Wednesday, April 30, 2008
At the start of yesterday's 42B GOP Endorsing Convention, Tim Marks rose to deliver the opening prayer. In a city whose population is almost 10% Muslim and includes many other non-Christians, Marks' prayer sounded awfully fundamentalist-Protestant, ending in Jesus' name. That the Republicans consider such casual disregard for the actual diversity in their own community also reminded me that this is a party for which liberty and freedom are purely economic values. A more principled version of the Republican creed ought to jettison the sectarianism and the lackadaisical attitude toward liberty and social equality.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This evening I attended the GOP Minnesota house district 42B endorsing convention. Erik Paulsen, who has long held the seat, is now running for US Congress in CD3. So 42B is an open seat. The event featured a contested endorsement battle between Kathy Veurink and Jenifer Loon. Veurink had better sign coverage and many non-delegate volunteers who were milling about near me, off the convention floor. Veurink's base was clearly Grace Church, the reactionary megachurch just west of Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie. Loon had the preponderant support on the convention floor.
Both candidates excoriated the transportation bill, gay marriage and abortion, though Veurink came across as the more impassioned social conservative. Loon appeared more the insider, mentioning she favored allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest. Erik Paulsen gave his standard uncharismatic, nasal speech; it is stunning to me that Paulsen can not ignite even minimal thunder among his very own base. Indeed, he appears unwilling even to attempt charisma.
Passions on the floor were not heated and the 42B GOP nod went to the more establishment candidate--Jenifer Loon--on the first ballot.
My primary focus for some months has been the race for US Congress in CD3; I attended this evening's convention primarily because I wanted to talk with Erik Paulsen. I closely followed the only contested endorsement contest in CD3 this cycle--Madia-Bonoff-Hovland. During that contest, I attended numerous public and private candidate events. (I'm an active DFLer but I've voted for candidates of various parties.) So I want to learn about Erik Paulsen's views on what's best for the district and the country.
Erik Paulsen will not respond to any of my inquiries. Initially, I emailed him a few policy-based inquiries, but Paulsen stonewalled. So I tried to think up the most innocuous conceivable question, with the intent to simply establish a line of communication with Team Paulsen. So I started emailing Paulsen and staff daily, asking who my state representative is.
In addition to being an innocuous question, to me, the question triggers an ethical requirement. Were I a state representative and a constituent wrote me providing her address and asking 'Who is my state representative?' it is my view that I would be ethically required to provide her with a reply. When I confronted Paulsen on the convention floor, he told me he wouldn't answer my inquiries because they are insincere.
But remember, when I started emailing Paulsen, I began by asking him indisputably substantive questions. It was only later that I decided to take it down to the simplest conceivable level--asking him a question he'd be ethically required to answer. So if he finds my question about who my state rep is insincere, he ought to recall that a) My current daily email to him puts several questions to him--not simply Who is my state rep?; and b) If he will only respond to substantive inquiries, he already has several in his in-box from me.
So as 42B's self-appointed God-of-Sincerity, Paulsen himself is behaving in a transparently insincere manner. And I can't even find a Republican who agrees with Paulsen on this point. This evening I asked several Republicans if in their view a state representative ought to reply, when asked by a constituent 'Who is my state rep?' Universally, they said yes--including a prominent Paulsen for Congress volunteer.
So even in person, man-to-man, Paulsen refused to answer my question. I was and remain flabbergasted. I was standing in an authorized spot off the convention floor when I recorded the following clip:
Monday, April 28, 2008
(Schier was hired by Carleton just as I arrived on campus in 1982...or perhaps the year before. I spent my freshman year in combat boots as a DSA wannabe-radical and opted for the competition in selecting a polisci prof. But Schier is the real student and analyst of campaigns in contrast to Wellstone's full-on activist position. Both excellent teachers.)
I wanted to know what Prof. Schier thinks about Madia-Paulsen.
In Madia-Paulsen, we have 'an unknown' taking on a person whose name and face are familiar to the newspaper-reading and local-TV-news-viewing public. Schier agreed when I suggested that a boring, issues-free race will go to Paulsen. So it is Madia's task to make news, define issues and make the public understand himself and Paulsen.
Schier noted the national parties use highly sophisticated analytical tools to identify fluttering districts, and both have prioritized CD3 toward the top.
While it may seem a long time until November, the crucial, time-sensitive task is Madia's: He must raise massive amounts of cash fast. He has to introduce himself to the district and build a positive identity with the public, and he must have this project well underway soon. He must close the name/image gap by mid-to-late summer. Schier emphasized that the task before Madia is considerably different than his endorsement win: Madia's now dealing with vastly larger numbers of people who can't be reached in the person-to-person manner that led up to April 12. IOW: Money, money, money. It's going to take a boatload of money to buy the advertising necessary to close the name-recognition and political-experience gaps. While CD3 already has some of the national smart political money's attention, it is Madia's job to maximize the take in order to fund a serious campaign.
The fact that Madia was a Republican ought to help him in his brand-building project and in the general election. That Paulsen appears to be (and has acknowledged being) more conservative than Ramstad--in a district trending in the opposite direction--ought to work to Madia's favor, if he can succeed this summer in defining himself and his opponent.
The military service contrast also ought to work to Madia's advantage, Schier agreed.
Schier mentioned that during Ramstad's final  campaign the congressman noted the intense public disquiet on Iraq.
