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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Busy, Busy, Busy

Believe it or not, I don't just sit at a computer all day preparing posts for your blogging pleasure. I have an Actual Day Job. And, given that this blogging gig just don't pay, I can't quit it just yet. This is actually a busy stretch for me, due to external deadlines, a district audit of the program I coordinate, and other work-related program activities.

So I invite you to check out the fighting over at Open Source Politics. For starters, Grubi and I are drubbing the third stooge, Redeye in the battle for who gets to write the official Dean post-mortem: Check the comments threads at Redeye's, Grubi's, and my posts. And those wiseguys NTodd and Rook are battling on another metaphorical plane, the chessboard. John Isbell is fighting the forces of prose with some fine original poetry. Stentor Danielson is actually doing something useful, though, and writing about Pennsylvania politics.

Two last pleas: Any lefty bloggers who also hail from up here behind the cheddar curtain should let Stacie know at her new gig, the Vast Dairy State Conspiracy. Finally, sign up to attend your local Dean Meetup--your local progressive politicos could use your support!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Miscellany

Over at OSP, the battle over the Dean campaign's legacy has been joined. Your move, Redeye. NTodd goes old-school (and I do mean old-school) on gay marriage. Stacie (ex-Cadidate's Wife) only goes back to 2000. John Dingell writes a letter that you must read, but not while drinking milk.

I was uncertain whom to endorse in the Wisconsin fifth congressional district race. For a while I flirted with Gary Kohlenberg, but I got an email from Bryan Kennedy today that puts me closer to his camp. I like his spine:
Bryan Kennedy, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 5th district, alleged today that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s vote on the Iraq war was motivated exclusively on Mr. Sensenbrenner’s vast stock portfolio. Mr. Sensenbrenner holds stock in Halliburton, BP Amoco, Exxon Mobil, as well as other companies that are getting rich “rebuilding” Iraq.

“Sensenbrenner was voting with his wallet,” Kennedy said. “He was ensuring that his stock holdings would perform well and that he would have a nice nest egg for retirement. We need to get people like Sensenbrenner out of Congress and replace them with people who come from working families. We need to ensure that our future foreign policy is not determined by corporate America, but by everyday Americans,” he said further. [. . .] “When I am elected, my votes on foreign policy will be determined using common sense and not vast stock holdings. I want a safe and secure America and my votes will reflect those values, not the out-of-touch values of corporate greed.”
I'll give the Kohlenberg folks a chance to sway me, but by the end of the week I'm likely to make it official. We just need to work on that slogan. I mean, "Bryan thinks like we do"?!? I still say: "F. Jim Sensenbrenner before he F.'s you."

Bloggy Goodness at OSP

I've been writing a little more for Open Source Politics in the past week or so than I had been lately. First, I did a cross-post from Teachers Speak Out on some school voucher developments. I was also asked to share my take on Rod Paige's comments (including a graphic created in four minutes with Appleworks--I need Photoshop!). I've also done a counterpoint to fellow OSPer and frequent commenter here Redeye's post-mortem of the Dean campaign. There's lots of other good stuff there, too, some of it not even written by me! Check it out.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Easier than I thought

Every once in a while, I would get a little jealous that I would probably never be on that list of suspected insurgents who always get stopped at the airports and the Canadian border, that list of people so dangerous to the government that we must be stopped before we do irreparable harm to society or the world.

You know, terrorists.

I guess it was easier than I thought: Turns out I've been a terrorist since the day I became a teacher and joined the National Education Association. At least according to U.S. Education secretary Rod Paige:
Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday. [. . .] "These were the words, 'The NEA is a terrorist organization,'" said Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin. [. . .] Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, said of Paige's comments: "Somebody asked him about the NEA's role and he offered his perspective on it." Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, a Democrat, said the comments were made in the context of "we can't be supportive of the status quo and they're the status quo. But whatever the context, it is inappropriate — I know he wasn't calling teachers terrorists — but to ever suggest that the organization they belong to was a terrorist organization is uncalled for."
I'm not really sure what else needs to be added, except perhaps that this off-the-cuff remark really demonstrates three things about the current (Republican) leadership in this country: They hate teachers, they hate public schools, and they really, really hate unions.

At the very least, Rod Paige should be out. At best, this may open up dialog about why we need teachers' unions in the first place, and how messed up public education would be with no or weak unions to protect our rights and support our colleagues.

Hey, doesn't that whole terorist gig come with an AK-47 or something?

UPDATE: Some other versions of the AP story cite NEA president Reg Weaver: "The education secretary's words were 'pathetic and they are not a laughing matter,'" despite Paige's insistence "that his comment was 'a bad joke; it was an inappropriate choice of words.'"

Sunday, February 22, 2004

The Gay Marriage Question

My short answer to the gay marriage question: It should be legal.

My long answer to the gay marriage question:

I will not talk about the economic benefits of gay marriage. I will not even talk about the whole church-state sanctity issue. I have something else to talk about--education.

Now, if you've been paying attention, you know by now that I'm a high school teacher. There are some things that you learn in teacher school that are really not important in terms of what to do when you have a classroom full of children throwing things at each other but are a great help when you start your political blogging career. Like this one.

