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Saturday, January 31, 2004

The February Meetup

Dear Wisconsin Dean supporters,

The February 2004 Meetup is the most important Meetup of this campaign. I'm saying this right at the top so there will be no doubt what I'm asking you to do here.

A year ago, I was just learning who Howard Dean was. I remember a snowy March evening at a little coffee shop here in Milwaukee, with ten other people who were also just starting to learn about him. We had no idea that eleven months later we would be face to face with a make-or-break moment in the campaign, our campaign, with hundreds or thousands of other Milwaukeeans ready to Meetup for Dean.

But that's where we are. And the February 2004 Meetup is the most important Meetup of this campaign.

I teach high school English for a living, but many of you know that I also dabble a bit in punditry. I have learned too much this year about politics, the primary season, and the slings and arrows that outrageous fortune is bringing to bear on Dean's candidacy--on OUR campaign. Wisconsin will be, as it turns out, the most pivotal single primary after New Hampshire. It is here in Wisconsin that we will be able to deliver the final boost to Howard Dean's campaign--our campaign--and carry us over the top.

We can't do that without your help, though. So the February 2004 Meetup is the most important Meetup of this campaign.

Wednesday, February 4, will be less than two weeks until our own primary, February 17. In fact, Wisconsin's primary is the only primary that day: The media spotlight will be on us, and a solid Dean victory here will propel him into Super Tuesday with unstoppable momentum.

This is why I say that the February 2004 Meetup is the most important Meetup of this campaign.

That night in 49 other states, plus the District of Columbia and a dozen foreign countries, Dean supporters will Meetup to write letters to undecided Wisconsin voters on February 4. Your friends, neighbors, and family members--maybe even some of you!--will be getting hand-written notes from Dean supporters across the country and the globe. But it is up to us to get those friends, neighbors, and family members to the polls on February 17. We need to have the strongest get-out-the-vote campaign in the state. We need to remind everyone, especially the news media that will be watching Dean's performance in Wisconsin for any sign of weakness to exploit, that this campaign is our campaign.

If you attend only one Meetup for Howard Dean, make it the February 2004 Meetup. If you attend every Meetup for Howard Dean already, then bring ten new people with you to this one.

We cannot be complacent. We cannot rest on the laurels we have earned so far. The February 2004 Meetup. Is. The. Most. Important. Meetup. Of. This. Campaign.

It is at the February Meetup where we will coordinate our GOTV activities and prepare for the last push of phone-banking and ward walking. It is at the February Meetup where we will take the first final steps towards ensuring a Dean victory on primary day.

And, I have been authorized to tell you, at the February Meetup there will be a special surprise from the campaign that you will not want to miss.

Please, clear your schedules now for February 4. Go to Meetup, register if you need to, and RSVP for the Meetup venue nearest you. There are plenty of Meetup sites in Wisconsin; one of them is close. We need you there. Dean needs us there.

Our campaign is exactly that--ours. And we will not be successful if we do not all contribute. The February 2004 Meetup is the most important Meetup of this campaign, and I will see you there.

Friday, January 30, 2004

What the Dog Ate, Jan. 30

• One mutton on our vintage divided-light windowed front door.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


If John Kerry had just admitted that he had a botox injection, I wouldn't care. Frankly, I'd been thinking that he needed it pretty bad anyway.

He denies it, though.

But his eyebrows. Just. Don't. Move. Did you watch the debate? I saw it. Nothing.

Okay, here's a side-by-side. On the left, from 2000. On the right, from the debate.


As Rob Corddry would say, I mean come on!

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Some levity

I have not abandoned anything, mind you--not my support of Howard Dean nor my quest to be the "I Feel Lucky" Google result of all the world's wackiest searches. Among them, Jesus's armpits.

This is prompted, of course, by someone's finding me today with did "elizabeth edwards" use her own eggs (I am, sadly, only fourth for that search).

UPDATE: I'm also tempted to add a new daily feature called "What the dog ate," so you can keep up with the different parts of the house that Maggie, um, personalizes. We're down to one and a half windows with any kind of treatment left. Ug.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I'm shaking

I can't literally mainline this politics stuff, but I am actually shaking, jonesing for the results. (It could also be the Chips Ahoy.) If the leaked NH exit poll data were showing Kerry with a solid lead, I wouldn't care. I'd be able to get off my behind and actually do some housework--or even homework. But everything is pointing to the fact that this will be a real tight 1-2 finish. And I'm dying over here.

