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    February 5, 2004

Local Howard Dean Meetup recap - Howard Dean Meetups occur the first Wednesday of each month. They began in February of last year. Over 1000 communities in the U.S. now have a Dean meetup or gathering. Toledo's first Dean meetup was a year ago. There are now two local meetups. One is in Bowling Green at the "Grounds for Thought" coffee house, and the other is in Northwood at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 50 union hall. I went to Wednesday night's meetup in Northwood, which was attended by 30 people. I learned that previous meetups had 50 to 60 people showing up. To me, the people at the meetup were political junkies, geeks, akin to the nerds, like myself, who attend the local Linux user group meetings. But instead of the hated enemy being Bill Gates and Microsoft, it was Bush-Cheney and Halliburton.

Actually, not once during the meetup did I hear the name Halliburton. There were a few Bush bashings, as expected, but overall the meeting was well done, although a bit more subdued than I expected. I wish I would have attened previous meetups.

One observation I had about the 30 people in attendance was the age breakdown. There were a handful of people in the 20-29 age group, but the rest, except for myself and a 12-year-old boy, were over 45. The Baby Boomers were well represented. There seemed to be a generation missing.

The union hall that hosted the meetup is a nice building with a large mural nearly covering the length of the wall behind the speaker's podium. I liked the painting a lot, which morphed from workers marching for rights in the first half of the 20th century to an aerial view of the Toledo area that included the new I-280 bridge.

I arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled 7:00 p.m. start. I signed in at the table by the door. A box of Dean buttons were for sale at $2 a piece.

Along the wall were three more long tables lined up end to end, which contained information about Dean, worker's rights, and opposition to NAFTA and Wal-Mart. I gathered up an armful of interesting reading and a "Dean for America" bumper sticker. I felt like I was at a home and garden show and needed a plastic bag to carry all the information I collected.

While sitting in the back waiting for the meeting to start, I overheard a retiree say, "He's an asshole. And he's conservative too." I don't know who the "he" was.

The meeting started about 10 minutes late, since people were still filing in. The meetup director said she had a message from Dean. She played a four minute movie on the large projection screen called "What our Campaign is About." It was mainly still photos of Dean and supporters from the campaign trail since last summer with parts of certain speeches dubbed in. It was nicely done. When Al Gore was on the screen with his endorsement of Dean, a woman let out a little cheer.

After the little movie was done, the DVD went back to the main menu. There were several more small movies on the DVD, but we only saw the one. I think the DVD was titled "February Meetup DVD."

The rest of the time was devoted to announcements and people talking about their adventures in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Saturday, February 7 is "Dean Visibility Day." This is a nationwide event. Supporters are suppose to construct and hold signs that say, "We're Dean's Special Interest." An obvious jab at Kerry's special interest-powered campaign. John Kerry supposedly has raised the most special interest money in the history of campaigning.

"Sen. Kerry, who says he hasn't taken a dime of political action committee money for his presidential campaign, in fact ran a tax-exempt political committee that collected nearly a half million dollars directly from companies and labor unions just before those types of donations were outlawed in late 2002, tax records show."

Howard Dean's campaign rejects special interest funding, which is why I thought it was strange that the meetup was held in a union hall.

The meetup director read a letter from a local supporter who was unable to attend Wednesday night's meeting. The letter writer told about his time in New Hampshire. They handed out thousands of copies of the Diane Sawyer interview. In the letter, he also talked about meeting people from all over the country, and he said his time there was a wonderful experience.

Next, a young man and a young woman stood up and talked about their time in Iowa. They showed us one of the orange hats worn by Dean ground supporters who are called the Perfect Stormtroopers. They spoke about door-to-door canvassing of towns to get Dean's message out and to encourage people to vote. They also worked the phones, calling as many voters as possible. They stood on stage behind Dean at a rally in an elementary school. They were seen on CNBC. The girl got her rally pass, I think that's what it was, signed by Dean. It was obvious that they enjoyed their experience immensely.

