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My state’s primary isn’t until Feb 5. A lot will happen between now and then.

I haven’t made up my mind, but I’m really leaning towards Edwards. I like his healthcare plan, and I like that he really likes to fight corporate greed. The shit that I hate (MPAA politics, RIAA law suits, MS monopolistic practices) all come down to reining in corporate greed.

Lately the polls have been showing a sudden improvement in Edwards’ polling numbers in Iowa. Iowa, as we learned in the Dean campaign, isn’t about numbers. It isn’t a vote, it’s a caucus. People gather at their municipal hall or somesuch. There are multiple rounds of voting, at each round candidates are eliminated and those supporters can change their votes to the remaining candidates. Supporters of the surviving candidates run around and try to negotiate with people to switch to their candidate. There is a lot of horse-trading and shenanigans. Four years ago Dean lost a lot of caucus votes because other candidates’ supporters told them things like, “hey, if you vote for my guy in this round I promise to vote for Dean in the next round!” It can sound reasonable in the heat of the moment, but they were tricked... Dean was out by the next round. Conclusion: To win in Iowa, you need to send your supporters to training camps so they know how to negotiate. Some candidates have the $ to run these camps, others don’t.

Interestingly enough, a recent NY Times article began as follows:

Senator Barack Obama is on the hunt for Iowans who have never participated in the state’s presidential caucuses, including independent voters under 50 and students who will be 18 by the general election.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is searching for Iowans who have skipped the caucuses in the past and who, because of age, sex or other characteristics, seem likely to support her, starting with independent women over 65 or under 30.

John Edwards is taking a more traditional approach, working through the official list of Democrats who showed up to choose a candidate in 2004, as his campaign tries to ensure that it has the name of every likely voter who might be on his side when Iowans gather in 1,781 precinct caucuses across the state on Thursday night.
In summary: Edwards was looking for people that knew how to caucus, Clinton and Obama were looking for people that were ignorant about caucuses.

I wonder if the author was accurate there. Was he just adding a little fiction to make the article have a colorful opening, was he reporting on what he saw going on with the limited view a reporter can get, or were these the highly accurate reporting of someone that has insider knowledge about the campaign’s ground strategy? If these were very accurate, then Edwards might pull out a surprise victory because he was identifying the people with real experience, and Obama is spending energy looking for people that will be duped like Dean’s folks were. (I’m more akin to think that the reporter was fictionalizing or basing this on casual conversations with volunteers)

As a manager there are 2 rules I have: (1) 90% of victory is “building the right team”, (2) When I need to assure success, I get people with experience. I lectured about this at LISA2007, if you are reforming a IT department that has failed, first hire senior people with experience to get the ball rolling, then fill in with less experienced people when you have the luxury to be able to experiment and possibly do things wrong the first time then improve. In an election, there is no second chance.

This brings me to this paragraph:
Mrs. Clinton is banking on Teresa Vilmain, who has worked in Iowa presidential caucuses for over 20 years, and Ms. Hicks, a former national field director for the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have similarly respected operatives running their caucus operation, including David Plouffe and Steve Hildebrand for Mr. Obama. Jennifer O’Malley Dillon is running Mr. Edwards’s Iowa campaign for a second time.
Clinton: hired someone with 20 years of Iowa experience, Obama & Edwards hired people with not as much experience, but Edwards brought someone in that did his Iowa campaign last year, so she does have the “second chance” to make things right. She came in 2nd place in 2004. (Kerry: 38%; Edwards: 32%; Dean: 18%). Of course, Edwards also has Joe Trippi who didn’t run his Iowa campaign, but did run someone else’s Iowa many years ago.

The article, however, points out that Obama and Clinton are using sophisticated datamining techniques to identify voters better, and the Clinton campaign smartly recognized that Iowans get so many phone calls that they get frustrated. Thus, they are doing multiple personal visits to likely voters. Also, since “research conducted by her campaign found that many Iowans who supported Mrs. Clinton but had never caucused before found the process intimidating or baffling, her aides showed up at the homes of those voters with DVD’s that explained how the caucuses work.” That’s pretty smart.

