Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On Theology (Warning: this blog is "erroneous and dangerous")

Last month, Sojourners Magazine published a rare interview with the Rev. Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit priest in El Salvador, titled "Goodness Revealed." Father Sobrino is a liberation theologian, reaching out to the poor - to the least among us, as Christ demanded. (I should point out that most modern believers of liberation theology are not Communists and do *not* advocate violence, two very common misconceptions.) Sobrino believes that Jesus was not just spiritual savior but also liberator, and that the opressed, particularly those kept in poverty by their own governments, are among God's most cherished people. Pope Benedict and the Vatican have rebuked him, as the article describes: "The Vatican rejected Sobrino's notion of the 'church of the poor' as the whole church's base-a basic tenet of liberation theology-saying such a concept 'would make this preference a partisan choice and source of conflict.'" In addition the Vatican declared that "Theological reflection cannot have a foundation other than the faith of the Church." This rebuke is the latest in a long line of official Catholic swipes at liberation theology. This opposition comes in part from the confused notion that it is akin to Communism (again, it is not), and, as you can see, is a rebuke of anything originating from independent thinkers rather than in the bowels of the Vatican. Sobrino refuses to accept this view, and also has sharp words for first world nations that take an arrogant view of the poor. For calling out his own superiors and the United States in this way, I believe Sobrino is acting in a Christlike fashion, for as Luke 1:52 reminds us, "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly."

Here is an excerpt from the article, but I strongly recommend you read the whole thing. A free registration with SojoNet is required, but free is more than worth it - I've even gone so far as to pay the subscription rate. This particular excerpt focuses on why the Church must be involved with the world, but the interview also explores the Vatican's rebuke and the meanings of truth and reality.

I returned to Sobrino with more questions and this time found him in his office at the University of Central America, the site of the 1989 massacre of eight members of Sobrino’s community. (Sobrino was traveling at the time of the massacre.) At the entrance to the theology center, an exhibit honors the Salvadoran martyrs, including Archbishop Romero, who once declared that "a church that does not unite with the poor is not the true church of Jesus Christ." Romero was gunned down by a death squad while celebrating Mass. A jewelry box entrusted to Sobrino contains a slightly yellowed handkerchief, the one used to wipe Romero’s blood. These artifacts are bloody reminders of a church that stood in solidarity with the poor, in pursuit of liberation—a mission, Sobrino says, the church has abandoned.

"In the last 25 years the churches, especially the institutional church, have tried to move away from a relationship with society. What God created was the world, not the church. The church came later. Now the churches are moving away from being in the real world and away from service to the real world. Specifically, this is true of Latin America, because being in and at the service of the real world is very dangerous.

"The church has moved away from being a church that went into conflict and suffered persecution and killings and bombings. But we must ask why? One reason is historical. There are victims, the poor, of this world of ours.

"The United States is an exception [to the rest of the world]. It is an anecdote. In the First World, in the United States, they may argue—Republicans and Democrats may argue among themselves—about President Bush, but they all agree on one reality. They agree about us [in the Third World]. They expect countries to be poor and violent. Of course, people don’t care about El Salvador. They don’t care about the poor in Brazil.

"But why? In the United States and in my country—I was born in the Basque country—we take life for granted. We take living well for granted. We don’t want to lose what we have. That is the untouchable thing. In your country, politicians have said, ‘It is our Manifest Destiny,’ which is, by the way, religious language. It is the ‘manifest destiny’ of the United States to be a prosperous country and then go back and save poor people from poverty, lack of freedom, lack of democracy, and bring them back to the real world which is democracy. For me that is an issue...

"My real worry for the church is how to care for this world and also how to see the goodness there has been—and that there still is—on this continent. I am a theologian. At times theologians write things that might not be quite right or even might be wrong. But we write in the presence of the poor. When you see horrible massacres in El Salvador, Rwanda, or Burundi and when you see people, especially women, walking with all they have left and their two children and lots of things on their head, when you see them just walking, looking for refuge, I say that is primordial sanctity, primordial holiness. These are the words I use to describe something that I don’t see all the time. Yes, there is poverty, but this is to describe a type of dignity that comes from wanting to survive. I call that ‘primordial sanctity’ in order to identify something wonderful in the midst of a tragedy."...

As I left Sobrino’s office, I said, "I don’t believe that the Vatican’s sanction is about you. It is about everything I’ve seen here." The sharp-tongued theologian didn’t correct me, but smiled with satisfaction.

Slippery

The Dartmouth Green no longer exists. We now have the Dartmouth Black - a big sheet of black ice, beckoning all to come and slip. I don't have my camera with me, but you can watch people toe along on the Dartmouth webcam.

(UPDATE: The Green was treacherous when I walked across it at 8:40 and 10 AM, but at 11, I only came across one nasty patch of black ice. Oh, one nasty patch, how I hate you! But still check out the webcam, it's always fun for a minute or two, especially at peak times.)

In other news, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards are both dropping out of the presidential race today. I started this race out not a big fan of Edwards, but I guess I'm ok with him now - still not my favorite, though. Giuliani is the opposite. I, like everyone else, initially loved Giuliani for his 9/11 leadership and respected his moderatism, but the more I've learned about his arrogance and his Constitutional views the farther my respect for him has plummeted. Good riddance.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NOW: Vote exactly as we tell you to or you're a traitor

From CNN:

Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy is under heavy fire from a state chapter of the National Organization for Women for his decision to back Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.

In a sharply critical statement, the New York state chapter of NOW took aim at Kennedy Monday for what it called an "ultimate betrayal," and suggested the Massachusetts Democrat "can't or won't" handle the idea of Clinton becoming President of the United States...

"And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment!" the statement continues. "He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton."


I wonder what the New York chapter of NOW has to say about the Democratic Governors of Kansas and Arizona, KATHLEEN Sibelius and JANET Napolitano? Or what about former President Kennedy's DAUGHTER Caroline? All three of these women have endorsed Obama - does that mean that they, too, "can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president?" Does NOW believe Ted Kennedy is obligated to support a certain candidate by virture of how he was born while the Kathleens and Janets have a choice?

BWAH!