They also discussed the strange workings of the Iowa caucus and the bartering that went on to get votes. They witnessed it. I'm not sure I'll ever understand it.

The young guy observed, "All the Kerry people looked like they were 65 years old. No offense, but when will the torch be passed?"

The young woman stated that Iowa had a record turnout, but the media did not report it, which is not true. I heard and read about the record turnout almost immediately after the caucus.

There was some media bashing by the attendees of the meetup. Blaming the media for Dean's failures, thus far, is absurd in my opinion.

During the meeting, there was some grumbling about the low turnout at Wednesday night's meetup. The weather couldn't be blamed. It probably had to due with people jumping off the Dean bandwagon. One guy correctly observed, "If Dean had won three or four states [Tuesday] night, this room would be full."

A BGSU student stood up next and spoke about his time in Iowa. He said 20 BGSU students went to Davenport. They also did door-to-door and phone work. He said he had to get used to people on the other end of the phone line sometimes cursing him. And there was the occasional door being slammed in his face. He said he preferred working the phones over door-to-door visits.

The student added that about 30 BGSU students will be at the corner of Monroe and Tallmadge this Saturday from Noon to 2:00 p.m. for Visibility Day. They have huge signs ready to be held up, and they need some people to help for at least 30 minutes.

The student said that Toledo City Council President Louis Escobar is the highest ranking Toledo government official who supports Howard Dean. The meetup director, however, questioned Escobarís support, because Louis has not yet made a public announcement endorsing Dean.

The student finished by saying that a "top-notch" Dean surrogate will be at Bowling Green later this month. The plans are not definite yet, but the choices for a speaker include Martin Sheen, Al Gore, and Jeanine Garofalo.

It was mentioned that the Dean campaign doesn't announce a schedule beyond 72 hours, because everything is changing so fast.

An announcement was made that Dean would be speaking in Ann Arbor Friday morning, Feb 6 at 10:30, but Dean has since cancelled the event. It appears Kerry will easily win Michigan, so Dean has decided to focus almost exclusively on Wisconsin.

Dean said on Thursday that if he doesn't win in Wisconsin on February 17, he will quit. That runs counter to his scream speech after the Iowa caucus where he said he would take his campaign to every state.

"Howard Dean sent an overnight e-mail message to supporters saying he would quit the Democratic presidential race if he did not win the Wisconsin primary on Feb. 17. The message, which comes as Dr. Dean is under increasing pressure to quit the race from unions and members of Congress supporting his campaign, is a marked shift from the candidate's recent comments."

It's sad and disturbing that "insiders" and special interests are forcing Dean to quit. Politics as usual, I guess.

Here's the Michigan for Dean website.
http://michigan.deanforamerica.com

To find out what Dean happenings are occurring in the Toledo area, go to DeanForAmerica.com, select "Get Local", then enter in the zip code. Example.

The phone number for Michigan Dean headquarters is 734-542-0404.

Nearby Michigan caucuses:
Sat Feb 7: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Bedford Twp Hall, Temperance.
Monroe County Courthouse, Monroe.

Some people from the meetup will be in Michigan on Saturday showing their support for Dean.

An informal discussion broke out about Dean not winning and possibly bailing out soon. One man said of Bush and the Democrats' goal in November, "Get rid of the bastard that's in there." The Dean supporter who said this was obviously crumbling. ABB - Anybody But Bush, seems to be the cry for some now.

A boy who turned 12 years old on the day of the meetup got up front and spoke about why Dean was "his" candidate. Not bad for a 12 year old. Maybe brainwashed by Dad, but being interested in politics at that age is probably better than watching hours of music videos and having mindless instant messaging conversations with friends.

There was no love at the meetup for Joementum. A Deaniac said, "Joe Lieberman is gone. Thank God." Then a smattering of applause.

Another 20-something guy got up and gave a delegate count and spoke about delegates and super delegates. Confusing stuff, but interesting.