If Clinton doesn’t come in 1st place in Iowa I can make one prediction: I believe that even though a lot of Democrats love Hillary, it is weak support: they support her because they feel that she’s the front runner. It’s the “nothing generates a crowd like a crowd” phenomenon. Thus, if someone else wins double-digits more than Clinton, all that weak support will move away to that other candidate.

Update: Fixed a typo (Thanks, Josh!)
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Last night [livejournal.com profile] quietchris and I watched All The President's Men (IMDB, Wikipedia). This movie is about the start of Watergate and the reporters that investigated it.

This move is definitely one to add to your NetFlix (do it right now!).

Considering what we're going through with Bush Jr, it's important to see what real journalism looks like, and how difficult it is.

It's important to remember that Watergate wasn't about a break-in. It was about a President that decided to use the power of the CIA to make sure he won re-election. Seeing it develop, and the FBI being complacent in making sure the investigation was steered away from the really bad stuff, was really a wake up call.

When people say I'm cynical about Republican politics, I'm going to just say, "Have you seen All The President's Men"?
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Every time a company weasels out of paying pensions to its retired employees, or negotiates to "go bankrupt" just to raid the pensions, someone always points out that "even if the CEO went without salary it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the money they need to make their pension payments". It's some kind of rationalization for not keeping a commitment made to their employees.

Everytime I hear that I think, "Just the CEO? What about all the excecutives? That just doesn't add up!" Sounds like an excuse!

Well, it turns out I was right.

WSJ: Report Proves Exec Payouts Causing America's Pension Crisis


In a new book called Hostile Takeover
The public is led to believe that companies are slashing workers' pensions and backing out of their retirement promises to workers because these companies face a cash squeeze caused by the market. But in a major investigative report, Schultz points out that an "analysis of corporate filings reveals that executive benefits are playing a large and hidden role in the declining health of America's pensions."
or my favorite quote
Boosted by surging pay and rich formulas, executive pension obligations exceed $1 billion at some companies. Besides GM, they include General Electric Co. (a $3.5 billion liability); AT&T Inc. ($1.8 billion); Exxon Mobil Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. (about $1.3 billion each); and Bank of America Corp. and Pfizer Inc. (about $1.1 billion apiece).
It's just another way big business screws the little people that made them big.
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Lakeoff has a great article about why whining about Bush Jr being incompetant doesn’t help the democrats. It dismisses his accomplishments, which have made substantial BAD changes to our country.

One thing he says really stands out:http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/research/lakoff/incompetent
Conservatives also strive to get rid of protective agencies and social programs. The deficit Bush created through irresponsible tax cuts and a costly war in Iraq will require drastic budget cuts to remedy. Those cuts, conservatives know, won’t come from military spending, particularly when they raise the constant specter of war. Instead, the cuts will be from what Conservatives have begun to call “non-military, discretionary spending;” that is, the programs that contribute to the common good like the FDA, EPA, FCC, FEMA, OSHA and the NLRB. Yet another success for the conservative agenda.
I know that we Democrats have a difficult time coming up with a “ word” explanation of what we stand for to compete with the Republican “lower taxes” line. However the above paragraph seems to have the seeds of what I’m looking for. The fact that the common good is best served by programs like FDA, EPA, FCC, FEMA, OSHA and the NLRB... at least when they’re run well and for the people speaks volumes. Yes, everyone can pick nits with these agencies, but “lower taxes” has the same problem and they overcome it (for example, “lower taxes” was never to imply that the military shouldn’t get all the funding they need).

Maybe my “elevator pitch” for the democrats is something like:

“A well-managed government serves people best”
Still too many words, but it hits the points I want.

