Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

Denver Convention Schedule Here

Here is the schedule for the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

It all kicks off in less than an hour with DNC Chair Howard Dean calling the convention to order. Denver’s two hours behind NJ, so that’s 5:00pm our time, and Scott, Brian and Hopeful are on the ground in Denver.

Blue Jersey Radio has a few tricks up its sleeve too, and a few other surprises as the week in Denver percolates at high altitude.

If we play this right, we take back the White House, package up an idiot and send him back to his village in Texas where he belongs (bless you, Molly Ivins), restore the country’s reputation with the rest of the world (none too soon), flip one, two, maybe three congressional Districts in NJ and wake up in late January to a tougher, more productive Congress.

Plus there are balloons. What a moment. Let’s not screw it up.

The Reckoning is Now – Obama/Biden Team in Springfield

I’m in a free wifi Moe’s Mexican food bar in Branchburg. Big screen TV, but I can barely hear the first speech Joe Biden is making with his running-mate Barack Obama, over the blues blasting Moe’s sound system.

As I sat down, I heard Biden say these words:

The reckoning is now.

This is the place where Abraham Lincoln began his political career – Springfield, Illinios. Chills.

Anybody else out there watching this? What are you thinking, Blue Jersey?

Nobody texted me, but the nets are all calling it: Obama picks Biden for VP

Update: Text arrived 3:29am, two hours after this diary was posted. Woke me up. Dang- – Rosi

Boom. It’s Joe Biden.

In Biden, Obama gets a street fighter whose toughness may serve as a needed counterpoint to Obama’s smooth, gentlemanly style. He also gets a running-mate who possesses the longevity on the national scene that Obama lacks; Biden is the fouth-longest serving Democrat currently in the Senate. Obama prevailed by making the primary about judgement, not “experience,” but now that he’s got the nomination sewed up, it will not hurt to have Biden standing beside him, considering that McCain will likely try to throw “lack of experience” at Obama, as Hillary Clinton tried to do, with some success.

The scorecard on Biden’s judgment is mixed. He is Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and you would think that perspective would lead him to more diplomatic solutions in the days after September 11. Yet, Biden voted for the war, jumping on the Bush bandwagon blaming Saddam Hussein for the World Trade Center, though only after a failed bi-partisan attempt (with ranking Republican Richard Lugar) to persuade the President to go to war only after diplomatic solutions failed.

Voters will also remember Biden’s chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he presided over the media-saturated confirmation hearings of both Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Biden’s support of the credit-card company-backed Bankruptcy bill is fairly criticized as doing the bidding of the Delaware credit card industry. In another bit of unpleasantness, incidences of plagiarism will undoubtably surface again, but it remains to be seen whether the public will be swayed by them.

In a year where a bunch of Dems ran for president, only to watch the bloodfight between Clinton and Obama grab the headlines and the votes, Biden’s own candidacy didn’t attract much attention. But  Biden is still seen as a very good utility player, the kind of guy who’s been around long enough that nothing shakes him off his game. Biden is smart, tenacious, imperfect and substantial.

This is an Open Thread. Have at it, Blue Jersey.

Obama picks Sebelius for VP

Boom. It’s Kathleen Sebelius.

This is a choice that underscores Obama’s change message; Sebelius is outside-the-Beltway, brings executive experience as the Kansas governor, and knows how to win among heartland Republicans.

Sebelius has won in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats. That doesn’t necessarily win Kansas for Obama, but there’s little doubt she can help steer Obama’s approach to voters outside his base. And having a Kansas Democrat on the ticket is an in-your-face challenge to the traditional low expectations of voters in states like Sebelius’ and an endorsement of Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy, which Obama has advantaged well. The Kansas Sebelius governs shows just how you flip the unflippable. Inside Obama’s 50-State Fight (Time Magazine):

In a state where only two out of 105 counties voted for John Kerry in 2004, Democrats took a House seat, six seats in the Kansas legislature and the attorney general’s office from the G.O.P. in 2006.

But what about women voters tenaciously loyal to Hillary Clinton? Clinton’s own behavior since Obama became the presumptive nominee is questionable, including the deniable threat that her supporters need “catharsis” at the Denver Convention. But her voters?