That's the way the arterials crumble

One of my favorite columnists is Bob Herbert of the New York Times. Herbert, like his colleague Nicholas Kristof, often highlights vital issues that affect millions yet for some reason tend to ignored by the mainstream press. Yes, that's right, there really are crises out there more impactful than Britney Spears' hair, issues we can do something about - issues like Katrina recovery, the horrors of legal prostitution, and continuing international slavery. Herbert was writing about the subprime crisis before it was cool. Today, he draws attention to our nation's crumbling infrastructure.

There is usually not much about infrastructure stories to turn readers or viewers on. But the catastrophe in New Orleans and the bridge collapse in Minneapolis are tragic evidence of the peril that goes hand in hand with neglect of the nation’s roads, bridges, levees, transit systems, water treatment facilities and so on.

Just two weeks before the Minneapolis bridge collapse, an underground steam pipe in Midtown Manhattan exploded, sending a geyser of filth and asbestos-laden debris into the air. A woman fleeing the scene died of a heart attack, and the area suffered millions of dollars in economic damage.

In South Carolina, where candidates of both parties competed in recent presidential primaries, there is a long stretch of grievously neglected rural schools that has been dubbed “the corridor of shame.” Some of the schools are more than a century old. Among the many problems are ancient plumbing, inadequate heating and sewage that backs up into classrooms, bringing in vermin and terrible odors.

The country could do itself a favor by paying more attention to the efforts of Senator Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who is chairman of the Banking Committee, and Senator Hagel, a Nebraska Republican. They have co-sponsored legislation that would create a national infrastructure bank to promote and help finance large-scale projects across the nation.

Part of their mission is to generate a sense of urgency. In an interview yesterday, Senator Dodd told me: “At a time when we’re worried about rising unemployment rates and declining confidence in this country, infrastructure projects have the dual effect of putting people to work — and usually at pretty good salaries and wages — while also creating a sense of optimism, of investing in the future.”


Please, read the whole thing. I consider our crumbling infrastructure a vital issue, right alongside health-care and just behind nuclear proliferation, climate change, Iraq, and human rights on the importance list.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Naming My Car

Why do I skip church? I *always* wind up regretting it, without fail. It may seem like a good idea on Saturday night, but it never actually winds up that way.

Anyways, I bought a car a few months ago. A red '96 Subaru Legacy Outback. I share this with you because today, I named it Henry Paulson. Henry "Hank" Paulson is, of course, the United States Secretary of the Treasury. I can't say I'm a fan of his; he may be more pragmatic than most of the Bushies, and he is a Dartmouth alum, but he's still a Bushie and he's very wrong about the need for an economic stimulus package (then again, who in DC isn't).

No, this christening came about on accident. I wanted to name my car Hank, but unfortunately, it just doesn't feel like a Hank. Mabe I'll name my guitar Hank, if I ever start playing it regularly. Yet as much as I may want to name an inanimate object Hank, my car feels more like a Paul - but I don't want to name it Paul. Even though that was my own name for the first three days of my life, I can't say I've ever cared much for it. For several days I resisted the natural call to name my car Paul, until it occured to me that Hank and Paul go together in the persona of Henry Paulson. To my disgust, I felt as if I had no choice. (Don't get me wrong, Mr. Paulson doesn't disgust me, just the concept of naming my car after him.) So there you go.

Also, I believe every person should join AAA. It's pretty awesome, and all it takes is one tow in four years for it to pay itself off. My three flat tires are the second time I've used AAA in the past year; the first time was when a friend and I ran out of gas and used her membership. A member for two weeks and I've already gotten my money's worth!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Best Katrina Posts

Although I now blog about anything and everything (with an emphasis on US politics and The Episcopal Church), I started this webpage while working with the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. For the first year of this blog's life, it existed solely as a Katrina recovery page. Here, then, are what I consider my best posts regarding Hurricane Katrina.

Gulf Coast Volunteer Opportunities

2008 Presidential Candidates on Katrina Recovery (With Original Reporting)

Pictures and Homeowner Stories from March 2007

Several Posts With Picture Updates from LA and MS

A Summary of New Orleans Recovery, January 2007

The Road Home Program: LA's Second Disaster

In Which I Give Out Stuffed Animals, and Other Vignettes

NPR's John Burnett and Common Ground Relief

The Importance of Helping the Gulf Coast

The Diocesan Mobile Unit

Distinctly Episcopal

(This post is not actually from January 2008, but from July 2008. It is meant as a reference for my blogrolls, not as a blog post in and of itself. Thus, I am burying it among old posts so as not to interfere with new posts.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Third Time's A Charm

I feel bad posting YouTube clips three days in a row, but I have no energy to actually write anything right now. Maybe tomorrow, maybe about race. In the meantime, here's Ezra Levant, a conservative Canadian activist, defending free speech to a government agent questioning his publishing those Mohammed cartoons awhile back. Strong language.



UPDATE: An anonymous commenter posted this below: "Ezra Levant rocks, but be aware that this YouTube video was uploaded to YouTube by someone going by the nic "EzralLevant" whose YouTube Channel page is totally overrun with graphic hard-corn porn (both still photos and moving) in the comment section. Just a warning before sending anyone over that way to check out more Ezra Levant videos and accidentally and unwillingly being slammed with in-your-face porn." I'm not noticing any porn in the comment section myself, but there is lots of hate speech and racial slurs being thrown about, so yes, do be warned.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Just In Case You Needed More Proof

As if his conveniently-timed flip-flops, misleading economic panders, backstabbing health care vetoes, unmoving greasy hair, and irresponsible political trips as Governor weren't enough to show Mitt Romney for the inauthentic opportunist he is, here's a little more:

Governor Romney paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. when speaking to a group of employees at Gate Petroleum today and then shook hands and posed for photos with African-American families at a parade... He jumped off the Mitt Mobile to greet a waiting crowd, took a picture with some kids and young adults and awkwardly quipped, 'Who let the dogs out? Who who.' He took pictures with many in the crowd and greeted one baby wearing a necklace saying, 'Hey buddy! How’s it going? What’s happening? You got some bling bling here!'"


That's right. Mitt Romney thinks all he needs to do to fit in and look natural in a black neighborhood is raise his hands and say "bling bling." Maybe that's racist, maybe it's not, but given that "Who let the dogs out?" is not exactly the most common phrase in the Mormon CEO's stump speeches, it's certainly inauthentic.

Even politically, I don't see how this is good strategy. A cultural stereotype... an out of character moment... a decades-old one-hit wonder... what's next, Mitt, dancing the Macarena to win the contested Latin vote of Texas and New Mexico? If a forced love of the Baha Men can balance out the effects of your economic policies on black voters, surely Los del Rio will make Hispanic folks forget about that Tancredo endorsement!

