The Donor Class

How do you get the Democrats to be something other than Republicans Lite, when politics depends on money?

Campaign consultants get a cut of the money a candidate spends on TV ads. So campaign consultants tell candidates it is vitally important to spend tons of cash on TV. So candidates need to raise tons of cash in a limited time period. So they need to appeal to people with the means to give $1000 contributions. Any way you cut it people who can freely give $1000 contributions are rich people. So the candidate spends his or her time associating with the rich - The Donor Class - appealing to them for money. So the candidate's viewpoint naturally amends itself to the concerns of the people the candidate spends time with and depends on.

While money is always important, campaigns USED TO have get-out-the-vote (GOTV) mechanisms in place. Poll watchers, block captains, precinct captains and volunteers - all geared toward getting out the vote. Several years ago the national Democrats largely abandoned local GOTV in favor of putting their resources behind TV ads.

Poll watching works - I know it does because I increased the Democratic turnout in my precinct by 20%. It wasn't a matter of great skill, mostly it was a phone call telling them where the polling place was, maybe offering a ride. (Increasing by 20% meant getting 6 more people to vote in a precinct where 30 Democrats had already voted, but increasing is increasaing and that is a good thing.) While unions contributed to a GOTV effort this time, it wasn't enough and was starting largely from scratch. The old way, the block captain knew everyone on the block and talked to them about why they should vote Democratic and then got them to the polls on election day. I was calling strangers, starting that afternoon.

We just had an election where more money than ever was spent on TV ads, with the lowest voter turnout ever. Maybe now you know where I'm going with this. Maybe Democrats DON'T need to put all that money into TV ads.

If we're going to rebuild a Democratic Party that isn't a Republican Party Lite, we will have to reduce the dependence on the Donor Class. Building a strong GOTV machine, precinct-by-precinct is the way to get the job done.



Iraq and Election

Suppose the Democratic leadership had taken Bush's war vote demand and said, "It is inappropriate to bring this to use immediately before the election. We'll be glad to take this up after the election, but we are not going to bring this to the Senate floor now."

1) It places a focus on Bush's motives for bringing this to the Congress just before the election. One lesson we learned from VietNam is that the country must be united behind any military action we undertake. Nothing could be more divisive than introducing this war vote into the election campaign. Sensible leadership would do everything they could to AVOID the divisiveness of having the war debate occur during campaign season. But this was planned to occur DURING campaign season. Bush is a divider,not a uniter.

2) It changes the Iraq debate to a question of the immediacy of the threat, which then changes the debate to a question of the necessity of the action. If it isn't immediate - he's a month from getting a nuke, or something like that - then why not have inspectors in there instead of invading?

3) It places the Democrats on the side of "dealing with Iraq," but at an appropriate time.

But this didn't happen. The country is divided about 50/50 on whether to go to war, with most of those in favor erroneously believing that Iraq was behind 9/11 AND that they have nukes now, and many of those opposed convinced that the President has lied to the public and manipulated the election.

Rove's Current Scam

Karl Rove's current spin scam is that the Republicans have won the right to make major changes to the country just because they've got a couple more votes in the Congress than the Democrats have. This is an evenly divided country, which means there should be legislation right in the middle, not on the far right. Government is supposed to be about what's good for the country and what the people want, not what's good for the Party and what the Party wants. It's really early here - I'll write more later.


More Worldcom Corruption

Get used to coincidental news stories like the following: (Really, read down to the punchline, I mean, the third headline.)

SEC Expands Charges Against WorldCom, "The government on Tuesday expanded its civil fraud charges against WorldCom and the company raised its estimate of inflated earnings to more than $9 billion in one of the most stunning accounting scandals of the past year."

WorldCom fraud reaches $9bn, "In a court filing in New York, the SEC said that WorldCom has admitted that it concealed $9bn in expenses, all of which was converted into false profits."

Also in the news today today, WorldCom Gets Veterans Affairs Deal, "WorldCom Inc., a recent target of labor and consumer groups seeking to bar it from government work, has won a contract to provide long-distance services for the Department of Veterans Affairs"

Remember when Bush came into office, and promptly changed the rules so that corporations convicted of breaking laws - including defrauding the government - could again get lucrative government contracts? Read about it here.

