Saturday, October 28, 2006

GOTV, Campaign Money, Rush Limbaugh and our Do-Nothing Congress

  • Republican get-out-the-vote (GOTV) programs are set and ready to roll. They track people who've been identifed as saying they intend to vote right up until they actually do vote. If they vote early or absentee, they are purged so that the resulting target list is up-to-date and refined. Democrats have a similar capability but not a system for doing it everywhere; they do it where and if they have the money. The result is that the Reps get some votes that would otherwise fall through the cracks. And this election cycle, many Reps are seriously considering not voting, thus this GOTV program will get many of them back in the fold.

  • My opinion: a fair portion of moderate Reps that either didn't plan to vote, or were planning to vote moderately, will be guilt-driven back into voting solidly Republican. Dems just don't have the same mechanism or mentality. And if Dems are apathetic, as many are, they don't get goaded back into the fold.
Campaign Money
  • In targeted races, the money is coming in evenly albeit late for the Dems. But late money means more costly expenditures, in effect, less for more. Early money gets lower rates and the effect of repetition, a necessary requirement for name recognition in the less popular races. In organizational money for party and party organizations, the Reps are far ahead of the Dems. That money goes to GOTV, database development and maintenance, volunteer recruitment and voter registration.

  • My opinion: Coupled with the Rep many-year investment in a national database and their seriously greater party-building monies, wherever organization and technique play a role in the outcome of an election, the Reps win.

Rush Limbaugh
  • Time Magazine asked whether Limbaugh was good for America and the answer seems to be "No." Especially as he has stretched our tolerance and amusement levels with his caustic and slimeball remarks about Michael J. Fox, the feeling de jure seems to be less noise; more brotherhood.

  • My opinion: The Fox fiasco may not play out as well as the Foley one, but it adds to the consensus that false bravado, "staying the course," "cut and run," and all the other phrases Reps have used and Limbaugh has repeated are nothing more than that - harsh, insensitive, slimey, PR phrases.
Our Do-nothing Congress
  • The only breath of fresh air in Congress today is Nancy Pelosi's statement about not tolerating impeachment diversions but instead, focusing on a progressive agenda of very necessary action items should the Dems win the House and she gets the leadership post (Reid has said that he intends to pass it on to her). This truly has been our worst and most unproductive Congress. A recent mass e-mailer making the rounds shows that although Congress has been lackluster in terms of passing laws, they have been wonderful at breaking them!

    3 have done time for assault
    7 have been arrested for fraud
    8 have been arrested for shoplifting
    14 have been arrested on drug-related charges
    19 have been accused of writing bad checks
    21 currently are defendants in lawsuits
    36 have been accused of spousal abuse
    71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
    84 have been arrested for drunk driving within the last year

  • My opinion: A pox on both houses. But a (naive) hope for a less politicized leader, Nancy Pelosi, should the Dems win the House.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kos vs Stephanopoulos

When George Stephanopoulos was in the White House I admired him greatly for sticking to his guns. But in his recent interview with President Bush on Sunday's ABC This Week, he didn't blink an eye when Bush lied. But Kos came to the rescue with his Monday blog "Stay the course"? Whoever said such a thing?

Kos embedded a YouTube video montage showing all the times Bush specifically said "Stay the course" in his speeches. Bush made such a blatent lie in that TV interview that it's well worth our effort to send this video to every news editor everywhere in the country. Certainly John Stewart could run it as is on his Daily Show.

In relation to Stephanopoulos, he might benefit from a quote from Martin Luther King: "A time comes when silence is betrayal."

In relation to whoever prepared the video on YouTube, BRAVO!

In relation to Kos who incorporated the video into his diary entry, you are showing why your blog is supplementing the major news outlets and is so well read. Keep up the good work!

And in relation to those of you that read my blog, consider taking a few moments to forward the link to this YouTube video to every news person you know. Let's see what happens. I hope something does.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Second City's "I'm A Democrat" Ad

This ad is one of a few that will NOT appear on mainstream TV.