This is, of course, the reason for my long-standing distaste for Romney - I'm no Republican, but I respect anyone, liberal or conservative, who listens to their opponents and acts not on ideology but on fact and principle. Case in point, John McCain and Mike Huckabee. It may well be a political statement to say, "Mitt Romney is no Mike Huckabee," but only barely.

Update: Here's video of Romney asking, "Who let the dogs out?" The bling-bling quote is not part of this clip. It seems harmless enough when you watch, but I still think it speaks to his inauthenticness - Romney is clearly the out-of-touch parent who believes the kids think he's cool when he makes outdated pop culture references in an over excited tone of voice, and again, I don't see how that wins votes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Broadening The Lens

It always makes me happy when Sarah Vowell has an OpEd in the New York Times. She's one of my favorite authors, and I was fortunate enough to have dinner with her my freshman year. I wish she would write for the Times more often - but she hates short, deadline pieces, preferring the freedom of essays and novels. My loss. Anyways, today is Martin Luther King Day, and Vowell has a column in the Times reflecting on King and modern Christianity, called "Radical Love Gets A Holiday". She includes a very powerful King quote I had not heard before, from 1957:

“So this morning, as I look into your eyes and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you: ‘I love you. I would rather die than hate you.'"

Wow. "I would rather die than hate you." That's enough to make even the most ardent social justice activist rethink the concept of hate.

Another article, the AP's "Popular view of King ignores complexity," makes the point that King was not just an anti-segregationist, but a Christian preacher who fought for striking workers and for the poor, and against Vietnam and the draft. Our modern narrative ignores so much of his work, perhaps doing his memory - and his causes - a major disservice. Princeton Professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell says that King was widely disliked at the time of his assassination, and "If we forget that, then it seems like the only people we can get behind must be popular. Following King meant following the unpopular road, not the popular one... It's not OK to slip into flat memory of who Dr. King was, it does no justice to us and makes him to easy to appropriate. Every time he gets appropriated, we have to come out and say that's not OK."

As a reminder that Dr. King stood for more than a few buses and lunch counters, here is a video from another man fighting for the same things.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hands Off My Dollar

Kudos to Dartmouth Economics Professor Andrew Samwick. It takes a lot to bring out my economically conservative side, but he did just that with his blog post "Fiscal Stimulus? We Don't Need No..."

By focusing on the deficit, Prof. Samwick makes a compelling case that Obama, Clinton, Edwards, McCain, and Bush are all... gasp... wrong on the economy and the potential recession. The best way to handle the current economic slump, he says, is not to pass a stimulus package that future generations will have to pay for, but rather to do... absolutely nothing.

Prof. Samwick, who is the director of Dartmouth's Rockefeller Center, has said in the past of deficits, "Taxing someone in 2020 to pay for our spending binge in 2003 violates my notions of fairness, and that is a substantially more salient issue here than any additional concerns about efficiency." Couldn't agree more. So, to those of you Senators and Presidents proposing $150 billion stimulus packages, this voting member of a future generation says:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sexism Alive and Well at Dartmouth College

I have come, over the past six or so months, to a very saddening realization: my college is sexist.

I am not referring to any specific individuals, though some certainly raise eyebrows. No, the problem is not with any administrator or student, but with the system. Dartmouth students will know I am referring to the current controversy regarding the sorority Alpha Xi Delta (AZD) and the fraternity Beta Theta Pi (Beta). Beta was permanently derecognized by the College ten years ago for a pattern of sexist, racist, and homophobic behavior. The frat owned its own mansion rather than using a college-owned house (despite its central campus location), and AZD has rented that building since the derecognition. Last Wednesday, Beta informed AZD that it will be repossessing the house in July. The College has offered to relocate AZD to a much smaller house a mile away.

Beta’s dark history aside, no one can blame them for wanting their property back, and there is no guarantee that future brothers will repeat the same behavior as their alumni (some of whom turned out quite respectable). Indeed, AZD’s president has made it clear that the girls are not angry with Beta. The problem is that if Beta is rerecognized, which appears likely, Dartmouth will have 16 fraternities to only 7 sororities. This discrepancy is exacerbated by the fact that the locations of the fraternities is infinitely more desirable to those of the sororities. If AZD leaves its central location, only one sorority will be left with a convenient spot on Webster Avenue, aka “Frat Row” (case in point, it’s not even called “Greek Row”). Worst of all, the College has a blatantly discriminatory policy that only men can establish local Greek organizations; all new sororities must be national. This all means that it is much easier for men to host open parties or serve alcohol. Given that 2/3 of eligible Dartmouth students are members of a Greek organization, the Dartmouth social scene largely revolves around Greek life. (I am part of the leftover 1/3.) This means that, in essence, the official policy of Dartmouth College is that if women want to have evening fun, it must be on men’s terms, in places where men control entrance and alcohol access. This, of course, increases the risk of sexual harassment and even assault, and the College does nothing.

(For clarification purposes, the reason Dartmouth is considering rerecognizing a "permanently" derecognized frat is threefold: one, Beta owns its own house and Dartmouth is terrified of an unregulated, unrecognized frat running amok in the middle of campus; two, Beta promises to align itself with a national organization; and three, Beta alums donate a lot of money.)

(UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the local ban is on any new single sex house, not just sororities. Nevertheless, I still believe this to be a discriminatory rule, given that when it was implemented, there were many more pre-existing local frats than sororities, and women are now banned from narrowing that gap if they so choose. Because this is a correction and I should be honest about my mistake, I'm not editing the original text of this post, but please keep this update in mind as you read forward: the what (discrimination) is the same, but the why (existing effects rather than coded rule) is slightly altered.)(That's another clarification I should make - three of the current sororities are local, but only three.)

The AZD/Beta flap follows on the heels of another incident this summer, when Theta Delta Chi frat (TDX) agreed to let Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority (KKG) use the TDX house for the night. When the KKG sisters approached the building, an unspecified number of drunken TDX brothers came pouring out of windows and trees, screaming slurs like “bitch” and “whore.” The brothers in question (it was not the whole house) then proceeded to trash their own house so the women could not use it. Students were outraged, and the College planned to investigate – an investigation that might include sanctioning KKG for underage drinking, never mind the sexual harassment. Worst of all was the TDX president’s excuse: "Ben [B.] said that many men arrive at college unsure of how to act or speak to women, and are thus susceptible to conforming to the reigning culture of what he termed 'The Dartmouth Man.'" Unsure of how to act towards women? How about *respecting* them??? Did your parents really fail you that much? I swear, one of the main reasons I want a son is so I can teach him to respect women; I don’t want to make the same mistake certain TDX parents seem to have made.

