About Me

Based on a career (mis)spent in American politics, I debunk politicos, pundits and spinners, usually with a dose of humor to make it fun.

Email me with news tips, comments, and ideas for disinfo rehab any time!

Artwork and logos by Quellette Design.

© 2003-2007. All Rights Reserved.

The Latest Info

Enter your Email

Powered by FeedBlitz


May 12, 2014

Suggestions Regarding the June Primary in California and San Francisco For Your Review

People keep asking me "hey, who are you voting for in the June 3rd Primary" almost every day, it seems. Well maybe not, but when there's an election without a lot on the line (unless you live in AD 17 where the Chiu/Campos slugfest is clogging your mailbox with BS), I do hear this more often than not.

So without any further ado, here are my humble opinions on the ballot we're stuck with for June 3rd. Remember - for partisan offices, we now send the 2 candidates who receive the most votes in the primary - regardless of party.

This means that in places like San Francisco, which have an overwhelming number of voters registered Democratic and Decline to State, you could wind up with two Democrats vying for a job in Sacramento and no other parties represented. The same goes for heavily Republican areas that may wind up with two GOP candidates on the ballot, slugging it out.

Is this a smart idea or not? Personally I'm not sure, but if nothing else it ensures that political consultants who operate in areas dominated by one party have a job, no matter what, after June 2nd, so if nothing else this creates jobs, so, awesome.

Statewide Offices:

Governor: Jerry Brown. It's the first time in ages we've had an adult in charge of California. That is all.

Lt. Governor: @darth on Twitter. The current LG has made no secret he hates his do-nothing job, he never shows up to work, and spends most of his time mouthing off at the Adult in Charge (Gov. Brown). At least @darth could tell better jokes on the gov't dime, and he'd get a nice pension out of it.

Secretary of State: This is an "open" seat, as the incumbent is termed out. You can vote for Uncle Leland if you wanted (even though he's been busted by the feds). This is a tough call: I ended up voting for Alex Padilla, but I also like David Cressman because he's a reform minded guy. Either one would be fine.

Controller: This office does a lot of Important Things, but the one that most people care about the most is the Office of Unclaimed Property. The current officeholder is termed out, so basically the question is: who will ensure that money you're owed goes to you quickly, easily and legally.

Despite my years in the political business, etc, I honestly didn't know who to vote for. The only candidates I'd really heard of were Betty Yee (Current Board of Equalization member) and John Perez (former Speaker of the Assembly for a few years). I think I flipped a coin between the two.

Treasurer: This is a no brainer - John Chiang (the former Controller). Why? Because he did a really good job streamlining the aforementioned Office of Unclaimed Property. Having had significant dealings with this office, I can say the guy made it a lot easier and quicker to get back the money the gov't has that's legally yours. So yeah, move this guy over to the Treasurer's office, and let's see what he fixes there.

Attorney General: It sometimes feels like the other parties are phoning it in, because when a major party has as one of its potential nominees Orly Taitz, a wackadoodle from the Internet, you have to wonder. I voted for incumbent Kamala Harris because she's going to win anyways, so why fight it?

Insurance Commissioner: This is one of the few times where you can vote for someone and actually feel good about it. Incumbent Dave Jones has been one of the few people who got elected to a statewide office because they wanted the job AND wanted to do some good.

Board of Equalization, District 2: I like Fiona Ma, but it seems like all she's done for the last 12 years is run for one office after another, always looking to the next Government Gig while in office. I left this one blank. Shoulda written in someone.

Statewide Ballot Measures:

Proposition 41: This is a bond measure (aka borrowed money) for a measure to help with housing and homeless services for veterans. While I'm not a fan of voting for every single bond ever (since this bites us all in the ass when the massive interest is paid back), are you REALLY going to vote no on something for veterans? I voted Yes.

Proposition 42: I'm not sure why we have to vote on something this arcane as the enforcement of rules regarding public meetings etc., but when I read who is for it (State Sen. Mark Leno, among others) and read who was against it (one of these conspiracy nuts who things that a bus line is a tool of Satan), well it's clear that one should vote YES.

State Assembly - San Francisco Districts

State Assembly, District 17: I don't have a dog in this fight because I don't live in the district. Two SF Supervisors who ran for re-election in 2012, but somehow didn't like their jobs enough to serve out a full term are running: David Campos and David Chiu. This could result in a classic Democrat-on-Democrat fistfight in the fall if they both prevail. Either way if one of these people gets elected, Mayor Lee will appoint their replacement, so keep that in mind, regardless of your political leanings.

If I lived in this district I'd write in myself or something, because neither one really should be getting a promotion since they more or less lied when they ran for re-election. If you really want to take this seriously, why not vote for Chiu - at least he can work with an all-Southern California based leadership in the Legislature. Campos is running primarily to increase his pay or something, and will just be a grandstander like he did here in SF.

State Assembly, District 19: Vote for me. Yes, me. Write my name in. That is all.

Look I like Phil Ting and he's a nice enough person, but his advocacy to rename the Bay Bridge after Willie Freakin' Brown means I can't vote for him this time around. He's going to win anyways, so a few write in votes for me won't hurt. Plus in some weird twist of fate I'd win, let's just say I'd take the term "disrupt" to a whole new level in Sacramento.

US House - San Francisco

US House, District 12: Due to redistricting, all of San Francisco is now in one district, currently represented by Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Now, I like Mrs. Pelosi, and she's had a long career in the House, but the sad truth is the likelihood of her EVER becoming Speaker again is slim to none. There's plenty of reasons for this, some in her control, and some not. I raise this only because if things continue with the wackadoodles running the House as is, this isn't going to end well for anyone and someone(s) need to be held accountable for this constant Democrat Fail we have on the House side of things.

I ended up voting for Pelosi only because there's no one else with a real campaign to challenge her, but I did so knowing what's going to happen in November. If you're really upset about things like drones or whatever, then vote for Barry Hermanson. He is a nice guy and presses all the right lefty buttons, but he is also a perennial candidate, so don't expect an October Surprise if he makes it to the finals in November.

San Francisco Ballot Measures

Proposition A: I voted "No" because it's not clear from the Voter Guide how much the cost of this bond (aka borrowed money) would be passed on to renters. I'm sure it's a good thing, and like, every person at City Hall endorsed it, but that also makes me a bit suspicious.

Proposition B: If the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions, then San Francisco is covered in cement and said Good Intentions. This is one of those well-meaning ballot measures (hey! let voters vote on every single thing ever near the water!) that has a lot of Unintended Consequences. Plus, the people behind it aren't being truthful about their intentions. So, vote NO.

Put it another way: would you want that howler monkey colony known as the SFGate comments section micromanaging development in San Francisco? HELL NO, VOTE NO.

On an unrelated note, I wanted to also make a pitch for a friend of mine in Washington State who is running for their state House of Representatives in a suburban district south of Seattle. His name is Mike Sando, and he's running for an open seat in the 33rd District up there. He's a parent, a teacher & coach, a labor leader, and serves on the Enumclaw City Council, and worked in the Legislature for many years, so he knows how to actually Get Things Done in Olympia, and won't need training wheels his first year in office.

I've known him for 20 years and know him to be a good guy, and that's rare in politics these days.. You can read more about him at his Facebook page and if you are so inclined, send him a few dollars. House races in Washington state don't cost a lot so even a donation of $20-$100 helps out a lot.

March 6, 2014

If Anything Interesting Happens at the California Democratic Convention in LA, I'll Let You Know...

I'm attending the California Democratic Convention in Los Angeles this weekend. It's unclear how much actually "news" or Democrat-on-Democrat political fighting will occur, but if anything fun happens I'll let you know.

You can follow me on Twitter at my main account, @njudah where I'll hashtag the relevant entries with #cadem2014. If anything warrants a longer form post, I'll post here from some hotel computer. It should provide for at least some entertainment, if nothing else.

I've been going to most of these things since 2003, depending on where they're located, and often I find just talking to the various people working behind the scenes, I learn a bit more than just what makes the daily news. Thus, I'll pass along any interesting details, should they pop up!

June 1, 2010

The Disinfo Rehab Guide To the Worst Primary Election Ever

mckay1970s.jpgThis Democratic Primary hast to be the worst yet, because we have a lot of no-names running for office, super low turnout projected, some truly goofy candidates, and a lot of other things to vote on because people with a lot of money put 'em on the ballot. Meanwhile our state is literally falling apart. THIS is the best we can do?

It's all a big mess, so I've put together a list of things I voted for which you can use or not use, your choice. In many cases I'm leaving my ballot blank or writing in candidates. This is especially true for "unopposed" candidates - hey, unopposed incumbents, you're all wonderful people, but what's the point of voting in a race with only one candidate?

So, here goes:

Governor: If AG Brown's challenger had started up their efforts last year, instead of last month, this might have been an interesting race, especially after Gavin Newsom went down in flames like the Hindenburg on crack. But he didn't, so former Governor, Mayor, Secretary of State, Community College Trustee and Attorney General Jerry Brown gets the vote. Still, it would have been nice to have a real race, to help strengthen the eventual nominee.

Lt. Governor: F*ck this Peter Principle crap. "Mayor" Gavin Newsom has been about as useful as a football bat and as honest as a BP oil executive. The last thing we need is to give him a promotion so he can act like more of an insufferable bigshot. Vote for Janice Hahn - she seems like a nice person (So nice she hasn't really used the treasure trove of info against Newsom that much) and her dad was a cool Mayor in the 60s. More importantly, in a general election, you can bet the Republicans will use his record to engage in a political beating that in all likelihood will result in violations of the Geneva Convention. No one wins with that.

Attorney General: This has to be one of the worst primaries I've ever seen. You'd think that the California Democratic Party would have some top notch people running for this. Instead we have a DA that has an aversion to prosecuting crime (Kamala Harris), an Internet executive who's well meaning, but never served in law enforcement (Chris Kelly), and a trio of term limited legislators (Nava, Torrico, and Lieu who I am sure are all good people). I don't know that any of them are qualified in an era of high tech crime, violent crime, and so on to be our top cop in California. Given that only Harris and Kelly even have a shot, I'm voting for Kelly and hoping to GOD that if he wins, he hires some good people to ensure that the problems of crime are taken seriously in the next 4 years. Besides if Harris wins, her record is a killer outside the boundaries of Liberal San Francisco.

Insurance Commissioner: Having once worked for an Insurance Commissioner (in Washington State) I can safely say that this job seems like a yawner, but it can be often the most important job in the state. A good Insurance Commissioner can make sure that insurance companies are held accountable and fight them when they try to pull shenanigans like Prop. 17. The fact that our current one is a joke doesn't negate that. Vote for Dave Jones, as he's endorsed by all the Good People.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson's record on education in the Legislature was actually pretty good, and he used to be a science teacher so there's that. I've met him a few times and he was always willing to listen to people worried about education, when others wouldn't so I voted for him. Also, the ruler in my desk drawer somehow has his campaign logo on it - I think I got it at a convention or something, and it's a good ruler.

All of the rest of the state offices are uncontested, so I'm not bothering with them. Congrats in advance, people.

There's more, click on through for the rest!

Continue reading "The Disinfo Rehab Guide To the Worst Primary Election Ever" »

May 26, 2010

One of the Weirdest Political Ads Yet - Nava for Attorney General

pedronavaad.jpgThis year's primary is one of the worst ever. There is very little interest in the election, a lot of boring candidates, and none of them have much money (well aside from Him, Her, and that Other Guy). This inevitably leads to some crazy-ass stuff put out there in an effort to be "daring" but usually ends up being "lame."

Case study: Pedro Nava for Attorney General. Now, I'm sure he's a good guy, and he served 3 terms in the Assembly and passed some bills. Yay. How that qualifies him to to be Attorney General? I have no idea. I actually met him once ages ago at a fundraiser for John Kerry that I attended in Montecito, CA and he seemed like a nice enough guy, but this video just has all kinds of WTF all over it

I mean, what's up with the weird cartoony background? The dogs? The dog with bunny ears? The dog with glasses flying a plane? And he's not even looking at the camera? And the clapping dog? OMG.

Ok I thought the clapping dog was kinda funny. But you know what? I really don't give a sh!t about his record on "animal rights" if he's running for ATTORNEY GENERAL. I'd be much more interested in seeing something about crime and that kind of thing.

Plus, it's been my experience, having worked with candidates in the past who've been Big Friends of the animal rights movement that it's a kiss of death for a campaign. In 1994 I worked for a Senate candidate that made as big a deal about his record as Pedro does, and he got his ass kicked. Every time someone starts touting such a record, they very rarely win in a competitive election.

I'm scanning in mail pieces. There's just so much weird out there this year. Oh and those ads for Prop. 17 are easily the most full of sh!t ads I've ever seen. Mercury Insurance Sucks!

May 25, 2010

Why I Like Watching "Treme" But It Also Scares the Hell Out of Me

treme.pngIf you've not had a chance to see HBO's latest show, "Treme", by author/ex-journalist/blogger hater David Simon (he of "The Wire" fame), I strongly urge you to do so, by any means necessary. If you have HBO and OnDemand, it should be there, if not, well wait for the DVDs or explore (ahem) alternate means of content delivery or whatever, but you really need to see this.

The Short Recap: it's a story about people from various parts of New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurrcaine Katrina in 2005-2006. We all know what a supreme f*ck up FEMA and the feds were after this disaster, and we've all seen the pictures on TV. What Treme manages to do is to personalize those stories and do that expertly woven tapestry of lives and events that Simon pioneered in The Wire.

It's both fascinating, and horrifying to see what can happen to an American city in the 21st century, and how "shock doctrine" ideologues, good old fashioned corruption and racism, and the economic realities of a debt-ridden nation of do-nothings can collide and create the mess that we still have to this day.

Now, while I enjoy the drama and a well written TV series, and so on, Treme still scares the Hell out of me every week I watch the show. That's because I truly fear what is going to happen to San Francisco when the inevitable Big F*cking Earthquake hits us.

We are not prepared for what people will do to our city after the quake, and after years of rule by Prince Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors, I genuinely believe that the only line of defense we have against a horrifying immediate aftermath is going to be the citizens of SF, and them alone, helping each other out. What's scarier though, is how this corrupt city will no doubt use the disaster as a way to destroy neighborhoods and create "Suburbia By the Sea," and historical anything be damned.

Continue reading "Why I Like Watching "Treme" But It Also Scares the Hell Out of Me" »

May 20, 2010

What Is A DCCC? Why Are You Voting For it in the June Primary? And Why Am I Writing In Myself?

sampleballotwritein.jpgIf you are registered to vote in the Democratic Primary, by now you may have received your ballot, and after voting for things like nominees for Governor, Equalization Board, and State Senate, you find now you've got a section for "Democratic County Central Committee" with about 453,213 candidates listed. And, you have likely received more political junk mail for this office than you have in the past. All the while you wonder "why am I voting for this?"

Quick Review: the DCCC is the Democratic Party's official party organization in this county*. As a registered Democratic voter, you can pick who serves on this committee, which decides local endorsements that will bear the "official" Democratic Party seal of approval on them. In addition to the people you vote for, Democratic members of the state legislature, the US House, and so on also have a vote (usually represented by proxy from someone in their office).

Big yawn, right? However, in San Francisco, it's not a big yawn because whomever controls said DCCC becomes the one that's in charge of the endorsements for local office. Since so many people simply read the Official Endorsements of the Democratic Party slate card (and any junk mail said organization issues) and votes that way, no matter what, you can see why this then becomes a Very Big Deal to political types who care about such things.

If you run for DCCC, you're running for a thankless job. No pay, endless hours spent at meetings, meetings which are held in a concrete bunker downtown (really), and all sorts of political acrimony. Running also means trying to contact voters in 1/2 of the City, usually with little or no money. Having helped out on one of these ages ago, I can tell you it's very very difficult for the average citizen to run for these things and be able to get anyone to know their name, much less win, because the cost is so high, especially if you use dead tree mail. So why do people run for this thing again?

Continue reading "What Is A DCCC? Why Are You Voting For it in the June Primary? And Why Am I Writing In Myself? " »

May 15, 2010

Let's Do Write Ins For The Non-Challenged Incumbents in June!

Oh, June Democratic Primary Ballot. You are, in fact, the worst primary ballot yet, and I've been voting in these things for far too long. At the top of the ticket is a yawn-fest (if some crackpot no name actually beats Gov. Brown in the primary, I'll buy everyone that reads this column a beer), in the middle an "evil of two lessers" choice (nominees for Attorney General), and at the bottom, a confusing battle locally for people who actually want to serve on the San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee (a job that pays nothing, sucks up your time, and drives you mad).

What to do, what to do?

Here's what I'm doing - my time-honored tradition of using my mail ballot as a taxpayer funded coloring book. Now, far be it from me to trivialize voting in the World's Greatest Democracy, but when so many of these things have been pre-ordained, I think it's time for some Write In Candidate Fun.

This is nothing new - when San Francisco instituted its IRV/RCV/WTF/OMG/FML voting system, it was reduced to a joke since so often, incumbents were unopposed for re-election. Despite the fact we were promised it'd make it easier for no-names to beat the Big Kids, nothing changed, so I took the liberty of making those poll workers work, by counting my write in ballots, more than once.

This time, I propose something different. Many, many incumbent legislators are on the ballot in the primary who have no opposition, so there's no risk if you decide to say "Frak It" and write in the name of someone else. It's not like we dislike people like Fiona Ma, Tom Ammiano, or Leland Yee, but they're going to win with 99.99% of the vote in the primary, AND win re-election in the fall. So why not write in someone for those spots, and have some fun with it?

I have no delusions that out of such an exercise we're going to read in our Google Readers the day after the election that Fiona Ma has been ousted, via write-in votes by Rory B. Bellows or some other crazy thing. So go for it, and post in the comments who you wrote in for what.

PS: Of course, the idea that taxpayers are paying for an election that is for the nomination of candidates by party is nonsense - there's no reason at all we need to waste tax dollars on this. Party nominees should be made by members of that party, be it by convention, private vote, or whatever, but this idea that the government has to sponsor such contests is ludicrous.

April 13, 2010

Let's Freak Out About Politics As Usual With Chris Kelly And Kamala Harris!

scream.pngIn less than two months, voters will be headed to the polls for primary elections for Democrats, Republicans, et al. If you weren't aware of this, or hadn't put much thought into it don't feel bad - most people aren't doing so either.Turnout is likely to be low, because it's a battle of no-names for most races, and the top of the ticket has a presumptive Democratic nominee (minus any actual campaign). So, the drama filters downward.

For some reason, many termed out legislators, a rich dude, and the DA from San Francisco have crowded the field for Attorney General - at last count I saw 6 on the Democratic side alone. Many voters are undecided, since no one candidate is particularly well known outside their hometown/district. Harris is the presumptive "front runner," but most voters are undecided. Ironically, a poll early this year indicated that the top choice for Democratic primary voters was a candidate who wasn't even running for the job. Ouch.

In a crowded race, it's expected that candidates are going to pump themselves up as much as possible, and rip on their opponents to win. So it should have been no surprise when Chris Kelly, a wealthy attorney, noob to electoral politics, and former bigwig at Facebook, made the call to unleash the political Krakken, with online advertising and more against presumptive front runner Harris' record as District Attorney of San Francisco. This is pretty much politics as usual. Nasty, annoying, yes. Unexpected? No! (Remember that ugly race between Westly and Angelides in the 2006 primary? Wait, you forget about trivial, annoying BS? Good for you - you're saner than I then.)

Apparently no one told Kamala Harris' campaign that, unlike an uncontested race in Safe San Francisco, an open Democratic primary can quickly become an unruly brawl. Thus, the Harris campaign responded to the online ad buy and the YouTube video by losing their collective sh*t, and using weasel words to attack the concept of online advertising. In particular, you can tell they just loved using the phrase "...in his new video, which the "privacy expert" Kelly has undoubtedly expertly placed on your Facebook homepage, Google searches, email inbox, or all three in recent days..."

In other words, be very very scared of the Big Bad Man Who Bought Google Ads and Snuck Into Your Computer at Night and Placed them. BE SCARED! BE OH SO SCARED OF THE SERIES OF TUBES!!!!

GIve me a fucking break. Either the Harris campaign has no clue how Google ads work (!) or more likely, are just using weasel words to create some weird impression of Kelly - ironically what they accuse Kelly of doing. Oh, by the way, the Harris campaign has placed Google ads too. OH TEH HORRORS!

They follow it up by bragging about how many Facebook Fans they have. Really? I think I read about this in Who Cares Magazine. (I've written about why this metric can be total BS, go read it, it's funnier than this post).

Like it or not politics in 2010 are going to be nasty. Every candidate has a record that will get examined in fine detail by the media and their opponents. Ms. Harris is no exception to the rule and neither are the other 5 candidates. Plus, if she can't handle a mild attack like this, how in the heck is she going to fare against the Republican onslaught in the fall if she's nominated, when they will not have any problems calling her Satan's Choice for DA and throw the kitchen sink (and parts of her record) at her?

Personally, I've not heard one candidate actually talk about any issues that would have any bearing on things you or I might actually be concerned about. Instead I've received many e-begging emails asking me to find more friends for them on Facebook. Having a candidate act like an emotionally needy teen doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence that they know what they're doing, which is why I might just leave this part blank when I go "vote" in June.

March 17, 2010

John Cusack for Governor 2010? Sure, Why Not?

Say+Anything+001+resized.jpgNow, calm down and bear with me here. I'm not entirely kidding. Here's why.

There's no denying that after 7 years of mismanagement by Governor Doofinator, the 2/3rds rule and an array of inexperienced or corporatized "Democrats" in Sacramento, combined with endless bullsh*t "ballot measures," we need a change at the top.

But right now our choices are limited to "eMeg," another vain billionaire who has no idea how government works, and AG/Former Governor Jerry Brown, who is smart, knowledgeable, but has chosen to run a campaign so low-profile, no one knows he's running, and is likely to lose, especially with the Democratic base divided over "President" Obama's performance, and a GOP who's willing to cater to the batshit insane to reclaim power.

Now, my scenario here was a bit more relevant in January, when I came up with it, but I figured I'd put it out now, on the eve of the California Democratic Convention, since I'm worried we're going to have a new level of arrogant stupidity invade the Capitol. So for your consideration, I wonder if perhaps Democrats run John Cusack* for Governor in 2010.

I came up with this for several reasons. While Brown was able to dispatch the inept and expensive "Newsom for Governor" campaign in 2009 by raising money and spending little, that approach does not work in early 2010, which is what the campaign chose to do.

Up against a crazy billionaire, though, at this late date, it isn't working anymore. Now, we have the prospect of a candidate who has no challenge in the primary coasting, but not building a statewide network to fight this craziness. The "kitchen table" approach won't cut it this time around. Brown has name ID amongst older voters, but he doesn't necessarily have an image or name ID with many new voters, nor does he have a mechanism to do that. (And sorry, but f*cking Facebook doesn't count)

More to the point, we can't afford another vanity governor who will do more damage to the state, and who's willing to lie to get the job. And while I note the irony of replacing one Hollywood candidate with another, I've been reading Cusack's articles and interviews for some time now, and he's a very bright, very engaged person, not amongst your typical arrogant Hollywood liberal who drives around in a Prius but does so for just for show. And, his career hasn't had the post 80s drop off that others of his generation have had - he's still fairly well known amongst voters of all ages. (and it's not like similar ideas haven't popped up before!)