It's a parody of the PC/Mac Bill Gates/cool Apple guy ads that are so popular and are working so well for Apple. It uses comedy to say why I'm a Democrat and why I send some of my money to support Democratic candidates like Jack Carter for Senate in Nevada.

I hope you enjoy the sentiment (and will also send some of your money to support your candidates (and perhaps Jack Carter's Nevada US Senate campaign)).

PS: You can see the other YouTube ads from the guys at Second City by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I just spent 12-1/2 minutes with ex-president Jimmy Carter!

I was driving from San Francisco to Santa Barbara when a woman called my cell phone and asked whether I would like to talk with ex-president Jimmy Carter. I said that if it was a recording, I didn’t want to. She said that it was the real thing. So we scheduled a phone appointment for 12:35 today.

I was in the process of pulling over at 12:34 when the lady called again. She waited for me to get parked and then put him on… and it was really Jimmy Carter!

He was asking me to contribute to his son’s senate campaign in Nevada.

So I told him that I already had. That I had already sent the maximum $2,100 contribution to the Jack Carter for Senate campaign. He was surprised about that and then we talked about how to contribute even more through the state party. He gave me the name of the lady at the state party and their mailing address.

And then, since I figured the phone call was almost over, I told him that I appreciated his being outspoken about today’s issues – particularly about North Korea and in his August Der Spiegel interview where he said:
  • Israel had no moral or legal justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon.

  • The Bush administration was very shrewd and effective in painting anyone who disagreed with the policies as unpatriotic or even traitorous.

  • The major news media in our country were complicit in this subservience to the Bush administration out of fear that they would be accused of being disloyal.

  • And that we've never had an administration before that so overtly and clearly and consistently passed tax reform bills that were uniquely targeted to benefit the richest people in our country at the expense or the detriment of the working families of America.
He told me that he had received a lot of flack about that interview and that he appreciated my comments.

Then we talked about various campaigning techniques. He said that he and his family really knew about low-budget campaigns and that all 22 of his family were going to work for Jack from next Monday until the election.

I told him that I had a group of friends that pretty much had decided to pass this race by because it was losing race and that our money would be better spent in Montana or elsewhere.

He said that the most recent polls from the WSJ showing Jack down 6% which was within the area of chance for a win. His honesty showed through in that he didn’t say that Jack was a winner; rather he said that he was a long shot but a worthwhile long shot.

Jimmy Carter said it best when he said that he and his family knew low-budget campaigning with long odds. And that it was the personal touch that won elections.

All the while – as we were talking – I was watching my car clock tick away. Overall, our conversation lasted 12-1/2 minutes.

I felt very sad afterwards. Sad because I had talked with an American hero and that the conversation was real and personal and friendly and open-ended.

As a result, I heartily recommend that you too contribute the maximum to Jack Carter’s senate campaign. And also to the group’s Nevada campaign. And to the Nevada Democratic State Party with an earmarked contribution to the Jack Carter campaign.

Here are the links:Please do contribute.

The Rep Slice and Dice Advantage

When I first started working campaigns, part of the thrill was the giant disparity between Rep and Dem funding. The interest income from the Rep warchest was what the Dems hoped to get. The Dems had 1/12 of the funds that the Reps had.

So the Dems used technology to counter the Reps money. The Dems invented micro-targeting versus the Reps blanketing. The Dems developed and coded sliceable databases while the Reps advertised to everyone, blanketing whole areas with their materials and TV.

Often the latter paid off: in California the Reps mailed every Rep household and asked whether the recipients wanted to vote absentee. This was the first time that anyone took advantage of the loophole that you didn't have to be out of the country or state to vote absentee. The result was that a dull Governor won over a popular Black candidate who actually won the non-absentee vote.

But things changed then as they have now. Dems picked up the bandwagon on absentee voting and the machinery to solicit and then advertise this group of voters. The absentee vote now breaks evenly in most areas although it is continually growing because of its convenience.