I've been maintaining for some time that a finish within five or so points--after being down by almost 20 in some polls--will be a moral if not real victory for Howard Dean. Remember, Clinton finished third in Iowa and second in New Hampshire, too. But the numbers--especially the LA Times numbers I hear--put Dean closer than Clinton in 1992.

More importantly, it looks like Clark and Edwards may well stay below 15%, meaning that they would not earn any delegates. So figure that Dean and Kerry get maybe 31% and 37%, repectively. That means Dean would get 8 delegates, Kerry 11. That's durned close, my friends.

Perhaps the best thing that could happen is if Dean wins one of the two congressional districts, which might make those numbers 9 to 10 in favor of Kerry. There is very little in either set of numbers that Kerry can really crow about.

Of course, the exit polling notoriously poor. I mean, after 2000, what's the point? Anyway, the last polls close in less than half an hour, and the real results will start coming in. Until then, the shaking.

UPDATE: After they called it for Kerry, I took a time out and watched "Good Eats" (the cheese one--I love my TiVo!) and talked to my mother-in-law (who called here). I feel a little better, though still sad. My analysis, as always, will be at OSP in the morning.

UPDATE II: The OSP post is here.

Monday, January 26, 2004

(ex) Candidate

Well, my friend Vince Whitacre has withdrawn from the race for the WI 5 CD. Drop by Stacie's blog and let the two of them know how you feel. Even if it's not about the race, man, just let it all out over there.

Vince has endorsed Bryan Kennedy. The other candidate currently in the race is Gary Kohlenberg, who, as it turns out, reads the Daily Kos--I mentioned him in a post there about the race and he emailed me--and has a far snazzier website and a Meetup. At this point, I am officially undecided again, so the link to Vince's site stays in the right column.

On the upside, Vince and Stacie could make a mint selling "" if this guy ever wants to run for congress.

LOCAL HAPS UPDATE: Well, if your humble folkbum isn't running for Kleczka's seat, there are many who are thinking about it. This includes my state senator, Tim Carpenter. So if my speaking out gets me fired, I could maybe be state senator.

NH #s

I would just like to state that these are preliminary predictions, and that I will post a full and complete prediction of the New Hampshire results sometime Wednesday morning.
Kerry       31%
Dean        27%
Edwards     18%
Clark       14%
Lieberman    7%
Kucinich     2%
Other/ Al    1%

Sunday, January 25, 2004

(if you're here for the Dean video, scroll down)
Local Hap'nin's

First of all, Milwaukee electoral politics has gotten even more interesting in the last 48 hours with Congressman Jerry Kleczka deciding not to seek re-election this fall. My wife has basically talked me out of trying for his seat (so we won't be like my friends Vince and Stacie), but if anyone knows how to run a successful congressional campaign on basically no money and without my wife knowing, drop me an email.

But as to the others who may run for the seat: Well, it will remain Democratic. When the state legislature redistricted after the 2000 census, they made all eight of Wisconsin's seats among the safest partisan seats in the nation. My money is on at least one of the unsuccessful mayoral candidates taking a whack at it--David Clarke in particular (as a Republican, I bet), and maybe Tom Barrett (who was a US Rep before giving up his seat in the redistricting) if he doesn't make it.

Also, last week the state Senate failed to override Governor Doyle's veto of the concealed-carry law. The Assembly will get it this week, but our hope was really in the Senate.

The mayor's race is proceeding apace, with Barrett, Clarke, and acting-Mayor Marvin Pratt doing well. The primary is February 17, the day of our presidential primary, and it has me wondering. It's no big secret in this non-partisan race Clarke is a Republican, with big Republican backers both in town and out. What happens when a whole mess of Milwaukee Republicans show up at the voting booths to vote for Clarke, and then decide to take advantage of the open primary to vote in the Democratic presidential primary? Maybe Al Sharpton will take a delegate here in town . . .

Still looking for that Dean video?

