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June 07, 2005

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BTW, as long as the CDC thinks smallpox is more important than bird flu, we're doomed. And at least Novak recognizes the key importance of an R Congress in creating the mess the US finds itself in.

So there.

another short take from Ohio (Columbus Dispatch):

Somewhere along the line, Ohio politicians got legs.

Fast ones.

The record-setting speed at which they are surrendering tainted campaign contributions from Maumee coin dealer Thomas W. Noe contrasts sharply with their leisurely pace in giving up donations connected with earlier scandals.

Why the difference?

In a word: fear. The all-out sprint to give away tens of thousands of dollars in Noe cash shows the widespread concern that the scandal could bring down any officeholder caught up in its everexpanding web — especially with the 2006 elections just over the horizon, political analysts say.

"I think it shows that Tom Noe became radioactive very rapidly, and politicians want to disassociate themselves from him as rapidly as possible," said John Green, director of the University of Akron’s Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.

Mark Weaver, a political consultant for several GOP candidates who is now working with Auditor Betty D. Montgomery, said, "You want to remove distractions as early as possible." He also said the flames are much hotter in the Noe mess than from the earlier misdeeds.

Ahnold, of course, refused to give it back.

As long as this is an Open Thread, I'd like to get some opinions on Dean's 50 State Strategy, particularly as it pertains to the financial cost of implementing the plan. To me, it seems fine if it is simply confined to the organizing effort. Where I start having doubts is the cost of running a national campaign in all 50 states. I'm open to suggestion.

Of course, there is no way I could post this on DKos :-)

I just wanted to remind people to click on my name for an old diary that has contact information for Kraft. Kraft is now being boycotted by another anti-gay group, one run by Peter LaBarbara (who has, according to the fine fellows at America Blog, also claimed that gays were a big reason for the Holocaust), in addition to AFA. They are also boycotting Harris Bank. Their contact information is available on their website at: http://www4.harrisbank.com/

I also wanted to remind people again of http://www.massequality.org . And too many other groups that deserve mention.

You've got to be kidding me. Now another group?

OK, once again, a business proposal: I want to establish a consultancy that will help corporation respond to, prepare for, and innoculate against anti-gay boycotts. It could be a wider mission to include all sorts of politically-motivated boycotts, but anti-gay boycotts seems a manageable place to start.

It could even be a for-profit consulting arm of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, or whatever anti-discrimination organization was willing to take it up. It's win-win. It could be a separate for-profit entity that as a corporate policy donates 10% of its profits to the parent non-profit or something.

Who can get me a meeting? Who knows PowerPoint?

I can't get you a meeting, but PowerPoint and I are on intimite terms.

Steele, I think a 50 state strategery is essential. The posts I've seen suggesting Dean is doing the groundwork instead of the 50,000 mile high view sounds right to me.

from Gallup:

Bush Job Approval

There is no major change in the way Americans are evaluating President George W. Bush's job performance at this time. His approval rating continues to operate in a range between 45% and 50%. The latest reading from Gallup's May 23-26 poll shows Bush's approval at 48% -- the same as Bush's average approval rating across seven polls conducted in April and May. Bush's job approval rating for all of 2004 was also 50%.

On another subject, the other day I wondered in the comments to DemFromCT's "On Bolton, The Nuclear Option and The Perception Of Power - Part VI" post whether what Bolton did to Bustani wasn't in fact the exact same stunt he pulled on Melody Townsel.

If it's of any interest to people here, Melody thinks so.

On the 50 state strategy, I think it's good if the money is being spent on creating infrastructure, like getting databases that can be maintained and added on to, training staff to train campaign workers, helping state and local parties figure out good fundraising strategies, etc. I'm not sure, but I think that's what the DNC is doing, because the amounts of money I've seen mentioned are quite small.

If they're building infrastructure, I'm all for it, because that can help elect members of congress and save time if a state unexpectedly ends up in play. I've been told by somebody who was on the ground that about a month before election day in 2000 that neither the DNC nor the Gore campaign had a good statewide voter file for Florida. That's the type of stuff that the state Dem party ought to be working with every single election, at every level.

One other thing: I noticed that many of the grants that went to states are going places that are seldom competetive for presidential elections but may or will be competetive for Senate or Congressional races, such as NE and ND. That seems like a good investment of $20K or $50K in an odd-year. But spreading around the big amounts of money, the $300K and $800K statewide expenditures on TV, mail or field staff is not something I would want to happen in 2008, and not--I hope--what I expect to see from the DNC.

James: I assume you saw that the American Family Association "temporarily" lifted their boycott of Ford?

Oh, Scalia: anyone notice the (usual and not surprising) intellectual contortions Mr. States' Rights had to go through in order to vote with the majority on the medical marijuana decision? If you're really a consistent defender of states' rights, how could you support that decision?