(Update, 02-15-09: Over a year after this original post, I had the chance to talk to Ben B.'s mother after church this morning. She said the campus paper took his quotes out of context - in the case of the "Dartmouth man" quote above, she says Ben was not excusing the actions, but was discussing why what happened had happened and how it could be changed. This is not surprising: The D is a bit of a rag, known for misquoting people. Ben's mom further said that the reason Ben ran for president of TDX was to try and change its decrepit internal culture. One of the girls attacked was one of his best friends, and what followed was perhaps the hardest term he's ever faced. He has since put together several programs for exploring these gender issues, and the house did take internal action. I don't know if any of that's done any good, but I will say this: TDX has had a sketchy, scary reputation since before I arrived at Dartmouth, and it's good to know there are forces within the house pushing back. In deference to Ben and his mother, I have deleted his last name from this post. I would also note that, if I were to write this post today, I would not have questioned the parents of the students in question - Lord only knows my brother and I have done things our folks would find unappealing, but there's nothing they could have done better in terms of teaching us values. Where we depart from those lessons is our own fault, not theirs, and if that's true of my parents than surely it's true of many - even most - others. End update.)

The inherent sexism found in Dartmouth’s social scene has led many students to say they would not send their daughters to Dartmouth. I do not blame them; this pattern of disrespect and sexism must be stopped. I wrote a letter to the school paper last night reflecting on the AZD incident and proposing a few solutions. You can read it at the paper’s website, but they made some edits I’m not entirely happy with, so it’s best to read my original text here:

***
To the editor,

In light of the many letters from AZD and Beta members, I would like to add an unaffiliated perspective to the mix. The current controversy, like this summer’s TDX scandal, reveals the widespread discrimination against Dartmouth women. Julia Schwartz ’08 was correct when she said, "It’s not an AZD issue; it’s a campus issue." Even alumni politics mean nothing in the face of life-long lessons regarding sexual respect.

I do not understand how Richard Denton '08 can claim moving AZD a full mile away "will cause no change in gender social-dynamics." His further charge that AZD is using “uncontrollable sensationalism” is highly slanderous [as the AZD president link above should show]. AZD's members are among the classiest women I have ever met, and as D readers know, Beta’s history is only a side issue. The real issue is that, thanks in part to the discriminatory policy of allowing only men to create local houses, fraternities outnumber sororities 2-1 and control the best real estate. The College has basically said that if women want social lives, they must be on men’s terms.

If handled correctly, this crisis can become a turning point in the College’s relationship with women. The idea of replacing the Choates with sororities is intriguing, and the formation of a study committee is crucial. The College should increase its offer for the Beta property to match the price of the South Park house. If that fails, let Beta remain unrecognized. Place signs around the property declaring it a dangerous area, and have the Sexual Assault Peer Advisor program (SAPAs) warn freshmen during orientation.

Nathan S. Empsall ‘09
****


In addition to the solutions listed above, the ban on creating local sororities should be lifted. I recommend David Nachman's post at Super Dartmouth, and if you have the time Joe Malchow's at Dartblog, for a little more info there. The call for a study committee refers to a petition circulated on campus and delivered to the administration building by several hundred students yesterday afternoon. As for the line about AZD girls being the classiest folks I've met, well, they have the highest GPA and most community service hours of any Greek house on campus, so let that speak for itself. It is also worth mentioning that Mr. Denton may no longer be a Dartmouth student – it would appear he transferred to Arizona State last year.

I want to make it clear that this article is not an attack on Beta, nor is it intended to point a finger at any specific individuals (with the possible exception of the TDX brothers involved in this summer’s incident). Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman is working hard to find a solution, President Wright is traveling, and Dean of the College Thomas Crady has only been her for two weeks. As far as Beta is concerned, to re-emphasize the AZD president’s point, the general treatment of Dartmouth women and the return of Beta to campus are two separate issues. When I say Beta should remain unrecognized, I mean right now - we don't need a 15th frat if we're not simultaneously offering women the chance to start an 8th, 9th, and 10th sorority, but certainly Beta can enter the picture further down the road. This is a critique only of a broken system, and a demand that it be changed. If the administration refuses to recognize the pattern of disrespect and act on it, then, and only then, will it be time to point fingers – but point them we will.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nevada and South Carolina Predictions

I'm having a tough time posting as often as I might like, both here and at MyDD, thanks to a larger than normal homework load. Hopefully that will change next week.

In the meantime, I do predict that Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney will win their respective Nevada caucuses on Saturday, both by single digits over Obama and McCain. The culinary union's endorsment of Obama will certainly help him, but I don't think it will be enough to overcome Clinton's poll lead or her slam dunk answers on Yucca Mountain at last night's debate. (Never heard of Yucca Mountain? No worries, it's a non-issue in 49 different states.) Edwards could suprise, but I doubt it. He's stronger in Nevada than he is just about anywhere else, but the only major January NV polls (ARG and Research 2000) both have him in third, and he doesn't have the organizational strength of Obama's culinary endorsment.

Romney's win will come because of his sons' campaigning and his strength in the west (he won Wyoming, and you know he's got Utah and Idaho). Some folks are suggesting Paul could pull of a surprise win as the only Republican to run commercials in the state, but again, I doubt it - his polls aren't anywhere near first. I figure he'll finish behind Romney, McCain, Huckabee and Thompson (in that order), though I wouldn't be shocked if he took a narrow third over Huck and Thompson.

Admittedly, I don't know the demographic makeup of the undecideds on either side, and it was the all-female makeup of the NH undecideds that swung that race at the last minute. Turnout is also crazy weird to understand.

The all-important South Carolina Republican primary will also be on Saturday, but that's even harder to predict. McCain's leading all the recent polls, but I think Huckabee's built-in Southern evangelical constituency and the third-party attacks against McCain will give Huckabee a narrow win, with Romney a distant third and Thompson's lazy savior campaign collapsing. Florida may ultimately decide the GOP nominee on Jan. 29, with Feb. 5 confirming the decision.