Admittedly this is all a bit wild - but the fact is if either Cusack, or any Democratic candidate could have easily upset Brown if they'd just had the courage to step up for both the Party, and more importantly, the improvement of the State of California. Brown would have been caught flat-footed, and people would have had a chance to make a real choice in June.

Of course, Mr. Cusack has better things to do than waste his time working with an incompetent, lying state government. It's too bad that more people that know this to be the case never bothered to even try. But cowardice in the Democratic party starts at the top, with a President who is always willing to sell out his own party for the sake of keeping the people who hate him happy, and it continues on down to an array of California politicians who don't seem to know, or care, how to make this state great again.

Unfortunately, we all lose in the end.

* I also propose Mr. Cusack because he just seems cooler than most "stars" but Hell, it could be anyone (politician, star, or otherwise) with a little cash and some name ID who isn't a moron (because voters are too stupid to read up on this on their own) to do what Arnold could have done, but failed to do - cut the crap and rally people to a reform agenda. The trick is whoever this magic person is would have to surround themselves with good people - something again in short supply in politics!

February 25, 2010

OUCH! Former Newsom Campaign Manager Garry South Issues Scathing E-Blast On...Gavin Newsom?


That's all I could think of when I was sent this email from Garry South, the chief strategist of the Hahn for Lt. Governor campaign, who also happens to be a former advisor to the now defunct Newsom for Governor campaign. Newsom, as you may know, might actually run for LG after all, and the fact one of his former advisors is working for another candidate? Well one had to wonder if that was going to end in tears or not.

Today, the following communique was issued by Mr. South. Upon reading it, all I could think of was just how much of a knockdown dragout fight this race could be. Read on:




I am surprised and perplexed that my friend and former client Mayor Gavin Newsom apparently has decided to jump into the lieutenant governor's race at the last minute - especially against an already-announced candidate who would be the first woman lieutenant governor in California history.

In every one of several conversations we had about the job while he was running for governor, the Mayor expressed nothing but disinterest in and disdain for the office of lieutenant governor. In fact, he was derisively dismissive of Gray Davis's decision to run for and serve as lieutenant governor prior to running for governor ("I'm not a Gray Davis," he said). On a couple of occasions, he directed me to repudiate publicly in the strongest terms that he had any interest in ever running for lieutenant governor.

The Mayor himself told the Chronicle in October that rumors he may run for lieutenant governor were "absurd" and "a complete lie," and angrily accused Jerry Brown of personally spreading false information to that effect. As recently as December, he himself said flatly "no" when asked directly on a San Francisco radio show whether he intended to run for lieutenant governor.

In addition, when he precipitously pulled out of the governor's race in late October - against my advice - he said he couldn't continue as a statewide candidate because he was a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So far as I know, he's still a husband, a new father and the mayor of San Francisco. So it's pretty hard to see what's changed over the last four months that would now allow him to run for another statewide office.

If the Mayor does run, it is his responsibility to explain why he now claims to want an elected office he summarily dismissed publicly numerous times over the last several months, and which just earlier this year he called "a largely ceremonial post" … "with no real authority and no real portfolio."

I've got to wonder why Mayor Newsom would want to subject himself to a statewide race against some of his own people, who seem quite willing to take out the blowtorch and pliers and go to work on the Mayor over here. I sure as Hell wouldn't want to go through that, and I can't imagine why Newsom would either. Even if he won the primary, he'd come out of it with enough damage that it might make the LG in reach for the Republicans in November since everything's kind of up in the air now.

Bring on the pain, Democrats!

January 21, 2010

I Wish I'd Posted My Prediction on the Massachusetts Senate Race...

Lessons for bloggers: don't hold back on unpopular predictions, lest you end up being right. A few weeks ago I predicted that Martha Coakley would lose the US Senate special election in Massachusetts. Every single time I brought this up, my Democratic friends would look at me like a heretic and proceed to rattle of something they read on "Daily Kos" about why I was wrong and that speaking such heresy meant I was going to Hell. And yet, none of their reasons had anything to do with actual facts or history. So here was my reasoning, and why liberal bloggers sometimes have their heads in the sand:

-Martha Coakley's campaign was spectacularly poor. She didn't campaign like she should have, once she got the Democratic nomination. If part of life is showing up, in campaigns, it is everything. By basically assuming she'd win by default, she made the classic mistake that allowed the other candidate to define the race. She also made several verbal gaffes that amplified her seeming disdain for talking to actual voters.

-Her campaign was run almost exclusively by DC based political people, and veteran campaign consultants and workers were sidelined by the Geniuses from DC. Another sign of something Really Bad. Pushing aside the people who know the state in favor of generic strategies based on abstract polling data and focus groups doesn't work well. Plus, there are a lot of rings that need to be kissed in Massachusetts politics, and you don't necessarily know which ones those are if you're relying on whiz kids from DC.

-Massachusetts is not 100% Communist Leftist Whatever. Massachusetts has elected Republicans as Governor exclusively since 1990, and it was only in 2006, when Deval Patrick won, that the cycle broke. Also, remember that Ted Kennedy himself came dangerously close to losing his re-election in 1994 against Mitt Romney (!), and it took a Herculean effort of money and resource to ensure his re-election. Had it not been for some extremely poor choices of words by Romney, and a recognition that Kennedy was in trouble in time to do something about it, he might have well lost. Remember, in 1994, the Speaker of the US House lost his bid for re-election that year.

-President Obama is an easy target. People know right now they can call him names, they can use code words for the "n-word," and they can call him a liar in front of the entire country, and nothing will happen. Obama's obsession with getting the acceptance of people who quite literally, do not think he's a legitimate holder of the office, and who will say or do anything to tear him down, is his ultimate weakness.

No one fears President Obama if they cross him, so they rip him a new one on any big or little thing (remember that bullshit crying spasm the righties had about his choice of mustard? WTF?). So of course they're going to prop up some dude in Massachusetts and make 41 the new majority number for a Senate of 100. (Wait, what?)

There's no reason why Obama and Democratic office seekers can't turn this around, but it isn't likely they will. Running around and "re thinking" and "re framing" are popular pastimes of bloggers, party insiders, and the endless amount of "staff" of officeholders, and while they're talking and bitching, the other side wants to kick their asses. Until they decide they're going to respond in kind, they will continue to get their asses kicked.

The sad part is the other side has nothing of substance to offer beyond blind rage. When we had them in charge of Everything (President, Senate, House, SCOTUS), the best they could come up with was Tom DeLay/Jack Abramhoff style corruption, a war without end, and endless trillions added to the deficit, and a bubble economy that just blew up on us. But we don't think about that anymore, right?

PS: Oh, and one other thing: despite what the folks Outside of California assume about our Golden State, California is not 1000% Communist either. Look at the history of statewide initiatives and elections starting in 1982, and see just how well "lefties" do. Barbara Boxer has always had to run a tough race, and the Democratic hold on statewide offices has NEVER been absolute, ever.

The fact the California State Democratic Party acts like it IS 1000% Democrat is well, I suppose good news for Republicans?

PPS: Jack Donaghy is one of my all time favorite characters on TV. F*ck yeah, Jack!

April 24, 2009

Twittering The California Democratic Convention

What few readers out there that still read this blog may recall we launched this blog at the CDP Convention in 2006 in Sacramento. I'm up here now mostly for my day job, but I'm also posting Twitter updates, which can be found at my Twitter page. In fact I'm at the "Jerry Brown 2010 Social Networking" booth with the Governor as I post this.

I'll be tagging tweets with #cdp09 for easy searching, too! Thanks for following!

October 28, 2008

Yes He Could: GOP Sen. John McCain Speaks At ACORN Rally in Miami, 2006! No, really

I can't make this stuff up...apparently GOP Senator John McCain was a featured speaker at a (gasp!) ACORN organized rally with (gasp!) unions and (double gasp!) IMMIGRANT'S RIGHTS people! ZOMG!

I did not believe it until I saw this:

Then this:

and this:

Note to McCain campaign: when living in glass houses (all seven of them), ya might not wanna throw ACORNS....

July 22, 2008

Misc. Reasons I'm GLAD I'm Going to Nerdvana This Week...

Tonight I depart for San Diego, where I, and 149,999 of my nerd brothers and sisters will be gathering for San Diego Comic-Con. Three times the size of Burning Man, with celebrities and air conditioning (but with folks in costume, like BM), it should be fun.

However, taking a look at what's up this week, I'm kinda glad I'll be out of town. True, I'll miss this cool Obama Art Show on Thursday, but here's what else I'll get to avoid:

-Everyone's Favorite Bully, Chris Daly, and his many fatwas issued to anyone who dares oppose him as the "de facto" leader of so-called "progressives" on the DCCC (that's the Democratic County Central Committee for those of you who don't follow such minutiae).

Since the takeover of the DCCC by elected officials, the same politics of pettiness, bitterness and attack of City Hall has now infected the DCCC. They're having some big meeting this week to decide this non-matter. Somehow, all this bullsnot is supposed to be an improvement over regular citizens running the DCCC. What-ever

Funny how the people who claim to be "progressive" and open are the ones making threats, taking power away from us citizens, spamming my inbox (that's you, Mr. Daly!), and issuing fatwas, and not The People They Oppose. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn't it?

-The Mayor's wedding. Hey, lucky guy, marrying an attractive actress (if you haven't seen her in Life, you're really missing something), whatever, but I ain't going and I'll read about it in People Magazine, or even better, at Beth's awesome blog.

Besides, the Mayor's a cool guy and all, but he's no Christian Bale aka Batman. Or is it the other way around? I dunno. Anyway, best wishes, Mr. Mayor, but I shall be hanging with the Cool Kids from Battlestar Galactica and the Fox Network.

-MUNI failwhales to come. The reason a MUNI blog writes itself most days, and I'm sure Something Big will happen when I'm away (it usualy does). Instead I'll be enjoying the convenience of San Diego's trolley line to take me to the convention every week.

Anyway, that is all. Have a fun week, keep enjoying our uniquely SF summer weather, and stay tuned for updates from the Convention floor at Galactica Sitrep, and will be posting pictures on Flickr here!

July 14, 2008

Attention 1960s Lefty BS'ers! NO ONE CARES What You Think! Obama's WAY Past Y'all...

Wanna know why I voted for Obama? It ain't whatcha think....

No really.

See, I voted for Obama as someone subjected to the inane bullsh*t that was 90's Liberalism On Campus (at UC Hippie Dipsh*t Santa Cruz no less!), that whole big basket of irrational PC bullsnot that was all about nonsense that made even the most liberally liberal wanna vote Republican, just to piss off the arrogant, lying, snotbags on campus.


So when I hear about Failure Ralph Nader (and his FAIL pal Matt Gonzalez) upset that apparently two whites can determine what a black man can say, or hear about Jesse Jetstream go on about how he's pissed that Obama thinks folks should act like responsible adults, well guess what?

I'm GLAD he's pissed these failure-eating morons off. I'm REALLY GLAD.

Because as he did in his speech on race, he said what was REALLY on people's minds. And more importantly, he said "hey guess what white people? you have legitimate greivances too, and you're not a bad person for saying so!"

More to the point, Barack Obama thinks it's time to get past all this crapola. Because India and China figured out how to, and are about to kick our butts if we're not careful. But Barack, being a true American, believes..."yes we can!"

Yes, we can Kick Ass on these folks if we choose to.

If....we choose.

June 9, 2008

DNC Chair Howard Dean is in Millbrae on Friday, the 13th. Discuss.

This might be interesting: Dr. Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee is in town on Friday the 13th (!) for an executive board meeting of the state's party. The folks at Calitics cover this in WAY more depth than I.

It was only 3 years ago that Dr. Dean was running for Chair of the Party, and there were all sorts of dire warnings if he won. Three years later, and Dean's plan to actually work in all 50 states has paid off somewhat. And much of the internet/grassroots organizing of Dean evolved into what would later become Sen. Obama's campaign.

If you're a registered Democrat and want to stop by the proceedings, you can stop by the Westin SFO, located at 1 Old Bayshore Highway, in Millbrae, just off of 101, and not too far from the BART/Caltrain station. They ask for a $20 donation if you're not an e-board member, but remember, that's just what they ask. Unless you're doing something really outlandish, they don't mind Democrats watching the oh-so-thrilling proceedings.

June 1, 2008

News Flash: Obama Ran A Better Campaign....

While the conspiracy theorists and primal screamers come up with all sorts of hot air as to why Sen. Clinton's campaign, despite all its money, high priced consultants and insiders, is losing, there's a great story in the AP today that describes how Obama's campaign won, mostly by taking the time to understand the arcane rules of the Party nomination process. Then they took the time to (gasp!) organize in those districts. Shocking!

While Clinton's camp spent most of 2007 raising money from wealthy donors and telling everyone "it's inevitable," Obama's camp spent their time paying attention to the myriad of rules developed in the 70s and 80s. It helped, of course, that the Democratic party does not award delegates on a "winner take all" basis. It also helped that Obama had the money to put together a field operation, thanks to the ease at which he could solicit small and medium (and some large) donors, primarily online.

But more importantly, the Obama folks never conceded a state, no matter how well Hillary was doing, while Hillary's people wrote off entire sections of the country to Obama. The era of focusing on a few big, or "swing" states is over, and whoever wins in November, Democrat or Republican, will have to run a more expansive campaign than in the past.

May 23, 2008

Oh No She Didn't: Latest Hillary Hyperbole Invokes Kennedy Assassination!

Sen. Clinton continues to make the case that a) her campaign is over and b) she just doesn't have the temperament to be president when things don't go entirely her way. (Mind you, we have many qualified women who can be president who do possess the intellect and judgment to be president, they're just not running this year. Which is unfortunate).

Lately, she's been prone to comparing her (broke as Hell) campaign to things like the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, Rwanda, Zimbabwe (you know where all those people died) and so on. Today, she hit a new low, the same week we learned of Sen. Ted Kennedy's brain tumor, when she cited the assassination of Robert Kennedy in California as a reason her campaign should go on.

No, really. In addition to all the other tacky statements she's made, in addtion to the virulent racism of her supporters like Geraldine Ferraro, in addition to race baiting, she said that.

This week.

The same week we heard about Ted Kennedy's tumor.

A few weeks from the 40th Anniversary of Bobby's assassination.

Hillary for President? Hell no. She's no longer some sort of bold leader of whatever. She is behaving like a psycho ex girlfriend, but this time she wants her finger on the nuclear button.

Continue reading "Oh No She Didn't: Latest Hillary Hyperbole Invokes Kennedy Assassination!" »

May 14, 2008

When Did Anyone Ever Expect to Read the Words "Hillary Clinton" and "Longshot Campaign" in the Same Sentence?

Whilst reading the breaking news that John Edwards finally endorse Barack Obama (AFTER the North Carolina primary), I have to say I was more than a bit surprised to read this:

Democrat John Edwards is endorsing former rival Barack Obama, fresh signs of the party establishment embracing the likely nominee even as Hillary Rodham Clinton refuses to give up her long-shot candidacy.

Now, mind you, I was never one to simply assume Mrs. Clinton had this thing pwned from the beginning, but many other people did, and made their choices as appropriate. Now, Bill and Hillary are personally in debt, have $20 million in general election campaign money they can't spend, and have pulled out all the stops to block Barry, all to no avail. Up against a guy who most people hadn't even heard of just a few years ago.

Go figure. That's almost as baffling as the state Senate incumbent with a warchest full of cash and an array of Sacramento insiders running the show, now running third in a three way race. Strange how a year changes things.

May 1, 2008

News Flash: Obama Endorsed By Conservative Democrats Nunn and Boren? Um, Woah! UPDATED: Joe Andrew's Letter For Obama!

While the drones in the Media focuses on things that make for good "stories," (but don't cover "issues) we've missed a pretty big milestone in the race for President by Barry Obama:

Former Senator David Boren (D-OK), former Senaor Sam Nunn (D-GA) and former Democratic Party Chairman Joe Andrew (D-IN ) all endorsed........Sen. Barack Obama.

No kidding.

Folks, this is real news. Sens. Boren and Nunn are not hippie lefty latte-sippers hanging with the trustafarians in the Mission. These guys are serious conservative Democrats and have decided to sign in with Sen. Obama. Joe Andrew is also definitely not some wild-eyed Communist, and his endorsement is fairly important as well, on the eve of the Indiana primary.

Even in the midst of all this nonsense about some pastor, or some bowling ball, or whatever, even when the media chooses to ignore Really Big Problems like the recession, decline of the dollar, and the war in Iraq, these guys chose to support Obama.


Continue reading "News Flash: Obama Endorsed By Conservative Democrats Nunn and Boren? Um, Woah! UPDATED: Joe Andrew's Letter For Obama!" »

April 19, 2008

Sen. Obama Puts Clintonian/McCain-ian BS "On Notice!"

You have to admire how these guys can find away around the silly bullcrap that passes for "running for president" from the establishment types....how rad is this?

Of course, I've been no stranger to the On Notice Board on the More Popular Blog...

And, just for laughs, here's a video that seems to indicate that perhaps there's a virus that infects the Clintons when it comes to straight talk. I keep forgetting that this kind of nonsense is somehow better than the liar we have in office NOW:

April 11, 2008

Fear and Loathing At the "Delegate Selection Caucuses"

Remember that zany primary we held a few months ago for the Democratic presidential nomination? Yeah, that one. You probably thought "I voted and that's that" but you'd be incorrect. Now comes the arduous task of selecting the actual delegates who will go to the convention in Denver and actually vote for Clinton or Obama.

These seemingly dull events can get quite heated, as people this time rillyrillyrilly wanna go to the convention as an Obama or Clinton delegate and more people are involved than ever before on both campaigns.

I've been getting all sorts of pleas from folks to vote for them on Sunday - but I can't vote for 'em as I do not live in Rep. Nancy Pelosi's district, I live in Rep. Speier's district (CD12). So while I can send 'em my good wishes, and hope that the delegate slate isn't dominated by politicians, I can't help 'em out here in SF. Both campaigns are using union halls for their respective gang initiation rites (Clinton is at the Plumber's Union on Market Street, while Obama's is at the SEIU office. Both are easy to get to, and find.

However, those of us in the 12th Congressional District have two rather odd/interesting choices, as the district stretches from western SF all the way through San Mateo County. The end results were a bit interesting, mostly to Peninsula natives such as myself. So let's run down the pros, cons and the wtfs? of each locale....because you really would rather be reading this than working on this sunny Friday, right?

Continue reading "Fear and Loathing At the "Delegate Selection Caucuses"" »

April 10, 2008

This Is Why We Elected Jackie Speier: Taking on the GOP On Her First Day In Office!

This is why we elected Rep. Jackie Speier to Congress this week.

Within moments of being sworn in, Rep. Speier was not afraid to start telling the folks in DC what most Americans believe - it's time to leave Iraq. For her efforts she got booed by the GOP do-nothings, who want endless war, but of course, don't believe in actually fighting the wars themselves.

Notably, Rep. Darrel Issa (R- Syria) stormed out of the chamber. You may not remember this sorry excuse for a Congressman - but he's the guy who openly attacks those who worked rescue on 9/11 in NYC, over and over and over again.

But it's easy to see why Rep. Issa is confused. He loves cozying up to murderous dictators like Assad of Syria, but he doesn't seem to like Americans who defended this country against Al-Qaeda. Maybe he should move to Syria if he likes it so much over there.

If Rep. Speier's truth-telling can drum a nimrod like him out of the House, well then that's a 2-fer as far as I'm concerned. Go Jackie!

Calitics beat me to the punch by mere minutes, but it's a fine post, go check it out!

April 8, 2008

Basil Fawlty Offers to Help Obama: Obama Announces Formation of Dept. Of Silly Walks....Coincidence?

File this in the no-you-can't-make-stuff-up-like-this file: It seems that legendary actor and writer John Cleese, he of the Monty Python/Fawlty Towers fame, has offered to help Barack Obama's presidential speechwriting efforts should he become the nominee this summer.

I really don't know what to say....if I'd made something like this up, it wouldn't even come close to being as teh awesome as this...does this mean a Department of Silly Walks is in the Obama cabinet in 2009?

PS: Don't forget to vote for Jackie Speier today if you live in the 12th CD. If you're not sure where you vote, follow this link and find your polling place.

Remember, if enough of us vote, we can send Jackie to Congress immediately. If we don't, we have to listen to the inane prattling of the Green Party and an assortment of no-names who will lose anyway - but we won't have Jackie in Congress fighting for us on critical issues facing the House. So go vote!

April 6, 2008

Yes, San Franciscans, There IS an Election on April 8th! Vote for Jackie!

Many people don't realize that there's an honest to goodness Special Election on April 8th. There's been some campaign activity, to be sure, but even with all the nice pieces of mail from the Elections Department, et al, it's easy to forget. Heck, I forgot to apply for an absentee ballot this time around, and now have to go vote in person!

As I noted on my way more popular blog on all things MUNI, right now we don't have anyone in Congress representing the 12th CD (which includes part of San Francisco and San Mateo County) due to the death of longtime Rep. Tom Lantos. Now, if 50%+1 of the good people of the 12th CD vote for Jackie Speier, we can send her to Congress immediately (she doesn't have to pass "GO" and doesn't need to collect $200), and we can have one of the most effective members of the Legislature (yes, we've had a few and she was one of them) be representing us on some pretty important issues right now.

If, however, we don't vote, and she doesn't make the threshold, there'll be a "Special General" election, that will coincide with the June Primary. However, she'll win that one for sure, but we will not have anyone in Congress representing us. Besides, put it to you another way - how many of the current crop of candidates kicked ass on privacy issues and have a train named after them? Hint: Just one, and isn't some hippie-dippie Green candidate.

Today (Sunday, April 6th) there's an event for Jackie at the Machinists Hall down in Burlingame. For a mere $10 donation, you can enjoy a fine spaghetti dinner and meet the candidate and her many supporters. It's an easy commute for those of you in San Francisco - you can take BART or Caltrain to Millbrae, and walk a few blocks to the union hall.

Whatever you do today, be sure to vote on April 8th! We can all talk big in San Francisco, but now it's time to do something about all that big talk, and send an effective legislator to Congress who can shake things up. Go Jackie!

March 28, 2008

Blogger Coverage of the California Democratic Convention This Weekend

Normally, I'd be headed to a state Democratic Convention in Northern California, because just as artistic folks go to Burning Man, and my comics/anime/film friends go to Comic-Con, folks like me go to these things because you can get your political geek on, in the company of friends and strangers and not feel weird.

In fact, when I re-launched my blog in 2006 I did so armed with a press pass at the CDP convention, which was rather fun (and cheap - Sacramento affords many hotel deals, it seems) and went to the 2003 and 2004 conventions as well

This time around, I didn't think I was going to be in town this weekend so I didn't make any plans, but had a trip pushed back at the last minute. By then, any decent rates on hotels were not to be found, and I couldn't get a press pass in time. Ah well. Probably for the best, as I have tons of other work to do, both for work and for my 15 minutes of Internet fame thanks to the awesome folks at io9.com. (Note to self: never allow yourself to be filmed unless you're dressed to impress, you never know where that video might end up, along with your improv skillz).