Any New Yorkers interested in reforming the electoral system statewide should check out the forum going on this Thursday night. It's a lot easier to build a progressive moevement when the legislative seats aren't incredibly gerrymandered.

REFORMING ALBANY:
CAN COMPETITIVE ELECTIONS MAKE FOR A BETTER LEGISLATURE?

Panelists:
Michael Gianaris, New York State Assembly Member
Angelo Falcón, Institute of Puerto Rican Studies
Nicole Gordon, New York City Campaign Finance Board

THURSDAY, JUNE 9, 2005
6:00-7:30 PM

Association of the Bar of the City of New York
42 E. 44th Street
Stimson Room

Open to the Public

Please RSVP at 212.227.0342 ext. 43
or info@citizensunionfoundation.o­rg

DH,

I agree with you on building the infrastructure, it seems to be sorely needed. Like you, I question the strategy if it also were to include the large sums of money to support a national campaign in 2008. I just don't see the available $ being sufficient enough to have the desired effect.

What's on my mind this morning?

Well, since this is an open thread, here's what's happening in New Mexico. This is serious stuff:

Los Alamos whistle-blower beaten outside bar

A Los Alamos lab whistle-blower scheduled to testify before Congress was badly beaten in an attack outside a Santa Fe bar.

Tommy Hook was in a hospital recovering from a fractured jaw and other injuries, his wife, Susan Hook, said Monday.

Hook's wife and his lawyer believe the attack was designed to keep him quiet.

Susan Hook said the assailants told her husband during the attack early Sunday that "if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut."

Tommy Hook has a pending lawsuit against the University of California alleging whistle-blower retaliation. He had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear weapons lab.

LANL has had so many problems in the past 10 years, from the Wen Ho Lee incident, to security problems. I think someone wants to shut this guy up (taking off tinfoil hat now).

I'm all for the 50-state strategy. What I would like to see is some seed money spent in a few test places to provide "training for trainers" so that my own pet bottom-up project can better be achieved: organizing each and every one of the nation's 300,000+ precincts.

Pretty much outside the party's regular and rusted machinery here in Northwest Los Angeles, five us did this on our own last election cycle starting with the Gray Davis Recall contest. All of us had some kind of low- to mid-level campaign experience in the past.

True, we cheated a bit: all 25 precincts we chose were heavily Democratic to begin with. But I think the model, if not the results, should be tried elsewhere anyway. We made sure that every Democratic and Independent household we could identify got at least one doorstep visit, with many getting several, and lots getting follow-up phone calls. We identified and recruited at least 100 election-day volunteers. Every precinct had its own captain, sometimes a longtime party stalwart who was already doing a pretty good job of organizing, sometimes a rookie in a precinct where Democratic voters never previously saw a campaign brochure that wasn't mailed from the teachers or police union. (We created our own simple, cheap-to-produce literature to hand out.) Our total out-of-pocket costs were less than a $1000 to buy voter lists and produce literature. The five of us originators worked as advisors to each of these captains, tried to monitor and encourage their progress in planning, and picked their brains for good ideas of how to reach their neighbors. Overall, the voter turnout in those precincts was 4%-28% higher than in the previous presidential election, we raised tens of thousands for John Kerry in 25 well-planned precinct parties, and we set into motion a year-round organizational model that we hope to spread to other nearby precincts.

Now, I'll concede, such a technique might not apply in in a red precinct in a red state, but Democrats, or at least unRepublicans, live in every precinct in the country - at least I think so - and plenty of them stay home on election day. Their reasons include things other than not being organized and cajoled, but surely being organized and cajoled would get a lot more of them to the polls than what we're (not) doing now.

I'm all for the infrastructure investment. We've got to wean ourselves from relying exclusively on unions for our election day turnout, and providing seed grants at the state level seems like a good way of recruiting new people into the active political process. And so far, every project I've heard described was different. Not only are states deciding what might work best in their own state. But this will have a laboratory effect, where we can find out if something works particularly well, then replicate it.

Plus, how can you not love a pol who carries his own baggage?

Kagro:

Far be it for me to defend John Bolton. But I am wondering how the Bustani example is much different from Richard Clarke and Maddy Albright getting rid of Boutros Boutros Ghali? I don't recall exactly what methods Clarke and Albright used (and I doubt anyone would declare it illegal). But one of the reasons I think there has been so little outrage over the Bustani firing is because we have historically thrown our weight around to make sure multilateral organizations run like we own them.

IMO the discussion around Bustani needs to shift, to emphasize the fact that Bustani was fired TO MAKE IT EASY TO BRING US TO WAR illegally.

Bolton carries plenty of baggage, but I don't love him

I'd prefer pols with less baggage, regardless of who carries it. ;-)

I think the Boutrous Boutrsous Ghali think was more complicated than one single issue, which seems the case with Bolton's wielding of the hatchet.

