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August 31, 2004

Watching the RNC: How to Torment A Democrat In One Easy Step

I'm currently sitting in my living room watching C-SPAN and trying not to put my head through my television. Even if I succeed in restraining myself, keeping up with the charade that is the RNC makes my head hurt. I'm glad I have Tivo since I have to pause it and ask my wife things like "Did he just say what I think he just said?" or "Would you classify her remark as ingeniously misleading or an out and out lie?". If you don't pause it, though, you'll talk right over the next half-truth, misleading statement, intolerant remark, gratuitous religious reference, or appalling exploitation of 9/11 for political gain.

What I will say, though, is that they sure do sound happy about the state of the nation and they want the rest of us to feel warm and fuzzy, too. This administration has spent the last couple of years scaring the living crap out of everybody and the last several months going hideously negative on the Kerry campaign around the clock. But when it comes time to sell themselves to a highly polarized populace with a big pool of undecided voters, they smile a lot and steer clear of two key things: substance and details.

The RNC spent yesterday morning throwing diversity, tolerance, and moderate voices to the wolves by adopting a platform that veers hard to the right. A group of former Republican governors and senators placed a full page ad in the New York Times with a plea for the GOP to return to moderate, common-sense conservatism... the Rockefeller wing of the party as they call it. The pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans, clearly stabbed in the back by this platform, launched a television ad against their own party Monday morning. I'm not sure why this comes as a surprise to them, though, as we've all watched the right-wing of the GOP hijack the entire party for years now.

Monday night, though, when the cameras came on, out came Rudy Giuliani who has been known for years as a moderate (if not left leaning) voice in the party. Rather than speak for diversity, inclusiveness or the slightest bit of moderation, he commenced exploiting 9/11 for political gain and even made repeated misleading allusions to the disproven and non-existant connection between Saddam and the fall of the twin towers.

McCain, who knows a smear campaign when sees one but won't just come out and say it in so many words, shredded his reputation as a voice of reason among his shrill colleagues and put a positive face on the war in Iraq. A few days ago he was scolding the administration for sending too few troops and not planning effectively for the quagmire we're in during this phase of "Mission Accomplished". The remarkable protests on Sunday that the television media barely covered had pallbearers with symbolic, flag-draped coffins... close to a thousand of them... that were a far more accurate commentary on Iraq and the administration's knowledge that seeing the real thing on the evening news is a major buzzkill.

What wasn't discussed last night was the economy, domestic issues, social issues or any of the other things this administration needs to distract us from due to their failures over the last four years. Beyond the failures, though, is the fact that this administration and much of the party backing it are hideously out of touch with the majority of the American populace. Of course they know it, too... but they have a populace to deceive this week. Talking about reality is NOT the way to get George Bush re-elected. So, after you cement a far right platform that speaks to your true agenda, bring out the moderates and commence with the charade!

So that brings me to tonight. The theme tonight was "People of Compassion". Speakers included Education Secretary Rod Paige, the man who several months ago compared the nation's largest teacher's union to a terrorist organization. He spent time trying to assure voters that George Bush has left no child behind. Funny... last I checked, he has underfunded the program by billions of dollars while saddling the schools with requirements that are impossible to meet without that funding (and some that can't be met even WITH the funding). Paige then twisted Kerry's justified criticisms of the failed program into another supposed flip-flop. Follow the logic here: Bush promises to fund a program. Kerry expresses support for the concept. Bush fails to deliver. Kerry rightfully criticizes the failed results. Having supported the original concept makes this... you got it... a flip flop. How very honest of you, Mr. Paige.

Bill Frist tried to sell the abysmal healthcare record of this administration with a delivery that I fully expected would end with a blue screen and a voice shouting a toll free number three times before encouraging us all to "Call NOW". I'm honestly not kidding about the tone and use of the toll free number, though. He actually did frame healthcare coverage as a product that you should "own" while waving one of those cards that have so many senior citizens confused and angry. The whole ownership spin on the dismantling of a true healthcare program for citizens is more than I have the fortitude to write about tonight.

Also beyond my strength to address tonight was the terribly unfunny introduction given by the Bush daughters or Ahnuld's blue sky speech and the fact that his words and behavior in the past represent everything that is hypocritical about this convention. George Bush expressing his devotion to Laura from, so far as I could tell, a Telepromptr left me about as cold as her subsequent speech. There are so many things missing and misleading about what I've seen tonight that I'd write all night if I don't stop now and get some sleep.

What brings me hope, though, is knowing that I've got a team I can vote for in November that are going to right many of these wrongs and get things back on the right track. Watching the next two nights is likely going to be as much fun as chewing on tinfoil... but I feel it's important for me to hear the unfiltered words of both sides (thank you, C-SPAN). I'll share my opinions with any who care to read them and, if you've made it this far, I invite you to share yours with the comment link below.

- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 09:32 PM | Comments (1)

Day Seven: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus

Sorry for the slight time delay here... but the realities of life and travel are not always going to match the realtime hunger of a Blog. Thanks so much, Bruce, for everything you've been doing!

Blog Day 7

Bloggers,

That's right a week on the bus! Wow. I can't believe that it's nearly over. I've been asked to stay over a day to do some media in NYC so I'll actually have 8 days, but we ended up in NYC at city hall for a three pm press conference.

They fed us in city hall and then we went outside for the media event. I was pretty nervous about my speech and especially nervous about the fact that they wanted me to introduce Senator Chuck Schumer. I thought I would print what I said. The only part that doesn't work well on a blog was the part where I really choked up telling my wheelchair ramp story, but my friends on the tour got me through it. So here's my speech:

I'm Bruce Roemmelt and I'm from Haymarket VA.

I'm honored to be on this bus supporting John Kerry and John Edwards, and I'm proud to be with all 70 of these real people. I've been selected to speak for us all this afternoon as we end the tour. WOW. This is heavy.

I've been on the 'America Can Do Better' bus tour since we started in Newport News VA 6 days ago.

I wanted to represent the fire fighters and vets on this trip.

I'm a retired fire fighter - but still active in our union

I'll be honored to stand tomorrow with our General President Harold Schaitberger of the IAFF at a homeland security news conference tomorrow.

But the thing that got me most to go on the tour is the event at home next weekend. Our local is going to be building a wheelchair ramp for an Iraq vet who has lost both legs and could not get a grant from the VA to make his house accessible.

What kind of a country treats its vets like this?

I thought we learned some lessons from Vietnam.

I guess the current administration has unlearned them.

So our bus has traveled nearly 2000 miles. Along our way, through the battleground states of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania, we picked up real people with real stories.

After talking to these people, I had an idea. An idea that we could do an electronic diary for the trip that could be posted on the internet.

I started collecting "profiles" Who are you? Why are you on the bus? What issues are you concerned about?

While writing each nite I got more and more drawn into the stories. And then I started to get protective of the job.

I realized how important this diary was.

There are 70 of us on the bus and we all have powerful stories to tell. About us, our family our friends our neighbors.

The Terror Story...one of our senior citizens (WWII vet, worked for 46 years, struggling) told this story in a "profile" on the road. "...the president talks about fighting terror but he doesn't even know what real terror is. He needs to come to my house monthly and watch my wife and I try to choose what we will pay for during the month - shelter, food or medicines! That's real terror. When you have to have a conversation with your doctor about which of all the pills you are prescribed is the MOST important to take because you can't afford to buy them all - that's real terror!"

They all told of what America has become, but...

They also talked about how America Can Do Better

This bus is filled with hopes and dreams - not just for us, but for all Americans, young and old.

After talking to people and typing up their stories each night I became more than the vet and fire fighter who joined this trip.

I became a doctor and a nurse

A fire fighter and medic

A vet and a protester.

A teacher and a student

I'm a mill worker, a steel worker, a plumber and an electrician. I'm in the mines and a laborer above ground.

I'm a parent and a child. I'm a grandparent and a sibling. I'm a spouse and significant other.

I'm a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, and I'm also one who has checked no box

I'm a Democrat I'm green, and I'm even a republican.

I'm all of these things and I believe America Can Do Better.

I'm employed, I'm unemployed, I'm locked out and I'm locked in.

I have a house, I lost a house, and I'm homeless.

I'm all these things and I'm an American

I believe that America Can Do Better

I believe that even more since I've been with these new friends for the past week.

We are going to help John Kerry and John Edwards prove that America Can Do Better.

Americans like us are going to show that real people can take our great land back

There is so much more to do, and we're just the real people to do it.

Now it is my honor to introduce the senator from the great state of new your, Chuck Schumer.

He is a friend for sure to fire fighters. He has worked tirelessly to get first responder funds back in the budget - funds cut by the administration.

He is to me a Rock Star democrat.

I have a fire fighter shirt to give him. I wore it yesterday. It's much like our real people. It's made in America, washable, and the colors don't run.

Ladies and gentlemen, Chuck Schumer


Tomorrow I will be at the DNC Response a few blocks south of the republican convention, and then home on Monday night. I'm really tired now so I'll post more tomorrow.

b

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)

August 30, 2004

When you get to NYC, Take a Hard Right at Madison Square Garden...

Just a quick note that the RNC adopted its platform this morning and pushed a few more of its moderate voices out into the cold. Granted, they threw in some language to say they respected those moderate voices, even though they don't plan to do anything to support them.

As I've stated here earlier, be sure to notice the absence of far right figures and the use of their more moderate faces for the TV cameras this week, even after stabbing them in the back in the party platform. Why do they use these moderate voices when selling their candidate to the nation? Because they are out of touch with the mainstream populace and they know it... thus the bait and switch.

This excerpt from an SFGate.com article today sums it up quite well:

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the GOP platform an "extremist, special interest document" at odds with the views of the moderate speakers the Republicans are highlighting at their convention.

"So if you really want to know what George Bush and Dick Cheney stand for and what they intend to do over the next four years," he advised TV viewers, "turn down the volume and read the platform."

- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 03:44 PM | Comments (2)

August 29, 2004

Sunday Morning Blogwatch: Cable News Hysteria vs. Reality

One thing that never ceases to impress me in the blogsphere is how a blog entry can highlight a source of information, which will then be echoed on another blog and paired with another piece of information to make a more complete picture. Mix and repeat.

On that note, I'd like to share a great analysis from a DailyKOS diary and toss in my own little comments (which are of far less importance, but eating at me nonetheless). It centers around the media spin and handwringing about the LA Times poll suggesting the stupid Swift Boat diversion has been effective against our candidate.

The relevant entry can be found here.

From Ruy Teixeira echoed via DailyKOS:

What that "Awful" LA Times Poll Really Means

The Los Angeles Times poll released Thursday August 26th has created substantial consternation among democrats. Not only the mainstream media, but many pro-democratic writers and commentators have accepted the polls' apparent message that the sleazy attacks on Kerry's wartime record have been successful and have allowed Bush to overtake Kerry in the presidential race.

The bad news is that this perception has been widely accepted. The good news is that it's fundamentally wrong.

The piece goes on to give an eye-opening look at the reality of the numbers and how different their conclusions are from the story that sells ad time on the cable news channels. In a nutshell, the Swift Boat diversion has, quite appropriately, backfired.

Paired with Ruy's writeup is a Ron Fournier AP article that interviews some rather nervous RNC delegates as they head off to NY:

NEW YORK - Nervous Republicans are urging President Bush to unveil a robust second-term agenda at his convention next week to shift voters' focus from the unpopular war in Iraq and other issues that are a distraction to his re-election drive. Some contend the party should ditch the GOP-fueled controversy over rival John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam.

"If he gets on the future and effectively talks about the challenges that are ahead that only he can meet, then he'll be fine," said Joe Gaylord, a Republican strategist from Washington. "But if this campaign continues to be about Vietnam and the past, I don't think he's going to do so fine. I think it's a little dicey."

The nervous GOP voter storyline is a believable one and it's the main focus of his story. What chaps my rear end, though, is hearing these delegates fretting over the election strategy and not the issues themselves. This is tantamount to saying they are more upset at their candidate's inability to sweep his horrible record under the carpet than they are about his actual record. So, following this logic, it's acceptable to know your candidate sent us into a tragic and costly war by lying to the American people as long as we focus on something else to win the election.

Of course, when I look at the "voice of moderation" charade that the RNC speaker list seems to indicate for this coming week, I'm not all that surprised. Saying one thing and doing another has been this administration's policy since the election race of 2000 (i.e. uniter not a divider or a stated opposition to nation building and the importance of being humble).

On a final note, I'll leave you with another link that profiles the RNC delegation this week. It's pretty fascinating but can easily be summed up as being a harder right group than the GOPs own base and certainly more conservative than the country as a whole.

Posted by amahler at 11:30 AM | Comments (1)

Through an Elector's Eyes - Part VII: High on the Fourth of July

Have you ever noticed how governmental offices and positions are often associated with furniture? Take the President's Cabinet for example. It is full of Secretaries. Each in turn manages Bureaus of one variety or another. Oftentimes they Chair other governmental commissions and entities where they Table items for discussion. They do all this in the Seat of government, by the seat of their pants sometimes, seated around tables the dimensions of which are regularly disputed and articulated through diplomatic deliberations and protocol officers. Failing all else, important matters are resolved through our court system by approaching the Bench and asking for judgment in favor of one or another Stand on a matter. And how many times have you heard it stated that a certain politician is in Bed with a special interest group, or that politics makes strange bedfellows?

Now what has this to do with our current political cycle, you might ask? Well, it got me to thinking about the issue/non-response tactics being played out in the media. Have you noticed how our candidate will broach an issue of importance to our nation and challenge the Incumbent to respond? Almost every issue is worthy of debate and of serious significance to so many Americans that it should be addressed. But the response by the Incumbent is never forthcoming. He hides behind the furniture. Look at this whole Swift Boat thing.

Senator Kerry asks for a personal decision and appeals for direct intervention by the opposing candidate. What we get for days in the press is an army of under-surrogates responding. The Assistants to the Deputy Under-Secretaries to the Deputy Secretaries to the Secretaries over the Bureau of Electoral End-runs meet the press, face the nation, and make all the talk shows. Senator Edwards seeks a personal response, stating clearly it is a Moment of Truth for the candidate himself. The Incumbent's Assistant Media Secretary for Public Re-arrangements makes the circuit. Max Cleland knocks on that Texan's door and wants to hand the Incumbent a letter. Who answers the door? The Incumbent? No. Mrs. Incumbent? No. The front doorman? No. Who? Campaign cronies. And the newspaper delivery person. While out in the back yard, more Secretaries, Advisors, Assistant Advisors, and Special Assistant Advisors stand around the barbeque offering photo ops of them in blue denim shirts and rolled up sleeves. Close, but no candidate.

Therein lays the challenge facing our party. The other guy doesn't have to play. He wants our candidate to become mired in debate with unequal opponents. How does it look if you best a campaign manager on TV? Is it Presidential to become irritated by some distant District Bureau Chief of Campaign Incorrectness? Do we really need to go head-to-head with campaign volunteers and workers who memorize scripted responses to every issue, trying to lead the viewers back to their only officially approved position? Of course not, but pay attention to the undertow: that's all they are sending out to meet the public and it is sweeping our feet out from under us.

The Incumbent can barely speak poly-syllabic English, yet he claims he welcomes a national debate on the issues. Who is kidding whom? Though he has agreed to two debates, they have yet to occur, and I can think of five thousand reasons why he'll have to cancel between now and then. Heck, they might even find Bin Laden living in a rain barrel touring with a Taliban carnival before September 30th. So where is the real debate? How do we level the playing field? How does our party force the Incumbent out of the hole he jumped in after Saddam was pulled out of it? I for one believe we have something they have not. I'm not talking about having an ace in the hole. I'm thinking we have our own deck of 52 to go after them.

One thing our party gave the nation during the Primary season was to present our best faces forward. We had so many good people running for office the joke at the time was "Anybody but the Incumbent." Personally, while I respect all of them, I believe we have more than a few trump cards in the party. We have party members who can best the Incumbent while showing how equal he truly is. We have public speakers who can focus on the issues, and bring them in focus, in ten seconds or less. If the Incumbent doesn't want an equal debate, fine. Not counting our candidates, we have three that far exceed his rhetoric, clearly express their desires and intent, and are his equal. The Incumbent cannot keep up with the energy and sense of justice of Al Sharpton. He cannot match the articulation of Barrack Obama. He can never compare himself to the character and patriotism of Max Cleland. There are more just like them and you know who they are. America knows who they are.

I have heard that 3% of all Americans have tattoos. That is not so startling to me, but what catches my attention is that 51% of them want their tattoos removed. America doesn't have to wear the brand of this Incumbent any more. I believe more than 51% of Americans are going to say so on November 2nd. But please remember when you vote for Kerry/Edwards on the ballot you vote to send me as your Elector to the Electoral College. I want the experience of signing that letter to the Archivist of the United States, and I guarantee I will be voting the correct way on December 13th. I don't have any tattoos.

Get Out the Vote!

Ron Telsch
© R. Erich Telsch 2004

Posted by amahler at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2004

DNC Bus Day Six: Contributed Photos


DNC Bus Tour: PA to NY - Aug 28, 2004

Here are the photos from the sixth day that were sent to me this evening from our friends on the DNC bus. As with previous nights, I'm unsure of the who took which shots, so I credit them to everyone on the bus. :)

- Aaron


Posted by amahler at 11:55 PM | Comments (0)

Day Six: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus


Blog day six

Today we had events in Scranton and Philadelphia. There were again some amazing stories of pain and heroism.

I have been honored to speak for all 70 real people tomorrow when we do our final NYC event. It dawned on me that this trip is really about the stories that I have been transcribing for the past six days.

So tonight I want to just let those stories tell the tale...

Ken Winters
Parkersburg WV

What a day yesterday was on the American Can Do Better bus tour. It was truly an honor to stand in the historical Olivet institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Ohio. A church where Martin Luther King once spoke. I remember thinking that were he alive today, ?Dr. King would probably be with us, as we endeavor to ensure that all Americans become aware that all American become aware that they don't remain under conditions induced upon us by the Bush administration. We can do better, we deserve better, we will do better. America Can Do Better.

Keith Lau
Pittsburgh, PA

I'm a 55 years old and I worry about whether my health care and pension will be around when I'm ready to retire. Will I be able to afford to retire when I'm 62 after paying into these funds for 48 years??

Also I'm worried about the economy and the shape it is in under this administration that came in with a 300 trillion dollar surplus and in three years turned it into 425 trillion dollar deficit. That's a swing of 700 trillion dollars in 3.5 years.

I'm also concerned about the 200,000 young men and women that are involved in a non-sanctioned (by the UN) war. Most of the countries that were our allies are now our non-allies. America Can Do Better

Frank Stare
Newark, Ohio
One thin I have learned on the "America Can Do Better" tour is how much the people I have met are looking for real leadership in Washington DC.

Jobs, Healthcare and the war seem to be on everyone's mind most people I have talked to want peace and prosperity like we had in the 90's under President Clinton and Gore.

John Kerry has been a proven leader over the years as a senator and that proven record of public service should be continued as president.

Gerald Bacco
Oakmont, PA

I have joined the America Can Do Better bus tour to share my support for John Kerry and John Edwards. I am unemployed as a direct result of /George Bush's policies. Electrical unions and other building trades have the highest percentage of unemployment from the inception of the IBEW in over 150 years.

My unemployment is going to run out so I will be "off the books" like hundreds of other electrical workers who will no longer be counted as unemployed.

Since Bush's election my health insurance has risen from $2.60/hour in the Clinton era, to $6.50 now. I will also lose my health care benefits soon due to my unemployment. All have lost because of Bush, and I worry for my son.

With outsourcing, what can he look forward to?

Geneva Barrax
Cleveland Ohio

As a veterans care advocate, I'm concerned about the erosion of benefits for those who serve our great country. Increased co-pay, increased percentage of disability required to qualify for disability. And then there is the proposed and actual reduction in the numbers of VA clinics and funding for veteran's hospital.

Relative to the current conflict, it says in the bible (Luke 14:27-33) "...a builder should not begin to construct a building without knowing the cost, lest he should be unable to finish the building and would come into mockery by his neighbors who would also say he started something and could not finish it." Also a king should not go to war with 10,000 against an enemy with a league of 20,000 without determining the outcome and without trying to gain a peaceful settlement first.