Michigan has 128 delegates available. It's the biggest state among those in January and February elections.

The BGSU student from earlier in the meeting spoke again. He said BGSU students will be calling the state of Washington Thursday evening after 9:00 p.m. Toledo time, because cell phone minutes are free, and it's only 6 p.m. out west. He said they are also receiving phone lists for Tennessee. I wonder if this is a violation of the "Do Not Call" list?

Near the end of the meeting, a Baby Boomer who was decked out in a 3-piece suit brought up Ralph Nader. That caused a lot of groans. He spoke over the moaning and said Ralph is considering running for president again. More groans. He said Ralph is conducting a poll on his website, asking people if he should run for president. I couldn't find the poll. Mr. 3-piece encouraged the rest of us to vote NO for Ralph running again. Apparently, Ralph had a 15 minute spot on NPR on Wednesday or sometime recently.

The Nader name caused a few older people to grumble. One blamed Nader for Gore's loss in 2000 and others agreed. I wonder if they thanked Perot for Clinton's win in '92?

The meeting ended a little after 8:00. It certainly wasn't boring.

The guy sitting in front of me had a sign he or someone made that had obviously seen some action. Across the top of the sign, it said, "Fire the Liar". At the bottom was the word "Bush" inside a red circle with a line through it. It was cute.

We ate birthday cake in celebration of the 12-year-old boy's birthday. While eating, someone announced he had copies of a 51 minute video that depicted the Bush lies, which led us to war with Iraq. I should have asked for a copy.

I found out that Bowling Green has Dean meetings every Tuesday with about 35 people showing up for them.

One final observation. The young people who spoke seemed to really be enjoying the political process and Dean's philosophy. The words of the older people were wrapped in despair and bitterness, which could be due to them experiencing many more presidential elections and knowing the sleaziness of politics and the feeling of being ripped off by politicians. Age and experience can harden a person. But after the meetup, most everyone was discussing where they would be holding a sign on Saturday, so they are involved and still hopeful.

Before the meeting started, the meetup director handed all of us an essay I read earlier this week, called "Why I'm Rooting for Dean." It's written by Andrew Sullivan, and he sums up my thoughts about Dean and his campaign philosophy. It's similar to what I briefly mentioned about Dean after New Hampshire.

Sullivan says of Dean:

"I just think that the Democrats' sudden panic about Dean's electability is overblown and that the urge to find someone more superficially "presidential" is a trap."

"Dean offers a choice, not an echo. His pugnacity in defense of his liberal instincts is obviously genuine. Compared with Kerry's packaged, tested, hollow rants against "special interests," Dean's straight talk is invigorating. Even the famous Iowa scream had more authenticity and fire than Kerry's labored recitation "Bring it on." Unlike Kerry, Dean has held a serious executive office ó balancing budgets, reforming health care, innovating on civil rights. Kerry's undistinguished, flip-floppy Senate record is far less impressive."


Dean has conviction. Kerry just wants power and will do anything to get votes. If Dean goes down, he will go down by being true to his beliefs. Dean isn't going to change his beliefs to match the DNC.

In the past few weeks, I've heard and read of many voters who said they used to be Dean supporters, but they voted for Kerry, because Kerry was more electable. To me, that's a cowardly sell-out. People who do this have completely missed what Dean has been trying to do, which is bring government back to the people, instead of having it controlled by wealthy special interest organizations.

The Dean campaign makes politics interesting. Forget about Dean's ideas for a minute. It's his methods which are important. They will be studied and debated for a long time. There will be "Lessons Learned" sessions. Books will be written, discussing the details of the Dean campaign, the good and the bad. These books will be the manuals for future political campaigns, but not just for presidential politics. The Dean principles should be applicable for politics at any level: national, state, and local. It should encourage people to get involved in politics. People will realize they have a chance to make a difference. That's the good that will come from the Dean campaign, no matter how it ends up for him this year.

Those people who are leaving Dean, because it's gotten a little tough are missing Dean's point. The jumpers are fueling the status quo of politics.