However, if you're looking for blogger coverage, fret not, for many of San Francisco's "A-List" Bloggers&trade will be on the case. The gang from Calitics.com will be there, as will Sweet Melissa and Beth Spotswood, and plenty of others (whom I'll add to the list as I discover 'em online). The party itself will stream live video at their site, but as we all know the real fun and drama goes on in the many caucuses, after hours parties, and whatnot at these things.

The funniest thing about this convention is the lack of drama in the Presidential race since we had this stupid idea that moving our primary "ahead" would make us more "relevant" and whatnot. Oddly enough, if California had simply kept all its primaries in June as God and Man Intended, California would literally be the king-maker in the race as one of the last primaries with a sizeable cache of delegates, super or not.

As it stands, most of the drama will be in races for state Assembly and Senate where term limits have created open seats, and of course there's the Migden/Leno/Nation drama-fest as well. Not nearly as much fun as having a host of presidential show up at your convention, but for us Political Nerds it'll be fun.

Or something.

March 25, 2008

Spontaneous Barack Obama Media, Part 42.....AKA Insiderism 0, Real Ad People 1

So, um, yeah, like these folks like....Barack Obama!

Truth be told...would some insider consultant have come up with something that resonates with,um, pop culture?

Of course not. Most political consultants disdain pop culture and the zeitgeist because the are so f*cking smart. Too bad in San Francisco and elsewhere they get paid to fail....all beause they ignore, well, reality and that cultural reality that we live in.

Oh Hai!

March 14, 2008

Clinton Nostalgia, the 1993 DNC Annual Report And How Things Have (Sorta) Changed....



Hoarding gets such a bad rap these days. I mean, sure, if you hoard every edition of the newspaper for 50 years along with your 20 cats and assorted random bottlecaps, that could be cause for alarm (or at least a fire hazard). But in politics, saving all those assorted pieces of detritus seem like a pile of junk in the present, but become oddly helpful in recollecting days of old later on.

Today's nostalgia trip is the "DNC Annual Report," of which I've scanned in two pages. The first is the cover with President Bill and Vice President Al, and everyone was aglow over the fact that Old Man Bush had been sent packing, and new Members of Congress, like Sens. Boxer & Feinstein and many more, were now in office. "Change" it seems, was in the air. National Health Care was on the way, thanks to Co-President Hillary, and Democrats, it seemed would be in the drivers seat for some time.

Well we all know how that worked out. 1994 anyone? Speaker Newt? Majority Leader Dole. Senator Santorum?!?

But today I would like to focus on one piece of the "DNC Annual Report" - the section that talks about the DNC "grassroots campaign" to support the "Health Care Plan" for Presidents Clinton and Clinton. If you don't remember any of this, don't worry - that's because in the pre-Internet, pre-blog, political world, efforts like this cost a fortune and didn't really do so great, no matter how hard people tried.

When the cost of disseminating information and organizing people nationally is high and is led from the "top" down, the chances of igniting a movement to change something as big as the health care system is really difficult. Entrenched interests fought back with those f*cking "Harry and Louise" ads, and well, the rest is history (often revised, Soviet-style on the campaign trail, it seems).

Today, however, there are many ways for people to talk amongst themselves, and link up with like-minded folks around the country (and world), rather easily. Movements can take a life of their own, and evolve (as MoveOn did from the late 90s) and today, we have the prospect of a presidential candidate who is able to be competitive with a well-financed, Washington insider because he can activate over a million active donors (most of whom are giving in small amounts.)

It's interesting to see how much has changed in technology, communications, and organizing in the last 15 years. It's also interesting to see how little has changed in the mentality of the well-paid pundit and consulting class in Washington DC who seem to know how to make lots of money, but not how to get anything done. They do know, however, how to complain and whine about "blogs and the internet" and urge a nostalgia for something that never really existed. Funny, that.

March 2, 2008

For All Those Who Still Have Some Need for Clintonian Nostalgia...Bill for Prez 1991!


I was going through some old files this evening and found one of my many stashes of direct mail I've kept over the years for various reasons. Somehow, in all the moving and whatnot over the years, this piece, from the first Clinton campaign in 1991-1992 got misfiled in a batch of 2003 SF Mayoral mail (!) which I was looking up because...well, you know.

Anyway, click on the images for a larger version of the covers and the inside spread. You can tell this is probably one of the first brochures the campaign made, most likely in 1991 when Clinton's campaign began, but before James Carville and Paul Begala joined the campaign (in 1991 they were busy winning an impossible bid for US Senate for Harris Wofford).

Design notes, and a clip from "Mad Men" after the jump! Read on!

Continue reading "For All Those Who Still Have Some Need for Clintonian Nostalgia...Bill for Prez 1991!" »

February 26, 2008

Give to Barry Obama, Get An Awesome Limited Edition Shirt!

I wish I hadn't given to Barack Obama's campaign last night - I wish I'd done so today instead. That's because you'll get a limited edition T Shirt that celebrates the fact that they are just a few thousand folks away from having ONE MILLION donors to the campaign.

One million people giving everything from a dollar to 2,300. That's stunning.

It's not just about the money, either - people who give once to a campaign will inevitably give again, and they're more likely to come out and volunteer as well.

Obama didn't need government cheese for his campaign (like McCain took) and he didn't need fancy gimmicks to compete against Bill and Hillary's made-for-the-90s political machine. Instead he's built what people are calling the first successful viral-marketing political campaign, which combines grass-roots organizing with the technology to easily activate and inform a huge base of support.

Meanwhile, the best Hillary Clinton can do is an angry, whining, negative campaign, all the while she continues to slip in the polls. I don't know that is going to be particularly successful - after all, people are kind of tired of the ephemeral bullsh*t in American politics we've grown accustomed to over the past 10 years. But who knows? Maybe if she screams and yells and kicks and claws and attacks and gets as shrill as possible, she'll win.

Whatever. Obama's got a million folks watching his back, and they're not going to be swayed by 1990s style attack ads. After all, they gave some of their hard earned money to the campaign, and they're gonna see it through to the end.

PS: For some added fun, check out this story that details HOW the campaigns are spending their money. It's pretty dramatic...if you give to Hillary Clinton, it's most likely your money will go to well paid staff and consultants (including one that's business partners with...McCain's manager!) and overhead. Obama's campaign puts more of its money into, um, campaigning, and has way more cash on hand for emergencies. KTHXBAI.

February 24, 2008

Epic FAIL: Nader's Running (again) But Local Greens Are With...Barack Obama!

So it looks like Ralph Nader's running for President again, and we're supposed to be worried or something, but I'm not.

True, I'm no fan of this charlatan. On my old blog, I wrote about his extreme dishonesty, and overall lack of ethics, and for a while got a bump on Google Searches. This time around, however, I think it's pretty obvious his time has passed, and he's so out of touch, his reasons for running just don't add up.

My favorite line today was the one about "people being disenchanted with Democrats and Republicans." Eeeyeahh. Funny thing though: Barack Obama is about to hit the one million donor mark (something Nader's greedy hands would love to have but won't because he sucks), and turnout in Democratic primaries have set new records, and blown doors off the turnout in the GOP primaries.

But the most telling sign of the total epic FAIL of Nader has been the response of local Green Party elected members to Nader the Liar. Green Party Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, Green Party College Board Member John Rizzo, and Green Party School Board Member Jane Kim have all come out in force for Barack Obama. Non-Greeen "Progressives" like Supervisors Daly and Peskin also support Obama. Hell, the Bay Guardian, usually the only refuge for disaster candidacies like Kucinich or Nader, endorsed Obama.

It says a lot when the folks who should be on board a supposedly great cause like Nader's bullsh*t are instead working for a candidate who's succeeding in ways Nader could never imagine. (Then again it shouldn't be a total surprise - Nader refused to campaign for Green poster-boy Matt Gonzalez in 2003, because, well, because Nader sucks.)

So let the fool run his little show. Every time he does this, he seems to invent new ways to screw up and fail, and every time he becomes less and less relevant to the national discourse. I can't wait for him to throw a tantrum about some f*cking debate, and get arrested for trespassing. If good people like those in Our Fair City have decided to tear up their tickets and say "no" to the Nader circus, I think most folks in America will be doing the same.

Trivia Time: Here's a piece of trivia that most of you might not be aware of (as you're probably concerned with things that matter, and I mean that in a good way): when Nader's spokesman ran for Senate, he got very little support for his bid, marred by problems and the fact that as Nader's spokesman he elevated lying to an art form. He did however get loud and enthusiastic support from someone new to our city: Cindy Sheehan! Apparently she didn't mind the lying and whatnot and threw her lot with Zeese. Very interesting!

January 31, 2008

Why John McCain Should Scare The Crap Out of Democrats....

The funny thing about living in San Francisco is that to the outside world, folks seem to assume this is some sort of Greenie Communist Disneyland, with abortions on demand at every corner, parades in honor of Lenin and Ho Chi Minh, and so on.

Even here in town, you have people that parachute in here, thinking that we're the capital of the left, and some of even carpetbag themselves into a Congressional run, thinking that they're in Liberal Lefty Nirvana.

Bzzt! Wrong again!

I say this because as we close in on a Mega Super Happy Fightingest Primary Ever, and Democratic voters try to decide Which Candidate to Vote For, something has been coming up, time and again in conversations I have with Real San Franciscans: a lot of people here will vote for McCain, mostly if Sen. Clinton is the nominee.

It's really weird. These are not discussions with political folk per se, these are chats with good people of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and whatnot who really live here, and it keeps coming down to something folks really want - after 8 years of the GW Wrecking Crew and 6 years of a GOP congress, this country not only needs a political colonic to flush out the toxins of the past, but also move forward and push aside the professional screamers and assorted idiots that poison politics and get sh*t done.

And for some reason, folks seem to think that Sen. Obama might be the kind of guy who can do such a thing, but they don't see Hillary (or is it Bill and Hillary) and the politics of the 90s being the way to go, and as such would bolt to McCain in a second.

Read that again. San Franciscans, who are alleged to be godless hippie Communists, will vote for John McCain, pro-life record or not.

Kinda freaky when you re-read it, huh?

And now the punchline - I'm not so sure I won't be one of them. I know full well the many many problems with McCain's past, many of his stands on issues are diamertically opposed to my own, and God, the thought of actually voting for a presidential candidate that is in the same party as President 28% and Vice President Vader still gives me the shakes.

At the same time, however, Sen. McCain has been one of the few Washington politicians who has stood up for a rational immigration policy (something of interest to my neighbors out here in the Sunset as well as folks on the east side of town).

And, unlike the Clintons in the 90s, McCain does not see Indian tribes as cash machines for political soft money donations, but instead has tried to force the inherently stupid Department of the Interior to settle the trust lawsuit that was filed to force the feds to admit they stole from millions of people for over 100 years. And up against a more Democratic Congress, a President McCain would be more likely to work with a Speaker Pelosi or a Majority Leader Reid, vs. say a President Guy Smiley (Romney).

Heresy, I know. But people are more concerned about just what kind of country we'll have, and want to see action, not more shenanigans. President Clinton II or President Romney is more of the same old bullsh*t.

At least with Sen. Obama we might have someone who could try and bring people together, and work with folks (and hopefully a Congress populated with more REAL Democrats to back up Our Speaker ).

But a lot of people are starting to think that if it's a McCain/Hillary contest, things could go bad, and if even us hippies in San Francisco are thinking about McCain as a legitimate choice, it's time to take a Clue Pill and try to not invent a new way to f*ck up what should be our chance to set things right.

UPDATE: Yet another reason Democrats should fear McCain. The famous button of the early 90's "Oh God PLEASE Not Another Republican" seems appropo.

(I won't deny that it doesn't hurt that Sen. McCain and Sen. Kennedy honored my cousin Helen, who passed away in 2006, honoring her tireless honesty, fairness, and trailblazing career as a woman journalist in DC. That said, it's not the ultimate reason, but in the interests of full disclosure bla bla bla, I thought I'd mention it.)

January 17, 2008

Obama Speaks At The Women's Building in SF - Quick Quick Quick Hit

Since I don't have my trusty Mac with me, and am using the infamous San Francisco Public Library's free computers, I can only do a quick post, sans photos. It was an interesting press event, with Sen. Obama talking to women about the challenges of making a living in the Bay Area, and some proposals he's come out with to try and mitigate the cost of living for people who work.

This was probably the only time I've ever heard a politician call BS on "tax breaks" as a primary means of providing relief to those who work, since many times they can't use the deductions on their taxes due to their income, while high income people can take the break. Sen. Obama suggested a break on payroll taxes for those who work (but don't make a zillion dollars) as a start. Not bad.

It was kind of interesting to see the media swarm (pics to be posted) which packed the crowded room at the Women's Building in the Mission. It was crowded, hot and yet there we all were, waiting for the Senator and taking pictures and notes at a furious pace. With only 19 days until the Mega Super Duper Big Primary to End All Primaries in A Whopping 20 states, it's difficult for any campaign, big or small, to reach all voters in all places, so it was kinda nice to see at Presidential candidate speaking in San Francisco, in the Mission, no less.

Luke Thomas took some excellent photos (as always because he's so talented) and they're so much better than mine, you should just go to his site and check 'em out.

More later...the clock is ticking on my time here at the SFPL, and I have to update my other blog, as we have Yet Another Tragedy on the N-Judah line.

This, the day after we read that more MUNI money is being siphoned off to pay more salaries in the Mayor's office, and a month after we heard that they gave the boss at MUNI a big pay raise. And all of this after we voted for a measure that was supposed to start MUNI reform - and immediately after the vote we get a string of accidents and deaths.

All I can say is...WTF?

PS: I had no idea that the "blogger lounge" at Macworld sponsored by Microsoft had free actual computers one could use (when I was here the other day I gave the lounge a quick scan and it looked like you had to bring a computer). Needless to say I wish I'd discovered this a few hours ago, and avoided the glares of the angry pervs who had to wait for their porn whilst I blogged about Sen. Obama.....

January 9, 2008

Obama's Supporters Rally in San Francisco 1/9: A Quick Review

As luck would have it, I was in the Civic Center around the time they were having a rally for Sen. Obama's supporters in Northern California, so I gave up my lunch break to go take some photos and videos. I think the close results in New Hampshire (that tiny state way out there) mean that we'll at least have some semblance of a "real" campaign by Democratic candidates, instead of a boring coronation for any one "inevitable" candidate.

On hand were a lot of local politicos, including DA Kamala Harris (who co-chairs the Obama Campaign in California), Supervisors Peskin, Daly, Dufty, and Maxwell, Public Defender Jeff Adachi, School Board reps Jane Kim and Eric Mar, and well, a whole lotta people, too many to fit in one quickie post (but I'll append it later when I have more time).

Former California Controller Steve Westly was the "MC" for the rally, and I've given him a hard time in the past for some of his policies and rather boring speaking style, but I have to say he did a great job and his speech was really good. You can view videos from the rally here on YouTube, and a few photos on Flickr.

Personally, I like Sen. Obama for the simple reason that he attracts a lot of enthusiastic people, and gets people involved in politics who may not have done so before. I really do not want to do a retread of the disastrous, establishment campaigns of the Kerry 2004 or Gore 2000 campaigns (Gore is awesome but his campaign in 2000 was a stinker), and I like the fact that so many local "progressives" have chosen Obama over some jackass the Greens or the Freak Show Party might have put up.

Most importantly, having him, Sen. Clinton, and Sen. Edwards battle it out and actually ask people for votes will make whoever wins the nomination a better candidate in the long run. Again, look back at how Kerry steamrolled the front-loaded primaries only to prove to be a joke candidate who managed to pull off a FAIL despite all of GW's problems. And, don't forget to buy your Adama for President shirts at my store, in the hopes that Admiral Adama might still get in the race!

July 9, 2007

Politics 101 for Cindy Sheehan: AKA Why I and Most San Franciscans Will Re-Elect Speaker Pelosi in a LANDSLIDE...

So some folks on those fancified blogs we keep hearing about are all atwiter about the "news" that activist Cindy Sheehan is going to relocate from her "undisclosed location" and deign to run for Congress in San Francisco. While the kids at "Daily Kos" are having a lovely time blogging this to death, if I were working for Nancy Pelosi, I would not be too concerned.

Remember, Ms. Sheehan herself said that she was through with anti-war activism in a much-publicized move, for various "reasons." Thus, when I read the news about her latest gig, I began to realize that Chris Nolan's analysis of Cindy Sheehan's morph into the Left's Cause Celebre was, well spot-on. When she started on this path and was the lone voice against the President, there was some accessibility and some good her protesting could have been doing. When she morphed into a celebrity, that sought out the likes of President Hugo Chavez, and had a high-powered PR firm guiding her moves, well, let's just say that her original point got lost in the cult of celebrity she sank into.

Whatever. All of this is irrelevant, anyway. Since Ms. Sheehan does not have much experience in San Francisco politics, she might want to take a look at the history of underfunded, unorganized, anti-establishment efforts in San Francisco, which usually end in tears.

She might also take special note at the fact that despite all the local gimmicks passed to "change" who runs and wins office, not a lot has changed, and we still tend to re-elect incumbents, no matter what they do, progressive or moderate, or whatever.

The outsiders that will descend on our town expecting to find Hippy Trippy Liberal Central will have a rude awakening when they see how much it costs to live here and how few jobs allow for copious hours of crazy crap during business hours.

If I have to choose between supporting an incumbent Speaker of the House, who has to lead a caucus of folks as diverse in views as they are in numbers, versus an outsider with a janey-one-note issue that will be moot in 2009, well, I'll vote for the Speaker any day of the week.

February 19, 2007

Odd Obama Email

Thanks to an emerging, front-loaded presidential primary season, we're going to get the ball rolling on Campaign 2008 a lot sooner than usual. That means people like me are going to soon be swamped by emails from every candidate, wannabe candidate, hangers-on desperately trying to stay relevant, and so on.

Today I got this odd little email from the Obama for President campaign. It's odd because a) I don't live anywhere close to Occidental College in Los Angeles, b) I don't attend college there, and c) I've never given my email address or any money to the Obama campaign (or any campaign so far). Plus, I wasn't aware college sign-making parties were something you alerted the media to.

Today, Obama is due to appear in San Francisco, the guest of Wade Randlett and his well-funded friends in Silicon Valley. These are the folks with the persistent grammar errors, and who were spelling Obama's first name "Barak" for a while. (Perhaps it is time Mr. Wade invested in a proofreader for all those fiery emails!)

This is only the beginning. Once things get in high-gear, you can expect I'll be posting more curious emails from campaign 2008! If you get any, feel free to send them in!

July 5, 2006

Why Panic Isn't a Strategy OR Joe Lieberman IS His Own Worst Enemy

So it seems the esteemed Senator From Connecticut's little announcement this week, basically saying he's so worried now about a primary election he's hedging bets and filing to run as so-called "independent has the whole world in a tizzy - if you read blogs, that is.

Those netroots guys are all atwitter on this one (especially since they appeared in one of his ads - how cute!). The Esteemed Senator from New York has weighed in on this race, declaring her support for "The Democrat" who wins the primary. Cooler heads have provided some provided some alternate commentary that doesn't fit neatly into little boxes, as well.

No one, however, has commented on one thing that's driving this, in fact, the reason why so many campaigns go off the rails - Lieberman's decision is being driven by candidate-induced panic and reaction, nothing more. While it is unusual to have a candidate like Ned Lamont challenge an incumbent senator in the primary, in that he's not a drooling lunatic or a drug-addled hippie running on the Three A's Platform, I have yet to see a poll that shows him ahead.

Now don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Democratic primary voters have a choice between a US Senator, and a well-funded, thoughtful challenger with neat ads. There's no law that says that anyone in office is owed re-election (unless of course you live in So Called Liberal San Francisco where we re-elect all the "I's" no matter how much we claim we don't like City Hall's style..) and it'd be nice to think that after 3 terms, Lieberman was secure enough in his relationship with the voter citizens of his state to take a few punches.

But his move to suggest that if he loses he'll file as an "independent" candidate show that the Esteemed Senator is neither a secure man, nor a particularly bright one when it comes to politics. To react to a challenger coming even somewhat close by not only saying "I'll leave the party and continue to run anyway, even if my alleged base rejects me" not only smacks of arrogance - it also says flat out that he'll run even if the people who used to vote for him reject him. That's just plain stupid.

Moreover, he may have ensured he loses a primary that he could still win. If he offers the "Lieberman Voter" an out by signing a petition, he's effectively removed any reason to go vote in August. After all, if (and I do mean if - how may petitions do ya think the Lieberman machine gathers these days?) they are getting signatures, a Lieberman voter doesn't have to vote anymore in the Democratic Primary to support Their Guy.

In other words, if Senator Bushlite wanted to really stay in office. he'd ride it out in the Democratic primary he sang the praises of up until a few days ago, and force the issue. Most likely he'd win. But then again, maybe he might not. That'd take guts, it'd take a true maverick, and it'd mean ol' Joe would have to roll a hard six to win.

Now, all those thinking Senator Jojo has the mojo to pull a stunt like this off and campaign without a safety net, say "aye"

The silence is deafening. But let's thank him for keeping up that keeping up that New England Tradition of blowing elections.


June 2, 2006

Greg's All-Star Guide to the June Primary!

Don't forget to check out the Direct Mail Disinfo Rehab Archive before you vote!

If you are like many people in this state, you asked for a mail ballot this year. And, if you're like most people in this state, you still haven't returned it yet.

Don't feel bad - just about everyone else is in the same boat you are. Return rates in key counties in California are abysmally low, owing to the fact that there are so many candidates, most of whom no one has heard of, running for so many offices. Every campaign I've worked on this cycle is seeing record rates of non return of ballots statewide.

So, beat those election blues, and print out a copy of my patented All-Star Guide to the California Primary. You can easily fill out your ballot, and you get a dose of snark just for laughs!

The Big Races
Note: If people are running unopposed, I'm not including them here since there's nothing to choose!

U.S. Senate: Whatever you think of Dianne Feinstein (some folks love her, some folks hate her, some folks don't know) know this: Dianne Feinstein is going to win the Democratic Primary in a landslide Vin Diesel would envy, and is going to be re-elected. Oh yeah, there's some token resistance but you might as well cast at least one vote for a winning candidate.

Since the balloting is so easy for California, may I suggest you send a 20 or a 50 dollar bill to the campaign of Jon Tester for US Senate instead?. Jon is the kind of Democrat we need in Washington DC, who can win in a place like Montana. He's a no-BS guy who represents the best the West has to offer - and he's going to have a chance to knock out Sen. Conrad Burns, who is so deep in scandal it isn't funny. Besides if he wins he can help DiFi be a committee chair, so it's a twofer.

California Governor: It does not take a genius to figure out that I am not a fan of Governor Doofinator, and his constant lying, "reinventing" of himself, and the tomfoolery that was the Credit Card Bond. So, who then, can send this guy back to his magic ticket and his restaurant in Santa Monica?

I'm telling folks to vote for Phil Angelides. Yeah, I know, I know. But the usual math doesn't apply here. Angelides has been consistently opposing Gov. Doofinator from Day One, he didn't monkey around in the recall or support the Credit Card Bond, and he's straight with voters on what he'll do if elected. Republicans who chortle at the follies of the primary take note: Democrats chortled at your follies when they had Congress and the Presidency in 1994 - and look at what happened to them.