Blog to Check Out

Thanks to a comment below I discovered a great blog to check out, Hindsight Aforethought.

Mostly Zell

Today I've ranted about how the Democrats let the Republicans fight dirty, how the public doesn't get information to make informed choices, and how us bloggers need to read what we write and not be so optimistic that things will turn out. Now I'll try to write about what happened and what to do.

I blame Zell, and at the same time I thank him for sticking around until now and saving the country.

Daschle did what he had to do to lead the Senate. Keeping the majority in the Senate was literally saving the country. So Daschle had to make the sacrifices that had to be made to try to hold that majority, with Senator Zell Miller of Georgia ready to bolt at any time, and other Democrats running for the Senate who had voted for Bush's tax cuts. This is why the Democrats could not run against Bush's tax cuts. That's over now and I can't blame Daschle at all.

Now things are different. I think now would be a good time to politely ask Zell to leave the Democratic Party and confirm the Republicans as the Party of the Confederacy. And maybe a few others should think about leaving. The Democrats are the minority party now and do not have to try to hold Zell and those others in the party just to keep the majority. Goodbye, thanks for helping save the country, but it's time to rebuild the Demcoratic Party as the party of working people.

The Democrats

(Written this morning, not posted until now.)

The Democrats showed up at a hockey game with badminton rackets. The Republicans weren't there to play hockey, either - they brought machine guns.

Here's what I'm talking about. In Georgia, (as had been done with Bush vs McCain in the South Carolina primary), the Republicans ran a draft-dodger against a war hero and won by questioning the war-hero's patriotism. (Meanwhile, in Washington, the Republicans were quietly cutting Veterans' benefits and health care.) They pulled it off by, as Joe Conason put it, fomenting an atmosphere of war to scare the shit out of the public and silence opposing voices. Was that good for the country? WHO CARES? The Republicans didn't care, and the Democrats didn't make it an issue.

The Democrats don't get it. The Republican Party has been completely taken over by the far-far-right, and it is a new game. It isn't about policy. It isn't about what is good for the country. The Republican approach is, "What is it that we need to get the public to believe in order to get them to vote for us, how do we get them to believe it, and how do we keep them believing it?"

Look at it this way, if focus groups showed that a certain key group of South Dakota Democrats would not vote for Tom Daschle if they learned that he had secretly received a medal from the King of Siam, there would be a story on the Drudge Report that he had received a medal from the King of Siam, and it would be repeated in the Washington Times, and Rush Limbaugh would pick it up, and soon every media outlet in the country would be talking about it.

The story would have no basis in reality whatsoever – and that would not matter. Remember the story about Clinton selling Arlington National Cemetery plots? The public thinks there were "Clinton Scandals," even though every single charge was proven false! That's how it works. You don't fight this kind of accusation by saying "No, I didn’t." You can't fight this sort of thing that way. You fight it by exposing the operation so the public sees what is going on underneath the phony stories.

The Democrats need to get in the game.

It's the Information Sources, Stupid

Those of us who get our information over the internet have lost sight of the current state of America. WE are informed. They are not. WE get information. We are referred to articles from British or Indonesian or Israeli papers. They get fed stuff by those same news sources that we spend our time complaining about.

We are reading The Daily Howler. They're reading the blatantly biased stuff that The Daily Howler laughs at!

We mustn't forget that polls show that most people believe that Iraq was behind 9/11, that Iraq has nuclear weapons, etc. The public believes that this economy is Clinton's fault. The public believes that tax cuts for the rich "create jobs" and that the "Death Tax" will cost their kids. WE know these are false, they don't. How could they know? The aren't reading Seeing the Forest. They aren't reading Eschaton.

The stuff we are writing about is for real. This isn't just a bunch of people with computers fooling themselves. By and large the bloggers GET IT.

The Republicans get it, too. That's why they have made such an effort to bring the sources of information under their influence. The question is what to do about it.


Bitter Blogger

How much of what the liberal political bloggers write is about how manipulative is was to launch the Iraq war debate just before the election? How much of what we write is about how the press is totally slanted? How much of what we write is about how the timidity of the National Democrats drives people away from supporting them? How much of what we write is about how the information that the public receives is one-sided? How much of what we write is about the influence of money? How much of what we write is about the way that illogical emotional propaganda wins people over against their own interests? How much of what we write is about how the Republicans appeal to people through trickery and bribes? How much of what we write is about Republican voter suppression and intimidation in minority areas - not to mention purging voter roles?