Imagine yourself back in 1896. Go ahead. I'll wait.

That year the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the landmark case Plessy vs. Ferguson that the doctrine of "separate but equal" is okay. "A statute," wrote Justice henry Brown, "which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races--a distinction which is founded in the color of the two races, and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color--has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races." And segregationists all across the country breathed a sigh of relief.

But what did not happen in the years after Plessy that could have happened is the real story. Segregationists across the country could have begun to worry that the court's precedent would not always stand. "What would happen," segregationist lawmakers might tell constituents in a fund-raising letter or stump speech, "if some crazy liberal judges came along some day and decided that 'separate but equal' was no longer okay? Next thing you know, some crazy liberal judge will be telling us that we have to let our pure white children go school with Negro children, or that our pure white daughters can marry Negro men! The only way to stop this from happening would be to enshrine it in the Constitution!"

And with that rallying cry, imagine if the several states, maybe even the federal government, wrote "separate but equal" into their constitutions. Perhaps the sixteenth amendment would be segregation, not income tax (a double score for some conservatives!).

Imagine, then, sixty years later (and fifty years ago this May), what would happen when plaintiffs from five states banded together to challenge the "separate but equal" education system in the case we know now as Brown vs. the Board of Education. Earl Warren, writing for a unanimous court in 1954, said that segregated schools served no purpose but to push blacks to be lower-status citizens, and therefore violated the fourteenth amendment.

But with a sixteenth amendment saying that "separate but equal" is okay, then Warren would have had no constitutional basis for his ruling. Those crazy liberal judges on the Warren court would have had no way to stop segregation. We would have segregated schools--and more--yet today. Instead, our government did exactly what it should: The legal system worked, and the civil and equal rights of individuals eventually prevailed.

(As an aside, as much as I dislike the Milwaukee daily paper, they have done an excellent series on Brown and its impact over the last 50 years.)

George W. Bush and his ilk believe we need constitutional protections now in order to stop those crazy liberal judges of the future--or maybe even of today--who will declare gay marriage legal. Bush said in his State of the Union address, "Activist judges [. . .] have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. If judges insist on forcing their arbitrary will upon the people, the only alternative left to the people would be the constitutional process."

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, adds that "judicial tyranny in this country has gone too far. Congress and the state legislatures need to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities and stop these runaway liberal judges."

Now, history, of course, has told us that the Warren court made the right call on segregation, and it's hard even to imagine that anyone fifty years ago would have been on the other side of the issue. I firmly believe that history will write that we are on the right side of this issue, too. But we will never get the chance to find out if these modern-day segregationists get their way and enshrine bigotry in the Constitution.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution agrees with me that amending our Constitution would be bad. I mean, the Constitution is the legal, moral, and ethical foundation of our law, and every single element of the Constitution is designed to do one of two things: protect the rights of individuals, or restrict the reach of the government. Every single amendment, with one exception, is there to do those two things--extend rights to individuals implicitly or explicitly left out of the original document, or further limit governmental power.

The AJC explains the exception:
The only other amendment to the Constitution that addressed a similar cultural issue -- and which took away rights rather than conferred them -- outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages, otherwise known as Prohibition. That proved such a miserable mistake that it had to be repealed a few years later. The same fate would probably befall an amendment that addressed the cultural and religious meaning of what is essentially a legal contract between two people "sanctified" by religious ceremony.
We must not mess with the Constitution. Instead, we must let the legal system work. I have confidence that before long, we will see the equivalent of Brown for gay marriage. The segregationists hued and cried then, and the Bushes and Roberta Browns will do so now. But in the end, protection and extension of rights will win the day.

Letter from America

Go say thanks to Howard Dean.

Site update, etc.

So, I bit the bullet and removed most of the Dean links from the right column. I did this not because I don't support Dean (I do), but because he's just not running any more. As the new organization takes shape, I will update it again to reflect the changes. Blog for America is still there in the "Daily Reads" section of my links.

Everyone seems to like my "Wednesday and Everything After" post; I've waited until today to post again so that it can stay at the top of last week's archive page. (They're apparently not selling Blogger Pro and Blog*Spot Plus anymore so I can do real permalinks.) Kevin Hayden asked me to post it as a "drive-by" at The American Street, and I received not one, not two, but 42 "4" ratings when I posted it in my Daily Kos Diary.

Speaking of diaries, I want to point you all to From the Roots, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee's blog, which, like dKos, is a Scoop-based site, meaning schmucks like you and me can post to the same blog as Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy.

Yes, in case you didn't notice, I've split my links into sections. If you think you deserve to be in a different section than I've put you in, make your case in the comments. If I've missed your site in my updates, also let me know. I'm not trying to exclude anyone, and don't feel bad about blogwhoring--I do it all the time!

I've added an education section, including links to Teachers Speak Out, where I post regularly, and some others. If you think I should be adding links there, let me know.

Finally, I'm working on my updated endorsements. I will not endorse anyone for president until we have a nominee. There are things to like and dislike about both Edwards and Kerry, but believe me I will be working my tail off for whichever one gets the nod. And these rumors about an Edwards-Dean alliance do nothing to make me want to work for Edwards now, since its too speculative and those grapes are still too sour.

