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Laura Bland (laura)

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November 22, 2004

A Winning Southern Model

Mike Signer is well-known among Virginia Democrats as an eloquent writer and dedicated activist. He has worked for Governor Mark R. Warner and in the 2004 presidential campaign led Virginia's voter protection initiative.

On Sunday, Mike wrote an expansive op-ed for the Washington Post about the results of the 2004 presidential election. Here is what he had to say about the piece:

I decided to write this piece for the Washington Post after I heard many of my close Virginia Democrat friends refuse to accept that John Kerry had simply been beaten on his message. Instead, these folks -- all fine, hard-working, and passionate Democrats -- were blaming malfunctioning voting machines, or conspiracies in Ohio or Florida, or Fox TV, for our loss.

But the problem had a different, more national, genesis. Here in Virginia, we all know that Susan Swecker, Larry Framme, Lindsey Reynolds, John Winston, Eric Payne, Joe Easton, Jay Myerson, and many others assembled a fantastic campaign. Virginia Victory '04's momentum and its many material accomplishments (thousands of new voter ID's, robust fundraising lists, committed new volunteers) will carry us through Tim Kaine's victory next year.

The problem, I believe, rested instead with the national campaign's failure seriously to fight for the trust of red America.

The point of the article was to try to highlight for the Post's national audience the fact that while many Democrats seem right now to be flailing about for a new direction, Virginia Democrats, under the leadership of Governor Warner, have already figured out how to reach out to red America, and win. In this difficult time -- because no matter how you slice it, November 2 was painful for all of us -- Virginia Democrats should take intense pride in what we've accomplished in the Old Dominion. We're at the forefront of a coming evolution for the Party. I truly believe that while November 2 was certainly an end in some ways, it can be a beginning, too.

As my old boss Creigh Deeds has been saying for years, there are more of us than there are of them. We've got better values, better policies, and better leaders. We just need to get red Americans to listen. If we do that, we'll win, and we'll be the majority party again.

Posted by laura at 03:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2004

Why the religious right doesn't truly reflect "moral values"

Early indications were that the religious right may indeed have been the decisive voting bloc in the presidential election. Many people have noted, though, that "moral values," the phrase used in exit polling, can certainly be understood in ways outside the grasp of the followers of Falwell, Robertson, et al. There are lessons here for Democrats. The first one is: don't pander to the religious right. (By Rick Howell)

Continue reading "Why the religious right doesn't truly reflect "moral values""

Posted by rickhowell at 09:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

Faith And Values

By Barnie Day

TO: Rev. Jerry Falwell

FROM: B. Day

RE: Your new scam

I've been mulling over your 'Faith and Values' idea and think it is a splendid one--especially if it helps us forget war and poverty and unemployment and lack of health insurance, and two-dollar-a-gallon gasoline, and such. It's just what the country needs: another smokescreen.

You want to register 10 million Republican voters and 'Faith and Values' is okay, but for it to take 'holt'--as we say out here in the western part of the state--you're going to need a catchier name.

Jim and Tammy had PTL (Pass The Loot) and your buddy Pat's got the '700 Club.' So we're going to have to come up with something else.

And I've been giving some thought to that. (No, don't thank me. It's what I do.) And I've got it!

'Rev-J's 105,000!'

Can you dig it? Is that hip, or what?

'Rev-J's 105,000!'

I'm telling you, bro,' this one will lay 'Moral Majority' in the shade. This one will become iconic. And it came to me in an inspiration! No foolin'!

All I did was Google the words 'indicted Republican.'

That's right. 'Indicted Republican.' Got 105,000 hits on it. The good Lord does work in mysterious ways, doesn't He?

I know you will have to have a board of directors. But you don't have to do all of this by yourself! Don't you see? I'm helping! I've been working on this part, too!

No, Jim and Tammy can't be on the board. We'll put them in charge of reservations. And maybe accounting. And no, Jimmy Swaggert's got talent that would be wasted on the board. He can run the procurement arm of the operation. And, no, not Rush Limbaugh. But he'll be perfect for the faith and values prescription drug program.

I'm thinking more of folks like Ollie North for the board. All he did was hold his hand up to God and swear a lie to Congress.

And Newt Gingrich would be a good one on any faith and values board. His extramarital involvement with that congressional aide may have cost him his Speakership, but that's the kind of faith and values leadership we want and this country needs.

Same with Republican Bob Livingston, who followed him to the Speakership--and out the same door--for nearly the same reason.

And how 'bout former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, from Georgia? Yeah, the one who went after Clinton so hard.

Let's see. What was it? I remember now. Infidelity and lying under oath about an abortion. Your buddy Larry Flynt outed him. He'd be perfect.

And how about Jack Ryan, the Illinois Republican who dropped out of the Senate race after his ex-wife made such a stink out of that sex club thing? He'd be good. He likes performing in public.

And think about Republican Senate Majority Leader Tom Delay. He might not quite measure up. He hasn't been indicted himself, but three of his tops aides were. Just recently, too.

And you might want George Ryan on. He'd poke his lip out if you didn't remember him. You remember two years ago when his Illinois campaign for governor was indicted--only the third campaign in U. S. history to face federal charges. Nixon's re-election committee (Republican) was the first. A presidential bid by Lyndon LaRouche (thinks like one) was the second.

And let's not forget the homegrown, local talent. Virginia's a regular Republican garden in that regard.

Vance Wilkins would be a lock for any 'faith and values' board. He's got time to do it, too.

And former Virginia Republican Party Chairman Gary Thompson's got some time on his hands. I'd say he'd be good. And he's got the right credentials. He's been indicted.

And I would recommend Ed Matricardi, the former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia. Sure, he was indicted. But you're going to need somebody with his communications skills, better just let him do that. And, hey, he's a good listener, too.

Rev, I think you're on to something. Rounding up ten million folks for your faith and values outfit will take some doing, but hey! You've got your base! It's ready made! Indicted Republicans! Who could possibly know more about another 'faith and values' scam that the folks who wrote the book on it?

Posted by laura at 03:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 05, 2004

Zell Nation: The Church As State

By Barnie K. Day

The issue was not a pre-emptive war in which Americans continue to die--more than 1,100 now, and counting--not a war without strategy, exit or otherwise. The issue was the Ten Commandments.

The issue was not a wobble-wheeled economy, an economy based largely on debt, consumer and government, an economy that spends today what we must pay back tomorrow. The issue was prayer in schools.

The issue was not a foreign policy that seems truly foreign to anyone who knows anything about policy, a foreign policy void of coherence. The issue was men marrying men.

Used to be, when America looked into a mirror, she saw Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, King, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Shirley Chisholm. Used to be, she saw statesmen, and thinkers and artists. Used to be, she saw Buckley and Cronkite and Sevaried. Now when she looks, the visages of the Christian jihadists, the Zell Millers and Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells glare back at her, as does that of Limbaugh, the porcine, thrice-divorced, drug addicted, puff-faced, self-appointed, un-elected arbiter now of our family values, and Anne Coulter, a crane-necked shrew with the intellect of a ferret, and not your average ferret, but one of those runt of the litter ones, who said on MSNBC last night in what appeared to be a vein-popping moment of glassy-eyed sexual release that Democrats don't believe in God. In Zell Nation, the church has become state--not just state, but martial state. (Let us sing now, "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war...")

Not so long ago, what has happened to the price of gasoline would have been enough to topple a presidency. Not anymore. Not in Zell Nation. In Zell Nation an energy policy written by the gas and oil industry doesn't blip the radar screen. It takes homophobia to do that now. Homophobia lights it up.

Not so long ago, the wholesale strip-mining of our manufacturing base and the export of millions of our jobs would have been enough to topple a presidency. Not in Zell Nation. In Zell Nation we can get right with the Lord and make the world flat again and put Druids in charge of that flatness and not have to worry about stuff like that.

Not so long ago, a record--and reckless--deficit would have been enough to topple a president. Not anymore. In Zell Nation the future doesn't matter in that regard. In Zell Nation we're all huddled on a mountain peak somewhere, waiting for the spaceship to come.

Not so long ago, the Haliburton scandal, and Dick Cheney's proximity to it, would have been enough to do in a presidency. No more. In Zell Nation graft may not be good, but, hey, it's just graft. What's a little graft when resurrection is just around the corner? THE resurrection!

Not so long ago, a health care system that leaves 44 million Americans to the mercy of the Tooth Fairy could have ginned up serious debate. Not in Zell Nation. In Zell Nation, sh-t happens. Hey, it says so in the Bible!

Not so long ago, America was a member of the community of nations. Not anymore. Not in Zell Nation. In Zell Nation, we are the landlord and the world must bow and scrape before us. In Zell Nation, yer either fer us, or agin us.

Not so long ago, Americans believed that right makes might. No more. Not in Zell Nation. In Zell Nation, might makes righteousness.

This is Zell Nation, buster! Love it, or leave it!

Posted by laura at 10:33 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 03, 2004

You need to get out of bed

I'm gonna ask you to do something I know is hard, I'm gonna ask you to stand up, dust yourself off and forgive those that voted for Bush. I'm not asking you to forget them - just forgive them.

Now what do we do? That's what you asked yourself this morning in the shower - I know you did, I did. I stood there thinking why? I don't understand how ..... how a person makes an educated decision to vote for Bush. Don't they read the papers; don't they watch the news; don't they see what has happened to our country? They do all of those things, and the bottom line is - they vote for him anyway.