Lt. Governor:Tough one for me, as I met John Garamendi (albeit over the phone) while working for the Insurance Commissioner for the State of Washington. Nice guy. But I've always been a supporter of Sen. Jackie Speier throughout her career. What to do? Flip a coin? Waffle? I can't vote for both!

I'm gonna vote for Speier, since I think she would do more with the office. Garamendi is a great guy, but I wish he'd run for something else so I wouldn't have to make this kind of choice. Besides, she's the hometown hero!

Secretary of State:This one is easy - Easy choice : State Sen. Deborah Bowen. Not only was she one of the few candidates to get an endorsement at the Democratic Convention, she is also the only candidate who actually worked on any of the issues a Secretary of State faces (i.e. voting machines, political reform, etc.) and she was my State Senator when I lived in Venice.

Attorney General: Another difficult choice. I've been supporting Jerry Brown for years. Back in Santa Cruz I organized a rally with him during his Presidential bid that got on CNN and CSPAN, and later when I worked at a tech company, ended up explaining our RealAudio technology to him when he had the radio show. It's hard not to support him, but Rocky Delgadillo isn't such a bad guy either. So vote for Jerry Brown but let's hope we see Delgadillo run for something else someday.

State Controller: Don't you just love that title? Sounds like one is running for Cylon Overlord for California or something. Here's a chance for you to give someone a promotion who actually deserves it: vote for Sen. Joe Dunn. This guy really did stand up to Enron and their BS during the power crisis, and beyond, and he'll bring that integrity to the Controller's office. Unlike people like Sen. Sheila Kuehl, who voted for giving away the state to greedy speculators, Joe Dunn was the guy who remembered job 1 for him is serving the citizens. Go Joe!

State Senate, District 8: This is a tough one for me - Lou Papan was a real hero in supporting the special ed program at my old high school, where my mom works. But Mike Nevin's wife also worked at my old high school and knew my mom too. Oh yeah, there's current Assemblyman Leland Yee running a strong campaign too. So who do I vote for? Calgon, take me away!

In the end I voted for Lou Papan, but not as part of some plot to deny Nevin votes but more due to a coin toss between two guys from San Mateo County, and because he was such a good guy in the Assembly when it came to special education. But the battle seems to be between Yee and Nevin so if you want to vote for someone who's more likely to win, then go ahead and vote for Mike Nevin.

State Assembly, District 12 - SF: Ok, like you had to ask. I'm telling everyone to vote for Janet Reilly. and regular readers know I've written about when she kicked off her campaign, when she campaigned with John Kerry, and about the only debate she had with Ms. Ma..

People ask me why and the answer is simple. There are people in the local and state Democratic Party who view the Party and those in it as part of an exclusive club, and that club likes things predictable, safe, and for the benefit of their club membership, since after all, they have the best interests of The People at heart. Anyone questioning that is cast out as a pariah.

Janet's campaign has never been one on the "inside" and as such is a lot more welcoming to citizen input, and isn't as beholden to the club mentality that really disdains volunteers, Internet activists, and anyone not Already In The Club. They really don't like you, and don't like the fact they have to ask you to vote for them because They're Just That Good. Plus, when you see the nonsense being tossed at Janet, you figure she can't be that bad. Vote for Janet and piss off the Man.


Proposition 81 - Library Bonds - vote NO: How can anyone be against library bonds? That means more money for libraries right? And I like libraries so I should support it, right? NO!

This is Yet Another Bond Issue that gets on the ballot because it "gives money" to good causes. But you see, it doesn't "give money" - it sells debt that we have to pay billions in interest on later. That blows out the budget in future years. So many bonds are passed by voters that it is killing our state's ability to make budget decisions. Vote no, and tell them to raise taxes or cut something first.

Proposition 82 - Preschool for All - Vote YES: This proposition isn't perfect, nor is it a cure all. But it doesn't use bonds, and it does take a step towards doing what we should be doing to at least not have as many screw ups in the public school system. Besides, Rob Reiner isn't that bad of a guy.

San Francisco Propositions A, B, C, D: Sometimes there's such a thing as too much democracy and voting, and the fact we're even voting on some of this stuff, which should either be passed by the Board of Supervisor and voted up or down by the Mayor, or perhaps addressed elsewhere, is a sign. But since we do have them, here's an easy way to vote:

If you like Mayor Gavin Newsom, and allied interests, and do not like the Board of Supervisors and their allied interests, go ahead and vote "no" on everything. Sure, there is that issue of violent homeless people being put in the old folks home at Laguna Honda, but so what? Gavin's got a tough re-election in 2007, possibly, and the last thing he needs some ballot measures to give him guff.

If you do not like Mayor Gavin Newsom and allied interest, and like the Board of SUpervisors, and their allied interests, go ahead and vote "yes" on everything. Sure, that whole Ellis Act notification thing probably won't stop a desperate home-buyer from running over Grandma to get that TIC, but so what? Gavin's got a tough re-election in 2007, possibly, and perhaps these ballot measures (some of which were put on the ballot by Supervisor Daly) might be able to give him some guff.

Other Offices:

San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee: Ok, pop quiz: what is the one job people run for, spend money to get elected to, that most people have not even heard of much less know what they do?

That would be the Democratic Party Central Committee. Ya see, each county has a "Central Commitee" for each party. These are partisan positions within the parties themselves - they are not funded by the state or anything like that. These might seem like ceremonial posts, but how the people on this committee vote determine all sorts of party business at the local and state level. So in a way it matters, but not always in an immediately understandable way.

The problem is you have to vote for so many people out of a pack of like, a zillion, and (thank GOD) "Ranked Choice Voting" has no place in these races. I'm going to recommend the two people I actually have met and known: Boe Hayward in the 12th Assembly District and Tim Paulson in the 13th.

Both are good guys - I helped out Boe with his postcards this year, and Tim Paulson is the director of the San Francisco Labor Council and all around good guy. There's two endorsements - figure out the rest of the slots on the ballot after casting your ballot for these guys.

That's it! Enjoy the fireworks on June 6th!

May 18, 2006

50 Million Westly Dollars Can Be Wrong

Much is made when a personally wealthy candidate runs for office about how, by the miracle of “spending lots of money,” they can automatically win office. Steve Westly’s campaign not only benefits from this conventional “wisdom” – it’s an active part of the campaign’s message.

What pundits, politickers, and the like tend to forget is that part of winning a campaign is having the money to pay for what you need to win – but that the other part is how you spend your money. And in the case of Steve Westly, our multi-millionaire Richie Cunningham running for class president, it's becoming clear that the how of his campaign is starting to kill whatever advantage, cash-wise, this guy had.

Last night I caught the latest spat of ads from Westly on TV, and they were laughable at best, pathetic at worst. We are less than three weeks away from a pretty significant primary election, and what is the Westly campaign blowing tons of cash on? Ads about whether Phil Angelides is running a "negative campaign." (Don't try looking here for them - I guess they don't mind putting them on the air, but they sure didn't put them on their own site.)

So,umm, let me get this straight. This is the big issue millions of Californians are concerned about in this year's gubernatorial election? I guess that whole affordable housing/jobs/economy/environment/education/taxes thing isn't the main issue at the kitchen table this season.

No, it's whether "Mean Old Phil" is playing by some imaginary Marquess de Queensbury rules, and rather than move on and just tell people about why he's the better candidate, he's spending money talking about something no real voters give a crap about and tosses in a lie about Angelides' tax plan that's patently false. Hmm. Sounds like someone broke his own promise about those Queensbury rules.

Putting aside for a moment whether Phil or Steve is the bestest Democrat boy running, there's a bigger issue here. If Steve Westly can't handle a random, unscripted question from the peanut gallery, or a few jabs from a fellow Democrat, how the Hell is he going to handle going up against Gov. Doofinator and his huge team of spinmeisters, politickers and a massive state funded disinfo ops team, much less the many millions in independent expenditures from allied right wing groups that will toss out crap far worse than he's ever had to deal with?

No wonder this guy barely beat McClintock in 2002. Perhaps after the election, Westly and Senator Huffington, President Perot, Governor Checchi, and the rest of the rich geniuses can get together and have a beer about those Queensbury rules.

Don't forget to send in your political junk mail so we can do some disinfo rehab prior to the election! Send me a note and we'll get it on Flickr ASAP!

May 4, 2006

Channeling Mike Dukakis in the Race For Governor

I was wondering why watching Phil Angelides andSteve Westly seemed so familiar.

At first I thought it was because I remembered meeting Steve Westly when in 1989 he ran against Gov. Jerry Brown for Democratic Party Chairman (he lost that race in 1989, and backed Phil's opponent when Jerry quit). Or maybe it was because smilin' Phil was in all those house party videos in 1992 when Democrats stopped losing in California.

Then I realized what it was - both men are channeling the spirit of former Governor Mike Dukakis in their campaigns. Now, unlike some, I don't say this to be mean, but more as an observation. It's not a bad thing to me, but I don't know if it's the winning plan for beating Gov. Doofinator in California in 2006.

Continue reading "Channeling Mike Dukakis in the Race For Governor" »

May 2, 2006

CDP Final Update: The Sci Fi Convention Ends...

Thanks to a 10-day long internet outage at home, this got posted late. Earthlink sucks.

Well, it's finally over. The 2006 Democratic Star Trek/Wars/Gate Convention is done, the myriad of tchotchkes, stickers, and campaign sundries are in the dustbin of history, and everyone's going home...some happy, some sad, and some who were just happy to get all the free "stuff" at the convention.

But the unreality of the event was truly that of a Comi-Con or Star Trek convention, because for all the hype and shenanigans inside the convention, and all the fiercely passionate run ins between rival campaigns, the fact is very few actual voters know who most of the people on the June ballot are, much less who they'd actually like to see in office.

In the end, the passionate fights between the two titans of the Democratic ticket, Steve Westly and Phil Angelides, came off more like the never-ending debates of lore: Kirk Vs. Picard, Star Wars 77-82 vs Star Wars Prequels, or that big debate over Silver Surfer from a few years ago. Lots of noise and hype, but most people on the outside don’t really know what these folks are talking about. But if you dare say you’re not that interested in their cause or candidate, people look at you like you just committed a war crime.

Continue reading "CDP Final Update: The Sci Fi Convention Ends..." »

April 30, 2006

CDP Update 4 - Anglides Gets Convention Endorsement with 68%!

I was a bit tired after a long day of politiciking and spinning and what not, so I'm posting a bit late - but Phil Angelides won the vote for the CDP endorsement with 68% of the vote. So my little prediction earlier was entirely wrong. I'm not afraid to admit it.

The vote itself wasn't revealed until late last night, but you heard about it when the loud whoops and yells of Angelides' supporters late that night. It was truly a sight, along with the legions of orange-shirted Westly supporters (most of whom were not actual voting delegates, but rather volunteers) who had a long look on their faces, and quickly disappeared from the evening festivities.

It was a true moment where spin, and betting on spin, paid off. In this case, Angelides campaign, which has run into some trouble because of Westly's incredibly large TV buy (and resulting name ID and poll momentum) was starting to feel the pressure from the echo chamber, the press and political insiders. So the campaign made a calculated risk to put it all on the convention, and Westly's campaign put together a well funded effort to make their presence known at the convention to try and block the 60% vote.

But Phil rolled a hard six, and won, bigtime. Westly made the mistake of not playing down expectations for himself, and by Saturday morning at the press conference, was clearly convinced "momentum" was on his side, and was predicting a win for himself. Big mistake. He should have played it cool and not been sucked into the hype. Instead now the Angelides campaign has something they can spin as a big moment for them, and Westly just spent a ton of money on 65 lb. pieces of beef for nada.

Now obviously most voters in this state have no idea who they'll support for the Democratic nominee, and still, most people either don't care, or could change their mind at any time. But in the neverland that is the world of spin, the insiders, the funders, and the press, Angelides stopped a tailspin for his campaign, and is flying high. Whether that means anything to the rest of us remains to be seen.

But for now, a chapter of political theater is over. What a night!

April 29, 2006

CDP Update 3 - Throwing A Wrench In the Machine

See live, uninterrupted coverage of the circus right here!

Today has been a bit less weird. I can safely say that the comic-book convention metaphor is holding, and I don't mean that in a good or bad way, just a way.


Today I ran into Assembly Candidate Janet Reilly as I stopped to say hello to our esteemed Senator, Dianne Feinstein. Tons of people were mobbing Sen. Feinstein and camera-phones were ablaze in getting a shared moment with the Senator recorded for posterity.

I also had a nice conversation with Frank Russo of the California Progress Report at his booth from whence he is live-blogging the entire convention.

But my favorite moment was watching the convetion speeches of Phil Angelides and Steve Westly, and it would seem that my previous entry about the Westly beef-fueled blocking of the endorsement vote might have been premature. I spoke with several actual voting delegates who told me how they were selected and how most of them were for Angelides, parties or not. It was most notable that when Steve Westly spoke, his legions of volunteers provided the bulk of his applause, not the delegates, something KTVU reporter Randy Shandobil queried Mr. Westly about at a press conference.

I watched Westly and while he seems like a truly nice person, he also comes off as over-rehearsed and evasive as he did in 1989 when he ran for chair. I chose to throw him a curve ball that was not on any "talking points memo" for the day when the press conference started.

My question? Well, I decided to ask him about his campaign's use of Myspace.com, which the campaign had trumpeted early on as a sign of his tech-savviness and his outreach to young people.

I asked him if this was the case, why was it that after all the hype and hullaballo, his My Space Profile was linked to only 40 or so friends, while rival Phil Angelides' profile was linked to over 1000 people.

Now, to be sure, a MySpace profile for a politco is not a big deal, but I wasn't as interested in the answer as I was interested in seeing how he'd handle such a wacky question, wacky questions and situations being something you need to deal with as a candidate and as Governor. I'd hoped for a joke, or something.

Instead he looked at me in that frozen smile of his and for about a second telegraphed a glare that could only be described as "What the F*CK are you asking me this for?" and then gave a weird, rambling non-answer answer.

I was kinda hoping for a sign this guy could go off script and relax, since his speech was so totally rehearsed he went off speech on less than 10 words. More importantly I was hoping for a sign that we are not repeating the mistake of nominating a Gray Davis or a Mike Dukakis or an Al Gore.

Sadly , it didn't happen. Oh well.

Next up: The vote showdown in the convention center!

UPDATE: It seems my mayhem was not confined to La Convencion.....this accounting of MySpace.com street cred seems to say it all..

CDP Update 2 - Recipe for Derailing 60%

Last night the Sacramento Convention Center was abuzz with all sorts of politicos vying for support from delegates and others, via the time honored tradition of the "hospitality suite." With so many open races locally and statewide in the June primary, people were in overdrive to put on the best party possible.

On this, and this alone, there is no doubt that ex dot-commer Steve Westly, who has self-financed his campaign for Governor, had one of the best parties I've ever seen. They didn't just have a big room, no they had a live band, a dance floor, a carving station with huge 65+ lb.. side of beef for sandwiches, discounts on the Convention Center's overpriced drinks, and a lot of people in orange shirts, custom made for the weekend.

It was a bit much, but the stakes are high. Phil Angelides has to roll a hard six to jump start a campaign that's fallen behind in the polls in the wake of Westly's TV ads, and it's in the form of an endorsement vote today.

Continue reading "CDP Update 2 - Recipe for Derailing 60%" »

April 28, 2006

CDP Update 1 - The Scariest Star Trek/Wars/Gate Convention Ever?

Thanks to AMTRAK's trusty Capitol Corridor service I made it up to Sacramento, for only $14! What a bargain. I even ran into the esteemed Marc Cooper of The Nation in the hotel lobby (he noticed my Gonzo T-shirt and we chatted briefly). I did a survey of the convention floor before posting my first update.

All I can say is, of the many Democratic conventions I've attended in Sacramento, this is easily one of the most bizarre, and Comic-Con-like experience I've ever had. There are mobs of Westly and Angelides supporters all eager to proclaim their candidate's virtues and give you pieces of paper saying so. There are even more for the legions of term-limited officials who are jumping all over the ballot as well, and they are very very eager to tell you about their candidate.

Which is fine, but it can get a little scary sometimes. The elbowing, jostling, and jockeying between the candidates for governor are taking on Kafka-esque qualities, and they're a bit much, even for me who usually finds these things kinda fun when I don't have to work at them. Don't get me wrong - they are both nice guys and their folks are nice folks. It's just hard to describe the energy at this convention as anything but strange.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is a featured speaker tonight - I saw him earlier hanging around with various politicos and delegates over by the press office. I guess since he's not one of the people playing musical political chairs, he's a bit more relaxed and approachable. I'll have more after tonight's revelries...

April 26, 2006

Almost Ready to Go! CA Democratic Convention Coverage Coming Up!

After some technical mishaps, including the death of DSL at home (!) I'm almost done with the new look - just some color changes and a few more HTML/PHP/CSS changes and we're done! I can't wait.

This weekend I will be attending the California Democratic Party's convention in Sacramento, and will blog live updates, much as I did in 2004, and had a lot of fun doing so.

With so many term-limited folks running for so many offices, most of whom are as unknown as the offices they seek, and being just over a month away from Election Day, you can bet that it'll be a circus. And when a convention is more like a circus, it usually means campaigns do lots of weird stuff. Best of all, it usally means that there is also lots of free stuff to be had as well!

UPDATE Live webcasting of the convention can be found here if you're just dying to see the circus without any commercial interruptions.

August 10, 2005

Some Straight Talk from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom You May Have Missed

"Re-thinking" and "strategizin' " are popular topics amongst political types to the left of G. W. Bush. This past week members of the Young Democrats of America held their national convention in San Francisco, and the talk was punctuated with some hard realizations doing "business as usual" wasn't going to cut it anymore. Good.

What struck me most, though was the coverage of the event in the local press barely made mention of their own mayor's remarks, and those that did gave it short shrift, presumably because he's not on the "politically orthodox" side of politics.

Which is unfortunate. That's because in a time when you have so many Democratic politicians in Washington DC running around thinking they're in charge of things, when they're not, and you have lifetime political hacks from D.C. running around, grabbing corporate cash and attacking party chairman Howard Dean for daring to act like, well, a Democrat, Mayor Gavin Newsom's remarks were a breath of fresh air.

Here's a quote, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, that's worth a look:

"I am not popular in my party," he said. "What's the point of winning if you can't advance your principles? You can't talk in ideals unless you are willing to manifest them...We need more clarity in our party," Newsom said. "It's about integrity."

You'd think a statement like that, coming from the guy who's had to take crap from wealthy, psueudo-Democratic battle-axe Dianne Feinstein, and who decided to stand on principle on an issue that was not going to get him any points in a future political career would be applauded, if not by the supposedly progressive Bay Guardian, then at least by the allegedly powerful "liberal blogosphere."

While I can forgive the latter for not reporting and amplifying Newsom's remarks since there's no way for them to know what's up without being able to read it somewhere, I have to take issue with the Guardian, both for their burial of what would seem to be a bold, progressive statement, and for their coverage of the event in general.

It becomes obvious in a situation like this that no matter what Mayor Newsom says, because he was Not The Politically Correct Person saying said statement, they had to bury it in a half-assed piece about the YD's.

You almost get the sense that there's such a determination to slam Mayor Newsom as "Willie Brown, Part Deux" (even though he's not), they can't even concede one little piece of decent coverage.

News flash: Mayor Newsom is not perfect, lefty folks. We know that. But trying to demonize the guy and being unable to concede on principle when he's done some great things ultimately kills La Causa a hell of a lot better than the Ghost of Satan Willie Brown could or will. It shows an inability to grasp today's political terrain, and a desire to return to what I call the "Bad Good Old Days" - when it was easy to be on

But there's a bigger issue. You'd think that they'd send someone to, oh I don't know, try and cover the issues at hand at said convention, and perhaps engage in a little reporting, maybe even quoting some people and attaching names to quotes. Even better, send a young person who'se politically savvy to try and bring the perspective of the people these folks are tryin' to reach.

Instead the Guardian sent an old college professor whose experience with the Young Democrats dates back to the 1950s. That's great. But nowhere in this coverage does any real history of the group get told, to place anything that happened at the convention itself in context.

The author clearly went over there with a presupposed concept in mind: the tired old saw of "How the 1960s are Still The Best Years for Activism Ever" and the new hack, "Oh You Democrats Didn't Talk About The War As Much as I Deem You Should (Even Though I Didn't Bother to Cover Most of the Convention Anyway)."

Hmm. Sounds like a bad country song. Oh, but I digress.

But to wind it up: Not only did the Guardian make a mis-step in under-reporting their own elected officials' statements at a natinoal convention in their home town, they also blew a chance to do some real research and come up with a story that might have told the reader a little more about the proceedings and asked some hard questions.

Instead, we got yet another iteration of the old "60's Great/Today Bad" rhetoric that makes me literally ill every time I hear it. The 60s have been over for some time now, folks. Smokin' pot and marching a lot may have been the way to go back then. But to make a difference today, one has to get with the times, not try and re-enact the 60s the way those Civil War buffs do so on battlefields in the South.

UPDATE: It seems in my haste to post something, I made the mistake of not noting Pat Murphy's coverage of said convention at his local news website, SF Sentinel that included coverage of Mayor Newsom's remarks.

Many people have opinions of Pat Murphy's work - whatever they say, I still find it a good local resource for many events that don't always get covered by the Big Papers In Town, and Pat's never shy about his opinions, or labeling them as such. Kudos to Pat for covering more of the Mayor's speech.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

June 29, 2005

Jonathan F. Kerry Will You Please SHUT UP?*

Today I'm gonna kill two birds with one stone: heaping praise on one of the few political blogs that isn't exercise in wannabe megalomania, and tell Sen. John Kerry to shut up.

I can do this because one of the few blogs with anything original to say, The Gadflyer, did such a good job of telling it like it is regarding Sen. Longwind's ponderous and long-winded op-ed piece in the New York Times, for which they should be issued a gold medal. Or a case of highbrow Liquor du Malt. Something.

Seriously. Sen. John Kerry doesn't seem to get the fact that he lost the freakin' election last year. His remaining overpaid staff still pump out press releases playing the "will he or won't he" game regarding 2008, and of course, there's the tons of email addresses he talks about, as if this is somehow a good thing.

John. Kids. Loser D.C. Consultants. Get a clue. You have 3 million addresses of people who are sick of hearing your long winded blather, and Yahoo Mail is tossing your crap into the "Bulk" file. In other words, give up. You had a golden opportunity to take out a mediocre president and yet instead decided to spend a record amount of money finding Yet Another Way to Screw Up instead. Take your pretentious BS, your stupid Massachusetts-bred "political knowledge," and your arrogant, patrician ways and just SHUT THE HELL UP.

It's bad enough we have so many sheep willing to worship of St. Hillary the (Alleged) Liberal (yet another "entitled to power" hack we will lose an election with) - we don't need you mucking up the waters like you are right now. Just go back to Boston, sit in your mansions, and have a tall cool glass of Chardonnay from Chateau Mordez-Moi Perdant. (special bonus for those of you who know what that means.)

That's why the Gadflyer is such a kick-ass kind of site. It cuts through the DC BS of Democrats and Republicans like a samurai sword through redneck hick in a pawn shop. It lacks the DC-Centric phoniness of corporate produced "blog" Wonkette, and the knee-jerk self congratulatory puffery of way too many lefty/Democraty/non-Bushie blogs out there, who still seem to think that typing haughty comments on a blog gets you somewhere. Or, of course, there's the let's attack people and get in the Times for attacking people with our sourball comments style blogs, which get lots of ink and generate lots of heat - but tend to wilt like a 'roided out willy when confronted in person.

