Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Kerry coming to Denver

On Feb. 24th, Alito filibustering blogger, Senator Kerry will be coming to Colorado, and in addition to a number of other stops in support of Democratic organizations and candidates, he will be helping Ed Perlmutter take CO-7 out of Republican hands.

I am happy to be helping out with the event, and was watching busy staffers doing the planning earlier today.

Meanwhile, those same staffers should be in good moods tonight despite the President's blather. Trying to hide behind the wall of other news, Peggy Lamm finally released her fundraising numbers from last quarter. They were remarkably low numbers.

Total contributions this quarter $62,905. Net increase in cash on hand, 17k.

Ed Perlmutter, who by comparison raised $199,023 for a net increase of 142k, is now the only viable Democratic candidate for CO-7.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

CO-6 Drinking Liberally with Bill Winter

If the Republicans want to continue the strategy of attacking their opponent’s strengths, then they better start attacking Bill Winter’s character.
  There hasn’t been a story written about what it means to be an American that this guy hasn’t lived. His biography starts him out as an orphan and rides him through a busy lifetime of service, including serving in two branches of the military, before dropping him off as a somehow unlikely candidate for Congress. I say ‘unlikely’ because although he went to law school, and he worked as a science teacher, there is nothing legalistic or academic about his demeanor. When Bill Winter thinks something is bullshit, he doesn’t spend a lot of time looking for a prettier word. He still has the character of a marine, and displays all of the strength and rough edges that come with it.

  I have been interested in his campaign for a while now, and even made a very brief post on his blog, but tonight at Drinking Liberally – Denver I was able to meet the candidate for Colorado’s sixth congressional district for the first time in person. He is a bit of a celebrity in internet circles, and is known for being one of the Fighting Dems that have been featured on Daily Kos and the Air America Majority Report, but for a lot of the people he meets he is still something of an unknown. He described it by saying,

  I call people and say “I’m Bill Winter and I am running for Congress…” and then there is silence, and then I say, “… against Tom Tancredo.” And then they say “Oh! Ok!” and they want to talk.

I would want to talk too. Tom Tancredo panders to a bigoted xenophobia that has begun to wear thin in Colorado, but that still presses the buttons of hate that please some danker corners of the far right. National money flows in for Tancredo, and it will be hard for Bill to get the exposure he needs, but if the people of his district get a chance to hear his message, they will hear ideas that are far more compelling than Tancredo’s message of fear and racist hatred.

  Johne has been growing our Drinking Liberally chapter, and there was quite a crowd tonight. I stood on the edge of it and talked to Bill for a short while about his experiences and how they shaped his politics.  We discussed his childhood and how it effected his stance on reproductive rights, a stance that he characterized as “pro-freedom.” Later, when speaking to the room, he expanded on that quite a bit.

A woman has a right to choose what happens to her body in every circumstance.

  He said that he felt that, “with the exception of the Bush White House, we are all pro-life. We are all anti-abortion.” But they “just wanted to pass a law and turn their backs and pretend it wasn’t happening.” Winter said it would happen, and people would die from having to turn to illegal means. If we really wanted to lower abortions, he stated, we should focus on what we already know works. “Work on poverty, prenatal health care, birth control, and reproductive education.”

  We also discussed health insurance. He told me that after donating a kidney to his sister, he was unable to get coverage because he now had a disqualifying pre-existing condition. He said that any system that penalized people for giving their organs to people in need was a “screwed up” system.

When I wake up in the middle of the night with a pain in my side I don’t think “I should get to a doctor.” I have to think, “How am I going to pay for this?”

He turned to the crowd and held forth on many topics, and has clearly given a number of issues a good deal of thought, but the part that grabbed my attention had more to do with his commitment than his policies. He showed a set of dog-tags that he carries and told not only the story of this particular set, but also explained the way a marine wears them. He talked about the details of taping them so they would not make noise, and blackening them so they would not glint light, and then he told the more morbid details of why one wears a copy on both their torso and their feet. I won’t try to recreate the story here, but the memory the tags evoked for Bill was when he was 17 and had become a marine and he first made a commitment that he would sacrifice his life if he had to, for people he never met, to uphold an ideal and to fulfill an oath he had taken. As a young marine he swore to, “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and that even today he understands that there was no expiration date on that oath.