The bible needs no further elucidation. We need a change. We need Kerry/Edwards to bring a normalcy into the White House and to enable the citizens of the United States to hope and dream of a stable country again.

Mandy Priest
Pittsburgh, PA
My decision to attend the America Can Do Better bus tour was based on an evident wrong that must be made right. Over the past four years I have seen the civil liberties of my friends and family threatened and jobs shipped over seas. All the while the bloodlines in the White House have continued to get thinner. It scares me to my core that our country is run by people who have more stock in Halliburton and Iraq oil than they do in the American people and their future.

I want our country to be run by someone whose interests revolve around the advancement of our children, healthcare and economy, rather than the bulge of his wallet and the esteem of his residence. I want my confidence restored and I feel strongly that Kerry/Edwards can and will do this.

No one should run this country by appealing to our fears.

Art Clausen
Pataskela, Ohio

When asked why drive to Pittsburgh Pa and get on a bus for four days crossing the country to NYC the answer was pretty simple - THE KIDS. Both my 2 boys and all the other young people in this country.

The American Dream is for each generation to live a better life they their parents. For me this is certainly true. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I chose teaching and spent 33 years as a science teacher of 7th and 8th grade kids. In my heart I felt that I could also help my students fulfill their own version of the American Dream.

For many the dream will never come true, because it is fading every day. I had hoped that my boys would follow me in the pursuit of the dream but that does not seem to be the case. My youngest son is one of the millions of unemployed with his computer job being sent overseas and the pressure of trying to get health insurance heavily clouds his future.

America Can Do Better


Judie Saputo
Columbus, Ohio
In '86 9i was a Republican because that's the way I was raised. When Bush's dad was elected I lost my job. When Clinton got elected I got the job back but - making $250 less an hour. All my savings were gone and I lost my home.

When the Democrats got into office I started to recover but in 2001 my job was sent overseas. John Kerry will, I feel get this country back to where it needs to be. America Can Do Better.

Lois Spurlock
I'm on the America Can Do Better bus because I believe that slogan will be carried out by a Kerry presidency.

My 401K is all gone. My job and my health insurance are in jeopardy under the administration of GW Bush. Like Judie I worked for Lucent and 3/4 of our jobs were shipped overseas. Our work was sold to another company who only took a few of us. We worked for much less and now there is a high confidence that these jobs will be going to Canada.

We must get Bush out of office and elect John Kerry, a man who really cares about working people and jobs. Let's restore our jobs, wages, pensions, and get us health care. We need to restore our dignity as a nation. Vote for Kerry

Grace Cherrington
Licking County, Ohio

Health care coverage is my primary issue. The programs that are available are often out of reach of normal Americans. I also think that the "Marriage Amendment" will further limit benefits that public and private organizations now offer at a full our reduced rate to extended families and domestic partners.

I'm very concerned about unemployment and under employment and the increase in the number of "Temp" contract jobs which offer no benefits, pension or health insurance.

We need john Kerry and John Edwards in the White House.

Keith Gwinn
Nitro, West Virginia
I'm a 50 year old Navy Veteran currently working for the VA. I joined the tour because I'm concerned about the care being given to our vets. The cuts are everywhere. Medical benefits, medical facilities and the current administration has even introduced a $250 enrollment fee for vets.

If the government cannot take care of existing vets what does that tell the people that are serving right now?

My 18 year old daughter has just completed basic training. With all the other proposed reductions I wonder if she is being properly equipped and trained. When you hear the stories about the way the war is being conducted you wonder if they will be given the best shot at being protected.

We need a change.

Ray Mastin
Occupation: Retired USNR Commander

The first thing that struck me when I joined this trip is the wide range of people involved. They come from all walks of life and all backgrounds. There are several people who used to vote Republican and now have changed their minds.

One of the many reasons I chose to participate on this bus tour comes from a personal tragedy. My father recently passed away after a long illness. He was a decorated Vietnam War veteran. John Kerry's medals and honor were questioned, with the consent of the Commander-in-Chief. The President refuses to honor and defend policy that awarded those medals. You can not win three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star by faking injuries and combat action. If you could do that it would call into question all veterans who earned awards. The president has shown me by his inactions that he is putting his re-election above the honor or all veterans. One of the greatest tributes I can pay to my father is to defend his honor. Only a person who has not served in an active duty capacity can not understand that this is a bond that you must not break. I am sorry to say the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the President of the United States have broken this bond.

On this tour I have spoken to many veterans of past wars. I am appalled by the treatment these men and women have received. Their benefits have been cut and they are in actual fear for their future healthcare. Many of these people are from the Greatest Generation. We do not have the right to treat them this way. If they suffer, then I suffer. I believe that is the true American tradition. If the least among us is threat by losing or reduction of our civil rights, then all of us are at risk. These and many other reasons cause me great concern about this present administration.

This does not include the social and economic damage George W. Bush is doing to this country. It is time for a change!


Salome Baugher

Less than a week after I closed on my first house, Staunton City Schools eliminated my job due to budget cuts. The effects of No Child Left Behind resulted in the School Social Worker being left behind. I was the only certified School Social Worker working for the entire school district serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grades. I was told the school psychologists would take over my job duties despite the fact they are not trained nor qualified to do social work. Plans are for the school system to contract out (privatize) my job duties if the psychologists are unable to keep up with their already full time work load and the additional social work responsibilities.

I worked with children and families providing resources, making referrals to other agencies, doing home visits, conducting groups with children, and interviewing parents for social history reports used in determining eligibility for special education services. By shifting social worker responsibilities onto the psychologists placed undue burden on them whose primary role is to conduct psychological testing.

Families are missing out because they no longer have an advocate working for them. The children who are most at risk with the greatest needs stand to benefit the most from having a social worker are the victims of budget cuts.

Additionally, I have been applying for jobs resulting in only two interviews in the past five months. Even though I am eligible for COBRA health insurance, the out of pocket expense is exorbitant. I am on the America Can Do Better bus in support of John Kerry and John Edwards because we cannot afford four more years of the failed policies of the Bush administration. The alleged Bush economic recovery has not trickled down to me!


Mandy Campbell
Pittsburgh, PA
I'm concerned about health care and the nursing shortage in America. As a nurse we are advocates for patients. We see more and more uninsured and many fewer people able to afford health care. The Kerry/Edwards plan for health care will cover about 94% of the population in America. That's not perfect but will serve as an excellent start.

An additional issue is the recent overtime rulings. Due to shortages in nursing there is much more required overtime. With the new Bush rules many nurses will not get overtime in the future. This will further exacerbate the nursing shortage as many more will leave the profession.

John Kerry and John Edwards are both sensitive to the issues but unlike the current administration will address the problem and keep the needs of the patients in the forefront. America Can Do Better.

David Grubbs
Harrisburg, PA
I am from Harrisburg, PA and I am on the American Can Do Better bus because I see my countries' future teetering on the edge of the abyss. Through the agency of George Bush, our nation's foreign policy has been given over into the hands of the most dangerous cult on earth, the so called neo-conservatives.

This group, which includes most of the high civilian officials in the Pentagon as well as VP Cheney, represent a political philosophy that is neither new not conservative. They see the purpose of our armed services as an instrument for aggressively imposing our will upon the world, not for the defense of our country.

International cooperation is, to their thinking, the choices of last resort, which of course makes it less effective when it is most needed, if we remove the "but we're good guys" filter it begins to look like old-fashioned fascism.

Wars, as so many of our young people are now discovering is a horrible thing. Whatever good it may achieve is gained only at a terrible cost. None of the neo-cons experienced this for themselves, and that may be why they tend to regard it as just another move in some kind of global game of chess, and why they are so quick to dismiss the Geneva Convention, the UN Charter and the Christian doctrine of Just WAR as an inexpedient and un important.

I am on the bus because John Kerry shows an understanding of these things where George Bush Shows none. Kerry will send the Neo-cons packing and will show respect for the world community and thereby begin to regain the worlds respect for America. He was not my first choice for the Dem Nomination (I was and remain a Deaniac) but Kerry is my choice for November 2 and the next 4 years.


Mary Donahue
Scranton, PA
I am a RN and have witnessed the degradation in health care that John Kerry and John Edwards will change. They will make an excellent start on addressing the issues - it's not the perfect solution but it is a wonderful start to address these critical issues.

I have seen so many patients that are in such financial binds - not only about getting health care, but continuing to pay for the continued care and medications.

In contrast I have a friend in England who tells me that their National Health Care covers everything. She was just diagnosed with MS. She has a physical therapist, occupational therapist, a specialist MS nurse, wheelchair, crutches, and a monthly cash stipend due to her inability to work and they will modify her car so she can get around. All through national health. Why can't we get half way there???

America Can Do Better...


That is a powerful bunch of stories.

70 Real People from...

4 states. All proud to be...

One country. Composed of

Many faiths, economic and social status.

All believing that America Can Do Better. And with John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House we will.

More tomorrow.

Wish me luck...

b

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 11:46 PM | Comments (2)

Lynchburg Regional HQ Grand Opening Photos

Select photos by your connection speed:

Lynchburg Regional HQ Grand Opening - Aug 27, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


Lynchburg Regional HQ Grand Opening - Aug 27, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

I usually pride myself on having a quick turnaround time on photos I take reaching the blog. Everything I do is digital from shot to blog which eliminates the delays inherent in film. More than a quick turnaround, though, is my desire for the photos to look their best and that sometimes does takes a little extra time.

Just about all photos, no matter how much you initially like them, can use a little adjustment whether it's cropping, color balancing, tweaks to gamma levels and contrast, or removal of some kind of distracting and unimportant thingamabob.

Yesterday was a little bit of a challenge since we started in the early evening with nice warm light but went well into nightfall. With photograhy, a lack of natural light outdoors leads to a rapid cooling of your images from that gorgeous golden evening warmth to an artic blue appearance that is more like "Night of the Living Dead Democrats".

What I witnessed last night was not cold, arctic blue (which I associate more with the increasingly heartless and icy GOP), but rather flush with color, invitingly warm and, at times, white hot. The only thing we're going to be seeing blue this year is Virginia in November 2004... and trust me, it ain't a cold blue... ;)

So here are 82 photos from last night's Lynchburg Regional Democratic Headquarters Grand Opening. Enjoy them, share your comments and pass on the word that there's a (re)NEW(ed) and determined party in town that has a positive vision, an open door and a very warm, inviting glow.

Night, folks...
- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

Thoughts from Brigadier General Pat Foote (Ret.)

I met BG Foote in Newport News on my day riding the America Can Do Better Bus Tour as a photographer and blogger for the DNC. After hearing her powerful words on the trip, I asked if she would take time out of her busy schedule to share on DocDem some of what she told audiences this past Monday. Thank you, General Foote, for sending this today, and we hope to see more of you here in the future! -Aaron

My name is Pat Foote. I am an Army veteran who served for 30 years, had a tour in Vietnam in 1968, and was privileged to command soldiers at company, battalion, brigade and major installation levels. This past week, I had the wonderful experience of riding with a great group of Americans on the America Can Do Better Bus Tour. I joined the tour at its first stop -- Newport News -- rode on with the tour to Richmond, then had to leave because of other commitments back home in the Kerry-Edwards campaign. I rejoined the tour yesterday for the Harrisburg visit and enjoyed a great reunion with my many new friends as we rallied at the state capitol. It was a day to remember.

Many have asked why I am so actively supporting John Kerry and John Edwards in their campaign to win back the White House. Certainly, I am not doing this as a military officer or for that matter, simply because I am a veteran with deep concerns about how veterans and members of the armed forces are faring in these difficult days. I am acting as a citizen who has a vote and is deeply concerned as well as angered over the direction President Bush and his administration have taken the United States in four short years.


Never would I have believed that we as a nation could act so wrong in so many ways in so short a time. When we suffered the horror of 9/11 and realized how enormously we were being threatened by terrorists who wish us ill, the entire nation and most of the world stood with us in that time of grief and devastation. Going after the Taliban, Osama ben Laden and his Al Quaida organization in Afghanistan was the right action to take. This was the proper employment of our forces, and I think most of the nations of the world stood with us.

But we did not finish the job there. Rather, the Bush administration used these perilous times to divert America's armed forces and its wealth to take out a dictator who, no matter how despicable a tyrant he was, was in no way a direct threat to the United States. And it chose to attack preemptively despite the opposition of the UN and the majority of the world's nations, despite the fact that the UN was continuing its inspections in search of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. We were told such weapons were there, but that was not true, then or now. Despite his declaration of " mission accomplished " when the shooting war in Iraq ended in 2003, that war is far from over, and American casualties continue to mount. We have not been received as liberators; we are viewed by many as occupiers, and since we had no viable plan for what was to happen at the end of the fighting, chaos, insurgencies, attacks on Americans and Iraqi citizens continue. We will be forced to stay the course in Iraq for an unknown number of years, whether our presence is welcome or not..

Other outcomes? An incredible level of national debt. The administration eliminated the very healthy budget surplus bequeathed to it by the outgoing Democratic administration.

Add to that the loss of over one million jobs in the past four years; the outsourcing of many thousands of other jobs; the rising ranks of Americans who live in poverty, who have no health insurance coverage whatsoever, the steady erosion of veterans' benefits as the administration continues to decrement the VA budgets submitted for consideration and the planned closure in full or part of many VA hospitals. Add to that the problems inherent in a too small armed force, stretched to the limits in deployments, relying heavily on the use of Guard and Reserve troops whose extended deployments amount to a backdoor draft which ignores the stresses placed on military families by invoking such ploys.

All in all, I feel so very deeply that we are moving in the wrong direction, incurring the wrath and hatred of the people of the middle east and the growing enmity of those who once were our friends. This is no way to reduce the threat of terrorism.Our national arrogance is a threat to everyone of us..

I want to see the America I love and respect restored: the America that champions human rights, works within a body of nations for the better good of us all; a nation that takes care of its disadvantaged, that builds an economy which supports the working man and woman, educates all children equally, insures that health care for every American is there when needed.

To restore that America, we must elect John Kerry and John Edwards. There would be no finer message to the world that a new day is coming than this. Reject the failed leadership; bring on the new team!

Pat Foote

Posted by amahler at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

Here's a good one...GOP convention to display party's "heart and soul"

It's my understanding that Republicans, at their national convention, will pursue a theme of "heart and soul," as they try to paint the best possible face on an administration with a troubled record and even more troubling prospects for another term. Heart and soul? Really? I'm afraid attaching that phrase to the Republican Party begs further consideration. (By Rick Howell)

This happens every four years with the modern Republican Party. Ever since they began purging themselves of moderates, beginning about 1980, Republicans pursue right-wing agendas and then, like actors in an ancient stage play, they wear masks of moderation at convention time. A party that's really not very diverse suddenly seems heavily populated with African Americans and women. Hard-edged policies become kinder and gentler.

I suppose the only time they slipped was in 1992, when Pat Buchanan let loose with the frightful talk about "culture wars." It was scary, all right, and they haven't made that mistake again. So this year we'll get "heart and soul." But let's not forget to look behind the masks and see the real thing.

What, exactly, is the heart of the GOP? Was it their proposal to change laws on overtime pay that would have helped corporations but not workers? Their absolute refusal to consider a hike in the minimum wage? Their inaction on health care as some four million more people have been added to the rolls of the uninsured under George Bush?

How about the heart and soul it took to create the No Child Left Behind legislation, mandate it in our public schools, and then not fully fund it? Certainly, our troops in Iraq have not been treated with much heart or soul. They've been sent to fight without all the equipment they needed and had their tours extended after promises of going home. I'm not sure what the words are that best describe sending brave young soldiers to fight in a war based on faulty intelligence, without a real coalition, and without any exit strategy whatsoever. But I'm certain those words aren't heart and soul.

As Democrats proud to support John Kerry and John Edwards, we need to spend the GOP convention week holding this party responsible for what it says it is. Let's not let our fellow Americans who may be undecided be fooled by this bogus display of heart and soul. Let's spend the week as our own individual Democratic truth squads, each of us.

We know real heart and soul. They don't.


Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst County Democratic Committee, and Host of the Kerry Meet-Ups in Lynchburg. He can be reached via e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com

Posted by rickhowell at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

Day Six: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus

Blog day six

Today we had events in Scranton and Philadelphia. There were again some amazing stories of pain and heroism.

I have been honored to speak for all 70 real people tomorrow when we do our final NYC event. It dawned on me that this trip is really about the stories that I have been transcribing for the past six days.

So tonight I want to just let those stories tell the tale...

Ken Winters
Parkersburg WV

What a day yesterday was on the American Can Do Better bus tour. It was truly an honor to stand in the historical Olivet institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Ohio. A church where Martin Luther King once spoke. I remember thinking that were he alive today, ?Dr. King would probably be with us, as we endeavor to ensure that all Americans become aware that all American become aware that they don't remain under conditions induced upon us by the Bush administration. We can do better, we deserve better, we will do better. America Can Do Better.

Keith Lau
Pittsburgh, PA

I'm a 55 years old and I worry about whether my health care and pension will be around when I'm ready to retire. Will I be able to afford to retire when I'm 62 after paying into these funds for 48 years??

Also I'm worried about the economy and the shape it is in under this administration that came in with a 300 trillion dollar surplus and in three years turned it into 425 trillion dollar deficit. That's a swing of 700 trillion dollars in 3.5 years.

I'm also concerned about the 200,000 young men and women that are involved in a non-sanctioned (by the UN) war. Most of the countries that were our allies are now our non-allies. America Can Do Better

Frank Stare
Newark, Ohio
One thin I have learned on the "America Can Do Better" tour is how much the people I have met are looking for real leadership in Washington DC.

Jobs, Healthcare and the war seem to be on everyone's mind most people I have talked to want peace and prosperity like we had in the 90's under President Clinton and Gore.

John Kerry has been a proven leader over the years as a senator and that proven record of public service should be continued as president.

Gerald Bacco
Oakmont, PA

I have joined the America Can Do Better bus tour to share my support for John Kerry and John Edwards. I am unemployed as a direct result of /George Bush's policies. Electrical unions and other building trades have the highest percentage of unemployment from the inception of the IBEW in over 150 years.

My unemployment is going to run out so I will be "off the books" like hundreds of other electrical workers who will no longer be counted as unemployed.

Since Bush's election my health insurance has risen from $2.60/hour in the Clinton era, to $6.50 now. I will also lose my health care benefits soon due to my unemployment. All have lost because of Bush, and I worry for my son.

With outsourcing, what can he look forward to?

Geneva Barrax
Cleveland Ohio

As a veterans care advocate, I'm concerned about the erosion of benefits for those who serve our great country. Increased co-pay, increased percentage of disability required to qualify for disability. And then there is the proposed and actual reduction in the numbers of VA clinics and funding for veteran's hospital.

Relative to the current conflict, it says in the bible (Luke 14:27-33) "...a builder should not begin to construct a building without knowing the cost, lest he should be unable to finish the building and would come into mockery by his neighbors who would also say he started something and could not finish it." Also a king should not go to war with 10,000 against an enemy with a league of 20,000 without determining the outcome and without trying to gain a peaceful settlement first.

The bible needs no further elucidation. We need a change. We need Kerry/Edwards to bring a normalcy into the White House and to enable the citizens of the United States to hope and dream of a stable country again.

Mandy Priest
Pittsburgh, PA
My decision to attend the America Can Do Better bus tour was based on an evident wrong that must be made right. Over the past four years I have seen the civil liberties of my friends and family threatened and jobs shipped over seas. All the while the bloodlines in the White House have continued to get thinner. It scares me to my core that our country is run by people who have more stock in Halliburton and Iraq oil than they do in the American people and their future.

I want our country to be run by someone whose interests revolve around the advancement of our children, healthcare and economy, rather than the bulge of his wallet and the esteem of his residence. I want my confidence restored and I feel strongly that Kerry/Edwards can and will do this.

No one should run this country by appealing to our fears.

Art Clausen
Pataskela, Ohio

When asked why drive to Pittsburgh Pa and get on a bus for four days crossing the country to NYC the answer was pretty simple - THE KIDS. Both my 2 boys and all the other young people in this country.

The American Dream is for each generation to live a better life they their parents. For me this is certainly true. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I chose teaching and spent 33 years as a science teacher of 7th and 8th grade kids. In my heart I felt that I could also help my students fulfill their own version of the American Dream.