(Many of these are the people who still think that Dean had a winning campaign in California because he had 'lots of bloggers' and the infamous 'Daily Kos' blog on their side. Hint, kids: Howard Dean never ran a campaign in California - he dropped out and Kerry won by acclamation).

But I digress. The point is, I generally find most political blogs to be quite boring, or all about creating noise, not about expressing a point of view that's any different than what I heard on TV or in the paper. Both left and right have "echo chambers" the size of the Grand Canyon, and frankly, that's not a good thing. BS amplified, is still BS.

So it's nice to find a well-written site that can cut throgh the crap, tell it like it is, and find out it can do this, despite being based in the nation's capital. My two (small) gripes with these guys are that A) Being writers and scholars and whatnots paid to create content they beat me to the punch on things I'd like and B) the don't have a very good mechanism for allowing comments or sending in feedback.

Those, however, are minor critiques, offered in the spirit of good faith so rare on the web these days. Overall, though I'd say we all owe a nice big thanks to Gadflyer for cutting the crap like a master sushi chef dices a fugu.

* PS: Did ANYONE get the reference to Marvin K. Mooney? Or is this just WAY to freakin' obscure?

PS2: I want one of these little gadgets and I could care less what the 20th century dullards at the MPAA have to say about it.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

April 27, 2005

John Kerry's Stealth Trip to the West Coast - Big Help, or "Big Deal"?

Just in case you thought that John Kerry and his campaign apparatus might have learned something about logistics, communication, or timeliness during the last election fiasco, well, think again. This latest "stealth" trip to the West Coast is just bearing it out.

What's that you say? You've not heard of Kerry's West Coast trip to boost his presidential aspirations for 2008? Well don't feel bad. Most people haven't either. Or, at least they weren't given much warning.

Political events usually require some lead time if they are to be successful. Even if you have a gaggle of celebrities, a promise of free drinks (well maybe not at a Democratic event!) and whatnot, you still need time to make it a success.

That's why I'm eyeing Kerry's supposed generosity and "power" with some suspicion. It sounds more like the Kerry Hype Machine is pushing stories to the press about his supposed "power" while of course, he isn't doing much. Remember that little case of the $15 million+ "surplus" the losing Kerry campaign ended with?

Today's LA mediasphere noted that Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa will be having an event with Sen. Kerry, and as usual, I got the obligatory email from the Esteemed Senator. The event is on Saturday. I got the invite today. Now, I'm sure the event will do OK, but it would seem that if Kerry really wanted to help Antonio, he'd have spent less time planting stories about his mythical "network of donors" helping Antonio "win" the election, and might have put the word out about this sooner. Let's give them some credit - at least they listed the event on Kerry's site.

This is not the only event, though. On April 15th, I received an email from the Washington State Democratic Party inviting me to an event with John Kerry on May 1st in Seattle, to raise money for Gov. Gregoire's legal fund.

Nice, sure, but again, if the invites are going out on the 25th for an event on the 1st, that isn't giving the folks on the ground a lot of time to get things ready. I hate to break it to Kerry & Co., but he's just not such a big draw that people are going to delay the credit card payments, move their schedule around, and cough up the money just to touch the hand of the man who blew the Presidential race.

Ironically, the only event that had a decent amount lead time and preparation was a fundraiser for Janet Reilly, who is running for the State Assembly in San Francisco. I'd heard about this event several weeks ago, and I have no doubt it will be a success. However, when I went to find the event on John Kerry's official website, it said that there were no events in San Francisco.

Likewise, Kerry's media machine isn't doing nearly as much work ginning up the PR mill as it was for Antonio. To me, that's cheap and thoughtless. Janet, and her husband Clint were early supporters of Kerry's campaign and did a lot of work to help his campaign in California - the least Kerry's crew could do was give her some free PR in advance of the event.

I'm sure there are other events on the Kerry Resurrection Tour, but I will probably not hear about them until just a few days before they happen. After all, this isn't really about helping Mr. Villaraigosa, Mrs. Reilly, or Mrs. Gregoire. This is about helping John Kerry keep his lifeless presidential ambitions hooked up to political life support.

And frankly, given his mistakes and that darn Presidential campaign surplus, I'd say it's time to pull the plug. I'm sure that's something even my most conservative Christian pals can agree with me on.

PS: On an unrelated note: someone has been posting all sorts of nutty comments on blogs, both here at JS and elsewhere, signing other people's names but using my URL. Whoever it is, please cut it out, willya? It's lame, and childish, and you're pissing me off.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 23, 2005

On the Road to Resurgence or Ruin? - the DNC Meeting in Sacramento!

This Saturday, the Democratic National Committee held a conference for the Western States in Sacramento, California. Normally, such meetings are a dull, quiet affair, attended by a small number of people who are actual members of the DNC, and perhaps a few others.

This was not one of those types of meetings.

The day was sure to be one full of something (action not necessarily being one of them) due to the fact that the California Democratic Council, the historic alliance of local Democratic Clubs across California founded by the late Sen. Alan Cranston, held a breakfast event in the morning, in the same hotel the DNC was holding its afternoon session.

The highlight of this morning was, of course, a speech by the the Rev. Al Sharpton. Now, I know that Rev. Sharpton is considered by some to be a "bad guy," or at the very least, someone who oughta be shown the door, not the stage.

I disagree. While I know of many arguments as to why Rev. Sharpton may not be the best Party spokesman, the fact remains that when it comes to putting into basic, easy to understand terms, why the Democratic Party, in its ideal form, can be a good thing, Rev. Sharpton knows how to say what needs to be said in ways a stumbling doofus like John Kerry could only dream of. (Sorry, Kerry fans, but the Centrist Corporate Senator from Eliteville can't give a speech. Deal.)

Think about it this way: the Other Side has their Non Stop Quote Machines who can be loud an shrill and get the word out. Why can't we have a guy who can say what needs to be said, in a way Most Americans can understand too? Every time I see this guy talk, he says what needs to be said in less words than it takes John Kerry to say what his f****ing position is on whether he needs to have coffee in the morning. (Again, deal with it, Kerry true believers. Jon Stewart can call BS on this guy so well. But hey! He wasn't Howard Dean, right? Yeah. Whatever.)

Jolly Buddah at MyDD.com did a great job transcribing the speech, and I want to give him a link for his efforts. I spoke with Rev. Sharpton after the speech and said to him straight up  that after his famous "Condi is my color but Barbara Boxer is my kind" line, I wanted to get out my lighter and say "Right on, brother!" He smiled and shook my hand.

What a nice guy. I swear, if this guy ever moved to Los Angeles and ran for Mayor, given the enthusiasm he gets from so many people here, he might just be the guy to blow the dwarves and Hahn out of the water and be an elected official some day.

Ok, maybe not. But I digress.

It also turns out that a candidate for Brooklyn District Attorney I've been helping, state Senator John Sampson, has been a Sharpton endorsee for many years, and is now running a cutting-edge campaign for DA based on reforming the laws and criminal justice to put more bad guys in prison, and avoid putting people in jail who don't belong. Right on!

There was no question that the "rock star" of the day was Gov. Howard Dean, former Presidential candidate and party activist. When he came in to a pre-DNC meeting rally with the CDC and other folks, he was swarmed with admirers.

Interestingly enough, Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante, whose failed bid for Governor in the recall campaign in 2003 made him the butt of many jokes on Saturday Night Live by comedian Horatio Sanz, tried to ride the "Dean Wave" when he arrived in the ballroom with the Governor, only to get booed once he was announced he was there.

He soon left for greener pastures, wherever Dem cratic LG's with a primary challenge from popular Democratic State Senators go. No one cared.

Dean, and to a lesser extent, former Congressman Tim Roemer seem to be running for DNC chair with an emphasis on themselves as an agent of change. Now, in Dean's case I don't know that is 100% the case, but clearly, in former Rep. Tim Roemer's case, he's more about talking about himself, and his personal knowldege, semi-good looks, and himself, more than he is about the party. It would not surprise me if that if Mr. Roemer got the DNC chair's job, we'd see this clown running for office in his home state of Indiana soon enough.

By the way, every time this anti-abortion, pro-Bush "Democrat" talked, there was that hissing and booing that usually accompanies enemies of the Party Faithful. Despite looks that come out of Central Casting, and a LOT of talk about himself, it wasn't enough to sway most folks.

Simon Rosenberg (who consistently seemed to receive the second loudest applause throughout the day) and Donnie Fowler however, seemed to be more about letting elected officials take the lead on policy, and on issues, and instead spend their time as DNC chair helping local, state and national parties and grassroots organizations get things done to win actual elections.

From my perspective, as someone who has been working in political campaigns for over ten years, Simon and Donnie are people I like best. I like Dean too, and from what it looks like so far, the college of cardinals might just elect him, and I like the 'tude that Dean himself can exude. But at the same time,  given how the media like to tar this guy as some sort of wild-eyed Communist provocateur, despite his record, it's hard to know if he can overcome that, and get the party up and running again.

As for the other candidates, while I am sure they are well meaning, they have about as much of a chance of winning as say, a hippie in Dallas, winning a seat on the city council.

Now, here's one of those situations where my role as an active political consultant and that of informative blogger collide. While I do not mean to harsh on anyone for the sake of hashing on them, there was one comment by one certain candidate that pissed me off, simply because of the pure hypocrisy of it.

That would be former Congressman Martin Frost, who lost his seat in Congress due in large part to the mid-term gerrymandering of Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas. That said, it was very insulting of ex-Congressman Frost when he decried the "consultant culture" of Washington, D.C. in his remarks.

For those of you who don't work in politics day-to-day, here's a primer on the sheer amount of bullshit that "political parties" ram down the throats of hapless campaigns and candidates for office.

For the love of God, bear with Schadelmann.com as we explain the tortured logic of this sad state of affairs, and why, despite being seemingly irrelevant, actually affects you, the voter, in the end.

You see, once upon a time, the wise, and kind Rep. Frost was the head of a group called the the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He headed this committee, based in good ol' Washington D.C. In other words, the center of all that is wise and good in America. Their job was to get the Democratic candidates elected to Congress in 1996 and 1998, to regain the "majority."

Yeah, that's my reaction too. Great job, guys!

Anyway, Mr. Frost's little Mafia used to play a cute little game with aspiring politicos running for Congress. They'd play the game of "hire our hit men or be denied protection money in the future."

Confused? Ok, let me spell it out a different way.

Candidate Shmoe wants to run for Congress as a Democrat. Candidate Shm e hires Local Non-DC Political Consultant Schadelmann, because, well Consultant Schadelmann has spent some time West of the Potomac (and in fact is from the West Coast!). Then, when Candidate Shmoe talks to the Party Big Wigs (i.e. Rep. Frost), he hears the following:

"Well if you don't hire Consultant Jerkface from Washington D.C., and fire Consultant Schadelmann from your little campaign,  the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won't pay for your campaign in the future. Figure it out."

Now, here's the rub: The threat is an empty threat made by party hacks in DC who know full well that if Candidate Shmoe actually shows some promise, he or she will get the support they need, since it would mean moving the Democrats from back of the short-bus to front of the line. In the end, who gets the poor candidate over the finish line is irrelevant. If enough of these clowns win, the leadership would go from "Ranking Minority Member" (AKA Loser) to "Chair of the Committee" (AKA "NOT a loser!")

Does Candidate Shmoe know that? No. Instead, they get scared. They see some guy like Martin Frost, with his big office, and his smart, slick boys in charge, and they capitulate. They let go the people who know what the hell they're doing. They buckle under, and hire the twits the DCCC tells them to hire and the cycle of of inbred political thought continues.

The point of this fable? To point out what a fucking hypocrite a guy like fucking Martin Frost is to decry "Washington, D.C. political consultants" when he in fact was one of the people screwing over anyone west of the Potomac River in favor of his homeboys in D.C.

So, while I very much liked the people backing Frost, who were among the kindest, and most hospitable people I've met in politics, and were genuinue kind to me as a person, I have to say when I hear him say this, my first reaction was to stand up, give a one-finger salute to Mr. Frost, and tell the guy off.

Now, political decorum suggested otherwise, but there were way too many people who said "right on" when I suggested said course of action. I still kept quiet, preferring the cozy rant on a somewhat-read blog.

So it kinda sucks. The Texas people were so cool too. But their candidate was a two-faced guy on this issue. One that just happens to affect my bottom line.

Ok, end of rant....

Donnie Fowler, to his credit, didn't' engage in such bogus "consultant bashing," instead recognizing the very "aristocracy" of consultants that makes it hard for younger people, with good ideas, to get work and make a difference in the long run. Which is why, in the end, it's hard for me to say who I like.

I like Simon Rosenberg because it was clear in the way he runs his own campaign, he "gets it" when it comes to how campaigns work. I like Donnie Fowler, because he also has a "mechanics sense of campaigns," lives in San Francisco, and attracts a great bunch of folks on his side (and believe me, that says a lot about someone). I like Gov. Dean because he can give a great speech, and I don't doubt his commitment to folks outside of D.C., since it was those D.C. folks who did their best to stick it to him (like they have the Party).

So what is my verdict? If you're a Democrat who cares, learn more and support one of the three I've mentioned here, and make your choice accordingly. If you're a Republican Party Operative, piss off, and go trash the country over some more with deficits, lies, and BS.

If you're a normal human being who just wants this country to be by, of and for the people and not some freaking corporation, then pay attention and get involved. No matter what happens, you'll be better off for it.

The country can't afford a one-party state. Just ask the Soviet Union!

UPDATE: Read coverage in the LA Times of the proceedings. The Associated Press has coverage as well. Adriel Hampton of the San Francisco Examiner has some interesting thoughts at his blog as well. Chris Nolan posts an article at PersonalDemocracy.com and at her own site as well.

You have to give Frost's people credit - he got his anti-consultant quote in there in almost every report of the meeting. regardless of his background. Too bad that no one in the mainstream media (with the exception of the Times) questioned his assertion But perhaps that's what "blogs" are for?

UPDATE 2:: You can watch the video of the meeting at the California Democratic Party Website and see the proceedings for yourself.

UPDATE 3: And now we see where the Great Martin has landed hanging out with the hippies and leftists at FOX News.

It's just as well. The DC insider wrecking crew is being shown the door anyway - let's just hope they don't get ass prints on the door as it hits them on the way out.

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 21, 2005

Inaugural Day Fun in San Francisco with DNC Folks and Battle Armor Elves!

How'd you spend Inauguration Day today?

I got up, watched the Big Speech by El Presidente, which was fine. Said all sorts of nice things about freedom, democracy, and whatnot. Funny how in other countries buying off the press, lying about wars, and screwing up the economy are bad things, but here, it's all about helping those donors that got the Ruling Party into office.

Ah well. It's their day. Let them spend 100 million dollars of Homeland Security Money on the festivities. God forbid the corporations that will get billions off this administration actually pay for security!

Fine. Onward.

I actually spent a strange day today. It started with a lovely afternoon working in one of my favorite Internet cafes, Golden Gate Perk in San Francisco. I've written about them before - since my last visit they've improved the seating and the computers, while still keeping that great plasma screen TV showing movies while I work. Today I got to see "X Men United" once again - a movie I never get tired of seeing.

But you're not reading this to hear about my exciting day. Now, for those of you who lead normal lives, you may not be aware that the major political parties have actual elections amongst their hierarchy for "Chair" (once known as Chair-man) of their national party committee.

Normally such proceedings don't earn more than a handful of mentions in the national press in the DC edition of the paper. More to the point, 99.99% of Americans don't know who a particular party chair even is, much less give a hoot about what some arcane party platform says. As I've said before I'm sure most people think a "party platform" is what the candidate stands on when he or she speaks.

This time around, though, on the Democratic side, there's an actual election for this position. No less than six candidates, representing different ideologies, styles, and views on just what a "party chair" is, are running. This evening in San Francisco, I had a chance to attend a fund-raising party for Simon Rosenberg, the executive director of the centrist New Democrat Network.

Now, I've been to way too many Democratic party candidate events. That said, I have to say now, that very rarely have I been at a fundraiser this well catered, and with this well-mannered a crowd in..well, ever. Held at the Old Federal Building downtown, even, and when I went to the bar to get a Coke I had a momentary gasp at the drink prices. Then I was told that beer and wine were comped. I almost fainted.

When you consider that the "normal" price the house caterers charge was over $5 for a lousy Miller Lite (please people, can't the party of the working man get Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of this South African owned crap?), and here they were giving away Heineken, well you knew that you weren't in Kansas (or some other red state with lousy 3.2 beer) any more.

That was just the bar. Then there was the food. Free brie. Free bleu cheese. They even had egg rolls and other good stuff. Free. Free, I tells ya! It was a Homer moment. I had to resist the urge to just say "screw it" to covering the event and just tip the bartender a buck a pop for beers and be a freeloading journalist, but good sense, and decorum (as well as the fact that I knew people at this thing!) kicked in and I had my perfunctory beer and moved on, so to speak.

Again, you have to understand, that in a normal universe, NO ONE cares about these things to begin with. So when you attend an event that has the San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, as well as all sorts of political movers and shakers, donors, and the wannabes, hanging out waiting to listen to a speech for DNC chair, you realize that something's up.

Both Herrera and Harris spoke. As it turns out both City Attorney Dennis Herrera, his spokesman Matt Dorsey, and Simon Rosenberg go way way back, having worked together for some time in the Clinton Administration, and in politics. City Attorney Herrera spoke first about Rosenberg's DNC candidacy, praising his ability to create and direct a message, and in particular Rosenberg's work doing effective outreach to Latino voters.

Harris also spoke, reinforcing the theme that Simon's focus was on building the tools, infrastructure, and whatnot to get the word out. Harris has been an effective communicator and campaigner in her job as D.A. so far. Both Harris and Herrera did something else I rarely see at these kinds of events - they kept their remarks short and to the point so people weren't standing around too long. Wow.

Simon Rosenberg addressed the crowd at the end. He talked briefly about the process of the DNC race, making the point that unlike John Kerry, who only competed in 17 states, he has to run in 56 states and jurisdictions, but less than 500 people in all those areas will vote. "It's kinda like the way they pick a Pope," joked Rosenberg.

Then he went over his basic plan for reactivating the party. His focus was not so much ideological, or driven by his desire to take office some day - it was more on how to talk to people effectively about Democratic ideas, how to modernize the party structure so it could be competitive, and how to find ways to work with the many new people and organizations sprouting up online and offline, instead of just trying to ignore them or keep them out.

This last point was one of interest to me. For years I've seen party organizations do their damnedest to keep "new" people with different ides out because they somehow feel threatened by anyone who wasn't working on this stuff back in the Truman Administration. It was nice to see so many grassroots groups in places like Washington State and in California, to name a few, buck this trend and show tremendous growth.

However, the enthusiasm for these new people does not extend to all party officials and offices in DC, state capitals, and elsewhere. Right now it sounds like only Rosenberg, and maybe Gov. Dean (haven't interviewed him yet), are even talking about this as an issue at all.

But what impressed me the most was the fact that after laying out his points (which you can read at his web site and blog he didn't spend a lot of time talking in fro t of a crowd - he spent most of his time talking to people in small groups, or one-on-one. I talked to several of his supporters, including Alice Carnes, and Amy Everitt, who both pointed out this as one of Simon's strengths.

All in all, an interesting evening, and not at all what I expected. I'm going to try and make it up to the DNC Western Conference in Sacramento on Saturday to try and talk to some of the other candidates for chair, and find out more about what's going on.

My day ended with an "only in San Francisco" moment...a long parade of anti-Bush folks, of all types. Most notable was the nice young man decked out in pink leather "elf battle gear" (his words, not mine!) and an assortment of folks in costumes that would make a typical Burning Man attendee feel like Ned Flanders.

I channeled comedian Patton Oswalt, who I saw recently on Comedy Central, and his criticism of hippies. For some reason, I made the mistake of saying "Wow, that's an effective way to reach the voting public..."

I was besieged from all sides by folks, who suddenly felt the need to lecture me on how I "didn't do anything" to "stop Bush." Now, in another era, I would have happily gone to war with these PC partiers, but I was in no mood to spread more ill will. I shouted "Stick it to the Man!" and went on my way.

All in all, one heck of a way to spend Inaugural Day. Well, the drinks were free, and I got to meet some people who seem committed to doing something about the state of affairs that doesn't involved pink elf armor. Woo hoo!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

November 18, 2004

Remembrance of Campaigns Past, or What Were We Doing A Year Ago?

While going through some old files on my Powerbook, I came across the following piece, written during Schadelmann.com's early beginnings a year ago. For various reasons I decided not to publish it at the time (like I do so often, actually) and quickly forgot about it.

When you consider that literally, a year ago, Sen. John Kerry's campaign was floundering, and the biggest news that was permeating the mainstream media was the much-ballyhooed firing of Jim Jordan as campaign manager, it makes you realize how far we've come, only to end up right where we began in the first place.

That is, the shortcomings that people glossed over during the Dean-bashing and the front loaded primaries never really went away - they just disappeared in a wave of spin. Meanwhile the root problems were never really addressed. And a year later, we have the Imperial Government taking power with a full blown Politburo to rubber stamp the King's decrees. Woo hoo.

So, in the spirit of being a thorn in the side of the People Who Know Best, and since at this point I have nothing to lose politically, I'm unearthing this old piece of writing for your entertainment.

Posted at the time I don't think it would have been that great. But when I read it this time, in light of all that happened since, I laughed out loud here at the Velocity Cafe to the surprise of my fellow coffee drinkers. Enjoy!

Ah Sen. John Kerry. On paper this guy is a great candidate. War record, Senator, prosecutor, voted "safe" on The War, has a wealthy spouse, and has all the affable qualities lacking in other Massachusetts-based presidential candidates.

But watching Kerry's campaign this week is kind of like watching the Hindenburg go down in flames, but in slow motion.

You have to wonder how well a campaign is doing when the only major piece of news that permeates everyone in the country is that Kerry "fired" his campaign manager. Everyone heard about it. People I know who care not a whit about politics asked me what I thought about this "big news. "

Heck, people I know who can't even name who John Kerry IS heard about it. No one knows much else but they knew that. Wow, big news! Kerry's campaign is doing so bad this late in the game he had to fire his manager! Alert the media and stop the presses! The One is getting his act together!

Why, that must mean he's qualified to be Commander in Chief because he can make these big personnel decisions. You're The One - the anomaly created by the Matrix to defeat the Bush Machines.

Hey, don't look at me - that was the spin coming from the campaign not my sarcasm. Yes, really.

What was most laughable (and most disturbing) were the statements he made after The Big Decision. My personal favorite was when his campaign spokesman and deputy fundraiser quit the campaign. Kerry's response was to toss off some oddball line about how "he really didn't know these people and they're not loyal to me so they should go."

So let me get this straight. Here's a major presidential candidate, with major money behind him and much of The Establishment (whoever they are) on his side and he "doesn't know" his OWN SPOKESMAN? That does not sound like "an executive making tough decisions." It sounds more like a guy who clearly has no clue why he's running other than "he is The One."

For those of you who are curious about what's really going on, here's a little insider gossip. I was in Boston recently and had the pleasure of serving (just for a day) as a Official Kerry Event Guy at his big kickoff.