I'm not endorsing anyone right now in the Mayor's race. My union has endorsed Tom Barrett, though I've had many good conversations with Marvin Pratt (who was also a Dean supporter). I may decide to throw my weight (though I am starting the diet again this week!) behind one or the other, but for now I'm neutral. And I would have thought David Reimer had a website for his run, but it didn't come up through Google and I've been throwing away all of his emails since I did not support him in the primary. And if someone catches Tim Carpenter's site before I do, let me know.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Wednesday and Everything After

I'm sorry, California.

I got the call late Monday night. Maja, one of the Dean staffers and volunteer coordinators, told me that I would be doing GOTV early Tuesday morning. 5:30 early, on the Howard Dean-friendly East Side of Milwaukee.

I had a McMuffin fix in the Saturn--the same Saturn I was once lucky enough to drive Dean to the airport in that Sleepless Summer night last August--on the way to the 24-hour Walgreen's that would serve as the initial staging area for the morning lit drop. Once I got there, I found that Elliot, the Dean staffer with the material, was a little late. But I met up with David, Ed and his wife whose name I've forgotten, Juliet, plus Jody and the eighth-grade "Truants for Dean" she brought with her from Illinois.

To fill the time until Elliot got there, I passed around some of the Dean for America signs from my trunk, and we stood on the surprisingly busy (for that early in the morning) corner to do visibility. Okay, well, that was my excuse, anyway. I was really trying to get away from David.

You know, I hear from people about these grating, annoying, rude, negative Dean supporters who do nothing but bad-mouth the other candidates. The Deanie-Meanies who drive potential Dean fans into the camps of other candidates. For the longest time, volunteering here in Milwaukee, leading Meetups, and coordinating the occasional state-wide house party, I never ran into those people. Dave, though, was one of those people.

Right around six A.M., Juliet came running out to tell us that Elliot was finally there.

I'm sorry, Connecticut.

We split into three teams to cover the six wards. We were hitting our ones, twos, and threes. The ones and twos got a reminder postcard with their polling places' addresses stuck in their doors. The threes got one last piece of persuasive literature, in the hopes that their undecided selves might fall on the Dean side of the fence.

I was on Jody's team. Since I knew the neighborhood (I used to live on the East Side), I was the navigator. Jody drove her mini-van, and the kids--Jody's son Scott and his friend Hannah--did the legwork. We managed to hit all the addresses within just an hour and a half.

But, as it turns out, though I avoided Dave's team, Jody was also one of those Deanie-Meanies. It wasn't just the other candidates she slammed, it was their supporters, too. They were idiots and jerks and worse. I got into this campaign because I believe in Howard Dean and the principles he stands for, and because I want to vote for him. I'm not in this to badmouth or merely vote against the others. It turns out that John Edwards was having breakfast at the Brady Street Pharmacy, a neighborhood institution in the wards we were hitting, and Jody wanted to stop and go in and cause trouble. The kids, Scott and Hannah, were fantastic, though. I cannot say enough about them and their hard work.

I did not go off on her as I wanted to, but I did convince her that the Dean campaign needed us somewhere besides at an Edwards event: Jody had gotten a call from headquarters on her cell phone while we were working, saying that they needed more volunteers to make calls starting at nine.

So when we finished, we packed up the materials, and Jody followed my Saturn--with that April '03 vintage "Meetup for Dean" bumper sticker, crusted with salt but still a beacon of hope--downtown to headquarters.

I'm sorry, Georgia.

Once we got there, a very frazzled-looking Jon and Megan got us all set to make reminder calls to our ones and twos, starting at nine A.M. Trouble is, even though the phones were filled for much of the morning, we had too many to call meet the deadline that the campaign imposed for getting the first call-through done. Megan and Jon, not to mention every other staffer, eventually had to get on the lines to finish the call-through, which finally happened at about a quarter to two. (The campaign was hoping for 12:30.)

Megan, who seemed near tears at points, was doing her best to keep herself up. Once we were finished, I had a chance to talk to her. Seems she's been doing nothing but bounce from campaign to campaign for the last two years, since finishing her degree, and was ready to be done. She had been under the gun in New Hampshire for months, and then was sent out here (where, of course, there was no pressure at all!), and needed a break. She didn't know exactly what she'd do, but she was planning to make a break with the campaign after Wisconsin, whatever happened to Dean.

In all, I must have called 300 people and answering machines. Dozens of other volunteers--many of whom did not stay as long as I did--covered thousands more.

ABC News's Dan Harris stopped by to work on a story while we were there, to run on "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" on the future of "Deaniacs" (his word) after the likely end of the Dean campaign. His focus was about how Dean supporters would fall into two camps: Anybody But Bush ("ABB"), and Nobody But Dean ("NBD"). I was ABB.

(Until Thursday morning when they pull it, you can see the "WNT" show here, in the right column, if you're willing to sign up for a 14-day free trial of something. Harris's story starts at about 3:30. Don't miss the great shot of Scott and Hannah on the phone in their bright-orange Iowa hats!)

