Thursday, September 30, 2004

Bowles-Burr race tightening

Bowles: 45 (48, 45)
Burr: 44 (38, 35)

Undecided: 11 (14, 20)
moe: 4 percent
Mason-Dixon poll, from WRAL.

Interesting, Bowles down 41-47 in the northeast. Otherwise leading big in southeast, Charlotte and Triangle. Burr predictably with a huge lead in the Triad.

NC-11: Keever needs help

I'm going to post our first legislative candidate highlight later this weekend, but I just wanted to bring to everyone's attention Patsy Keever, opponent to Repub. Charles Taylor in the Eleventh, and her online fundraising efforts.

Keever is our one really solid pick-up opportunity in N.C., but Taylor has a massive adbuy and the momentum of incumbency for her to overcome first.

I got this e-mail from Keever's campaign today:

Now, I am turning to you. As the 4th quarter filing draws to a close, I need your help. Any contribution you can give will make a huge difference. Contributions of $100, $50, $25 and $10 will add up fast. If 500 of you donate just $20, we'll have raised an additional $10,000. In real
terms, that is enough money to stay on the radio for an entire week in the 11th District.

... We have accomplished something so amazing during this election. We have taken a grassroots campaign and propelled it to one of the most watched congressional campaigns of the election cycle. I thank you for that.

As a campaign, we have outraised Charles Taylor for three consecutive filing quarters. Now, with less than 24 hours left in the filing period, we have the opportunity to continue the streak and to keep the momentum going strong until November 2nd.

Wait... what?
As a campaign, we have outraised Charles Taylor for three consecutive filing quarters.

Impressive. A Buncombe County commissioner is outraising an entrenched Repub. incumbent who's been stockpiling cash for years. Tell me that would happen if not for the attention of Atrios and the rest of the web community.

If you can give Keever some of your time or a few bucks, please do.

And (while we're out in Western Cackilack) responding to Jeff Onamotopoe's comments on the "What are we doin' here?" thread, these threads aren't going to be Chapel Hill-centric... As a matter of fact, if we're smart we'll stay out of Chapel Hill politics altogether. We intend to spread our focus across the state, but if we're going to do that we need help from some of y'all Western folks. Seen a good article that isn't in the N&O or Observer? Share. Heard rumors? Noticed a candidate's presence? Or know a good way to give time to a candidate out in WNC? Share.

Feeble attempt at a (somewhat) open thread

Here's to hopin' that Carville & Co. has been able to focus our message enough for our candidate to be semi-coherent!

Thoughts on debate? Y'all make sure and comment so we don't look all lonely with our empty "open" thread. Will check in later. Enjoy.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Quote of the Day:

"I'm not embarressed to vote with the President 96% of the time. He's right that often."

-Congressman Richard Burr

Friday, September 24, 2004

North Carolina Quote of the Day:

"The lottery's not going away. It's time to keep the money here. The people want it. The legislature is going to have to let them vote on it at some point. The pressure's too great."

-Mike Easley opens up that can of worms...

(National) Quote of the Day:

"The CIA laid out several scenarios and said life could be lousy, life could be OK, life could be better, and they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like."

-George W. Bush assesses the National Intelligence Estimate

The Offensive Continues...

People, even those from our camp, have been pretty critical of John Edwards lately. Over the past three weeks, there have been a lot of stories that ask, "Where is John Edwards?"

And over that same amount of time, there have been a lot of Democrats wondering, "Why isn't John Edwards throwing punches in this race?'"

The answers?

1) "It is tough to find Edwards unless you are willing to stay in something other than a top-tier hotel. Even the biggest chains feature only their knock-off brands in the towns where he goes. Sometimes you have to settle for a Motel 6. But Edwards is going after the swing voters where they live. His recent Pennsylvania stops covered a suburban swath where nearly 20 percent of the state’s likely voters reside."

2) "From what I’ve seen of Edwards, he would have to set himself on fire to generate more heat in his campaign appearances"

This according to Craig Crawford, a writer for Congressional Quarterly.

Crawford's piece flies directly at the chatterbox wisdom that John Edwards hasn't been visible and that he keeps playing up his good-guy-who-ain't-going-to-say-anything-mean-about-the-other-fella routine. And it says explicitly what I have been thinking for awhile.

Don't believe that John Edwards has been heating up his rhetoric?

“Sen. Kerry says he sees two Americas,” Cheney has been telling GOP audiences. “It makes the whole thing mutual. America sees two John Kerrys.”

Crawford reports Edwards' response in a small little town called Chillicothe, Ohio.

“Dick Cheney may think that’s funny, but out here in the real world, you’re living it,” he said. “I wonder if the 230,000 people in Ohio who lost their jobs think that’s funny?”