Rudy who?

And now it's back to the Latin.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Word on Format

It has been brought to my attention that Wayward's template is viewed best with Internet Explorer, but looks a little off when viewed with Safari, Firefox, or just about anything else.

All article text should be viewable if given a minute to load. I will attempt to fix the problem later, but it may take me some time to get to it. Apologies.

A Word On Dean Martin

I may never beat Joe Malchow at his own game, but that's fine with me. Watch out, Joe - my Ted Kennedy to your Jimmy Carter is still something to fear.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Land

"In New Mexico the land is made of many colors. When I was a boy I rode out over the red and yellow and purple earth to the west of Jemez Pueblo. My horse was a small red roan, fast and easy-riding. I rode among the dunes, along the bases of mesas and cliffs, into canyons and arroyos. I came to know that country, not in the way a traveler knows the landmarks he sees in the distance, but more truly and intimately, in every season, from a thousand points of view. I know the living motion of a horse and the sound of hooves. I know what it is, on a hot day in August or September, to ride into a bank of cold, fresh rain…

Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk."


-N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain

I'm Confused

Is this a sign of hope and joy, or a sign of the Apocalypse?

Snow Day in the Sands of Baghdad

BAGHDAD (AP) — The flakes melted quickly. But the smiles, wonder and excited story-swapping went on throughout the day: It snowed in Baghdad.

The morning flurry Friday was the first in memory in the heart of the Iraqi capital. Perhaps more significant, however, was the rare ripple of delight through a city snarled by army checkpoints, divided by concrete walls and ravaged by sectarian killings...

"I asked my mother, who is 80, whether she'd ever seen snow in Iraq before, and her answer was no," said Fawzi Karim, a 40-year-old father of five who runs a small restaurant in Hawr Rajab, a village six miles southeast of Baghdad.

"This is so unusual, and I don't know whether or not it's a lesson from God," Karim said.


H/T to my roomie Albert.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mitt Romney's New Low

I've never been a fan of Mitt Romney, the former Republican Governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate. I often read the Boston Globe as my daily paper, and saw enough during his final year as Governor to become convinced that he is little more than an opportunistic shell.

I came to this conclusion even before taking his supposedly-calculated flip-flops on immigration, gays, and abortion into consideration. Now, there's nothing wrong with changing your position on an issue as you learn more, but it does seem suspicious when a politician shifts his position on so many issues dear to his party just before running for president. These flip-flops have led many to say the key to understanding Mitt Romney is understanding issue polls: don't know where Romney stands on something? Find out where the majority of Republicans stand, and then you'll know. Anything to get the nomination. I've never been sure if he's a moderate in conservative clothing or a conservative in moderate clothing, and I've never cared. Either way, he's very clearly pandering, which fits the pattern of naked opportunism we saw in him as Governor.

Pandering is, if not respectable, at least politically understandable when it's flipping from one viable position to another, but Romney sank to a new low last night at the South Carolina GOP debate.

Mitt Romney drew a distinction with John McCain while answering the opening question on the economy, a salient issue in Michigan more so than South Carolina.

"He said, you know, some jobs have left Michigan that are never coming back. I disagree," Romney said, challenging his chief rival five days before the primary in the economically suffering state. It's one the former Massachusetts governor can't afford to lose after defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire.

McCain shot back: "Let's have a little straight talk. There are some jobs that aren't coming back to Michigan. There are some jobs that won't come back here to South Carolina." But, the Arizona senator said, the country is obligated to help displaced workers find new employment.

Either Romney believes the manufacturing jobs America has lost overseas will come back despite our higher labor costs, in which case he's delusional and unprepared to lead us into a new economic era, or he was telling the voters of Michigan and South Carolina what they want to hear, even though he knew it wasn't true. Either way, this man is not fit to lead.

I'm a Democrat, and I will more than likely support the Democratic nominee for President this year. But as I watch my Republican friends pick their nominee, I pray they pick a true leader. Many Democrats want the Republicans to pick the easiest candidate to beat in November, but I don't think that way. There's always the possibility, no matter how slim, that the Democrats will blow yet another presidential election. In that unlikely event, I hope the leader we're stuck with is truly a leader - the best, or at least most reasonable, of the Republican nominees. I've written before about why I like Mike Huckabee, and I have an even greater respect for John McCain. I can't say the same thing for Mitt Romney. At least he's no Rudy Ghouliani, but that's not saying much at all.

Larry Craig Gets His Partisan On

Each of Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID)'s email newsletters contains a little poll for subscribers to vote in. Like all online polls, the Craig eView polls are unscientific and meaningless, and often the questions themselves are biased and loaded, but perhaps they can at least give us some insight into the minds of Idaho Republicans. Obviously not all his subscribers are Idaho Republicans - I, for one, am a TX/ID/NH Democrat interested in veterans affairs, Craig's forte - but no doubt conservatives make up the largest portion of respondents, something previous poll results bear out.

That's why I find his latest results hilarious. Arriving in my inbox just moments ago:



An email list of probably 75, 80% Republicans, and all Craig could get to say the Democrats were failing was 56%? One would have expected a supermajority from such a biased sample, and yet if Idaho Republicans were all Senators, they couldn't even sustain a filibuster, much less override a veto! Obviously this sort of thing is just fun and games, completely meaningless, but maybe, just maaaybe, Idaho Democrats are in a better position for 2008 than I thought.

For the record, until Romney dropped him like a hot potato, Craig was a big supporter of Romney's presidential campaign. See my next post for more on Romney.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Student Campaign Groups

I interviewed friends who ran the Richardson, Edwards, and Obama campaigns here on campus, and posted them on MyDD.com as part of my primary coverage. I thought I'd put them here, too. The Obama interview is from primary day, and the other two are from today.





Ya Rly



From ten visits a week to nothing, and I really did see an Obama totem laying in the mud today.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Today's the Day!

The past week has been a whirlwind for me and I'm running on eight hours of sleep in three days, but it's almost over. I voted for Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary at about 10:50 this morning, and wrote in Joe Biden for VP. I was live on TV behind Obama this morning, talked to Mike Huckabee yesterday, and feel my blood rushing as I listen to the pounding MSNBC music. So much fun, so amazing, so democratic!