Harris and I spoke for probably five minutes, but I disliked him immediately. As we were gearing up, he asked where I was from and what I did for a living, and so on. When I told him I taught English, he asked what books I teach. I told him, and he "jokingly" asked, "What, you don't teach Don Quixote?"

Anyway, it was clear he wanted me to talk about abandoning the Democrats if Dean was forced out. So many of his questions started with, "Come on, really, if Dean doesn't win . . ."

But I stayed on message, and honestly, too: Besides coming back to the idea that Dean was not out of the running yet, I kept talking about the things he (and I) believe in. And I said that I certainly would be spending November doing exactly what I was doing now (that's the part that made the cut). But more than that, I talked about how being a "Deaniac" meant being uncompromising and energetic in our pursuit of change. This thing is bigger than Howard Dean, I said, so now I plan to work on the WI-5 congressional race to unseat Jim Sensenbrenner. I plan to work on taking back the state assembly and senate, which are both Republican-controlled now. I am not going to be a complacent Democrat any more, and it is all because of Howard Dean.

But Harris found another volunteer in the room. "My time, my loyalty, my passion, my vote belong to Howard Dean," she said. I could hear her conversation with Harris as I kept making calls, and it was all I could do to keep myself from turning around and screaming at her about how it was people like her giving "Deaniacs" a bad name and that her kind of thinking would almost certainly doom us to four more years of Bush.

When the camera turned off, and she returned to the table, Jody gave this "NBD" a big high-five and a hug. Figures.

I'm sorry, Hawaii.

A while after the interview, but before we finished that first massive call-through, a well-dressed woman I didn't know walked past me as I sat with a cell phone glued to my ear, squeezed my shoulders, and said how much she'd enjoyed my interview (she was in the smaller office behind Harris as he interviewed me). I said thanks. Later, once the calls were done and I was eating my sandwich (thanks to Chris, the field manager, who offered to pay, though I paid for it myself), I went in to introduce myself to this woman, to mention, you know, how I'm also a "reporter" and have been volunteering for a year and all that. She shook my hand and introduced herself as Andi Pringle.

Wow, I thought. And we had a good long talk, I gave her my contact info, and all of that. I hope to be able to work with her again somewhere somehow. I was very impressed. Meeting her is among the highlights of my time in the campaign.

Once we finished that first call-through, Meagan (the Milwaukee field director, not the Megan working the phones) was all set to send us out to do some more visibility, but then the call came from the SEIU boiler room that we needed more folks on the auto-dialed phones to hit undecideds before the polls closed at eight.

So I drove Diane, a local volunteer, plus Sharon, up from Illinois, to fight the good fight with us, over to the call center. We got there about four.

I'm sorry, Massachusetts.

I need to say a gracious thanks to Becca, an Iowan who forewent her paycheck for much of the end of the campaign, who stayed here in Milwaukee to be the Dean representative at the call center, seven days a week for a solid month. I also want to thank Sasha, a great SEIU staffer who ran the dialer. He's from Vermont originally, and very savvy and smart. He has great kids, too.

We were doing just quick calls of the previously identified undecideds around the state, and asking if they'd voted yet. Almost all of them had, which made me feel very good about turnout (which, by the way, was huge). But the few who had not were willing to listen, and I'm pretty sure I turned a few to Dean.

One call in particular, will always stick with me. I talked to Stephanie in Fond du Lac, giving her many good reasons to vote and to vote for Howard Dean. Finally, she said, "Honestly, if I do go vote, it will probably be for Kerry." When I asked why, she said, "I'm a teacher, and my union has endorsed him."

"Certainly your union has a right to endorse who they want," I said, "but I'm a teacher, too, and I don't know how anyone who works with children could not support Howard Dean." And I explained "Success by Six" to her, and how child abuse fell more than 40% in ten years under that program, and child sexual abuse by more than 70%. I talked about No Child Left Behind, and how Kerry supported the bill and then claimed ignorance about how badly Bush would administer it. If anyone should be suspicious of what "market-based" reforms would do to schools, it is we teachers here in Wisconsin, who have seen Milwaukee's school choice undermine public schools for more than a decade now.

In the end, I had Stephanie convinced. I don't know for certain that she voted, or that she even voted for Dean. But if she did, and she happens to stumble across this, I want to thank her, and I hope that she does not feel she wasted her vote casting it for the man in this race who has done more for children than any of the other candidates.

I'm sorry, Minnesota.

Sasha told us that night that we went through more than 25,000 numbers from the tiny SEIU call center, which was an incredible pace. I should also thank Bill, Cathy, Michael, Nick, Marshall from Illinois (who didn't have time to tell me his stories from Missouri, but sounded like a great guy!), and the other people working the phones from nine in the morning. I really do think we made a difference. I mean, after all, I think we all had at least one call like the one I had where the woman said, "Thank you! I so totally spaced on that! I was going to vote this morning but I had errands and ran out of time." Just remember, I told her, it was Howard Dean who reminded you to vote!