I wonder if the 4,800 Pillowtex workers in Kannapolis, North Carolina think that's funny. I wonder if the 1.6 million North Carolinians living without basic health care think that's funny.

I bet the guy who took Dick Cheney's job at Halliburton is laughing though. Laughing all the way to the bank with his $7 billion no-bid contact.

That's the problem with Republicans in this election. They underestimate the intelligence of voters. They run juvenile attack ads and try to package their ridiculous laugh lines as reason enough to cast a vote against John Kerry. North Carolina knows better.

What are we doing, anyway?

Okay. So now we’ve built up some content, and gained (just a few) readers. But this particular blog isn’t just dedicated to the rantings of a few guys from UNC. Lo and behold, it has a purpose. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about what we’re trying to do here at BlueNC.

George Entenman wrote a guest post at OrangePolitics about a month ago, in which he asked the question “What can progressives do locally to further our political causes?” In that piece he made a compelling argument for contributing to your local Democratic party (in this case, the Orange County Democratic Party) where money will help get-out-the-vote efforts instead of large TV buys. Mr. Entenman was focusing more specifically on how we can contribute to the state and national campaigns; those of Bowles, Kerry-Edwards, etc. But it gets to the point of what we hope to do with Blue North Carolina.

We’ve all seen the impact “web roots” politics can have. Joe Trippi assessed it pretty well in his book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (which you should read if you haven’t yet): the Internet has the potential to build communities. Daily Kos has built a community around politics, as have others. Kos – or more accurately, the community built around Kos – has the ability to embrace causes and candidates and spark an excitement about campaigns that can propel a candidate into contention, and hopefully victory. That excitement can generate ideas, money and volunteers.

We want to do the same thing Kos is doing, but on a much more focused level: Democratic politics in N.C.

We’ve witnessed the blogosphere influence national elections, and we’ve seen the blogosphere influence local politics. Ed Cone and David Hoggard organized the Piedmont Blog Conference largely to explore the latter phenomenon.

But the online community has yet to turn its attention on the legislative arena. We hope to highlight those races and those candidates; particularly those few that are embracing the Internet in their campaigns.

Surprisingly N.C. Democrats are trailing Republicans in the web race on the legislative level. Our goal at BlueNC is to show that the online community can have a dramatic impact at all levels of politics. In attempting to do so, we will try to encourage more candidates to use the Web in the future. We can’t move the kind of money Kos can, but we can help out here and there. We can also help mobilize volunteers. A lot of our readers come from the UNC Young Democrats at UNC-Chapel Hill. If we can highlight legislative candidates who need help with door-to-door and other campaign work, hopefully we can build an audience of activists who want to contribute.

So that’s our goal. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting a few races where help is most needed; close races where the contributions (of time or money) of local progressives are most needed.

But BlueNC isn't just for us. If we want to work toward something like what Trippi describes and Kos has attained, we need a community.

This site won't just be the political diatribes of a few guys from Chapel Hill. If we want a statewide perspective, you're going to have to help us. If you see something we should know about, let us know. If you think we need to be called out, do it. So help us out.

Thoughts?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

This leaves me feeling profoundly sad..

It seems like the cost of war counter takes far too long to open on many computers, but I still think it's worth point attention to.

Quote of the Day:

"Yesterday, I was in Orlando, next to Fantasyland. The difference between me and George Bush is I drove by it. He lives in it."


-Senator John Kerry

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Quote of the Day

"Presidents don't get to change their minds when they're wrong."

Nicole Devenish, Communications Director Bush/Cheney 04

"This war is a powder keg. It could take the price of a barrel to US $100"

Those are the words of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a meeting of OPEC last Wednesday.

But no one is talking about it, and I can't figure out why.

If oil prices reach anything close to $100 a barrel, it will mean the loss of productivity for business, it will mean the loss of jobs for workers, and it will mean higher prices on lots of things besides gas for all of us.

And its because the President chose to fight this war at this time in this way. He has no one to blaim but himself for his failures or the state of our country....


NEEDED: TRANSLATION OF GROVER NORQUIST

Ok, in the Spanish-language newspaper, El Mundo, the ubiquitous Grover Norquist --- President of Americans for Tax Reform, board member of the NRA, and board member of the American Conservative Union --- in other words, one of the dark-shadowy figures with ungodly amounts of influence over the Republicans was asked:

¿El fin de los demócratas? -- Is this the end of the Democrats?