How much of what we wrote about the election was hopeful denial of the very realities we write about? Considering what we write, what did we fucking expect?

Back to Work

OK I'm going back to poll watching. Might not post again today...

Poll Watching

I'm taking a short break from election activities. This morning I was calling voters, using lists prepared by the Democrats. This afternoon I've been working at "poll watching."

THIS is how you win elections. I am assigned to a polling place. I have a list of registered Democrats from the precincts that vote at this polling place. Every few hours the polling place posts a list of people who have voted. (Actually they post the whole list of voters, and the people who have voted are crossed out.) I take that list, and cross out anyone that has voted who is also on my list of Democrats. Then I start trying to reach the ones who have not voted. Later in the day this will likely turn into a frenzy, and if there is time I'll be calling, maybe looking for people, and offering rides to the polls. My job is to get the rest of the people to vote.

I hope the Democrats are doing this everywhere, precinct by precinct. Here they are organized enough to be doing this, and we are looking for a Democratic "sweep" of every statewide office.

They way it used to work is every precinct had a "captain." That person lived in the precinct, walked from door to door through the year, got to know everyone and how they would vote, talked to anyone who could be persuaded and most important rounded them all up and got them to vote on election day. We need to bring that system back.

Going Out to Help

I'm leaving now, to go help with Get Out The Vote efforts.

I hope I'll be at a victory party late into the night. See you tomorrow.

You shouldn't be reading this because you should also be out helping.

The Oil

Carve-up of oil riches begins,
The leader of the London-based Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, has met executives of three US oil multinationals to negotiate the carve-up of Iraq's massive oil reserves post-Saddam.

Disclosure of the meetings in October in Washington - confirmed by an INC spokesman - comes as Lord Browne, the head of BP, has warned that British oil companies have been squeezed out of post-war Iraq even before the first shot has been fired in any US-led land invasion.

Left Dumbs Down

Nicholas Kristoff has a column in today's NY Times, The Left Dumbs Down, in which he complains about "The Left" (it's actually a few people on the left) resorting to name-calling and conspiracy theories.

And what about people who AREN'T engaging in this stuff? They're singled out for extra criticism,
It's true that Democratic politicians like Tom Daschle haven't joined the conspiratorial hysteria, but that's because they're ducking controversial issues and are frightened of offending centrists. Al Gore's speech last month on the economy blasted the administration without offering a single specific suggestion of what should be done.
So the people who AREN'T engaging in incivility are only not doing so because they are cowards!

He says it sounds like Rush Limbaugh, that the White House team that executed Vince Foster must have struck again, and that this is a good day to reflect on this incivility.

OK, I will.

It worked. They won. And where were people like Kristoff in the Clinton years, when the Republicans were going nuts with conspiracies and accusations and insults and ridicule and incivility (all planned by polls, and focus group tested)? Criticizing Clinton.


Bush Untruths

There's a great article titled, Bush's Life of Deception over at Consortiumnews.com.

Nasty in Espanol

I've been getting this really nasty campaign e-mail, in Spanish. Anyone else getting it? I'll bet it is being masively spammed.
Muy queridos familiares y amigos:
Tengo urgentes noticias sobre las posiciones del partido demócrata sobre el aborto y la homosexualidad. Debido a que nuestra fe, nuestra familia y nuestros hijos son tan importantes, creo que es de vital importancia que ustedes estén en conocimiento de esto antes de que vayan a votar. el próximo Martes 5.de Noviembre.


Sabia usted que los demócratas en el Senado de Estados Unidos han votado vez tras vez a favor de mantener legal el aborto aun hasta el tercer trimestre de embarazo! Este cruel procedimiento implica que un bebé que esta por nacer, lo voltean para que salgan primero los pies y luego, antes de sacarle la cabecita, el medico le corta el cuello con un cuchillo punzante, le abre un hoyo al cerebro y le succiona los sesos al bebé. Todo esto lo hacen estos médicos sin anestesia. Debido a los Demócratas, esta practica de aborto, o mejor dicho, infanticidio, es legal hoy día hasta los 9 meses de embarazo! Si señores, este criminal proceso es 100% legal y el partido demócrata quiere que permanezca legal. Los Republicanos han tratado de prohibir el “aborto de nacimiento parcial”, (como se llama oficialmente), por casi 10 años ­ y los Demócratas han parado los esfuerzos de los Republicanos.
... and ...