I've been covering the primary for MyDD.com, one of the most read liberal blogs. You can read my thoughts and observations there, newest first:

Primary Day in the Upper Valley

Barackin' the Vote in Hanover

"The Others" (Regarding McCain and Huckabee)

Obama in Lebanon, and General Madness

Edwards in Claremont - Sort Of

In the Spin Room, and Other NH Observations (Including Bill Richardson)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Hampshire Gone Wild

Well, folks, with the NH primary just two days away, I can rebroaden my focus past politics real soon, but not quite yet. Last night I was lucky enough to be in the spin room for both debates, filling a dream I've had since 8th grade.

I am now a regular weekend contributor to MyDD's frontpage, and posted there tonight about my NH experiences. The post includes discussion about my time in last night's spin room, a Bill Richardson event from earlier today, a weird phone call I got, sign wars, a funny story about meeting David Brooks, and predictions. Read it all at MyDD, and watch a video from the Pittsburgh Tribune with me and Edwards here (I'm the silent bearded guy with the sign at the beginning):

Happy Epiphany

I could kick myself.

I spent all night last night at the Republican and Democratic primary debates in Manchester, NH. I was volunteering in the spin room, an amazing experience, and slept in this morning as a result - completely forgetting that it was Epiphany and skipping church. As a result, I missed all those amazing hymns on Jerry's organ. I'll make the evening service, but there's no choir or organ or real music, so it's not the same.

I could kick myself.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I'm Endorsing Barack Obama in the NH Primary

Crossposted from MyDD and Daily Kos.

Until Thursday night, I was a member of the Biden for President New Hampshire Steering Committee and leader of Dartmouth for Biden. On Friday morning, I received a call from the Obama campaign asking to include my endorsement in a Biden/Dodd press release. I agreed. Update, Jan. 6 2:50am: I want to make it clear that I wouldn't consider my support important enough to be considered an "endorsment." That was the Obama campaign's word, not mine, when they asked to include me in a list of high profile local Biden and Dodd suporters. I would have never chosen that word on my own. End update.

Last night, I wrote my final thoughts on Biden for the MyDD frontpage and announced my support of Obama. I still firmly believe that Joe Biden was not only a good candidate but a good role model, and that my second-choice Dodd may be the most impressive politician anywhere on Constitutional issues. I stand by everything critical I’ve written of Obama’s inexperience, and there’s been quite a lot. But at the same time, whenever I have said he doesn’t have enough experience, I have also said that his is the greatest message I have ever heard.

Experience and past accomplishment matter, but so do competence, vision, inspiration, and policy. I’m going to enjoy these final few days of intense campaigning as a junkie rather than an activist, but I am putting an Obama sign in my window and writing a few Letters to the Editor. This is New Hampshire, and my vote counts – but before I explain why that vote will be for Obama, I’d like to take a final look at our party’s other candidates. They are all strong, fine individuals who would make good presidents, and I salute all the bloggers and activists working so hard for them.

John Edwards was my second choice in 2004, behind Howard Dean. Biden is my guy on policy, but when it comes to priorities, no one tops Edwards. His focus on climate change and poverty matches my own. I have long been a Katrina recovery activist, and while I think Edwards’ reputation on the issue is a little overblown, he has show real commitment to the city of New Orleans. If I remember correctly, he was the first top-tier candidate, behind only Biden, to push the issues of nuclear proliferation and loose nukes. I think Edwards would be a good president, but an even better Secretary of the Interior or HUD. He has the same experience issues as Obama and quite frankly just doesn’t sit well with me when I talk to him (hey, this is New Hampshire). I’ve written far too many pessimistic thoughts about Edwards to feel right giving him my support. But I will say this: before Iowa, I was 80% sure Obama came after Biden and Dodd. Edwards was that other 20%.

Bill Richardson was initially my second choice behind Biden. He has one of the most amazing resumes you’ll ever come across, perhaps better even than the first President Bush’s. He’s also a Western Democrat, and I am so excited by the Mountain West’s reshaping of our party. (I’m only in NH for school; I originally hail from Texas and Idaho.) I would love to see Richardson run for the open NM-Sen seat, or perhaps return to the United Nations, but I’m just not convinced he’s competent enough to be President. Whenever he’s asked about Katrina recovery, whether by me on CSPAN or Tavis Smiley on PBS, it’s clear he has no clue what he’s talking about and doesn’t even know what he doesn’t know. And of course, we all remember the LOGO forum gaffe. Worst of all was that back in March, during the pitched Congressional battle over Iraq funding, he told a reporter he didn’t know what the Iraq supplemental was. This is just as bad as Huckabee not knowing about the Iran NIE. I like Richardson, but not in a presidential context.

Hillary Clinton has done amazing work in the Senate, where she submitted herself to Robert Byrd’s tutelage. She plays well with others, having won over Republican colleagues like Sam Brownback, wooed over upstate New York conservatives (including my uncle), and impressed the voters of Arkansas where she wins head-to-head polls. Unfortunately, all that success was achieved through intimate settings like personal meetings and listening sessions that just can’t be replicated on the national stage. Hillary can reach 51% in the Electoral College to win, but she can’t reach 60% in the approval polls to unite and lead. Say what you will about Reagan’s policies, and I’ll join you, but the man could lead. We need another uniter. I am also very disappointed in her refusal to answer questions – she ducks reporters more blatantly than anyone I’ve ever seen. The prime example is her Social Security fight with Tim Russert here at Dartmouth College.

Like many others, I used to consider Dennis Kucinich an absolute nutcase. That has changed over the last few months. I met him unexpectedly at a Hanover bookstore, and found him to be one of the most charming people I’ve ever met. He even signed my copy of Stephen Colbert’s book, writing “Colbert for VP!” We talked for a few minutes, and he answered my questions about the Department of Peace. I don’t think that’s a good name for it, but I now endorse the idea. And last night, Kucinich gave a better speech than either Richardson or Clinton at the NHDP’s 100 Club Dinner – I was shocked. And hey, standing next to Mike Gravel in the debates will make anyone look good (and let me tell you, Gravel is just as crazy in person as he is on stage). In the end, however, I disagree with Kucinich on too many issues, Iraq and trade among them, and he doesn’t reach out enough to folks who disagree with him the way Biden, Clinton, and Obama have done.