It’s NOT Incompetence

When Progressives shout “Incompetence!” it obscures the many conservative successes. The incompetence frame drastically misses the point, that the conservative vision is doing great harm to this country and the world. An understanding of this and an articulate progressive response is needed. Progressives know that government can and should have a positive role in our lives beyond simple, physical security. It had a positive impact during the progressive era, busting trusts, and establishing basic labor standards. It had a positive impact during the new deal, softening the blow of the depression by creating jobs and stimulating the economy. It had a positive role in advancing the civil rights movement, extending rights to previously disenfranchised groups. And the United States can have a positive role in world affairs without the use of its military and expressions of raw power. Progressives acknowledge that we are all in this together, with “we” meaning all people, across all spectrums of race, class, religion, sex, sexual preference and age. “We” also means across party lines, state lines and international borders.

The mantra of incompetence has been an unfortunate one. The incompetence frame assumes that there was a sound plan, and that the trouble has been in the execution. It turns public debate into a referendum on Bush’s management capabilities, and deflects a critique of the impact of his guiding philosophy. It also leaves open the possibility that voters will opt for another radically conservative president in 2008, so long as he or she can manage better.

...

Conservatism itself is the villain that is harming our people, destroying our environment, and weakening our nation. Conservatives are undermining American values through legislation almost every day. This message applies to every conservative bill proposed to Congress. The issue that arises every day is which philosophy of governing should shape our country. It is the issue of our times. Unless conservative philosophy itself is discredited, Conservatives will continue their domination of public discourse, and with it, will continue their domination of politics.

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Dear Senator Lautenberg and Menendez,

I was so proud to learn that BOTH Senators from New Jersey were on the list of 13 that voted for the Kerry-Feingold proposal to redeploy American combat troops out of Iraq by July 1, 2007.

Thank you!

(Sent via http://eqfed.org/njlgc/leg-lookup/search.tcl to each of them)
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http://www.swingstateproject.com/2006/06/njsen_tom_kean.php

Help me understand this. Both of the candidates for NJ’s Senate seat agree to give speeches at a conference.

Menendez gives a rockin’ speech, calls Kean, Jr a “light weight” and a “coward”

Kean, Jr gets up on stage and gives a cowardly, light-weight speech.

Reporters ask Jr questions. He gets so scared he hides in the elevator. (He took it from the current floor to... THE SAME FLOOR.)

Look, Kean, Jr... the sooner people find out you aren’t a clone of your dad the better it will be for New Jersey. You claim you are your own man, but you’ve never voted against a Bush idea. Your dad was his own man, and broke away from the Republicans on important issues such as education, the environment (”Having clean water to drink is not a Republican or Democrat issue”), GLBTI issues, AIDS, sex education, and many other issues. That’s why people liked him.

The more word spreads that you paid Tomicki for $50,000 to help craft your message so that homophobes and racists would “read between the lines” but not sound like the bigot you are, the better it is for NJ. Tomiki is the guy who says that battered women shouldn’t be allowed to get divorced (they just need to STOP BEING SUCH A BITCH), that gays shouldn’t marry, and that blacks should... well, he thinks the secret to winning the black vote is to give every black minister in Camden a $2,000 donation the week before election night in exchange for not encouraging their members to vote.

You aren’t your father. I knew your father. We were on a first-name basis... and I don’t just say that because every time I met with him I was wearing a nametag that said, “Tom” on it. I’m saying that because I honestly believe that he remembered that he had a good way to remember my name, such as remembering that it was the same first name as his.

And that’s my rant.


P.S. No, one more point. Kean, Jr is so disconnected with New Jersey that he doesn’t know that Route 1 is a traffic jam at rush hour.

Footnotes:

* -- Yes, an insult based on out-dated gender-stereotypes. Blow me.**

** -- Yes, a sex-negative retort with potential homophobic implications. In reality, I’d love a blow job right now.
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Yeah, that FUCKING Bill Clinton can’t keep his god damn dick in his pants! Well, Amerikka, we’ll be different! We aren’t gonna run this country like a bunch of fuckin’ frat boys! Vote for us ‘cause we hate government, thus we’ll run it right! Just like the restaurant down the street that you love so much that has the owner that hates to cook food! That makes sense, right?

Oh, and when disaster strikes in a blue state with a lot of black people not only will we delay 5 days and let those people starve, but...

The GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, found at least $1 billion in disaster relief payments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were improper and potentially fraudulent because the recipients provided incomplete or incorrect information when they registered for assistance. (GAO report)

Besides the bottle of champagne, the GAO uncovered records showing $1,000 from a FEMA debit card went to a Houston, Texas, divorce lawyer, $600 was spent in a strip club, and $400 bought “adult erotica products,” all of which auditors concluded were “not necessary to satisfy legitimate disaster needs.”(Full Story)

“It bothers me as an American that resources that were intended to help victims of this tremendous tragedy were spent this way,” said Hooters Chairman Bob Brooks, referring to the champagne from Hooters.

(Quoted from CNN)

Now stop voting for that guy that can’t keep his dick in his pants, and vote for us. Getting your dick sucked by a chubby chick is DISGUSTING! Gotta get rid of that man and vote for a Republican! We’ll just spend a BILLION DOLLARS of relief money on divorces, strip clubs and porn. Ya hoo!

yesthattom: (Default)
Hey there--

Democrats have seen so much rapid progress in so many places (sweeping four special elections in Mississippi, flipping three state legislature seats in New Hampshire that had been Republican-held for nearly 100 years) that it’s easy to forget that the 50-state strategy is a controversial plan.

It boils down to this: participation politics. I am helping to build an entirely new kind of political party -- one where every single person matters as much as the next, where each one of us has the power to take our future into our own hands. Some people don’t understand it, and some people don’t believe it will work. But I believe in the extraordinary potential of millions of Americans united in common cause to make our country better.

I think it’s time for people to count.

Please join me in supporting the Democratic Party’s 50-state strategy.

http://www.democrats.org/peoplecount

Thank you!
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I saw An Inconvenient Truth in NYC today (see the trailer). It was great!

I had heard a number of people who saw it say that Gore sure isn't "stiff" when his handlers aren't making him talk about things that aren't his passion, like the environment. Now I understand. We was natural and smooth.

I first heard of global warming when Karen Gerwin's father came to my 4th grade science class (1978? 79?) and talked about it. At the time, it was still just a theory. It's amazing to watch the timeline of science progress and see how so many of the predictions came true. People fought tooth and nail to claim CFCs weren't a problem, and yet eventually the entire world turned on a dime to stop the hole in the ozone layer. The people that fought that fight literally saved the world. The same arguments are made about the current CO2 problem and I swear the people that stick it out to fight for reductions in CO2 emissions will also save the world.

For more about this movie, visit www.climatecrisis.net

I wish everyone would go see this movie.
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BusinessWeek ranked the most ideal places to work for undergraduates and they were (1) Disney, (2) Google, (3) U.S. Department of State, (4) FBI, (5) CIA, (6) Microsoft, (7) Apple.

A co-worker responded:

> I’m actually more horrified that so many undergrads apparently want
> to work for the government.

Working for the government is a great way to serve ones country.

If I may go off on a rant...

The middle part of “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” means that our government is made up of people (like Soylent Green, but better.)

That’s a fairly radical statement when you consider that historically governments were made up of deities (or people that told everyone they were). It also means that (despite public perception) the government isn’t made up of “someone else”. It’s made up of us!

The U.S. government is as good as we make it. Whether that’s by voting, running for office, or by being employed by it. You can’t just say, “it’s beyond fixing... I sure hope someone else fixes it” or worse, “

Think about the Google culture of openness that lets us take 20% of our time to fix/improve the things that we care about here. Citizens have that 20% with respect to the U.S. government. Being on your local school board is usually a 2-nights-per-month commitment. Certainly less than 20% of the average person’s spare time. There are plenty of other ways to get involved too. Undergrads that want to work for the government are usually looking to dedicate 100% to improving things. That’s something we should all encourage.

Yes, government workers have a stereotype of being “clock watchers”, lacking creativity, or special skills. If you want to fix that, do something about it. Don’t have time? I recommend the following: Figure out how much you make per hour (hint: there are about 2000 hours in the work year) and donate twice that to a candidate or organization that believes the same way you do. That’s a lot like donating 2 hours of time each month.