At a Hunterdon DFA meetup, two weeks ago, with Obama NJ State Director Tricia Mueller as guest, I asked about 65 people how they thought the choice of Sebelius would be received by Clinton loyalists. Hands shot up with people worried that the answer would be: not well.

Yeah, but I can’t believe that. The small, but disproportionately dramatic and resentful crowd of PUMA’s (Party Unity My A**) and Denver Groupies notwithstanding, the vast majority of Clinton supporters stand together against McCain. Their families need health insurance too, sane foreign policy, an economy that puts people to work and doesn’t saddle their grandkids with staggering debt.

This is an Open Thread. Have at it, Blue Jersey.  

Obama picks Edwards for VP

Boom. Obama picks Edwards. No, the other Edwards.

Far less well-known than some of the politicians enjoying ramped-up media speculation over the last weeks, Chet Edwards comes straight out of George Bush’s back yard. His vacation back yard, that is: Chet Edwards represents the people in Crawford, Texas, where Bush has that ranch he likes to hide out in retire to when he needs a break from ruining the country running things for the good people of America. This, most famously, included the time he spent weeks of our time avoiding a lady whose son died in one of his wars. Yes, just three years ago this week, Cindy Sheehan forced Bush to out himself as a coward afraid to talk to a gold star mom with questions.

Okay, that was a gimme. And nobody’s going to fail to note that Edwards is President Bush’s congressman. But outside Texas – where he has represented both TX-11 and TX-17 (the renumbered 11th CD in the 2003 Texas redistricting). in his 17 years in the House of Representatives – he’s not widely known. That may be an advantage for Obama, because it gives him the chance to paint a first picture of his running-mate that best suits the Obama message and campaign strategy, without most voters having a preconceived idea of who that running-mate is.

Edwards, who has cruised almost completely under the radar in the build-up to the Obama veepstakes, is well-respected by veterans. From the Dallas Morning News:

As chairman of a subcommittee [Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee] that controls billions in annual spending, he’s already got more clout than most members of Congress. He’s one of a dozen “cardinals” who serve under the even more powerful Appropriations Chairman, David Obey of Wisconsin.

And as a powerful ally for vets in the House, Edwards may have the winning strategy to challenge McCain on his greatest strengths. It isn’t easy to challenge a decorated war hero on veterans issues or war policy. Not everybody can do it. From Texas on the Potomac:

Edwards, chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, points out that the Disabled American Veterans gives McCain a lifetime voting rating of 39 percent, while Democrat Barack Obama scores 89 percent by this vets’ group. A group of Iraq and Afghan war vets gives McCain a grade of “D,” while Obama scores a “B+,” Edwards added.

By education, Edwards has some finance chops. Bachelor’s degree, Texas A&M University. MBA from Harvard Business School. Is Edwards being positioned as Obama’s point man on the hot-button kitchen table issue of 2008, the economy?

This is an Open Thread. Have at it, Blue Jersey.

Do this right now: Click to promote Dennis Shulman as Progressive Patriot

Dennis Shulman, who is challenging Rep. Scott Garrett in NJ-5 is a finalist in the 2008 round of Russ Feingold’s national donation and recognition program for emerging progressive powerhouse challengers.

Click to vote for Dennis Shulman now, before 5:00pm today

Want to know why you should take a second and vote for Shulman, no matter where you live? Just read any or all of these slam-dunk pieces. Dennis Shulman gets coverage like higher-profile candidates only wish they got.

New Yorker profile:

Even with two careers, he was restless. While teaching a course on the theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, he became haunted by Heschel’s remark “To speak about God and remain silent on Vietnam is blasphemous.” “I read that and said, ‘Oh, shit, I have to run for office,’ ” Shulman recalled. “Besides, my wife was sick of me almost throwing my shoe at the television.”

A Rabbi in Congress? (Time Magazine)

and my favorite, Rabbi on the Roof (Washington Post)

Voting closes in less than an hour. The campaign contribution ($5000) and the recognition to be included among Sen. Russ Feingold’s Progressive Patriots means a lot to Shulman. He deserves it. His campaign’s soaring, and Scott Garrett has got to go. Vote for Dennis Shulman right now, before 5:00pm

Obama picks Chet Edwards for VP

Boom. Obama picks Edwards. No, the other Edwards.

