government needle exchange program as abetting illegal drug use. But it is an issue that needs serious discussion. Richardson really didn’t help with that.

I must subtract points. My hands are tied.

Simon Score: 70.700


Analysis: This guy has a superiority complex without the superiority. “The next president of the United States must have moral judgment,” Gravel said. “Most of the people on stage with me don’t have that judgment.”

But perhaps their real lack of judgment is agreeing to standing on stage with him.

Simon Score: 65.678

"Live Thoughts on Tavis Smiley Presidential Debate Tonight" (Think On These Things):
* One thing that annoys me about Tavis’s events is that they spend too much time on introductions and pleasantries. The State of Black America forums spend at least the first hour and a half on introductions. We only have an hour and a half to hear from the candidates and there are 12 of them. I wish they could just get to the questions!
* By the way, I really like Tavis Smiley’s latest hairstyle.
* Stop! Tavis stop it! This is not about Cornel West this time, as much as we love him. Get to the questions and the candidates!!
* Yay for the kids washing cars. That’s beautiful.
* Ruby Dee is there!
* Deval Patrick!!! Woohoo!! Love him!
* Obama/Patrick ‘08? Nah. That would be too much for most Americans. Also, Patrick just got in office.
* Michael Eric Dyson’s there?
* Dag!!! Folks calling out Obama!!! Goooobama! Was that Cornel West?
* So Hillary signals that she read, The Covenant.
* I don’t think anyone is going to say that race is the most intractable problem. I think everyone’s just going to say that it is a problem, as one of many problems. Are they calling on people?
* What’s left for Obama to say? You better bring it!
* Good response by Obama. Thanks everyone. Howard University was where Thurgood Marshall and all did Brown and is why he’s here.
* You got to love Dennis Kucinich. He’s too cute. Kucinich: “They say pull yourself up by your bootstraps…and then they steal your boots.”
* You also gotta love Mike Gravel. He just spoke the truth on drugs in the black community.
* Iyanla Vanzant is there…Victoria Rowell…
* Now…from the questions by the “everyday persons” to the questions by the “non-everyday persons”
* Harry Belafonte is there…I hear he’s not too keen on Obama yet.
* Mike Gravel is right. There is linkage between the people on the stage and the problems.
* Chris Dodd touts his experience. Called “Senator of the Decade” by national Head Start.
* Hillary has fought “for over 35 years” for early childhood education she says. White House years and now in the Senate, she has continued.
* Poor Richardson. I don’t think he was ready for that question on HIV.
* Edwards was ready though. Had his statistics ready. He gave a really good 3 point prescription for attacking AIDS.
* Senator Obama though responded and got me choked up. At first I thought this contrast of Edwards speaks to the head and Obama to the heart was problematic, but you can see it in the differences in their styles. It’s not that Obama doesn’t have the prescriptions, it’s just that he always says that but then take it to another level that hits you in the gut.
* Gravel is all about the War On Drugs. It’s an important problem.
* Terry McMillan makes one of her famous faces “I know he didn’t” faces at Tavis’s joke about Paris Hilton.
* Hillary gets a huge round of applause on comment that “If white women disproportionately had this disease rather than black women then…”
* What is Joe Biden saying? Biden says he got tested, he knows Obama got tested, and that people need to get tested to get over the shame.
* Obama chimes in: “I got tested with Michelle! I got tested with my wife. In public. Just wanted to make sure there was no confusion.” LOL.
* Next question is about tax cuts—Obama always take the answer to that next level. Says yes to what Edwards says about details, but then says the broader issue is about fairness. Now he’s on a roll.
* Gravel wants to wipe out the income tax for a retail sales tax.
* A lot of the African American congresspersons in the audience have endorsed Hillary Clinton. It’s kind of sad to see in an eerie sort of way.
* I thought Bill Richardson might be able to overtake John Edwards, but I’m not sure based on his performance tonight. For some reason he has trouble connecting with the audience and standing out.
* Tavis needs to stop being so mean.
* What the heck did Mike Gravel just say?
* In a way, this debate and most debates just become a show. All of these people know about the policies for attacking these issues. I’m not sure what information I’m getting here.
* Poor Bill Richardson.
* Hopefully they’ll ask a question about Africa.
* Edwards: “I announced my Presidential campaign from the 9th Ward of New Orleans.” Another reason I find Edwards to be too slick.
* Obama’s Next Level Answer on Katrina: We need a President who is in touch with New Orleans before the hurricane hits. We need a President who doesn’t just think everyone can load up in their SUV with their sparkling water and check in at the nearest hotel.
* Oooooo!!! A question on outsourcing!
* Clinton has said in the past: “Outsourcing will continue.” Somebody needs to call her out on this!! Now she’s all against it??
* Uh oh!!! Kucinich calls out Clinton! “We need to get rid of NAFTA. A Democratic Administration started NAFTA and a Democratic Administration will end it!” Ouch! Somebody needed to call her out on that. Good.
* Good. They are asking about Darfur. Hillary Clinton is prepared to shoot down some planes in a no-fly zone.
* Mike Gravel: A President needs to have moral judgment. Most of the people on stage don’t have that. Tell it Mike!
Howie P.S.: I identified with Gravel's pants, but I don't know if they are "presidential."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Top Dem: Prez race is about values"

Cincinnati Enquirer:

It won’t be complex and detailed positions on the issues that win back the White House for Democrats in 2008, Democratic National Committee Howard Dean said in Cincinnati today.

Instead, Dean told about 400 union members at the Duke Energy Center, voters will make up their minds based on the values of the candidates for president.

“Nobody has made up his or her mind to support a candidate because of a 26-page health care plan,’’ said the former Vermont governor, a contender for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. “I don’t even remember all the details of my own plan.”

Instead, Dean said, the Democratic presidential candidate will win because he or she is “on the right side of three core values – fairness, “strength and toughness,” and fiscal responsibility.
Dean, who made a quick trip to Cincinnati this morning to speak at a Utility Workers Union of America convention, said national polling shows the “vast majority” of Americas “believe the Democratic party is fair and the Republican party is not” on issues like health care, education, and worker rights.

The Democratic party needs to show American voters that its leaders “have the strength and toughness to lead this country. Americans won’t vote for a president they don’t believe is tough enough to defend us.”

But a Democratic president, Dean said, would not use American military might “to inject this country into a civil war like what is happening in Iraq.” When the Democrats retake the White House, Dean vowed, “we will bring our troops home.”

The 2008 presidential and congressional elections, Dean said, won’t be won by trying to “be like Republicans,” quoting a line from Harry Truman – “when a Democrat tries to be just like the Republican he is running against, the real Republican wins every time.”

“We have to stand up for our values and not try to win election by pretending we are Republicans,’’ Dean said.

Responded Republican National Committee spokesman Chris Taylor:

“Howard Dean continues to scream about his liberal agenda. What he should be addressing is the fact that his party has the lowest congressional approval numbers in the history of polling. It’s easy to see why, Democrats have voted in favor of one of the largest tax hikes in history, Democrats continue to retreat from the fight against terrorism and Democrats are unable to accomplish the goals they campaigned on last year due to weak leadership.”
Howie P.S.: This speech sounds like the one he delivered in Seattle earlier this week.