Finally, we were almost finished. It was nearing 6:30, SEIU itself was moving in to do a post-election survey on the quality of their materials, and many people were anxious to get up to Madison to see Dean's speech and attend the rally. Michael, who was there with me at the first Meetup in March, said something that I knew was true, though I didn't want it to be. "I've got to go to Madison," he said, "and shake Howard Dean's hand one more time--the ninth time!--because I know in my heart this will be his last time in Wisconsin."

Our Meetup will continue, Michael and I agreed, and I'll be working with him on Tim Carpenter's bid for the WI-4 congressional district, so I know I will see him again. Maybe others, too.

But this talk of not seeing Dean again drove it home that there are many people I've met over the last year that I will not see again, people I've called colleagues and friends, people I will miss dearly.

Rochelle, Carin, Bridget, Todd, Keith and Giselle, Rajan, Mike and Jan, Mike Tate, Meagan Mahaffey, Tony and Deb, the other Tony, Margarita, Stacie, Teege, the Davidsons, Bill, several Cathys, Steve and Tim in Marinette, Malita in Madison, and too many more even to think about trying to name you all. Plus the staffers--Maja, Kay, Megan, Jon, Mike. Kate O'Connor, who also got a ride in my Saturn. Courtney O'Donnel. Even Brit, who was responsible for cutting my speech from the rally last week. Plus Jen the intern from last June, who was so very helpful. Not to mention Hunter, and Michael Silberman and the Meetup team. And Jasper! We all love Jasper.

I'm sorry, New York.

Anyway, I took Diane back to her place, and Sharon back to Dean headquarters a few blocks away, telling her all the way that I hoped Dean would still be viable on March 16 when Illinois finally gets to vote. She told me a little of her story, too: She's an unemployed victim of the Bush Economy, and had spent time in Michigan a few weeks before. Sharon was so passionate and dedicated, and a nice antidote to the time I had to spend in the car with Jody that morning. Diane, too--a Green party member who knows where the priority is this fall. Please, Diane, let's work on getting those Greens to vote (D) in November!

After I pulled away from HQ for what I knew would be the last time, I wasn't sure what to feel. I had been very hopeful earlier in the day, talking to the ones and twos who were unwavering in their commitment to vote Dean. Even while phoning the undecideds, though it was call after call of "already voted," I was bouyed by the assurance that turnout would be high.

But I also knew that Dean was taking time off in Burlington after the primary. That his staff had no sense of what the next day or week would bring. That some staff, like Megan the phone captain, were ready to walk away anyhow. I can't help but think, as I remember Megan's worried face Tuesday morning, if that's what a stewardess might look like if she knew the plane were going down.

I just happened to hit the hour of my local public radio that features "Marketplace" for the drive away from HQ, so there was no election news at all. I liked that. I learned about coffee, about a wireless phone merger, about news that wasn't about me. It was, in fact, the first news I'd heard all day.

I'm sorry, Ohio.

My wife and I moved last June, so this was our first election in the new house. We'd wanted to vote together, but since I didn't know my schedule, and she didn't either, we voted separately.

I got to the polls around seven, an hour before they closed. I went straight to the end of the table where the registration changes happened, and I was surprised to see a young man, maybe 18 or 19, working the polls. It reminded me of how often over the last year someone has complimented me, told me how great it was to see a young person (I'm 29) working so hard and being so committed to the process. I told him that. He said thanks, but was focused on his duties: He made me swear that I was who I was and lived where I said I did. And then I got my ballot.

There was a final surge of adrenaline as I connected the arrow next to Howard Dean's name. One more feeling that I did, in fact, have the power. I voted in the remaining races on the ballot--some local stuff--and then went to the machine where my ballot was sucked into the tabulating/ storage thingie. I was voter number 731 in that polling place.

I asked how many usually vote in a spring primary like this. Well, came the answer, with the redistricting that just happened (the number of alderpeople was reduced this year in Milwaukee), it's hard to say. But this was the busiest the veterans there had seen the polls in a very long time, they told me. One last ray of hope for me as a Democrat, I guess.

I'm sorry, Rhode Island.

When I got home, I was exhausted. I was hungry, sore, tired, and on my way to a resigned depression. Rather that watch news, my wife and I ordered pizza, and watched some TiVo. Things that had nothing to do with news, or the election.

But I kept checking the results online. Right away I was disappointed at Dean's performance, but Edwards shocked me. He was winning for a time, and doing very well in the early returns in a lot of industrial counties--Dodge, Sheboygan, even Milwaukee. The results started trickling in for the other races, too. Turns out, the people I supported and endorsed in the other races all finished dead last in their contests. Howard Dean, despite his weak showing, was the best finish any of my horses had.

(I did think, in my cynical, depressed moments, that maybe I should have endorsed John Kerry months ago, so that Howard Dean would be winning by now. Sigh.)

And I'm especially sorry, Vermont, that you won't be able to vote for your favorite son in two weeks. That you had to play host to a speech that, I'm sure, Howard Dean hoped he would never have to give.

I know Wisconsin was not mine to win or lose. Not even Milwaukee, or my neighborhood. But this has been a year of my life. It is a year of my life that I would not trade for anything, but a year of my life nonetheless. I remember the heady days in November, when the unions were endorsing us. I remember the singing-out-loud moment that I heard Gore was endorsing. I even remember a local planning meeting last month, where we talked about how we would graciously assimilate supporters from all the other campaigns as the spring wore on.