This may not be exactly what you want, but I encourage you to go look at the video compilation that Brian Flemming has put together. (Requires Quicktime.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Howard Dean's Iowa Concession Speech Rant
(I'm the one ranting, not him.)

A lot of people are finding me recently by searching for "Howard Dean Rants." A lot of others are finding this OSP article of mine by searching for "Howard Dean Iowa Concession Speech." People are looking for the speech made to his supporters Monday night that has been widely excerpted and played in the media over the past few days. A number of pundits are certain that his "angry snarling" in the speech--at least the clip they play of it--is the final nail in his coffin.

If you are one of those searchers, I hope you read on. If all you want is to see it, though, click here (in the "Most Watched Video" section; requires Real Player); the clip you have been hearing comes at about 8 minutes, the first minute or so of a ten minute speech--the rest of which you will not hear in the media.

Realize, first of all, that Dean made public concessions in CNN's "Larry King Live," as well as on MSNBC and some other networks. That speech was the "thank you" too his supporters (with nice congrats to Kerry and Edwards that you won't hear in the clips on the radio and TV, not to mention a tribute to Gephardt).

I have seen the speech. And yes, I watched it through Dean-colored glasses, but I watched it. And I loved it.

If you are expecting anger and bile in the speech, you will not find it. The part of the speech you are hearing on the news--the part with the list of states he wants to win, and the now-infamous "Yeeeeeaaaaah!"--is an inspiring, spirited, uplifting rallying cry. He's not angry; he's happy. He's not snarling; he's smiling. You can see it in particular in his eyes.

People once again are mistaking Dean's genuine passion for something else, mostly, I think, because they haven't seen a politician on the national stage recently with genuine anything. And if it isn't "presidential" to be genuine? Well, sorry, but I don't want to live in that country.

It fired me up when I saw it. If all you are hearing is the media spin, then I'm sorry. But watch the whole speech for yourself, judge for yourself. Watch espescially to the end--when Dean actually talks about fighting, and listen to what he's fighting for.

That's why I want to fight with him--I want my country back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I'm originally from Cincinnati

I say that because, if you were in the greater Cincinnati area for much of the last thirty years or so, your sports teams have pretty much always let you down.

Except for a good run in the 70s for the Reds (plus a WS sweep in 1991(?)), and an occasional above-500 season for the Bengals, life was bleak for a sports fan in the Tri-State.  Sure, Xavier and UC could occasionally be expected to hit the NCAA, but it's the pros, you know, that make or break a town's spirit.

Perhaps this is why I have never liked sports.  Perhaps it's why my dad and I don't have much in common.  Perhaps it's why I rarely use sports anolgies in my writing.  In any case, the past day or so has reminded me of nothing so much as it has the first game of any given season in Cincinnati sports.

The Reds (Bengals, Bearcats, Musketeers, whoever) would lose the first game.  My dad, in disgust, would turn off the TV, get up from the easy chair, and wander off to the kitchen with a resigned, "Season's over for the Reds."  (Or whoever.)

Cincinnatians are kind of inured to being losers.  We have grown to expect it, and to be surprised when we aren't.  But always, without fail, at the first sign of weakness, we walk away certain of defeat.

The lesson, of course, is that one game does not a season make.  One loss does not a losing season guarantee.  This is a season we must not lose, and starting your resignated complacency now is unacceptable.

As for me, I am subdued today but very pleased:  We turned out a record number of Democrats last night.  Period.  Defeatist talk doesn't help the team win any games, people.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Iowa over; it ain't so bad for us Dean supporters

It's like getting the first ding in the bumper of your new car. You know, you were on eggshells before, and extra nervous about anything going wrong.

At some point, though, you accumulate so many dings and scratches that you can fly around the parking lot now with abandon.

Most of my Iowa analysis will be at Open Source Politics in the morning (hey, whaddya know, it's up there now!). The Dean-specific spin, though, I'll mention here.

This is, believe it or not, good for us. Dean was strongest when he was the underdog. When we all believed in him against the odds. This moment will, I hope, return some of the humilty we felt when poll after poll showed Dean an asterisk, an also-ran. But it should also bring back the energy we felt when we knew we had something to prove.

