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22 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:45 am

More Thoughts on the Potential Impact of the Ground Game


Yesterday, I found a picture taken during the Super Tuesday celebration in Delaware:

I had a blast working with these guys.  We were operating out of a Longshoreman’s Union hall in South Wilmington. My job was to get canvassers out the door and make sure that they knew where they were going.  If I remember correctly, we sent over 800 volunteers out canvassing on primary day.

Going into the weekend before Super Tuesday, Obama was behind in Delaware.  That Sunday, over five thousand people came out to see him at a rally in Wilmington.  That helped narrow the margin, but going into Tuesday, most polls had Obama and Clinton tied or within a point or two of one another.

Obama won Delaware by nine points.  Although some of that was momentum, a big part of it was the ground game.  I remember hearing on the radio that turnout in the Second Congressional District (Wilmington) was double what people had expected.  I also remember an interview with Hillary’s Delaware campaign manager, who said that she lost because of the extraordinary turnout in the Second.

Here is what The New York Times said about that race:

Obama won in Delaware, capturing two of the state’s three counties after recruiting large numbers of volunteers in recent days. His widest margin of victory was in the north of the state, in New Castle County, which includes Wilmington, where candidates fought for 4 of the 15 delegates Delaware was set to award on Tuesday.

Now I recognize that Delaware is not representative — it’s a lot easier to generate that kind of turnout in a densely populated small state.  But what I saw there — intensive canvassing in the days leading up to Super Tuesday, precisely targeted GOTV in densely populated areas, and a strong phone bank to back up the door-to-door efforts — is the same operation that the Obama campaign will have on the ground in battleground states come election day.

I’m not basing this merely on Delaware.  During primary season, I volunteered in five states:  South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.  With the exception of Pennsylvania (where I was assigned to the Hillary stronghold of Scranton), Obama had similar operations everywhere I worked.  In Virginia, for example, I helped manage a phone bank where 400 volunteers made over 35,000 calls in seven days.

The ground game will have a significant on the election.  Most analysts think the Obama campaign’s organizing efforts will net him two or three points in key states.  But as my experience in Delaware demonstrates, there also will be one or two places where it completely changes the race.

So come election day, watch the turnout in places like Gary, Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Evansville, Indiana; Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, and Toledo, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, State College and Scranton, Pennsylvania; and Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Saginaw, Flint, and Pontiac, Michigan.  The key will be to build up as much as a 2 to 1 or even 3 to 1 margin in Obama strongholds in the hopes that it will be enough to counter Republican strongholds like Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, and the rest of the “T” in Pennsylvania.

Somewhere on election day — my guess is Indiana or Virginia — the ground game will help Obama pull off an upset.  It could be part of a broader victory, but in a close race, it might make the difference between winning and losing.

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20 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
03:34 pm

Huge Bombing at Islamabad Marriot


At least 40 dead — with the number likely to increase significantly.

You can find additional photos here.  It looks like the entire hotel went up in flames.

The New York Times quotes one of the leaders of the democratic opposition that helped push out Musharraf:

A prominent Pakistani lawyer, Athar Minallah, said: “It’s the 9/11 for Pakistan. It’s an attack on Pakistan, an attack on the people of Pakistan.”  Mr. Minallah, a leader of the lawyers’ movement that protested against the rule of President Pervez Musharraf, said the extremists “have crossed the limits. . . . There cannot be any justification for this,” he said. “It is for the people of Pakistan to join hands and sort out this menace. They are enemies of Pakistan.”

Back when I regularly traveled to Pakistan (almost 15 years ago), that’s where I stayed in Islamabad.  If memory serves me, security at the hotel was pretty extensive, so I have to wonder whether this was an inside job.  I also can’t help thinking about the fact that most of the people on the lower floors would have been local staff, not foreigners.

This is the second major terrorist attack in three days (the other was the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen).  There’s a good chance that this was undertaken by an al Qaeda affiliate.  I think it’s important to ask whether the two attacks’ proximity in time was planned or merely a coincidence.

Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

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19 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
12:56 pm

Annoying Bookkeeping matter — please ignore


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18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:56 pm

Evening Haiku


Hey, Sarah’s speaking!
She is totally awesome!
Crap McCain is on

Thanks to those who have posted their own haikus.  Keep them coming!

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18 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
05:45 pm

Spanish Inquisition: The Audio


Pull up a comfy chair with some soft pillows and give it a listen.  There is no doubt that McCain has no freaking clue.

Most damning line:  “I know the leaders.”  Apparently not.

Is it me, or does McCain not sound so good?  And it’s transparently clear that she told him up front that she was asking about Zapatero.  That said, my guess at the order of the questions was off.  He started with the Calderon answer.

She gives him four chances.  On three occasions she references Zapatero or Spain directly.  Two of the four times he comes back with Latin America.