Continue reading "You need to get out of bed"

Posted by lindsey at 10:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 30, 2004

Why I Support John Kerry

By Rodney Taylor

I will cast my vote Tuesday for John Kerry and John Edwards. I strongly believe that our great country is falling short of her potential. We need a change and a positive vision for the future. John Kerry and John Edwards will chart a new course in both domestic and foreign policy. We must have new leadership to correct the mistakes of the past four years and again get America moving forward towards economic prosperity at home and successful resolution of the difficult issues we face abroad.

Continue reading "Why I Support John Kerry"

Posted by laura at 01:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

Voting in America: Reflections of an American Abroad

. . . Or, Sometimes it Takes a Foreigner to Teach You What it Means to be an American

NOTE: This was submitted to Documenting Democracy by Donna Messner, a PhD candidate in the sciences from Virginia who is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In her e-mail to me, she says that the PIPA Report was the last straw and that led to her writing this passionate piece. Please send this link to others to read, especially your Republican friends who so desparately need to understand what is at stake. Thanks, Donna, for submitting this.

I had only been in Britain a couple of weeks before I was confronted with the question that would become a recurrent theme for my first year here. "Why do Americans vote for him? I mean-I don't want to offend you. We know Americans aren't stupid. But why can't they see through him? Are they naive?" An Austrian woman voiced the question while several others-among them British, Norwegian, Belgian, Finnish, and Korean-gathered around to listen, nodding in agreement.

The "him," of course, was George W. Bush. My classmates, colleagues, and teachers had barely gotten beyond the pleasantries before they began pressing me to explain my country and its actions. They were eager to talk about it, seemingly gratified to have among them an American to whom they could put the question directly.

Significantly, what they looked for was not retrospective justifications for war or for other American policies. Instead they sought an explanation for the choice millions of individual Americans make when they go into the privacy of the balloting booth to cast their votes.

(more below)

Continue reading "Voting in America: Reflections of an American Abroad"

Posted by amahler at 09:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Finally, Bush says something I agree with.

General Wesley Clark, take it away:

Today George W. Bush made a very compelling and thoughtful argument for why he should not be reelected. In his own words, he told the American people that "... a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as your Commander in Chief".

President Bush couldn't be more right. He jumped to conclusions about any connection between Saddam Hussein and 911. He jumped to conclusions about weapons of mass destruction. He jumped to conclusions about the mission being accomplished. He jumped to conclusions about how we had enough troops on the ground to win the peace. And because he jumped to conclusions, terrorists and insurgents in Iraq may very well have their hands on powerful explosives to attack our troops, we are stuck in Iraq without a plan to win the peace, and Americans are less safe both at home and abroad.

By doing all these things, he broke faith with our men and women in uniform. He has let them down. George W. Bush is unfit to be our Commander in Chief.

Six more days. GOTV. GOTV. And more GOTV.

Posted by amahler at 05:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

Observing Voting Machine Prep: Amherst County

Select photos by your connection speed:

Preparation of Voting Machines, Amherst, Va - Oct 22, 2004 - High Quality (slower)

Preparation of Voting Machines, Amherst, Va - Oct 22, 2004 - Medium Quality (faster)

I was asked to observe the preparation of the Amherst County voting machines on behalf of the DNC/KE voter protection program last Friday. The registrar for Amherst, Gary Beasley, had already extended an invitation to the local parties to observe the process (my Republican counterpart did not attend for whatever reason), so being asked to attend in a more official capacity by the DNC worked out quite well. I filled out a detailed form that is, more or less, a checklist that profiles the procedures and practices involved in the voting machine preparation process. It also helps document a general sense of the county's efforts to prevent problems and gauges their readiness to deal with problems if they should arise on election day.

I'll cut right to the chase here and say that everything looked excellent, both in relation to the equipment and the highly competent electoral officials I dealt with that afternoon. I feel very confident (and I speak here as nothing more than a voting citizen and tech geek) that the voting process in Amherst County will be smooth.

For a little background on the systems, read my brief write-up and photo gallery of a demo of our new voting machines given by Mr. Beasley at a previous local Democratic Committee meeting. The new touchscreen systems built by Unilect are profiled in that blog post. [NOTE: My previous entry shows the touchscreen panel used by voters to cast their votes. Today's story and photos show only the equipment "behind the scenes" that record the votes. Don't mistake the unfriendly looking machine in these pictures with the device you will vote with on election day.] I will focus on the preparation of the machines in the remainder of this entry (click below).

Continue reading "Observing Voting Machine Prep: Amherst County"

Posted by amahler at 09:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 23, 2004

Can't you just feel the momentum?

In a year when polls have been all over the place, anectodal evidence of just how this election might turn out seems as good as anything else. What you hear neighbors and strangers talking about is at least as reliable as polling organizations that admit they sample more Republicans than Democrats. Therefore, I get the feeling - yes, it's a feeling; it's not scientific - that things are trending our way. And even some surveys and other items in the news are beginning to show that. (By Rick Howell)

Continue reading "Can't you just feel the momentum?"

Posted by rickhowell at 02:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Selective Service's Medical Skills Draft

While Bush continues to vow that we will continue to have an all volunteer army (many consider this a hollow pre-election promise since troop strength appears impossible to maintain), the Selective Service is hard at work defining various "skills drafts". From an article in the NY Times:

The Selective Service has been updating its contingency plans for a draft of doctors, nurses and other health care workers in case of a national emergency that overwhelms the military's medical corps.

In a confidential report this summer, a contractor hired by the agency described how such a draft might work, how to secure compliance and how to mold public opinion and communicate with health care professionals, whose lives could be disrupted.

I always love reading about government plans to "secure compliance" and "mold public opinion". I saw a lot of molding of public opinion in the run-up to a war... pity they had to tell so many lies to achieve the desired concensus.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Part of the plan involves staying in contact with various medical groups (schools, etc) to maintain relations so the process can go smoothly. However:

On the other hand, it said, such contacts must be limited, low key and discreet because "overtures from Selective Service to the medical community will be seen as precursors to a draft," and that could alarm the public.

I'll let you formulate your own opinions as you read the entire article - it contains a mixture of politically-driven assurances that this is not needed along with a lot of hints that the facts indicate otherwise. I'll also mention that this is just one particular "skills draft" being discussed. There are others focusing on additional professions including computer and technology skills.

Yes, I appreciate that effort goes into planning so we don't have our pants down on the domestic front if there is another 9/11. I would, of course, like much of that planning to include proper funding for first responders, better border protection, shipping container inspection and a host of other things this administration has underfunded. Instead, their priority has emphasized lashing out with costly and misguided wars that increase rather than reduce the need for the aforementioned items.

As one who hasn't been drinking the nutritionless, saccharine-sweet Bush administration Kool-Aid, it's quite difficult not to question any draft-related planning. Sadly, if more of our citizens and our media exercised their responsibility to analyze and questions this administration's intentions, we might not be living in a lousy economy where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, healthcare costs an arm and a leg and the world increasingly sees us as an unpredictable bully.

In less than two weeks, I'm going to do my part and cast a vote for responsibility, integrity, and positive change in this country: John Kerry and John Edwards.

Posted by amahler at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2004

Final Debate: W Gets His Clock Cleaned

I'm not going to write a huge entry tonight since the recap and debate about the debates will roll through here (and the rest of the blogosphere) for days to come.

What is not up for debate, though, is that only one of the two men on the stage tonight deserves the title of President and that man is, unquestionably, John Kerry. Through all three debates he has been clear-headed, articulate and possesses the bearing of a true statesman that causes Bush to shrink by comparison.

Tonight we heard John Kerry speak passionately and with conviction, laying out his plans in a clear and logical manner. While Bush lobbed his worn-out campaign smears like rotten eggs, Senator Kerry siezed his opportunity to stand before the American people and make the best possible use of the rarest commodity in a modern campaign: ninety unfiltered minutes.

Granted, the spin machine went into full force immediately afterward and the Bush people predictably declared the President the victor. Within minutes, though, the insta-polls started rolling in and Kerry mopped up. The closest poll was ABC giving Kerry a one point advantage of 42 to Bush's 41. The amusing thing, though, is that the participants were 38% Republican, 30% Democrat and 28% Independent. That puts a whole different light on what looks on the surface like a slim margin. CNN came in with a whopping 52% for Kerry against Bush's 39%.

Bush's remarks were rife with odd contradictions, including an attempted insult (in the GOP framework of humor) that Ted Kennedy is the conservative Senator from MA. Couple this with his other remark that Senator Kennedy was wonderful to work with in their joint support of No Child Left Behind. This allowed Bush to double his hypocrisy as he praised the man he had just insulted while discussing mutual support for a plan that he subsequently did not fund despite his promises.

Much more will be covered tomorrow and in the coming days. For now, have a good night and know that we're all that much closer now to sending Bush back to Crawford, Tx where he can focus on clearing brush without anything to interrupt him (like being President). The BC04 distortion onslaught is likely to go into an even higher gear over the next nineteen days, so remain vigilent and keep up the good work! On November 2nd, we're sending John Kerry and John Edwards to the White House.

P.S. I will throw in this bit of fact-checking from Salon's War Room:


KERRY: Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, "Where is Osama bin Laden?" He said, "I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned."

BUSH:Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.


From a March 2002 White House press briefing:

Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run.