Como si el matrimonio entre homosexuales no fuese lo suficientemente depravado, casi todos los Demócratas apoyan la adopción de niños por
homosexuales ­ aun cuando padres de familia normales, hombre y mujer, esten listos y dispuestos para adoptar al mismo niño. Si los Demócratas
continúan bloqueando las nominaciones de los nombramientos judiciales del Presidente Bush, incluyendo el caso de Miguel Estrada a la segunda Corte mas alta del país, y continúan ganando mas puestos estatales, las adopciones entre homosexuales y cuidado de niños por los sodomitas, se volverá algo generalizado y los niños sufrirán eternamente la implementación de estas medidas degeneradas.
It goes on...

White people can translate this at Bablefish. Just paste this URL where it says Translate a Web Page: http://seetheforest.blogspot.com/ (And remember to choose Spanish to English.)

Economic News

Factory Orders Continue to Decline, "Orders to U.S. factories fell for a second straight month in September. It was another setback for manufacturing, which has seen almost 2 million jobs evaporate over the last two years and is struggling not to sink even deeper into the quicksand of economic uncertainties. "

Layoffs soar 151 percent in October, "U.S. companies more than doubled their planned job cuts in October, a job placement firm said Monday."

Bets are on for an interest-rate cut, "The economic recovery is idling and financial markets think the Federal Reserve is ready to goose the accelerator."

October sales hint at problems ahead, "On a year-over-year basis, sales fell more than 30 percent for the Big Three. Even highly profitable Toyota (TM: news, chart, profile) saw sales fall more than 20 percent while more double-digit declines jarred the rest of the industry. Most important, the reports drive home the tenet that discounts can be very effective but do lose their impact over time."

My personal favorite from last week: Consumer Gloom May Cause Recession-Report, "Nearly six in 10 Americans rated the economy as poor in October, more than during last year's recession, a separate CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said, despite optimism for better days next year. That gloom could soon drag on a recovery being driven almost entirely by consumer spending. "


Update - Applied Materials to cut 11% of staff, "Applied Materials will cut 11 percent of its workforce due to an ongoing slowdown in the semiconductor industry, the world's largest maker of chip equipment announced on Monday."

Economy Not Helping Democrats

New story, Polls: Voters Eye Domestic Issues.
Some political analysts have suggested that Democrats don't have an advantage on the economy because they haven't offered a clear alternative.

Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot, also on NBC, said he isn't surprised Democrats haven't gained a clear advantage on the economy.

He cited international problems like terrorism that have affected the economy, and added: "This recession started before (President Bush (news - web sites)) took office. The American people know precisely what's going on."
It isn't when the slowdown started, it's what are they DOING ABOUT IT?!! And whether their policies, like tax cuts for the extremely rich, are helping or not.

If the Democrats wanted to run on economic issues, they could have made a lot more noise about the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, JOBS PROGRAMS, and other legislation to help working families. (Remember working families? They're the ones you represent, not the ones you get our money from.) To be fair, they've tried to talk about these things outside of the Congress, and the networks and papers won't cover them. But they could have done a LOT in the Congress to bring these issues front and center, and they didn't. They should have help everything up - expecially the war vote - pending action on programs for working people. Think about where they would be now, in this election, had they chosen to represent their constituents instead of rolling over for the Republicans.

More Microsoft

Going back in time, I took a look at Common Cause's 2000 report The Microsoft Playbook.

My personal favorite, "Just before the 1998 election, Microsoft gave $25,000 to the South Carolina Republican Party. Three weeks later, South Carolina Republican Attorney General Charles Condon pulled the state out of the anti-trust lawsuit filed against Microsoft."


Go See at Blah3

There's a great new spot over at Blah3, and it's about voting Tuesday so it's important. Go see it! Then send an e-mail to your friends about going to see it, too. AND about voting!

Hackers Take Down Black Commentator

From Black Commentator: "During the night of October 25, 2002 hackers destroyed approximately 6-8 servers owned by the company that provides hosting services for our Website."