For many the dream will never come true, because it is fading every day. I had hoped that my boys would follow me in the pursuit of the dream but that does not seem to be the case. My youngest son is one of the millions of unemployed with his computer job being sent overseas and the pressure of trying to get health insurance heavily clouds his future.

America Can Do Better


Judie Saputo
Columbus, Ohio
In '86 9i was a Republican because that's the way I was raised. When Bush's dad was elected I lost my job. When Clinton got elected I got the job back but - making $250 less an hour. All my savings were gone and I lost my home.

When the Democrats got into office I started to recover but in 2001 my job was sent overseas. John Kerry will, I feel get this country back to where it needs to be. America Can Do Better.

Lois Spurlock
I'm on the America Can Do Better bus because I believe that slogan will be carried out by a Kerry presidency.

My 401K is all gone. My job and my health insurance are in jeopardy under the administration of GW Bush. Like Judie I worked for Lucent and 3/4 of our jobs were shipped overseas. Our work was sold to another company who only took a few of us. We worked for much less and now there is a high confidence that these jobs will be going to Canada.

We must get Bush out of office and elect John Kerry, a man who really cares about working people and jobs. Let's restore our jobs, wages, pensions, and get us health care. We need to restore our dignity as a nation. Vote for Kerry

Grace Cherrington
Licking County, Ohio

Health care coverage is my primary issue. The programs that are available are often out of reach of normal Americans. I also think that the "Marriage Amendment" will further limit benefits that public and private organizations now offer at a full our reduced rate to extended families and domestic partners.

I'm very concerned about unemployment and under employment and the increase in the number of "Temp" contract jobs which offer no benefits, pension or health insurance.

We need john Kerry and John Edwards in the White House.

Keith Gwinn
Nitro, West Virginia
I'm a 50 year old Navy Veteran currently working for the VA. I joined the tour because I'm concerned about the care being given to our vets. The cuts are everywhere. Medical benefits, medical facilities and the current administration has even introduced a $250 enrollment fee for vets.

If the government cannot take care of existing vets what does that tell the people that are serving right now?

My 18 year old daughter has just completed basic training. With all the other proposed reductions I wonder if she is being properly equipped and trained. When you hear the stories about the way the war is being conducted you wonder if they will be given the best shot at being protected.

We need a change.

Ray Mastin
Occupation: Retired USNR Commander

The first thing that struck me when I joined this trip is the wide range of people involved. They come from all walks of life and all backgrounds. There are several people who used to vote Republican and now have changed their minds.

One of the many reasons I chose to participate on this bus tour comes from a personal tragedy. My father recently passed away after a long illness. He was a decorated Vietnam War veteran. John Kerry's medals and honor were questioned, with the consent of the Commander-in-Chief. The President refuses to honor and defend policy that awarded those medals. You can not win three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star by faking injuries and combat action. If you could do that it would call into question all veterans who earned awards. The president has shown me by his inactions that he is putting his re-election above the honor or all veterans. One of the greatest tributes I can pay to my father is to defend his honor. Only a person who has not served in an active duty capacity can not understand that this is a bond that you must not break. I am sorry to say the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the President of the United States have broken this bond.

On this tour I have spoken to many veterans of past wars. I am appalled by the treatment these men and women have received. Their benefits have been cut and they are in actual fear for their future healthcare. Many of these people are from the Greatest Generation. We do not have the right to treat them this way. If they suffer, then I suffer. I believe that is the true American tradition. If the least among us is threat by losing or reduction of our civil rights, then all of us are at risk. These and many other reasons cause me great concern about this present administration.

This does not include the social and economic damage George W. Bush is doing to this country. It is time for a change!


Salome Baugher

Less than a week after I closed on my first house, Staunton City Schools eliminated my job due to budget cuts. The effects of No Child Left Behind resulted in the School Social Worker being left behind. I was the only certified School Social Worker working for the entire school district serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grades. I was told the school psychologists would take over my job duties despite the fact they are not trained nor qualified to do social work. Plans are for the school system to contract out (privatize) my job duties if the psychologists are unable to keep up with their already full time work load and the additional social work responsibilities.

I worked with children and families providing resources, making referrals to other agencies, doing home visits, conducting groups with children, and interviewing parents for social history reports used in determining eligibility for special education services. By shifting social worker responsibilities onto the psychologists placed undue burden on them whose primary role is to conduct psychological testing.

Families are missing out because they no longer have an advocate working for them. The children who are most at risk with the greatest needs stand to benefit the most from having a social worker are the victims of budget cuts.

Additionally, I have been applying for jobs resulting in only two interviews in the past five months. Even though I am eligible for COBRA health insurance, the out of pocket expense is exorbitant. I am on the America Can Do Better bus in support of John Kerry and John Edwards because we cannot afford four more years of the failed policies of the Bush administration. The alleged Bush economic recovery has not trickled down to me!


Mandy Campbell
Pittsburgh, PA
I'm concerned about health care and the nursing shortage in America. As a nurse we are advocates for patients. We see more and more uninsured and many fewer people able to afford health care. The Kerry/Edwards plan for health care will cover about 94% of the population in America. That's not perfect but will serve as an excellent start.

An additional issue is the recent overtime rulings. Due to shortages in nursing there is much more required overtime. With the new Bush rules many nurses will not get overtime in the future. This will further exacerbate the nursing shortage as many more will leave the profession.

John Kerry and John Edwards are both sensitive to the issues but unlike the current administration will address the problem and keep the needs of the patients in the forefront. America Can Do Better.

David Grubbs
Harrisburg, PA
I am from Harrisburg, PA and I am on the American Can Do Better bus because I see my countries' future teetering on the edge of the abyss. Through the agency of George Bush, our nation's foreign policy has been given over into the hands of the most dangerous cult on earth, the so called neo-conservatives.

This group, which includes most of the high civilian officials in the Pentagon as well as VP Cheney, represent a political philosophy that is neither new not conservative. They see the purpose of our armed services as an instrument for aggressively imposing our will upon the world, not for the defense of our country.

International cooperation is, to their thinking, the choices of last resort, which of course makes it less effective when it is most needed, if we remove the "but we're good guys" filter it begins to look like old-fashioned fascism.

Wars, as so many of our young people are now discovering is a horrible thing. Whatever good it may achieve is gained only at a terrible cost. None of the neo-cons experienced this for themselves, and that may be why they tend to regard it as just another move in some kind of global game of chess, and why they are so quick to dismiss the Geneva Convention, the UN Charter and the Christian doctrine of Just WAR as an inexpedient and un important.

I am on the bus because John Kerry shows an understanding of these things where George Bush Shows none. Kerry will send the Neo-cons packing and will show respect for the world community and thereby begin to regain the worlds respect for America. He was not my first choice for the Dem Nomination (I was and remain a Deaniac) but Kerry is my choice for November 2 and the next 4 years.


Mary Donahue
Scranton, PA
I am a RN and have witnessed the degradation in health care that John Kerry and John Edwards will change. They will make an excellent start on addressing the issues - it's not the perfect solution but it is a wonderful start to address these critical issues.

I have seen so many patients that are in such financial binds - not only about getting health care, but continuing to pay for the continued care and medications.

In contrast I have a friend in England who tells me that their National Health Care covers everything. She was just diagnosed with MS. She has a physical therapist, occupational therapist, a specialist MS nurse, wheelchair, crutches, and a monthly cash stipend due to her inability to work and they will modify her car so she can get around. All through national health. Why can't we get half way there???

America Can Do Better...


That is a powerful bunch of stories.

70 Real People from...

4 states. All proud to be...

One country. Composed of

Many faiths, economic and social status.

All believing that America Can Do Better. And with John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House we will.

More tomorrow.

Wish me luck...

b

Posted by amahler at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

Lynchburg Regional Democratic HQ Opening: Preview

It's been one thoroughly enjoyable evening with over 200 people in attendance (our conservative estimate) at the grand opening of the Lynchburg Regional Democratic Headquarters. I've made final selections from the several hundred photos I took tonight, but I have the usual editing to do before everything is ready for the site. I wanted to post a small preview set, though, to tide folks over until later in the day when I can get a thorough batch of photos online.

Thanks to EVERYONE involved, from volunteers that made this happen to the fantastic speakers and the enthusiastic crowd. There is much more to come this weekend with writeups and photos... in the meantime, please enjoy this small sample!

Check back later in the day Saturday for the full set of photos from the grand opening as well as the latest photos and entries from our friends on the DNC Bus!

Posted by amahler at 03:23 AM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2004

Day Five: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus

Blog Day 5

This morning we got a little gift. We got to sleep late (8:00 am) and rest up. I've been on the trip since day 1 and the little time off was most appreciated.

Today's schedule takes us to us to Pittsburgh and Harrisburg and overnighting in Scranton. Tomorrow will find us doing an event in Scranton and Philadelphia prior to our grand entry across the Hudson to NYC.

The Pittsburgh stop was very well attended. Although he tour is primarily a meet the media event we were deluged with requests for buttons, posters, bumper stickers and other campaign paraphernalia. We occasionally were able to share an America Can Do Better sign but little else.

I've also found out that these yellow fire fighter shirts are like gold. Lots of people want one and I just don't have the resources to help everyone now. But we were treated to a stem winder speech by Ann Lewis, former Deputy Communications Director in the Clinton White House. She was on fire and really wound up the crowd and the real people too.

The Real People Profiles on the busses

Lisa Ferrare
My name is Lisa Ferrare. I live in Erie, PA and decided to get on the America Can Do Better bus tour for several reasons. One is the economy. It's really bad. The other is our job force - we don't have one any more! The next issue is our elderly - our senior citizens, who can't get by with out medicine and good health care. America Can Do Better and John Kerry and John Edwards will make that difference.

Joyce Kovacs
I met John Kerry at our airport and shook is hand. I looked into his eyes, and listened to him talk and I knew he could make a difference! We desperately need a president who can make a difference.

Mike Mignogna, Steel Worker
Niles Ohio
I believe that in my lifetime this is the most important election I have ever been involved in. I'm a 54 years old, married with three children and three grandchildren. The direction we've taken in the past 3 1/2 years in health care (or lack of it), American jobs and the course that our nation is taking through out the nation is frightening.

We are in bad shape the world over and we cannot win this war on terror by ourselves. We were in Afghanistan where the person responsible for 9-11 was Bin Laden, but then we attacked Iraq who had nothing to do with WMD or terrorism.

My biggest concern is health care. My mother is in a nursing home and her memory is gone. We need someone who will look at and take care of the needs of the elderly.

This election is not about me, it's about America and our children and grandchildren. Middle America is being gouged. Seniors need to go to Canada to buy drugs.

And we need a new respect for labor in this country. We need to respect the working people. When workers wages have gone up 0.3% and CEO's 28% there is something wrong. We need a change. America Can Do Better and our candidates John Kerry and John Edwards is the crew to make it happen.

Benjamin Bush
Columbus, Ohio

My name is Benjamin Bush and I am here with my father George E Bush, Junior from Columbus Ohio. I am a junior at Xavier University in Cincinnati. I am scared every day when I read of and seen picture of caskets and hanging corpses. I am scared when I hear stories about men and women my age fighting and dying in a war that cannot begin to understand. I am scared by the purposeless nature of the war and I'm scared that I and any of my friends will get sucked in to the war. That why unlike many people my age I am registered to vote and I am voting for John Kerry.

Howard Van Kleef
Ohio
As a veteran of WWII I am appalled at what has happened to this country. In 1942 when I enlisted there was a "clear and present danger". The Germans and Japanese had "weapons of mass destruction" that were highly visible. The USA was unified behind our troops and those of us who were in the military felt any sacrifice we made was worth it to make a better world.

The founding of the UN, I felt, was a step in the right direction in order to stop future wars. President Bush, with his act of ignoring the UN and starting the war was an act of betrayal of the sacrifices made by me generation to win WWII.

The eroding of the benefits such as Medicare is a continuous worry for people my age. It is shocking that the richest nation in the world cannot provide a true national health care plan and senior citizens are forced to go to Canada to get affordable prescription drugs.

If Mr. Bush wants to see an example of terror, let him talk to a senior citizen who has to choose between food and medicine. That's real terror.

Kay Ferronte
Erie, PA
Hi my name is Kay and I'm thrilled to be on the America Can Do Better bus tour. I support the Kerry/Edwards ticket. I'm tired of our jobs being outsourced; I want our Social Security to be there for everyone. I think the war was unnecessary the big tax cut for the rich, we need help for our children when they decide to go to college. We need to kick this president out of office and we need to elect John Kerry and john Edwards for a healthier and happier America.

Sonia Ferrante
Erie, PA
I'm a married unemployed mother of six teenagers. I protest the downsizing and outsourcing of jobs.

Congress and George Bush voted down extending unemployment benefits for American workers. Each week my local paper in Erie, PA lists the longer notices of bankruptcies. Lots of houses for sale. Families are unemployed with no health care. How can other countries provide better health care for instance, Canada, Germany, and Europe when we don't even take care of our vets?

It's a shame when you give Iraq 80 billion dollars to rebuild but we can't take care of Americans that are hurting for jobs and health care reform.

Come on! Get real. I believe Kerry /Edwards will get us back on track.

The last 4 years of Bush have been chaos for America. A war where no WMD's were found. America needs a change. Don't let the lat election deter you from voting. People need to vote and fix this mess George W has gotten us into. God Bless our soldiers and families and veterans.

Alfonse Ferronte
Erie PA
Being retired at age 73 with the budget trillions of dollars in debt I'm worried about how our Baby boomers when their time comes to collect their social security. With the deficit and the war: where is the government going to go to get the money to cover it. Ask Mr. Bush. What terrorist are we fighting in Iraq right now since we already have Saddam?

Judith VanKleef
Cleveland, Ohio

I've taken this bus tour because I would like to see a change in the administration.

Issues.

1. WAR we were deceived about the need to go into Iraq. We need to withdraw - this incessant loss of life and injuries on both sides is not serving any purpose.

2. JOB RESORATIION the money being spent on the war could be spent to use for many needy American people. Something must be done to help restore jobs - we need living wages, and benefits to the growing unemployed people

3. EDUCATION this country is leading to the eradication of public education - a right of any child and adult. The school funding methods need fixing - and schools need support schools are in crisis all over the country and the Bush |"no child left behind" converts to "all children left behind".


4. HEALTH CARE 44 million people are without health insurance in this country need to be helped. This is the only industrialized nation in the world without a national health care program. Health care is a right not a privilege.

5. MEDICINE - the medicine drug prescription program of 2003 Medicare act is a disaster and it is the beginning of the end of medicine. If not changed before 2006 will be faced with more people having to choose between food, shelter and medicine.

6. PATRIOT ACT - this law must not be extended if we are to avoid a total police state - loss of first amendment provisions

As an elderly woman I would like my children and grandson to be part of a generation that can enjoy the benefits of peace, jobs, good education and personal liberties.

Gary Barnes
I'm an organizer for the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers. Along the way various vets, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, spoke movingly about their service. I'm really struck by the amount of anxiety about the current war and I've very concerned about my brothers that are in Iraq right now who are going to return to shaky circumstances, especially if they are injured or need veterans services. I'm very concerned about the services being cut to our newest veterans.

Bonnie Buchanan
Today we went to Niles, OH to a titanium plant that workers have been locked out of for 10 months. It's these stories that really make you think that something has to happen in America.

You think, something has to happened in America and the current administration isn't helping. Corporate greed is everywhere. The America Can Do Better bus tour is, to me, one of the best experiences I have ever had. I feel somehow that I'm helping American do better.

Cecil Hickman
I'm from Cleveland. I talked to my wife, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, this morning. She learned that she will have to take a shot that will be billed to our insurance for $8000. $8000 for one shot!!! I am unemployed and she is under-employed after a lay off. I'm a Vietnam vet. Thanks God we have insurance, but $8000 for a shot. What has happened to our health care system??? I've been a journalist and educator for 35 years, and my wife is a bookkeeper.

Frank Stone
I am frank stone and have met a lot of great people on this America Can Do Better tour. As a former mayor of a midsize city in Ohio I believe in the phrase, "Our children, Our Family and our Children" nothing is more important.

John Kerry is the best candidate for president because I feel that he shares these same ideas. John Kerry wants a better America.

John Abbatico
Pittsburg, PA
America is in a health care crisis. The cost of premiums is rising at 5 times the rate of inflation. It costs approximately $9000/year for a family health plan. If this situation continues and nothing is done to curb these high costs in six years that $9000 is anticipated to double.

Today there are 45 million uninsured and those with coverage will pay a larger and larger portion of the costs to care for the uninsured. Some people I know have maxed out their credit cards and some have filed for bankruptcy.

In the past 3.5 years 4 million more Americans have lost health care coverage. Health care costs are up 50% and premiums have risen 3 times faster than average wages have.

We need a change and John Kerry and John Edwards will show us that America Can Do Better! John Kerry will put working American's Health Care needs first and the profits of drug and insurance companies last.

Pippa Carter
Cleveland, Ohio

I'm Pippa Carter and I'm on the America Can Do Better bus tour because I don't think that working people can survive four more years of the Bush Administration and I want all eligible voters to know about this.

As a parent, the Bush regime scares the bejesus out of me. For the past 18 months we've sent our young to fight and die for a lie. THERE WERE NO WMD'S! Now almost a thousand of our young men and women have come back in body bags. That doesn't even take into account the thousands coming back disabled and in need of increasing medical services. I listened to many veterans to talk about closing VA hospitals being closed and waiting up to 6 months for a doctor's appointment.

I believe the money spent on this war could be much better spent on US soil to support our schools, our elderly our cities and our veterans. But our children will really pay the cost with the soaring deficit.

I'm a recently laid off teacher from the Cleveland School District which is $100,000,000 under funded. 1200 of us (teachers and support staff) are looking for work. From my view No Child Left Behind left the funding behind. Class room sizes have increased and students lack books, desks, chairs and other supplies.

Two of the teachers in my school last year had to pool books between classes and the students had to alternate taking the books home.

These are only a few of the reasons I'll do whatever necessary to elect John Kerry.

Ann Lewis
Friendship Heights, MD
The people on the bus are the real real experts on George Bushes' economy. I wish more people in Washington could listen to these stories: the educator who lost her job because of the Bush Reform Education Policy that is squeezing our schools so.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers members whose friends are working 2 and three jobs to pay the bills; with the with US Healthcare system where people have to ask their physicians which pills that are really important to take so they can decide which of all of them they absolutely must pay for - because they can't afford to pay for them all!

So you can see why I'm so pleased to be here, driving along between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg on the bus that is a big bill board for bringing our America Can Do Better message to towns and center cities that the candidates can't reach. It's a great journey!

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 11:48 PM | Comments (0)

DNC Bus Day Five: Contributed Photos


DNC Bus Tour: Pennsylvania - Aug 27, 2004

Here are the photos from the fifth day that were sent to me this evening from our friends on the DNC bus. As with previous nights, I'm unsure of the who took which shots, so I credit them to everyone on the bus. :)

- Aaron


Posted by amahler at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

Lynchburg Regional Democratic HQ Grand Opening

I wanted to take a moment to alert new readers (and remind our regulars) of the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony we are having for our Lynchburg Regional Democratic Headquarters, TONIGHT (Friday) at 7PM. This is event is a personal thrill as well since it has been the collaborative focus of a very dynamic and hard working (and not so small) team of people from the core committees of Lynchburg, Amherst, Campbell County and surrounding areas.

The event starts at 7 PM at our headquarters location of 2514 Langhorne Road. For those familiar with the area, this is directly across from the E. C. Glass High School parking lot.

We also have a fantastic list of speakers and honored guests, among them:

Throw in food, music, gobs of cheering local Democrats and a chance to talk one-to-one with candidates for offices in current and upcoming elections and you've got a great way to spend a Friday evening.

Come, bring friends and help us turn Virginia blue in 2004!

Posted by amahler at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

DNC Bus: Photos from Natalie Tennant in WV


DNC Bus Tour: Charleston, WV - Aug 25, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

In the wake of the DNC Bus through Charleston, WV, Natalie Tennant sent me an email with four photos and this note:

This is 2-year old Delaney Wells campaining for her Daddy, Erik Wells who is the Democratic candidate in the Second District for Congress. Delaney also got up on stage where she could be hear yelling "Vote Daddy, Vote Daddy!"