  That oath has given him an acute sense of patriotism. He is insulted by an administration that claims people like Murtha are demoralizing our troops. He said that during his service he never cared about things like what some politician in Washington said. Like everyone else, what he cared about was getting home safely to his loved ones. If you want to demoralize troops, have them count down the days until their tour is ending, and then surprise them with an extension. Make them work for many days on end without a break because you have deployed too few to do the job. Send them to a war that you did not even have enough faith in to trust the American people to be willing to sacrifice and pay for, but one that you funded by selling the country to the Chinese.

  Bill Winter said that his patriotism was for an America that was “not a place, not a rock, not a piece of land, but an idea, and it is a fragile idea.” He quoted Thomas Paine saying, “It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from his government,” and he likened his love of his country to the love a parent has for its child. He said that loving your children is not blindly obeying every command they issue. Loving them is standing firm and telling them they are wrong when they are wrong and helping them to grow to be right.

After he spoke, he fielded questions about Tancredo’s immigration stance, and pointed out how Tancredo really had no plan, just two vague ideas. The first is a wall that nobody can pay for, or at least (to the delight of the execs at Kellogg, Brown, and Root) nobody will ever be able to finish paying for. Tancredo’s second bad idea was to send troops we don’t have down to the border to do a job they aren’t trained to do.

I tell you what I was trained to do; shoot an M-16, shoot a howitzer and kill people. Now if they want to say that is what they want the military at the border to do, then that is one thing, but if they want them to be police officers, to be INS agents, then that is not what they were trained for.

He characterized the Republican plan as “*Terror Alert* Brown hordes coming across the Southern border,” and made a call to support the inscription on the Statue of Liberty rather than the Republican path of dividing us with “fear and hate”.

After the questions tapered off, he stayed for quite some time and mingled with the blogger filled crowd.

I went over and greeted Colorado 7th candidate, Herb Rubenstein, who had just added Gerald Arguello to his team as co-chair of Adams County. Herb teased me a bit about some things I had blogged about him, and about my involvement with the campaign of his opposition, candidate Ed Perlmutter. Later on, he and I spoke about the opportunity the caucus system can provide the Democratic Party in building a committed core, a conversation I want to go into in an upcoming post.

I have many pages of other things to relate that can wait for another day, but I wanted to be sure to mention having met Colorado Young Dems, Sara Lu-Hanley and Mike Weissman. I am too old to take a part in the voting, but I understand that Sara is running for the position of Outreach Director and Mike is running for Field Director in Monday’s balloting. I wish them both well, and encourage Colorado Democrats between the ages of 18 and 35 to check them out and get involved.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

CO-7 Perlmutter gets himself a blogger


I took on a new project.
For those who feel there just isn't enough me on the internet, you now have more me to enjoy.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Blogger Kerry

I am not sure how to verify at this point that it is actually the Senator, but it seems that John Kerry has joined the blogosphere over at Daily Kos.

Welcome newbie.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

CO-6 Bill Winter

Fighting Dem Bill Winter (www.winterforcongress.org) will be throwing back a drink with me, and the other concerned citizens of the United States of Blogmerica, at next Wednesday's Drinking Liberally.

Come see why I have the man's campaign for Congress in my blogroll.

If you have no other reason to love this man and to want to buy him a round, I offer this damning quote from his opponent...

"Hello. I am Tom Tancredo."
~Anti-immigrant racist Tom Tancredo (R, CO-6)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

CO-7 Rubenstein at Denver 'Drinking Liberally'

When he was leaving tonight's 'Drinking Liberally' meet up in downtown Denver, I asked CO-7 candidate Herb Rubenstein what he would like the headline to read on my diary tonight. The one he chose was "Rubenstein Wins 2nd Debate," and although I did in fact use that over at SoapBlox Colorado, I hope he allows me the more descriptive but less entertaining one here.

  He came in dressed in blue jeans, and only his Gin and Tonic set him at all apart from the couple of dozen beer drinkers who assembled for the semi-monthly gathering. He was friendly and sociable, and was quick to engage us with the question, "should the web come to Colorado politics, or should Colorado politics come to the web?"