Democratic Presidential Debate on PBS

Susan Hu has learned that the local PBS affiliate in Seattle (KCTS) is airing tonight's debate tomorrow @ 10PM. Here's the email she received:
We are airing "PBS Presidential Forums with Tavis Smiley" on Friday,
June 29 at 10 PM.
Howie P.S.: Thanks Susan!

Darcy Burner: "A Fresh, New Video"

From darcyburner08:
Video (00:47), from Darcy Burner.
Darcy also has a new diary up on Kos.

"Racial Issues Top Debate Agenda"

The struggles of the nation's blacks, a loyal Democratic voting bloc, topped the agenda Thursday as the party's eight presidential candidates gathered for their third primary debate.
The debate at Howard University was scheduled to begin just hours after the Supreme Court ruled against public school programs aimed at achieving racial diversity, a certain topic for the event.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said the decision turned its back on the promise of integrated schools that the court laid out 53 years ago in its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

"As president, I will fight to restore Brown's promise and create an education system where all children have an equal chance to learn and excel together," she said in a statement.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois called the ruling "wrong-headed."

"It is the but the latest in a string of decisions by this conservative bloc of justices that turn back the clock on decades of advancement and progress in the struggle for equality," he said.

Also scheduled to appear on stage were Sens. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware; 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel.

Moderating the debate is Tavis Smiley, who says he wants to steer the conversation to issues raised in his book, "The Covenant with Black America." The 90-minute event was being broadcast live on public television.

The debate is an opportunity for Obama, who got lukewarm reviews from his first two debate performances, to stand out and share a bond with the audience. But he's in a tight contest for the black vote with Clinton, who benefits from goodwill for her husband in the community.

Edwards is trying to make gains. His campaign put out a memo Thursday showing how he is addressing Smiley's 10 covenants, including health care, education, criminal justice, police accountability, housing and voting rights.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the country's only black governor, was to make opening remarks and introduce the candidates. He has yet to endorse a candidate but many are seeking his support.

"I'll just wish Dick Cheney had been killed..." (with video)

Goldy's diary on Kos, with video (00:15):

Well, if I'm a hate talker, what do you call this...?

Over at AMERICAblog, John Aravosis responds, "If you or I said this, we'd be arrested."

Hmm. Would we? Let's give it a try:

If I'm going to say anything about Vice President Dick Cheney in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.

There, I said it. Come and get me. It's Tuesday night, so you know where I'll be... sharing a beer or two with my fellow terrorists at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally, the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E., Seattle.

[Read more from David Goldstein at While you still can.]

My righty critics sometime email 710-KIRO, accusing me of being a "hate talker," apparently in the hope that I'll be fired from my weekend hosting gig. (Tip to righty critics: management sometimes actually listens to my show.)
Howie P.S.: Just so you know, I attended Drinking Liberally on Tuesday evening and as of then, Goldy was still at-large.

"Rep. Pelosi reminds the left that she’s on its side"

The Hill:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is working hard to make sure that the fiery liberal wing of the Democratic Party remembers that she is one of them. She is also going out of her way to reassure opponents of the war that she is on their side.
Her efforts are taking place in speeches and interviews off Capitol Hill and away from the constraints and compromises inherent in running the House. Liberal lawmakers and activists accuse Pelosi of being too cautious.

Now, with Congress’s approval rating plummeting following its passage of an Iraq war-spending bill without a troop-withdrawal timeline, the Speaker is signaling that Democrats will be more forceful in challenging the president.

In recent speeches and interviews, Pelosi has acknowledged the left’s frustration with the war and asked it to work with congressional Democrats to help alter the political climate.

“Unless we make our own environment, we’ll be wedded to incrementalism,” Pelosi told a group of college students on Tuesday at a conference hosted by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.

Democrats cheered remarks made this week by Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), who publicly questioned Bush’s Iraq policy.

Not only has Pelosi restated her calls to end the war in Iraq, she has made passage of an energy and climate change bill a staple of her Speakership.

“This is urgent … the special interests are entrenched,” she said Tuesday. “You have to help jar that loose.”

During the Memorial Day recess, Pelosi traveled to Greenland and Europe to meet with scientists and government leaders to discuss global warming. In January, she surprised Democrats by announcing the creation of a select committee on global warming.

Senior Democratic lawmakers agree with Pelosi that the precipitous decline in the polls reflects the public’s frustration with Iraq.

“As usual, Congress as a body and in the whole is behind public opinion. That’s where you see the frustration, especially … in our Democratic base,” Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said.

“I certainly think the growing American support for changing policy gives us not only — I wouldn’t call it leeway — incentive, and I think it is our responsibility to pursue every avenue that we can to change policy,” House Majority Leader
Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters earlier this week.

To reassure the Democratic base, Pelosi has sharpened her rhetoric.

Speaking last week to the liberal pressure group Campaign for America’s Future, she repeated her previous comments that the Iraq war was a “grotesque mistake” and a “tragedy.”

In an interview with, a liberal blog, she called the Iraq war supplemental spending bill “weak” and reminded netroots activists that she opposed the bill. She said that the next measure would include “timelines, timelines, timelines” to end the war in Iraq.

On June 15, Pelosi told Bloomberg News that Congress would consider legislation similar to an amendment introduced earlier this year by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

“We will have legislation that will change the mission in Iraq from engaging in combat to training the Iraqi troops, to fighting terrorists and also to protect our forces and our diplomats there and to protect our interest in the region,” Pelosi said.

Despite the historic drop in popularity, Pelosi’s aides believe that they have successfully changed the debate on the war in Iraq and that the public’s frustration with the course of the war has provided an opening to be more confrontational with
Bush and to pursue tougher measures to end the war.

Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told The Hill that Rep. James McGovern’s (D-Mass.) amendment to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 180 days would garner 190 to 200 votes today; 171 lawmakers voted for the measure in May.

Pelosi sought to reassure liberal voters by reiterating that the House passed hate crimes and minimum wage legislation and that she favored universal access to healthcare. Additionally, she reminded liberals that the House passed the Employee Free Choice Act, a top priority for union groups.

On the immigration bill, she staked out a more liberal position than the Senate and president. She told “Central to all of that is family unification, which has always been one of our principles.”

Pelosi touted the passage of what she called “a very progressive hate crimes legislation,” noting the measure’s provisions on “gays, lesbians, [and] transgender.”

“Many people said to me, ‘Pull it, you’ll never pass it.’ And I said, ‘Well, we’re going to fight for it.’ And we did. And we won.”
Several liberal Democrats defended Pelosi, saying she is constrained by a diverse caucus, the inability to muster 60 votes in the Senate to pass legislation, and Bush.