Erik's website is www.votewells.com

Thank you,
Natalie Tennant

And our thanks to you, Natalie, Erik, and Delaney! ;)

Posted by amahler at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

DNC Bus Day Four: Contributed Photos

Select photos by your connection speed:

DNC Bus Tour: Ohio to Pennsylvania - Aug 26, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


DNC Bus Tour: Ohio to Pennsylvania - Aug 26, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

Here are the photos from the fourth day that were sent to me this evening from our friends on the DNC bus. As with last night, I'm unsure of the who took what, so I credit them to everyone on the bus. :)

Some fun stuff in here, so enjoy!
- Aaron


Posted by amahler at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

Day Four: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus

Bloggers,

American Can Do Better Bus Tour

Hey folks. Here we are on Day 4. The odyssey continues and more stories of difficult times and a promise unfulfilled in America continue.

We're picking up people and momentum. Today we did Youngstown Ohio (actually Niles a small burg near by) where the United Steel workers have been locked out of work for 10 months! More about that in a minute.

We also stopped in Cleveland Ohio and Erie Pennsylvania and overnighting in Pittsburg.

As you know all along the way we pick up more "real people" and I've been so honored to be among these wonderful, concerned, patriotic, hard working Americans. They all have some phenomenal stories to tell and their personal stories will be detailed in the "Profiles" section below, but we all are on the same page with out mission. We truly believe that America Can Do Better and we are on the bus so we can share that message.

One other detail of note happened today. At our first stop (the RMI steel plant) in Niles Ohio were heckled! I guess this means that we are starting to make a real difference. No more than 10 people there but I was impressed with the quality of their protest. This group was definitely not the top 1% that got the vast majority of the Tax Breaks. Or if they did they sure didn't spend the money on education. My favorite was the hand lettered sign, written on paper plates that stated, "Bush Cheayney '04" perhaps the heckler was in solidarity with the Bush Malapropism! My guess is that Bush even scripts his mistakes (or at least Karl Rove does) so he can look more like a regular guy.

Regardless they were a ripple compared to the torrent of stories told at the steel mill. Congressman Ted Strickland spoke passionately about worker issues. Leo Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers of America also was passionate about the issues surrounding the problems his members are experiencing. The RMI plant has locked out the steelworkers for 10 months. In contract negotiations the union offered bankruptcy terms and the company countered with their "need to have over $3 million of ANNUAL wage concessions." This is a company that has $75 million dollars in the bank and nearly $300 million dollars in assets. If was comforting to know that our pictures were being taken by the "security guards" hired to ensure that the scabs weren't disturbed...

Lost jobs, no health insurance, and other tales of how American has not done better were the order of the day. I was especially struck by the retired guys and gals who showed up and told many tales of their retirements and health care lost. Real Americans in trouble. It's sad that Enron gets all the ink and the other thousands of stories about heartache and loss never even make the media. Well I guess this real world reality is not nearly sexy to the people that are supposed to tell these stories (the supposed free press and media) than the latest version of Survivor.

We've seen real survivors. And America Can Do Better. Especially when w


America Can Do Better Real People Profiles:

Sylvia Watkins:

I am Sylvia Watkins from Dunbar, WV. I am a registered nurse and a Vietnam Vet. I am riding on the America Can Do Better bus tour because I honestly believe that America is in crisis. President Bush has eroded Veteran's benefits so badly that it causes me to question why I spent 20 years. Pres Bush is attempting to erode our social security system with "carve out" plans to privatize the system. Pres Bush is slowly eroding the Medicare system while trying to make us think he is doing us a favor with a useless drug program. Affordable and obtainable healthcare insurance seems to be the one issue Pres Bush avoids speaking on. All of these issues are important to me and I know the Sen. Kerry & Sen. Edwards have plans addressing a fix for all of these issues. I passionately believe that Sen. Kerry & Sen. Edwards are the "Real Deal" for "Real People"


Jim Wills:
I am Jim Wills riding on the American Can Do Better bus. I know Kerry & Edwards can do better because we can't go but one way and that is up. If we have to put up with Bush for four more years our children and grandchildren will never be able to get out of debt. The main reason I am here is because of personal reasons. The company I retired from after 41 years of service mismanaged funds and filed bankruptcy. The judge that was appointed by old man Bush, at the request of the company set aside our contract and by doing so took our health insurance away. Something has to be done, such as changing laws if that is what it takes, so judges can't with the stroke of a pen take away health insurance. I feel that when the judge took away the health insurance that he took several years of my life as well as my wife's. We both have severe heart problems and I lost a leg while working for this company. There is no insurance co. that will give us insurance at no cost. I was raised in a union home and I will die as a union person.

Tony Savage:
My name is Tony Savage and I am from Catlettsburg, KY. I am on the American Can Do Better Bus Tour because in one way or another every member of my family has been affected by the misguided policies of President Bush. My son lost his job due to outsourcing. My daughter's tuition has gone up 40 percent because of cuts in higher education. I am a member of IBEU LU 317 and my Local has 50 percent unemployment because of President Bush's environmental policies and tax cuts. My wife is an R.N. and along with six million other people is in danger of losing overtime pay.

Also, I believe we went to war based on a lie and must have new leadership now before it is too late.

Betty Dunham Bailey
Virginia Beach, VA
Bbailey415@aol.com

I worked for the U.S. Federal Government (Navy, Marine and Army) for 37 years to include overseas tours in South Korea, Italy and Saudi Arabia. Among my many concerns about what has happened during the Bush administration is, first, the unilateral invasion of a sovereign nation. Regardless, of how horrible its leader may have been, the needless loss of almost 1000 wonderful men and women of our armed forces is inexcusable.

My second concern is what has happened to seniors (and others) regarding health care, insurance costs and finding doctors who will take Medicare patients. Not counting prescription drug purchases, I have in my work years and since paid to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare over $250,000.00 but used it seldom. Under President Bush, Medicare payments will have been cut 17% by 1 January 2005. No wonder they do not want us as patients. For the first time in my life I have had to pay for such things as eye refraction and pap smears and I cannot have a mammography every year.

For the first time, I am terrified about what is happening to my country.

Gary Barnes:
My name is Gary Barnes and I am from Bridgeport, WV. I am an organizer for IBEW Local 596 in Clarksburg, WV. The main reason I've decided to join the America Can Do Better Tour is I've talked to many of our members who have not worked for sometime. Projects in our area have been delayed or done away with. They have lost their health care, run out of unemployment and gotten behind on their bills. This is a new experience for them because work has always been somewhat plentiful in our state. We need a change now or the country will be in a hole for a long time.


Troy Ferrell:
My name is Troy Ferrell; I am a union electrician from Marietta, Ohio, Joining the America Can Do Better Bus Tour was an easy decision for me to make. I jumped at the opportunity to tour the northeastern states and talk about why we should back John Kerry over Bush.

Bush has turned his back on the working class of this great country who are:
Running out of employment benefits
Losing family health insurance
Leaving home to take a lower paying job.

It's not the American dream of most hard working men and women. If we don't stand up for leaders who will stand up for us, we deserve what we get after November 2nd.


Bonnie Buchanan:
Hello, my name is Bonnie Buchanan of Parkersburg, WV. I went to work in 1974 right out of High School. I'm riding the "America Can Do Better" bus because I am concerned with the outsourcing of jobs. The company I work for announced in October of 2003 that it was sending our jobs to Germany, Spain, and Brazil. After 30 years of service, I am faced with unemployment and no health care.

America needs a regime change. We need to keep our jobs here in the United States and I believe John Kerry and John Edwards are the ones that can help us keep our jobs.


Kenny Floyd:
My name is Kenny Floyd and I live in Wallace, WV. I joined the "America Can Do Better" tour because I truly believe America can do better.

George Bush, in my opinion, has done nothing good for America. I know he has done nothing good for me or my family. I am a 4 year Air Force Veteran, a 26 year employee of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and I have seen nothing from the Bush administration that is good for veterans.

He has kept the budget for veterans programs lower than what is needed. He has cut services and benefits. He has done nothing good for labor. He has contracted out, abolished overtime, and is doing everything possible to abolish unions and the labor movement.

America will do better with John Kerry and John Edwards.


Linda Floyd
My name is Linda Floyd. I joined the "America Can Do Better" tour because I want a change for the better, not just for me, but for my children and grandchildren.

Ken Winters:
My name is Ken Winters and I am from Parkersburg, WV. I joined the "America Can Do Better" bus trip because I am angry with the Bush Administration.

I am angry that we have lost 1.8 million private sector jobs. I am angry that we have lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs. I am angry that wages have increased .3% while corporate profits have increased by 28.4%.

Of the jobs created by this administration, 2/3 are low paying, with very few providing health care or benefits. I am also tired of this administration exporting jobs.

I am very concerned about workers' rights to join unions. The Bush appointed NLRB is not labor-friendly and has opposed the card-check procedures which Kerry and Edwards co-sponsored.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I am also concerned that an honorable war hero like John Kerry could have his war record questioned. The USA does not give out Purple Hearts and Bronze Stars frivolously and I am appalled that Bush and Cheney would question a true American Hero's service record.

Jackie Vacheresse:
I'm on the America Can Do Better tour because I feel that our country is in trouble. And I feel that the team of Kerry/Edwards is the one to lead us out of that trouble. My husband died on May 14th 2004 at 68 years old, and due to a bankruptcy ruling on Weirton Steel where all retirees lost their insurance. I had no money for my husband's funeral and had to borrow money from my three sons in law to pay to have my husband buried. Now I have prioritized my few funds and paid all my money for health insurance.

It is my opinion that when President Bush dropped the tariffs on steel, it marked beginning of the end of the steel industry in America. It is also my opinion that Bush raised the tariffs primarily for the purposes of the 2002 midterm elections, and then when they didn't serve his rich cronies he dropped them. John Kerry will at least listen to both labor and management, and make the best decisions for the American people and the American workers.

One of the things I have done is bought a burial insurance. I'm 70 years old and I pay $100.29 per month for the next ten years (if I live that long). At least my kids won't have to pay for my funeral.


Cleveland
One of the busses developed a chronic problem and we switched busses at a rest stop on the way to Erie. Since the Bush environmental enforcement is so bad there was no mention of the noxious clouds of oily smoke being emitted by our ride.

The stop in Cleveland ran a bit over. Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones introduced a multitude of speakers at the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. The church was the site of a speech by Martin Luther King in the 60's and very historic. We picked up the rest of the Ohioans that will be traveling with us and headed out to Erie.

We swapped out our bad bus for its non-evil twin, good one on I-90. A repair guy was there and as we pulled away he was deep into the bowels of the V-12 Detroit Diesel engine. I was having flashbacks to some fire truck I rode on, but that's another story...

Erie
The city with the painted gnomes was great. We were at the Maritime Museum and an enthusiastic crowd greeted us. We picked up the first bunch of real people from Pennsylvania here and they are excited about the rest of the toun and ending up in NYC. The final leg to Pittsburg is about 2 hours and dinner at the steak house.

Tomorrow will be a good day since we actually get to sleep in a bit in the am.

Final notes...

Today was a big circle. We ended up about 50 miles from where we started but after about 14 hours on the road and in events we touched a lot of people and traveled nearly 500 miles. The most important thing is that we continued to get our message out. You guys need to do the same thing. Talk about issues that affect you. Talk about the impact of the administration's policies on YOU! The numbers are great, but the personal stories have the most impact.

Let me tell you one. The week after I get back home to my bride, dog and homies, my International Association of Fire Fighters Union (Local 2598) will be getting together to do a community project. One of the kids who came home from Iraq without his legs is finally well enough and far enough along in rehab to go home. But guess what? The guy who says he's a War president or what ever the spin of the week is will not ensure that these kids are being taken care of. The kid applied for and did not get a grant to make his home wheelchair accessible. No ramp so we're going to build one for him.

What kind of country dishonors it's veterans so? Asking them for co-pays on health insurance, closing Veterans Hospital, not covering them? It's called America - but guess what? America Can Do Better!!

You guys are the bomb. Keep reading and keep bloggin'.

We can make a difference, we can do better America!

b

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

A Look Back On Boston: Charlotte Arbogast


The following entry was submitted by Charlotte Arbogast, who served as a press aide to the Democratic Party of Virginia during both the Virginia Democratic Convention and the national convention. She is a junior at Harrisonburg High School.

It all began early Sunday afternoon when I stepped off the plane only to find the most gorgeous city I had ever seen, Boston. It was so full of character. When we arrived at the Hotel Commonwealth (a fitting name for us Virginians), I was so relieved because it was such a nice hotel. After unloading all my stuff, I checked in with the lovely Laura Bland, who handles media and communications for the party. She informed me that my first task was to go to a party with her. At first I was a little dismayed that I was having to attend a party (I know already the hard labor is beginning), but this was what I signed up for.

We went to this beautiful gallery on Newberry Street with the photographer, Aaron, and his wife, Elisabeth. The gallery was filled with very interesting paintings. I heard one was valued at $16,000. At the gallery we mingled and I did my best to assist Laura and Aaron. Then a reporter came and wanted to interview a few people from the Virginia delegation. After rounding up a few delegates, we met him outside for the interviews. After the interviews were over we headed back to the hotel.

The next party I attended was the Virginia Delegation party located in Hyde Park in a library. There I caught up with all the Virginia Delegates and met a few from West Virginia. Following this party, Fran Framme (wife of Larry Framme and basically my second mom), Aaron, Elisabeth, and I rode the bus to the huge concert party. However, not all that interested in staying, we rode the T (Boston metro) back to hotel. Riding the T was a first for me! Then Fran and I met up with Larry and Mark Bowles and we went to this cute restaurant in Cambridge. There we met up with two young guys and had a great dinner, at 11 pm!

The following day, Monday, I woke up and didn't have a whole lot to do so I went shopping! Now again, this was very strenuous work!

Later that night I was able to get a pass to go onto the floor of the Convention. This was a great night. We heard Hillary and Bill Clinton speak. And as usual, Bill Clinton rocked the house. This was also the night Jimmy Carter spoke. He was so calm and put together. Monday was definitely a good convention night.

Tuesday afternoon Fran and I did some sightseeing and shopping. We went to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and it was lovely. It was so gorgeous. There was courtyard and artwork from many different artists.

Tuesday night I did not go to the Convention. Thought I would wait for a better night. Come to find out, that was one of the best because Obama rocked the house. For the next couple of days it was all about Obama, but I had missed it. However, I did see Teresa Heinz Kerry speak on C-Span. She did a wonderful job on commanding the audience's attention.

Wendesday afternoon I went a few places with my aunt. We went to the main hotel for a lunch meeting and being the dork that I am, I had good time hearing all about campaign finance laws. Then we went to this event at the Shubert Theater. We got our seats and on stage was Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Al Franken, and the director Robert Reiner and a few others. It was very entertaining.

Wednesday night I was so excited to go to the convetion. This was the night my man Al Sharpton was speaking. After hearing him speak in Richmond early this year, I could not wait to hear what he was going to say tonight. I went to the convention with my aunt Susan Swecker. She is (at least from what I can tell) a very important person within the DNC. And because of her I was able to meet Michael Moore. Susan had tickets to get up into a suite at the convetion. After hanging out there for a little while, we seemed to notice a large crowd walking by. After realizing it was Michael Moore, we jumped right in to try and get a picture with him. He was so nice he stopped and Susan snapped a picture of me and Michael Moore. I was so excited.

After a while I wanted to get back to the floor as to not miss Al. Then he spoke and I was complete! He was amazing. Following this I wanted to go to the bathroom before John Edwards spoke but after exiting the floor I found out that I was not going to be allowed back on. There were too many people. So I stood outside and watched it on TV with (state party chairman) Kerry Donley, who was also shut out.

Later we were able to get in before Virginia announced our votes. This is when Susan and I ran into Marvin, John Kerry's assistant. He knew us from early in the year. We talked to him and then I met Susan's friend Charisse. Charisse and I soon spotted P. Diddy and rushed down to try and meet him. We got a few pictures of him and he was able to sign my credential. I was so excited.

Thursday night I went to the convention again. But this time I put my butt down in a seat and stayed there. I was not going to get shut out on the night of Kerry's acceptance speech. This was also the night that the Governor Mark Warner spoke. He did a great job. And word on the street was that I was on C-SPAN for like 2 seconds during his speech. Kerry did an awesome job speaking. There was so much enthusiasm and passion in the room. Then the confetti and balloons came down and I had a blast with those.

All in all, the convetion was one of the best experiences I had. It was so unique and a grand oppotunity for me. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Susan, Louise Ware, and of course, Laura Bland.

Posted by laura at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

Zogby: Virginia Within Striking Distance

Zogby's latest Virginia numbers are in:

Bush 49
Kerry 48
Nader/undecided/other 4

What Zogby says:

This reliably Republican state is within striking distance for Dems, the latest Zogby Interactive poll shows. Partly on the strength of senior voters and those in major cities sprinkled around the state, Mr. Kerry has a chance of knocking off Mr. Bush. A win here for Mr. Kerry would all but seal the election.

Posted by laura at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

A Message from Rural Amherst

This is a photo a co-worker of mine sent me this morning of his neighbor's barn in rural Amherst, Va.

I think it pretty well speaks for itself. Thanks for sharing, Joe! ;)

Posted by amahler at 10:34 AM | Comments (2)

August 25, 2004

Day Three: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus

Bloggers,

What a day! Three stops and the special treat stopping in the after noon for ice cream on the road. We are now about 40 "real people" we picked up several new folks today and tomorrow we will need to increase the size of the caravan to three busses. The media and TWO real people carriers. The anticipation of everyone is that by the time we pull into the Big Apple will have three real people carriers! We'll see.

Since there are so many folks on the bus now I thought we would spend a lot of time on profiles tonight. But first the travelogue...


Today we started in Charleston West Virginia. We stayed overnight there last night and after a quick breakfast we loaded up and traveled a short bit to the state capitol and rolled the bus right into a public square where we were greeted by scores of enthusiastic Kerry/Edwards supporters. The Governor, several union leaders and a very energetic candidate for Congress, Erik Wells spoke. Also we heard from several of the new real people who joined the tour.

The new folks told some powerful stories about their personal experiences with the economy, health care, veteran's issues, education, the environment and workplace safety. Call me crazy but a theme seems to be developing here. At every stop the message is continually confirmed, AMERICA CAN DO BETTER.

I was thinking last night that it's not just about doing better during hard times but we need to figure out a way to do better when things are good. Good citizens we need to do our job all the time, and that means finding out what's going on and making intelligent decisions on the issues and then acting on those decisions.

America Can Do Better Profiles
Rob Daniel I'm a web designer in Lynchburg, VA. I joined the America Can Do Better tour to tell the story of my mother's struggle with Melanoma, a virulent form of skin cancer. My mother, Carolyn Watson of Charleston, SC, was diagnosed in 2002 and underwent an intensive treatment process that involved multiple surgeries, extensive radiation and chemotherapy, as well as experimental drugs and vaccines. Her primary form of insurance was through her job as a receptionist, but she could only maintain that coverage while she was a full-time employee. As a result, my mom was forced to ignore the advice of her doctors and work full-time throughout the course of her grueling treatment, taking only short leaves of absence for surgeries and the most intensive stages of her chemotherapy regime.

As her treatment costs spiraled, the insurance premiums paid by her employer became overwhelming. In 2003, the same year that she was honored at a ceremony for her enormous contributions to the company, she was let go. Because of her illness, she has been unable to find affordable health insurance - or a new job.

My mother was in tears the night she was let go from her job - she didn't know how she would pay the medical bills without insurance or a steady job. I assured her that there was a program out there for people in her position, and I spent three days on the phone trying to find it. I just couldn't believe it wasn't there.

I am confident that John Kerry's plan to bring affordable health insurance to all Americans - and reduce the catastrophic costs that get passed on to small businesses - will ensure that no hard-working American has to suffer through an ordeal like my mother's.

Kathryn Hamilton
Democrats as a party support a hopeful future for Americans and I am pleased that John Kerry and John Edwards share that vision. Democrats believe that all citizens matter and that everyday we can choose to work in ways that can better the daily lives of every American citizen.