These are all great people and great candidates, but I just can’t see them as presidents. Which brings me to Barack Obama. Like I say, he has the greatest message I have ever heard. Many middle aged voters liken him to Robert Kennedy. RFK is my hero, and those comparisons matter a lot to me. I have seen Obama in person five times, and it will likely be seven by Wednesday morning. I’ve met him once, with another meeting coming. Every time, he talks about hope and change, but not in a merely rhetorical way. It’s clear that this message runs very deep. As a Christian and an Episcopalian, I am deeply concerned with the issue of reconciliation. It is a central value to my personal identity, and it is something I think Obama can accomplish. At last night’s 100 Club Dinner, my friend Mike Heslin, the president of the College Democrats of New Hampshire, was very impressed by Obama’s line that every generation has a moment, and this is ours. I was more impressed by his comment that if a politician knows who he is and is secure in his values, he can reach across the aisle and work with opponents without worrying about having his integrity compromised. That’s not a popular message in a partisan primary, but cooperation and political reconciliation is what gets things done and makes things last. The speech started out tired and hoarse, and while his voice stayed hoarse, Obama clearly fed off the crowd’s energy. The Clinton supporters were loud, but I’ve never seen a more charged crowd than the 1000 or so Obama supporters – a third of the room, at least. Obama finished still hoarse but no longer looking so fatigued. He’s clearly a people-powered person.

It was very odd for me to dine and cheer as an Obama supporter. I’ve spent the past year working hard for Joe Biden and harping on Obama’s inexperience. But it’s a good thing, because this really is history in the making. One of the speakers – I think it was NHDP chair Ray Buckley – said if Martin Luther King could look at our field of a woman, a Latino, and an African-American, he would be shocked, and thrilled. The speaker was right. Just 40 years ago – just 10 years ago! – who would have thought that a black man would be so well positioned to win the Presidency? We’ve come a long way. And think about what this means: we could have a President who not only cares about minority issues, but actually understands them, who knows their salience and their details. And once we start moving on African-American affairs, it won’t be long before issues like Native American sovereignty and the human rights of migrant workers follow.

Think also about what this election would mean for the larger world. I’m not sure who made this argument before, but I admit it’s not original. Somewhere overseas, a young 13-year old fundamentalist Islamic Arab or Persian might be picking up a rocket launcher, considering a future career as a jihadist like his father. Imagine that boy looking at the United States, and seeing as its leader not a white man, but a multiracial black man with a Kenyan father, raised partially in an Islamic nation. It will be a lot harder for that boy to accept this nation as the Great Satan. John Edwards is right to say we need a JFK-like world tour to improve our international reputation, but for Obama, that process will start even before the tour.

Any of our candidates will bring change. All will improve our international standing, and all promise to fight for universal health care, something we’ve never had before. But with Biden out, it is Obama who has the greatest ability to bring Americans together with his rhetoric and vision. It is also Obama who would be the most historic, even more than Clinton. Right now, when a little girl or a young black child looks at politics, they see a monolith of white men. That must be discouraging when considering their future. For women, that is slowly changing. We have more and more female Governors and Senators all the time. That can’t be said for the African American community; with the exception of Powell, Patrick, and Obama, their political role models and inspirations are largely relegated to gerrymandered Congressional districts. Women are making progress – certainly not fast enough, but at least its measurable. For true reconciliation to happen, America needs a man like Obama.

I also like him on the issues more than his competitors. Unlike Edwards, he’s not a protectionist. Unlike Richardson, he is firm in his Iraq views, never altering his timeline. With Biden and Dodd out, he is now the strongest candidate on the Constitution. He is a former Constitutional law professor, and includes assertive talk about the document in his stump speech. (Biden has solid views on executive power and is also a Constitutional law professor, and Dodd was pure gold on the issue). And yes, maybe Edwards or Clinton does have a better plan for climate change or health care, but I really don’t care. The details of the plans will be altered by Congress, so nothing specific proposed now really matters. Case in point, 1993: the Clintons could have passed a health care bill, but it wasn’t their own. They refused to compromise, and they went down in flames. Compromise matters, and early details don’t. Heck, I can’t even tell you what Biden’s plan was – what I can tell you is that he had one. What matters is the commitment to universal health care, something all our candidates, including Obama, share.

I admit, the inexperience bothers me, and I’ve written before why none of Obama’s counterpoints on that issue satisfy me. But perhaps he can overcome this weakness by surrounding himself with party sages and policy wisemen. Bush tried this with Cheney and Rumsfeld, and it failed, but Obama’s campaign gives me hope. Compare it to Dean: Obama is barely out of the state senate, yet picked campaign aides who have helped him to run a nearly mistake-free campaign. Dean was a Governor for 11 years, chaired the NGA, and worked with Clinton on health care issues, yes his aides were inexperienced and his campaign crashed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dr. Dean and was thrilled to hear from him at last night’s dinner, but the comparison suggests that Obama might just be able to overcome his one major weakness. And as he himself implied last night, yes, he could wait another decade, but our country doesn’t need to heal in ten years; it needs to heal NOW.

I am now in junkie mode, not activist mode, and I look forward to the day our party crowns its nominee, because all four of the viable options are good people with strong records who will make fine presidents. But I have hope, and I want change and reconciliation. This New Hampshire Biden supporter endorses Barack Obama for President.

A Look Back, And A Look Ahead

My main man Joe Biden dropped out of the presidential race on Thursday night after a lower-than-expected finish in the Iowa caucuses. Here is my final frontpage post from MyDD.com:
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Well, folks, it was a fun ride. This last Biden campaign blogger post will share some final thoughts on the campaign, and look at where I and my New Hampshire vote go from here. First things first, Joe's amazing concession speech, certainly worth its ten minutes if you missed it before:



I was stunned by the poor performances of both Joe Biden and Bill Richardson at the Iowa caucuses. First, second, third, and sixth places were just as I expected, but I thought Biden would pass 10% and resoundingly beat Richardson, whose 2% was also surprisingly low. These numbers are partially because of the impressive GOTV operations raising the bar for viability, and partially because of the arcane caucus rules.

I thought Biden would do well in Iowa and South Carolina, but drop out after Super Duper Tuesday. I figured his chances at winning the nomination were maybe 5%, something worth fighting for if you believe in it but nothing to be overly optimistic about. Not everyone can say the same thing; many of the Biden staffers and bloggers I have spoken with today are feeling quite dejected. To them, and to the disappointed Dodd supporters, I remind you of Joe's father's words: Get up!