“Oh, her heart is with them,” Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, said. “She could make some bold stands … That would reestablish credibility with our base.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"The Cash Primary"

Eli Sanders (The Stranger):
Want to Help Pick the Democratic Nominee? Open Your Checkbook. For better or for worse (and it's hard not to say "for worse" unless you live in New Hampshire or Iowa), the presidential nominating process gives disproportionate power to the handful of states that hold the earliest primary contests. That handful includes the perennial momentum setters of New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina, which will all apportion their delegates in early January 2008. But this election cycle, with more and more states catching on to the idea that the early state gets the clout, it also includes Nevada and Florida (which both recently moved their primaries to January), along with the huge group of states that have pushed their primary contests up to the newly christened "Super Tuesday" of February 5, 2008.
On Super Tuesday, well over a dozen states will decide which Democratic candidate gets their delegates, meaning that by the time Washington holds its caucuses four days later, on February 9, 2008, there will probably be a set front-runner, a set media narrative about the likely Democratic nominee, and little that Washington can do to swing the race in the direction of its favored Democratic contender.

Sure, there are scenarios in which Washington could yet be a pivotal state for Democratic candidates—just like there are scenarios in which Indiana, which holds its primary on May 6, 2008, could be critical. "I just think it's very cynical to assume that since we're not Super Tuesday there's not a chance we'll be a player," says Dwight Pelz, chair of the state Democratic Party. Using a World Series analogy, Pelz told me: "We don't think there's going to be a sweep this year. We think we are game five."

That's nice spin, but it's an unlikely scenario.

Washington voters can influence the nomination process, however—provided they're willing to open their checkbooks. Washington's money matters, unlike Washington's caucuses, and the candidates seem to know this. On Saturday, June 23, Bill Clinton was in Seattle trying to raise $200,000 for his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, at a closed-door lunch at the Westin Hotel. She's only raised $90,000 from this state so far, according to, which tracks campaign donations. That's far behind John Edwards, who leads the Democratic field here with $245,000, and Barack Obama, who has raised just over $210,000 in this state. The organizers of the Bill Clinton fundraiser were still tallying totals as of press time, but if they reached their goal, Senator Clinton could jump into the money lead here, for the moment.

Senator Clinton has yet to appear in Washington herself. In contrast, Edwards and Obama have both been here doing some limited campaigning; Edwards met with union members in South Seattle in May and Obama held a local campaign kickoff in June at the Qwest Field Event Center. Those visits may be a sign that both the Edwards and Obama campaigns see Washington not just as a cash machine, but also as a potential "last stand" state—a place where either candidate could show renewed momentum if things are looking bad coming out of Super Tuesday.

Washington's recent record as a place for failing Democrats to rebound isn't promising, however. Howard Dean looked for lefty voters here to give him a boost in 2004, after his insurgent primary campaign began imploding. No luck. While Dean had found a great deal of early financial and volunteer support in Washington, the state's Democratic delegates ultimately went to John Kerry.

More reliable than the allegiance of Washington Democrats, then, is their willingness to invest early in "underdog" candidates (even if they later turn on them).

Republicans have tried to milk the same impulse in Washington, but so far the Republican underdogs are still underdogs here, money-wise. Rudy Giuliani was here raising money in June, and John McCain was here in February. But both are still far behind Mitt Romney, who was also here in June and who leads the Republican field in Washington with more than $270,000 raised (that's more than even the Democratic money front-runner, John Edwards, has raised here).

Democrat or Republican, though, writing a check—whether it's a large one that boosts a candidate's spending power, or a small one that boosts his or her increasingly important total number of donors—may be the only way for Washingtonians to get involved early this year. Because by the time we get around to caucusing on February 9, 2008, the race for the nomination is likely to be over.
Howie P.S.: Not to nitpick, but "delegates ultimately went to John Kerry" implies he got all the delegates. Nope. I'm not sure of the total, but my recollection is that Howard Dean got about 20% of them.

"FOX News Brings On Coulter To Attack Obama For Divisiveness" (video)

newshoundsblog with video (6:56):
In debate over Barack Obama's claim that the religious right has hijacked faith and used it to drive Americans apart, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity used it to attack Obama. Democratic "strategist" Laura Schwartz didn't seem to notice that an illustration of Obama's message had occurred right under her nose.

Howard Dean in Seattle, June 26, 2007

Howie opinion: I asked Howard Dean for his reaction to the anger and disappointment some in the netroots feel towards the Democratic leadership in Congress.

He acknowledged that the recent vote on the war in Iraq had not been handled well. He reminded us that the situation in the Senate is very difficult because of the lack of a clear majority and the fear there that an ongoing stalemate over the war vote would have been "blamed" on the Dems. He assured us that the issue would be raised again and predicted the outcome would be better next time. He also pointed out that the process there moves slowly and is not always motivated by the merits of the case on a particular issue. Finally he drew a distinction between all the Democratic candidates for president (they all favor ending the war) and all the Republican presidential candidates (they all favor continuing the war).

"Elizabeth Edwards Calls (out) Ann Coulter" (video)

Tweety takes a live call (video, 3:02) while Coulter visits. Coulter keeps changing the subject and offers no apology for saying she wished Mr. Edwards had been killed by a terrorist.

"Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean meets with tribal leaders"

Tacoma News Tribune:
Howard Dean, chairman of the national Democratic Party, wooed the Puyallup Tribal Council on Tuesday in a sign of the tribe’s growing influence.
Dean met with tribal council members for lunch in the Bridge nightclub at the tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma. Midday gamblers played blackjack and fed video terminals on the floor below while Dean dined in an intimate setting with council members in the largely darkened nightclub.

Dean was in the Puget Sound area for Democratic Party fundraisers. The Puyallup Tribe was the only tribe on his itinerary.

“They are politically very active,” Dean said in a brief interview before the meeting.

He also said the tribe is close with Kalyn Free, a Cherokee Indian whom Dean appointed to the Democratic National Committee. Free is founder of INDN’s List, a national American Indian political organization.

The Web site shows the Puyallup tribe has given over $155,000 to support federal races since 1996, with Democratic candidates and organizations benefiting the most. State campaign finance reports show the tribe donated another $324,000 to campaigns in Washington state just since 2004.

It’s not as much as the Tulalip or Muckleshoot tribes. But the Puyallups are growing in influence, particularly with the tribe’s plans to develop a 180-acre shipping container terminal along the eastern shore of the Blair Waterway in Tacoma’s Tideflats. It would be the biggest and most expensive terminal at the port.

Dean’s staff would not allow a News Tribune reporter to attend his meeting with the tribal council members. But tribal Chairman Herman Dillon said afterward that Dean didn’t ask for money. “He was looking for how we can work together,” Dillon said.

Dillon said Dean talked about getting tribal members involved in running for office. Dean also asked about how the port project was progressing and about the tribe’s anti-gang efforts, said tribal spokesman John Weymer.

Dean also discussed the possibility of tribes working together with Democrats to bring presidential candidates to Washington for speaking engagements, Weymer said.

Dean spoke to the tribal council members for about half an hour before leaving for a pair of Seattle fundraisers. Dean said he expects the topic of unseating Republican Congressman Dave Reichert to come up while he is in the state.