And FWIW, Chris Hedges (War is a Force That Gives Our Life Meaning) is coming on to Talk of the Nation at the 3:00 PM EDT segment.

Tinfoil hat-style, I've more and more thought over the past couple of days that Bolton's dealings with Bustani were orchestrated by others for the same reason that Bolton was such a monkeywrencher over Libya. The Administration didn't want any chill down in Iraq because they wanted to attack. And they didn't want any chill down in Libya - junior member of the Axis of Evil - for the same reasons. And North Korea, likewise?

Were Bolton the spearhead of a NeoImp policy that was so arrogant its progenitors didn't want any solutions before they could impose a military one?

...uh... tinfoil hats and grammar gurgles seem to go together. "Was Bolton ..."

Oh, I don't think that's tin-foil hat at all. I've assume it was to keep the road to war clear of speed bumps.

But I guess the opposite of "tin foil hat" is something you yourself believe, so maybe others would view it as tin foil.

One critical difference (I think) is that the UN has since taken another look at Bustani's dismissal, and found it to be illegal, unjust, and in executed in error. It's also important in my mind to note Bolton's methods -- at least the direct and personal nature of it. Not personal in that one man was the target, but personal in the sense that he flew to Europe to execute the attack in person. It's important both because it shows that he's a maniac. (It's not that statesmen don't assasinate. But diplomats use stilettos and push the blade in with precision. Bolton slashes wildly with a straight razor.) It's also important because it's apparently how he deals with everyone.

So there's something for everyone in this storyline, which usually helps sell storylines. There's a "Bolton is a maniac" story, and a "Bolton had a substantive role in the fixing of intelligence during the march to war" story, too.

Jefferson Morely thought so, too, in today's Washington Post chat session:

Sterling, Va.: Don't the revelations of the Downing Street minutes now clarify the purpose of John Bolton's mission to seek the ouster of Jose Bustani from the U.N.'s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons?

Isn't it now clear that with the march to war locked in, the United States could not afford for the U.N. to make a fact-based inquiry that would presumably have proven what we now know to be true: that there were no chemical weapons stockpiles in Iraq?

Jefferson Morley: I think it does clarify it.

It may be that one of the ways to "fix" the intelligence, was to remove from positions of responsibility people who might put forward intelligence that impeded the war policy.

We need to know more about Bolton's actions in 2002 to know if this is the case. I would like to know: Did Dearlove or his deputies meet with Bolton in 2002?

I don't know who that strapping young buck from Sterling, VA is, but he sure sounds handsome.

So, I don't know if that adds anything to the pot, but I guess I now have to go to Steve Clemons' place to find out who Dearlove is.

Steele -- "50 State Strategy" doesn't have to mean "50 State Campaign". A 50 State Contingency is more to the point.

We have to make inroads in resistant territory, and we have to practice making inroads, and we have to pre-position assets in case situational opportunities emerge.

"Strategy" means (among other things) knowing the situational value of objectives, and arranging assets that are under our control so as to maximize benefit from events that are not under our control.

Seed money, well-tended, can increase our range of options. "State" may be the wrong size target, but it's good shorthand.

I'm curious, RonK, how you would target the money differently. I had the sense while I was responding above that giving money to the states might just get it stuck in the state-level consultants' hands. Or someone's new bathroom renovation. But I couldn't imagine a target area that would be more controllable while still allowing for local input. Do you have suggestions for what might work better?

emptywheel -- Drive the money through the state parties, otherwise you undercut them, BUT ...

You don't gain much by spreading $100K evenly over a whole red state, or even a red Congressional District. Spend some HQ money, but target a smaller beachhead in a red district to develop a strongpoint. In an opportune cycle, that gives you a jump on a potential upset. In a flat cycle, it gives you a base to build from, a pattern to replicate, and a cadre of non-isolated, non-demoralized supporters.

Spread good shit too thin and you get nothing for it.

BTW, a focused Beachhead approach is guaranteed to make almost everybody unhappy, but it has a cutting edge. The other approach is just a nice massage.

Thanks Ron,

I think you have it correct.

DH, I did hear about the boycott being put on hold, and I'm not that happy about Ford having a meeting with the AFA. One of their dealers in Oklahoma is bragging about being responsible. Washington Blade mentioned that.

James: I'm not sure anyone from corporate met with AFA, I think it was just some dealer(s), and they operate more like a franchisee than a representative of the corporation whose cars they sell.

Dealers have a very tenuous relationship with the corporation. They have to suck up to corporate to get a decent vehicle allocation. And they have to follow the dealer guidelines Ford gives them. Sometimes, Ford corporate will pay for co-op advertising (usually for a group of local dealers, to get them into a media buy that individually would be too large for one dealer, or sometimes to support a targeted vehicle). And dealers have access to some resources from Ford.

But when it comes down to it, the dealers are their own people, and Ford influences them primarily by holding out on the high profit cars (or SUVs, as the case may be).

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