If you enjoy the benefits of health care and a social security income in retirement, you have a Democrat to thank. If you enjoy the benefits afforded by cleaner air and water, you have a Democrat to thank. If you or your children are able to attend college because they are able to obtain student loans or grants, you have a Democrat to thank. If you drive a safer automobile or work in a safer work environment you can thank a Democrat.


Tax rebates that give little to the citizens who need them most and a government that bases every decision on politics rather than on sound policy, fail to move us forward as a country. Pre-emptive wars based on cherry-picked, faulty intelligence cost American lives and the lives of others in foreign countries. We can do better. I am proud to support John Kerry.

SARAH JOHN

Hi! My name is Sarah John and I'm a health care worker. I'm an emergency physician and I'm on this bus tour because it gives me a chance to speak with people about how America Can Do Better in health care by electing John Kerry.
We are the only industrialized nation in the world without universal health care. The Bus administration has failed the over 44 million Americans who are uninsured- 4million more since when he took office. Each of these 44 million is a real person with a real story; each is a person with a husband, a wife, parents, or children. Each worries about how to pay their bills.

As a doctor I've taken care of too many people who are critically ill or dying because they did not have adequate insurance, did not have a doctor or money to pay for one. Eventually, when these people are too sick to manage on there own, these people come to the emergency department. No ER doc should have to tell a wife that her husband has died when earlier care would have saved him, because he didn't have a doctor and waited too late. I know what that is. We Can DO Better.

I also know what is to be the patient. I was injured in a car crash and lost my job. My family was overwhelmed by almost $300,000 in medical bills, unreimbursed, unpaid. We used up our savings and home equity to pay for rehab. Our family health care insurer raised the premiums to try to force us out to almost $1500/month. Our credit was ruined. We filed for bankruptcy, and then found a mortgage at 10% interest to get out of bankruptcy and save our house. I know what its like to choose between paying for groceries and paying for medical care. No American should ever need to make that choice.

My husband was an unemployed chemist when I was uninsured by that drunk driver. Our twins were 7. They learned to avoid bill collect ors from the hospital collection agency. No mom should ever have to know what that feels like.

We got lucky. My husband found a job teaching school four years after the crash. He has great benefits with good health care insurance.

But no American family should have to depend on luck for health care. We Can Do Better Than That.

John Kerry has promised to make universal health care his first bill as president. He has promised me personally and I believe him.

America needs Universal Health Care Coverage! We cannot continue to waste people by neglecting their medical care. We Can Do Better for our doctors! We Can Do Better for our patients! We Can Do Better for our families!

We can send George Bush back to Texas!
We can elect John Kerry president!
And that is exactly what we are going to do.

KWINNA STONEY
My name is Kiwanna Stoney from Newport News, Va. I have the pleasure of traveling on the American Can Do Better bus tour. I feel this is a historic event. I am for Kerry and Edwards because the world needs a change for the better. Small business needs to be able to supply insurance to their employees but cannot due to the high premium costs. Something needs to be done before the world falls. We are in a state of emergency.


LEON HARRIS
My name is Leon Harris of Hampton, VA. There are a number of reasons why I am taking this America Can Do Better bus tour. I'm an independent voter and voted that way in the last three elections because of my dissatisfaction with the two party system which seemed to b e failing us as a nation. After the election of 2000, I felt as a nation we could not do worse. The problems we are confronted with are too numerous to express in the brief sound or written bite. The bottom line is that I'm voting Democratic in 2004 because I love this country too much to let the current administration take us in its current direction.

LINNEA BLIZZARD
My name is Linnea Blizzard and my being a participant on this America Can Do Better bus tour is but a privilege and an honor. I fully support the Democratic National Party and its views. The Continuous decline in healthcare and its increase in costs, as well as the decrease in public educational funding Is why the Kerry-Edwards camp has my support, as well as my vote. America Can Do Better and with Kerry and Edwards in office we will. America needs to stand up and take notice that if the current administration remains our country will continue to deteriorate.

Earl Ladlee

My name is Ladlee. I am a U S. Army veteran of 22 years. I am married and have two children and two stepchildren. My oversea tours include Vietnam, Korea and Germany.

I feel very honored to be part of the "America Can Do Better" bus tour. In fact we cancelled our vacation to be part of this historical event. I voted for G.W. Bush; however, it did not take but a few months to realize I had wasted my vote. The Bush administration continues to erode our health benefits, put our nation in an economic hole, and does not back veterans. Bush himself did not live up to his responsibility as a National Guard member.

Senator Kerry does show true leadership and will provide for those veterans that are asked to fight today. Senator Kerry will put in place a policy that will stop corporations from receiving tax breaks for doing business overseas.

This bus tour will help to get the truth out and will energize me for volunteer work in my community The staff on our bus tour has-been most helpful and kind. This tour bus event was well organized and executed.

Pat Ladlee
I am a 16th generation Virginian now living in Augusta County, Virginia. I am participating in the AMERICA CAN DO BETTER BUS TOUR because the Bush Administration is treating the economy of my country like a "cash-cow". The highest deficits in history are nothing but a mortgage on our nation's future. The desolation of our manufacturing base denies us jobs today and hopes for tomorrow while major corporations pocket the profits. While the major benefits of tax cuts go to those making over $200,000 a year, increasing percentages of the middle class and blue-collar workers are denied health benefits, overtime pay and increasingly no employment at all. The Bush administration has provided the United States with a perfect recipe for the creation of a third world country.

These comments do not even begin to cover my concerns with education and many other issues. More later...

The women scooping ice-cream at Halls told us that one of them is leaning towards the "other" guy and the other scooper was undecided. Betsey Beatenhead allowed us to take a photo which will be in the pictures section of http://www.documenting-democracy.org. We did what all good Kerry/Edwards supporters do. We asked them about their issues and gave them the facts.

We are running into a lot of people who wish the bus could stop where they are, but there are only so many resources. Delores and Diane Patolay stopped (their picture is also in the photo section) us in Wheeling and addressed the same themes that we have heard for the past three days, health care is a mess, jobs are going elsewhere with no replacements, and the Bush side is distracting from the arguments about the real issues with things like the Swift Boat veterans diversion.

And then there was Courtney. She was our wait staff in Wheeling where we had our "event" and dinner. Sarah was like a woman possessed and after finding out she was not registered got her to commit to getting registered AND could very will be a Kerry/Edwards vote. We're very proud that she will cast here first votes in November. The picture in the photos section is of bruce thanking her for her decision.

But the most important thing that happened with Courtney is that we have committed to following up with her. That follow-up includes making sure she has the necessary information to register and if so inclined votes for the one that best addresses her interests and concerns.

So that is a wrap for today. I'm surrounded by beautiful people. It's a righteous thing to care so much about people that you want to help them do better. Its one thing to care - but quite another to help them. Again sound familiar? Yeah you heard it before, "Compassionate Conservative" - "Reformer with Results" (for those who think I'm a professional writer, this is a SLAM!!!). America Can Do Better and it's because we care and WILL help people.

Tomorrow Youngstown/Niles, Cleveland and Erie...

Sleep tight,

We'll be back tomorrow

b

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 11:28 PM | Comments (1)

DNC Bus Day Three: Contributed Photos

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DNC Bus Tour: Charleston & Parkersburg, WV - Aug 25, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


DNC Bus Tour: Charleston & Parkersburg, WV - Aug 25, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

Here are the photos dispatched to me this evening from our friends on the DNC bus. As with last night, I'm unsure of the who took what, so I credit them to everyone on the bus. :)

Some fun stuff in here, so enjoy!
- Aaron



Posted by amahler at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

Through an Elector's Eyes - Part VI: O Beautiful for Spacious Skies

a humorous contribution from Ron Telsch


Press: "Do you endorse the comments of those claiming your opponent's military record is flawed?"

Marc Anthony: "His service was noble."

Press: "Yes, but do you think it accurate what your supporters are saying about him?"

Marc Anthony: "Noble is noble. How plainer can I say it?"

Press: "Your opposition has called this a "Moment of Truth." Do you think that is a fair assessment?"

Marc Anthony: "Look. I don't know how many times I have to say this: I have come to honor the man, not bury him. I want all of this to go away."

Press: "Are you going to tell your supporters to stop saying what they are saying?"

Marc Anthony: "Now, this is what is known as a 'canned drum.' It's a can of worms. It's that box everyone keeps trying to open. But, you see, you don't find anything inside it. I have people that take care of that. Caesar was an honorable man, regardless of what he may have failed to recall accurately. It doesn't matter anymore whether he was or wasn't where he says he was years ago. We can't dwell on the past, except as it may speak to the issue of character. I am a great leader. He also served, and so do those who sit on their you-know-whats and wait."

Press: "About your record..."

Marc Anthony: "My record is clear. I was there when I wasn't somewhere else. What counts is where I was when our latest and greatest challenge came upon us."

Press: "You were talking to a group of grade school children weren't you?"

Marc Anthony: "I was educating the nation's future leaders! I am a leader. I'm a future leader if y'all re-elect me (tee-hee). I lead where others fear to follow. Now my opponent may have fallen out of a boat somewhere along the line in service to his country, err, our country, but my country still honors such service. It was noble. I am noble. I come from a long line of nobility."

Press: "Running on your record..."

Marc Anthony: "I'd be running in circles. Ha - that was good one."

Press: "If your record of service is compared to your opponent's, how do you think he should speak about you?"

Marc Anthony: "He should say I served nobly. That's it. Plain and simple. Anyone who ever wore the uniform of this country deserves the right to claim they served nobly. All of us were noble, except those who didn't serve. Well, we maybe need to exclude those who were dishonorably discharged. I don't think...What? Who? Vice...? One at a time now. I'll get back to you on this."

Press: "Your running mate..."

Marc Anthony: "Serves this country admirably. That's more than noble. That's double noble – it's a naval term. This nation owes a debt of gratitude to him and everyone else in my administration. We are all here today because we are here together. We're seamless."

Press: "Does that mean all candidates who received draft deferments are exempt from criticism?"

Marc Anthony: "No. We can criticize whoever we want. This is America. We have a right to criticize. What it means is I think everyone must serve under my command. We need all citizens to serve their country in times I need them to serve. Now don't get me started on back-door drafts. Let's just close the screen door on that one and hole up inside for a while."

Press: "You've been critical of your opponent's..."

Marc Anthony: "Exactly. I am critical. I can't be replaced right now. It's too important for the country that I stay on doing what it is I do. My opponent can keep doing what he has been doing. It doesn't matter if he never shows up to vote; heck, I haven't shown up in better places. Why there was this time..."

Press Secretary: "Thank you, Mr. Anthony."

Marc Anthony: "No, wait a minute. Wait. I haven't spent ten seconds in front of the casket of Caesar. Of course that's ten seconds more than he did."

Press Secretary: "Sir, thank you. It's time to go."

Marc Anthony: "Huh? Yeah. Alright. Let's go then. Come on y'all. They want us outta here. Now come on. Time's up. Where to next?"

Press Secretary: "Home, sir."

Marc Anthony: "Which home? My home? Home for good? I can smell the fresh air from here." Me too.

Peace.
Ron Telsch
Disclaimer: past results are no indication of future performance.

© R. Erich Telsch 2004

Posted by amahler at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

DNC Bus Day Two: Contributed Photos

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DNC Bus Tour: Beckley, WV - Aug 24, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


DNC Bus Tour: Beckley, WV - Aug 24, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

Here is a batch of photos forwarded to me from Bruce Roemmelt to accomany his entry tonight (see below). When I asked Rob who should be credited, he replied that his camera bounced all around between staff and passengers today. So, I'm going to credit them to pretty much everybody on the bus until somebody claims specific shots. :)

Enjoy!

Posted by amahler at 01:21 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

Day Two: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus


Bloggers,

10:00am
Day two on the tour started in Lynchburg after a nice breakfast and some final goodbyes to the crew at the Holiday Inn. One of the things we did there is ask all the local people if they were registered to vote and if they would consider voting for Kerry/Edwards. We had several successes.

As I stated yesterday this is really a campaign tour, and there are two sets of folks here. Staff that makes sure everything gets done, the press is contacted, and that rooms, luggage and meals are taken care of. Then there's the group referred to as the "real people". That's us, people with stories to tell and energy to make a difference, the folks for Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Those people in the Holiday Inn are real people. Wait staff, maintenance, housekeeping. People with lives, hopes, dreams, and a desire for a better life for their kids and families.

That's what we all need to do. Meet people, tell your stories, ask people to vote. We just need to be honest, and talk about economic and social justice issues. "if you build it they will come..."

We picked up Rob Daniel in Lynchburg. He told a powerful story about his mom and her health care crisis. His story will be in the "Profiles" section tomorrow.

So we're off to Beckley West Virginia and an event at the Democratic Party Headquarters and then will be traveling to Wheeling for our overnight.

Real People America Can Do Better Profiles
Names: Jose 67 And 66 Delores Ramirez (our sexy seasoned citizens)

VA Beach VA

Why are you here??

To provide support for veterans. Under the uniformed services employment and re-employment relief act, for example personnel called up to serve in Iraq come back and find that they no longer have a job because of factories closing and job downsizing. Also, for example a police officer gets called up, goes over to Iraq, loses a leg and now he no longer can work as a policeman. We should provide training for these people like him, so they become employed and feel like they are a part of society. Another issue is the reduction of combat and separation pay. Don't the personnel fighting the war be paid properly instead of reducing their pay?

My wife is here in support of senior citizen issues. They should have more programs for them to help pass the time. There should be a better health system for them so they should not lose there homes to the state because of having to go to a rest home. Better health coverage for the small business owner.

Issues you care about;
military issues
senior citizen issues
better health insurance coverage for small business owners.


Name: Nancy Jones

From: Portsmouth, Virginia

Why are you in this trip? I'm on this road trip for John Kerry because I'd rather be hopeful than fearful. America WILL do better under John Kerry's leadership and raise the level of optimism of voters because his plan includes:

1. Achieving energy independence
True security emerges when a nation chooses to develop its own sources of renewable energy; thus ending our enslavement to foreign oil.

2. Protecting our environment
The protection of our environment and the stewardship of our land and resources are vital to the strength of our nation and health of our people.

3. Advocacy for Veterans
As an authentic Vietnam Veteran, John Kerry knows the importance of providing care and support for our military service men and women who have honorably served.

4. Protection of our constitutional rights
Thomas Jefferson once said, "I may not agree with what you are saying but I will defend to the death your right to say it." John Kerry believes that freedom of expression, transparency in government and the restoration of civil rights in America, as well as equitable justice for all remain the hallmarks of a society with values which reflect integrity, honesty, fairness and inclusively. John Kerry's vision, like mine, reflects his passionate belief that America Can Do Better!!

5. Achieving energy independence
True security emerges when a nation chooses to develop its own sources of renewable energy; thus ending our enslavement to foreign oil.

6. Protecting our environment
The protection of our environment and the stewardship of our land and resources are vital to the strength of our nation and health of our people.

7. Advocacy for Veterans
As an authentic Vietnam Veteran, John Kerry knows the importance of providing care and support for our military service men and women who have honorably served.

8. Protection of our constitutional rights
Thomas Jefferson once said, "I may not agree with what you are saying but I will defend to the death your right to say it." John Kerry believes that freedom of expression, transparency in government and the restoration of civil rights in America, as well as equitable justice for all remain the hallmarks of a society with values which reflect integrity, honesty, fairness and inclusively. John Kerry's vision, like mine, reflects his passionate belief that America Can Do Better!!


5:30pm

On the way to Beckley we did some interesting stuff! The press folks had a brain thunderstorm and they called up two newspapers that were on: the Bedford Bulletin and Lewisburg WVA (the Valley Ranger). Robin Spence, a Lewisburg citizen, was just overjoyed that we had stopped for a short break and we gave her a shirt, America Can Do Better sign and button.

We arrived in Beckley at about 5:30pm at the Raleigh County Democratic headquarters and were met by a rousing mixed crowd of veterans, Moms and Dads, media and a ton of Kerry Edwards supporters. Listened to some great speeches. Allen Sussman, a state senator, and Jack Tincher (our newest Real Person on the bus).

There were several media opportunities (TV, print and radio) and one of the most powerful things at Beckley was the amount of WW II veterans who showed up for the event.

We then stopped by a local TV station for a live opportunity as the evening news was being broadcast.

Then...

On to Charleston for dinner and perchance to sleep.

BBQ at Joes and our first event of the day will be at the state capitol, right on the river.

Again, log on comment and blog on. Remember America Can Do Better and WE can make that happen. One discussion, one vote one person at a time. Talk volunteer, do something.

Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Night.

b

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 11:30 PM | Comments (0)

DNC Bus: Lynchburg Event

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DNC Bus Tour: Lynchburg - Aug 24, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


DNC Bus Tour: Lynchburg - Aug 24, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)


Sadly, I said farewell to my friends on the bus this morning (including Rob Daniel who joined them from here in Lynchburg - look for his journal entries in the coming days).

The event in Lynchburg this morning was fantasic. As before, I'm going to leave the details to those who are on the bus to tell in their own words... but I do have a batch of photos to share. Enjoy!

- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2004

Day One: Bruce Roemmelt on the DNC Bus

Bloggers,

Day one - in the beginning

Slept badly and up at 0400. Coffee and packing for 7 days and then Beth gets me to National Airport. I don't call it Reagan because it could get confused with 150 other places of the same name in DC.

Flying a puddle jumper to Norfolk and then to be picked up by Dennis George, and other retired fire fighter who worked for Newport News. The IAFF network is in high function mode. Call a guy and get a ride from the airport to the Park where the kick off will be.

So the plane lands and while waiting for my luggage, I got to do my first intervention! The flight attendant gets off the plane and comes over to me and asks, "How could you bring yourself to wear that shirt?" She was of course talking about my beautiful Yellow fire Fighters for Kerry/Edwards which I proudly was sporting. I told her I was proud to wear it and she asked why when Kerry was going to "gut" homeland security. I was floored due to the fact that noting I had read ever mentioned that.

She told me she was a retired fire fighter and she was 100% against Kerry. I asked her what she had heard and she was evasive, I asked her again and vaguely stated she'd gotten an e-mail from some group that told her of the bogus position. I asked if she had read Kerry's position on the web, or something in the paper. Zip.

So I then read off the litany of budget reductions that Bush had proposed in the 2005 budget and she was amazed. Go figure. No curiosity about the issues. Sound familiar? In the end she was at least continuing to ask me for more information. I hooked her up with a few web sites and we parted company. At least she was thinking?

So I picked up my ride and Dennis took me across the water to Newport News. We shared common stories about the campaign and he dropped me off at the Railroad Station where the initial gathering was taking place.

I hooked up with Fritz the advance guy and did some housekeeping for the event. We were on the waterfront about a mile away from the newest aircraft carrier being built and you guessed it - it's the George Herbert Walker Bush CVA - 69!

There were about 50-75 partisans there who listened to the speakers. Jose spoke about vet issues, and I then did the same (the text of my speech is below). We were both very warmly received. The Retired Brigadier General Evelyn "Pat" Foote gave a rousing speech about why vets and current military needed to vote for the Kerry Edwards ticket. Let me tell you she was one amazing woman. My favorite line from her was when she referred to her self as "a private citizen with an attitude!" Did I say she was an amazing woman?

We then lunched and took off for Richmond on the buses. There a gaggle of busses. The big dog is the press bus with all the communications stuff. Folks are shuttled on and off of it to do live and taped radio interviews. Way cool.

When we got to Richmond we were greeted by VA Lt Governor Tim Kaine. We then progressed to a small conference hall and General Pat, Sarah Jones MD, Dr. Connally, Tim Kaine and State Senator Henry Marsh gave a powerful testament to the need for a real and comprehensive national health care program. There were several member of the Richmond press in attendance and I was surely impressed with the knowledge and passion of all the speakers.

We then piled back on the busses for our trip to Lynchburg. We will be overnighting there and then chatting with the locals in the am and then taking off for our first stop in West Virginia, Beckley.

We've met some amazing folks so far on the tour and the "staff" and "support" folks (they call us the "real people", sounds like a Native American reference) have been just wonderful. We're really being treated nicely.

Real People Profiles
Leon Harris, from Hampton. He spent some time in the Air Force and is a Vietnam Vet. When he got out of the military he went to work for NASA at Langley VA. He's been there for over twenty years and is contemplating retirement and a second career. He's concerned about our standing in the world, and how we can get our REPUTATION back. Leon has voted independent the past three elections, but this time he has decided that his vote is going to Kerry/Edwards. Leon has so far proved to be the brains of the outfit.