“That is a Democratic district,” Dean said.

The district runs from Seattle’s Eastside suburbs down through South King and East Pierce counties. Dean said he did not know who would be the party’s challenger to Reichert in 2008.

Darcy Burner, who lost to Reichert last year by 7,000 votes out of 251,000 cast, intends to try again. State Sen. Rodney Tom and state Rep. Chris Hurst also are considered possible Democratic candidates for the seat

"In Seattle, Dean tells Dems to stand firm"

Bothell Times:
In a brief fundraising stop in Seattle, Howard Dean on Tuesday evening addressed about 200 supporters at the Westin Hotel, lauding Democratic achievements from the past two years and rallying constituents to continue work for the Democratic agenda.

The visit was billed as a "low-dollar" fundraiser. Most attendees paid $50 to hear the speech.

Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former presidential candidate, touched on immigration, abortion, gay rights and the Iraq war. He said Democrats should stand firm on "hot-button" issues such as abortion, adding most Americans have "mixed values" when it comes to those issues.

Democrats need to "seize the moral high ground," Dean said.

Dean also touched on universal health care: "Once we elect a Democratic president, we will have universal health care," he said.

Young voters, especially those between 18 and 29, should be a priority target for Democrats, Dean added.

Susan Newbold, 30, tagged along with a friend who is looking to get into politics.

"It was buzzworthy," Newbold said.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Edwards, Dean make Seattle visits for Dems"

Seattle P-I:
Elizabeth Edwards has no problem with gay marriage, even though her husband, who's running for president, does.
In a brief campaign fundraising stop in Seattle, a city with one of the nation's most prominent and politically influential gay communities, she suggested that the difference between her upbringing and that of her husband, Democratic presidential contender John Edwards, accounted for her acceptance of gay marriage and his inability to do so.

"Whereas I had a more eclectic background ... and saw a lot of different lifestyles, John was raised in rural Southern mill towns and very conservative places," Elizabeth Edwards said during a news conference at the Seattle Hilton Hotel.

But she emphasized that her husband, a former senator from North Carolina and the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, "is for complete rights for gay and lesbian couples, for eliminating 1,100 federal distinctions that are made between same-sex marriage and straight marriages, and he's for rights for gay and lesbian individuals in our country."

John Edwards supports civil unions among gay couples. No major presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, has publicly endorsed gay marriage.

"Our daughter is 25; she said this will not be an issue when her generation has the White House," Elizabeth Edwards said, adding that some families with gay or lesbian members have come to accept gay marriages while other such families have not.

"It's just a journey I think we're all on as a country," she said.

Her remarks came two days after Seattle's big annual gay rights celebration and echoed comments she first made in San Francisco on Sunday while taking part in that city's annual gay rights parade, when she said, "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."

Elizabeth Edwards, a popular campaigner for her husband, attended a closed luncheon at a private residence in Laurelhurst, in one of two money-raising forays to Seattle by prominent Democrats on Tuesday.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean headlined a party fundraising event at the Westin Seattle Hotel on Tuesday evening, with supporters paying $500 each to attend a "Trailblazer Council" reception that preceded a $50-a-head "Join the Party" reception.

John Edwards, stuck in third place in Democratic presidential polls, has sought to portray himself as a more outspoken advocate of pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq than are front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Elizabeth Edwards said that if her husband were president today, he would remove "40,000 to 50,000 troops" from Iraq as quickly as possible.

She said he believes it would take "something in the 9-, 10-, 11-month range" to get all U.S. troops out, "but he would work with the Joint Chiefs of Staff" to do so in a manner to ensure the security of the troops and of Iraq.
Howie P.S.: I attended the Dean event and had a chance to spend some time with The Governor. I was asked to introduce Washington State Chair Dwight Pelz, who then introduced Dean. I have known Dwight for twenty years, back when he still had hair and was slim. I teased him about the hair and teased myself about no longer being slim. I am expecting some photos and will post them along with my account of his visit. Sneak preview: Dean acknowledged that the Dems in Washington, D.C. have had a "bad few weeks" lately and talked about how that happened and how they should proceed in the future.

New TV Ads From Edwards, Obama (videos)

Political Wire:

John Edwards unveiled his first New Hampshire television ad, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

"It's time for the President of the United States to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war," Edwards says in the 30-second spot.

Sen. Barack Obama is running his first television ads in Iowa, according to The Politico.
"One stresses his ability to work across party lines, even featuring a Republican Illinois legislator. The other is more biographical, and builds his liberal credentials in a non-confrontational way, with discussion of his decision to leave Harvard Law to work in civil rights and a voiceover from Larry Tribe."

Though it will be a relatively small ad buy, Marc Ambinder notes "the ads will be repeated ad nauseum on national cable television as well as in Iowa spot markets, so their actual reach will be magnified considerably."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Edwards defends poverty center's efforts"


RENO, Nev. - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said his nonprofit anti-poverty center's activities have been "completely legal" and he does not plan to go beyond the legal requirements to disclose its donors.
Speaking to reporters after a town hall meeting Saturday night in Reno, Edwards denied accusations that the Center for Promise and Opportunity has been used to promote his presidential campaign.

Edwards noted his efforts on behalf of the center to raise the minimum wage in states, help low-income students attend college, organize workers into unions and engage young people in the fight against poverty.

"All of this was an effort to try to deal with the issue of poverty in America, which is the cause of my life," he said. "What I've been doing is not only significant and there's nothing wrong with it, it's something I'm very proud of. Everything we did was not only completely legal but we did a lot of good."

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks money in politics, has suggested Edwards used the nonprofit to help his presidential campaign and has pressed him to disclose its donors.

Asked whether he would comply with the request, Edwards replied, "I will do whatever the law provides. That's what I do on all these things."

Unlike exploratory committees and political action committees, Edwards' nonprofit is not subject to the Federal Election Commission's strict transparency and oversight rules that require disclosure of expenditures and the source of donations.

The nonprofit filed its 2005 annual report with the Internal Revenue Service in November 2006 and has yet to file its 2006 report, asking for an extension beyond the May deadline.

Edwards formed the nonprofit in 2005, when he pursued his crusade against poverty. He did not declare himself a candidate for president until late in 2006.

In 2005, the nonprofit paid for Edwards' "Opportunity Rocks" tour of college campuses nationwide, including New Hampshire and several delegate-rich states.

"Bloomberg could have a shot, Nader believes" (with video)

MSNBC, with video:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg could be the first modern independent candidate to break the stranglehold the two major parties have on the White House, two-time candidate Ralph Nader said Thursday.

Nader predicted in an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball” that Bloomberg would join the race and would immediately start out with the support of at least 15 percent of voters.
“He’s running,” Nader told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, but he said Bloomberg, a billionaire media magnate, probably wouldn’t announce for several months because “when you have that kind of money, you can start late.”

But even for a candidate as well-financed as Bloomberg — whose personal fortune has been estimated at more than $5 billion — ballot eligibility rules and the difficulty of qualifying for debates can make it almost impossible to gain traction, said Nader, who knows firsthand about the legal and political obstacles faced by third-party candidates.