His reply:

Sí, porque además su base demográfica se está hundiendo.Cada año mueren dos millones de personas que combatieron en la Segunda Guerra Mundial y que vivieron la Gran Depresión. Esa generación ha sido una excepción en la Historia de EEUU, porque ha defendido políticas antiamericanas. Ellos votaron por la creación del Estado de Bienestar y por el servicio militar obligatorio.Ellos son la base electoral demócrata. Y se están muriendo. Y, al mismo tiempo, cada vez más estadounidenses tienen acciones.Eso hace que defiendan los intereses de las empresas, porque son sus propios intereses. Por eso, es imposible llevar a cabo políticas de odio social, de lucha de clases.

I've read one version that translates his reply to:

"Yes, because in addition their demographic base is shrinking. Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exeception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare."

That's right --- the Greatest Generation, which fought for American freedom at Normandy, Guadalcanal, and all the other battlefields of the Second World War, is guilty of anti-Americanism...

Could someone else please dicepher the above text and tell me that something was lost in the translation? I can't believe anyone would make this charge...

As we mentioned earlier, John Kerry is on the offensive about Iraq. The rhetoric in his speech at NYU was terrific, but he's sticking to his talking points elsewhere too. This from his press conference yesterday:

"The president cannot deny that they have not achieved what they said they've achieved. They've misled the American people.

Secretary Rumsfeld stands up and says we got 210,000 Iraqi forces. And then he admits that they have 50 percent less than that, 95,000.

But then the truth comes out, and it says they only have 5,000.

I believe I can do a better job of telling the truth to the American people and of providing real choices that protect America and make us safer.

And those troops on the ground in Iraq deserve a president who tells the truth and responds to it appropriately by building the kind of support that helps them out.

You have no idea how many young troops I've met in the rope lines along the way around the country who have come back to me and said to me, "Senator, we need to do this better. We need to do this differently. We need your help."

I'm going to lead those troops successfully. We have to be successful. And I have a better plan to be successful than the president. "


Iraq is the issue. We have to attack the President where he is strongest and turn his strength into a weakness. That's the long and the short of it.

Gotta Love the NYT Edit Board...

President Bush's Lead Balloon


"Mr. Bush might have done better at wooing broader international support if he had spent less time on self-justification and scolding and more on praising the importance of international cooperation and a strengthened United Nations. Instead, his tone-deaf speechwriters achieved a perverse kind of alchemy, transforming a golden opportunity into a lead balloon. "

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Quote of the Day:

Top Ten Bush Tax Proposals

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.

9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.

8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.

7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.

6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.

5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.

4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.

3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.

2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it "nuclear" instead of "nucular."

1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

-Senator John Kerry, on The Late Show with David Letterman, September 20, 2004

Monday, September 20, 2004

NC-8: Troutman working webroots campaign

In the Eighth District, Democrat Beth Troutman is challenging incumbent Repub. Robin Hayes. According to OpenSecrets.org, Troutman is trailing badly as far as funds go. But she's running a hard grassroots campaign in the 8th, which just about stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville (the home of our very own lovely Dan Harrison).

Hayes has won his last two elections by about 9 points, and the '98 election by 2.5 points. The district is always considered a toss-up, and frequently goes to Repub. candidates for the House and legislature but for Dems. in statewide races. A former GOP nominee for Governor (Hunt dismissed him in '96), he's a powerhouse with tons of cash and a lousy record. Given Edwards' presence on the ticket, which might yet help a few Dem. candidates here and there, and Hayes' unfortunate vote for Pres. Bush's fast-track authority, we should be able to make him vulnerable.

Troutman, whose blog is a great touch (albeit a neglected one), has commenced a grassroots, web-based fund-raising operation. Her "9-to-5 Campaign Drive" asks you to contribute $9 and to e-mail 5 of your friends asking them to do the same.

And if $9 is too rich for your blood, you can contribute $5 and ask 9 of your friends to do the same. As a recent college graduate, I find her alternate plan a considerate touch.

Since most of BlueNC's readership appears to be college students, I think this is a plan we can help with. Go contribute.

Here's more district info for the dorky among our audience. Like us.

The 8th extends eastward to Fayetteville's Cumberland County, which casts 17% of the vote, but stops short of including the heavily military neighborhoods just outside the gates of Fort Bragg. The irregular boundaries of the district have a political explanation. Democratic redistricters
included as much of the Democratic Sand Hills as they could, but removed most of Union County, a fast-growing and heavy Republican area just east of Charlotte. And they added central city precincts in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County with some blacks and some affluent white liberals. So this is a split personality district, with very different political leanings in the textile country, the Sand Hills and Charlotte. It has usually been carried by Republican presidential candidates and by North Carolina Democrats in close statewide contests. It has long been
targeted by both Democrats and Republicans as a marginal district and has often been
seriously contested, though over the past three decades it has only changed political hands twice, in 1974 and 1998. (National Journal Almanac, 2004)

(From Jerome Armstrong at Ourcongress.org)

Quote of the Day

"Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat."

