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September 30, 2004

Book: The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America

John Sperling: The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America John Sperling: The Great Divide: Retro vs. Metro America

Essentially a politco-econo-marketing study of “blue” and “red” states phenomenon, using marketing clustering and marketing language (ala identifying “Gen-X” or “Soccer Moms”) to synthesize the analysis.

You know all the discouraging things (one of the structural challenges is that the red states are small and thus have disproportionate electoral college representation).

The encouraging things are the size and power of the blue states, which have cohesiveness to them, but which the Democrats are not taking advantage of.  It is quite timely (info up to June 2004).  The futures section is weak, but that's ok, there are other sources for that.  And of course, the right has ceded the moderates, allowing the dems to pick them up (potentially).

Overall, good analysis of the situation, with insight to untapped strengths Democrats could use more to their advantage.

Putting voice to what many feel

In an editorial How Dare Kerry Speak Up on 9/28/2004, The LA Times put into words what so many of us have voiced:

“The suggestion that terrorists support Sen. John F. Kerry for president is ugly, but basically silly. The suggestion that Kerry supports the terrorists is flat-out disgusting....”

“But the point here is not subtle: The right to criticize the policies of those in power is not just one of democracy's fringe benefits; it is essential to making the democratic machinery work....”

“ Compared with Kerry, George W. Bush is a coward. This is not a reference to their respective activities during Vietnam. It refers to the current election campaign. Bush happily benefits from the slime his supporters are spreading but refuses to take responsibility for it or to call point-blank for it to stop.”

Here are the next day's reader letters.

Re: In touch with his inner anti-warnik (Oregonian 9/30/2004)

To the Editors:

Even the Oregonian staff (In touch with his inner anti-warnik, Oregonian 9/30/2004) is repeating de-bunked Republican propaganda about John Kerry and outrageously falsely implying collaboration between Saddam and al Qaeda by exagerating the importance of mere contacts between them.

The 9-11 Commission concluded: “But to date we have seen no evidence that these or the earlier contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship.  Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States.” (Page 66 of the 9-11 Commission Report)

September 29, 2004

Before Kerry-Bush Debate #1 Thursday

(1) Humor.  Kerry-Edwards has a sense of humor about the debate!?  See this item at their media center.

(2) Action. ACT (America Coming Together) has a great flyer for the debate and a call to action.

“ACT is sponsoring a ”Truth Canvass“ to pre-empt and respond to Bush's lies head-on.  Thousands of canvassers and volunteers in battleground states will go door-to-door to talk to voters about the debate.”

“On Saturday, please join the entire ACT team and thousands of volunteers as we knock on the doors of over 60,000 battleground state voters.  Help take the truth about Bush's record to the voters' doorsteps.”

“Although John Kerry will be standing across the stage, George Bush will really be debating the truth at Thursday night's debate on foreign policy.”

“No one said this would be easy.  But if we all ACT together, the truth will prevail.”

Steve Rosenthal, CEO, America Coming Together

(3) Debate format.  Discussion of the way the debates have become “glorified bipartisan press conferences.”

(4) Debate background. Excerpts of takes on the debates:

  • James Fallows on the debate histories and styles of the two candidates
  • Another piece by Al Gore with striking clarity
  • Two takes on the media and the debates

James Fallows had a story a while ago in Atlantic Monthly based on his watching of years of debate tapes by Kerry and Bush.  His conclusion: they are both undefeated.  What was interesting about Kerry was that he was essentially unchanged in that time: Kerry is great at thinking on his feet.  Bush had one changed and one unchanged thing: (the change) he used to be clear spoken with none of today's malaprops and (the same) he is a master at taking any question and responding on his own message.

The run-up in the last couple days has seen a lot of coverage about the spin and coverage, not just the debate:

  • Bush team expecation setting (setting Bush low in 2000, setting Kerry as having to hit a home-run in 2004)
  • how the Bush team in 2000 turned a Gore debate win (as polled) to a percieved loss in the days after the debate
  • how the media lets itself be used by Bush

From the NYT:

How to Debate George Bush Al Gore
Look for Substance, Not Sizzle Adam Clymer
Swagger vs. Substance Paul Krugman

Excerpts from those three NYT columns:

Continue reading "Before Kerry-Bush Debate #1 Thursday" »

September 28, 2004

No On 37 Update - 9/28/2004

The No On 37 committee, working to keep Oregon's Land Use laws in effect, has launched their ad campaign.  I recently got an update from Tim Raphael, who's running the committee, which I've included below.

I recently contributed again, and encourage you also to help put this spot on TV throught the election so we can maintain our land-use laws.  The next two weeks are a great time to support because a backer has instituted a $200,000 $-for-$ challenge, so each dollar you give may be doubled.

Based on just-released financials for the backers of the measure, most of the half-million dollars raised has come from timber companies.  They appear to have limited ad buys in place and limited dollars to spend on it, giving the No On 37 group a real shot at getting the word out.