The larger problem is that micro-targeting has become the ballywick of the Reps mainly because they have had the funds and organization to preserve the data from one election to the next and from all layers within the database -- from statewide to the smallest city/county office, board or commission. On the Dem side, each cycle has started fresh until Dean came into office. Now things are changing BUT it's going to take a few cycles before the database on the Dem side becomes as powerful and useful as the one on the Rep side. Two particular areas where Dems are behind is in poll results and contribution history. Every polled voter on the Rep side is in the database encoded with his or her answers. And every Rep donation is in there as well. Dems post this info from public and traded files each cycle but are missing the historical advantage that the Reps have.

As repugnant as Rove is in his public statements, this is his background and expertise: efficient and effective micro-targeting. This is where he started (developing the national, enhanced database) and this is his forte (using that enhanced data to target and concisely advertise thousands of very precise and meaningful messages to thousands of like-minded recipient groups).

And this election is where Rove's expertise is going to meet its first real challenge. I'm rooting for the Dems. But I'm naive.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hypocrisy Begets Immorality: Similarities Between Foley and "State of Denial"

And can cause wars! And people’s deaths!

Isn’t it hypocritical to be Co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives whilst writing sexually explicit e-mails to an underage congressional page?
  • He publicly crusaded against the very activities that he appears to have done himself. By definition, doesn’t that make him a hypocrite? And a corrupt one at that?

  • This is very similar to what happened with evangelist Jimmy Swaggart who advocated moral and marital purity but was caught with a prostitute.

  • There’s a psychological component in play here: contradictory actions such as these are consistent with those of a person struggling with an internal moral battle. “The righteous, fervent crusading against something often may represent an attempt to keep one’s own impulses under control,” said Dr. Jon Shaw , director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the U of Miami(i).
Isn’t it hypocritical to be President of the United States and be so stubbornly arrogant as to close his ears to the many voices who warned (and continue to warn) of the impending dangers?
  • Despite the reports and warnings of the worsening situation in Iraq, Bush, Rumsfeld and other key figures insist "repeatedly in public" that "things are better(ii)."

  • Amid the escalating violence in Nov. 2003, Woodward quotes Bush as saying "I don't want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don't think we are there yet(iii)."

  • And in May 2005, Woodward says Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN that the insurgency was in "the last throes" when Bush knew it was, in fact, worsening(iii).

  • 'State of Denial' recounts disturbing anecdotes about administration pettiness on a level with high school(iii).

  • Rumsfeld cut others out of Iraq decisions and planning and would not even return the phone calls of then-National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice until ordered to do so by Bush, the author claims(iii).

  • Rumsfeld also "bleached out independent military advice and got too many generals and people in the upper reaches of the system who were not strong, who were not independent, who would not come and say, 'hey, look, this is the way I look at it.'(iii)"

  • Rumsfeld rejected recommendations that it would take about 450,000 troops to secure Iraq and instead sent one-third that number(iii).

  • The defense secretary also ignored a State Department blueprint that could have prevented the looting of arms depots by future insurgents, Woodward claims(iii).
So how does President Bush respond?
  • On Wednesday he claimed Democrats can't be trusted to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. "Vote Republican for the safety of the United States," he said(iii).
  • Isn’t this very similar to VP Cheney’s 2004 comment that Sen. John Kerry would risk another terror attack?

  • Bush also said his pro-growth economic policies have helped working Americans, and called on Congress to make his administration's tax cuts permanent. "If the other bunch gets elected," he said of Democrats, "they're going to raise your taxes.(iii)"

  • Hugo Chavez recently ridiculed these characteristics in Bush when he said: “He walks like this cowboy John Wayne. He doesn't have the slightest idea of politics. He got where he is because he is the son of his father. He was an alcoholic, an ex-alcoholic. He's a sick man, full of complexes, but very dangerous now because he has a lot of power.(iv)”
There's a psychological component in play with Bush also, in relation to his being an ex-alcoholic/addict.
  • He exhibits arrogance and aggressive behavior. His intellectual level is severely limited. On first blush, you would think him quite competent, but on closer examination and close attention to his speech, you find that he uses words he doesn't understand and uses them completely out of context, while pretending to know exactly what he is talking about. When challenged that there is a problem with what he says, he responds with "That's my way of putting it" or "That's my way of doing it."(v)
Mistakes are inevitable. But the common theme presented here is the addictive display of ideology and arrogance over the pragmatism that is needed to be President of the United States and to adjust to changing conditions.