Just like at Google, problems don’t fix themselves so “don’t wait for someone else to act”.
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Feldman reframes the latest headlines:

With Rape On The Rise, South Dakota Governor Signs Bill Banning All Abortion

Small Town America Passing Resolutions to Impeach President Bush, Citizens Reclaim America

Failing At Diplomacy, John Bolton Puts U.S. On Path To War With Iran

President Admits He Did Not Understand Katrina Until He Saw People Suffering On TV

U.S. Ports Security Scandal Leads To Talk Of Impeachment, Media Runs With Story For First Time

yesthattom: (Default)

Democrats.org has a post called "Annual Report to the Grassroots" that's worth checking out...





One year ago today... Governor Howard Dean launched his plan for building a new Democratic Party.

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The Organic Consumers Association wants you to have a fair-trade, organic Valintine's Day!

http://www.organicconsumers.org/valentines/slammed.htm

(But what impressed me the most is that they didn't shy away from making the obvious joke of accidentally saying... well, you'll have to watch it for yourself.)
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Bush, Jr. seemed to be back-peddling on stem-cell research but set a "stopping point" at which we must not go beyond.
A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners and that recognize the matchless value of every life.
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos.
(emphasis mine)

Sounds good, right? Except what he really said was much more devious. One of those items bans 100% of the useful research being done, the research that is most likely going to help cure diseases.

Can you guess which one?

(Well, I hope you guessed it because I highlighted it in bold.)

Yes, "human-animal hybrids" includes things such as the introduction of human microbes into test mice blood cells, using animals to grow human organs and so on.

This cartoon explains it with humor:
http://www.xoverboard.com/cartoons/2006_02_06.html

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I didn't get around to reading Sarah Vowell's Times column on Wednesday (didn't know she had on until watching Friday's Conan), but in there I found:

A pessimist might complain that thanks to N.S.A. wiretapping, American civil liberties are woefully at risk; an optimist might point out that sure, things are bad, but they are so bad that even the crabby conservative strategist Grover Norquist has been driven to sweetly rooting for his political enemies, telling The San Francisco Chronicle last week, "For 40 years we always assumed the left would take care of our civil liberties." He added, "If there were problems, the Democrats were the ones who would push back. But now with a Republican Congress and a Republican in the White House, the A.C.L.U. can't get their calls returned."

http://tinyurl.com/8hzws

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So, people keep asking me when the Democrats are going to get their rhetoric right. Plus, I am always cringing at the SoTU Democratic response sounding like it was written by the guy that translates camera instructions into English. Well, dear friends, tonights Dem response was exceptionally good. It could easily have been the acceptance speech from the 2008 Democratic convention. It hit all the major issues and was clear and personal.

I believe that you can watch the response here. But I'm not sure since I don't have my 'puter configured correctly right now.
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http://www.americanprogress.org/site/pp.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=1372037#

Given this starting point, it is still startling that 86 percent of Americans say they support ‘reforming our current health care system to provide affordable health care for all Americans.’ We would point out that this language secures significantly higher initial support than we have historically seen for the more common phrase ‘universal health care.’ Support for the proposition is broad, including at least 80 percent of those in virtually every demographic group and every region of the country; even 76 percent of Republicans agree. The language used is critical to securing this broad support, with two key reassurances included:...
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> If you haven’t seen this, check it out.
>
> http://www.canofun.com/blog/videos/2006/DeanAbramoffDemocrats.asx
>
> The contrast between how GHD handled the media during the campaign
> and the way he handled Wolf Blitzer the other day is just incredible.
>
> Now if the Democratic establishment would stop trying to distance
> itself from Dean, they might learn something about staying on
> message. This is the first time I’ve seen him on TV and really felt
> like he seemed like the leader of the Democratic party.
>
> Nice job, Governor.
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Despite Cheney’s health scare this morning, I got to thinking how it would affect the 2008 election if Cheney was replaced. The replacement would be the automatic front-runner for Republican candidate, and we’d have 3 years of opportunities to make him look bad. It could really help the Democrats.

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