Posted by amahler at 11:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2004

Bush Admin: More lies, distortions and words out of context

The Bush administration has run an almost entirely negative campaign. With no actual successes to run on, the focus of their campaign has been a constant process of putting a happy spin on their many dire failures and doing everything possible to smear Senator Kerry in the eyes of voters.

Running a campaign this negative is a clear sign of desperation and part of why the debates have been so devastating for the administration. By allowing the two men to be seen side by side, Kerry's image as a true statesman has all but destroyed the image painted through hundreds of millions of dollars of misleading Bush campaign ads and the hours of loyalty-oath-sworn, pro-Bush lovefests that are pawned off as "town hall meetings".

One thing the Bush campaign has elevated to an artform is the use of quotes out of context in an attempt to damage Kerry with his own words. One of the most recent post-debate distortions was using only the two words "global test" from a larger statement Kerry made on the topic of American security in the fight against terrorism. His actual statement spoke of the value of global cooperation and U.S. integrity to combat terrorism. The Bushies, however, spun this 180 degrees out of context into a distortion that claimed Kerry would let other countries decide how and when we should protect ourselves. It's a despicable practice, but standard operating procedure for this administration.

Bush and Cheney have both sworn that they would make all the same mistakes over again if given the chance. Their dogged stubborness (and inability to admit mistakes) is supposed to represent determination and leadership. The same stubborn approach applies equally to their campaign. Despite being called on their constant distortions of Senator Kerry's statements, this practice continues with their latest campaign ad (from CNN):

In the magazine article, a largely analytical cover story by Matt Bai, Kerry is asked "what it would take for Americans to feel safe again."

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance," the article states as the Massachusetts senator's reply.

"As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life."

In this article, Kerry is speaking to our need to properly conduct our fight against terrorism so that we can reduce its threat in the years to come. Most importantly, the broader context of his remarks discusses the multipronged approach we must take that involves the use of law enforcement and diplomacy in harmony with military action to make our efforts more effective. The Bush administration, focused mostly on misguided military actions that are destroying our abilty to conduct good diplomacy and diminishing our security, has failed to properly combine these tools. The war in Iraq is a perfect example of these failures.

The Bush campaign, however, is already spinning Kerry's remarks out of context and focusing on the use of the word "nuisance". Rather than acknowledging that Kerry wishes to fight terrorism so effectively that it can be reduced to a mere nuisance (on par with prostitution and gambling), they are releasing a new ad portraying Kerry as having a "pre-9/11" view of terrorism as a nuisance and therefore risking our security.

Their hope, of course, is to continue to mislead the voters and tie up the Kerry campaign with the process of defending itself against these accusations. The bigger picture, however, is the obvious fact that the Bush administration has no respect for the American people and, as a result, treats us as if we're stupid. Their approach to campaigning is nothing short of insulting, reducing the issues to oversimplified name-calling, distorting the facts and playing the media like a fiddle.

We have a mere 22 days to go in this election and the American people are rapidly waking up to these distortions. The debates have gone a long way toward opening many eyes and we have another important debate focusing on domestic issues this Wednesday. As Kerry supporters, it's our job to continue to increase our efforts in these critical final weeks by getting the word out to everyone that, unlike Bush, our candidate speaks the truth and addresses the issues rather than dodging them.

The BC04 campaign machine is going to ratchet up their rhetoric and distortions in these final weeks to positively staggering levels. These are the inevitable actions of an increasingly desperate administration that sees the handwriting on the wall. Bush is getting increasingly shrill as evidenced in his debate behavior. Helping undecided voters witness the wisdom and vision of the Kerry/Edwards message in comparison to the hateful and divisive tone of the Bush campaign will bring us victory in November. Don't slow down, increase your efforts during this final push and, above all, keep up the good work!

Posted by amahler at 08:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 07, 2004

Dick Cheney, Hypocrite

On Tuesday night, Dick Cheney made a big deal of trying to shame John Edwards through an arrogant and holier-than-thou commentary on his Senate attendance.

"Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session."

His zinger line was claiming that Edwards has been absent so frequently that Tuesday night's debate was the first opportunity that he ever had to meet Senator Edwards in person. (Cue a collective gasp from the media and the uninformed at this bold rebuke... if it's this harsh, it must be true.)

The problem is, Cheney either has a lousy memory, or he's a liar.

What has been revealed in the last day is that Cheney's trips to the Senate on Tuesdays are not to do his job, as he so arrogantly insinuated in the quote above. He travels up to the hill on Tuesdays to meet, in private, at a Republicans-only luncheon with his cronies to work on political strategy. (Part of me pictures these meetings happening in a huge cave under a smoking volcano... but that's just me.)

Looking at a list of the Senate's Acting Presidents for every Tuesday since 2001, Cheney appears a total of:


Let's put this in perspective: Hillary Clinton has filled in for him more times than Cheney has done the job himself. In fact, Senator Edwards has acted as President of the Senate, filling in for Dick Cheney, seven times to Cheney's three.

So, let's back up for a second. By claiming he's up on the hill on Tuesdays, he leaves the false impression that it's because he's doing his job and Edwards is not. He only told half the story and leaves the listener to make a negative assumption about Edwards. This is a lot like Bush and Co., spending the last week pulling John Kerry's "global test" remark out of context and throwing it around as "proof" that he'd leave America's security to the UN to decide. Anybody who heard the full statement in its entirety knows that this is exactly opposite of the truth. Telling half a story or using a statement out of context to mislead people is standard operating procedure in this administration.

Also, as reported here before, the statement that the debate was their first opportunity to meet was just flat wrong. Within an hour of the debate, blogs around the world (and now, finally, the mainstream media) were showing photos of Edwards and Cheney standing together in at least three public events over the past few years.

A lot of people would like to laugh this off and claim that, while Cheney was certainly being misleading, this is hardly an important issue in the grand scheme of things. The Vice President sat in front of the American people in a debate this week and, basically, lied about something that only took minutes to disprove. The emphatic way in which he attacked Edwards with these untruthful statements (both the tone and the body language) makes it all the more stunning. If he is this blatant in attempting to mislead the American people on his opponent's reputation, how truthful will he be about the bigger issues that affect lives and the economy?

We already know they lied about Iraq. What's next?

Posted by amahler at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2004

Dick Cheney: Misleader-in-Chief

Tonight's debate was a fascinating thing to watch... two very intelligent men sparring with one another within a very rigid framework. John Edwards had a daunting task before him tonight: trying to clear up the staggering number of misleading or blatantly false statements repeated constantly in the BC04 stump speeches while simultaneously putting forth a positive vision for America's future.

The basic format tonight tended to follow this pattern: Cheney is given two minutes to reel off as many absurd distortions and out-of-context "facts" as he can fit in, punctuated with a handful of condescending barbs. Edwards, taking written notes on the fly to keep track of the distortions, then has a fraction of this time to present the real story. He did a very fine job indeed.

Among the misleading items was a continued attempt to draw a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. When confronted with the issue of reports disproving this claim, Cheney dodged the question. He later, however, came back with a disjointed story tying Afghanistan (not al Queda) to Iraq through Zarqawi (the man behind much of the terror in the newly failed state of Iraq). Using his usual tone of intrigue and authority, he traced Zarqawi's path to Baghdad post-9/11 and ended with a vow to deal with him by "taking him out".

Well, as previously reported, the administration had the chance to wipe Zarqawi off the map on several prior occasions and even drafted plans for his removal. They apparently did not, however, in order to not undercut their case for war in Iraq. American soldiers are now dying in a deepening quagmire, much of it due to the power of Zarqawi and his ability to organize terror in the destabilized Iraq we know today.

Cheney sits there tonight and tells this story (half of it, mind you... the half that serves his purpose) as supposed evidence of al Queda ties to Iraq. As usual, and in a manner similar to Bush's previous debate reference to A. Q. Kahn, this administration tells half the story to leave a specific impression and treats the American people like idiots.

Among the barbs was a distortion of Senator Edwards' record in the Senate that ended with the remark that, despite being the regularly attending President of the Senate, tonight's debate was his first chance to meet Edwards. The implication, of course, was that Edwards is so frequently absent that they have no cause to meet under normal circumstances. A number of people in the media afterward commented on this as a shrewd and effective smack at Edwards (such Andrea Mitchell appearing on "Hardball").,

The truth, however, is that they have met at least twice before in public events. In fact, here is a photo that Cheney might want to use to refresh his memory.

This point might sound petty, but barbs such of this will become the GOP legends of tomorrow, despite the fact that they are absolutely untrue. Again, fictions created for a snappy soundbite by this administration always tend to trump inconvenient things like the truth. Being parroted later by pundits who haven't checked the facts help perpetuate the distortions.

There are many more items of substance to relate, but the fact-checking discussion is going to go on for days to come and we'll cover plenty of it here on DocDem. The VP debate, though, has clearly heightened anticipation for Friday's debate between Kerry and Bush that focuses (finally) on domestic issues.

Edwards did a marvelous job tonight using his talking time to not only put many of the Bush/Cheney distortions to rest, but to lay out very clearly many of the ways they will get America back on track. Edwards, especially in contrast to The Dark Lord Cheney, was clear, concise, convincing and exuded the positive energy and confidence that stands in such stark contrast to the fearmongering that is so much the tone of the Bush presidency. Edwards ended with an excellent set of closing remarks that spoke of hope, values and setting the proper course for America's future. Cheney, by contrast, closed by sounded like an empty suit giving a PowerPoint presentation and, as always, harped on imminent danger, fear, and terrorism.