And listen to the end again.  The interviewer is so flustered by McCain’s reply that she forgets what her next question is, and instead asks him to say hello to her listeners.  In response McCain makes it clear that he thinks he’s talking to Spanish-language listeners in Florida (which would explain why he did the damn thing in the first place).

In fact, the interview was conducted by Radio Caracol, a Miami station that is part of the Union Radio network.  It was broadcast in Miami.  But it also was broadcast on the entire Union Radio network, and McCain clearly had no idea that was the case.

As I predicted, Republic of Georgia lobbyist hero and McCain foreign policy spokesman Randy Scheunemann is lying denying that McCain meant anything other than he will not commit to meet Zapatero:

In this week’s interview, Senator McCain did not rule in or rule out a White House meeting with President Zapatero, a NATO ally,” he said in an e-mail. “If elected, he will meet with a wide range of allies in a wide variety of venues but is not going to spell out scheduling and meeting location specifics in advance. He also is not going to make reckless promises to meet America’s adversaries. It’s called keeping your options open, unlike Senator Obama, who has publicly committed to meeting some of the world’s worst dictators unconditionally in his first year in office.

Remember the whole kerfuffle about Bush not being able to admit a mistake?  Four more years, baby, four more years.

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17 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:16 pm

Nightly Political Haiku


A new tradition here at Undip:  political haikus.  Tonight, we’ll look at Sean Hannity’s interview of Sarah Palin.

Is Sean Hannity
A scum sucking nematode?
No — worms are better.

Can Sean Hannity
Suck up more to Sarah P.?
It’s not possible.

Feel free to add your own below.

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16 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:15 pm

Morlocks for Obama


A sunbed, with lights off.When news of Sarah Palin installing a tanning bed in the governor’s mansion broke, my first reaction actually was “well, she just nailed down the sorority girl vote.”  You know the ones I’m talking about:  go to any tanning salon, and it’s filled with pretty (vacant) white girls getting their skin ready for Cabo San Lucas.  These are the same women that Everclear infamously parodied in Volvo Driving Hockey Soccer Moms.  Well, at least some of them.

Turns out I was more right than I thought.  The Indoor Tanning Association has now issued a press release defending Sarah Palin:

In locations such as Alaska, tanning beds provide important health benefits as a source of UV light.  In the bleak winter months, many Americans experience vitamin D deficiency and the best way to manufacture vitamin D is through exposure to UV light.  But it is impossible to get the requisite amount of vitamin D from the sun in cities north of 37 degrees latitude for as many as 6 months out of the year; people living as far north as Juneau, Alaska, are deprived of vitamin D from sunlight for even longer. . . .

While partisan bloggers and the sun scare industry will use this as an opportunity to undermine Gov. Palin and demonize the indoor tanning industry, the fact is that Governor Palin’s decision to get UV light from a tanning bed positively impacts her health.

“Moderate amounts of indoor tanning allow Governor Palin to experience the many health benefits that come with exposure to UV light,” said Dan Humiston, President of the Indoor Tanning Association.  “Especially in dreary northern locations like Alaska, indoor tanning can help guard against wintertime depression and ward off diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency. Kudos to Governor Palin for standing up to dermatologists and other members of the sun scare industry who are trying to frighten Americans away from UV light.”

You heard it here first, folks:  Democrats hate the sun.  They’re actually Morlocks.

Three points.

1.  I wonder how Alaskans are going to feel about having their state called a “dreary northern location”?

2.  Have these idiots ever heard of Calcium Citrate?  You can get your Vitamin D in a pill and not have to worry about that little side effect called skin cancer.

3.  It’s awfully hard to “frighten Americans away from UV light,” given that the freaking sun is the source of most of it.

But what do I know?  I’m just an Eloi-eating surrender Morlock.

These guys should form an interest group in support of Sarah Palin.  You know, like Veterans for McCain.  I even can suggest a name:  Tanning Tards for Sunshine Sarah.

Hat tip:  Marc Ambinder

Photos:  Tanning bed via Wikipedia using a GNU Free Documentation License; Morlocks via Pere Ubu, using a Creative Commons license.

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15 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 pm

Best Comeback of the Day


Joe Biden campaigning in Michigan:

I hope this becomes a staple of his campaign.  Obama should use it too.

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15 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:45 pm

Nightly Election Thread


I just want to say that the fundamentals of the McCain campaign are strong. . . .

Maybe not.

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15 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
08:45 pm

Gotta Cook the Mooseburgers Somewhere


This is almost too funny to be true. . .

Sarah Palin brought one unusual accessory to the Alaska Governor’s mansion after moving in last year: A tanning bed. . . . Palin had the apparatus installed in the mansion in Juneau, and a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Roger Wetherell, confirmed the account to Politico.

“She paid for it with her own money,” Wetherell said in an email.

It does get awful dark up there in Alaska, but health authorities like the American Cancer Society generally frown on tanning beds as cancer risks.  The McCain-Palin campaign didn’t have an immediate comment on the purchase.