-Senator John Kerry, speaking at New York University

Falsehood in Forwards...

My mom sent me an email this morning. This was the text of it:

Subject: Kerry and the Bible

Thought you might find this interesting...

The Lord has a way of revealing those of us who really know him, and those that don't! Think about it! Kerry gave a big speech last week about how his faith is so "important" to him. In this attempt to convince the American people that we should consider him for president, he announced that his favorite Bible verse is John 16:3. Of course the speech writer meant John 3:16, but nobody in the Kerry camp was familiar enough with scripture to catch the error. And do you know what John 16:3 says?

John 16:3 says; "They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me."


Obviously, this is completely false. Couldn't be farther from the truth. First, John Kerry is a Christian who knows the Bible. Secondly, his speechwriters check their sources as regualrly as newspaper men. Third, if a national leader is going to butcher his lines, every single one of us should know that its going to be W.

This is what I wrote back:


People have said the exact same thing about John Kerry and Al Gore. They’ve even accused George W. Bush of making the mistake. The truth is none of them was that stupid.

Who was stupid enough to talk about John 16:3?

President George H.W. Bush -- during a speech before a religious broadcasters' conference in 1990, according to newspaper columnist Cal Thomas, who witnessed the event firsthand.

You have to realize that almost all of this email crap is false. Don’t buy into it. Check the facts.


This isn't the only email out there like this. For the next 43 days, each of us has a responsibilitiy to open the forwards sent to us and renounce each of these falsehoods.

Who am I to say whether they are deliberate attacks orchestrated by the GOP or the misguided actions of an unfortunate few? To be honest, it doesn't matter. A small thing like this will likely be enough to sway the minds of a few.

Take a lesson from the '92 Clinton campaign: When you see something like this, hit back and hit back hard.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

'Steel Magnolias'

There was a great article in last month's Atlantic that somehow slipped through our collective grasp, until now. It profiles the number of Democratic women who are making in-roads in the South, even while many Democratic strategists are ready to write the whole region off from the voting logs. The piece makes a number of good points. Among them:

All these women hail from the political center-right, favoring a robust military, gun owners' rights, and tax cuts—a far cry from the pantsuited liberals of the Hillary Clinton mold who leap to mind at the phrase "female Democratic senator."


As polls and election results over the past ten years have consistantly shown, these women have a great chance of attracting the very type of swing voters Democrats need, and they do so more naturally than their male counterparts. In fact the Atlantic says just that:

In a region where the white male vote is staunchly Republican, the best chance for a Democrat to win statewide election is by making substantial inroads among centrist and Republican-leaning women. "There are more independents among white women," says Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University, "and women candidates seem to have an easier time reaching out to them than some of the male candidates." If a woman can draw on female solidarity and still attract minority votes in sufficient number, she can eke out a victory.


If we are going to start winning back the once-solid South, this might be the place to start.



I don't think we can deny it anymore...

We aren't winning the war. This story is about eight hours old, so no doubt, many of you have seen it. But that doesn't mean its not worth blogging about.

The Guardian Reports:

The British Army is to start pulling troops out of Iraq next month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country, The Observer has learnt.

The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units....

The forthcoming 'drawdown' of British troops in Basra has not been made public and is likely to provoke consternation in both Washington and Baghdad. Many in Iraq argue that more, not fewer, troops are needed.

Even Republicans are starting to realize that we can't keep this up. This morning, on Face the Nation, Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) said, "We're in trouble, we're in deep trouble in Iraq." That's a startling show of honesty that I don't think we'll ever see from the White House.

In what now seems like a statement of terrible irony, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told folks from CNN, "I think we're going to need more people over time."

Senator Graham had better expect to see a lot of boys from the Carolinas over there in the next year or two.

Perhaps the most candid comments from Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana). On the ABC program This Week, he was asked why only $1 billion of the $18 billion that Congress appropriated for reconstruction in Iraq had been spent. He replied, "Well, this is the incompetence in the administration."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

(Thanks to the International Herald Tribune for covering all the news shows)



Saturday, September 18, 2004

Senator John Edwards issued the following statement today based on reports that the Republican National Committee sent campaign mail into West Virginia claiming that the Bible will be banned if Democrats are elected in November:

Republicans always say they want to have a values debate but lying and spreading hate were not the values I learned growing up in a small town in North Carolina where the Bible was the most important book my home. George Bush and Dick Cheney should be appalled by these despicable mailings. They should condemn this practice immediately and tell everyone associated with their campaign to never use tactics like this again. The American people deserve better.


In response to the latest poll numbers from North Carolina, Dustin Ingalls asked about cell phones and polling. It's good that he did.

This morning, Taegan Goddard posted a piece that Jimmy Breslin wrote for Newsday.