You know, Dean was right in his speech today. We will--we must--soldier on. We're already planning our March Meetup here in Milwaukee, talking about what we can do to stay involved with the process, and how we can support Democrats from here on out. We're talking about what local races to get involved in, and how we can truly bring about the change that we were promised, and that looked so attainable for just a little while.

We do have the power. I have felt it; I feel it still.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I'm knackered

I was out way early this morning doing visibility and GOTV. I can barely type. I must have talked to 500 people and answering machines today.

I'l try not to cry.

A full accounting tomorrow, but my usual morning-after OSP post will be delayed until Thursday.

UPDATE: Rumor has it my haggered self may have been on ABC's "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." If anyone saw it and can let me know what I may have said, please do. I've also scoured the ABC website for it, but nothing. Thanks.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Must . . . get . . . sleep

I did it! I covered a debate.

To those who suggested questions: Donna, your question was perfect for Kerry, but he didn't make an appearance in the spin room, and I never got a hold of a surrogate. Redeye, I was gonna aim your question at Edwards, but he didn't spot my frantically waving hand from the back. Kevin, I loved your questions, but they weren't exactly like the kind you'd shout from the gaggle; but I asked Kucinich about pursuing a Department of Peace from Congress in your honor. Paul, your question kind of came up in the debate, so I didn't ask. And NTodd, I got your question to Mike Spahn, Dean's Wisconsin Communications Director. What were their answers? For that and more, check out my OSP post!

I'm In!

I am right now sucking some free wireless in the media room at Marquette, where the debate is scheduled to get underway in just a little more than an hour. I still haven't seen Rob Corddry.

By the by, find my commentary live in the comments of the debate open thread at
Daily Kos or read about it in the morning at Open Source Politics.

Gearing up for tonight's debate

I'm off soon to start pretending to be a Real Live Member Of The Press; I'll be attending the Democratic presidential debate here in Milwaukee to cover it for Open Source Politics with live blow-by-blow--and reports from the press room!--over on Daily Kos in the debate open thread once it starts.

But I here are some logistics, in case you're wondering:

Television: The debate airs on MSNBC starting at 6:30 pm Eastern, 3:30 pm Pacific. CSPAN will likely re-air it over the next few days. If you're in Milwaukee, it also airs live in WTMJ, channel 4. If you live elsewhere in Wisconsin and you don't have cable, your local NBC affiliate will probably air the debate at 10:30 pm Central.

Radio: If you live within, say, 100 miles of Milwaukee, you can hear the debate on 620 AM, WTMJ. I know Chicagoland listeners can often pick up that station. As far as I can tell, there is no national radio broadcast.

Internet: There are two audio streams: The debate audio will be available at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website; WTMJ's website will stream the broadcast audio.

Format: The format is going to suck--that much I can tell you without even setting foot in the place. Candidates will get questions with just one minute to answer, and then 30 seconds for follow-ups or rebuttals. There won't even be opening or closing statements. The moderator is Mike Gousha (pronounced Goo-shay), an anchor for the local NBC affiliate and the only local TV news personality I have any respect for, so he should do well. Also on the panel is Journal Sentinel Washington correspondent Craig Gilbert, whom I've talked to a few times and quite like; MSNBC's Lester Holt; and CNBC's Gloria Borger.

A full accounting of the debate will be up at OSP by morning.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Too Cool for School

Yesterday afternoon I got my official confirmation that your humble folkbum will be among the press corps covering Sunday's presidential debate here in Milwaukee. If you have anything you'd like me to ask, say, or do, leave me a comment. I will be taking a digital camera, so there will be pictures.

I am so hoping to meet Stephen Colbert . . .

Friday, February 13, 2004

Snow Dogs

NTodd is showing off his dog again. Well, here's what a real snow dog looks like:

 
 

Maggie says, "Indeed!"

(The whole series is here; photos by Sarah.)

I picked right
(and not in the Ralph Wiggum sense)

Via T. Rex, I took the "Vote by Issue" quiz that WBUR has set up. You read actual quotes from the candidates on 14 issues, and select the one you most agree with. It's probably the best candidate-selection quiz thingie I've seen so far.

Anyway, unsurprisingly, I align strongly with Howard Dean, and not because I recognized the lines from his stump, either, since these seem mostly culled from printed material or interviews. Here's my full list, though:

Howard Dean
• Health Care
• Trade Policy
• Employment
• Economy
• Education
• Terrorism
Wesley Clark
• Poverty and Homelessness
• Social Security
• Role of U.S. Military
Al Sharpton
• Gun Control
• Family and Marriage
• Security & Civil Liberties
John Edwards
• Iraq -- Rebuilding
Dennis Kucinich
• Energy and Environment
To be really fair, I should go back and choose new responses for the ones that I chose of Clark's. But that would take, you know, more work.