Sarah Jones is from Falls Church, and is an Emergency Room doctor. She ran into a catastrophic illness and when her insurance ran out (her husband at the time was an unemployed chemist) really started to run up medical bills. They were very close to bankruptcy and have mortgaged their home to the hilt to pay for the medical bills. Sarah will be voting for Kerry/Edwards so that a REAL national health care plan can be implemented to protect Americans with care needs, not just the rich but as proposed in the Kerry Edwards plan nearly 98% of us all.

Laura and Aaron of the blog are being very supportive. Aaron had taken a ton of pictures and will be posting them on the blog.

Truth be told there were only two downers today. First I'm toast from being up for a long time, and secondly General Pat had to leave us to do some speeching elsewhere for the campaign.

Bottom line, we continue to rock and our message continues to be powerfully transmitted and passionately heard, AMERICA CAN DO BETTER, and John Kerry and John Edwards are the right team to get us to that better place.

See you tomorrow.

b

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

ACDB Tour: Richmond to Lynchburg

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DNC Bus Tour: Richmond to Lynchburg - Aug 23, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


DNC Bus Tour: Richmond to Lynchburg - Aug 23, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)


Well, I'm home again after a very enjoyable day on the DNC's America Can Do Better bus tour. It just so happened that their destination for the night (and tomorrow's event) is Lynchburg, fifteen minutes south of my home in Sweet Briar. I wish I was rolling on with this great group of new and old friends and fellow Democrats all the way to NYC, but I'm glad I at least had this chance to hitch a ride across the beautiful Commonwealth today. On the homefront, though, I've got a few roles to play in the grand opening celebration of our local regional Democratic headquarters this week... lots to do.

Tomorrow morning I'll dash into town to photograph the Lynchburg event and wish the group farewell as they roll through four more states. This isn't goodbye, though, since we're keeping close ties to the group as they submit posts right here to Documenting Democracy and on the DNC's blog for the rest of the trip. Rob Daniel, a friend from right here in Lynchburg, climbs aboard tomorrow and will be sending us his photos from the road as well.

I've attached the photos that pick up where I left off from my previous entry earlier today. Lt. Governor Tim Kaine met us in Richmond to greet the bus and give some opening remarks and introductions for the afternoon event. My role here is mostly that of visual storyteller, though, so have a look at the photos and check back here in a bit for thoughts and words from the folks at the heart of this journey...

- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)

Bruce Roemmelt's Speech in Newport News

I'm Bruce Roemmelt, and I'm a Virginian. I live on Bull Run Mountain in Prince William County about 20 miles northwest of Manassas. I'm kind of a two-fer on this bus tour. I retired after 23 years in the Fire Department in Prince William and I'm going to talk about public safety issues in this tour, but today I want to comment on how "America can do better" and why my candidate for President John Kerry is the one to make that happen.

It's so weird to me to be here. I was in the Navy a long time ago. I was in the crash crew of the flight deck of the air craft carrier the USS Intrepid. In February 1969 we came back to Norfolk from a tour in Vietnam through that water right over there. I was in my dress whites on the deck, with the fire boats spraying colored water - many of you here have seen that sight hundreds of times, but what you couldn't see were the tears in my eyes. I was no hero - no medals, but I had paid some dues, but more importantly one of my friends Bobby Lee Spencer had made the ultimate sacrifice. He died in our hands as a result of a crash on the fight deck trying to recover a damaged A-4 Skyhawk in September of 68. I sobbed because the war was pointless. Bobby's death was pointless.

And now there is all this bunk about John Kerry's courage and leadership. I wasn't in the delta, I wasn't on a Swift boat, but I had crewmates - then and now. In the fire department I fought fires with my crew and another crew was 5 feet away but they didn't know what we were doing. Only we really knew. THEY know the truth. They speak the truth. The Navy records speak for John Kerry. John Kerry's crewmates and the people that were actually there support their guy and so do I. The bottom line is John Kerry reported for duty and then performed - and performed extremely well.

The guys that are upset at John Kerry are angry about the wrong thing. They still can't admit it was the government that was wrong; John Kerry just told the truth. Honor is about telling the truth. John Kerry has honor. Honor for my money is also about admitting mistakes and then fixing those mistakes. John Kerry will do that too.

But it's not about John Kerry in the 60's. It's not about me either. It's about those kids in harms way right now. It's about almost a thousand dead and thousands horribly wounded. And the untold tragedy for 10's of thousands of innocent Iraqi's. It's about the future of our country.

We need some one to report for duty again to fix this mess. We need honor. We need John Kerry. America can do better and John Kerry and john Edwards are the men to make that happen.

Thanks.


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

bruce

Posted by amahler at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

Greetings from I-64

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Photos from the Road - Newport News - Aug 23, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)


Photos from the Road - Newport News - Aug 23, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

It's close to 2 PM and I'm sitting at a table on the DNC America Can Do Better bus tour rolling down I-64 from Newport News to Richmond. I left Lynchburg last night a little after midnight, caught a few hours of sleep in Richmond and hit Newport News around 9:15 AM this morning with Laura Bland (DPVA Communications Director). My invitation from the DNC to join this group for the Virginia leg of the trip came up Friday, so everything schedule-wise has been by the seat of my pants.

I'm shooting photos and blogging for the day as the bus starts its journey through five battleground states. The primary passengers on this bus are everyday people with a story to tell about the damage the Bush administration has done to their lives these last three years. Among them are a number of Virginians, several of which are going to be writing their thoughts for us on Documenting Democracy this week.

I have to say, I've been having a lot of fun this morning and am thoroughly enjoying getting to know everyone here, from Tony Welch, Press Secretary of the DNC, to retired Brigadier General Evelny "Pat" Foote to Bettey Durham Bailey of Virginia Beach, a retired former 30-year federal employee. Betty is sitting across the table from me as I write this, telling me various anecdotes and throwing in some select comments as various talking heads (including George Bush) appear on CNN just over my left shoulder.

I've taken around 400 photos already this morning and have been sorting out a selection both for our blog, for the DNC and for general use by the press and other media. The bus itself is quite amazing, complete with a kitchen and T1-speed access via satellite (those who know me well understand how giddy that makes me).

We're about to roll into Richmond for an event and will then continue on to my stomping grounds (Lynchburg) for an overnight stay and an event tomorrow morning before they head on to West Virginia. Unfortunately, I'll be parting ways with them tonight... but we're going to stay in close touch through the blog(s) as the week goes on.

I'm off to get this entry and my photos up to the server, but I'll check in again later as time permits. :)

Posted by amahler at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2004

Greetings from Bruce Roemmelt

Bloggers,

Hello to all! I'm bruce roemmelt from Haymarket (about 20 miles north west of Manassas) and I'm going to be on the bus for the whole trip. I'm new to posting on blogs, but I do read a lot of them. My thoughts are that documenting this trip is a really good thing, not just for VA Democrats but also for all folks that are interested in the process.

First off our schedule is fluid and can be found along with the overview at the DNC web site here: http://www.democrats.org/news/200408210017.html

Props to Laura and Aaron for supporting our blog efforts to get the word out for our candidates, John Kerry and John Edwards. If you get some ideas for things you would like us to put up on the tour blog let us know. I'll be checking my email roemmelt@erols.com along the way and on the bus so give us a shout.

One of my thoughts was to do a profile on the Virginians on the bus. By the time we get to NYC we hope you not only know us better, but know our message better as well.

Another thing we're going to try to do is post some pictures (and captions) as we motor along. I've got my digital camera and will be sending dispatches to Aaron each day for posting.

This is really exciting for me. I'm just a sorta regular guy concerned about our country who wanted to get involved. To that end I'm running around from Alexandria to Winchester getting fire fighters involved in the election. I also write letters to the news paper and if necessary I guess I can change the tires on the bus if we get a flat!

I was also doing some election things in Prince William County and our most excellent Northern Virginia VAVictory04 office field coordinator, Peg Kugler asked me if I wanted to go on a bus ride. I jumped at the chance. To be honest I think we all hope to meet some of the national folks somewhere along the line. Most all of us are the ones in the crowd, not the ones on the stage, but to be sure we all have stories to tell - just like you all.

So why am I here? Well as a 58 year old retired fire fighter, Vet and person with several other interests and ongoing activities I want to be a part of making a change. I'm concerned about public safety and the support our first responders are getting. I still am a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) local union in Prince William County. Although I retired in 1993 I'm still active in the union and do lots of odds and ends there, as well as providing oral department history to the kids there now, that are continuing to provide excellent service to the community. There are a host of issues needing attention including staffing, safety, health care and the economy.

Additional I'm a Vietnam era Vet. I was in the US Navy on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. One tour in 'Nam but no medals, purple hearts or commendations, just a profound sense that we were wrong to go there just as we are wrong to be in Iraq now. I feel so bad for those kids that are just targets now doing police work. And the untold story about the innocent Iraqi's that are not fighting, just paying a price. There is an interesting sense of karma here tho. I returned to Norfolk on my ship in February of '69. Now, all these years later I will end this bus trip in NYC where my ship was made into a museum!

Then there is health care, the economy, and the entire range of issues surrounding social and economic justice. But not to ramble?

Let's hear from you all but more importantly we need you to get involved. Volunteer. There are lots of things to do. Host a house meeting, work the phone banks, call friends, write letters, do what you can do. Make a difference.

You might have heard it before, but the quote from Margaret Mead is a really good one to end with for today, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

bruce

Posted by bruce roemmelt at 06:42 PM | Comments (1)

Through an Elector's Eyes - Oh-Oh, Say, Can You See

Fifth in a series by Ron Telsch

I've been examining the Federal Election campaign finance laws. Not exactly reading for pleasure, but any knowledge that may keep friends of mine out of jail is good knowledge I think. The nice thing is most folks do not intend to violate the regulations purposefully. Almost all finance law infractions are unintentional, accidental, or born from a desire to interpret the law a particular way, albeit a way favorable to their intentions. Unfortunately, as with all things involving lawyers, there are more interpretations than there are words in the United States Code.

There is an old axiom that states there are three kinds of lies: (1) lies, (2) damned lies, and (3) statistics. And that certainly can apply to campaign finance activity. Fortunately, I have never been in a conversation with anyone that hinted at telling untruths or finding ways of covering tracks or tricks financially. People just don't bring that up around me. Not necessarily because they know I'm a licensed insurance agent and registered representative, but because they know I've been in law enforcement for three decades. So the other night I was very pleased to attend a training meeting on interpreting the regulations and, true to form, nothing was spoken about except how to comply with the letter and spirit of the law.

There is an equally valid adage that states there are three kinds of truths: (1) the truth, (2) the whole truth, and (3) nothing but the truth, and they are three separate and unequal versions of the same facts. Hereto, I have never been involved in a conversation designed to shade the truth, paint the truth in a particular way, or otherwise speak falsehoods. People just don't bring that up around me. Not necessary because they know I have been in law enforcement, but because they know I do not lie and that is the truth.

The whole issue of campaign finance is off-putting to me though. On the one hand, you have a right to freely assemble, and I assume that means to assemble or co-mingle your finances with whomever you please. On the other hand, money seems to be the root of a lot of evil. I imagine some larcenous-minded person might find a way to purchase a vote for a particular bill by guaranteeing to underwrite the cost of campaign bumper stickers. But it would require two persons to do so. Thereby you have a contract to buy and sell an imaginary vote that may never come to the floor of any body politic. However, others might perceive it as a conspiracy to commit fraudulent democracy. Of course, if we had three hands, one might finally realize people have an interest in the outcome of elections and wish to exercise their right to express their First Amendment opinion. You can vote with your feet, but not with more than a few thousand of your hard-earned dollars, even if they were designed for all debts public and private.

"Why do you even think about these things?", you might ask. Because I like to believe both parties are engaged in making honest attempts to comply with the law. I prefer to be surprised when someone commits a felony rather than walking around with that expectation. Personally, I like to stay far away from the financial dealings of most organizations. Most often the funds are too insignificant and I have no idea why people are arguing over $100 donations to causes which are generally good things. Conversely, the risks can be too high, or I don't understand them fully. I won't commit to any piece of business until I can understand it, can speak about it knowledgably, and I have had an opportunity to sleep on it (whatever that may mean operationally at the time). Either way I find no pleasure in public financial controversy.

Currently, both candidates are expressing ways of using public money and all too many people feel compelled to argue about what they are actually saying, intending, and proposing. I try to take folks at honest, full-face value like U. S. Savings I-Bonds. One candidate wants to cut taxes, the other wants to reverse tax cuts on specific segments of the taxpaying population. I see no conflict there. I merely have to decide which method will produce the greater good for the most people, consistent with fair justice and representation for all. I also have to allow for the fact that hundreds of other people will be involved in the final outcome - they are called Members of Congress. Also, I sure hope elected representatives mature with age and experience and do change their minds on critical topics as they learn how the world really works. It's not flip-flopping, it's called wisdom. Basically, I need to determine a direction more than a specific destination. Lots will change between now and then, and I have hope that maybe a third, even better, way will be found in the nick of time.

Honestly now, taxes are a reality essential to our free governmental structure. We need them. They are not evil, nor are the applications of various tax schemes evil. It's all just a way of adjusting resources to produce necessary and desirable services for our collective citizenry. The things the Constitution guarantees to us cost money to provide. Ask the richest person on the planet. Seriously, if you were the wealthiest individual on the face of the earth, could you pay for the United States Marine Corps? Could you purchase Medicare benefits for tens of millions of persons? And that takes me back to campaign finance. We have two parties because it is the simplest form of debate. We need to discuss, confer, and wrangle with the concerns of our day, just as our forefathers did in days before us. And don't we want our children to develop those skills too: to analyze, express, refine, compromise, deliberate, cooperate, and otherwise come to agreement with the people they live among to produce a community where everyone can live peaceably and seek their own and common interests? Some of the debates are just not as important as other ones, and it is the priority direction we are essentially concerned about.

One simple proposal on campaign finance reform came to me from a Sixth District member recently: we should have more debates. Twenty-five, fifty, some substantial figure that will create news and give the populace an opportunity to hear from the candidates directly. No surrogates meeting the press. No heated arguments over what each campaign might have said or wishes to say. No advertised endorsements produced by special interest groups. Let us get our news straight from the candidates in open public forums. Let's flood the public with genuine debate.

Now while you're thinking about how to credit in-kind contributions to your Federal account, how to pay for volunteer staff, and how to determine the fair market value of that used computer equipment you used to type mass mailings to 499 persons or less, give some thought on how to fix this bizarre system we have created. You know the one that governs our conduct while we attempt to elect others to govern our conduct. For me the direction is quite clear. That's why I am your Elector for the Sixth Congressional District. I want a President who is able to view all perspectives of an issue before we take action. It has something to do with the greater good.

Ron Telsch

Posted by marlana at 06:07 PM | Comments (1)

In Roanoke - Remembering Edwards in Raleigh

As I was sitting at John Edwards' town hall meeting in Roanoke, I couldn't help remembering when he gave his "That's all for now and thanks" speech in Raleigh last year. Roanoke had a smaller room, smaller crowd, but just as boisterous and loud, but, this time, we had seats. Both times traffic was cumbersome, we stood in line to get in, and the heat from the sun was sweltering.

The organizers were making sure everyone had tickets and sat in the right sections. The media was poised on the platform in the rear of the room facing the stage, cameras at the ready. A very welcomed thing was that it started on time.

Governor Warner, in beige kaki slacks, cotton shirt and blue blazer (sans tie) entered the stage first to a standing ovation. After saying a few nice words, he introduced "the next Vice-President of the United States."

John Edwards', in green kaki slacks, cotton shirt, and blue blazer (sans tie)- the unofficial Party uniform, I thought -- stood before a standing, screaming, clapping crowd. With his boyish smile, he thanked the crowd several times, and I remembered how much more magnetism he has in person, if that's possible.

I remembered that I stood beside the CNN camera crew in Raleigh as one of the camera men told me what a great guy Edwards is, and he ought to know as he spent 40 days on a bus with him. Everyone in that large auditorium in Raleigh felt crushed that day. Now, John Edwards stood in front of us once more, this time explaining his fondness for Virginians - families with the same values who work hard and do the right thing, and "where people speak a little like me." This time he was delineating the plans he and Kerry had for bringing America back.

John Edwards reiterated what it is like to grow up poor in a small town. Now, he added to that that he and John Kerry want every American to have the same opportunity he had and explained how that will be possible.

He spoke about the recent ads tearing down John Kerry's military record and stated, "It's a lie." He said they were the same things George W. Bush used against John McCain in 2000 and that George Bush can stop the lies by telling those who are making them "to stop these ads." Edwards stated that the truth comes from the men who served with John Kerry.

Edwards graciously took questions, listening to every word that was being said as if the person asking was the only person in the auditorium. This is one of his great abilities. Another is his way of including the person in his answer while making his answer only as long as needed to make his point.

He talked about the economy, jobs, health insurance, education, Iraq, the military, helping small businesses, incentives to keep jobs at home and stated, "There's no place in American that can't compete with India."

When he finished, the crowd was on its feet. Then Edwards shook hands and said a few words with those on the stage. He then came into the crowd -- right up the aisle we were on. My son had brought his bomber jacket with the American flag and other things on it, and asked Senator Edwards to sign it, which the Senator graciously did. Now, alot of people surely wondered why a guy was wearing a leather bomber jacket on a sweltering day in August. He wore that jacket and he got Edwards' signature. It wasn't rigged. Somehow, my son just knew -- or as most of us would say, like Edwards, my son had a great deal of hope.


Posted by marlana at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2004

John Edwards - Town Hall Meeting in Roanoke

John Edwards in Roanoke - Aug 21, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)

John Edwards in Roanoke - Aug 21, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

I'm sorry to be a few hours late getting these online, but it's been a long and busy day. It's also been a tremendously exciting one in many ways!

Senator John Edwards came to Roanoke today for a Town Hall Meeting and was met by a packed and ecstatic hall. After a rousing introduction from Governor Mark Warner, Edwards took to the stage for an intensive hour of comments and Q&A with the audience.

I attended today as the photographer for the Democratic Party of Virginia and took photos both in the event and backstage as Senator Edwards made his way to the press room for interviews. A small set of today's pictures are now online with more to come after I've had some time to sort, edit and properly caption them.

On a personal note, I was proud and honored that Senator Edwards took the time to autograph two of my favorite photos that I took of him at the DNC in Boston last month (here and here). They will be matted, framed and proudly displayed with my most treasured keepsakes.

Today's event was a fantastic experience and the tremendous enthusiasm I witnessed just drives home the fact that Virginia is, indeed, turning blue in 2004.

Note: Additional photos of today's event will be online soon including contributions from a number of other photographers willing to share their best shots.

Posted by amahler at 11:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2004

An Edwards Preview

Maura Keaney, one of the most hardworking Democrats in Virginia, sent along this news from Thursday night's Virginia Grassroots Coalition meeting in Shirlington.

Here's Maura's report:

Tonight, as about 35 of us got settled to start the meeting, we heard that John Edwards was shopping at the bookstore next door!

It so happened that one of the VGC attendees had brought hundreds of
Kerry/Edwards signs, pins, and bumper stickers, so we quickly grabbed a stack of signs and formed a little "instant rally" for Edwards on the sidewalk outside Cap City.

(I think he must have been shocked to go into the bookstore with his kids, minding his own business, and then come outside to find a mini-rally appear out of nowhere!)

I had my camera with me, but for the first time since I bought my digital camera a year ago, my battery was dead. Bummer! I don't think anyone else got photos, but many people got to shake his hand.

Most importantly, John Edwards got to see that there is SO MUCH excitement in Virginia about turning Virginia blue that all he's got to do is step out of the car on Virginia soil and a rally for him will magically appear!

Posted by laura at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

John Edwards Comes to Roanoke: Details

John Edwards is coming to Roanoke this Saturday for a town hall meeting to discuss the economic squeeze on middle-class families. I'm glad to pass along the event details now that they are available.

First, the nitty-gritty specifics:

Date: Saturday, August 21, 2004
Time: Doors Open at 10a.m.