“We’ve got a two-party elected dictatorship,” Nader said. “They’ve got the whole thing stacked in one state after another.”

Bloomberg could open up the system
At first blush, Nader said, Bloomberg looks pretty good, marrying traditional Democratic positions with hard-headed Republican-style problem-solving.

“I think he’s offering a case-by-case judgment,” Nader said. “That’s the one thing about Bloomberg I like. He doesn’t prejudge everything ideologically. He’s very problem-oriented. Post-Katrina I don’t think would have happened if he was in charge.”

But Bloomberg isn’t sensitive enough to free speech and economic justice, said Nader, who said that if no candidate emerged to address his progressive, labor-first ideals, he would jump into the race himself. He said he would make a decision “in the fall.”

The real appeal of a Bloomberg campaign, he said, was the prospect that it could forever transform American politics by smashing the major parties’ monopoly, even if he doesn’t win.

It all depends on whether Bloomberg can demonstrate enough support to force his way into the general election debates organized by a private commission, which has been loath to include independent candidates, including Nader in 2000 and 2004, he said.

“He’ll turn it into a three-way race,” Nader predicted. “He can really highlight these discriminations against third-party candidates.”

Click for related coverage

Bloomberg plays coy
Speculation that he would run reached fever pitch this week when Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat who switched to the Republican Party to run for mayor in 2001, renounced his Republican affiliation and said he was now an independent.

Since then, Bloomberg has spent his time issuing the standard non-denial denial of interest that nearly all prospective presidential candidates rely on while they consider their options. He told NBC News’ Brian Williams that he had “no intention” of running, adding: “I’ve got a job. I just want to be a good mayor.”

But as Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., proved, saying that doesn’t mean he can’t, or won’t, change his mind.

Asked in January 2006 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he would run for president in 2008, Obama replied, “I will not.” Today, he is running second on most Democratic presidential polls.

Bloomberg himself is doing nothing to discourage speculation. In a news conference Wednesday, he told reporters: “The more people that run for office, the better.”

And he is seizing every opportunity to grab a toehold on national issues.

“I feel very strongly that we are in danger of losing our lead in many parts of science and medicine and education,” he said. “I think there’s a great challenge ahead. We have international challenges; we have domestic challenges. And as I said out in California two nights ago, I don’t think that we are addressing those issues.

“I’m particularly upset that the big issues of the time keep getting pushed to the back and we focus on small things that probably only inside the Beltway are important.”

Poor track record for outsiders
History is not on Bloomberg’s side, however, as Nader learned in 2000, when he won less than 3 percent of the vote across the country. Many Democrats believe most of his votes in Florida would otherwise have gone to Vice President Al Gore, giving Gore a victory in Florida over George W. Bush and handing Gore the White House.

In 1968, former Democratic Gov. George Wallace of Alabama formed his own party with the mission to be a spoiler, hoping to throw the election to the Electoral College and expand his political clout. He won five Southern states, siphoning Southern Democratic votes from Vice President Hubert Humphrey, giving Richard Nixon a small but decisive win.

As an independent in 1992, businessman H. Ross Perot won almost 20 percent of the vote — not enough to win the presidency, but more than enough to allow Bill Clinton to oust President George H.W. Bush in a three-way race.

In 1996, Perot ran again, as the nominee of the Reform Party, picking up less than half as many votes but allowing Clinton to win reelection without a majority.

Ed Rollins, who managed Perot’s 1992 campaign, said Bloomberg had special advantages: name recognition and billions of dollars. Associates told MSNBC that Bloomberg would be prepared to spend at least a half-billion dollars if he decides to press forward with a campaign.

“With his kind of resources and his ability and willingness to spend, he can sort of set an agenda that other candidates may have to deal with,” Rollins said Wednesday on “Hardball.”
Moreover, he added, “Bloomberg has built a gigantic media outlet, and he understands the game better than anybody.”

Bloomberg has said he is not interested in being a spoiler, telling associates that if he runs, it will be only because he expects to have a solid chance to win. But the political stars would have to line up just right for him to have even a sliver of a chance, said Larry Sabato, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia.

“Bloomberg has to be willing to spend a half-billion, probably a billion, dollars of his own money, and the two parties have to nominate candidates who are probably polarizing and unacceptable to millions of Americans,” Sabato told NBC News’ David Gregory.

Nader loyalist welcomes Bloomberg
Nader’s campaign manager in 2000 and 2004, Theresa Amato, encouraged Bloomberg to join the race, saying the more the merrier.

“We’re not a two-party system. The word ‘party’ doesn’t show up in the Constitution,” she said Wednesday on “Hardball.” “Everybody should be able to run for president in the United States.”

But she agreed that Bloomberg would have a tough time of it, saying the deck was stacked against independent and thirf-party candidates.

“The problem here is not with third parties. The problem is that two parties have made it difficult the for third parties to compete,” said Amato, who is now executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center, a nonprofit political reform group.

“There are structural barriers to entry, from the ballot access laws [to] the commission on presidential debates,” which she said “makes it very hard for anybody else, except for the two parties, because it is a private corporation that allows the Democrats and Republicans to talk to tens of millions of voters.”
Howie P.S.: For some reason, every time I hear his name, "Nader" sounds more like "Newman," but the way Jerry Seinfeld says it. He does make a few good points, however, particularly the one about Hillary.

"Obama seeks effective grassroots support"

United Press International:
Sen. Barack Obama's campaign team is pleased with its solid grassroots support but is wary of a repeat of Howard Dean's spectacular fade in 2004.

The New York Post said Saturday that while the Internet has been successful in turning out crowds, the question remains as to whether that core enthusiasm will lead to the Democratic presidential nomination and an eventual victory on Election Day 2008.

Campaign official Ray Rivera told a sizable crowd in Manhattan this week that Dean also stirred up early support, but it didn't last into the primaries.

"A lot of national momentum, lot of national online support," Rivera said. "Did he win the presidency? No, it sort of faltered. We want to take all this offline and online grassroots energy and turn it into a Democratic nomination and get a real victory."

The Post said Obama and his team have been particularly wary of independent volunteer groups known as 527s that could siphon off financial support from the official campaign, which does the heavy lifting in terms of television and travel.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"First For Presidential Campaigns: Elizabeth Edwards To Appear At Gay Pride Event"

San Francisco Chronicle:

Elizabeth Edwards' scheduled appearance Sunday at a major San Francisco Gay Pride event represents a first for a major presidential candidate or spouse -- one that activists said reflects the growing clout of gay and lesbians as voters and their continued move into the political mainstream.

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, is scheduled to speak Sunday morning at the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club breakfast at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Organizers say it marks the highest level of presidential campaigning at the annual Gay Pride Parade.

"It certainly is another barrier falling,'' said author and gay activist David Mixner, a Clinton administration adviser who backs Edwards in the 2008 race.

"There's been a taboo on any (candidate)-related Gay Pride events,'' he said, with major presidential hopefuls steering away because the event has been viewed largely in the mainstream media as a no-holds-barred celebration of the gay lifestyle.