So I hope Dean wins in Wisconsin and stays in the race.

posted by jr to politics at 11:59 P.M. EST     (7 Comments)


Comments ...


Late Wednesday, I received the e-mail from the Dean campaign that explained the importance of winning Wisconsin.

--------

From: "Gov. Howard Dean M.D."

Subject: Win Wisconsin


Dear Supporter,

The entire race has come down to this: we must win Wisconsin.

We must launch our new television advertisement on Monday in the major markets in Wisconsin. To do that, I need your help to raise $700,000 by Sunday. Please contribute $50 today so that we can reserve the air time:

http://www.deanforamerica.com/wisconsinad

We will get a boost this weekend in Washington, Michigan and Maine, but our true test will be the Wisconsin primary. A win there will carry us to the big states of March 2-and narrow the field to two candidates. Anything less will put us out of this race.

All that you have worked for these past months is on the line on a single day, in a single state. We have come so far to change our political process and restore our democracy-we can't stop now. Your $50 contribution will allow us to get out our message onto the airwaves, and win Wisconsin. Please contribute now:

http://www.deanforamerica.com/wisconsinad

Thank you,

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

--------

As of late Thursday night, the goal had been reached.

"You did it! You met and exceeded all expections. Last night, the governor asked you to raise $700,000 for ads in Wisconsin, which we needed raised by Sunday. You blew out the top, you raised the rafters, you cracked the bat and broke the goal, you showed how strong and deep and powerful you are -- 10,197 of you contributed and filled the Win Wisconsin bat to the brim, raising $711,595."

Once again, no matter what you think of Dean, and I don't agree with his politics, Dean's campaign is the most intersting one to follow. The way he has used the Internet over the past year is fascinating. It's putting government back into the hands of ordinary Americans. These ideas will be used in future elections by liberals and conservatives, especially those without much name recognition and money.

posted by jr at 12:15 A.M. EST on Fri Feb 06, 2004     #



From Dean headquarters in Burlington, Vermont during the night of the Iowa caucus.

"This is how we take our country back--the real process of democracy. C-span has reality TV of a caucus in Dubuque, a small city in Northeast Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi River. The scene [below] is in the webteam area at DFA. Jim Brayton and Nicco Mele are working on maintaining our sites, which are receiving enormous traffic."



It would have been fun to observe the process in Iowa or New Hampshire, or better, be in the war room in Vermont, during any of the events. Loads of energy.

posted by jr at 12:24 A.M. EST on Fri Feb 06, 2004     #



From a Thursday NY Times story.

"What the Americans who have flocked to the Internet this campaign season have in comon is that they are much more likely than the average citizen to serve as an opinion leader in their community, according to the study. Nearly half have never before participated in organized politics, though they are now significantly more likely to donate money to candidates. The surge in Internet use for politics has been the focus of much attention in recent months, particularly because of its role in the rise of Howard Dean."

I even contributed a $100 to the Deanster earlier this week.

There's an O'Reilly conference next Monday called Digital Democracy Teach-In. The keynote speaker is former Dean Campaign Manager Joe Trippi.

"Internet technologies are putting power back into the hands of the people. Using blogs, MeetUp, cell phones, websites, and plain old email, citizen activists have already altered the face of the next US presidential election. In a less-noticed but potentially seismic shift, concerned citizens are using the same tools to have more say in the day-to-day tasks of governing. Are we on the verge of a fundamental shift towards truer democracy, or will these new Internet-fueled tools be co-opted to maintain the status quo?"

posted by jr at 01:00 A.M. EST on Fri Feb 06, 2004     #



"Howard Dean suffered another setback today when one of the nation's largest labor unions withdrew its support for the Democratic presidential hopeful. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees says it's ended support of Dean's campaign and is shifting resources toward the general election in November. Union officials aren't ruling out an endorsement of frontrunner John Kerry."