If you don't speak political-ese that means I was the guy in the suit and Matrix glasses whose job it was to keep people off the wrong parts of the bleachers so the event would look good on TV.

It was fun and really, I hadn't made up my mind on who to vote for yet, and Kerry, to be fair, is a nice person and the event went great. But after talking to people in Boston and in Washington DC I began to hear some rumblings that not all was well in Zion AKA Kerry's Campaign.

The most memorable was a joke that's made the rounds by now. For a smirk, here it is:

Q: What do John Kerry's campaign and Noah's Ark have in common?

A: Both have two of everything!

One year to go....

� 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

September 1, 2004

Why I Like What I Do OR Some Good Folks in Pennsylvania....

Once again, I find myself on the road on behalf of Progressive Majority, this time on the road in Southeast Pennsylvania, one of those "swing states" you hear so much about. I've been so busy with my training sessions here I haven't had a chance to update here as much as I'd like. However, I'm enjoying an evening at the West Chester Holiday Inn which features free high-speed internet access, so I can post updates once again.

I've been on the road seeing two targeted candidates a day, and it's been a great (if busy) time out here. I've learned a lot about how things are really going down on the grass-roots level out here, and it's been an interesting experience to say the least. As with my trip in Seattle, the best part (aside from sampling Yuengling Beer which I can't get back home in L.A.) has been working with some really energetic and honest people who remind me why it is I like working in politics (as opposed to the four-day infomercials both parties have propped up like a dead guy on stilts under the guise of "party conventions").

Rebecca Wall is running for Pennsylvania State Representative in the 150th Legislative District (yes you read that right, the 150th District!) Too often when you find a young person running for office, you find a wannabe politico more well-versed in shenanigans and smarminess instead of issues and substance.

Thankfully, Rebecca does not fit this sad cultural stereotype. Instead, I met with an enthusiastic and intelligent person who is interested in public service and helping her community - yes you heard that right. In an era when we immediately dismiss anyone involved in politics as a self-serving apparatchnik, it's time to realize that some people put themselves in the arena because they want to stand up for something, not just against something.

More importantly, it was clear after my meeting with Rebecca that I was not dealing with someone who would tell me what I wanted to hear to earn my support - she was someone willing to tell the truth, regardless of the consequences, because she  has this idea that politicians should be honest.

In an era when too often we equate "honesty" with "being offensive", Rebecca reminded me that there are people who can speak truth to our political system, and provide a voice of reason and compassion that can include respect and a sense of decorum we don't usually get in politicos these days, and quite frankly, it was a nice change from politics as usual.

Many political pundits in Pennsylvania may accidentally overlook Rebecca's candidacy, and it's to their discredit that they do. Polling and the grassroots sense I get from talking to actual citizens indicate this is a race where a young, intelligent, and engaging person may just snatch a seat in the state House from an incumbent who barely won her seat in 2002 (by only 63 votes!) Pundits would be wise to keep an eye on this race, and people who profess to care about Democratic politics and progressive values would be wise to get involved. Now.

I also had the chance to meet with another great candidate, who is standing up for progressive values in a decidedly non-Californian region of the country, Christian Muniz, a veteran and legislative aide in Cumberland County, PA.

Those not intimate with the politics of Pennsylvania may not know just how non-Democratic Christian's part of the world is. When "President" Bush made a TV appearance at the GOP convention earlier this week, it was in Christian's district. To be an honest Democrat in this area takes more than political courage - it takes the will to win along with the courage of the convictions a Navy veteran and legislative aide to put oneself forth as a candidate. More importantly, he is a genuinely likable person, a rare quality in political candidates these days.

But best of all, it was his enthusiasm, unconfined by any sense of political "correctness" that infects Corporate Democrats these days that made Christian one of my favorite people to work with in politics, and more importantly someone who can win.  He is someone who I would gladly encourage readers to support, along with Rebecca Wall and others I'll be talking about later this year.

I'll have more commentary on "swing state" Pennsylvania and the Kerry campaign once I return to Los Angeles (and on my way to San Francisco and Wisconsin). Until then, stay tuned, and enjoy the myriad of fiction that is the GOP Convention. Especially the parts when Governor Doofinator claims to be a principled individual who does not engage in coin-op government!

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

July 21, 2004

Schadelmann.com - One Year Later

I've been so busy on my trip here in Seattle that I didn't realize until recently that July 21st marks the one year anniversary of Schadlemann.com!

I suppose some sort of profound reflection would be in order for said anniversary, but to paraphrase Col. Jack O'Neill when they were about to detonate a nuke on Goa'uld ship...nothing comes to mind.

For fun here's my VERY FIRST entry...

This is a TEST of Journalspace.com

posted 07/21/2003
Testing to see if this kicks Blogger's backside...

Ok, not that profound. But it has been fun to use this site to develop and expand upon my work and have a good time getting to know people like Nancy Rommelmann, Tiffany Stone, and other cool bloggers I've been reading. It is also nice having folks like A Fly on the Wall, the Queen of Sky, Cinema Minima, LAObserved.com, and many others post links to this site too. There are many others I've talked to or who have linked to me since starting this site up - so many in fact that any list I make will inadvertently leave out someone, and I hate doing that. It's kinda like an Oscar speech....

I am due to attend a special screening of The Hunting of the President with Governor Gary Locke as one of the many honored guests in attedance so I'll be posting more later. Until then, browse the archives and feel free to email suggestions and comments on the one year anniversary of Schadelmann.com!

UPDATE: The special screening of The Hunting of the President held at the newly restored Cinerama Theater in Seattle was a lot bigger than I'd expected.

Gov. Gary Locke and his wife Mona Lee (a former TV news anchor) addressed the crowd. It was unusal to see the usually placid, non-partisan Locke fire up a very partisan crowd in one of his last appearances as Governor. Also in attendance were filmmaker Harry Thomason, Susan McDougal, and the producers of the film.

The audience featured many Democratic candidates for office, including former state Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn who is now running for Attorney General, as well as nationally reknowned political advertising creator Frank Greer, who served as media consultant to President Clinton, South African President Nelson Mandela, Senator Barbara Boxer, and others. Currently Greer is working on the gubernatorial campaign of Christine Gregoire here in Washington State.

It was definitely an interesting gathering, and I had fun talking to folks in the audience as well as various candidates for office.

The film itself was interesting, if a bit predictable. Many people like to malign Sen. Hillary Clinton's "vast right wing conspiracy" comment for fun and profit. Such people tend to ignore that there may not be a "conspiracy" but there were a lot of people who peddled a lot of nonsense far less truthful than that Michael Moore movie the other side whines and cries about, who made a lot of money.

The combination of partisan Ken Starr's' $80 million fishing expedition, and the millions and millions made off of crank conspiracy books and videos dwarfs any money that Fahrenheit 911 made. And yet, the other side caterwauls on and on about how "negative" Moore is. Whatever.

This film wasn't so much about the "conspiracy" in the end as it was more about how people who claim to be reporters tend to be more interested in "the story", regardless of how true it is, and how feeding the 24 hour news cycle is more important than thinking things through and making sure that if you're going to go with some big story, the ducks are all in a row.

It was also interesting to see how Peabody award winning news people were tagged as "Clinton apologists" the minute they did not report 100% what was expected of them by folks like Richard Mellon Scaife, Jerry Falwell, and the like. In other words, you're only objective if you report what Those Who Know Best want you to say.

It's also clear that the wacky 90s gave us the Post Truth era we have today. It amazes me still that snarky, chain-store sponsored, faux bloggers who make up stories and freely admit it are called "witty" and get to report for MTV.  

It's definitely interesting to watch, although I'd' suggest it's a better DVD rental than theater film, if only because I'd rather go to the theater to escape current events instead of watch them. When is that new Stargate movie coming out?

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

April 23, 2004

Plank THIS In Your Political Platform!

Every four years we're treated to a national political convention from the major (and yes, even the minor) political parties. Two of said conventions, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions will be televised. Much ado is made about such conventions, in particular, the byzantine navigation of party rules and regulations at the national, state, and local level to craft what is known as a "party platform."

Personally, I think if you asked most people what a "Party Platform" was they would think you were talking about the thing the politician stands on when he or she gives a speech. I don't say that to suggest most people are stupid - on the contrary, I'd say it suggests just how relevant the "real" party "platform" is in American political life.

Every year, especially when there's an open election on either party's side (or as in 2000 on both) there's much hand-wringing and big political talk about "the platform." Winning candidates don't talk about it much, except in broad strokes; less successful candidates talk about advancing their candidacy to "influence" said document. You'd think these people were talking about the Magna Carta II: Electric Boogaloo or something by the importance placed on it.

Nowhere are the fights more bitter, or more vicious, than at the local level. In fact, as you go down the food chain, from the Big Deal At The Convention, on down to the state level, and then on down to the congressional, state legislative, and precinct level, you'd find that the fights, pissing matches, longwinded debates, and endless talk by party "activists" gets more and more irrelevant as you go.

I will never forget the horror story a friend of mine in Washington State relayed to me years ago, when he was deputized to run a local caucus that began delegate selection in that state. After running through the day's business at the usual pace (slow) the entire proceeding was held up by an intense debate about the wording of some resolution that people wanted to make that would really stick it to The Man and express their will as Democrats.

What was the Big Issue? Was it "abortion"? "Taxes"? "Defense Spending"? "Guns"? "Malt Liquor Taxation Rates"? SOMETHING important?

No. In fact, the 3 hour debate was whether to word some resolution to say the Party was in support of working families versus working people No, I am not making this up.

The debate got so heated he had to call a time out on the whole thing and make people go into separate corners, like kids. He called me up that night and relayed said experience, and began to wonder what it was they put in the coffee that day.

By no means is this confined to one party - I have attended events on both sides, and even some "third party" conventions, and found this to be a universal truism. Friends in the GOP tell me horror stories that easily match the rage and futility that match situations like this all the time.

The problem is, the "platform" in today's system is almost entirely irrelevant to what happens should Candidate A or Candidate B get elected. Sure, one party can take potshots at another over some particularly goofy statement that accidentally gets through the system, but these potshots are becoming more and more rare as both major parties devise layers of rules to keep anything from happening - again, not that it matters.

I have yet to see a collaborationist Democrat or a collusionist Republican get seriously reprimanded for going against the national or state party's platform. What would happen if they did? What if said platform was the defining document of all political identity in say, the Democratic Party?"

I've always imagined it might be something like this:

Scene: A dimly lit chamber, with five thrones up on a very tall stage. A renegade politico (picture Steve Westly, for example) stands in shackles, with a large spotlight beaming directly overhead.

Five hooded figures, each with a donkey and tattoos of Adlai Stevenson on their foreheads and dark heavy cloaks march out and take their places and glare at the One Who Dared Collaborate With Doofinator.

After hailing their Great Leaders of the Party (Truman, Roosevelt, Clinton, et al) who appear on huge, Soviet-realist style portraits two stories high, The Party Bigwig begins to speak.

Party Bigwig 1: Steve Westly, you are hereby charged with violating a tiny portion of the Democratic Party Platform. Before the Central Committee passes judgment, what say ye?

Steve "Beaver Cleaver" Westly: Um, I'm really sorry I supported that dumbass credit card bond? And, oh yeah, vote for me for Governor in 2006!

Party Bigwig 2: SILENCE, WORM! You have violated the Mighty Platform, and YE SHALL BE PUNISHED!!

Steve "Beaver Cleaver" Westly: Please...have mercy...I thought it was a good idea at the time...all the other kids were doing it...an older kid made me do it...no...don't punish me O Mighty Bigwig

Party Bigwig 1: SILENCE, TRAITOR!  It is the determination of this Committee that YOU have VIOLATED the PLATFORM, and you shall now feel the full force of the wrath of The Party! You will be removed from office forthwith, and you will be banished from politics forever! Let this be a lesson to all who dare oppose....THE PLATFORM!! Muah ha ha ha ha!

Cue dramatic gothic organ music, and a chorus singing the Internationale. Or the Macarena. Whatever works.

Well, wouldn't it be cool if they did do that? Oh come on, you're no fun!

We know what really happens. People spend a lot of time wording these things, other people spend more time rewriting them. But in the end, it doesn't mean a hell of a lot. Any politician can pretty much do whatever they want, call themselves what they want, and no one can really stop them unless voters toss 'em out.

It's why a guy like Governor Doofinator can nominally be "pro-choice" or "pro-gay" but still remain in a party whose official platforms strongly oppose both. It's also how a guy like Bill Clinton can be voted in by Democrats twice, while never getting that national health care thing done in eight years.

To political journalists, it's something to write about when they get tired of the ping pong match of TV ads we're seeing right now, and it gives some candidates something to talk about now that the nominations of both parties are "decided" in "advance." No one has to really abide by them, and no one really cares in the party, outside of the party, or anywhere.

Which is unfortunate. It would be nice if we had conventions that really decided things, and were interesting to take part in and watch. It would be even better if we had more parties that stood for something, instead of two "big tent" parties that try to be all things to all people. But most prefer what we have, simply because it's easier to cover, and easier to understand

Besides, if we had the system I've always advocated (four parties: Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, and Republican) which would let people more easily express their real intent at the ballot box, it would at least make things more fun.

Hey, it worked in New York for many years! Why not try it nationally? Can things be any more dull than they are now?

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 25, 2004

March 2nd Primary Endorsements- Taxpayer Funded Fun!

The geniuses who moved California's primary from the sensible, and safe June to the irrationally early March did so to "give California more say" in the presidential primaries. But because of the unbalanced front loading of the primaries so far our "choices" have been reduced to picking amongst who'se left: Sen. Kerry, Sen. Edwards, Rep. Kucinich and yes, Rev. Al Sharpton, in the Tuesday primary. Whatever "influence" California might have had has once again been snatched away, reminding one of poor ol' Charlie Brown's quixotic quest to kick that football Lucy has.

While this may reassure Sen. Kerry's campaign, it has the unintended effect of potentially dampening turnout for other campaigns this March, which would be unfortunate. Several very important issues are on the ballot, and it's important to make sure one's voice is heard since many of these will have a more direct and immediate impact on people's lives than who gets elected President. Plus, with so many races already decided, you can do what I do when confronted with inevitable winners in these races, and use your ballot as state-funded entertainment.

So without further ado, some humble recommendations from Schädelmann.com:

President: The only real race right now is on the Democratic side - I am unaware of any serious insurgency on the GOP side. I make two recommendations for you to consider, it really depends on how you feel when you mark your ballot.

If you want to be able to say "Hey, I voted for the winner" then vote for Sen. John Kerry. Polls indicate he's got anywhere from a 25 to 32 point lead over Sen. Edwards, and the rest trail far behind. Thanks primarily to a large loan from himself to the campaign, he was able to revive his flagging fortunes and already President Bush and his minions are attacking him. Even if Kerry's lead were to drop 15 points (not likely) he'd STILL win by over 15 points anyway. So if you want to vote for the "winner" , vote for Sen. John Kerry.

If you don't care about voting for a winner, and want to have some fun, vote for Rep. Dennis Kucinch. I've had the pleasure of meeting Rep. Kucinch and think he's a genuinely nice guy and his campaign staff has always been fun to talk to. Barring some revelations over the weekend, he's not going to win the California primary. But then again, with Kerry being the inevitable winner anyway, voting for Kucinch won't hurt Kerry a bit, and could help Rep. Kucinch get some issues aired at the convention in July. So if you'd like to use your ballot for some taxpayer-funded fun, vote Kucinch.

Proposition 55: Vote No I hate to vote no on building schools, or fixing them since so many are in such sorry shape. But as usual, these fund will build lots of buildings, but make not one assurance that there'll be a dime to fund any classes in them.

Plus when you read the fine print and realize we're paying as much in interest (12.4 billion dollars) as we are in getting actual money to the schools (12.3 billion dollars) you begin to realize this is short term borrowing with long term debt problems. We have too many bonds issued as is - force the Doofinator and the Legislature to fund schools properly, or take the shackles off of local government and let local communities decide for themselves how much they would like to pay for decent schools in their area.

Proposition 56: Vote Yes. The two-thirds requirement to pass a budget is one of these idiotic "think tank" ideas some genius comes up with as a way to try and make things better, when in fact it makes things worse. It makes no sense for a budget with 64% of the votes in the Legislature fail, because it didn't get a full 66% vote.

The wild-eyed claims about making it "easier" to pass higher taxes and the threat of Californians waking up one day to find all their taxes have been quintupled is foolish. If a state Legislature raised taxes too much, they'd get voted out of office - that's our job as voters if that is in fact how we feel.

More importantly, it would force all of our state leaders to make hard decisions about how to run our state government, instead of allowing them to pass clever little "non tax" taxes, like state assessments on parking tickets and the infamous "snack tax" of Gov. Pete Wilson (aka Arnold I).

Return majority rule to the state budget process, and take away the excuses both branches use to evade their roles as leaders charged with making decisions.

Proposition 57/58: Vote NO NO NO NO. Gov. Doofinator ran Gray Davis out of town claiming that Davis resorted to budget trickery that ran our state in to debt, and that he, the Doofinator, would make "tough choices" and bring "leadership" to Sacramento. This bond and pony show does neither.

Rather than be a balls-out real Republican and cut like crazy, he instead proposes to get out the state credit card, and borrow our way out of our problems. This is not leadership - this is deferring the problem to future generations so that Doofinator and the Legislature can say they "fixed" the problem without having to make any difficult choices.

Particularly galling is the total sellout of the Jarvis Taxpayers Association, longtime foes of budget shenanigans (we thought) who have signed on to this foolish package, as well as the sellout of "Democrats" like Steve Westly, who claims to be a Democrat, but can't seem to get those sparkles out of his eyes when standing next to the retired movie star. The witty rejoinder we keep hearing from people who "reluctantly" support this nonsense is the old "well we don't want to make cuts in social programs, so this is the best we can do."

Bullshit! It's is just this kind of crisis that can force everyone to make real decisions and stand up for what it is they truly support and discard what they do not. Sure the battle would be ugly, and the short-term damage would be horrible, but the eventual compromise from an honest debate would be far better than this noise.

Superior Court, Los Angeles County: Since I recently moved here, I do not know much about these candidates. Rather than cast an irresponsible ballot, I'm leaving these blank. I rarely do this, but when I know so little about LA Superior Court issues, I'm not going to add to the noise by casting crazy votes and accidently voting for some nutcase candidate by mistake. Maybe that makes me less of a "knowledgeable pundit," but I'd rather admit I don't know something than lie.

Los Angeles County Supervisor: Los Angeles County, an area bigger than 20 states, has only five supervisors running the County. These people run "their" districts like little feudal kingdoms, safe from any real opposition with huge election bank accounts that ensure no one dares take them on. The geographic area of each supervisor's district is so big, that running a low budget campaign is next to impossible. Thus, voting in these races is like voting in a third world country where the election's been determined in advance, and the "winner" gets something like 110% of the vote.

Thus, vote for any non-incumbent in these races. If the ones running in your area are particularly insane, then write in someone. Anyone. Yourself, your friend, your dog, whatever. Punch a hole in these folks' egos and deny them their 90%. It won't change much but at least you'll make someone at the Elections OFfice have to hand count your ballot.

No matter how you end up deciding to vote, be sure to do so. And make sure you know where your mail-ballot is and your polling place. Although I'm registered in Venice as a Permanent Mail Ballot voter, I have yet to receive my ballot, and after several frustrating calls to the Elections Department did I find that I may never get it - and if I'd followed the advice of the first person to take my call, I would not have been able to vote at all this time around! Scary.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 11, 2004

Mission Accomplished: Short Term Gains, Long Term Worries

The corporate thinkers in the Washington Establishment have accomplished their mission - get a nominee quick and easy. Do it as fast as possible, and make sure that people know who's the one who is "electable." And be sure to knock off any latecomers to the party, so to speak - we don't want any trouble, we just want safety.

Front-loading the primary schedule as was done this year was designed precisely to do this. By stacking up the campaigns so quickly, it left little time for much debate, analysis, or testing of the candidates, and hopefully keep the rabble out. When Howard Dean threatened to usurp the process by bypassing the traditional methodology to reach the $20 million by Jan. 1 milestone one needed, the party and the establishment responded in force.

Shadowy advertisting with little disclsoure paid for by unions and retired Sen. Robert Torricelli. Unprecedented collusion between the campaign managers of no less than four independent presidential campaigns to "Stop Dean." A hostile media with biased coverage complete with the inevitable crocodile mea culpas from CNN and ABC. Top it off with some tactical mistakes by the Dean crew, (inevitable in any campaign), and you have an effective dismissal of the party-crashing Dean.*

Onward to victory, we're led to believe. Hurry up, get that nominee. Never mind that large states, such as California and New York, will have little to no role in determining the viablity of said candidates, while highly representative states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Delaware get to vote for any candidate they want - and determine who we're left with.

Never mind that in the past 40 years, no winning Democratic nominee in a tough race (Kennedy, Carter, Clinton) came from a safe primary battle - they emerged from a long, hard fought campaign that tested their campaign's organization, message, and resolve through a process that allowed people some time to at least find out who these people even were.

No, the corporate short-termer thinkers like Terry McAuliffe, Al From, and the rest of the Congressional Washington Establishment wanted it done quickly and painlessly, and a lazy media was happy to go along for the ride. Throughout the campaign's news coverage, you got the sense they just wanted to pronounce it "done" and go home so they can write up the daily "Kerry attacks Bush, Bush attacks Kerry" missives from the DNC and RNC. Watch how fast this lively exchange gets tuned out by most people for its dull repetitiveness and negativity.

The joke is of course that the most popular programming on television right now is the infamous "reality show," where people compete to the end, and each week we're treated to some poor sap getting voted "off the island" or married to some big weird guy. There's ample evidence to indicate that a spirited primary battle was capturing people's attention and provided some interesting television to say the least. But as quickly as the focus began, it's now ended - as has any interesting news or drama.

Apparently the corporate crowd in Washington doesn't watch the same TV as the proletariat - unfortunate for them because pop culture determines more of our political culture than vice versa. Their overriding fear that the contest would degrade into a messy Battle Royale prevailed over any sort of rationale that doesn't fit into a table or a spreadsheet.

I have said more than once, and with tremendous sincerity, that a more inclusive system would not be state-funded primaries, or dull caucuses, but rather a national telethon to raise money for the eventual nominee through a series of bi-weekly American Idol style votes.

Each episode would focus on an issue, and pre-registered particpants could vote via cell phone, telephone, Internet, etc. and each episode would leave one less candidate on the dais. You can ridicule such a concept - but remember, more people are voting for the next American Idol than for the eventual Democratic (or Republican) nominee. Rather than high-brow bemoaning of the degradation of culture, why not embrace it - and pull more people into the process? Too messy, I guess. Besides, you might get someone who's not part of the in crowd. Scary!

I have no problems with Kerry personally, I just worry we're all saying he's "The One" without enough tests in today's bitter partisan electoral landscape to make sure he'll pull through. Even Neo had to fight Agent Smith and get shot full of bullets to find out he was The One.

Surely we could have afforded a few debates where he could take som fire - and prove he's The One by repelling it easily. Compared to the debates before Jan. 1 - where it was 8 Democrats vs. Dean, relentlessly attacking him over and over and over - Kerry has had it very easy. Too easy.