But Mixner -- whom Newsweek once called "the most powerful gay man in America'' -- said Democratic politicians particularly are realizing that "just like straights at Mardi Gras, there's a wide range of different events, from picnics and political clubs to the parade,'' many of them family-oriented and many stocked with potential voters.

"The myth of what Pride is will be exploded ... and that taboo will now be removed,'' he said. "And I can't think of a better person to do it than Elizabeth Edwards. She won't let people tell her where she can go and who she can talk to.''

Gloria Nieto, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee's gay and lesbian caucus who has yet to endorse a 2008 candidate, agreed that Elizabeth Edwards' appearance showed that candidates view gay and lesbian voters as a constituency that must be sought after in much the same way as other blocs of voters -- particularly in California with its important Feb. 5 primary.

"The fact that Edwards' campaign is so forward thinking in that way shows that (gay political influence) is coming to fruition," Nieto said. "They're looking outside the Beltway and looking for other areas of gay power and influence.''

Democratic activist Jeff Anderson, who invited Elizabeth Edwards to the event and supports her husband, the former North Carolina senator, called her scheduled appearance on Sunday "a significant step for our community.''

"Over the last 10 years, we've advanced so far from presidential candidates not wanting to show up,'' to discussing and even endorsing gay issues, said Anderson, the former co-chair of John Kerry's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender finance committee. Anderson is among those who will be host for an Edwards fundraiser with the candidate Tuesday night at the Fairmont Hotel.

After three decades of Gay Pride celebrations, the presence of a major candidate's spouse signifies three things, said Scott Wiener, who chairs the San Francisco Democratic Party Central Committee.

"The first is the growing clout of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community in politics, particularly Democratic party politics. The second is increasing acceptance of political candidates who hold pro-LGBT views -- especially since 10 years ago, candidate were much more skittish about that,'' he said. "And it shows John Edwards' strong support for the LGBT community ... he's been incredibly supportive."

Wiener said Elizabeth Edwards -- who has also agreed to be the keynote speaker at the July 14 Human Rights Campaign event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium -- brings her own cachet as one of the most popular figures on the presidential campaign trail.

"On her own, she's a very accomplished person, as a lawyer and as an author,'' he said.

"Obama's Volunteer Push" (video)

NY Times video (5:24):
Brooklyn supporters of Senator Barack Obama took their enthusiasm to the streets as part of a nationwide effort by the campaign.

Friday, June 22, 2007

"Lessons Learned as Obama Shepherds Volunteers"

NY Times:
It was just an organizational meeting for Senator Barack Obama’s New York volunteers, but the gathering this month jammed every pew of a church in the East Village, and the crowd spilled over into not one but two overflow rooms.
All told, 710 people showed up, even though the closest they would get to Mr. Obama, the Illinois Democrat and presidential candidate, that night would be to view a campaign screening of a biographical DVD. They cheered wildly anyway. Many had already formed their own volunteer groups in New York: Brooklyn for Barack, NYC4Obama, the Audacity of Park Slope. Quite a few already had Web sites, neatly designed logos, newsletters and regular meetings.

The grass-roots following for Mr. Obama in the backyard of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has been built around a sophisticated group of young professionals skilled in marketing, organizing, Web design and other useful areas. But as Howard Dean’s campaign for the Democratic nomination proved four years ago, it takes more than a core group of dedicated, Web-savvy supporters to win votes.

“One of the lessons, obviously for us, is making sure that the grass-roots enthusiasm translates into votes,” Mr. Obama said in a recent interview. “And that’s something obviously that we’re going to be paying a lot of attention to.”

Organizers of Mr. Obama’s grass-roots campaign are doing what they can to focus the enthusiasm of volunteers on useful work, and to train them so their efforts do no harm to Mr. Obama’s bid. Yet the activities of some supporters, operating outside of the official campaign, have raised questions for Mr. Obama to answer.

Steve Phillips, a San Francisco lawyer and the son-in-law of the billionaire Democratic donors Herb and Marion Sandler, has formed an independent organization, Vote Hope 2008, that has been soliciting money to help Mr. Obama win the California primary. Mr. Obama has criticized such groups, which are known as 527s, because they allow unlimited contributions outside the caps set by campaign finance rules.

“It is our hope that anyone who supports Obama does so directly through his campaign,” Bill Burton, a campaign spokesman, said.

Despite situations like this one, the Obama campaign is carefully aligning itself with volunteers in New York and elsewhere. Ray Rivera, the northeast field director for the Obama campaign, told the crowd gathered in the East Village that the Dean example in 2004 should serve as a cautionary tale.

“A lot of national momentum, lot of national online support,” Mr. Rivera said. “Did he win the presidency? No, it sort of faltered. We want to take all this energy, all of this offline and online grassroots energy, and turn it into a Democratic nomination and get a real victory.”

Because the New York primary awards delegates proportionally by Congressional district, a strong showing in crucial areas could win delegates for Mr. Obama even if he loses the primary. And perhaps more than any other campaign this cycle, his campaign is relying on grass-roots involvement in New York and elsewhere to turn out voters.

The volunteers took part in a national canvassing day June 9 when thousands of supporters across the country tried to enlist others for Mr. Obama — people like Amanda Green, 28, a librarian from Brooklyn who wore the campaign’s logo painted on her toenails. She signed up supporters recently in Fort Greene. Those volunteers have helped Mr. Obama attract huge crowds at many of his early rallies.

The grass-roots organizing is proceeding parallel to efforts by the Obama campaign. In one effort to attract supporters, the campaign invited people to write a few words explaining why they wanted to meet Mr. Obama, for $5. Thousands of responses came in, aides said.

All the campaigns are trying to marshal volunteer supporters this year. The Clinton campaign, for example, arranges discussion meetings in the homes of supporters; holds large, inexpensive fund-raisers; and is organizing groups to go to New Hampshire.

But the Obama campaign is making its ability to mobilize large numbers of volunteers central to its campaign ethos. On its recent nationwide canvassing day, volunteers received campaign T-shirts that read, “In the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.”

Mr. Obama, who was a grass-roots organizer in his youth, places value on door-to-door, neighborhood-by-neighborhood campaigning. In a recent conference call with 400 volunteer leaders, he gave tips for canvassing (“stay hydrated,” and “don’t just talk but listen”).

“As tempting as it might be to think otherwise, this doesn’t just have to do with me,” Mr. Obama said during the call. “Change always comes from the bottom up, not the top down.”

There is debate among the other campaigns and bloggers about how much of a movement the Obama campaign has created. Jerome Armstrong, a liberal blogger, wrote recently on that Mr. Obama had not aligned himself with the “netroots” movement that began with the Dean campaign and that helped propel Ned Lamont’s Senate campaign in Connecticut last year.

Mr. Armstrong questioned whether the Obama grass-roots campaign was a movement at all. It “looks like a better-than-ordinary campaign for a candidate that’s personally compelling, and not much more,” he said.