In closing this very late entry, I'll let some of the CBS instapoll results speak for themselves:

"Who won?"

Edwards: 42 percent
Cheney: 29 percent
tie: 29 percent

"Debate improved your opinion of the candidate?"

Cheney: 29 percent, opinion improved
Edwards: 58 percent, opinion improved

Most telling was the report from CBS tonight that 24 percent of the undecideds they queried said they were "scared" of the concept of Cheney as president.

I know how they feel.

Posted by amahler at 01:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2004

VP Debate: John Edwards vs. The Dark Lord Cheney

Tonight is the night for the single face-to-face debate between Edwards and Cheney. Unlike the three different Presidential debates, all of the issues, both domestic and international, will be addressed in one debate between Candidate Edwards and the current sitting power behind the throne.

As with the last debate, I strongly recommend watching it on C-SPAN where they will most likely do a full-time split screen. The split screen in the last debate was stunning to watch and I'm eager to see the same format again tonight. Switching to the screeching, pundit-laden networks after the partisan-free, pro-citizen raw feed that is C-SPAN is like putting your head into a wood chipper. It's worth witnessing.

9 PM. Be there or be powerless against the spin. :)

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

October 02, 2004

Ladies, please! "Security moms" should have no illusions about Bush

When a Democrat wins a presidential election, that candidate usually carries a clear majority of the women's vote. Women generally tend to focus on social issues, expressing concerns over children and the elderly, and stressing health care, jobs, wages and other domestic priorities. In recent years the term "soccer moms" was used to describe these voters. This year, so we're told, there's a new group: "Security moms," and many of them are supposedly ready to vote for George W. Bush. (By Rick Howell)

Continue reading "Ladies, please! "Security moms" should have no illusions about Bush"

Posted by rickhowell at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2004

The View From The Texas Tavern

From Chip Woodrum:

I watched the debate with my daughter and got a call from my son after it was over. It was unanimous in the Woodrum household that John Kerry was the clear winner in the debate. He was clear, consise and direct. He seemed more "presidential." Of course, in my house anything less than a unanimous vote for our side would be a complete disaster.

So when I stopped by the Texas Tavern in Roanoke this morning, I decided to broaden my sample. The results were excellent. The counterman said he thought Kerry "knew what he was talking about." The manager said that he felt Kerry "won" and that "his answers were crisper and he didn't just repeat phrases that he'd picked up from some focus group."

Now let me assure you that this election remains close. I really don't know what they think in Racine or even Richmond. But if you can get those results in an informal poll at the Texas Tavern, you're doing pretty damn good in Roanoke, Virginia.

Posted by laura at 10:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 30, 2004

Debate One: President Kerry

George Bush apparently brought his bag of White House pretzels with him to the podium tonight and proceeded to choke his way through ninety minutes in the shadow of a true statesman. John Kerry knocked it out of the park tonight while George Bush was left stammering, frequently grimacing and sounding weaker every time he tried to invoke his "flip-flopper" mantra.

The spinners are flying off their spindles at the moment in the GOP camp and many of the conservative blogs let out a collective wail within the first hour of tonight's debate. The network instant polls are showing a decisive Kerry victory in the numbers - even the Gallup poll that is so under fire in Democratic camps for its rightward tilt put Kerry on top by double digits.

Much will be said about this debate in the coming hours and days, but the country finally had an unfiltered opportunity tonight to see what those of us supporting John Kerry have known all along. He is a strong leader who is decisive, intelligent, articulate and capable of taking this country in the right direction.

There is so much more to say about this debate, but the hour is late and my brain is as tired as my fingers. Next week brings the VP debate between Edwards and Cheney. Between now and then, though, be prepared for the frantic GOP spinning onslaught as the overwhelming failures of the Bush administration sink deeper into the consciousness of the American people.

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

Kerry was great

For those who doubted that Kerry had the expertise or other ability to debate George Bush or become President, Kerry certainly proved them wrong. Kerry looked great while Bush slouched and smirked; Kerry gave a broad range of answers; Bush kept repeating himself. Kerry knows these leaders and can bring the world together. The greatest lines, in my opinion, were when Kerry said, "Saddam didn't attack us; Bin Laden did" and Bush said, "I know that."

Posted by marlana at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Debate Time: Let the Games Begin

The news today has been, for the most part, all about the debates with the networks billing it like a title fight. Granted, the format is making something of a mockery of the concept of a true debate... but we've all heard about this ad nauseum.

So, with that said, my one recommendation for the debate watching is to watch it on C-SPAN if you've got cable or satellite TV. It's a nice, pundit-free source where you can play the role of citizen and listen without everyone telling you what was really said and how to formulate your thoughts in the moments before the ads start. 9 PM. Be there.

Among the countless articles I've absorbed on the topic today, this one stood out a bit from the rest. It goes into detail, with qualifications, on the misleading statements from Bush to watch for tonight and has some relevant background on the tactics applied in the 2000 debates against Gore.

As I'm finishing this post (three hours prior to the debate), CNN is breaking a headline on a full blown military offensive in Iraq to "recapture" Samarra. Upon reloading to see if there is an update, it vanished. Who knows.

Posted by amahler at 05:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 29, 2004

Dick Cheney: Putting the Flip in one Flop of an Administration

Apparently, in 1992 when Dick Cheney held Rumsfeld's current job in a former Bush admin, his stated position on Iraq was far more sensible (from the Seattle Post Intelligencer):

WASHINGTON -- In an assessment that differs sharply with his view today, Dick Cheney more than a decade ago defended the decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power after the first Gulf War, telling a Seattle audience that capturing Saddam wouldn't be worth additional U.S. casualties or the risk of getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq".

He goes on to offer some insight into his reasoning:

"And the question in my mind is how many additional American casualties is Saddam worth?" Cheney said then in response to a question.

"And the answer is not very damned many. So I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the president made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq."

146 Americans died in the first Gulf War. We're well over 1,000 now in these days of "Mission Accomplished" with no end in sight.

Here's another problem he felt they had avoided:

"Once we had rounded him up and gotten rid of his government, then the question is what do you put in its place? You know, you then have accepted the responsibility for governing Iraq."

So, Dick... what happened? And don't say it was 9/11 and Al Queda... that claim has been disproven many times over... not that it will stop you from misleading people in your quest for four more years as the power behind the throne.

I've got one bit of nostalgia about the former Bush administration: it only lasted a single term. I'm looking forward to reliving that delicious aspect again come November.

Posted by amahler at 06:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 28, 2004

The Poster Child for Flip-Flops

Frankly, calling Kerry a flip-flopper is a load of crap... but it's the kind of catchy sounding phrase the GOP likes to instill in its followers to keep them occupied and self-amused. It lacks depth and gives people a verbal talisman (with visual aids to hold up in crowds) as well as a free pass on having to think, debate, discuss or otherwise acknowledge the truth. Besides, lying in full sentences is very taxing and people tend to mess up the talking points.

So, when I was on the treadmill this morning listening to an audiobook on my iPod (bonus: I just handed some narrow-minded GOoPer a visual stereotype of me that they can now go parody on their blog), I heard Molly Ivins tackle the issue pretty nicely in her latest book - "Who Let the Dogs In?":

"Flip-flops? Compared to the man who opposed the 9/11 Commission, the Intelligence Review Board, the Department of Homeland Security, nation building, McCain-Feingold, the Middle East Peace Process, summits, free trade, the Corporate Reform Law, consulting the U.N. about Iraq, consulting Congress about Iraq, letting Condi Rice testify, etc., etc."

The "etc., etc" part of her commentary definitely cuts a very long list rather short, but the point is well made. Hypocrisy is what the Bush presidency is all about.

Feel free to share your own examples with the Comment button below...

- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 23, 2004

Saying it over and over does NOT make it true...

If George Bush had hit his head on the podium and landed on the floor unconcious, he'd have done a better job in his press conference today with Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi.

To my ear, there is a clear sense when he takes questions that he has no real answers and is just doing his best to string together a series of (what he hopes) are decisive and sharp sounding phrases. You know, "War President" stuff.

A few examples:

Continue reading "Saying it over and over does NOT make it true..."

Posted by amahler at 04:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How Do You Spell That?

By all accounts, Bush just had a disasterous gaggle at a press conference this afternoon. I was marveling over parts of the transcript when Chip Woodrum sent this humorous piece along:


The Bush Administration again denied that the invasion of Iraq was the result of a spelling error and that the actual target was to have been Iran, which has been identified as the country that had actually assisted al Quiada terrorists.

The 9/11 Commission Report noted that Iran had actually assisted terrorists involved in the bombing by permitting them to cross its borders and concealed the fact in order to dispel suspicion.

But the President and administration sources bristled at suggestions that Iran had been originally selected as the target for attack but Iraq was substituted at the last minute due to a spelling snafu. President Bush himself responded to questions, saying: "I always get my facq's straight."

"The President was and is aware of his P's and Q's and his N's as well," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated. "The President was very well educated at Yale which--although it's certainly no Princeton--is well known for its spelling expertise," he added.

Rumsfeld pointed out that Vice President Cheney had made a special emergence from his undisclosed location to assist in selecting which country to invade. "Dick Cheney is there to prevent just such an occurrence. In fact he and then CIA Director George Tenet were our fail-safe mechanism so you know nothing could have gone wrong in the spelling or intelligence department."