Breslin says:

The telephone polls do not include cellular phones.

There are almost 169 million cell phones being used in America today - 168,900,019 as of Sept. 15, according to the cell phone institute in Washington.There is no way to poll cell phone users, so it isn't done.

Not one cell phone user has received a call on their cell phone asking them how they plan to vote as of today.Out of 168 million, anything can happen.

Midway through election night, these stern-faced network announcers suddenly will be frozen white and they have to give a result:"It appears that the winner of the election tonight is ... Milford J. Schmitt of New Albany, Ind. He presently has 56 percent of the vote, placing him well ahead of John Kerry, George Bush and another newcomer, Gibson D. Mills of Corvallis, Ore. It appears the nation's voting habits have been changed unbeknownst to us. Mr. Schmitt was asked what party he is in. He answered, 'The winning party.'"

Friday, September 17, 2004

Good Ol' Bush Wisdom

"Had we gone into Baghdad -- we could have done it, you guys could have done it, you could have been there in 48 hours -- and then what? Which sergeant, which private, whose life would be at stake in perhaps a fruitless hunt in an urban guerilla war to find the most-secure dictator in the world? Whose life would be on my hands as the commander-in-chief because I, unilaterally, went beyond the international law, went beyond the stated mission, and said we're going to show our macho? We're going into Baghdad. We're going to be an occupying power -- America in an Arab land -- with no allies at our side. It would have been disastrous."

-George H.W. Bush in a speech to Gulf War Veterans 1998

(via Daily Kos)

Woes in the Queen City

Earlier today, Matt Compton posted an editorial from the Charlotte Observer about the economic distress that North Carolina is facing and how the President doesn't seem to care. The edit was right on the money. However, it left out one crucial detail: the USAirways bankruptcy. This story was reported on the front page a few days ago, but I think it bears repeating here.

A few days ago, USAirways declared bankruptcy. Again. As in they've done this before. You wanna know what happened the last time they did this? They laid off thousands of workers, hundreds of them in the Charlotte area, and many more in the Philly and Pittsburgh areas. They cut wages for all the workers that were left by about 20%. They jacked up health insurance premiums. They defanged the IAM and the ALPA, two of the biggest (only?) unions in the state. They twisted the Charlotte City Council's arm to get them to hold down the tax revenues on runway usage. How do I know this? I was there when they did it. My dad is a proud union machinist. And this time, USAirways is gonna finish the job they started the last time they went to bankruptcy court.

A lot of you know and worry about job losses in the abstract. I know first hand. When last I was home, I got an earful about the wonderful job "Uncle" Dave Siegel (the CEO of USAirways, not my friend) was doing for the company, and how he was driving the company into the ground like he did to Continental a decade ago. I heard how Siegel was taking his golden parachute and getting out while he left his workers out in the cold. I know how Dad worries about how he might not be able to hold Charlotte, which means that the best case scenario is having to commute to Pittsburgh every week. I worry about literally not being able to pay for school.

And what has President Bush done about it? Doodly. Bupkus. Pretended it ain't happening. Kerry can and will. He'll make sure labor gets a fair shake. He'll make sure America is stronger and safer, which will spur the tourist and business travel that the airlines depend on. He'll let America be America again.

If this ain't enough to turn Charlotte blue, I don't know what is

Read more at the Charlotte Observer

Unbelievable!

This might be the single worst attack I've heard of from this election, and I think that's saying something.

Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families" and defeat the "liberal agenda."

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said Friday that he wasn't aware of the mailing, but said it could be the work of the RNC. "It wouldn't surprise me if we were mailing voters on the issue of same-sex marriage," Gillespie said.


What's even more unbelievable is that this attack isn't coming from some fringe PAC or 527. This isn't being mailed out by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth or Club for Growth. This mail piece went out with a return address from the Republican National Committee. Ed Gillespie isn't denying that its from his people. He's actually saying that it might be his. I'll say more about it later. Right now, I'm too disgusted to put words to page.

Bounce? I don't see no stinkin' bounce

The latest numbers from North Carolina, from Daily Kos

Lake, Snell, Perry (D) for private client. 9/14-17. MoE ~4.5%. (9/17 results)

Kerry 47 (44)
Bush 47 (48)

We're stormin' back!

The Opinion Page of the Charlotte Observer offers some friendly advice to the President:

"So far, the president's three visits to the state have not strayed beyond the rarefied air of campaigns and money. We're happy he's here, but there's much more to see in North Carolina than party loyalists and big supporters.