But many of the volunteers who fanned out across New York City during the campaign’s “Walk for Change” said they felt that they were creating a movement.

Jordan Thomas, a 36-year-old from Brooklyn who works for a film production company, said that he enlisted in the campaign at 3 a.m. on Feb. 10, the day that Mr. Obama announced that he would run for president. On the campaign’s Web site, Mr. Thomas found a feature that allowed volunteers to start groups.

“And I thought, my god, this guy is turning his campaign over to the people,” Mr. Thomas said. “And I thought, wow, this guy really trusts the people. And so I put in ‘Brooklyn for Barack.’ ”

Despite the volunteer effort for Mr. Obama, the Clinton campaign said it had no fear of losing New York. “We’re gratified that poll after poll shows Hillary leading the primary in New York overwhelmingly, and that she is by far the most popular candidate in the state, from either party and among all walks of life,” said Blake Zeff, a campaign spokesman.

"Picking Up Where Dean Left Off"

NY Times:
Hungry for dinner with Senator Barack Obama? A minimum contribution of $5 to his presidential campaign – and, of course, a little dash of luck – was all it took to play along in the latest political gimmick of the 2008 race for the White House.
Eyeing ways to expand and energize the ranks of its supporters, the campaign invited people to write a few words explaining why they wanted to meet Mr. Obama. Thousands of responses came in, aides said, and four winners were selected this week to join the senator for a private dinner in July.

Sound like something Howard Dean might have tried four years ago?

The Obama campaign, along with several of his rivals, is hoping to pick up where Mr. Dean's presidential bid left off – at least where political creativity is concerned – by seizing on the power of the Internet to raise money, stir excitement and mobilize supporters across the country.

They are mindful, Mr. Obama said, of the pitfalls and the possibilities.

"One of the lessons, obviously for us, is making sure that the grassroots enthusiasm translates into votes," Mr. Obama said. "And that's something obviously that we're going to be paying a lot of attention to."

At this moment in the 2004 presidential race, the early hints of Mr. Dean's rise were first being detected. His strong anti-war sentiment was appealing to Democratic activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and across the country. And through low-cost fundraising on the Internet, his contributions in the second quarter of 2003 nearly tripled from the first.

No one can forget, of course, that Mr. Dean ultimately failed to win any state except Vermont, his home, and the race for the White House moved along without him.

Indeed, there are perhaps more distinctions than similarities in the style, message and overall candidacies of Mr. Obama and Mr. Dean. (A significant difference already obvious to voters is the presence of the senator's wife, Michelle Obama. Four years ago, Judy Dean only emerged in Iowa in the final days of the campaign as it began to struggle.)

Yet in a brief interview this week, Mr. Obama readily agreed that his campaign certainly could glean a lesson or two from Mr. Dean's high-flying summer four years ago.

"Howard Dean tapped powerfully into the surge of the anti-Iraq sentiment and, I think, did a brilliant job of that," Mr. Obama said. "Our message is a little broader than that and what's bringing people out is a little broader than that: The desire to solve not just Iraq, but also get moving on domestic policy.

"But I think that there is overlap in the emphasis on grassroots, the emphasis on getting people, particularly young people involved in the campaign," he said. "We learned a lot from their campaign, in both using the Internet and combining it with grassroots and on-the-ground organizing."

Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., an Illinois Democrat, endorsed Mr. Dean's candidacy four years ago and is now supporting Mr. Obama. The nuts-and-bolts preparations of the campaigns, he said, are vastly different and in the Obama campaign he sees "a perfect fusion between grassroots activity and older methods."

"This is a long courtship with the American people," Mr. Jackson said, "not a quick date."

Since opening his presidential campaign five months ago, Mr. Obama has drawn crowds far larger than most of his rivals. (Mr. Dean did, too.) But what good is a 20,000-person February rally in Austin, for example, when the campaign begins far from Texas?

"If you're a campaign with lots of enthusiasm, you have to make sure that you are capturing everyone's information," said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama's campaign manager. "We are very mindful of that every time we do an event."

But Mr. Plouffe warns against dismissing the political significance of such crowds, particularly in this presidential cycle, where a frenzied day of coast-to-coast primaries on Feb. 5 will make candidates rely on a large base of supporters everywhere. "It has real meaningful application on Feb. 5," he said, "beginning with the ability to chase absentee ballots."

But since the race is scheduled to open with the Iowa caucuses, tentatively set for Jan. 14, the Obama campaign is focusing considerable attention on the state. Mr. Plouffe said the campaign is tracking the Internet usage of Democrats and has found that a smaller share of the voters in Iowa are actively engaged on the Web than in New Hampshire, so the campaign is factoring that into its organizing efforts.

"You have to have a homegrown organization," he said, "town by town."

That said, the campaign is still working to build the excitement for voters who will take their turn later. On the Obama campaign web site is a bold-faced declaration: "Dinner For Five: Meet Barack's Dinner Guests."

One of those guests is Haile Rivera, 30, who lives in the Bronx. In a telephone interview, he said he has been impressed with Mr. Obama since he delivered the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He contributed $25 to the campaign and signed up for dinner after receiving an e-mail from the campaign.

"I was attracted to Obama by his charisma," he said. So does he follow the campaign's activity on the Web site? Almost never, he said, adding: "I'm not one of those diehards."
Howie P.S.: There is still time to RSVP for Howard Dean's visit to Seattle, June 26. They just added a $25 Student rate.

"Edwards predicting big second-quarter drop-off"

The Hill:
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is expecting a significant drop-off in campaign contributions for the second quarter that might look like a pittance compared to the dollar amounts Democratic rivals Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) are expected to raise.
Though it would not be unheard of for a campaign to try and lowball its fundraising expectations, an e-mail to supporters from senior adviser Joe Trippi, of Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, tells Edwards’s fans the campaign is two-thirds of the way to its goal of $9 million for the quarter.

That would give Edwards a $6 million rake with nine days to go. And even then, the campaign would realize $5 million less than it did in the first quarter.

An Edwards campaign official said the goal for the campaign from the outset has been to raise $40 million total to compete in the first four primary or caucus states.

“We were never going to raise $25 million in the second quarter,” the aide said, alluding to the giant sums expected of Clinton and Obama. “They’re pretty much more based on their celebrity. We are based on the early four states strategy, and we need $40 million to do that.”

The dollar decrescendo is nothing new to Edwards. In 2003, Edwards was the talk of Washington after raising $7.4 million in the first quarter, which was a lot of money back then. But in the second quarter, he reported raising $4.5 million.

“This is not about out-raising our opponents in a meaningless fundraising arms race,” Trippi said in the e-mail to supporters. “This is about executing our plan — raising enough money to push our message in the critical early states and building our operation around the country.”

Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) told reporters after he first entered the race to wait and watch his second-quarter numbers instead of his first.

A senior adviser to his campaign said that risky strategy came through, and they expect to report more this time around than the $6.2 million they reported after March. And all of that money will be primary election donations.

An aide to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) said the senator’s campaign was expecting to raise around the same amount as the $2.1 million he raised in the first quarter, which he combined with just under $2 million from his Senate reelection funds.