That said, I admit, it was fun to have worked advance at Kerry's kickoff at Fanueill Hall in Boston. I got to meet the Senator and he seems like a nice enough person. Plus, it's always fun when you get to see yourself on TV news coverage wayyyyy in the background, with a big crowd of happy people.

The system's done its job, and there's no sense in complaining. It's time to see what's next in the race. I'll cast my ballot and support the eventual nominee, and just hope if they get elected things will improve. However, as a California voter, I now face the prospect of casting a ballot in an election that's already been decided. Has a sort of third-world feel.

Those pro-Bush positions on "Leave No Child Behind," tax cuts, and the Iraq war hopefully were just to stay "electable," and once "elected," said frontrunner will cast aside such expediency and reveal their true selves. Practical politicians do this all the time, and political observers like myself need to get on the bandwagon and stop asking questions. It'll all be OK.

This play has an eerily familiar tone to it - I seem to remember someone else who got elected on a similar platform 12 years ago. They even included promises of health care coverage for all, complete with a Democratic Congress to back them up - only to end things 8 years later with a health care system in tatters, jobs being sent overseas, and brewing corproate scandals at Enron and MCI.

Is it a good idea to take plays from a 12 year old book for a game that isn't played on the same field as today? Will playing the middle work in an era of red state/blue state and a hyper-partisan President that called an injured war veteran in 2002 "disloyal" and "unpatriotic?"

Well, these and other considerations are to be pushed aside. The winner of the California primary won't have to do more than attend some fundraisers in LA and San Francisco to "win," and the serious problems California faces will be but a sideshow.

The Important People Who Know Better Than Me running the campaign can pat us on the head, smile and say they "care" about our problems and insert some college Spanish into a few speeches. Meanwhile we'll never really know which of the Democratic candidates even understands the issues Californians face, much less their stand on them.

Let's just hope they pick up something before November 2004 to ensure winning California's 60+ electoral votes. Otherwise, one wonders what it will be like in January 2005.

Update: USA Today, that thoughtful and deliberative journal of the American landscape, seems to agree with me today!

*(Note to wannabe challengers of the system: you better have your act together if you want even half a chance to get taken seriously. Put down the macrame pamphlets and get your organization disciplined, and organized! Watch your back and for God's sake, be careful about how you take on the media - otherwise others may cash in on the fear you generate with these folks.)

� 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

February 7, 2004

A Rather Accurate Account of How Weird Presidential Caucuses Are

If you've never been to a presidential caucus and are wondering if this process is an open, small-d democratic way to do things, check out this story at the LA Times and read an interesting account of a caucus meeting in Bellevue, WA.

I can vouch for such an account - when I lived in Seattle I went through the caucus system in 1996 and 2000, and they are not much fun. Years of adding rules and regulations to ensure everything from diversity to preventing the "wrong" candidates from winning, makes it a mess.

In 1996 I remember going to a caucus in my neighborhood, West Seattle, held at a community center. I picked the room that seemed to be the right one, and sat in the back, late. I looked around and it looked like people from the neighborhood were all there talking about something Really Important.

Then I realized I wasn't in the right place. In fact, I was at a meeting of the Little League parents' group. I left and went to the right room, next door. It was sparsely attended, save for a few old-time Democratic partisans, and a lot of people I knew who lived in the area and worked as political consultants or for city and county government. The guy running the caucus was a real trooper for wading through countless pages of counter-intuitive rules to make sure everything ended up OK. That guy was...(Paul Harvey moment..) Tom Carr, who later became Seattle's elected City Attorney.

It was an interesting contrast. In one room were the people who might have an interest in participating in the caucus process but who had better things to do that night. In the other were a pack of mostly well intentioned civil service employees, and political staffers, who themselves did not completely understand the byzantine structure of the evening.

One final note: Out of a state of millions of voters in Washington State, only about 10,000 voted for John Kerry. More people vote for a city councilmember in rural cities than for presidential nominees. Hmm.

© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 21, 2004

Adama in 2004?

Being one of those science fiction fans who has a discerning palate when it comes to entertainment, I find that when I hear of the Next Big Thing to come to sci-fi entertainment I'm almost always disappointed. Most movies and television made by the mega-corps are not very good and some are just plain awful.

If you've ever had to endure a long-winded, poorly written and directed episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the inimitably bad Star Wars: Episode I or the goofball adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen you deserve a medal for enduring the sheer mental pain such bad entertainment can inflict on the thinking, reasoning mind.

It's unfortunate that most TV and movie sci-fi is so bad, because good sci-fi can explore ideas and concepts that a story based in the world of today or the past can't. While some can't get past the inherent goofiness of robots, clones, big space ships, etc. and see a good story, most people can - but only if there's something there to see in the first place.

However, most writers these days seem to feel that the only way to make their work "meaningful" is to have longwinded soliloquies and lots of "grokking and talking" (think Star Trek here) to give their work some much needed gravitas.

Instead they succeed in putting the audience to sleep, and turn off thinking people from whatever it is they are trying to say, which usually is some ham-handed morality tale of good vs. evil, or spewing some tired old BS about how we can all "get along" if we'd just all get cyber-PC implants or something. Woo hoo.

Thus, when an attempt is made to resurrect or re-conceive some of the older stories into something new, the reaction by the public can be one of knee-jerk rejection. This is unfortunate since there have been some well-written, directed and acted dramas of late that can provide great entertainment and intelligent drama. Stargate SG-1 is just one example of a fun, intelligent, worthwhile  piece of entertainment, now available on DVD.

I've noticed, though  that when I talk about a particular new offering by the Sci-Fi channel, the moment I say the name of the program, the assorted groans tend to drown out anything else I say. What am I talking about?

Battlestar Galactica.

Yes, I am serious. No I'm not inhaling glue or smoking crack here.

There is no denying the original 1978 TV series, replete with bad 70's hairdos, ham-handed Mormon morality tales, and some of the goofiest plots put on television was BAD only exceed by the even-worse . Galactica: 1980,which if you don't remember, consider yourself lucky and count the brain cells you saved by avoiding such dreck.

We really need someone to burn all evidence of this and every other bad TV program so that future generations won't think we were a society of cretins (but that's a whole column for another day!)

Unlike my geek bretheren who wax poetically about the nostalgia and greatness of the old series, I'm not afraid to call this one for what it was - crap TV. Sure I watched it when I was a kid, but as an adult, I can now see why my parents weren't too thrilled to have to watch this with me on Sunday nights. Thanks for your patience, parental units!

Thus, when the Sci-Fi channel announced it was commissioning a four-hour miniseries remake, I figured that a coup had been staged and the Geek Bretheren who worship at the altar of Galactica were going to make a dreadful remake of a bad show. A colleague of mine TiVO'd it and invited me to watch and I reluctantly let myself watch an hour, and figured it would be worth the laugh, and I'd go home.

Four hours later, I realized I was wrong. Here was a drama that had it all: a real script, obviously written and edited by people who figured out that good writing for television stands on it own, replacing lots of talk explaining what's happening with well-written action and dialogue that tells you what is going on without the BS.

It moved fast, always introducing something new, while building a bigger story out of its many pieces.  The program featured a cast that could actually act, led by Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell who, with their fellow cast of young and talented actors, provided excellent performances al around.  Best of all, it communicated a story, a simple one really about what it would be like to go through the end of the world (or in this case the end of 12 worlds).

If you missed this, catch it on DVD when it comes out later this year. I won't spoil too much of the plot, but will say that many people I know who don't even like sci-fi enjoyed this film. Essentially, humans living in a group of 12 planets created cybernetic "Cylons" to work for them, doing their toughest jobs.

The Cylons, unhappy perhaps with the lack of a health-care plan or whatever, rose up against their human masters and a 40 year war ensued. The plot picks up after the war has been over for some time and everyone's at peace - but no one has seen their enemy for ages. The enemy Cylons return, and their mission is simple - eliminate their former masters from existence. No negotiations or speeches - just a good old fashioned total nuclear decimation and the chaos that ensues.

Battlestar Galactica was not a safe, happy movie, with a panacea of "PC" plotlines and safe, happy-face endings. It was a film where the horrors of war and survival were shown for what they were - taking the world of these people settled in 12 planets far away in space as a "reality" for the moment, it told a story about how people - not 2D cutout charters - would react in a situation as horrific as a total destruction of civilization and the will to survive, and the hard choices such survival entails.

Commander Adama, played by Edward James Olmos, was one of the best characters in the series, portraying a career military man on his way towards retirement, with some regrets in life, who takes it upon himself to lead when all around him is going to hell. Confronted with the enemy in hand to hand combat, he does not do some wire-assisted kicks and leaps - he fights in a brutal, bloody, and truly nasty fight that ends with the enemy Cylon a bloody, torn up mess.

This is not "Ben Cartwright in Space" - this is a realistic portrayal of what a career military officer, thrust into such situations, would actually do. And when faced with the reality he has to be more than a military leader, but a true leader of his people, he rises to the challenge, not with the ease of a Trekkie, but with all the trepidations a real person would have.

Mary McDonnell, as the politician 43rd in line of succession to what's left of the civilian government, did an excellent job as someone who never thought they'd have to lead anything - and end up having to lead their people at the worst possible time (i.e. a total annihilation) and surprises everyone with her ability to find within herself the ability to keep it together and lead when people need it most.

I won't go into too many more details (as I hate it when previews and reviewers spoil things for the viewing public), except to say that pilot "Starbuck", this time played by a woman, was an interesting update of the old show - and it was nice to see they cast an actress who looked like an in-shape soldier who could throw a mean punch if she needed to (and does, decking a corrupt officer at a card game) and not some Typical Hollywood Waif. (can we really imagine a Lara Flynn Boyle type kicking the crap out of aliens?)

The cinema-verite style filming also gave the program a "you are there" feel - as if you're with the embedded journalists covering the war, not spectators at a Lucas/Spielberg "epic" and the absence of a loud, John Williams-like soundtrack made the scenes that much more intense.

So it's worth a look. Push aside your pre-conceived notions of how bad most of this stuff is, and give it an hour. You may find yourself surprised when four hours pass and you've not moved from your seat.

Besides, after listening to the day's news, it's nice to sit back and watch something that has nothing to do with Iraq, President Bush, the latest attack on Howard Dean, the bogus-ness of John Kerry's loans, or the inherent screwed up nature of corporate rule. Life's too short to waste it watching CNN and FOX News all day.

And, they can say "frak" all they want and the censors can't do diddly about it.

PS: At this point, I am beginning to wonder if the only guy that at the very least can keep 2004 from becoming a Stalinist landslide for Bush is Gen. Wes Clark who has some credibility on matters that career politicians do not. Besides, he's the only one who comes close to being our nation's version of Commander Adama.

January 18, 2004

CDP Update #6- What Kind of "Party" is This, Anyway?

The only real fun at any convention, GOP, Democrat, Green, Whig, whatever party are the many parties held after hours at the convention hall and elsewhere. Many candidates hold events of their own, as do many supporters. Here's a quick rundown of what we've seen so far this evening:

-Treasurer Phil Angelides had a squad of eager young folks promoting his big party this evening and true enough it had all sorts of Greek food. But the room they picked was incredibly small - so small it made it almost impossible to get a chicken kabob, much less talk to anyone or see anyone. Memo to Phil: if you promote the hell out of a party, get a room big enough to hold everyone - or at least most of 'em! For people like me who hate crowds, it was a bit difficult to manage.

I did have the good fortune of meeting an Assembly candidate from my home district, Mike Gordon who is not only the mayor of El Segundo - he's running against the Mayor of Redondo Beach who appeared on Blind Date. No I am not making this up.

-The Kucinch Campaign's suite at the Fairmont had a great selection of food and had the most political of all gatherings. Delegates and supporters gathered to have a drink and have some very animated conversations about Big Issues. Very much in line with the campaign itself, and worth popping in to check out for a little while.

-Best Party Crowd Award goes to the Clark '04 campaign's suite at the Fairmont. I find that the Clark campaign seems to attract an interesting, laid back, cool crowd that's fun to hang out with, both in LA and up here. A good friend of mine from college, Chris O'Sullivan, was a delegate from Sonoma County for Clark, and told me where the party was. Very quickly it was the one with the most beer, the most going on, and the most fun energy of the ones I attended. If they could somehow broadcast this, I think Clark would win in a landslide.

-Biggest Invisible Group Award goes to the Howard Dean campaign. For a group that had huge representation amongst delegates, it seemed like they just vanished at night. No one ever seemed to know where they were or what they were doing. I can't believe they all just went back to their rooms and slept - surely Dean's people know how to party once in a while, don't they? Baffling.

There were some others but they were just so so. AIPAC had free ice cream (nice respite from the overpriced convention center drinks everyone else had to serve) and many delegates started having their own parties to liven the mood up since it seemed that unlike past years, the political "party" scene was a bit dry.

Look for a wrap up of the CDP proceedings later tonight!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Quick Wrap Up

When I first decided to do some investigating of the CDP convention it was with the idea I'd find a lot of bizarre, interesting, or humorous things to exploit for the sake of a good story. True, there were the funny incidents, and there were plenty of parties to attend and people to meet. Yet throughout the proceedings, even as people committed themselves for the work ahead, you could feel the sense of uncertainty amongs folks when one asked them how they thought things would go this year.

This year is going to be a very difficult year for the political system in general, and a tough one for Democratic partisans no matter what happens this year. The McCain-Feingold laws, changing economic divisions, and changes in technology make it clear that even if somehow a Clark or a Dean, or whomever manages to win in 2004 up against CNN, FOX News, and a half-billion dollar re-election effort, they'll still be stuck with a GOP Congress (thanks in part to gerrymandering in Texas and Colorado) and the incredible burden of debt and ongoing administration in Iraq and elsewhere is going to make the next four years very tough for anyone.

It's also clear that most Congressional Democrats (with some notable exceptions) still seem to concentrate on re-electing themselves, and despite talk and money for "taking back Congress", folks like Sen. Joe Lieberman and assorted similar insiders are more worried about keeping their niche, doing what it takes to stay in, and really don't have much incentive to change things. And frankly they'd rather see a non-DC insider lose to Bush than risk a win with Clark, Dean or someone else who isn't beholden to the DC culture of risk aversion and personal profit.

It just kills me when Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who has the fighting spirit and the organizational and fundraising skill to pull off some wins is demonized by the press and the DLC Democrats as "too liberal" and paint her as some kook from San Francisco. This charge is usually made by people who write "paint-by-the-numbers" hit pieces and news articles - if they'd ever met Rep. Pelosi in person they'd realize she's probably one of the few politicians in DC who has this habit of telling the truth and keeping her word. That's a rare trait that deserves to be praised, not attacked by hack politicians from the Old Confederacy.

Certainly the changes in the party and the electorate needed to really change Congress would mean that the DLC status quo would need to be moved aside, or at least have to power-share with others. And to pro-corporate interests, that's just unthinkable. Work with people they may not agree with 100%? Bah! Better to demonize them and kick them out of the "Party" (whatever that means) and then whine when they vote elsewhere. Such is the "logic" of the DLC/DC insider crowd.

I suppose the real story coming out of the CDP convention isn't that the "Democratic Party" is in a state of flux but rather the whole political system is in a state of flux, and whether there is a Democratic (or even a Republican) party in 10 years is highly debatable. Moreover what does survive will have to bear little resemblance, organizationally, to the parties of the past.

It may be that the Dean, Clark and Kucinch folks may be able to find a way out of the wilderness just yet with the new people, tactics and ideas they're bringing in to the system. There is certainly more hope there than with than the corporate, pseudo-middle politics of a bunch of DLC insiders who do not know, and could care less about what regular people really need and do not need in their day to day lives.

I've lived in one-party systems before and they're not good for the majority apparatchniks nor for the people who have to live under such a system. It also is incredibly boring to write about! Besides, we're in too much trouble as is to devolve into Brezhnev-like stagnation brought on by right and left wing ideologues with no clue as to what to do to actually run things in this country today.

Monday's column will be posted late as I will be spending all day in meetings up north - but we'll post something a bit more lighthearted for y'all to check out!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Update #6- What Kind of "Party" is This, Anyway?

The only real fun at any convention, GOP, Democrat, Green, Whig, whatever party are the many parties held after hours at the convention hall and elsewhere. Many candidates hold events of their own, as do many supporters. Here's a quick rundown of what we've seen so far this evening:

-Treasurer Phil Angelides had a squad of eager young folks promoting his big party this evening and true enough it had all sorts of Greek food. But the room they picked was incredibly small - so small it made it almost impossible to get a chicken kabob, much less talk to anyone or see anyone. Memo to Phil: if you promote the hell out of a party, get a room big enough to hold everyone - or at least most of 'em! For people like me who hate crowds, it was a bit difficult to manage.

I did have the good fortune of meeting an Assembly candidate from my home district, Mike Gordon who is not only the mayor of El Segundo - he's running against the Mayor of Redondo Beach who appeared on Blind Date. No I am not making this up.

-The Kucinch Campaign's suite at the Fairmont had a great selection of food and had the most political of all gatherings. Delegates and supporters gathered to have a drink and have some very animated conversations about Big Issues. Very much in line with the campaign itself, and worth popping in to check out for a little while.

-Best Party Crowd Award goes to the Clark '04 campaign's suite at the Fairmont. I find that the Clark campaign seems to attract an interesting, laid back, cool crowd that's fun to hang out with, both in LA and up here. A good friend of mine from college, Chris O'Sullivan, was a delegate from Sonoma County for Clark, and told me where the party was. Very quickly it was the one with the most beer, the most going on, and the most fun energy of the ones I attended. If they could somehow broadcast this, I think Clark would win in a landslide.

-Biggest Invisible Group Award goes to the Howard Dean campaign. For a group that had huge representation amongst delegates, it seemed like they just vanished at night. No one ever seemed to know where they were or what they were doing. I can't believe they all just went back to their rooms and slept - surely Dean's people know how to party once in a while, don't they? Baffling.

There were some others but they were just so so. AIPAC had free ice cream (nice respite from the overpriced convention center drinks everyone else had to serve) and many delegates started having their own parties to liven the mood up since it seemed that unlike past years, the political "party" scene was a bit dry.

Look for a wrap up of the CDP proceedings later tonight!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 17, 2004

CDP Update #5- High Drama at the Grassroots

If you've never attended a party convention (Democrat or Republican, or even Green, or whatever) you've probably never been exposed to the maze of rules that govern the convention, and the party itself. While years of media campaigns and self-funded candidates have reduced the influence of convention meetings, there are still times when a dramatic intra-party contest can provide some entertainment, and teach a lesson about grassroots organizing.

The 21st Assembly District in California is located in Silicon Valley, made up of the cities of Palo Alto, Redwood City, Woodside, Menlo Park and other cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. The seat is currently held by Assemblyman Joe Simitian who is now running for the State Senate in District 11.

Four Democratic candidates have filed for the primary: John Barton, Palo Alto School Board Trustee and architect, Ira Ruskin, who serves on the Redwood City City Council, Barbara Nesbet, a Monte Sereno Councilmember, and John Carcione, who serves on the West Bay Sanitary District board.

Polls currently indicate that Barton is the front runner, and records indicate he's the only candidate who's raising money (versus loaning money out of his pocket) and has no campaign debt. The question for delegates from the 21st AD was to decide to recommend whether or not the state Democratic Party should make an official endorsement of one of the candidates.

This is where things get interesting. The rules were pretty simple - one had to get 60% of the votes cast to win the endorsement. However, votes for "No Endorsement" would count against anyone in the lead for the nomination. This meant that even if one got the majority of votes, the "no endorsement" votes essentially counted as votes against whomever was the front runner. And here's where the bargaining and politicking began.

Ira Ruskin, although not the front runner in polls, did have some advantage with the people who actually attended the convention. John Barton had a significant block of support as well. Barbara had the least amount of support, and told delegates who supported her to vote "No Endorsement" instead of for her - thus possibly blocking the endorsement for one of the others.

There was added buzz because Assemblyman Joe Simitian is locked in a tough battle with former Assemblyman Ted Lempert in Senate District 11. The overlap between the 21st AD and the 11th SD ensured a high amount of attention being paid by delegates by many campaigns and the lobbying and organizing began in earnest.

One of the most important things you can have in a situation like this is a person who can count. Now that may sound simple to you, but it really isn't. One has to count not only how many votes one has, and how many the others have, but also how many people are actually in the room when the votes are cast since you have to get a certain percentage (or deny someone else a certain percentage) of the vote. You also need someone who's good at corralling people and make sure they stay. Many votes in legislatures and conventions have been lost because someone went to the bathroom for "just a minute" - only to return to find that their candidate or bill lost by one vote.

I hung out with the Simitian/Barton crowd and listened as Assemblyman Simitian told assembled supporters the stakes for his campaign - he had the votes but needed them to be there! Most of Simitian's supporters were also Barton supporters, so the work Simitian was doing to get his people to the convention floor would have some impact on who showed up for the vote on the 21st AD endorsement.

Simitian's people had a very sophisticated operation, with no less than six "whips" who were in charge of 10 delegates each to make sure they knew what was happening and what to do. Very fun to watch and the sign of a smart camapign.

It wouldn't be a Democratic convention without at least some confusion and once again, the CDP proved dependable on this point. The actual location within the convention hall where the delegates were to meet changed from what had been announced previously, and there was no longer any amplified sound for candidates to make their 2-minute speech to delegates with.

It proved to be quite disoriented and confusing to all involved, but the Simitian and Barton campaigns quickly made sure that assembled delegates knew where to go. I decided to make a quick sign out of my notebook and point people in the right direction, just so there'd be a fair shot for everyone.

Each candidate gave a short speech and it was clear Barton was the best speaker of the four. Ruskin has more supporters attend the meeting, and in fact at a pre-convention meeting on this same endorsement he'd landed 56% of delegate votes. Now it was time to see if he'd get the 60%, or if he'd fall short once again.

The ballot was taken by voice, kind of like when you're a kid in school and the teacher calls your name for attendance. I provided assistance as an "auditor", noting on a list of delegates how each delegate voted as their votes were cast, to provide backup in case there was a challenge as to who voted how. Then they started calling the names, while also providing a tally on an oversized notepad up front for all to see.

Each name was called and delegates shouted out their choice: "Ruskin!" "Ruskin!", "Barton", "No Endorsement, "Barton" and so on. Everyone was quiet and listening, and more than one person was keeping their own count like I was. High drama indeed.

Early on it seemed Ruskin was going to get it. As each campaign's crew kept up their own tally, some were feeling good and some were starting to sweat. But just when it seemed that the great majority of votes were a runaway train for Ruskin, everything changed. The votes were starting to come in for Barton one by one, and the rest were for "No Endorsement." Just as quickly as Ruskin had surged, he fell. Barton and No Endorsement were starting to dominate the vote tally.

The vote ended. After making sure everyone had their vote counted, the long division and multiplication began. Final count was as follows:

Total Votes Cast: 72
Ira Ruskin: 36
John Barton: 21
Barbara Nesbet: 1
John Carcione: 0
No Endorsement: 14

Thus, Ruskin fell short, getting only 50% of the delegate vote, a drop from his 56% in December. Barton, who had more community group and constituent support but not as much support amongst party regulars, moved up, and Barbara Nesbet's bid for No Endorsement seemed to help - although one delegate ended up voting FOR her, even though she didn't want any votes!