The President also stated "We intended to invade ...Iraq and knew what we were doing all along. Iraq is close to Iran which we may invade at a later date because it's close to...uh...several other countries too...."

Other highly placed Administration sources vehemently denied persistent rumors that former Vice President Dan Quayle had been involved in planning and targeting the initial stages of the invasion.

Posted by laura at 03:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Politics Is Not For Those Weak In The Knees"

John Kerry and John Edwards Are Right For Virginia
By Mark R. Warner, Governor of Virginia

Politics is not for those with weak knees.

Last week, Virginia Democrats absorbed the news that even with the best shot in decades to carry the Commonwealth in a presidential election, the Kerry-Edwards campaign was holding off on placing more television ads here.

But the energy among our volunteers and staff is strong, so folks just went back to work. The message is still an easy one to sell: John Kerry will do a better job on issues that Virginians care most about ... creating good jobs, spending our tax dollars wisely, making the best decisions for our troops, and restoring America as a beacon of liberty in the world.

Today, Virginia Democrats can sell that message. We are the party of balanced budgets, a fairer tax code, and a stronger economic future. And we know how to reach across party lines and out to independents to
get things done. That will be John Kerry's approach as President.

Now, we see a new Zogby poll that shows Kerry-Edwards in a statistical dead heat with the Bush-Cheney ticket in Virginia. Not bad.

You'll see other polls, and they will go up and down between now and Election Day. But I knew John Kerry was likely to be my candidate when things were looking bleakest for him in the snowy fields of Iowa earlier this year. He's a fighter in a tough fight. Let's keep watching his back in Virginia.

Posted by laura at 10:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Bush at the UN

The reports I'm reading about Bush's speech at the UN today lead me to believe that any quiet moments were met with the sound of chirping crickets and uncomfortable coughs.

World leaders (the ones who came and didn't send foreign ministers instead) hastened to offer these kinds of glowing responses (from an AP article):

Many world leaders hesitated to comment on Bush's speech. South African President Thabo Mbeki said, "I'm still reading it." Many European leaders skipped the meeting entirely, sending their foreign ministers instead.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero - who came to power by criticizing his predecessor's unpopular support for the Iraq war - said he agreed with Bush on defending liberty and democracy, but disagreed on other matters.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said, "I think it's very important what Kofi Annan said about the rule of law in the 21st century, so I don't want to go more into the details because this would be very unpolite."

Fischer is referring to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggesting last week that the Iraq war was illegal and expressing his concern that the "rule of law" is at risk around the world.

Bush went on in his speech to mention the al-Queda-linked terrorism taking place now in Iraq. Keep in mind that this is the newly erupting terrorism that did not exist in Iraq prior to starting a war that was predicated partly on a false claim by the Bush administration of connections between al-Queda and Saddam. al-Queda now has a foothold where they didn't have one before. How does Bush reconcile this with his dominant campaign theme that he is eradicating terrorism and making the world a safer place?

A real plan for repairing our world relations and setting both Iraq and the US back on the right track comes with helping John Kerry and John Edwards take back the White House this November. We will once again have a true statesman addressing the UN audience of world leaders... leaders with a renewed respect for the United States and its role as a true partner in the world.

UPDATE: (9:05 AM)

From a NYT editorial this morning:

We did not expect President Bush to come before the United Nations in the middle of his re-election campaign and acknowledge the serious mistakes his administration has made on Iraq. But that still left plenty of room for him to take advantage of this one last chance to appeal to an increasingly antagonistic world to help the Iraqis secure and rebuild their shattered nation and prepare for elections in just four months. Instead, Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech in which he glossed over the current dire situation in Iraq for an audience acutely aware of the true state of affairs, and scolded them for refusing to endorse the American invasion in the first place.

Posted by amahler at 12:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 21, 2004

The CIA is "just guessing" about Iraq coming unglued

According to this Reuters article, Bush says the CIA is "just guessing" on their gloomy predictions that Iraq is spiraling out of control.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Bush, determined to put an optimistic face on deadly conditions in Iraq, said on Tuesday that the CIA was just guessing when it said the war-racked country was in danger of slipping into civil war.

"The CIA laid out several scenarios. It said that life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better. And they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," Bush told reporters during a picture-taking session with Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

I'm "just guessing" when I say that the second captured American beheaded (on video, nonetheless) in as many days supports the CIA's predictions. I am not, however, guessing when I say that this administration has got to go.

- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 07:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Debate Parameters and Dates Finalized

The dates and locations of the forthcoming debates have been finalized, along with all the nitty gritty details such as whether the candidates sit or stand, whether they can take notes (they can, and even on the paper color of their choice as long as it's placed on the podium by debate organizing staff beforehand), and a host of other things meant to create a level playing field. We shall see.

Bush is considered a fairly accomplished debater, not so much by knowing anything or answering the questions with any depth, but through his apparent "regular joe" charm (which is utterly lost on me, I might add). Last time I checked (within at least the last twelve seconds), a "regular joe" who smirks a lot is the kind of guy who gets us into misguided wars and claims to be protecting the nation while simultaneously putting us in greater danger (Osama bin who?), not to mention overseeing the staggering mutation of a budgetary surplus into a smoking economic crater. Supposedly he'd be the guy many folks would prefer to "have a beer with". I don't like beer. I do, however, get a real kick out of healthcare and mercury-free fish. It's the little things.

Whatever the case, Bush can stack his supposed charm against Kerry's knowledge and experience at the following times and places:

  • Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.
  • Oct. 8 at Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Oct. 13 at Arizona State University in Tempe

In addition to this, John Edwards will be debating the ever-huggable Dick Cheney on October 5th at Case Western University in Cleveland.

Since I like to think for myself and appreciate a full-frame picture not surrounded by rolling "news" tickers, I'll be watching them on C-SPAN. I highly recommend it over the cable and network news pundit-fest.

Oh, regarding the issue of whether they debate while sitting or standing... last night, Dave Letterman suggested a novel compromise: squat. As entertaining as this might be, I've aleady spent four years of the Bush Administration with the word "squat" running through my head. This seemed to be a real sticking point between the campaigns with Edwards wanting to stand and Cheney wanting to sit. According to Kerry: "Well, now what's gonna happen is, well, we compromised and now George Bush is gonna sit on Dick Cheney's lap."

Reminds me of that button I bought at the State Convetion last June.

Posted by amahler at 03:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 20, 2004

Amherst County Touchscreen Voting Demonstration

Select photos by your connection speed:

Amherst Democratic Committee Meeting - E-Voting Demonstration (slower)

Amherst Democratic Committee Meeting - E-Voting Demonstration (faster)

At our meeting in Amherst last Tuesday, County Registrar Gary Beasley, came to demonstrate Amherst County's new touchscreen, electronic voting system.

The system is the Patriot made by a company called Unilect. Personally speaking, not being a Diebold system pleased me a great deal. The geek in me finds electronic voting to be a marvelous concept (having written a web-based system for Sweet Briar which is used by our Student Government to conduct their elections).

Continue reading "Amherst County Touchscreen Voting Demonstration"

Posted by amahler at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barnie Day: The System Was Blinking Red

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U. S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

Presidential daily briefing, Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S., dated August 6, 2001.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2004--If the Bush Administration was held to the same level of accountability that the average toll-booth operator is held to, every one of its members would be tarred, feathered, and run out of the country on a rail. Their failure on this matter of terrorism has been catastrophic, total, and complete.

Here we are, three years after the attack, three years after hauling what was left of some 2,500 Americans to a landfill on Staten Island--that's right--to a landfill. Most of the victims were pulverized beyond recovery and were simply buried in the Fresh Kills landfill.

Here we are, three years later, and where are we?

Bin Laden is still on the loose. We've burned a couple hundred billion dollars in borrowed money. We've sacrificed the lives of more than a thousand brave American soldiers on the field of battle. And we've added tens of thousands to the rolls of the permanently maimed and injured. And we've done this all in the wrong war.

And there has been no accountability for any of it. None whatsoever. The same people we hired, during the last election, to protect us are the same ones who failed us. The people who failed us are the same ones who are still there!

What are they asking us to do now? Give them four more years? I don't think so.

If you don't read but one chapter of the Final Report, National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, more commonly known as the 9/11 Commission Report, let that be Chapter 8, 'The System Was Blinking Red.'

No wonder this administration opposed creation of this commission.

The attack on the World Trade Center three years ago could have been prevented. It should have been prevented. There is blame to place. There is responsibility. We had warnings. The system was screaming them to us. Indeed, the system was blinking red.

Continue reading "Barnie Day: The System Was Blinking Red"

Posted by laura at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2004

Off the ledge and back to work!!

You gotta love the headline today on CNN.com. "Polls vary widely." Well of course they do! The "Bush bounce" is gone, and we're right back to where we were: a close, highly competitive (even nasty) race for the White House. Now that no Democrat has any excuse for not coming down off the ledge, let's examine what we must focus upon to do what sober analysts have always believed is likely for John Kerry, winning the election. (By Rick Howell)

Continue reading "Off the ledge and back to work!!"

Posted by rickhowell at 06:00 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 07, 2004

Signs And Wonders: The View From Buena Vista

Labor Day, 1989. The last time I traveled to Buena Vista for the annual start of the political season in Virginia was the year Democrat Doug Wilder ran for Governor.