Sen. Chris Dodd’s (D-Conn.) campaign declined to comment on its expectations. Dodd raised about $4 million in the first quarter, which he complemented with $4.7 million from his Senate reelection chest.

"Murray, Cantwell lose our trust"

Neal Starkman (Seattle P-I op-ed):
Sometimes good people do bad things.

On May 24, the U.S. Senate voted 80-14 to continue funding the Iraq occupation to the tune of $120 billion; among the ayes were the good Democratic senators from the state of Washington, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
Why did they vote that way? In 2007, it's beyond debate that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that it had neither weapons of mass destruction nor any immediate means of acquiring them and that Saddam Hussein wanted nothing to do with al-Qaida (Saddam undoubtedly was more secular than George W. Bush is). Moreover, both Murray and Cantwell -- in particular Murray, who voted against the initial invasion -- have been antagonistic toward Bush's handling of the war. So why did they vote to continue it?

On her Web site, Murray says the bill in question "takes a step toward changing course in Iraq, forces the White House to acknowledge the will of the American people and the role of Congress, pressures Iraqis to stand up, and funds our troops." And, she points out, "the hard truth is that there are not enough Democrats to override a veto in the House or the Senate."

With all due respect -- I have voted for both senators -- Murray and Cantwell should be ashamed of themselves.

Despite Murray's claims, continuing to fund the war perpetuates the course in Iraq. It reassures the White House that it can ignore both the will of the American people and the role of Congress. It tells Iraqis the carnage will continue at least throughout the broiling summer. And does anyone honestly believe that if the funding were to suddenly stop, U.S. troops would remain in Iraq without food, without ammunition, without protection? Please.

That the lack of enough Democrats to override a veto was a reason for Democrats to vote for the bill points to one lamentable fact: Principle in the U.S. Senate is irrelevant.

If you can't vote your conscience on life-and-death issues, when can you vote it? Can any of you who cringe every time you hear about an American or Iraqi death there even imagine voting to continue this senseless war? What difference does it make that you don't have enough votes to override a veto? Where's the logic in voting for something you don't want because not enough people agree with you? What's to be gained?

How can we trust Murray or Cantwell anymore? Whom can we turn to if our allies vote against us? In Washington state, we're used to straighter talk and purer motives from our senators.

For years we have mollycoddled this evil, incompetent administration (and what a nasty combination that is). But sometimes, even politicians have to stop playing politics. Sometimes even politicians have to look themselves in the mirror and say, "What is right? What is just?"

It's an old political question: Do we elect people to represent our interests or to vote their conscience? In this case, we got neither.

Let Murray and Cantwell know how you feel. Maybe next time they'll stand up and be counted, rather than count and sit down. Maybe next time they'll do the right thing.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"As Iraq war of words heats up, Feingold calls senior Senate Democrat 'flip-flopper'"

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) will call Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) a "flip-flopper" on Thursday's Ed Schultz Show, RAW STORY has learned.
A source close to the show says it's the harshest language he's heard Feingold level to date against the senior Democratic senator from Michigan. The interview will air at 12:30 p.m. on Schultz's show. (Listen here.)

Early this morning, Feingold also shot a salvo across the bow of Levin and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) who proposed in a Washington Post opinion piece today a second withdrawal proposal.

"Sen. Reed and I will introduce this plan again as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill," Levin wrote in the Post editorial. "As previous efforts did, this amendment will require a reduction to begin within 120 days, but this amendment will also provide that all troops be out of Iraq by April 1, 2008, except for the forces needed for specified, limited missions to which they would transition."

Feingold fired back.

“I’m pleased that Senator Levin and Senator Jack Reed have finally come to the conclusion that a timetable for redeployment with a hard deadline is what we need to safely redeploy our troops from Iraq,” Feingold said this morning in a release.

“But I’m disappointed that Senator Levin chose to announce his shift by disingenuously suggesting that the Feingold-Reid plan would somehow cut funding for troops in harm’s way," he added. "Senator Levin knows full well that the plan I introduced with Majority Leader Harry Reid, and which was supported by a majority of Senate Democrats, would end funding for the war in Iraq only after our brave troops have been safely redeployed out of Iraq. It is time for Senator Levin and Senator Jack Reed to drop their opposition to the Feingold-Reid plan to safely redeploy our troops by March 31, 2008, and then end funding for the mistake in Iraq.”

"Clinton signs up Congressman Inslee"

Joel Connelly:
Saying the nation needs a "battle tested" president who can lead a "clean energy revolution," Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., has signed with the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. Inslee will serve as co-chair of Clinton's energy and environment task force, along with former Environmental Protection Administrator (and Al Gore confidante) Carol Browner.
"She understands that tectonic plates need to shift in the American economy, and that we have an opportunity to both grow the economy and develop technologies to deal with global warming," Inslee said of Clinton.
"We need a leader who talks about it in those terms -- of growth and optimism -- rather than gloom and doom. The world depends on America to develop these global technologies."
Inslee is serving his sixth term in the House. He was recently named to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a key panel in developing legislation to deal with climate change, fuel efficiencey and new technologies. Inslee, 57, is also repaying a major political favor. He was an underdog challenger against GOP Rep. Rick White in 1998, and one of the few Democratic House hopefuls to stress his opposition to Republican House leaders' bid to impreach President Clinton. Hillary Clinton came to Seattle late in the '98 campaign, speaking to a rally at the Westin and again to a big-giver Inslee fundraiser held in the glass sculpture studio of Dale Chilhuly. The money helped Inslee, and aided in a sweep that saw another GOP-held House seat fall to the Democrats.The Inslee endorsement comes on the eve of the first major Washington event of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Ex-President Bill Clinton is appearing Saturday to raise money for his wife's campaign. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards have recently campaigned in the state. Three Washington congressmen have already made early endorsements in the 2008 presidential race. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., is backing Obama. Smith was chairman and organizer of Sen. John Kerry's 2004 campaign in the state. On the Republican side, Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., has announced his support of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and is co-chairing a Giuliani law enforcement task force.
Inslee indicated that Clinton's experience, and her interest in global warming, were key aspects in his endorsement. "So much is at stake in this election," he said. "The last eight years have been a disaster. We can't take risks. We need a leader who is battle tested." The Bainbridge Island congressman praised Clinton for playing a "constructive" role on Iraq by proposing legislation that would remove Congress' authorization for the war. In 2002, Clinton voted and spoke for Congress' war authorization resolution.

"Abu Gonzo Coming to Seattle" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: This blurb in the Seattle P-I says it's "free and open to the public."

Auntie Neo Kawn's diary on kos:
Of all the nerve, Abu's gonna pay a visit to the US Attorney's office here in the Emerald City. I hope John McKay meets him at the door:

The event, free and open to the public, is being sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a think tank best known for promoting "intelligent design" as an alternative to the theory of evolution, and TechNet Northwest, a political coalition of technology executives. Of course, if it's FREE, maybe we should all sign up to attend!
Howie P.S: Should you be so inclined, you can RSVP here.