Let's remember the positives. 3,500 people from everywhere showed up to the middle of nowhere for a reason, folks: This campaign. That says something. It obviously doesn't say this thing will be a cakewalk--which is what I was hoping, for a while, it would say--but it's real and meaningful.

And we still have the only truly nation-wide campaign. We now have a sense of what worked and what didn't in the first caucus state, so that we'll be able to put up the best organization and fight in NM, ND, MI, WA, ME, DC, ID, and UT, which we should own.

Think about Kerry and Edwards: Where do they go now? Kerry has got nothing beyond New Hampshire; Edwards is looking at South Carolina and then . . . nothing. Clark is now in a much weaker position, not only because he lacks that caucus experience, but because Kerry and Edwards now threaten him in NH and SC. And I predict Dean will maintain his position at first or second in every state now through Feb. 17, when he wins Wicsonsin with 65% of the vote (that's my own personal mission).

But the biggest hopeful sign about this whole thing is the turnout tonight in Iowa. As it turns out (no pun intended), when I've been saying on occasion that 125,000 is the record turnout from 1988, that's just an overreported error. 1988 featured closer to 95,000 Iowans caucusing. 2000 had only 68,000. Tonight, we saw at least 100,000 people, maybe as many 125,000, and nearly half of them were new caucusers. It's that number that should be putting the fear of Jeebus in KKKarl Rove and the gang. It shows that, despite the squabbling and the fighting and the jostling for the nomination, Democrats will not sit idly by this time around. We will take our country back, whoever heads the ticket.

T minus 12 hours

So I didn't get to go to Iowa. I wanted to, sure, but in the end I have too much crap to deal with here at home. And I need to be well rested this week for a fight of a different nature, and that means getting home in the wee hours of Tuesday morning is not an option.

Anyway, I just wanted to make sure my predictions were out there. For the final count--not the initial count at the door, but once the delegates have been divvied up in the ~2000 Iowa precincts tonight--I predict the following totals:
  Dean      28%
  Gephardt  26%
  Kerry     19%
  Edwards   13%
  Kucinich  1%
  Uncommitted 13%

In the end, Gephardt's organization will keep him in the running, and I'm pretty sure that he and Dean will be the only two to reach the 15% viability threshold in every precinct. That means Edwards, Kerry, and Kucinich (I don't think Sharpton, Lieberman, or Clark will make 15% anywhere) will have precincts where their final count is zero, dropping their overall percentages.

I predict turnout will be about 125,000--nearly double 2000's 68,000 total.

Finally, don't miss my post-Iowa commentary (as part of the "Boston Bound" series at Open Source Politics tomorrow morning.

[Post-game Update: Boy, was I wrong! Mmmmm, them eggs is good, even if they was on my face! I may have hit turnout right, though.]

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Thursday Clarke Update

One of these days I'll get back to my usual pathetic rants. Anyway, Bobot will not go to the state elections commission.

That means Sheriff David Clarke will stay on the ballot for the Milwaukee mayoral primary.

So here's the deal: We have a front-runner, or at least a near front-runner, who a month ago boasted that he'd collected 5,000 signatures, well over the minimum (1500) and even beyond the maximum allowable (3000). But when the time came to perform, he could just barely produce.

Even worse, it's becoming increasingly clear that Clarke has no actual support from non-hypothetical Milwaukeeans:
Most of Clarke's signatures were obtained by people who didn't live in the city. [. . .] While it's true that the vast majority of Clarke nomination papers were circulated by people not living in the city, by far the most signatures collected were by Clarke Field Director Kirk Fedewa, who lives in New Berlin and is on the campaign payroll. The second most were collected by Menomonee Falls resident and campaign operative Lisa Sanfilippo. Even key Clarke campaign adviser Michael Whitcomb, who lives in Brookfield, got into circulating nomination papers, collecting 83 signatures the last two days before the deadline.
The big money for Clarke is rumored to come from out-of-state GOP machines. This week, Republican JC Watts was in town in support of Clarke.

I mean, I think everyone should have known something was up when Clarke invited the man who ran the Brewers into the ground to be a financial advisor on his campaign.