The No On 37/Take a Closer Look team has done an incredible job developing a message, as you can see from the TV spot.  By starting early, doing lots of research, polling and message testing, they've been able to get the problem down from a 45-minute discussion to a 30-second ad on a complex problem!

The other phenomenal work they've done is to get the word out, asking tons of organizations around the state to “take a closer look”.  And when they have, the result has been tremendous endorsement of the need to keep our land use laws as they are and defeat 37.

My own county's (Yamhill) Farm Bureau joined 12 others to defeat 37.  Yamhill County has enough trouble keeping up with road maintennce and would never be able to afford to pay owners, so land use regulations would effectively end.

Some quotes from the Newberg Graphic:

“We’re talking millions, perhaps  hundreds of millions of dollars, that would have to be paid out, and cities don’t have that kind of money.”  Newberg City Manager Jim Bennett

“Measure 37 is so poorly written it could put many  farms out of business by increasing taxes and rolling back safeguards that protect  Oregon’s farmland from overdevelopment,” in the words of Larry Wells, president  of the Marion County Farm Bureau.....We can’t afford the additional layers of paperwork, bureaucracy, lawsuits and costs associated with Measure 37,“ said Ed Chotard, president of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau.”

September 27, 2004

35 Days to Election 2004

Dear Friend -

(apologies in advance for the length; i'm crediting folks on the list that contribute; thanks for the supportive comments that come in from time to time)

In spite of the frustration that some Democrats are feeling about Kerry's position, the race remains a dead heat.  Polls show that the outcome is not yet set and the next five weeks of effort will determine the ultimate outcome.  The electoral count remains split at this point.

So the election is wide open at this point, much as I would rather have seen the political house of cards that Bush built blown over by now.  For a take on the Iraq house of cards (thanks, ES).

How do we win?

  • buck up
  • back our man
  • keep working ... hard!
  • trust the fundamentals

We have to act based on our desired outcome, not let wide swings in the polls drive us to inaction and Bush/Rove stage-management deceive us.  The fundamentals remain in our favor:

  • Iraq, sadly, is a new Vietnam (see commentary below) and most Americans sense it
  • economy isn't going to right itself before the election and it worries most Americans
  • huge, sophisticated progressive get-out-the-vote charging ahead
  • moderate and conservative Republican discomfort with Bush
  • polls swinging around, indicating race is open and isn't clear

For a great, quick humor break, take a look at this washing machine tag (thanks, PN).

If you follow only one link in this entry, let it be this: The Unfeeling President (thanks BVZ).

Topics covered below:

Buck Up
Work Hard
Back Our Man
Ground-truthing the Economy
Ground-truthing Iraq
Ground-truthing the Moral Bankruptcy of the Bushies
Progressive Get-Out-The-Vote

Continue reading "35 Days to Election 2004" »

Re: A Last Chance for Traditional Marriage (Oregonian 9/26/2004)


To the Editors:

The problem with arguments like that of David Reinhart's opinion A Last Chance for Traditional Marriage (The Oregonian, September 26, 2004) that gay marriage should be outlawed because it would be a child-rearing experiment that society can't handle, proposes a false choice: gay couples can already raise children both now and also after Measure 36.  Marriage is not a requirement to have children.  Measure 36 doesn't outlaw child-rearing by gays, it outlaws marriage by gays.

Sure, as society we should encourage the best influences and try to reduce the worst.  But instead of arguing over which is best and enshrining the winner in the constitution, I think we'd have much more impact by reducing the worst influences on kids: poverty and poor education, about which Measure 36 does nothing.

September 24, 2004

Why is Vietnam relevant today?

Although this seems to be fading, except the SBVT ads, Republicans have been making an effort to pin blame on Kerry for bringing up his experience in Vietnam.  Putting aside why that should even be a bad thing, why did Kerry make a point of his role in Vietnam at his convention?  Two reasons:

(1) A recent history of Republican attacks on veterans running for office, attacks that have succeeded in defeating those candidates and

(2) Defining moments in national life can be formative moments for people, which can tell important aspects of a person's character, and it was a for Kerry.

Continue reading "Why is Vietnam relevant today?" »

September 22, 2004

Book: Crimes Against Nature

John C. Bogle: The Battle for the Soul of CapitalismRobert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy

A detailed look at how the new Bush fascism (corporate control over government) has been installed, how it operates, and how much more extensively it is remaking our entire national fabric than most of us realize.

Re: Safety First (NYT 9/22/2004)

To the Editors:

James Dobbins (Safety First 9/22/2004) lays out the case for security first in Iraq nicely. The problem is that, after more than a year, safety and security have not been establshed, it has worsened: large parts of Iraq are off limits to US forces and Iraqis risk death to apply for jobs providing that security.

Because he resisted calls for a larger force to secure the peace, and he so alienated allies that we have to go it 90% alone, Bush is now reduced to taking Iraqi water and sewer money to try and fix the security problem. It is no wonder that many Iraqis resent our presence.

This is an awful situation of President Bush's own making, not the fault of some external forces over which he had no control.

Our troops, the Iraqi people, and US taxpayers are paying a terrible price for Bush's mistakes.

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