He might learn more from the many North Carolinians who cope daily with the effects of his foreign policy decisions and the economic shifts that have occurred under his administration.
Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg have deployed thousands of men and women. Thousands more reservists have left ordinary lives for active duty. Some have had their terms extended indefinitely. The president should spend some time visiting a family coping financially and emotionally with the absence of a father, mother, son or brother in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He should spend time, too, in the small town of Kannapolis, ground zero for the largest single manufacturing layoff in America. When textile company Pillowtex closed in 2003, some 6,000 people lost jobs -- a painful 3,650 of those jobs in Cabarrus County, right next door to Charlotte.

He might stop and sit a spell, too, with a farm family in Eastern North Carolina. Maybe he could explain his nonchalance toward a federal buyout of tobacco allotments, then help those folks decide how to make the payment on a tobacco harvester -- which can't be used for anything else -- and still transition to some other livelihood."

Truer words have never been uttered...

Charlotte Observer: 'Election `ground war' wants you'

The Charlotte Observer runs a neat little story about what your average volunteer can do to make a difference before election day. They're preaching the gospel as far as we're concerned. Thus sayeth Tim Funk:

"It's not too late to be a volunteer. If you're willing to walk door to door, make phone calls, drive people to the polls, even host a debate-watching party, the campaigns and political parties want you. But, hey, it's the 21st century, so don't overlook the volunteer opportunities offered by the Internet. The old, expensive days of licking stamps and envelopes have been replaced by the era of the e-mail."

If you want to volunteer:

Kerry-Edwards: (919) 832-5559 in Raleigh

North Carolina Democratic Party: please contact Sallie Leslie at 919-821-2777, ext. 105

UNC Young Democrats: Contact Tom Jensen or visit http://www.unc.edu/yd/

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

First Local Race Blog Ad

Sid Sowers, the Democrat running against Jim Gully for HD-103 is running a blogad on Ed Cone's site.

As far as I know, that's a first in North Carolina politics.

Of course, Erskine Bowles is running blogads all over the place--from Ed's site to The Political Wire and Talkingpointsmemo. But Sowers isn't running a statewide race, and he's not looking to attract national attention. And that's what makes this whole deal all the more impressive.

The web is a really good way for a candidate from a place like Mecklenburg County -- an area with a good number of 'plugged-in' residents -- to make a splash in ways traditional media simply cannot accomplish using a good deal less money.

And of course, it's a way to raise money.

A blog ad like the one on Ed's site doesn't require a lot of work. The ad itself probably took five minutes to design. I'm willing to be the text on the page came straight off a fundraising letter. But I saw it, and now I know his name. Once I get paid on Friday, I might just give the man some money.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Kerry's chances in the Old North State

I just got a mass e-mail from Carolina for Kerry chairman P.J. Lusk (who is soon joining the BlueNC team)saying that Ed Turlington, co-chair of the Kerry-Edwards North Carolina campaign and former national chair of Edwards for President, is speaking at 8 p.m. tomorrow night (Monday) at in the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Union Auditorium.

Should be interesting to hear from one of the primary folks behind Edwards' surprising presidential bid, not to mention getting his take on the ticket's chances in North Carolina.

I bet he disagrees with Mike Munger, who responds to Ed Cone's latest column on what Kerry has to do to win in Edwards' turf. Munger, chair of Duke's poli sci dept., cites this Washington Post article as he buys into the oft-repeated media line that Kerry's realizing impending doom in North Carolina. He appears to agree with the
the assessment from the Post - and Bush-Cheney strategist Matthew Dowd, who is quoted as saying:

"They've basically decided they're competing in 14 states and sort of ceded, for all intents and purposes, states they were in at the beginning of the year and spent a lot of money in."
Most of the media coverage, from NPR to CNN, seems to have bought the Bush campaign's spin. But the media only cares about media buys when relating a campaign's effort. The Kerry campaign says that its decision to scale back ads in North Carolina and other challenging battleground states is just saving money so that they can compete closer to election day. But most news sources have still declared the TV scaleback a concession that the campaign can't be competitive in those states. Basically, the media is declaring itself the primary indicator of a campaign's ability to succeed.

But there's no reason for Kerry-Edwards to throw in the towels in North Carolina, nor any real evidence that they think so either. SurveyUSA shows the Democratic ticket polling within the margin of error in the state - and steadily cutting into Bush's lead, to boot. There's more staff involved in coordinated efforts to ensure Democratic victory in North Carolina too. Kerry was in Greensboro just last week - his third visit since naming Edwards to the ticket. Even after that announcement, no one expected to see another visit. Not to mention the fact that the Bush Administration still isn't doing anything to help North Carolinians struggling with a rough economy. I see no reason to dismiss the Kerry campaign's explanation for its reduction in TV time.