If not for the constant pimping by a certain uber-conservative Rushclone talker who shall remain nameless here in town, no one would even be thinking of Clarke as a viable candidate. And now, with an absolutely disastrous debacle here at the front of his campaign, it is clear that Clarke cannot lead. Period.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

David Clarke Update, Tuesday Evening

He's in, pending the Bobot challenge. The Milwaukee election people counted a total of 1539, 39 over the minimum, after deciding on 1451 last night but agreeing to take affidavits as to the validity of additional signatures.

Either side can appeal whatever the final decision is to the state elections commission, which then has ten days to rule on the matter. By my count, that could be as late as just three weeks before the February 17 primary.

As I've said, Bobot is not at all my dog in this fight, but, go, Vince, go! If Clarke can't even hold his organization together enough to gather 1500 good signatures in a city of 600,000 people, then he has proven incapable of governing us.

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: Apparently after I went to bed last night, Bobot's challenge succeeded in only squelching 20 names. The link above is updated to the new article with the correct figures, as the old one was pulled in favor of this one. The Wisconsin Elections Board will likely get the case today. And they drew for ballot order: Clark is eighth of ten. Former police chief Art Jones is last. That sounds about right.

David Clarke Update, Tuesday Morning

Last night Milwaukee election officials finished a review of Clarke's ballot petition signatures (see the entry just below this one for the backstory) and came up with just 1451 valid signatures. Candidates need 1500 to get on the ballot. But the battle is not over; a hearing today will decide if he gets on the ballot or not. As the paper this morning notes,
[A]ttorneys for Clarke will have to persuade the Election Commission to allow dozens of signatures to be added to the tally, arguing that the flaws are technical ones. [. . .] But either side could appeal the determination--sending the issue to the state Elections Board and possibly the courts at a critical period in the suddenly shaken-up contest.
The city folks will make their final call tonight (while I'm busy watching the polls in DC), and I will have an update either late tonight or in the morning. In the meantime, my fingers are crossed that Clarke is out. He'd be bad for the city, for the schools, and for our image--especially now that he's shown he has no idea how the city works and no control over the people who work for him.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

The other candidate Clarke

I haven't been writing much about the mayor's race here in Milwaukee, since my massive national audience probably doesn't have much interest in some paltry little provincial contest.

But it's really been quite, um, interesting

Milwaukee is chary with its mayors. John Norquist, who left office at the end of December to head up the Congress for New Urbanism, was elected first way back in 1988. Before that, Henry Maier had been mayor since--get this--1960.

Anyway, Norquist announced a long time ago that he would not be running for re-election, even before he was tapped to lead the CNU. In other words, no incumbent for the first time in 15 years. And nature abhors a vacuum, right? So roughly six billion Milwaukeeans queued up for the non-partisan race, including some heavy hitters like former US Rep. Tom Barrett, beloved state Rep. Pedro Colon (who has sense pulled out and endorsed Barrett), Common Council President Marvin Pratt (who moved into the mayor's office when Norquist left, so he is kind of the incumbent), and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. In all, nearly two dozen made some effort, and ten submitted signatures, which were due this past week, to get on the ballot.

Now, the odyssey of this candidate Clarke is similar to the odyssey that other candidate Clark, the presidential Wesley.

David Clarke has not been a very political figure, the same way Wes Clark is debuting in politics in the presidential race. Clarke-with-an-e ran as a Democrat in 2002 for County Sheriff, though lately it's become clear that he is very Republican. In fact, former Rep. J. C. Watts (R-OK) will be in town Tuesday for a big Clarke fundraiser. Clark-without-an-e has generated some controversy for having admitted to voting for Nixon, Reagan, and the first Bush, as well as for not having officially declared himself a Democrat until after declaring as a candidate for the party's nomination.

The eeriest thing, probably, is the way both Clarke and Clark dilly-dallied leading up to the race. Both waited until the field was fairly well set before making their decisions to enter, leading to all kinds of speculation and, to an extent, chaos. Now both have climbed to be the likely second-place candidate at this point (Clarke behind Barrett, and Clark behind Howard Dean).