My friend Jane Kidwell, a reporter for the Tampa Tribune at the time and a former colleague, and I drove from Danville to Buena Vista in a rented Ford Mustang to watch the parade and take in the festivities. Something was in the air that year in Virginia, a sense that something profound was about to happen. The feeling of change touched everything; that feeling seeped into every corner of our commonwealth. I was a reporter then, but, in retrospect, I have to say that covering Wilder's campaign for governor was one of the most exciting experiences of my life as a journalist. His victory was a defining moment for all Virginians--me included--and I was proud to be there the day he was sworn in as Governor and to have covered his four years in office.

I thought about all of this in the very wee hours of Monday morning, as I drove alone this time to Buena Vista, listening to the Blackeyed Peas and talking myself through the dense fog and heavy rains over Afton Mountain. Anne, Ruth Anne and I were meeting Wally Blair from the Lynchburg Committee and staff members from the Va Victory '04 coordinated campaign (thank you to Chris Bast and the Young Democrats at James Madison University, including Brian Durr, Erin and Ali, among others!) to put up Kerry-Edwards signs prior to the Buena Vista parade.

Sign wars are an integral part of the political campaign (nice to know good old Virginians helped put up Kerry-Edwards signs, while the Bush campaign imported someone from Iowa ... go figure) and everyone worked hard. Even the news media covering the parade picked up on the enthusiasm of Kerry supporters in the parade:

"There was an abundance of Kerry signs along the parade route Monday, and Democratic partisans loudly cheered the speeches in the park pavilion," wrote Mike Sluss in today's Roanoke Times. Quoting Governor Warner, he added, " 'I was very pleased with the response,' said Warner, Kerry's most prominent Virginia supporter."

Yes, it rained. And rained. Bush people showed how fearful they are about Kerry in Virginia by tearing down our signs. That kind of immature behavior doesn't change anything; we'll continue to work hard for John Kerry and John Edwards here in Virginia. Our supporters were out in full force. They know--we all know--change is coming.

This year is not unlike the election year 15 years ago. We all stand at a crossroads, at a moment in time when everything we have ever come to understand about ourselves as a country and as Virginians is at stake on Nov. 2. Monday was just the beginning ... 59 days to go and counting ...

Posted by laura at 02:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 05, 2004

Bush bounce? Fine; we need to calm down and work harder

George W. Bush is having a little moment in the sun right now. Polls show some movement in his direction, with two national polls even showing an 11-point lead. Surely he had to get some good news at some point; he's had very little of it all year. In the battleground states, though, not much has changed. These numbers for Bush aren't likely to last, and we who support Kerry-Edwards must not panic or give ourselves over to fear and loathing. That's exactly what the other side wants. (By Rick Howell)

Continue reading "Bush bounce? Fine; we need to calm down and work harder"

Posted by rickhowell at 12:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 03, 2004

Ra Rising

By Barnie K. Day

I kept expecting somebody to roll a golden calf out onto the stage. When did Americans ever resort to such deification? And then The Dubya strolled out. I don't know about you, but I was disappointed. After the intro, I was pretty sure that Ra, the Eqyptian sun god, must be up next.

Dubya gave a pretty good speech--considering what he has to work with. And for once in his life, he showed some modesty. Gee, he has so much to be modest about. Now all we've got to do is hope Dorothy and Toto and that chick witch with the wand show up. Otherwise, down the road, it's going to be "Houston, we've got a problem."

We're going to privatize Social Security. (Read this one: 'Bend over, get a good grip on something, and brace yourself.')

We're going to spend a few trillion dollars in new programs. And pay for them by cutting taxes. Hey, why not? That's what we're doing now.

(I was sitting there last night, counting the times the deficit was mentioned. Let me check my notes. It was exactly...none.)

Continue reading "Ra Rising"

Posted by laura at 09:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 02, 2004

Watching the RNC: ZZZZzzz! Huh? Oh! Is he done?

Let's review: On Tuesday night, I had to exercise restraint to not drive my head through my TV in frustration. Last night I cowered behind my furniture while Zell Miller achieved the rhetorical equivalent of eating a puppy on live television (to the great glee of the delegates, I might add).

Tonight? Well, I noticed the center channel speaker in my sound system was slightly off center. There's also some dust on the screen I need to clean off. I still find the red power light just below the screen to be a little too bright and distracting. Hey, look! The cat just walked by. (drum fingers on arm of chair)

Man... that guy is still talking.

I was truly disappointed that he didn't waddle onto the stage in a flight suit. That round stage in the middle of the floor was just asking for him to be lowered from the rafters or shot from a cannon so he could land in the middle with a big goofy grin. Oh well.

About twenty minutes into his speech, when I started to realize I hadn't actually heard a single thing of substance, I started reading the online copy of his speech to prevent myself from slipping into a coma.

I read for a bit... and a bit more... and a bit more... but I still couldn't find anything concrete. It sounded awfully blue sky and positive, but the last four years of broken promises from George Bush put that in perspective. I'm used to a lack of substance from this administration, but all of this out of character, bright future talk just doesn't fit the man who has been trying to scare the daylights out of me for three years.

Bush kept droning on in the background while I started using my browser's "find" feature to look ahead in the copy of his speech posted (hours ahead of time) on DailyKOS.

One of the first ones I tried was: Osama.

No matches. Figures.

Then I tried another one: Vietnam.

No matches, either. Makes sense, I guess. Why would he want to remind folks that John Kerry went and he (and Dick... and Rummy... and Wolfowitz) didn't? Besides, he has a whole team of attack dogs to smear Kerry on the topic so he can pretend he's above it all. Smooth, Rove. Very smooth.

Hhhmmm. Another keyword search: September 11

Wow. Look there - four matches... and that's just the literal phrase, not all the allusions and oblique references. Oh, and look here... he put off exploiting 9/11 until the second sentence. Talk about restraint...

Ok - one more search: Saddam.

Five hits. Sounds about right.

So, let me sum it all up:

9/11, 9/11, 9/11. 9/11, Saddam, Saddam, Saddam, Saddam, Saddam. A bunch of other non-specific stuff that I suppose I should feel warm about.

Oh. And some Reagan references.

What else was missing?

Zell Miller. Word has it he was uninvited from sitting in the place of honor with Bush the Elder and other dignitaries. After running around screaming "We've got a Democrat, We've got a Democrat! Nyah Nyah!" in the leadup to the RNC, the GOP line now goes something like "Uh... yeah... well, he was speaking for himself."

I'm as exhausted from watching and writing about the RNC as I was actually participating in the DNC in July. I'm too worn out right now to write about all of tonight's misleading remarks and half truths. Things like trying to claim credit for increased home ownership when the bulk of that growth happened in Clinton's years (3.8% vs 1.7% growth under Bush). Smears like trying to pin a flip-flop on Kerry concerning No Child Left Behind after Bush bailed on his promises of funding. The usual crap... just delivered without flying spittle like last night's performances.

Before I stagger off to sleep, though, I'm going to go enjoy watching John Kerry and John Edwards put forth a positive vision for America at a midnight rally in Ohio. Unlike George Bush, though, this comes naturally for Kerry and Edwards. It's yet another reason why they have my vote this November.

Tomorrow, the campaign starts to really kick into gear and I imagine the RNC is going to feel like ancient history by the end of the weekend, if not by tomorrow night. Who knows. Whatever the case, thanks for reading my rants this week and feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Night, folks!
- Aaron

Posted by amahler at 11:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Pell Mell Zell

Zell Miller's speech to the Republican National Convention Wednesday night has become a debacle for Bush and the GOP. Usual supporters on the right are wringing their hands over the damage inflicted by Miller's prime-time screed. Andrew Sullivan wrote today, "The man's speech was not merely crude; it added whole universes to the word crude."

Here is Chip Woodrum's take on Miller's speech:

I watched and listened to Zell Miller rant on Wednesday night. Poor old Zell--he needs a distemper shot.

Many of us remember that Zell got his start as assistant to former Governor Lester Mattox of Georgia. You remember Lester--he was the Atlanta restaurant owner who gave his customers axe handles to beat any African Americans who dared to seek service at his restaurant after the passage of the Public Accommodations Act in the mid 60's.

Old Zell ain't changed his spots--he's just latched on to someone elses.

Woodrum is a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Roanoke.

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The Georgia Cracker Fires Em Up

The Bush campaign of terror is working, the Bush war on terror is not.

By Barnie K. Day

It's a good thing Zell Miller didn't have to pee in a bottle following that speech last night. Not only would he have been disqualified. He would have probably been locked up.

Hey, I like a good, red-meat speech, and the Jawja Senator was entitled to every word he screamed. I even like the part where he challenged MSNBC's Chris Mathews to a duel. I'd loan them both pistols. But there are one or two things he didn't mention.

If all this chest-thumping, this bristling, this jingoism one minute, and nation-building the next is working, somebody forgot to tell the terrorists. Incidents of terrorism are up around the world during the Bush Presidency. Incidents of terrorism are up since 9-11.

(And, by the way--not to confuse the issue--but so is the deficit, so is poverty, so is unemployment, so is the number of uninsured, so is outsourcing, so is ... but, I digress.)

If what we're doing against terrorism is working, why is it up? Why is that? Can I offer you a little clue here?


The Bush campaign of terror is working; the Bush war on terror is not.

Ask yourself this question: After nearly a thousand dead brave Americans, after tens of thousands of wounded, after we have spent untold billions and billions of dollars of borrowed money, is terrorism up or down?