Location: Lucy Addison Aerospace Magnet School
1220 5th St., NW, Roanoke
Format: Town Hall Meeting with Virginians

The event is open to the public, but due to the format, space is limited. A
limited number of free tickets to the event can be picked up at the
following location:

Democratic Party of Roanoke County
Tanglewood West, Suite 470
3959 Electric Road, Roanoke, VA
540-772-3191

Ticket Distribution times: 3-9pm Thursday and 9-5 Friday

Keep reading below for the original press release and background information:

RICHMOND, VA - The Kerry-Edwards campaign in Virginia announced that John
Edwards will visit the state this Saturday, the fifth visit of the
Kerry-Edwards campaign since Memorial Day (John Kerry visited Portsmouth,
Alexandria, Arlington, and Norfolk).

John Edwards visit will focus on the economy and the squeeze being felt by
middle-class families.

Last week John Kerry spoke of the squeeze that middle-class families are
facing. "I will be a president who stands with the middle class and stands
for fairness," Kerry said. "John Edwards and I believe it's time America had
tax cuts that work for all Americans. We believe it's time we had tax cuts
that help create good-paying jobs - right here in America. And, after four
years of shifting the tax burden from those with the most to those most
struggling to make ends meet, we believe it's time that America's tax code
reflected America's moral code."

Middle-class families are being squeezed in the Bush economy. Rising costs
like health care and education combined with declining wages have made it
increasingly difficult for families to save and get ahead. Unfortunately,
all George Bush has offered is tax breaks for the wealthy, even floating the
idea of a national sales tax - a move that would result in an additional tax
on the middle class.

The announcement of the visit comes just a day after Zogby International
announced that it now considers Virginia to be a battleground state and will
begin tracking polls within the state.

Last week the campaign officially opened their Richmond headquarters and a
Northern Virginia regional office to overwhelming support and energy from
local Virginians.

Date: Saturday, August 21, 2004

Time: Doors Open at 10a.m.

Location: Lucy Addison Aerospace Magnet School
1220 5th St., NW, Roanoke

Format: Town Hall Meeting with Virginians

The event is open to the public, but due to the format, space is limited. A
limited number of free tickets to the event can be picked up at the
following location:

Democratic Party of Roanoke County
Tanglewood West, Suite 470
3959 Electric Road, Roanoke, VA
540-772-3191

Ticket Distribution times: 3-9pm Thursday and 9-5 Friday

# # #

Paid for by Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc.

Posted by amahler at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2004

A lesson learned: The other side is just as passionate

For baseball fans, August and September represent the "dog days" of the pennant races as teams scramble for division titles and wild card spots. On the political battlefield, it's much the same way. Summer is dwindling and fall beckons; the statewide primary back in February seems like a very distant memory, doesn't it? As we tighten our seat
belts for the stretch drive, let's not forget that the other side in this presidential fight wants to win as much as we do. I got a lesson in that the other day from an unexpected source. (By Rick Howell)


My son and I enjoy minor league baseball at City Stadium in Lynchburg. This year, whenever we've gone to a game I've made a point of getting in a little campaigning by wearing one of my Kerry shirts. Each time I've done this, I've gotten a few steely glances, but also two or three positive comments. On our most recent trip, I spotted a
friend, a woman of about 30 with whom I've taken a few classes at Lynchburg College.

The moment she spotted me, she said, "Oh, I can't even talk to you with that shirt on." I'd never known her to be political at all, much less to be a Bush fan. It's not often that I'm at a loss for words, but what she said threw me for a moment, because I just wasn't expecting it from her. Then I started thinking quickly, and remembered that she's a single mother who, like me, wouldn't be able to attend college without state and federal aid. So I said, "Bush? What has he ever done for you?" Her answer came much quicker than my reply had. "He's protecting this country right now so you and I can sit here and watch this ballgame."

My next reply was so lame. I only managed to say "Well, I just don't see it that way." I'll discuss politics with anyone at any time. I'm not above an argument if one develops along generally civil lines. But this was a friend who had taken me by surprise, and I had failed to represent my position well.

Later, I was able to talk with her again and I managed to do better. I made the case that Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11; that I certainly wanted to see my country defended when it was truly threatened, but that Bush had dropped the ball on legitimately fighting terror when he forgot about Bin Laden and became so obsessed with Saddam.

I reminded her that we were both attending college with state and federal loans, programs that Democrats by and large established and that Republicans are constantly trying to cut. I felt a little better about the earlier conversation, but later I thought about this encounter again. We talk so much about "persuadables" and "swing voters," and here was one that had gotten away. I still think of her as a person who should be voting for us. As her friend, I had failed to persuade her at a time when she might still have gone our way.

But the line about Bush protecting our country made me realize anew the passion of many of his defenders. They really do believe that. In the heat of a campaign, when we seem to spend so much time preaching to the choir, it's easy to forget that the other side wants this as badly as we do. What we're trying to do is nothing less than defeat an incumbent president in a time of war. I believe, ultimately, that we will achieve that. But let's not get comfortable as summer slowly turns to fall. We've got a lot of work to do.

I'll see my friend again when the semester starts on August 30. Maybe it's still not too late...

Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst County Democratic Committee, and Host of the Lynchburg Kerry Meet-Ups.

Posted by rickhowell at 07:36 PM | Comments (0)

Sidney Blumenthal: "Isn't this a democracy?"

Sidney Blumenthal never fails to impress the heck out of me with his ability to succinctly and elegantly present the big picture. He has done it yet again with his latest opinion piece on Salon about the staged "Ask President Bush" events and their role in the current administration's overwhelmingly negative campaign.

Floundering in the polls, without a strategy for Iraq, unwilling to say the name of bin Laden, he is always secure in the knowledge that the cheering multitudes before him have been carefully selected. Strutting and swaggering on the stage as though he has conquered the crowd, he plays to true believers. But a 55-year-old social studies teacher from small-town Michigan who would not bend her knee had her ticket to see her president ripped up. "Ask President Bush" has crystallized the essential underlying question, framed succinctly by the greatest American poet of democracy, Walt Whitman, who wrote, "The President is there in the White House for you, it is not you who are here for him."

Be sure to read the entire piece here:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2004/08/19/ask_bush/index.html

Note: Non-subscribers to Salon can get a free daily pass by watching a brief ad. It's well worth the minor hassle.

Posted by amahler at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2004

Lynchburg Democratic Committee Visit

Select photos by your connection speed:


Lynchburg Democratic Committee Meeting - Aug 18, 2004 - High Quality Photos (slower)

Lynchburg Democratic Committee Meeting - Aug 18, 2004 - Medium Quality Photos (faster)

I was invited to attend the Lynchburg Democratic Committee meeting tonight and give a presentation on Documenting Democracy and the trip to Boston. I'm formally a member of the Amherst Committee (just up the road), but we all collaborate very heavily on a number of things including our regional Democratic Headquarters (Lynchburg, Amherst and Campbell County share the expenses and labor).

This committee, in the heart of conservative Virginia and smack dab in Falwell country is rocking. Last month's Kerry Meet-Up had over 80 people in attendance. Tonight's regular monthly committee meeting had 72 people in attendance and a long line of speakers addressing all kinds of activities from the HQ grand opening to voter registration, rapid-response activities, and fundraising. Dorothy Blackwell, 6th District Field Coordinator for the Virginia Victory '04 Coordinated Campaign, also spoke tonight about upcoming events and committee involvement. When your routine committee meetings for local party business are growing at a rate to nearly match your meet-ups, people are motivated.

This is just another example of the committment and energy that is mushrooming throughout the state and another bit of evidence that Virginia is going blue in 2004.

Posted by amahler at 10:48 PM | Comments (0)

Falwell's New Law School

It's hard for me not to comment when something new comes bubbling out of Liberty University and Jerry Falwell... mostly because I live about fifteen minutes away.

The latest buzz is about the law school being opened at Liberty University. Falwell summed up his intentions pretty well in these two quotes to the AP:

"We want to infiltrate the culture with men and women of God who are skilled in the legal profession," Falwell said in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "We'll be as far to the right as Harvard is to the left."

Joe Conn had this comment on the announcement:

Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the law school is part of a crusade by Falwell to get the government to carry out his religious agenda.

Apparently the curriculum will be blending the teachings of the Bible with the U.S. Constitution, further breaking down the concept of the separation of church and state. The last time I checked, ours was a country based on religious freedom. I, for one, would like to think that judges and lawyers would be practicing the laws of the United States as set forth by Congress and the Constitution and not Old Testament Biblical law (or any other specific religious doctrine)... especially if their client or the person standing before them for justice adheres to a different religious point of view.

Keep in mind the partistan split of the Supreme Court decision installing Bush as president in 2000 despite losing the popular vote. Then reread Falwell's quote from above. Yeah. 'Nuff said.

Fortunately, this November we can vote for a team that understands that positive values and the separation of church and state are NOT mutually exclusive. The radical views of the religious right are not the inclusive guidelines of the Constitution. Further blurring the lines between federal law and the laws of a single religion are not the ticket to a united, stronger America nor will it make us more respected in the world.

The full AP story can be found here:

http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/08/18/falwell.law.school.ap/

Posted by amahler at 02:22 PM | Comments (3)

August 15, 2004

Following Warner formula, Kerry can win here

Many political observers - professional and amateur - are still amazed at the decision by the Kerry campaign to seriously compete for the 13 electoral votes available here in the Old Dominion. The reaction has been predictable. Pundits refer to Virginia's conservative leanings and trot out the familiar fact: No Democratic presidential candidate has carried this state since 1964. Maybe everyone should examine the formula for victory employed successfully by the most recent Democrat to carry this state, Governor Mark Warner. (By Rick Howell)


Republicans are acting like most of the analysts. They don't seem to take seriously the idea that Kerry could actually win here. But the most recent Rasmussen survey shows only a three-point gap here between the president and our nominee. If that doesn't mean Virginia is "in play," I don't know how you define that phrase.

Back to Governor Warner. Surely we haven't forgotten how he did it. He ran a common sense, moderate campaign based on fiscal responsibility and an appropriate commitment to see that the state supports the needs and services our citizens demand. His every effort was an appeal to reason and good, sound government. With this message, he not only unified the Democratic Party but also attracted many independents and some Republicans. It didn't hurt that his opponent was perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an ideologue. Philosophically, most Virginians do lean conservative. But rabid ideology of the left or the right does not appeal here.

Kerry's appeal seems much the same as Warner's. He, too, wants government to do what it must, but he deplores sky-high deficits, takes defense and national security seriously, and is running a campaign that appeals to independents and some Republicans. It's true, too, that President Bush long ago abandoned any attempt to govern as a "compassionate conservative," and has instead presided over an administration that values ideology over common sense.

It's no coincidence that Warner endorsed Kerry here just before our primary. Nor does it defy logic to understand why the governor was mentioned as a possible running mate. Those of us working in the trenches for the Kerry-Edwards ticket have seen the evidence of Kerry's appeal in this state. Can he really win here? The answer is "yes." If
the answer were "no," I believe we'd have Governor Mark Earley right now.

Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst County Democratic Committee. He is Host of the Kerry Meet-Ups in Lynchburg.

Posted by rickhowell at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2004

Through an Elector's Eyes - Part IV

Waves of Grain

We are home. Rested. Back at home. Fully engaged in the day-to-day. What a change from Hawaii, where you can surf the waves and grains of sand are a cushion for your repose. Now that the Olympics are in full swing I recall that the Greek's had a word for that: vacation - time out of time.

So here I sit, watching an ever increasing, bitter, verbal warfare between political parties. If only we could all recognize there is no liberal America, no conservative America. We are all in this together. Inescapably drawn toward each other, and yet neither side can meet the other's expectations. And there is the problem I examine today. How can we stop the vitriol long enough to hold hands and realize we're on the same side? For if we cannot honor that surely we are lost on the continent.

I found part of the answer in my pocket change. The Constitution provides several essential government functions for our country: providing for the national defense, preserving domestic tranquility, facilitating commerce, and minting the nation's specie. Have you looked at our nation's coinage recently? The five-cent piece (no longer known as a half-disme) shows a rendering this year of the Peace Medal used during Thomas Jefferson's tenure. The quarters change five times a year until all of our fifty states have their symbols of friendship displayed for all of our countrymen and women to see. Presidents honored on all of them except the dollar coin. On that they've put Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea of late, but speaking as a father of four daughters, I hope one day the dollar coin shows the profile of our first female President. They do all have one thing in common though: each has three sides: an obverse, a reverse, and an edge. That is how I see our country today - on edge, near evenly split in its choices, and I think that may be a good thing.

If we can tone down the emotional streams of discord; if we can stop the verbal sparring; if we could smile more at each other, we would know that we will be okay. We're on edge, yes. A noted psychologist recently called our terrorism alert system one that fosters Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder - the government is scaring us before bad things happen, rather than assuring us we will be alright. Now more than ever, it seems to me we need to remind ourselves that this country has stood the tests of time, and we will in the future. Don't worry, be happy. We will help each other.

While on Oahu we visited the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The line to get tickets was an hour long in the hot sun, even at nine o'clock in the morning, and I hear sometimes it's longer. Then there is a three hour wait to board the boat to cross the harbor. Four hours to pay respects to those fallen sailors of the greatest generation. I admit I have a fondness for the sea, for sailing, and for seafarers on all shapes and sizes of craft. However, the sea that is forgiving can also be destructive and cleansing in the same moment, preserving its beauty at depths untouchable. Watching the thousands of people attending the Memorial that day I realized we cannot buy that kind of patriotism. But we can help our citizens honor their heritage. I beseech all of you to contact our members in Congress and ask them to fully fund efforts to expand, modernize, and provide improved access to our national memorials, most particularly at Pearl Harbor. A four hour wait is much too long for our seniors to hold their tears, and our children to maintain their focus.

Unfortunately, the Pacific Fleet Command Headquarters nearby provided an easy vehicular turnaround at its front gates for those who decided not to park and wait in the sweltering sun near Pearl City. Those protecting us today unwittingly help some citizens to turn away from our past. It's time for us to turn our politics on edge again and honor the contribution of all of our people. There were no liberal sailors on the Arizona, no conservative seamen - they were Americans all, and that is another reason I believe we need to elect a sailor to lead our country. God bless them and our United States.

Ron Telsch

Posted by marlana at 07:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2004

Zogby Adds Virginia To Battleground Watch List

Having just returned from Virginia Beach, where I spent five days avoiding sunburn and engaged in some serious Kerry gear spotting on the board walk ("Look, Mom, that guy's wearing a Kerry button on his shorts!"), it's nice to return amid more news that Virginia is being taken seriously as a battleground state.

Online polling mac daddy John Zogby just announced the addition of Virginia among four new battleground states that the pollster will be tracking between August 16 and October 4.

Virginia joins ranks with Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina for a total of 20 states Zogby puts in the battleground column.

As someone once said, "Don't tell Virginia Democrats it can't be done."

Laura

Posted by laura at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2004

Virginia Victory '04 HQ Opening Invitation

Virginia Victory '04 campaign headquarters are having their grand openings this week and here is the open invitation:

The Richmond office will officially open on Wednesday, August 11, at 7 p.m. with an office opening party for local Democrats.

The Fairfax County office will open the following Sunday, August 15, at 2 p.m., also with an office opening party for local Democrats.

For more information, contact Abbi Easter at the Democratic Party of Virginia at 804.644.1966.

The office locations are listed below:

State Headquarters
2112 West Laburnum Avenue, Suite 204
Richmond, Virginia 23227-4358
Office: 804.355.0404
Fax: 804.254.1649

Northern Virginia Regional Office
2722 Merrilee Drive Suite 310
Fairfax, Virginia 22031-4400
Office: 703.207.2004

Posted by amahler at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2004

The Broken Promises of George W. Bush

For those interested in a list of W's key promises from the 2000 campaign contrasted with the reality of his three years in office, check out Rhetoric vs. Reality by the American Progress Action fund.

Here's a sample from the Spending category:

Rhetoric:

"As President, Governor Bush will...pay the debt down to a historically low level." [Source: Bush-Cheney 2000 website]

Reality:

As of July 30, the national debt stood at $7,316,567,571,232.89, a record high. This year's budget will also create a record deficit: $445 billion, according to the White House. [Source: Treasury Department, 8/3/04, Reuters, 7/31/04]

Ouch.

Posted by amahler at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

Monday Morning Blogwatch

In the tradition of blog news cross pollentation, here are a few tidbits that have caught my eye this morning...

Turnout for the Kerry-Edwards whistle-stop in Missouri is exciting:

20,000 in Kansas City, 10,000 in St. Louis, 5,000 in Jefferson City and 1,500 in Lawrence (just for Edwards).

Hundreds are even coming out after midnight just to wave at Kerry's train (article).

After witnessing Barak Obama's incredible speech (standing about twelve feet to his left) at the DNC, I can pretty well smell the GOP desperation as Keyes' enters the race late in Illinois. His hypocrisy is already well established, too, since Keyes (a Maryland resident) bashed Hillary in 2000 for her New York run with these words:

I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton's willingness to go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there, so I certainly wouldn't imitate it.

Go figure.

The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll from Sunday shows Kerry beating Bush by 20 points in New Jersey. There's also a nice 25 point lead there among women. Bush also saw an increase in his "unfavorable" rating, up to 37 from 31.

Bush is also making his first visit to Virginia in more than a year this morning, evidence that he can't take it for granted as solid GOP territory any longer. More to come...

Posted by amahler at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2004

Chesterfield Democratic Committee's Ice Cream Social

Having grown up in Chesterfield County I can attest to the rarity of more than 5 Democrats gathered at any public place, but Thursday night at the committee's first ever summer Ice Cream Social I about fell over. There weren't just dozens of Democrats, there were over 150 Democrats in Woodlake! Now for those of you fortunate enough to grow up in places like Norfolk or Alexandria that may not sound like many, but to those of us who have fought the good fight in a Republican county - this seemed like the gates of heaven had opened.

I must give props to the men and women of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee for doing such an outstanding job! Evelyn and Rick you guys are to be applauded. Not only were there Democrats under that pavillion last night, there were candidates too!

Yes, statewide candidates were in Chesterfield County - the bastion of conservative politics and they were rewarded with wild applause and homemade chocolate chip cookies (provided by our very own state party treasurer, Abbi Easter). Leslie Byrne and Chap Petersen attended the overflowing event - they even stood on picnic tables to talk to voters.

Now, I've been around this state a great deal in my capacity as Executive Director, but never have I seen 168 Democrats brave the rain in Chesterfield County. After seeing the enthusiasm last night I am more convinced that Virginia is going Blue!

Thank you,thank you, thank you - for all you do as Democrats! I know that together we will celebrate our victory in November.

- Lindsey.

Posted by wally at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)

August 05, 2004

Delegate Memories of Boston '04

Lindsey Reynolds conveyed my e-mail request to the Va Delegates today for comments and memories of the DNC in Boston. For those that wish to post shorter notes and greetings to your fellow Delegates, this entry will provide an anchor point. All you need to do is add a comment at the bottom of this entry.

I've added a link to the left sidebar just below the photos so you have an easy way to participate and read the words of your fellow Delegates. The link will remain in place for the next few months. Anything submitted, of course, will be part of the permanent archive here at Documenting Democracy.

RanJana Chachra sent me the first comment a few minutes ago, so I have attached it below to get the ball rolling. Thanks, RanJana! :)

Click the "comments" link below to see the entries.

If you wish to submit a longer entry more in the form of an essay or article, don't hesitate to e-mail us and we'll make it a standalone entry.

Posted by amahler at 06:41 PM | Comments (1)

Born In The U.S.A.: The Bruce Springsteen-New York Times Op-Ed

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities -- respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals -- that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.

Bruce Springsteen wrote these words in today's edition of the New York Times. His unimpeachable patriotism makes this piece especially powerful.

Posted by laura at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

GOP cries of "liberal, liberal" don't work anymore

In modern presidential elections, the Republicans can always be relied upon to play the "liberal, liberal" game. You know, the one that goes like this..."The Democrats have nominated the most liberal ticket in the history of....etc.,etc." In the past, they've believed that the simply use of this much-abused word will, in and of itself, define their opponent in such a horrifying way that voters will rush to embrace the GOP alternative.
It won't work this year. (By Rick Howell)


Actually, it hasn't worked in quite a while. The "liberal label" weapon was deployed endlessly against Michael Dukakis in 1988. If it succeeded, it was only because the Dukakis campaign basically refused to respond to any of the many attacks against it. So it's impossible to say which one worked the best.