So the media's jumping the gun in declaring a Kerry surrender in North Carolina. And hopefully blogs, which are ever more helpful in keeping the traditional media on its toes, will be able to remind folks that less TV spots don't necessarily spell doom for Kerry-Edwards in the Old North State.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Good news from Survey USA

Over the past two months, during which the DNC and RNC have both concluded, Kerry has cut into Bush's lead by two. At the end of July, SurveyUSA was polling Kerry-Edwards at 44. In August, 45. In September, 46. In the meantime, Bush has dropped one point.

Meanwhile, Burr has lost two points while Bowles continues his strong lead.

And more interestingly, in the past month (during which time the SEANC political action committee made the ... bold... move of falling for Ballantine's empty promises and endorsing a Republican for the first time in history), Easley has doubled his lead. With only 2 percent undecided (lower than the other races polled), Easley has moved well above 50 percent and Ballantine has dropped five points.

Good call, SEANC.

In a SurveyUSA poll (MoE: 4.2 percent) of likely voters conducted from Sept. 6-8 (.pdf)

Bush: 50 (down from 51)
Kerry: 46 (up from 45)
3 percent undecided

Bowles: 50 (no movement)
Burr: 40 (down from 42)
3 percent undecided

Easley: 54 (up from 51)
Ballantine: 39 (down from 44)
2 percent undecided

via dailykos

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Luebke's Big Idea

The Wilmington Star-News (Motto: The Voice of Southeastern North Carolina, Submotto: Screw You Fayetteville) ran an interesting editorial yesterday about NC Representative Paul Luebke's (D-Durham) desire to introduce a bill to move primary election to an "instant runoff" system.

Essentially, the idea would ask voters to vote for two candidates on a primary day when three or more candidates were running for a given office. They would rank them in order of preference. If no candidate got enough "1st place" votes (under North Carolina's current system, you'd need 40% to avoid a runoff), then "2nd place" votes would instantly determine the outcome by being added to the top two vote-getters "1st place" votes. Then, whoever had the most total votes would win.

The edit rightly points out that such a system would eliminate the ridiculous drop-off in voter turnout between primaries and primary runoffs. More than that, it could quite possibly lead to more voters getting a nominee that is closer to their preferences.

Imagine a three-way Democratic primary. Candidate X is a fire-breathing liberal, Candidate Y is a left-of-center kind of guy, and Candidate Z is pretty conservative. In the primary, X gets 2000 votes, Y gets 3100 and Z gets 3000. Under the current system, Y and Z would go to a runoff a couple of weeks later. Assume several thousand less people vote (this is a pretty good bet), and Z wins 800 to 600. Even though a wide majority of the voters in the original primary wanted a left-of-center candidate of one type or another, that is not at all what they got.

Under Luebke's proposal, its very likely that nearly everyone who put in "1" votes for X would put in "2" votes for Y. Likewise, people who vote first for Z would probably prefer Y next. Y's supporter's second place votes might be split between the two other candidates. In any event, the probable result of the instant runoff would be Y receiving 8100 total votes (first place plus second place) to Z's 4550.

The bottom line, at least in the hypothetical, is that more people get a nominee who is closer to their own ideology.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Mending Fences...

A week after SEANC endorsed Patrick Ballentine in the race for Governor, Mike Easley is trying slowly to patch some of the holes in their relationship. After meeting with leaders from the organization, the governor presented them with a letter that provides new guidelines to a problem that featured prominently on SEANC's list of complaints with the Easley administration. The News and Observers says,

"At issue was whether members of the association can use administrative leave time to attend association events. It has complained that state agencies, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services, have told employees they must use personal or vacation time to attend such functionsAt issue was whether members of the association can use administrative leave time to attend association events. It has complained that state agencies, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services, have told employees they must use personal or vacation time to attend such functions."

Of course, leaders of SEANC said it was too little, too late. But I have news for the state employees --- their endorsement isn't going to make or break this election. They aren't kingmakers, and by throwing their support behind a guy who is going to lose, they are only setting themselves up for more disappointment in coming years. Also, I'm more than a little bit interested in how Senator Ballantine hopes to pass three consecutive 5% raises. The legislature controls the purse strings--the best he can do is ask them nicely.

All that aside, the arrogance of these guys is more than a little unsettling...


I think its safe to say that Zell Miller is off President Carter's Christmas card list...

The text of the letter that President Carter sent to Senator Miller (via talkingpointsmemo).

You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as lieutenant governor and as governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. Senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge, and Sam Nunn disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican Convention because of your being a “Democrat,” and it’s quite possible that your rabid and mean-spirited speech damaged our party and paid the Republicans some transient dividends.

Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign’s personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as “one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend.")

I, myself, never claimed to have been a war hero, but I served in the navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don’t believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacificist.

Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Bill Clinton's 42, as in pounds gained if you eat there

The Washington Post's Washington Whispers reports that former President Bill Clinton (yes, the same former President Bill Clinton that just had quadruple bypass surgery for clogged arteries) is set to open a restaurtant called "42" in conjunction with his presidential library in Little Rock.

The eatery will feature "all his fatty favorites, like fried chicken, meatloaf--even tollhouse cookies from Hillary's recipe file." Insert cruel joke about how he'll be stuck at the salad bar here.

Seriously though, a southern food place where there's a possibility of running into Billy Boy himself? We smell roadtrip... or maybe thats the deep-fat-fried Butterfinger desert.

Friday, September 03, 2004

***BREAKING NEWS***

We don't know much yet, but here's what we do know.

President Bill Clinton has been hospitalized with complaints of chest pain.

UPDATE: The AP reports that he has gone to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan and will have quadruple bypass surgery this afternoon.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Big Pimpin in the Big Apple

From our own Daily Tar Heel...

Which is funnier? That dashing man-about-town Pat Ballentine is leering out of a cab advertising a gentleman's club, or that the staff member in the back apparently has no problem with it?

The Greatest Interview In The History of Television...

In case you missed it last night, Senator Zell Miller (D[?!]-GA) stopped just short of challenging Hardball anchor Chris Matthews (who, btw has lost a bit of weight) to a duel. I deliver the text of the exchange just so the world can see the mental state of Senator Miller, fine man though he is.

MILLER: I'm not saying that. Wait a minute. This is your program and I'm a guest on your program, so I want to try to be as nice as I possibly can to you. I wish I was over there where I could get a little closer up into your face. But I'm not going to stand here and listen to that kind of stuff. I didn't say anything about not feeding poor kids. What are you doing?

MATTHEWS: No, I'm saying, that when you said tonight, I just want you to--

MILLER: You're saying a bunch of baloney that didn't have anything to do with what I said up there on the rostrum.

MATTHEWS: Do you believe, senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spitballs. Do you believe that?

MILLER: That was a metaphor, wasn't it? You know what a metaphor is.

MATTHEWS: Well what do you mean by that metaphor?

MILLER: He certainly doesn't want to defend the country with the B1 bomber or the B2 bomber or the Harrier jet or the Apache helicopter or all the other things that I mentioned. And there were even more of them than here. You've got to quit taking these Democratic talking points and using them –

MATTHEWS: No, I'm using your talking points and asking you if you really believe them.

MILLER: Well, let's use John Kerry's talking points from what he's had to say on the floor of the Senate where he's talked about them being occupiers; where he put out this whenever he was running for the U.S. Senate--about what he wanted to cancel. Cancel to me means do away with.

MATTHEWS: What did you mean by--?

MILLER: I think we ought to cancel this interview.

MATTHEWS: That would be my loss senator.

MILLER: You're hopeless. I wish I was over there. In fact, I wish that we lived in the day--

MATTHEWS: I gotta warn you, we're in a tough part of town over here. But I do recommend you come over, because I like you. If a Republican senator broke ranks and came over and spoke to the Democrats, would you respect him?

MILLER: Yes, Of course I would. I've seen that happen from time to time.

MATTHEWS: What did Jim Jeffords say to you? Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched parties after getting elected--

MILLER: If you're going to ask a question--

MATTHEWS: Well it's a tough question, it takes a few words.

MILLER: Get out of my face! If you're going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer. I wish we lived in the day when you could challenge a person to a duel .Now that would be pretty good. But don't pull that kind of stuff on me like you did that young lady when you had her there browbeating her to death.

MATTHEWS: (in cross talk) Let me tell you, she was suggesting that John Kerry purposely shot himself to win a medal, and I was trying to correct the record.

MILLER: I'm not her. you get in my face, and I'm going to get back in your face. And the only reason you're doing it is because you're standing way over there in Herald square.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The UNC K-E Kids Rally: One Person Responds

We had a reader write-in with a few thoughts about the visit by Vanessa Kerry, Cate Edwards and Alexander Heinz visit to UNC. His words, unedited...

I'm sorry to those of y’all who worked on the Kerry/Edwards daughter event yesterday, but I thought it was horrible.

I don't understand why after 4 days of planning there were no Kerry/Edwards signs but there. Bush supporters covered most of the camera angles with individual signs and a barnyard sign.

Most of the press coverage on the news was from other events the girls did during the day. Even the interviews I saw being shot were with Bush supporters. The excuses I heard for the poor rally were a lack of funding for Young Democrats.

Am I wrong in thinking that the campaign would have been happy to lend several hundred signs to add to visibility? Because there was no visibility. That, in addition to the difficulty people had hearing the speakers made for a lackluster rally, in which the only memorable part was where the College Repubs could be heard cheering when asked who would have a good job when they graduated.