I find it really surprising that I align not at all with John Kerry. I swear I have not altered these results one bit--this is exactly how they came to me--so I'm not cutting out the Kerry. I guess just none of his rhetoric appeals to me, or at least none that WBUR pulled out for this quiz.

If my two or three regular readers want to chip in with their own results, that'd be cool . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2004

This is just to say

I have blogged
the news
that was in
the newspaper

and which
you were probably
expecting
to see here

Forgive me
my posts were good
so thoughtful
but over here

Monday, February 09, 2004

Setting the bar low
(No, not that Barlow!)

Today's email from the Meetup team:
As you know, we are now focusing almost all of our efforts over the next 8 days on winning Wisconsin next Tuesday, February 17th. In order for us to turn out the number of supporters we need for Dean to win at the polls, EVERYONE must be a part of the strategy. We’ve learned a great deal from Iowa and New Hampshire, and we have a plan in place that is going to allow our national campaign to reach tens of undecided Wisconsin voters.
And speaking of Crooked Timber and Ted Barlow, I really need to update the blog list on the right. So you can help in two ways:
1. If you read me and want me to link to you, drop me an email or leave me a comment.
2. You can click through all the links, and tell me which ones are no longer being updated for me to pull. I'm just lazy, you know, and, well, a little busy between now and next Tuesday.

Hello, this is John Kerry. And I'm running for president.

At that point, my wife handed me the phone. "It's for you. It's John Kerry," she said.

I had my hopes up for a second that it really was Kerry, as I have a few things I'd like to ask him. But it turns out it was a robocall. That made me re-adjust the order of questions I planned to ask--number one suddenly became "Why are you robocalling, when the Dean campaign has, you know, live humans calling for, you know, conversations with swing voters?" That and why he was interrupting my "7th Heaven."

(I'm still working on my write-up of Dean's visit to Milwaukee Thursday where he sat not ten feet away from me in the call center making live calls of his own.)

Anyway, I listened to his pre-recorded spiel. He was almost selling it. I think he believed it maybe 80%. I know Dean's stump by heart, and all of Dean's big applause lines, after doing this for a year. So I kind of kept score: I counted at least three Dean lines in Kerry's pre-recorded drivel, including the invocation of Truman's promise to provide health care to all Americans. (For the record, I listened to Kerry's stump eight months ago, wherein he never mentioned Truman or emphasized health care. Damned flippity-flopper.)

The funniest part, though, was the way he kept asking me to press 1 if I were a supporter. When I refused, he just kept going on with his sell. And repeating Dean talking points.

Finally, he got to the point where he told me I could press 2 if I were not a supporter. And then he told me I could press 1 if I were a supporter. And then 2. And then 1. And then please I should press a button. It was sad, really, that the man who could potentially be the leader of the free world and have his finger on the trigger of a nuclear arsenal of outsized proportions was begging me to press a button.

Finally, I pressed 1, partly to throw off his internals and partly out of the hope I could talk to a live body. But then, confirming my single biggest fear about John Kerry in this primary season, as soon as I pressed a button: dial tone.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Radio-Related Program Activities

So I got a call earlier today from Anna Panoka at WUWM, the Milwaukee NPR affiliate (yes, I'm a member, and I have the World Cafe CDs to prove it). She apparently had my number from last summer when I really was the only press contact in Milwaukee, and she asked about Howard Dean's recent statements that if he doesn't win Wisconsin, it's over. We talked for a good five or eight minutes, and I went through a lot of what I'd said in my speech (read the post below), and some other things. She asked good questions, mostly trying to get me to say something like "Oh my jeebus the pressure will kill us!"

I figured it would be one small part of a locally-aired piece. Turns out her report--with the one quote she could have taken where I expressed minor doubt (the "Waterloo" line)--is airing in the national top-of-the-hour news this afternoon. And I'm the only person quoted on tape: I didn't realize I would be her only Wisconsin source! (The link is to the most recent news, which may or may not have me in it.)

UPDATE: I just heard the 4:00 EST news, without me in it, but there was the local piece about Dean--with a different quote of mine on the air.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

You have to imagine it in Patton's voice

This is the full text of the speech I ended up only giving part of at tonight's Meetup.

First of all, let's keep some things in mind. I've been saying this for a while now, and then the other day I saw it on the blog, so I think they stole it, but here it is: We came into 2004 thinking it would be a sprint. We'd win Iowa and New Hampshire and sweep mini-Tuesday and that would be it. But, as it turns out, this is a marathon. And right now, Howard Dean is in second place in that marathon. Period. Don't listen when they say he's done, don't believe them when they say he's out of money--since he isn't--and ignore them when they say he's just a new Jerry Brown.

Fact is, Kerry right now has barely 10% of the delegates he needs by Boston. Ten percent. There are as many delegates at stake between now and our Wisconsin primary on February 17 as have been awarded to this point. And Howard Dean is in the best position to win more delegates than any other non-Kerry candidates between now and Super Tuesday. Period.

I’ve been doing this now for a year. This would be my twelfth Meetup, except for one month when a death in the family kept me away. And I don’t say that to brag or to lord it over anyone. I say that because I remember a time when supporting Howard Dean looked pretty foolish. And there are some who today say that supporting Howard Dean looks pretty foolish again.