It certainly didn't work in 1992, when it was tried against Bill Clinton and Al Gore. In 2000, it didn't stop Gore from winning the popular vote. Already, we've heard this word used about John Kerry, as "a Massachusetts liberal." We've heard dire reports of how liberal he is, according to the National Journal, which, I'm willing to bet, is only read by Washington insiders, anyway.
Voters can't be blamed if, when they hear this, they react to the GOP by wondering: "Is that all you've got?" We live in complicated times. Matters of terrorism, national security, health care, environmental protection, and other important issues must be investigated by a pursuit of real knowledge and with a serious approach to possible solutions. No single word can tell voters everything they need to know, and most voters realize that.

When used by the GOP, the word "liberal" basically passes for anything Republicans have decided they don't like. It's handy now and again to ask people to look it up in the dictionary. I won't quote the entry, but it generally means that a liberal is one who is open-minded, generous, and given to believe in progress. Horrible things, huh?

John Kerry has been right to point out that if this administration wants to claim the conservative label, it has some explaining to do. There's nothing conservative about sky-high deficits; nothing conservative about dumping the bills for today's spending on our children and grandchildren. There's nothing conservative about a foreign adventure based on faulty intelligence that spends billions, costs lives, and has nothing to do with the legitimate threat of terror.

Crying "liberal, liberal" won't work when you have so much explaining to do.

Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst County Democratic Committee, and is Host of the Lynchburg Kerry Meet-Ups.

Posted by rickhowell at 03:40 PM | Comments (2)

iTunes Music Store: 9/11 Report & DNC Audio

I just noticed a story on BOPNews this morning talking about Apple's iTunes Music Store having the 9/11 Commission Report and most of the major speeches from last week's DNC available as free audio downloads.

Super cool! I just snagged Barak Obama's speech on my PowerBook and it works like a charm. Off to get the rest...

Posted by amahler at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2004

After Boston convention, a friend's surprising conclusion

Submitted by John Flannery - please see his other superb entries from last week in our archives

On the way back to Virginia from the Democratic Convention in Boston, we stopped at Ground Zero in New York, read the thousands of names lost in that dark abyss of terror and looked into the faces of passing strangers, quietly grieving for Americans they never knew.

We were paying our respects to the heroes of 9/11, and reminding ourselves what was truly at stake in this presidential election.

One mother, looking at the steel cross fashioned from a melted girder that marks the site's destruction, struggled to find the words that might satisfy her 14-year-old son's curiosity about what happened here.

In this presidential election year, another question persists long after this horrendous attack on the continental United States. What are we to do after 9/11?

Before my visit to New York, I was back in Boston's Fleet Center when Sen. John Kerry had saluted 5,000 Democratic Convention delegates, and announced that he was "reporting to duty."

Kerry promised that he would "ask hard questions and demand hard evidence" and be "a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war."

Delegates were on their feet, screaming approval, hoisting "Kerry" banners, commending the senator to the nation as our next commander in chief.

Sen. Kerry promised he would see to it that we "never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to."

So what is it that we believe qualifies this man to replace the incumbent as our commander in chief?

Max Cleland, who lost both his legs and one arm in Vietnam, answered this question quite bluntly at a breakfast he had with the Virginia delegation: "When I was pulled out of Vietnam on a stretcher," Mr. Cleland said, "that's when John Kerry went in."

"When the Viet Cong fired on Kerry's boat, he didn't run and hide but turned his boat on the attacker and ran after him with his M-16."

On the morning that I planned to leave Boston, I had a coffee with Steve, my best friend since back when we were high school lab partners.

I didn't expect to talk much politics: Steve's a lifelong Republican. We approach our discussions of politics with some - shall we say - "delicacy."

But Steve surprised me. He had voted for President Bush in the last election, but he said that wasn't going to happen again.

Steve had turned against Mr. Bush because he believed the president went to war without good reason, misled us about why he was going in. Now Steve was concerned that the Iraq situation might signal that his draft-age sons might be at risk, and he wasn't prepared to lose them in a war without clear purpose or justification.

Steve said he can vote for Sen. Kerry because of his announced views and because of how Kerry expressed himself - "with such presidential authority and force."

The political "conversion" of one old friend is hardly a statistical sample.

But it suggests the earth change that is at hand in our political landscape.

Some voters may stand pat with this administration that favors imperial governance and unilateral international initiatives. Other voters will prefer Sen. Kerry's pledge of open government that encourages democratic participation and multilateral cooperation with other nations.

Steve has made his choice.

Soon it will be time for you to make your choice for commander in chief. We must vote like our nation's future is at stake - for it is.


© Times Community Newspapers 2004 - Reproduced here with John Flannery's permission

Posted by amahler at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

Virginia Victory '04 Coordinated Campaign Offices

Here is contact information for the Kerry-Edwards/Virginia Victory '04 coordinated campaign offices in Virginia.

State Headquarters
2112 West Laburnum Avenue, Suite 204
Richmond, Virginia 23227-4358
Office: 804.355.0404
Fax: 804.254.1649

Northern Virginia Regional Office
2722 Merrilee Drive Suite 310
Fairfax, Virginia 22031-4400
Office: 703.207.2004

Posted by laura at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2004

A Geek, A Blog, and a Trip Home From Boston

I've actually been home since late Saturday night and have sat down to write my thoughts from the convention about five times a day ever since. Somehow, it just hasn't happened. My inability to put my thoughts into written form and get them onto the blog actually started last week during the first few days on the convention floor. At the time, it had more to do with my schedule and this odd problem with there being about fourteen fewer hours in a day than I really needed.

To take pictures, select them, edit them, build galleries, maintain the site structure, travel from point to point, etc., takes a lot more time than you ever anticipate. A lot of what did get done was possible by getting rid of the superfluous stuff like eating and sleeping. As Laura told me several times during the week (it became our mantra): "You'll sleep when you're dead." Yep, and I'll be dead a lot sooner at this pace. Funny how that works...

Now, don't read this as me griping. I'm not. In fact, last week ranked as one of the most unique and exciting experiences of my life, and I won't hesitate to do it again in four years if the opportunity presents itself.

I regret, to some extent, that I'll be sharing many of the experiences after the fact rather than off the cuff. A blog is meant, afterall, to be a real-time outlet for the telling of such tales as they happen. Others did a far better job of that, though, and that thrills me to no end in its own way. My primary role at the convention was to focus on the photography and that became a fulltime, highly enjoyable task. Having those photos is serving me well, though, as I finally do take the time to write. I also don't think it hurts to have had a few days to mull things over and try to get my head out of Boston and back into being home in Virginia. Politically speaking, returning to Lynchburg from Boston is not unlike slamming your head in your car door intentionally... twice. Maybe three times to really get the full impact. We're working on fixing that... I'll keep you posted.

What is impossible, though, is to come home from Boston without a burning desire to recreate at least some of what you experienced back here at home. The enthusiasm and the unity were pretty intoxicating in Boston. Fortunately, the enthusiasm and unity among Democrats here at home is already in high gear and gathering speed with each passing day, so it's more a matter of climbing back on board than anything.

Over the next few days, though, I will try to write some entries to share different aspects of my adventure. There is an awful lot to tell. Geek stories regarding photography and the blog, neat people, great speeches, sleep deprivation, protein bars as meals, convention floor dehydration and the $3.50 bottled water, press photographer culture, the Secret Service, credentials, Hillary, the cage, staggering security, the Boston T, plastic sleeves, the green sheets, more press than you can shake a stick at, Wolf Blitzer, escalators and stairs, attitudes, new friends, the echo chamber, proximity, Indian food, intoxication (alcohol optional), gigantic horses, the aftermath of 100,000 balloons, Stronger America, souvenirs, parties, parties and more parties, ferris wheels, liquid chocolate, pissing off Greta, cab-induced bankruptcy, The North End, The Big Dig, confetti in your undies, P-Diddy, Virginia is for Lovers buttons as currency, Obama, donkey mac'n'cheese, stagecraft, staying on message, telephone interviews, Laura's cell phone, the power of Stevie Wonder when played in a continuous loop, Respected in the World, C-SPAN, the words "man" and "crush" used in the same sentence, Adisa Muse's Secrets to a Thinner You, flight delays, being stalked by a creepy dead guy, and one dude's goal to photograph anything and everything that took place over a nine day period.

I'm sure I left out something. It'll come to me eventually.

Oh, and by the way... John Kerry is going to be our next President.

Sweet. :)

Posted by amahler at 11:54 PM | Comments (1)

Warner On Values

Governor Mark R. Warner is scheduled to be on the Paula Zahn show on CNN this evening to talk about the issue of values. The Governor is expected to be on the air at about 8:30 p.m.

Posted by laura at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

Reading It Is Believing It

The Kerry-Edwards Virginia campaign just released Our Plan For America, a 250-page book that details John Kerry and John Edwards' vision to strengthen America at home and restore America's respect in the world.

You can download the book using Adobe Acrobat Reader by clicking here.

The book and details about the Kerry campaign Virginia headquarters were released this afternoon at a press conference at the Capitol.

"I can tell you that every Democrat that I have spoken to, both in Boston and back home in Virginia, is energized and focused on ensuring a Kerry-Edwards victory in the fall," said Jennifer McClellan, first vice chair of Democratic Party of Virginia. "John Kerry has a plan for improving the lives of Virginians, we are passionate about it, and now everyone can read it in detail in this book."

Larry Framme, the Virginia Chairman for Kerry-Edwards 2004, announced that the campaign will be officially opening two offices in Virginia next week. The offices will be located in Richmond and Fairfax County and will house both Kerry-Edwards and Democratic National Committee staff, volunteers and phone banks.

"We are serious about winning Virginia and we are investing the resources in this state to ensure our victory," Framme said.

The Richmond office will officially open on Wednesday, August 11, at 7 p.m. with an office opening party for local Democrats and the Fairfax County office will open the following Sunday, August 15, at 2 p.m., also with an office opening party for local Democrats.

Posted by laura at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Sharing The Rafters With A Guy From Ohio

The following entry was written by Ruth Anne Walker, the Democratic Party of Virginia's director of party services.

So, it's Thursday night - the last night. DPVA staff, thanks to E.D. Lindsey and Chair Kerry D., scored credentials to this big, final night of the convention. We tried to get in a little earlier to get on the rail of the balcony section, but we ended up in the EXACT same row as on Monday night - within range of the Virginia delegation on the floor to see Abbi (aka 'The W') boogey with the boa ladies from Tidewater. All of us are there - Adisa, Anne, Elisabeth - wife of Aaron the Blog Photog, Laura, Matt and Antwaun from Congressman Scott's staff.

It's only about 5:30. Man, we are going to be tired by 11, but that's ok--it's worth it! History in the making!! And our Governor is speaking soon........

Just as I'm thinking about ending up in the same row, and how perfectly my fanny will be fit to the plastic seat by the end of the night, look who's heading up the steps our way - one of our convention delegates, Hanh Deniston from Colonial Heights. She's trucked it all the way up about three escalators and through a ton of people to graciously offer us to use her floor pass for a while. (That's what I love about Hanh - always a team player!! One of the hardest working field people I've ever met.) Anne was staffing the delegation on the floor Tuesday, Laura and Matt weren't budging from their perch, and Adisa looked pretty content, too; so I took Hanh up on the offer. I'm goin' to the FLOOR!! Woooo! (See thumbs up picture of me somewhere on this blog.)

I made my way down, said hi to members of the delegation who frankly looked like they were saving their remaining energy for later in the evening (guess those fish oil tablets didn't help much), met up with Aaron, circled the convention floor once, wondered how people would stand the heat there after a couple more hours (for the next convention they might want to install a Stinkometer before letting people on to the floor - whew!), and then headed to the Illinois delegation to go begging.

I went begging for an Obama button. Like Kerry D. during Edwards' speech, Anne had been locked out of the floor during Barack Obama's speech. They both made the mistake of getting up to use the restroom when the hall was really packed, and the fire marshals would periodically stop any more bodies from entering the hall. So, Anne missed Obama's fantastic speech on Tuesday. To say the least, she was bummed.

So here's where we get to the Ohio part, by way of Illinois. Aaron suggested I speak to the Whip for the Illinois delegation. The Whip (actually it was the stand in) indicated it was unlikely that I would get a button, very unlikely, but I could go row-by-row asking. Just as I was starting to do this, two ladies came up in the row behind the Whip and I started in on my spiel, "Hi, I'm from Virginia and I'm looking to trade this 1996 Chicago National Convention hat for an Obama button of any kind. It's not even for ME." Then the big-eyed puppy-dog look was engaged full force. One of the ladies gave me her button, and did not want a trade in return - just gave it to me. SCORE!!

I realize it's time to take the credential back up to Hanh waiting patiently in the rafters, but ... that was a pretty lucky thing with the button, so maybe I could try my luck again and get one more for Adisa (he successfully ran a primary AGAINST Obama and had been looking forward to hearing him speak). As I leave the floor, I see this nice man standing in the hallway. He's wearing an Obama button and a Carpenter's button-I ask if he's from Illinois, and he is. I scored AGAIN! No trade AGAIN! (He didn't want to carry the hat around.) Can't wait to get up to the seats and surprise them both. Thanks, Hanh! That was fun.

Now it's just time to sit back and wait for our Governor to speak at 7:10. As they announce Governor Warner, it becomes obvious to anyone in the upper level on our half of the stadium that we are from Virginia (raucous shouting, flailing and hooting). Governor Warner gives a great speech, we hoot some more as he exits. After a minute or two, this guy two rows down from me turns to say, "What's it like to have a Democratic Governor? In Ohio, we only have Republicans statewide. I envy you." I answered with a big smile that it was great, and thought that was the end of the conversation.

After a few minutes, Ohio guy struck up the same conversation and I mentioned how lucky we were to have Mark Warner overseeing our Republican-induced state budget crisis. We talked a little about how things are in Ohio and then in a spontaneous feeling of spreading the good luck that I got from the Illinois folks, I gave him my administration pin that Governor Warner had made for his political appointees. It says 'Put Virginia First' and is gold and blue, not a political button. Remember what it was like with George Allen (aka Jethro) and Jim Gilmore as our Governors? That's what it is like for Democrats in Ohio. No Democratic Governor since 1990.

I want to give a name to this fellow. Chris Holm. Lives in Dayton, works for the Montgomery County Auditor's Office. Serving on the DNC Standing Committee on Rules. I had already noticed him because he was THE most enthusiastic person in our section - he was obviously thoroughly enjoying the convention, enjoying being a Democrat, being a party of a historic event for the country.

I also want to mention the guy that was in the row between us. He was very helpful in relaying our conversation back and forth-didn't get at all annoyed. He was also from Ohio, but didn't know Chris well. This Messenger Guy said Democrats started calling the Ohio Party headquarters about Chris, that he needed to be included in the delegation to the convention, because he was so dedicated to the Democratic cause, on his own he decided to stand outside in downtown Dayton in any weather and hold up signs supporting Dems for passersby to see. Again, keep in mind that this is a Republican area. But Chris Holm didn't care about any negative comments. Hey, when you're fed up you're fed up!!

Watching Chris's enthusiasm throughout the evening added to my own. It reminded me how fortunate we are to have a strong, common sense leader in Virginia, how fortunate we are to have such good candidates for President and Vice President, and how much downright fun you can have being with a bunch of other rowdy Democrats!

(By the way, Messenger Guy got the 1996 Convention hat - it matched his shirt anyway, and gave me one last opportunity to spread the good feeling started by the Illinois folks.)

P.S. - Laura I hope you are happy now. I finally did the blog entry.

Posted by laura at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2004

Democrats don't need a lecture on values

As this presidential campaign develops in the more intense way we all expect, it's a safe assumption that the president's team will play its social issues card. This means a deployment of those wedge issues of gay marriage, opposition to abortion, and so-called faith-based initiatives, all of which they will lump under the word "values." But as Democrats proud to support the Kerry-Edwards ticket, we don't need a lecture about values, and we never have.

Perhaps it's only a difference of definitions, or a more sinister attempt to exploit the high emotions that come when abortion or homosexuality is discussed. Either way, it's a matter of simple dishonesty for the other party to pretend that these issues, and others similar to them, are all that fits under the rubric of "values."

It appears that the word has been separated from the usual phrase, "family values." Our most lasting memory of that phrase is probably connected to Pat Buchanan's now infamous speech at the 1992 Republican convention about a "culture war." The lines he drew were clearly stated. He believed it was his party, and not ours, that fought for family values.

Well, Democrats won't hesitate to make what we believe is an obvious case. The Democratic Party has stood up for values for a long time. Our commitment to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is just one way we show how much we value the dignity of the poor and the elderly in our society. When you seek to help and protect those who need it the most, and to make retirement as worry-free as possible, you are in fact expressing values. It was not by coincidence that John Kerry said, in his acceptance speech, "As president, I will not privatize Social Security." I'm betting that line got a lot of applause from America's senior citizens. They are rightly suspicious of Republican plans to experiment with this program, which may be the most popular social program in the history of the world.

Likewise, Democrats are expressing their values when they fight hard for student loans that will more easily allow those with low incomes to send their children to college. (This one is personal for me; I returned to college at the age of 44 and couldn't have done it without federal student loans.) When we support a higher minimum wage, increased unemployment benefits, and tax breaks for the middle class, we are also making clear our commitment to family values.

If families can't stay afloat economically, it's hard to argue that debates over abortion and homosexuality matter the most to them. Democrats know this, and we've worked hard for decades to help working class Americans feed and educate their families. This basic foundation must first be secure before Americans can do what we love to do: dream of an even better future. So, let's not give an inch to the other side in the values debate. How could we? We've always set the pace.

(Rick Howell is chairman of the Amherst County Democratic Committee, and Host of the Lynchburg Kerry Meet-Ups.)


Posted by rickhowell at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

Ads: Sample Of RPV Distortion

One example of the Republican Party of Virginia's latest distortion of the facts involves advertising in Virginia. GOP chairwoman Kate Griffin would love nothing more than to have people believe John Kerry isn't serious about winning Virginia. Why else would she say something like this: "Virginians support the Republican vision for our country and it is clear even the Kerry campaign has gotten the message because they have now abruptly pulled their television advertising in our state?"

That's a statement that flies in the face of the facts. In fact, Virginia is one of the states targeted for the Democratic National Committee's aggressive new media push on behalf of John Kerry.

Distortions, lies, half-truths. And Jerry Kilgore says these folks "deserve" to be re-elected?

Posted by laura at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)

As Good As It Gets

I've just been going through emails that came in while I was in Boston last week. I have been curious about what the Virginia Republicans were saying about Democrats during the national convention cycle, and what I've been reading today proves my theory that, when it comes to the GOP spinners in Virginia, it pays to have the lowest possible expectations.

The attack on Tim Kaine: A sarcasm-laden news release that includes a photo of the lieutenant governor and headline, "Have you seen this man?"

The attack on Governor Warner: RPV Chairwoman Kate Griffin refers to the Governor as a "high-tax liberal."

The attack on John Kerry: Griffin refers to Kerry as the "single most liberal member" of the U.S. Senate. Dick Black, the radical right-wing delegate, joined in with the Kerry-bashing-fest by issuing a press release that questioned John Kerry's morals and values. Not surprising, from a guy who handed out plastic fetus-shaped figures during the 2003 General Assembly.

Liberal. Liberal. Liberal.

Is that it? Is that the sum total of the Republican Party of Virginia's argument in favor of the re-election of George Bush as president of the United States?

Today's attack: From the Invisible Man, Jerry Kilgore. The attorney general and presumed candidate for Governor in 2005 has time to attack John Kerry and yet say virtually nothing positive about his own candidate for president, other than that he "deserves" to be re-elected.

That sense of entitlement to power is fuel for the anger so many people feel about this administration. One has to wonder if there will ever come a day when Republicans in Virginia can speak in a positive way about their own candidates rather than simply resorting to sarcasm, lowest-common-denominator and negative attacks that only diminish themselves and feed on the cynicism of the average voter.

John Kerry and John Edwards offer a remarkable contrast to the divisiveness and negativity that is spewed at us on a daily basis from Republicans in Virginia--a positive message of hope and optimism, a vision of a stronger America that is respected in the world.

Posted by laura at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)