Democrats condemned ol' Zellout roundly, but they shouldn't have. Democrats are in his debt--all of America is in his debt--for better than anyone, Miller became the face of what is at stake and laid out the choice last night.

Bush is a one-trick pony and war has become his one trick. There is nothing else in his bag. No domestic policy. No economic policy. No health care policy. No education policy.

If America wants war, if we are to have war in perpetuity, war ad infinitum, war forever--not victory, not peace--but never-ending war, then we will re-elect this President.

Republicans have defined this President as the War President. And that's what we will have with him.

The speech put me so much in mind of the Goldwater 'extremism' speech of another era. And it was not so much the words. It was the demeanor, the look, the delivery, the hard, grim, pinch-faced, spittle-flecked tremble of righteousness with which it was delivered.

Miller last night could have stepped whole and unchecked from the pages of Harper Lee's fabulous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, and he had exactly that look of a disposed 1930s sharecropper you see in some of the magnificent WPA photo-documentaries by the likes of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange.

And he had that rage, that hatred, that bitterness, that myopic suspicion that fueled the passions of so many of the South's segregationist politicians in the 1950s. If he last night put you in the mind of Lester Maddox and George Wallace, then you are forgiven.

Is this an attack on the Senator from Georgia? No it is not. It is an emulation of him. I'm trying to call them like I see them.

If you've wondered what's really behind the Republican curtain, what's really behind the 'kinder, gentler' stuff, what's behind the 'compassionate conservatism,' the 'shining city on a hill,' the 'thousand points of light,' then thank Zell Miller. He pulled back the curtain and showed it to us last night.

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September 01, 2004

Watching the RNC: A One-Way Trip to Zell

On Tuesday night I had to exercise restraint so I didn't run screaming across the room and put my head through my television set in frustration. Tonight, though, the tables were turned. My single biggest concern was that Zell Miller would come raging out of my television and beat me to death with the nearest blunt object. I had to listen to the speeches rather than watch them since I was cowering behind my living room furniture.

The charade was in high gear for the first part of the night as one minority spokesperson after another talked glowingly about the diversity within the party and their lives as small business owners. I saw a remarkably diverse crowd on camera, which I found somewhat out of synch when you consider these statistics (source: CBS News):

85 percent of the GOP Delegates are white, 6 percent are African-American and 2 percent are Asian.

In the real world outside of Madison Square Garden, though, 92 percent of those who identify with the party are white, a whopping 1 percent are African-American and even less are Asian. 6 percent are Hispanic.

The prescribed storyline for the night was centered around the concept of "opportunity" and was clearly trying to reach out for the female vote... especially minority women who are small business owners. With mounting evidence that the GOP is in very bad shape when it comes to appealing to women voters, they put on their happiest, most inclusive mask and continued the television charade of the two previous nights.

Somewhere along the way, though, it went horribly wrong and we all got more than just a peek behind the curtain. Somebody yanked the curtain off its rod and ran it through a shredder.

Supposed Democrat, Zell Miller, stood in Madison Square Garden ten years ago and told the country watching the DNC that George H.W. Bush and his party were out of touch with America, spoke only for the wealthy, and had "robbed us of our hope" after twelves years of GOP dominance. Having an angry Democrat there to speak in favor of George Bush, II was supposed to be a coup.

Tonight, Zell Miller, somehow still sporting a (D) in his title, came out on the RNC stage and whipped their delegates into a cheering frenzy by going, in my opinion, completely off his rocker. He elegantly referred to Senator Kerry as a "'yes-no-maybe' bowl of mush", accused the Democrats of having a "manic obsession to bring down our Commander-In-Chief", and even managed to work in the word "spitballs". He also scored points with his "Freedom Fries" audience by managing to bash Kerry and the French in a single sentence.

I've lost track of the sheer number of substanceless zingers he hurled at the Democrats and Senator Kerry. To be perfectly honest, I'm not all that interested in going through the transcript at this time of night since I heard no specifics, no details, and little or no facts. I did, however, hear a LOT of creepy rhetoric.

The overall effect of his speech, though, was those at home who had been watching a carefully orchestrated festival in the GOP's rented "big tent" suddenly saw it morph into a runaway train, jump its tracks and somehow manage to run over Pat Buchanan on its way into a ditch.

I'd like to say that the audience climbed out of that ditch, brushed themselves off and waited quietly for Dick Cheney to arrive. Instead, he just jumped down into the ditch with them to finish off the night with another round of misleading Kerry bashing.

I started getting irritated fairly early in his speech when, referring to health care, Cheney stated that "President Bush is making it more affordable and accessible to all Americans". (cough) It didn't get any more accurate afterward.

Cheney's tone was, as always, very deliberate and carefully paced for maximum effect. While his delivery couldn't have presented a more stark contrast to Zell Miller's angry rant only minutes before, his themes were equally disconcerting. The camera shot of the man waving a pair of flip flops in the air didn't do a lot for the crowd's overall integrity, either.

So, in a nutshell, what I witnessed tonight was a saccharine performance of mock inclusiveness which suddently turned into a bizarre pep rally for hate and fear. That was brought to a close by Cheney's misleading speech delivered in his usual ominous and chilly tone. It was, to put it lightly, a pretty wild ride.

What I didn't get to see but am beginning to read about all over the web was Zell Miller's followup performance on the cable news circuit. He grew so agitated by Chris Matthews' of MSNBC's Hardball that he told him to "shut up" and even expressed regret that he could not "get up in your face" or, later in the questioning, challenge him "to a duel".

I'm sorry I can't offer more details on the differences between the GOP's vision of the future and the Kerry-Edwards plan. Unfortunately, I didn't hear enough substance tonight to offer you much in that regard. The bizarre negative spiral that dominated the entire prime-time portion, though, was more than a bit jarring and is likely to be the most lasting (and, I'd say, accurate) impression most viewers will take away from night three at the RNC. That's quite a contrast with the positive and clear vision of a stronger America that I witnessed firsthand from John Kerry and John Edwards in Boston a month ago.

But hey, that's why I'm voting Kerry/Edwards in November. After tonight, I'm sure there will be quite a few more joining me.


- Aaron

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Voters shouldn't be fooled by GOP masquerade party

It's the same show we get every four years. At their national convention, Republicans put on a masquerade show of moderation. They feature blacks, women, and give prominent convention time to the handful of moderates still left in their party. Then, once it's over, it's back to the same right-wing white guys that truly run things.

Continue reading "Voters shouldn't be fooled by GOP masquerade party"

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The Night The Lights Go Out On Madison Square...

As the Executive Director, I feel there are times when I hear something I just have to pass on, and today such a thing happened.

I logged on to my monthly conference call with Democratic State Chairs and Executive Directors today at 4pm. Our first item of business was a quick message from our Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe. We were all chitchatting the way you do when you are waiting for someone important to get on the line when out of nowhere we heard a lot of talking, a lot of static and we all became very quiet.

The next thing we heard was the voice of our fearless Chairman -"Coming to you Live from Madison Square Gardens - I'm on the call." he said. That certainly explained all of the noise. Our Party Chairman has gone where none of us have gone before -to the Republican National Convention.

Continue reading "The Night The Lights Go Out On Madison Square..."

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Barnie Day: Day Two--Girlymaan!

Hey, guys, when are ya'll going to take the wraps off of those crazy, glassy-eyed right-wingers who define the Republican Party and let them have some face time, as in Tee-Vee time? We're through Day Two of the Republican Convention, and so far not a real Republican in sight.

Aw-nold? Girlymann? The butt pincher? Please.

Aw-nold doesn't even think like a real Republican. He's on the wrong side of all the template issues. Abortion? Aw-nold is pro-choice. Fiscal conservatism? Can you keep a secret? They're borrowing their way out of the jam in California. That's right, putting it on a credit card that their children will be paying for a hundred years. Kinda like Gilmore's borrow and spend gang here in Virginia.

Jerry Falwell is wandering around New York with a prayer in his pocket, waiting for someone to invite him to give it. And Pat Roberston is sitting at home for the first time in decades. You didn't invite your main man? What's with that? You know you can't hide Jerry and Pat under a bushel.

Let's see. Let me check the schedule here. Surely, on Day Three, you'll put a real Republican front and center during prime time.

Hmmm. Nope. I'm mistaken. Next in the line-up is Zell Miller--the same guy who key-noted Bill Clinton.

Okay, I think I'm starting to get it now. I see. Your plan is to get through the Republican Convention without having to show a real Republican. Smart. Damn smart.

Continue reading "Barnie Day: Day Two--Girlymaan!"

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Barnie Day: Tuesday Morning Coming Down

Editor's note: We're pleased to include columns by Barnie K. Day, the former member of the House of Delegates from Patrick County, on Documenting Democracy. Barnie has become something of a legend since he retired from the House, his columns have enlivened the pages of newspapers across Virginia and we're exicted to share his unique take on the current political landscape.

Tuesday Morning Coming Down

It is a glum and overcast Tuesday morning here in Meadows of Dan. It is early. Real early. I am reading e-mails and press reports from around the state. A few of the regular crazies have checked in -- folks who generally love or hate this column. A piece I did the other day on Jerry Falwell's law school has a few of them frothed up this morning.

I can actually visualize that big vein popping out just a shade off-center of some of the writers' foreheads. Hey, it takes real writing skill to paint that picture. The folks I hear from are skilled writers.