Far less well-known than some of the politicians media has speculated about for weeks, Chet Edwards comes straight out of George Bush’s back yard. His vacation back yard, that is: Chet Edwards represents the people in Crawford, Texas, where Bush has that ranch he likes to hide out in retire to when he needs a break from ruining everything running things for the good people of America. This, most famously, included the time he spent weeks of our time avoiding a lady whose son died in one of his wars.

Okay, that was a gimme. And nobody’s going to fail to note that Edwards is acquainted with the place Bush loves so much.  

Obama picks Evan Bayh for VP

Boom. Obama picks Evan Bayh.

Not a choice that will thrill progressives. The junior Senator, and former Governor, of Indiana is a centrist.

A facebook group I joined a week or so ago – 100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP – started by blogger/topical songwriter Max Bernstein, failed to attract anywhere close to the trumpeted number. Is facebook failure to produce mass progressive reaction against Bayh a signal that he’s more or less okay with Obama’s liberal voters? Dunno.

The other way to look at this – and I see it this way – is that Obama’s short list was heavy on centrists and DLC people and that’s been clear for a while. Our VP expectations were already lowered. Besides, the VP choice isn’t made to please us, but  centrist voters, Republicans seeking refuge from two terms of Bush and McCain’s promises to be just like him, and independents. We liberals already got our man, and he’s at the top of the ticket.

Here’s the thing: In the run-up to the war, Evan Bayh, like Rob Andrews, took it upon himself to try and line up fellow Democrats to back George Bush’s scapegoating of Iraq as the boogeyman behind the World Trade Center. Given that the country now solidly rejects Bush’s approach to foreign policy, and that’s largely why Democrats chose anti-Iraq War Obama, does choosing Bayh retain the mainstream anti-Bush voters (because, seriously, where else we gonna go?) while attracting those voters with less revulsion for Bush’s adventurism?

Yet, Bayh may know how to defeat Republicans. He’s done it a few times in his home state or Indiana – including defeating a Republican Republican Lt. Governor John Mutz in the general to become governor (then winning re-election with the highest percentage of the vote in a state election in modern state history). In his second term, he beat back the Republican State Attorney General. As Governor, he had a budget surplus and cut taxes, and that combo will be attractive to many voters who might be tempted to vote McCain. Expect to see this quote heavily played up by Obama’s team, From Wall Street Journal in 1992 (click Show full bio):

Mr. Bayh’s record is one of a genuinely fiscally conservative Democrat

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana; this is a ticket straight out of the heartland. There’s some wisdom in that. At any rate, I can’t wait to vote and get this eight years behind me.

This is an Open Thread. Have at it, Blue Jersey.  

Please, Barack, text me your VP soonish (repost)

UPDATE: Seriously, I’ve been on the edge of my seat for hours now and it’s starting to chap my ass. Anticipation just gives me acid indigestion and I just want this over with. So, I’m getting word by text as soon as Barack Obama decides to release me – and all of you – from this tension. Text VP to the following number: 62262. And then have some chocolate.  – – Rosi

Update #2: You know it had to happen. Somebody just hacked into the Obama VP notification number and sent me this text from 62262: Announcing my running mate! I am nominating Michael Phelps to be my Vice President. Thank you, and God bless Kerri Walsh – – Barack Obama           … Uhhhh… Frankly? I suspect Shields. – – Rosi

Political obsessives all over New Jersey are signing up to get a text with the name of Barack Obama’s VP choice, in a shrewd strategy to ensure that the campaign can later reach out and pull in those same people for last-minute GOTV efforts.

Cell phone numbers are not generally available for public searching, which increasingly makes phone-polling problematic as more and more people – especially those under 30- drop their land lines entirely. But cell numbers are also expected to play a critical role this cycle in making sure Obama supporters actually vote in November, and this makes Obama way better connected.

Obama’s tech-savvy team is beautifully positioned to outperform McCain in the technology sweepstakes, particularly considering that McCain doesn’t even know how to use a computer:

I am a (sic) illiterate that (sic) has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get.

Score, Obama. Want in on the fun? Text VP to 62262 to receive a text message on your mobile phone (normal rates apply). You can also sign up to hear by email here.

Meanwhile, let us know what you think in the poll on the flip.