. . .unless, of course, you’ve had skin cancer.

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15 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
02:15 pm

This is More Like It


On-message, in-frame, and no mention of Sarah Palin.  More like this please.

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13 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
11:12 pm

Light Blogging Again Today


Greta-palooza continues.

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13 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:46 am

Breaking News: Dubya Mad at Bob Woodward


I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but the White House yesterday issued a pretty lengthy white paper on The War Within, Bob Woodward’s new book.

It’s five pages long.

And it’s not even double-spaced.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this.  How would you like to have been the intern assigned to put together this turkey?

Sheesh.  Doesn’t the Bush Administration have better things to do?  Like win wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and mount border incursions into Pakistan?

Guess I might have to read the damn thing after all.

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12 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
01:15 pm

Daily Open Election Thread


I usually try to avoid swearing unless it’s in the context of a quote, but this is too good not to pass on:

I’m going to be AFK for a couple of hours, but I will be back later this afternoon.  In the meantime, talk amongst your selves.

Hat tip;  Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic

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12 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:45 am

Framing, the Media, and the McCain Campaign


Steve Schmidt and the other soulless Rovians running the McCain campaign understand something that neither the Obama campaign nor the mainstream media do:  that if you utter a lie, no matter how outrageous, the lie will be repeated, even if it the other side is criticizing or refuting it.  When Obama calls the McCain sex ad perverse, people hear Obama is perverse.  When the media mockingly refers to the straight talk express, people hear that McCain is a straight talker.  And when the media, in the name of balance, don’t call what McCain is doing a flat-out lie, people only hear the original message.

This is framing 101.  The problem is that the McCain campaign adheres to the gospel of Frank Luntz, the Republican framing guru, and the Obama campaign doesn’t listen to his George Lakoff, his Democratic counterpart.  Luntz and Lakoff both argue variations on the same theme:  that people connect emotionally not intellectually, and trying to convince them with intellectual arguments only reinforces their existing perceptions.

This isn’t about the media taking sides.  It’s about the media not falling into traps set by either side, where they mindlessly repeat what the campaigns say, even when doing so just reinforces the existing frame.  In addition, the media have to stop inserting their assumptions into analysis:  “McCain is too honorable to have done that,” or “Obama doesn’t get angry.”

What does this mean for the Obama campaign?  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  they need to go on the offensive and they need to do it now.  Last night, Sarah Palin gave them a huge gift:  she said that she was willing to go to war with Russia over Georgia.  The Obama campaign needs to beat that drum and beat it repeatedly for the next twenty-four hours:  “McCain-Palin want to get American involved in another senseless war — except this time with a country that could strike back.”

It’s that simple.  Now do it.

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11 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:03 pm

We Have Failed


Seven years on, Andrew Bacevich captures the essence of the disaster known as the war on terror:

The events of the past seven years have yielded a definitive judgment on the strategy that the Bush administration conceived in the wake of 9/11 to wage its so-called global war on terror. That strategy has failed, massively and irrevocably. To acknowledge that failure is to confront an urgent national priority: to scrap the Bush approach in favor of a new national security strategy that is realistic and sustainable — a task that, alas, neither of the presidential candidates seems able to recognize or willing to take up.

You can read the whole thing here.

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9 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
06:45 am

Morning Buzz: Palin for President


Why settle for a Palin for Vice President when you could have one for President?

Hat tip:  FireDogLake

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8 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
07:48 pm

Thought for the Day


President Bush must be relieved that Asif Ali Zadari was elected President of Pakistan.

Imagine what would have happened if the second place finisher had won.

Bush would have had to learn how to say Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui.

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7 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
10:25 pm

Keeping Our Eyes on the Guy


Here’s the current banner at HuffPo:

Notice what’s missing on the “big news” banner?

John McCain

Which is exactly the way the McCain campaign wants it.

Every minute Democrats and the progosphere spend attacking Palin is a minute not spent analyzing and challenging McCain’s positions.

Democrats have fallen into a trap.  They’re letting McCain’s choice of Palin dominate the news.

If the Obama campaign wants to win, they need to reassert control over the narrative.

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7 September 2008 Charles J. Brown
09:56 pm

Quote of the Day


I’m not a big Tom Friedman fan, but I do like what he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this morning:

I’m actually not against drilling. What I’m against is making that the center of our focus because we are on the eve of a new revolution, the energy technology revolution. It would be, Tom, as if on the eve of the IT revolution, the revolution of PCs and the internet, someone was up there standing and demanding, “IBM Selectric typewriters, IBM Selectric typewriters.” That’s what “drill, IBM Selectricdrill, drill” is the equivalent of today.

Selectric baby, selectric!  Has a ring to it.  Or should I say clickety clack clack clack clack clack DING!

I’m guessing that those readers under the age of 40 aren’t going to get that joke.

Hat tip:  Think Progress

Photo: Wikipedia, used under a Creative Commons license.

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