But I am here tonight because Howard Dean has fundamentally changed who I am. And I’ll give you an example.

This morning--this very morning--I woke up as I usually do and I read the news (online, I won’t pay for the paper anymore). And I did something that is now common for me but which a year ago I would never have done. I wrote a letter--an email, actually--to state representative Gary Sherman, from way up north somewhere. I’ve never met him, never been in his district, wouldn’t know him if I saw him. But his was the critical vote yesterday in our state Democrats’ successful blocking of the override attempt on Governor Doyle’s veto of the concealed carry bill. I wrote him, and I said, “Look, I know today you’re gonna hear from a lot of people, and you’re gonna take a lot of crap today, but I just wanted you to know that you have support even down here in Milwaukee.”

Gary Sherman showed some Democratic backbone yesterday. Over the last year, we’ve been seeing that over and over again in Democrats all across the country. And I trace a lot of that backbone back to Howard Dean. Now, I don’t know if Sherman knows the first thing about Howard Dean. But you can see the influence of Dean and us Dean supporters everywhere in Democratic politics today.

In fact, as I have listened to the other presidential candidates over the past six months, what I hear them saying is what I was hearing Howard Dean saying a year ago.

But I’m here tonight because I want the voice, not the echo.

If I want a candidate who says that the war in Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time executed badly, I want Howard Dean, not some guy who was on CNN last April talking about how well the war was going.

If I want a candidate who says that it’s time to start talking about health care and jobs and education instead of those things that divide us into two Americas, then I want Howard Dean, not some Johnny-come-lately trial lawyer.

If I want a candidate who says it’s time to take America back from the special interests, the I want Howard Dean, not some guy who has taken more special interest money than any other senator in the last fifteen years--Republicans included!

I want the voice, not the echo.

That’s why I’m here tonight. I know that Wisconsin is Howard Dean’s last chance. It’s Normandy. It’s Gettysburg. I don’t want it to be Waterloo.

I also know that I can’t win Wisconsin for Howard Dean by myself. (My wife reminds me of that on a regular basis.) We here in this room can’t win Wisconsin by ourselves, either. But we--and all the people at all three dozen Meetups around the state--are the beginnings of that victory.

Go Wisconsin. Go Dean. Go vote!

Giggle-worthy Grammar Gaffes

This came in an email about tonight's Meetup:
3. Help Dean win delegates in Wisconsin and Virginia by sending handwritten postcards to the undecided voters included in your meetup package
I don't about you other Meetup hosts, but my envelope wasn't that big.

More Milwaukee Mayoral Musings

Another Reason I can't vote for David Clarke:
With Clarke saying, "I think there's a big difference between Tom Barrett and I on taxes," the ad opens with the words "Clarke vs. Barrett" on a dark screen.
Aside from the asininity--of which Barrett is equally guilty--of implying that this is a two-man race (there are eight other candidates besides those two, including my horse in the race, Leon Todd, whose website really, really sucks), this is a glaring example of one of my biggest grammar pet peeves.

The objective case of the first person pronoun is me. The preposition between needs to be followed by the objective case, and when Clarke uses I in that sense, he is using the subjective rather than the objective case.

Now some of you may call this picking nits, and just another case of my going all English Teacher on someone undeservedly. But this is further evidence that Clarke really isn't ready for prime time: He should at least have someone on staff who knows better and can stop this sort of thing before they spend thousands of dollars to air it. But, given that he seems not to have people on staff who can collect signatures properly, that may be too much to ask.

To be fair, Clarke does have the nicest logo of the ten candidates, though.

Send this guy some love

The state Assembly fell one vote short Tuesday of letting Wisconsin residents carry concealed weapons, allowing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle to survive his stiffest political challenge yet.

In a dramatic 65-34 vote, the Assembly failed to override Doyle's veto of the bill that pitted gun owners against a first-term Democratic governor and many law officers who insisted that arming more citizens would make the state less safe.

Rep. Gary Sherman (D-Port Wing), a National Rifle Association member who voted for the bill just three months ago, cast the deciding vote to sustain the veto.
Dear Rep. Sherman,

I just want to thank you for your courageous stand on the concealed carry vote yesterday. You are probably going to be swamped with letters, calls, and emails today, and I want to make sure that at least some of it is positive. I know you must have faced a difficult decision yesterday, but it was the right one.

I am not a constituent of yours, but I am a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher. I can assure you that everyone here in Milwaukee is on your side, and we teachers will rest easier now knowing that there will not be a sudden proliferation of guns on our streets.

Again, thank you for your vote.

Sincerely,

Folkbum

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

And now for something completely different

No, it's not electoral politics this time:



create your own visited states map

I'm a lot lamer than Scott. This sure makes me look like a homebody, doesn't it?

UPDATE: I love the Dems in my state. Mr. Heston, stick this in your barrel and eat it. (The link may be dead when the newspaper updates its story. I'll fix it in the morning.)

And check OSP in the morning for my mini-Tuesday analysis.

Rip Van Folkbum

I swear to jeebus it's like I went to sleep last February and woke up a year later.

I want the voice, not the echo.