  I liked the open ended question, and I could tell that Herb had not just come to meet a few constituents, or to try to raise a few dollars, but that he was approaching this group for some real advice about how he could better tailor his campaign to the internet. He is running out of possible ways of pulling off a dark horse victory, and I felt he was hoping that the internet might hold some answers. He has a mass emailing coming up soon, and he wanted to know what would get us to open and read a two page email if he sent one. The consensus was to not bother with two pages if he wanted it read at all.

  Before engaging people in smaller side conversations, he told the group a few anecdotes about listening to Bob Beauprez at a recent event. I enjoyed a moment when he was discussing the Republicans views of our economic situation, and Rubenstein remarked, "They made it look like the glass was flowing over when the glass is leaking. It's broken."

  One person asked what he had heard from the DCCC, and Rubenstien said that when he met with them last month they told him they would be staying out of CO-7 until after the primary.

  When discussing his campaign, Rubenstein mentioned that Arnie Grossman of SAFE (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic) had joined his team.

  Amendment 38 in Colorado would enable any person to bring a suit against the State to enforce a prohibition on State non-emergency services from being provided to non-documented aliens. To this Rubenstein suggested clogging the courts with thousands of suits protesting the use of libraries and public roadways by such individuals, as a way of illustrating the poverty of planning that would go into such a law.

  I asked Herb to give us some ball park numbers on how his fundraising was going. He said he had somewhere around 60k, with about 50 of that being out of his own pocket. I asked specifically how this most recent quarter went, and he said that he did not have the full numbers yet, but it looked to him like it would be around $20,000. He also mentioned that Democratic consultant Terry Snyder, who in addition to other things managed Joel Judd's campaign for State House District 5, was now helping him to fundraise.

  We had an extended exchange about the Rubenstein plan to put web enabled video cameras into public school classrooms as a tool to monitor the behavior of both teachers and students. I questioned him about the intrusive nature of government surveillance, and he claimed that the Broncos are under 'surveillance' every time they play, and that it enhances the performance of the players. I think there are some problems with that analogy, but I understand his point that there are currently too few tools that allow us to measure teacher performance.

  My favorite part of the evening was when he strayed away from the bloggers, and had a conversation with a man whose ideas were either more cynical or more practical depending on your point of view. The one time of the night when I saw Herb looking uncomfortable and defensive was as the man explained to him, "Fuck issues. Nobody wants to hear issues. Give me principles you have that let me know where you stand. I don't want two pages. Nobody wants one page. People want bullet points; boom, boom, boom. If you can't do that you cant win. The number of words you use is inversely proportional to your chances of winning."

  When the conversation turned to Herb's plan for high tariffs on China unless they clean up their worker safety issues, the man told him he was dreaming if he thought that there would ever be tariffs on China at all.

  Watching Herb Rubenstein run into the bulwark of practicality that this man presented was very telling. I think the experience will be echoed as he takes his case to the voters of my district. He is a nice guy. He has ideas. Some of the ideas might even work. But to work, he will have to reach people with those ideas, convince them, and then get the ideas implemented. If anyone has any thoughts on how to do that, he seems open for suggestions.

  If he had asked me six months ago, I would have suggested that he start smaller and closer to home, perhaps with Paccione's old seat. Tonight he commented that he decided to start with Congress, just like the sitting Republican Bob Beauprez did. I hope for his sake Democrats also vote based on who would make a decent drinking buddy, because I can vouch that it was an enjoyable night and I look forward to meeting again in two weeks.

  Then again, I bet Ed Perlmutter is a beer drinker, and I wouldn't mind throwing a few back with him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy Election Year

I have been busy flipping over the calendar for a while, but I am back and ready to blog. Tomorrow is Drinking Liberally day in Denver, and I am hoping to get a chance to talk some more with CO-7 candidate Herb Rubenstein while I am there.

In the mean time, I think I will bathe in the wisdom of George W. Bush, whose remarks on Iraq today included...

"Compromise and consensus and power sharing are the only path to national unity and lasting democracy..."

"...successful free societies protect the rights of minorities against the tyranny of the majority."

"A country that divides into factions and dwells on old grievances cannot move forward and risks sliding back into tyranny..."

Why can't the Iraqi's learn from his leadership?