Joe Biden has done great work in the US Senate, and he will continue to do great work. He passed the landmark Violence Against Women Act, helped end genocide in the Balkans, helped write FISA, and authored the only Iraq exit plan to get a veto proof Senate majority. Imagine what he'll be able to do as Foreign Relations chair when we have not only a Senate majority but a friendly administration! Best of all, this race and his amazing debate knockouts have really raised Biden's profile standing within the party. For years, we've known him as a dignified foreign policy expert showing up on Meet the Press. Now we also know him as a dedicated family man with charm and values, strong on so many issues. When I started blogging for him, the vast majority of comments were critical in nature. Today, they are almost all tinged with praise. Biden has positioned himself to become an elder party statesman, and wouldn't that be something? As Ted Kennedy steps away with age, we can turn to Chris Dodd for leadership on Constitutional issues and civil liberties, and to Joe Biden for heartland talk and values, and for foreign policy guidance. His concession speech (above) was so graceful, so eloquent; it was everything he is as a person.

Although I am ending my Presidential campaign, I am not going away. I'm returning to the Senate as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will continue to ensure that we protect the nation's security and show our country that Democrats know how to keep America safe, keep our commitment to our troops and restore our country's respect in the world.

On the personal level, I want to thank Jerome for starting this campaign blogger series. It has been a real honor to have this platform, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I also want to thank Paul Simon Democrat, desmoinesdem, and many others who were encouraging, even if they themselves did not support Biden.

So what's next? I'm here in New Hampshire, no longer a political activist, but still a political junkie. And quite frankly, being an activist may be better for the country, but being a junkie is just plain more fun. I am really going to enjoy this circus. Yesterday I was interviewed for the local news. I spent today volunteering at the 100 Club Dinner Todd wrote about, and I will share some thoughts in a diary soon. It's not the first party dinner I've been to, but it was the most amazing. Tomorrow night, I may volunteer in the spin room at the WMUR debate. In the coming days, I will attend events for McCain, Huckabee, and the top four Democrats. Folks, this is going to be so much fun.

But uncommitted junkie fun aside, I want you to know, I have endorsed another candidate. One of the remaining campaigns called me this morning to say they've been hearing good things about my work for Biden for quite some time, and were hoping to add my name to a press release listing endorsements from Biden and Dodd supporters. I agreed, and am now backing... Barack Obama. As I was given this frontpage platform to discuss Biden, I will not abuse it and will instead explain my endorsement in a forthcoming diary. (This diary will be posted on Wayward once written.)

I will miss my frontpage privileges, and again thank Jerome for this opportunity, and thank you all for the wild ride. I am disappointed we didn't nominate Joe, as I really believe in my heart of hearts that he is not just a good candidate, but a good role model. He is the kind of man I hope to be, and his detractors have him pegged all wrong. It's been a wild ride, but folks, it's just starting. Think Progress called the Iowa caucus "The Beginning Of The End Of Bush." Could anything be more exciting?

One final point of personal privilege - to keep my Technorati rankings up, I'd like to link one last time from the frontpage of MyDD.com to my personal blog, The Wayward Episcopalian. `Tis a mix of politics, religion, Katrina, Dartmouth, and anything else that battles the cobwebs of my mind.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Joe Biden Can Still Win


The Iowa caucuses are tomorrow night, and New Hampshire follows five days later. I want to make this very clear: celebrity candidates and media entourages aside, Joe Biden can still win this thing. Based on local endorsements and strong pockets of rural support, Biden is in a good position to make a strong fourth place showing - maaaybe even third place - in Iowa, which would leave him as the only candidate on stage with the big three at an upcoming New Hampshire debate. A strong Iowa showing and decent results in New Hampshire would slingshot Biden to another strong showing in South Carolina, where he has a good organization and is already polling in fourth place. The media attention and fundraising such victories would bring would open a path to the nomination for Biden, the most accomplished candidate.

From Time magazine, "Can Biden Defy the Iowa Odds?"

"In addition to the large crowds, Biden yesterday signed up more than 100 precinct captains — people who will stand up and argue for him in the individual caucuses — in a single day and has raised $750,000 online in the last month. And while he hasn't budged much in recent Iowa polls, Biden has gained most in the category of experience. Of the 33% of likely Iowa caucus-goers polled by ABC News/The Washington Post who said experience was the most important quality in a candidate, nearly half said they favored Clinton, 15% said Edwards, 10% chose Biden and 9% picked Obama...

Ultimately, Biden thinks enough Iowans will make a late decision to throw their support behind him that he'll be able to go to New Hampshire with a fighting chance. "People are coming up handing me their Hillary buttons, handing me their Edwards buttons. Last night two Obama precinct captains walked up to me and said 'You know, we're switching.'"


You might also appreciate Biden's words, audience sway Des Moines man and Biden picks up on Pakistan misstep. BFP Communications Director Larry Rasky sent out this press release earliner today, highlighting the top-tier sized crowds Time alluded to.

The Biden Campaign is generating real buzz. Our crowds are growing by leaps and bounds:

* 500+ people yesterday in Des Moines; a "first tier crowd"

* 300 Biden backers in Mason City

* 250 enthusiastic supporters in Dubuque; "a scene more typical of the events of democratic front-Runners"

* An "energetic crowd" in Waterloo; leads to "an endorsement from a key Black Hawk County Democrat"

* 200-strong crowd in Council Bluffs

The growing support at these events are evidence of mounting support for the one candidate in the Democratic field that has the rare combination of experience, a history of pushing for change and a real record of action on the most pressing issues of our time.

These events also demonstrate the large pockets of support for Sen. Biden across Iowa. These immense swaths of enthusiastic Biden backers will make the Senator a viable candidate in many parts of the state. Our situation is far more favorable than the position of many Democratic candidates whose support is a mile wide but only so deep. Our rivals will face much larger hurdles with regard to viability tomorrow, as they struggle to garner 15 percent in any one Iowa precinct.

Our deep bench of legislative endorsers and local elected officials who have pledged their support for Sen. Biden are also of critical importance on caucus night. These community leaders have real experience participating in the caucus process and help rally already committed Biden backers as well as sway caucus-goers who are undecided or have to make a second choice when their primary choice does not reach viability...

In short, the Biden Campaign remains committed, forward-looking and optimistic headed into Caucus Day. The wind is at our back.