The weather and the Republican Convention and Ed Schrock are pretty much dominating the state news this morning. Richmond, and a lot of small communities in central Virginia, have practically washed away during the night. A foot of rainfall in just a few hours will do that--or make you think it's going to do it. In Richmond, the consequences were tragic, a story still unfolding at this writing.

Congressman Ed Schrock, a good man, is quitting his race for re-election. Sure, I've had a few breathless emails over the past few days in that regard. But I think about that like I think about this: when I was a kid we had 'white' and 'colored.' Now that we've become civilized, we have 'gay' and 'straight.

Continue reading "Barnie Day: Tuesday Morning Coming Down"

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On Going Blue, Virginia

By David S. Kerr

It all began on election night 2000. Before then, if you had talked to someone about red states and blue states, no one would have had a clue what you were talking about. But, thanks to a chance choice of colors by the major networks in coding their state maps, the states that supported President Bush have been labeled red states, and those that supported Al Gore, are now called blue states. And, Virginia, of course, is a red state.

But the big question this year, the one the Republicans nervously dismiss, and the Democrats embrace with a vengeance, is will Virginia, once considered amongst the reddest of the red, turn blue?

The answer seems to be a qualified maybe.

Continue reading "On Going Blue, Virginia"

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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.

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

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

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

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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) | TrackBack

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.

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

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August 28, 2004

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)

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

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August 25, 2004

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?"

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

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August 22, 2004

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.

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

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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)

Continue reading "A lesson learned: The other side is just as passionate"

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August 18, 2004

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:


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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)

Continue reading "Following Warner formula, Kerry can win here"

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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.

Continue reading "Through an Elector's Eyes - Part IV"

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August 05, 2004

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.

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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)

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

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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.

Continue reading "Democrats don't need a lecture on values"

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July 29, 2004

Oh, What a Night

Tonight John Kerry put to rest any doubts as to whether he could deliver. If this was the moment he was preparing for all his life, he prepared well. Those who doubted his ability obviously didn't know that when John Kerry is passionate about something, he delivers; that when John Kerry's back is against the wall, he delivers. What this country desperately needs is a President who can deliver -- particularly in these desperate times.

Those of us who watched the whole convention witnessed a well orchestrated drama that started on a high note with Al Gore and Bill Clinton and reached a crescendo tonight culminating in the exuberate speach given by John Kerry.

Continue reading "Oh, What a Night"

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July 28, 2004

From Teresa to Edwards

Yesterday, when I watched, transfixed, Teresa Heinz Kerry give such an impassioned speech, I was proud -- proud to be an American, a Democrat, a woman, and a fellow native Pittsburgher. Yes, it is time that smart woman can express their opinions without being labeled "opinionated". I thought to myself that this would not have been well received 12 years ago if Hillary had said it. But, I immediately realized that had it not been for Hillary, Teresa could not have said it now. It was the talk of every person I spoke with today. They loved Teresa.

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Time For Change

This entry was written by Kerry national delegate John Flannery.

Senator John Kerry offered the nation Senator John Edwards as the Vice-President who would replace Dick Cheney.
So how is this vigorous, engaging, easy-talking son of the South going to match up against the secretive behind-the-scenes Cheney?
There's little question it has the Bush Administration sweating.
President Bush rushed to Edwards' home state to defend his Vice-President by saying that Cheney was "ready" to be President "now."

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July 27, 2004

Through an Elector's Eyes - Huddled Masses

Aloha - greetings from the fiftieth state. by Ron Telsch

While flying here I could well image how tightly packed our Virginia delegation is on the convention floor in Boston and, I was reminded also, of how my grandparents must have huddled together on their boat to our shores. In the plane's rows before me African-Americans sat in the same manner of discomfort as I, behind me Asian-Americans, including a U.S. Army Sergeant on R&R from Iraq, a foreign-exchange student from Spain to my left, and a portion of my family to my right. Packed tightly in a metal tube going 400 miles an hour with an in-flight movie showing the story of an American western cowboy racing horses against Arabic speaking riders across Iraq and Syria. At least that's what I thought it was about. The movie had begun long before my wife told me if I switched video channels in the armrest of my seat, I could listen to it in English. It did not seem abnormal to me at all that the movie was in Spanish without subtitles. Such is the America we live in today.

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July 26, 2004

Yesterday's Gone --- But It Felt Like It Was Back Again

Nothing can excite a crowd or enhance the soul like hearing Bill Clinton speak. He says what seems so obvious, whether with a serious voice or tongue-in-cheek. When have we last seen smiles on faces as tonight when Bill Clinton was speaking? When have we heard the enraptured crowds cheering as they did tonight when Clinton was speaking? When Clinton was President.

Yesterday is definately gone, but we want it back again. Clinton spoke about those choices -- health care for all, or tax cuts for the wealthy; education -- or tax cuts for the wealthy; jobs --- or tax cuts for the wealthy. And, as he said, the choice is ours.

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FROM THE HOMEFRONT---CNN talks about blogs

CNN just announced the new breed of journalists - bloggers, and said that if you don't know what a blog is, you'd better get with it. According to CNN, bloggers are crazy, kookie kids with their own ideas and views who send them out over the Internet. Now, that should make it clear to everyone what a blogger is. Bloggers might be crazy or kookie and are certainly people with their own ideas and views, and absolutely are people comfortable with the Internet. However, we're not all kids.
Just ask my kids!

Marlana Lewis
Director of Communications, 6th District
Secretary, VADC

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We Are Together

The 2004 campaign will be remembered as the time when Democrats of all persuasions, Independents, Greens, and even many Republicans joined to change the direction our nation was headed. The decision of who is to be the Democratic candidate has been made. We are together now, focused on electing Kerry and Edwards so they can lead by rational pragmatism in America and restore our relations with the rest of the world.

This year's Democratic Convention serves as a symbolic gathering, a celebration, expressing a unified voice to America and the world, a voice that says we are united in the cause of electing a new President. We have been through the Democratic primaries, one of the most energizing and involving in our Nations history. New activists were engaged in the process, revolutionary methods for communications and fundraising were developed, and record amounts of money were raised.

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Wonder what they're doing now?
As I sit here today reading our blog, my memories travel back to that day in May at the 6th District Convention when I met Aaron. I asked him if he'd mind taking pictures as I wrote. Glad to help, Aaron kept shooting his camera as I grabbed Delegates to get their opinions.

How fondly I remember that first night at the State Convention in Roanoke as Aaron and I made our way from one crowded party to another. I talked with candidates, delegates, friends, and other partygoers, putting to memory what I saw and heard. Aaron kept his camera going at a ferocious speed. One party was so crowded that I couldn't find a way out. Aaron yelled to me, "This way," and pointed to a door--- a door to slatted metal stairs. "Oh no," I thought, "Not in these heels, I'm not." However, there was no turning back, so down we journeyed.

Continue reading "FROM THE HOMEFRONT"

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July 25, 2004

"If you dislike Bush, are you really anti-American?"

Our long, hot summer of politics has been brought to a boil, it seems, by several events, not the least of which is the Michael Moore film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." As temperatures rise outside and air conditioners run most of the day, there's no cooling in sight for the bitter political divisions that define us in 2004.

Continue reading ""If you dislike Bush, are you really anti-American?""

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July 24, 2004

From Sea To Shining Sea: Through An Elector's Eyes

By Ron Telsch

While the party and parties gather in Boston for the National Convention, I am preparing to leave for Hawaii. It is so far away from home here in Virginia and yet throughout our nation our community of like-minded friends is large and welcoming. Just this afternoon, we arranged to attend the Kerry House Party in Honolulu to watch John Kerry's acceptance speech "live" on Thursday afternoon sitting in a room full of fellow Democrats. Not Thursday evening, but the afternoon - it really is far from home.

On December 13th I will have the honor to cast an electoral vote on behalf of the people of the 6th District of Virginia, several hundred-thousand of them. The Constitution of the United States says we must vote on that day this year. In fact, it says very little else about the whole process of electing the President through the peoples' electors. We are not even required by the Constitution to vote a particular way, though those of you who attended our District Convention all heard Delegate Woodrum say he would affect my demise if I voted contrary to the Democratic Party (I will not forget Chip).

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July 21, 2004

Another Shameless Virgil Vote

Following the thread of Laura's post on Monday regarding Virgil Goode, Hamlin Caldwell of Charlottesville sent in his thoughts to share with the community:

Virgil Goode Jr. cast one of the only five votes in Congress against the Armed Forces Naturalization Act of 2003.

The essential features of the Act are (1) it eases the requirements for non-citizen servicemen to leave their posts abroad and return to the United States to file for a naturalization application, to be interviewed for the application and to take the oath of citizenship, and (2) permits the immediate families of servicemen, who have been posthumously granted citizenship for death incurred in military service, to self-petition for benefits to which they may be entitled. This seems eminently fair but Virgil Jr. was against it.

There are 37,000 non-citizens now serving in our armed forces. The names of non-citizens have appeared on U.S. casualty lists in disproportionately large numbers in Viet Nam and now are listed weekly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am disgusted that Virgil Jr. cast a supremely petty and mean vote to deliberately penalize the kind of brave people who gave part of their youth, their blood and many of their lives in Viet Nam while he sat out that war in the convenient state-side safety of the National Guard. Virgil had no shame when he turned his back on non-citizen U.S. fighting men who give more to our nation than he chose to give himself.

Hamlin A. Caldwell Jr.

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