Barton's campaign was clearly heartened by the news, since they've been leading in polling and organizing for some time, but like many campaigns, don't always have the support of every single party regular who's the type of person who shows up to these sorts of gatherings on a regular basis.

His surge in support, combined with many people who decided it was best to let voters decide who the best Democrat of the pack would be (and not the party), showed new strength for Barton amongst party regulars. Ruskin's decline clearly caught his crew off-guard, since it is unusual for someone to decline in support like this.

Now the campaigns will all continue to raise money and recruit supporters. While some independent party organizations such as the Sil con Valley Democratic Forum (who have endorsed John Barton) may make endorsements, no one will be able to call themselves the 100% official party-approved candidate. In a crowded race such a label might help votes, confused by their choices, to pick a candidate. Now each candidate will highlight other endorsements and issues to help voters make the best choice on primary day.

The drama was over. The votes were counted and cast and everyone moved on to the Simitian/Lempert race. Simitian's challenge was simple - he had 60% of delegates committed - but he had to get them all there and make sure they stayed.

I'd had my fill of delegate debates and counting strategies and took off for the convention hall to watch the latest LaRouche Loony Parade out front and take a break.

For those who think politics is dull - spend some time at a delegate fight like this and put your money on one of the contenders. Then you'll see just how much interest these things can generate. Fun stuff.

It is unfortunate the Elders of Kobol or whoever is in charge of the Democratic Party in DC have spent years trying to make the national convention a coronation ceremony instead of a deal-making interactive process since it made participating in all these things more interesting - and more important. For a view of such a system, try renting The Best Man starring Henry Fonda. It's worth a look!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Update #3- Strikers, Herb Wesson, LaRouche, Oh My!

News Flash! The CDP Convention is being broadcast live via the Internet! See the proceedings (if you find yourself with LOTS of free time) at http://www.ca-dem.org

State conventions are not usually hotbeds of excitement. However, with the presidential race being what it is, and the aftermath of Arnold-mania still leaving some Democratic officials in shock, there's a little more excitement. A little more.

This morning's CDP roster had all of the statewide elected officials (i.e. Lt. Governor, AG, Treasurer, et al) giving their speech. Some were clearly angling to be the gubernatorial nominee in 2006 (Angelides, Lockyer) while others were just there to fire up the crowd (Assemblyman Herb Wesson, D-Culver City and current Speaker).

However the most emotional moment of the morning was not from some elected official but from some good people on the front lines of the grocery strike in Southern California. Sean Harrigan, UFCW vice president, had Olivia Costano and Matthew Hart, UFCW members, tell their stories to the assembled delegates about the fight they're facing to try and keep what they already have and have been promised by management for years - health care coverage for them and their families.

Olivia Costano spoke extemporaneously, describing her experiences on the picket line. Spit at, shouted at, and physically attacked, she still stays on the picket line. Most disturbing was when she told the crowd about the time she was pushed down to the ground by a large individual, and injured her back. When the police came to take the report, they asked her if she wanted an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Despite her pain she said no. Why? Because she had no health insurance.

At that moment the "gasp" you heard coulda knocked the wind out of anyone. Definitely an emotional moment. But also one that brought home what all the rhetoric and the talking points and the buzz are allegedly about: real people's lives. It was a moment where people took a few minutes to forget about the sniping attacks on Dean, the back and forth between partisan about What To Do About Arnold, and thought.

It was a great moment, and UFCW VP Sean Harrigan deserves a pat on the back for his work, not just at the convention but for all he's done for the locked out/on strike workers in Southern California.

Other notable moments: Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante had one of the strangest (and shortest) speeches of the morning session, reading off a "Top Ten List of Reasons Bill Lockyer Might Not Have Voted For Me" to the crowd.

A truly odd mix of humor and bitterness, Cruz rattled of the reasons as follows (and for the record I'm not making this up - this is what Lt. Governor Bustamante said, and any verbal missives about the content of said list should be lobbed at him):

10. Bill was worried Cruz would change the motto from "Eureka" to "Ay Chihuahua!"

9. (can't read my notes dammit)
8. Bill thought Arnold had better hair - and the fact he had hair at all
7. Bill feared Cruz would appoint Cheech and Chong to the Board of Prisons
6. Bill was worried Cruz would replace the bear on the California Flag with the Taco Bell chihuahua
5. Bill thought Bustamante would install slot machines in the Capitol Lobby
4. Concerned about Bustamante opening a drive up DMV in Tijuana (this got booed and hissed a bit)
3. (got distracted by the press secretary for Dean's folks....)
2. Didn't want Richie Ross appointed Lt. Governor (Ross was Bustamante's campaign manager)
1. He wanted someone who looked more like Superman and less like Shrek

Anyway, you get the idea. Not exactly the most rousing speech, that's for sure.

Treasurer Phil Angelides had scores of staff prepping the hall with signs and supporters in advance of what was billed as a call to action by the anti-Arnold of the Democratic Party. While a good speech, it was a bit underwhelming after all the buildup. Steve Westly, state controller and co-chair of Gov. Doofinator's $15 billion credit card debt ballot initiative, gave a polite, well-meaning, and meandering speech, and was met with polite, well-meaning applause.

However, the most rousing partisan moment was Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson's loud and forceful speech contrasting his (and the Party's) values with Gov. Doofinator. It was a fiery, funny, and replete with quotable comments;

-On Gov. Doofinator's promises regarding waste, fraud and abuse in CA gov't: "He's playing to the cameras. He thinks helping children, education and our seniors is a waste, his budget is a fraud, and the only abuse here is the abuse Arnold has with the truth.:

-On Democrats who voted for Gov. Doofinator: "Many Democratic voters and some leaders were starstruck by a movie star. It's time to get that stardust out of their eyes. It's your job to get some Visine and tell people the truth!"

And so on. It was fun. He ended his speech with some good 70s movie music. Very fun! As for his plans once he retires from the Assembly he simply said "Old Speakers never die, they just run for higher office."

Other moments: the LaRouche folks decided to bust into the convention hall and harass people with their pamphlets regarding "Children of Satan" and whatnot. I have to say that these kids (and they're all very young people ) were some of the rudest and most ill-mannered people I've ever seen. The would literally walk up and get in people's faces and scream about the Truth of LaRouche, and insult delegates who didn't want to take a pamphlet. People, get a grip.

I've no problem with fringers getting their voice heard, but this kind of juvenile bullshit irritates me to no end. It's bad enough I get harassed by these chowderheads when I go to the postoffice and it's hard to see how they think they're taken seriously. Ah well, I guess LaRouche needs to get a new generation involved so he can continue the fundraising operations....

Ah, conventions. Always a fun time.

Keep tuned for more updates. Coming up: observations on the delegates themselves with notable quotes from the party faithful, and all sorts of fun at tonight's hospitality suites!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Update #2- Today's Agenda

Good Morning, loyal readers! Getting ready to head over to the convention and check out the morning's circus. Scheduled to speak are California's illustrious statewide officers, includind the now infamous Bill Lockyer, and Steve "I'm with Doofinator" Westly. It will be interesting to see how both are received by this rabid pack of Democratic partisands.

Big noise rumbling amongst delegates continues to be the constant attacks on Dean and its effect on his standing in Iowa polls. If things continue to get nasty, or Washington Insiders claw their way to the top via a bloody negative race, it could be bad news for everyone, including the Insider that wins.

More later...Since the CDP has no lockable storage for my Powerbook I'm locking it up here at the Fairmont, and will update at lunchtime. Hopefully by then there'll be something fun to report.

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Update #4- Quick Quotables from Sen. John Burton, et al

Quick update: Sen. John Burton, the President Pro Tem, had some appropriate comments this afternoon I thought I'd reprint here for fun:

"We show up at these conventions , pass resolutions, stand around outside the hall bullshitting with each other, and when we leave we think we've done something, but we've done nothing. The only think that will win is for us to go out and work."

Refreshing dose of reality in a convention setting. The state is all the poorer for losing this man to artificial term limits.

Ex-Gov. Gray Davis also made a very brief appearance to delegates who gave him a friendly welcome. "Last year I had a few ups and downs, as you might have heard. How was your year?" he quizzed delegates.

Still, as he mingled afterwards with the folks one on one, he seemed to have a genuine sense of relief he's out of office and had a rare smile on his face. Carry on, Gray.

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Update #3- Strikers, Herb Wesson, LaRouche, Oh My!

News Flash! The CDP Convention is being broadcast live via the Internet! See the proceedings (if you find yourself with LOTS of free time) at http://www.ca-dem.org

State conventions are not usually hotbeds of excitement. However, with the presidential race being what it is, and the aftermath of Arnold-mania still leaving some Democratic officials in shock, there's a little more excitement. A little more.

This morning's CDP roster had all of the statewide elected officials (i.e. Lt. Governor, AG, Treasurer, et al) giving their speech. Some were clearly angling to be the gubernatorial nominee in 2006 (Angelides, Lockyer) while others were just there to fire up the crowd (Assemblyman Herb Wesson, D-Culver City and current Speaker).

However the most emotional moment of the morning was not from some elected official but from some good people on the front lines of the grocery strike in Southern California. Sean Harrigan, UFCW vice president, had Olivia Costano and Matthew Hart, UFCW members, tell their stories to the assembled delegates about the fight they're facing to try and keep what they already have and have been promised by management for years - health care coverage for them and their families.

Olivia Costano spoke extemporaneously, describing her experiences on the picket line. Spit at, shouted at, and physically attacked, she still stays on the picket line. Most disturbing was when she told the crowd about the time she was pushed down to the ground by a large individual, and injured her back. When the police came to take the report, they asked her if she wanted an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Despite her pain she said no. Why? Because she had no health insurance.

At that moment the "gasp" you heard coulda knocked the wind out of anyone. Definitely an emotional moment. But also one that brought home what all the rhetoric and the talking points and the buzz are allegedly about: real people's lives. It was a moment where people took a few minutes to forget about the sniping attacks on Dean, the back and forth between partisan about What To Do About Arnold, and thought.

It was a great moment, and UFCW VP Sean Harrigan deserves a pat on the back for his work, not just at the convention but for all he's done for the locked out/on strike workers in Southern California.

Other notable moments: Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante had one of the strangest (and shortest) speeches of the morning session, reading off a "Top Ten List of Reasons Bill Lockyer Might Not Have Voted For Me" to the crowd.

A truly odd mix of humor and bitterness, Cruz rattled of the reasons as follows (and for the record I'm not making this up - this is what Lt. Governor Bustamante said, and any verbal missives about the content of said list should be lobbed at him):

10. Bill was worried Cruz would change the motto from "Eureka" to "Ay Chihuahua!"

9. (can't read my notes dammit)
8. Bill thought Arnold had better hair - and the fact he had hair at all
7. Bill feared Cruz would appoint Cheech and Chong to the Board of Prisons
6. Bill was worried Cruz would replace the bear on the California Flag with the Taco Bell chihuahua
5. Bill thought Bustamante would install slot machines in the Capitol Lobby
4. Concerned about Bustamante opening a drive up DMV in Tijuana (this got booed and hissed a bit)
3. (got distracted by the press secretary for Dean's folks....)
2. Didn't want Richie Ross appointed Lt. Governor (Ross was Bustamante's campaign manager)
1. He wanted someone who looked more like Superman and less like Shrek

Anyway, you get the idea. Not exactly the most rousing speech, that's for sure.

Treasurer Phil Angelides had scores of staff prepping the hall with signs and supporters in advance of what was billed as a call to action by the anti-Arnold of the Democratic Party. While a good speech, it was a bit underwhelming after all the buildup. Steve Westly, state controller and co-chair of Gov. Doofinator's $15 billion credit card debt ballot initiative, gave a polite, well-meaning, and meandering speech, and was met with polite, well-meaning applause.

However, the most rousing partisan moment was Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson's loud and forceful speech contrasting his (and the Party's) values with Gov. Doofinator. It was a fiery, funny, and replete with quotable comments;

-On Gov. Doofinator's promises regarding waste, fraud and abuse in CA gov't: "He's playing to the cameras. He thinks helping children, education and our seniors is a waste, his budget is a fraud, and the only abuse here is the abuse Arnold has with the truth.:

-On Democrats who voted for Gov. Doofinator: "Many Democratic voters and some leaders were starstruck by a movie star. It's time to get that stardust out of their eyes. It's your job to get some Visine and tell people the truth!"

And so on. It was fun. He ended his speech with some good 70s movie music. Very fun! As for his plans once he retires from the Assembly he simply said "Old Speakers never die, they just run for higher office."

Other moments: the LaRouche folks decided to bust into the convention hall and harass people with their pamphlets regarding "Children of Satan" and whatnot. I have to say that these kids (and they're all very young people ) were some of the rudest and most ill-mannered people I've ever seen. The would literally walk up and get in people's faces and scream about the Truth of LaRouche, and insult delegates who didn't want to take a pamphlet. People, get a grip.

I've no problem with fringers getting their voice heard, but this kind of juvenile bullshit irritates me to no end. It's bad enough I get harassed by these chowderheads when I go to the postoffice and it's hard to see how they think they're taken seriously. Ah well, I guess LaRouche needs to get a new generation involved so he can continue the fundraising operations....

Ah, conventions. Always a fun time.

Keep tuned for more updates. Coming up: observations on the delegates themselves with notable quotes from the party faithful, and all sorts of fun at tonight's hospitality suites!

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

CDP Update #1- "I know you ladies are cranky but..."

Greetings dear readers from San Jose, California, one of the hippest parts of California and the center of the World Coin Collector Convention at the San Jose Convention Center AND the California Democratic Convention! Two of California's most important conventions in one place! And with Schdelmann.com on the scene you'll get updates on both, all right here!

First impressions of the convention: It's definitely got more of a carnival atmosphere this time around, with no clear front runner for the Presidential nomination. Everyone's abuzz with talk of delegate selection caucuses, the latest polls from Iowa and New Hampshire, and whatnot. The LaRouche for President faction held a loud demonstration in front of the convention hall and made sure that delegates were informed on who Satan is in American Politics, etc. The usual contingent of Democratic activists were here, the kind that have been going to these things for the last 100 years, alongside the newcomers from the Dean and Clark campaigns and others.

Rep. Dennis Kucinch gave a well-received speech to delegates at the CDP Chairman's "Welcome Reception" this evening, the only presidential candidate to appear this weekend. The vibe in the room was more like a rock concert, with Rep. Kucinich as the star of the show, versus a regular political speech and was definitely talked about afterwards by delegates.

Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to attend, but apparently was stuck in traffic and missed his chance to speak at the reception. A pity, only because I wanted to meet him, and perhaps get some Schdelmann-exclusive quotes. Ah well.

However, the biggest news out of the convention (and what is going to be the least-reported incident - if it's reported at all) is Attorney General Bill Lockyer's comments to the Women's Caucus of the CDP. Lockyer, as you may recall, admitted he voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger over Democrat Cruz Bustamante for Governor in the recent recall election.

You may also recall that A.G. Lockyer said of allegations about Gov. Doofinator that "[he] was convinced Arnold didn't really understand that he was caught up in frat-boy behavior". Needless to say, this is a comment that was not popular with women who feel that sexual harassment is an issue. Especially Democratic Activist women.

So A.G. Lockyer, who wants to be the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2006, came to the caucus to "apologize." However the esteemed A.G. found some rather unfortunate words for his "apology." Discussing his commentary of Governor Doofinator's behavior, Lockyer appealed to the women assembled by starting off with "I understand if you're cranky..."

Right. They're just "cranky." No legitimate gripes here, just some uppity women getting crazy about some silly little issue. I'm surprised that Lockyer didn't hand out Midols with "Lockyer 2006" on it for added apologetic value.

It went downhill from there. After several women protested A.G. Lockyer's comments, they were admonished to be "courteous." Others returned the "lanyards" (the little necklace things delegates use to wear their credentials around their necks for I.D.) that have Lockyer's logo all over them. Word is that there's going to be a protest at Lockyer's speech tomorrow when he speaks to delegates. I'll be on the scene in case such an outburst of grassroots Democratic action takes place.

Lockyer then stumbled to explain his vote for Republican Gov. Doofinator, giving a convoluted explanation for his vote with some longwinded explanation that didn't pass muster with the assembled crowd. As he left he was booed again, and many of the "cranky women" told the A.G. (who has had some issues with women in the past himself) just what they thought of his future bid for governor.

All in all a very interesting incident. Perhaps Lockyer oughta run for LG with Governor Doofinator and save Democratic partisans the prospect of a bruising battle between a Democrat and a wannabe Democrat in the 2006 primary.

Stay tuned! More updates as needed will be posted!

Incidentally, if members of the press are curious as to the veracity of Mr. Lockyer's "cranky" statement, I talked to three sources who confirmed said remarks, the journalistic standard.

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 15, 2004

California Democratic Party Covention Coverage All Weekend!

Friday's regular update will not be seen tomorrow as I'll be on the road to San Jose to go to the Democratic Convention in San Jose. I'll be posting updates throughout the weekend of the convention, the hospitality suites and anything else of note. Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Dennis Kucinch will be there as will all sorts of other good folks.

Keep checking for updates as the weekend progresses and a final write up on the convention next week!

PS: Next time someone starts mouthing off about how "liberal" the media is, send them this link which contains a study showing how the media trash Dean relentlessly, regardless of the facts.

True, Dean's going to have to deal with worse from the quarter-billion dollar RNC attack machine but one would think journalists have better things to do with their time than fancy themselves decisionmakers for us peasants out here in the provinces.

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

January 12, 2004

Dean addicted to Rage-a-hol!

Got your attention, didn't it?

Ah, presidential politics in the Age of Entertainment. By now, if you've read the paper or seen the chatter on the TV news, part of todays Big Story from the campaign trail was a flash of that alleged "Dean Rage" that partisans from the Democratic Insider Crowd and GOP Sen. Joe Lieberman have been sounding the alarm about.

This is big news, folks, and it's good that we focus on it now, lest Dr. Dean become President, get exposed to some gamma radiation at the Pentagon, and end up turning into a menacing
Dr. Hulk while conducting delicate negotiations with Congress or the Chinese. The Republic would be doomed in such a horrifying scenario.

Sound a bit silly? It is. Unfortunately this is what passes for "election journalism" these days.

I saw the alleged "incident" in its entirety today. Basically, a Bush supporter was flipping some midwest-style "'tude" at Dean for being "too mean" to President Bush. After bitching at Dr. Dean for a while, Dean responded and got interrupted by the GOP partisan. His "flash of anger" was Dean asking the guy to let him respond, and why he felt Bush's policies have been bad for America. He did so so not in warm, fuzzy, hippie-speak or the hushed tones of a big-city liberal - he fought back with force and conviction. The GOP partisan was booed out of the room by the crowd.

This is not how most Democrats, particularly those who have been exposed to the "Insider" virus, respond when attacked. When they get attacked for being Democrats, that's their cue to get on their knees. Years of practices with the "on the knees" position ensures that nothing really changes, and that the donors they share with the GOP can stay happy.

It's easy to see how Dean's reaction could be seen as "rage" - he's choosing to stand up for Democrats - not hide behind "triangulation" and accomodation. Definitely scary to entrenched interests.

Since Dean's surge earlier this year, I can't recall hearing much of anything from the John Edwards campaign about what this guy would do as president or why he's qualified to even hold the job. In fact, it's hard for me to even remember he's still in the race or even what he LOOKS like, and I read about politics every day.

As far as I can tell, the only thing he has been saying is something about how he looks better on TV than Dean and how one-term Senators who haven't even completed their term are still qualified to lead the most powerful nation on Earth. I do know he said something nasty about Dean - that got in the papers.

Same goes for John Kerry's campaign. Much time is spent telling people that he's the one that can beat President Bush and his resume (war hero, Senator, whatever) is pulled out at every opportunity and they've always got some zinger of the day to attack Dr. Dean (and now Gen. Clark).

However they don't seem to be able to explain how it is that "unelectable Dean" has been able to kick Kerry way back in the polls - or how Kerry can be expected to beat Bush when he can't even beat a small-town politician like Dr. Dean. I get all sorts of emails from the Kerry campaign with some sort of policy information, but it's usually something I heard already from another campaign. All I really know is his latest anti-Dean and anti-Clark comments.

Richard Gephardt has grown as adept as attacking Dean as Karl Rove and has even spent money creating a whole website just attacking Dean (not unlike something Karl Rove would come up with). He has yet to be forced to explain how it is he can win a national election when the last several nation elections he was in charge of - trying to retake the House back from the GOP - failed miserably, resulting in him resigning his post as House Minority Leader after the disastrous 2002 elections.

Again, not a lot of information on what he'd do as President. I remember once hearing something about health care from Gephardt, but as I recall when we had Democrats running both houses of Congress AND the White House, a national health care plan got torpedoed - mostly by turncoat Democrats, something he reallyneeds to explain. But hey, he said something bad about Dean, and that's all that matters, right?

Meanwhile I continue to learn more about the ideas and policies of Gov. Dean and Gen. Clark despite the noise (usually from blogs and websites) and while they Insiders keep lobbing flaming bags of dog poop at them, Dean and Clark continue to prove they're not afraid to stand up to Bush in no uncertain terms.

It's ironic that the only person that is unafraid to take on the President and call him on his policies aside from Dean and Clark is former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. Then again, O'Neill doesn't care what some PAC or corporation thinks about him, unlike someone who has to go to those folks to get re-elected.

Ultimately the problem isn't the politicians - we expect them to misbehave nowadays - it's the people covering the campaign. Reporters, especially those at the all-news cable outlets, aren't really looking for information, they're looking for a great story.

To most mainstream reporters, the goal in these situations is not really to report "news" or dig up "information", it's to find a "story" replete with elements of drama, intrigue, humor, or a combination of the three. The spin of the day fits the bill nicely, and we end up with the so-called "information" we get from our major news outlets.

This almost ensures that we really don't know much about what these folks would do in office if we rely on traditional media for our news. This isn't a conspiracy of the left or right (despite the protestations of my good friends on both sides) but rather a financial bias, coupled with a little laziness.

Big media companies need to make a LOT of money to stay afloat and to pay for their latest acquisitions, and they know that entertainment and drama sell well, even now. There's no incentive for them to do otherwise, and risk taking in large organizations is not only discouraged, on a functional level it is impractical or even impossible. Plus it's a lot easier and cheaper to do than dig around old files in Vermont or trudging around the country interviewing people and doing research.

Cynics on the left and culture warriors on the right both decry "average" Americans as too stupid to know or care what is "really" going on but they're wrong. They aren't stupid and they do care - when they have a WAY to find out what is "really" going on. Up until now, finding another source of news was difficult, if not impossible for most people.

Times and technology have changed all of that. Recent polling indicates that more and more Americans are now turning to alternative news sources (blogs, websites, smaller magazines, the Daily Show, etc.) to get their information about Campaign 2004, and this number is expected to continue to go up. Eventually as the ratings for TV news go down, and the readership of dailies and weeklies starts to take a dive, perhaps then Big Media's executives will see the value of providing real journalism to their readers.

We'll be better off in the long run if they do. Our politicians might get asked some real questions, and they might have to give some real answers. We'll have more information than we'll know what to do with, and that sounds good to me.

In the meantime, keep reading well-written and fascinating blogs with clever Teutonic-based names for all of your election information.

For a fun article covering this issue check out Salon Magazine and see what they have to say...

2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com

Fellow Travelers