But now one of the two--Clarke-with-an-e--may find his candidacy cut short. When his team filed signatures this week, they just barely submitted the required number to make the ballot. He needed 1500, and he got 1532. And that's only because a staffer stood in the lobby of City Hall desperately working the cell phone to get circulators in with their papers the day they were due. Problem is, many of the signatures will likely be declared invalid.

Vince Bobot, a former prosecutor and municipal court judge, has challenged Clarke's papers. Now, I carry no water for Bobot--don't like him one bit, really, but I like Clarke less. If Bobot can get Clarke off the ballot, I will be quite pleased.

Personally, I've become quite the fan of Leon Todd. For a while I flirted with Sandy Folaron, but I like Todd's approach much better. When I've heard him speak, he just makes sense. He also has a bit of Howard Dean's spunky outrage at how things could have been left to deteriorate to the state they are in. Even when I disagree with Todd--for example, on the Milwaukee Public Schools teacher residency requirement--he explains his position in such a way that it makes sense why he stands where he stands. And I like that.

But I digress.

By Tuesday--the day of the big J. C. Watts fundraiser--the Milwaukee election folks will make a decision on the Clarke signatures. He's got a razor-thin margin of error: If they find just 33 questionable signatures, he's out. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says that they've found 34 questionable signatures. Bobot, of course, is convinced there are many more than that. There is the outside chance that additional signatures could be counted if circulators are allowed to swear out affidavits. That would lead to all kinds of lawsuits, I tell you what.

I'll post an update Tuesday, for those interested. But this is shaping up to be an interesting thing.

Oh, I'll add one last bit of fun. The date of our mayoral primary (the top two will square off later) is the same date as our presidential primary: February 17, just four weeks away.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Folkbum on Radio, Part Deux

A few weeks back I mentioned in passing how impressed I was with the Kucinich folks' organizing, as I had heard them blow out the competition in a Wisconsin Public Radio straw poll. (That got notice on at least one DK mailing list--that a "Deanie" was impressed with them.)

Well, WPR did another straw poll today, and, as I was able to get home before the end of the program, I was able to call in for Dean this time. (I am a Selective Luddite: sure, I'm writing this on my wireless laptop while watching my TiVo, but I refuse to get a cell phone.)

Anyway, the final results:
Howard Dean 25 (39%)
Wesley Clark 18 (28%)
Dennis Kucinich 17 (27%)
Carol Moseley Braun 3 (7%)
Dick Gephardt 1 (2%)
John Edwards 0 (0%)
John Kerry 0 (0%)
Al Sharpton 0 (0%)
Joe Lieberman -1 (-2%)
Yes, one woman called in and specifically voted against Lieberman. So, even when the "Sharpton Line" is 0, Lieberman can be under it.

An additional shout-out to my friends Mike in Tosa and Tim in Marinette who got on. If anyone else made it, lemme know. I didn't hear the whole hour.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Blogger is Bloggered

I guess it's been happening to a number of people for the better part of a week, according to other Blogger users out there I've read, but it's just started happening to me today: I can't get to any blog*spot or Blogger sites, and instead get re-directed to I can't even look at my own blog! If any of you out there are still able to get here (and my hit counter says y'all are trying), good for you. Me, I'm blind.

I can't even get a whole-blog preview while I'm editing in Blogger.

The blog*spot and Blogger people need to get this figured out ASAP. Man, if I was paying for the premium service I'd be really mad. As it is, my indignation is tempered by the fact that I haven't had to pay for anything yet. Sigh.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Folkbum's official 2004 Resolutions

I doth forthwith hereby and duly resolve to
• Eat more vegetables
• Eat less pizza
• Read more books, especially fiction, which has gotten the short-shrift from me lately
• Post here more often
• Post to OSP more often
• Not go postal
• Take a real vacation
• Watch more independent movies (especially those bizarre Australian comedies)
• Buy more CDs and see more live music
• Write at least one good song a month--I've been putting a lot of ideas off for too long
• Deliver Wisconsin for Howard Dean on Feb 17, and the Democrat (whom I hope will be Dean) in November
• Get more sleep
• Herd more sheep
• Eat no Peeps
• Continue to live without a cell phone
• Stop making specific promises about what I will post here and when, and then stop using Blogger's back-dating function to make it look like I really posted it on time