Even more disturbing is the portrait of a man who seems unable to come to terms with the damaging and dangerous situation he has helped create -- much less imagine a way out of it.

(i) ABC News: What Could Explain the Two Faces of Mark Foley? by Siri Nilsson, 10/2/06
(ii ) Bush Raises Volume on Campaign Charge by Deb Riechmann, 10/4/06
(iii) ibid
(iv) Chavez: Bush 'devil'; U.S. 'on the way down,' 9/21/06
(v) PA Health System excerpt "True Nature of Alcoholism," 1/30/06

Sunday, October 01, 2006

How an Attack [on Iran] Would Unfold

I was in San Francisco for the weekend and opened up the Sunday Chronicle to find this full-page story. It scared me beyond imagine.

Numerous rumors abound about what President Bush might do in his lame duck years. One particularly fearsome report came from an Israeli press interview with the head of their IDF that their military command thought it likely that either they or the U.S. would knock out Iran's nuclear program before the 2008 U.S. elections. And then I saw this article which never did say why an attack such as the one described would occur; it only talked about the mechanics of the attack itself. And the anticipated responses from Iran and other countries in that region.

It's unclear how many targets U.S. bombs would need to hit, and how often. "Could very well be 2,000, 2,500, 3,000 after you begin to add in all the other things like air bases, missile storage sites," he said. "The nonnuclear part is expanding." Cordesman estimates the number of sorties by bombers and cruise missiles would range from several hundred over a week's period for strikes focused on nuclear and missile sites to as many as 2,500 over a period of months for wider strikes including those targeting Iran's retaliatory military capability.
Holy shit! That's like the air war in Bosnia.

In the section discussing the aftermath of attacking Iran, every conceivable reaction was discussed: cutting off oil production and otherwise withholding oil getting to Western clients and America; sinking oil transports in the Gulf; bombing and shutting down oil production in Iraq; attacking Israel; funding surrogates in the Middle East and in America to harm American, Israeli and European interests; etc.

Jeez! This is hardly calm Sunday morning bedroom reading. One reader was quoted as saying:
Go for it George! As a former owner of a major league baseball team, you know the importance of this end-of-season "Axis of Evil" three-game series. A swift win over Iran will not only offset the devastating, poorly played loss to Iraq, but will give you much-needed momentum going into the big game with North Korea. But don't forget you still have that make-up game with Afghanistan.
I'm more freightened than amused. Some have said that in Bush's State of Denial (pun intended) he's getting progressively mentally deranged and might really do something this shocking and destructive. And unless we - all of us voters - effect a change in the makeup of the cadre around him, it's likely that something dramatic - if not an attack on Iran than something else - is going to happen shortly after the November elections. At the least, increased troops to Iraq.

Personally, I've never thought that Bush was a mental case. Rather, I've believed that he was and is an underrated quick-study on most subjects related to campaigns and politics and the nuances of power - but with an unethical slant. He's not a good speaker nor a policy wonk. But he's mastered a lot of the other tasks of the politics of the presidency. His training came from harsh and cynical experts like Atwater and Rove. And the influence of their ideas and practices have matured into some formidable problems for Democrats in the forthcoming elections amongst them is his aggressive and stubborn mind-set.

In "One Party Country," by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, both of the LA Times, the effects of chipping away at Democratic strongholds like what used to be the block vote of African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews, and the effects of jerrymandering the electoral redistricting have had, and will have, significant negative effects for Dems. These and the systematic and targeted funneling of taxpayer dollars into faith-based entities where reciprocity rules, and investing in database development so far beyond what Democrats have funded thus far have enabled Reps to have the advantage in turning out small targeted and targetable segments of the electorate that, when turnout is low, can win elections.

And turnout has been low thus far this year. Perhaps we on the Internet, the bloggers, the Daily Kos readers, all of us, can channel our efforts and effect a change on the turnout figures for November. But we haven't thus far in the primary elections and we'll need to do something more effective.

Any suggestions?