This union is a sham. These cowardly sell-outs have a myopic view of politics that advances the status quo.

posted by jr at 09:16 P.M. EST on Mon Feb 09, 2004     #



"Howard Dean said on Monday even if he loses Wisconsin's Feb. 17 primary he will remain in the race for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. While polls show many Americans believe he should call it quits, and some backers have defected, Dean hopes to stage what would be a dramatic comeback in Wisconsin with an eight-day barnstorming campaign called 'Real Choice, Real Change.' "Democrats who watched the popularity polls and cut bad deals with the White House are not the right people to stand up to George Bush this fall," the former Vermont governor said."

That's right Dean. Tell all those who want you to quit to jam it. If you have to leave, do it on your own terms, and not someone else's.

posted by jr at 09:22 P.M. EST on Mon Feb 09, 2004     #



An an example of ABB from a story about Kerry winning VA and TN.

"Anybody but Bush," said Charles Edwards, 50, of Falls Church, Va., who decided to vote for Kerry as he entered his voting booth. "I'd vote for the devil."

Charles is quite the mental delinquent extremist. These people don't care what Kerry will do or won't do or what his beliefs are. These nutballs just want Bush out, and they think Kerry has the best chance of doing that, so they just vote the way earlier states vote. Lemmings.

Another comment from another misguided soul.

"I like the fact that he's a war hero," said Celia Ambrester, 69, of Knoxville, Tenn. Kerry won three Purple hearts, one Bronze star and one Silver star in Vietnam. "We need someone in office who's been in war and knows the issues."

I think Celia has been alseep for most of her life. "Knows the issues." What is that? Can anyone speak with specifics?

It's not just the President who has to "know the issues." The President's staff is pretty damn important too. And Bush has surrounded himself with good people like ex-military men Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. Both have done far more to protect the U.S. since Vietnam than Kerry has.

You know, Bill Clinton was a two-term president with a shaky military record who defeated a WW II vet in '92 and a WW II vet in '96. John Kerry said in 1992 that military service was not an issue for determining if a candidate was worthy of being President.

Not everyone is sold on John Kerry's war hero status.

Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry

"On the campaign trail, Sen. John Forbes Kerry regularly mentions his Vietnam War combat experience, during which he received three Purple Hearts, the Silver Star and Bronze Star."

"However, the Massachusetts Democrat doesn't like to talk much about how he received the awards or the time after he returned home when he was rubbing shoulders with Hanoi Jane Fonda as a much-celebrated organizer for Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), one of America's most radical pro-communist groups."

posted by jr at 12:06 A.M. EST on Wed Feb 11, 2004     #



"The feuding and backbiting that plagued the Howard Dean campaign had turned utterly poisonous. Behind the facade of a successful political operation, senior officials plotted against each other, complained about the candidate and developed one searing doubt."

"Dean said at the peak of his popularity late last year that he never expected to rise so high, that he didn't like the intense scrutiny, that he had just wanted to make a difference. "I don't care about being president," he said. Months earlier, as his candidacy was taking off, he told a colleague: "The problem is, I'm now afraid I might win." "

The next Dean meetup (yeah, they still exist) :

Wednesday, Mar 3 @ 7PM
Barnes & Noble
4940 Monroe St
Toledo, OH 43623
419-472-6164

The last message I received from the Dean org :

"On March 18th, I will announce our plans for a new organization to
focus our nationwide grassroots campaign on transforming the Democratic Party
and changing America.

We are determined to keep this organization as vibrant as it was throughout our campaign -- and your involvement is crucial to success. Please attend your Meetup next week and work with your local group to spread the word that our mission continues."


Tough sell right now. The glacier in our yards has retreated, although most lakes and rivers are still frozen. Temperatures are in the 50's and the sun shines a little. March is upon us. It's time to play outside. The Harleys out, the covertible tops are down, the metroparks are busy, kids are riding their bikes, people are working in the yard. Who cares about politics right now? Not until September.

posted by jr at 10:29 P.M. EST on Sun Feb 29, 2004     #



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