They also say: "We do not believe the hacker attack was directed specifically at www.BlackCommentator.com."

However, "The hacker attack has delayed publication of issue 15 until Monday, November 4, 2002." The day before the election.

Absolute and Total Bushit

Blame Game on Economy Seen as Pointless
In fact, the blame game is a pointless one to some degree because economists say there's little the occupant of the White House Oval Office can do to directly affect the $10 trillion U.S. economy.
How many times have you heard this repeated? The President can't do anything about the economy. It makes no difference. Don't vote. Don't blame Republicans when the stock market goes down, unemployment and deficits soar, wages drop, benefits go away, and the money concentrates at the top.

Obviously Clinton made a difference. A huge difference. They don't want people to think about that as they head down to vote. Obviously FDR made a huge, huge difference that raised the country to a level of prosperity unimagined before he came along.

And obviously Bush has made a difference - largely by inaction with a touch of take from the poor and give to the rich. Long-term unemployment. Falling from huge surpluses to massive deficits in a single year. Hell, I don't need to go on with the list, do I?


Get on Board?

OK I'm thinking of throwing in the towel and buying 100 shares of Microsoft on Monday.

What do you think? There isn't anything that's going to stop them. They've got $40 BILLION in cash so they're either going to buy up a bunch of tech companies and/or start giving a dividend.

This is special - if you knew my history with Microsoft (it goes back to 1978 and none of it is good) you would be amazed that I'm writing this, but hey, if you can't beat 'em... Maybe I'll get on board and vote Republican, too. Maybe start smoking again?

I'm serious. What do you think? Should I buy the stock?

Imminent National Emergency

Bush is out campaigning every day now. What happened to the imminent national emergency that required the Congress to vote before the election?

Today's Paper

Two articles from this morning's paper, U.S. retreating on mahogany limit - (Subhead: POSITION ON DWINDLING FORESTS CALLED BETRAYAL)
The Bush administration is backing off a key global environmental initiative launched by the president's father, who proposed restricting trade in the wood from world's dwindling mahogany forests.
and, U.S. ending support of world health plan - (Subhead: WHITE HOUSE, IN MOVE AGAINST ABORTION RIGHTS, REJECTS GLOBAL ACCORD)
The Bush administration has intensified its battle against abortion rights worldwide by stating that it can no longer support a landmark international agreement that established reproductive health care as a means to curb population growth.
Take a moment to reflect on just how stunning and horrible these two stories are, and then a moment to reflect on all the reasons these two stories are not headlines in every paper in the country, with horrified citizens running out into the streets in protest.


The Check Arrived

Looks like Microsoft made sure their check to the RNC arrived on time.

You can not purchase a computer that has Windows and another OS installed. You can not purchase a computer with a non-Microsoft word processor or spreadsheet or database program installed.

The proof is in the pudding. Does the Microsoft settlement open up competition? Answer - not a single competitor has received funding since the settlement. In the time since the "settlement" almost all Microsoft's competitors in these areas have been wiped out. There will be no incentive to invest in a competing company. Companies in areas that Microsoft is thinking of entering will not receive funding.

Everyone will pay more for computers and software. Windows is the most expensive single component in a computer. Microsoft Office costs more than $400 and you can't really use a computer without it.

But the worst part of this is that it demonstrates that the best way to deal with America's justice system is to pay cash to the Republican Party, not to follow the law.


Stocks are bubbling along. Earlier this week stocks rose because the economic data was so bad that investors decided that the Fed will cut interest rates 1/2 point next week. Today's report, stocks are rising because the really bad economic data, though worse than expected, wasn't as bad as it could have been. "Stocks ticked higher in late morning trade on Friday as October's momentum swept into a fresh month with investors reckoning that weak jobs and manufacturing data could have been worse."

The new Standard & Poors "core earnings" - earnings without lots of gimmicks and tricks - showed the S&P 500 at a P/E ratio of 57 last week. Stocks are up since then. The current non-core PE of the S&P 500 is 23.6. For perspective, the PE of the S&P in October 1929 was 21, and of the DOW was 17 - BEFORE THE CRASH. Stocks are currently priced higher than where stocks crashed from in 1929. Using "core earnings" we are higher by a factor of about 2.3 times.