We noted a few contrasts going to Paulsen: Paulsen is a church-going family man. If Madia is a fallen-away Hindu that's not so much 'a problem' as a lost opportunity, as there were likely ways of presenting Madia's religious observance--whatever its actual content--in a way the majority-church-attending voters might be better able to identify with. Schier does not view either Madia's bachelorhood or his apparently casual attitude towards religion as insuperable disadvantages.
Schier readily assented to my suggestion that CD3 offers the DFL the most promising opportunity for a pickup among Minnesota congressional districts. He sees little role in Madia-Paulsen for immigration or abortion. Paulsen's main talking point must be taxes; Madia's main two points ought to be the economy and Iraq.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
As a blogger focusing on the CD3 race for Congress, I'm toast if I can't establish some line of communication with Paulsen's campaign. Even if he has some defensible reason for refusing to tell me who my state rep is, I definitely need to know his reasoning. Is his unilateral decision, without any accountability or explanation (and denying me any scintilla of due process) going to be a life-long thing? I mean, if Erik Paulsen is elected in November, does he envision maintaining his McCarthyite attitude toward me indefinitely?
In a nutshell, that's this blogger's agenda for the upcoming days: Establish some line of communication with Team Paulsen. If they have any preconditions they'd like to discuss, I'm all ears. If communicating directly with me is such a horrifying prospect that they can't bring themselves to send an email to email@example.com, then let's find an intermediary.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Both sides felt they were completely right in backing Madia or Bonoff, as is typical of intense intra-family disputes. Our current melancholy may stem from an unacknowledged awareness that no saints are left on the battlefield.
A palpable bitterness persists within the DFL team. Passions ran high during Madia-Bonoff; at the end of the endorsement battle, an effort was made to get all sides to sign on to a provisional, strategic concept of unity. That thin coating of chalkwater isn't quite making the picket fence look white.
The CD3 DFL convention was quite bruising, in retrospect. The superdelegates emerged humiliated, both by their loss and by their conduct leading thereto.
Afterwards, no honest effort was made at processing the family schism. When a scorched-earth internal split divides a family that knows it must move forward as a united front in some larger interfamily conflict, several alternatives present themselves: The family can decide to table the internal conflict for later adjudication or decide to allow time to slowly dissolve the knot while all put on the team uniform and go fight the external challenger. That's the default setting that went into effect, in the absence of any open discussion on how to honestly process the residual Madia-Bonoff bitterness.
An alternative that no one seriously entertained would have been to genuinely address the underlying bitterness. I'm talking about a closed-door meeting among principles, perhaps with a mutually-agreed-upon mediator. The goal would have entailed:
1) An acknowledgment by the early-Bonoff-supporting superdelegates that they should in the future commit themselves to a fair evaluation of all declared candidates prior to endorsing any single one. When the superdelegates knew that the senate district convention delegates had overwhelmingly supported Ashwin Madia--nearly two-to-one--at that point they should have backed off any effort at an endorsing convention victory via floor organizational magic, which--since it failed--ended up compounding the superdelegates' humiliation.
2) An acknowledgment by Terri Bonoff that her descent into negative campaigning not grounded in legitimate substance was, in retrospect, regrettable.
3) An acknowledgment by Ashwin Madia that his false statement on MPR claiming to have voted for Gore in 2000 is something that he is sorry for.
Achieving a real resolution would have been difficult, but I think it might have put DFLers in a stronger position than we now find ourselves. Furthermore, it would have been a bold statement about who DFLers are--that we're capable of defusing heated interpersonal/political schisms via mutually-respectful, face-to-face dialogue aimed not at face-saving but at real reconciliation. In the end we 'chose' a constipated, phony 'resolution' by assuming no real resolution might be worthy of consideration, 'too hopeless even to consider.'
Such stubbornness might in the end prove expensive. It's too bad our leadership doesn't have the creativity, seriousness and will to attempt this.
Most activists would scoff at the notion that any deep reconciliation could possibly have occurred, given the rancor. Such a deep resolution would ultimately require unequal apologies from the various parties; that's the nature of real resolutions. When disputes are honestly adjudicated, blame is rarely assigned in equal portions. Political, phony patch-ups involve insincere, equivalent mea culpas...that's no different from the status quo.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I wanted to discuss the abortion question with Rep. Erik Paulsen, but he refuses dialogue under any circumstances, still. Since Paulsen won't disclose his opinions to me, how might I find someone with similar viewpoints, whose opinions likely mirror those of the shy candidate? It occurred to me: Find a Republican state representative whose district lies within CD3 and whose Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (hereafter MCCL) rating is the same as Paulsen's.
In short, Rep. Steve Smith (R-Mound) seems the ideal Paulsen stand-in on matters relating to abortion. If you average out Smith's MCCL rating, you find that over the past six years, he's agreed with MCCL 98% of the time. So he's nearly as pro-life as Erik Paulsen, who MCCL gives 100% for each of the last six years. I wanted to learn what pro-lifers really want.
If you seriously believe that embryos = babies, then the implication is inescapable: Abortion = murder. If you believe that abortion = murder, you would be rational to seek to expand the existing anti-homicide statute to include people who perform or seek out abortions. Okay so far?
In chatting with the charming, smart Rep. Steve Smith, I asked if people of his point of view would be made happier were Minnesota's statutes expanded to cover abortion under existing anti-homicide laws. Rep. Smith said that yes, this would represent an improvement over the existing legal situation. 'And then allow the courts to enforce it,' he quipped.
Try to imagine that you seriously believe both that 'embryos are babies' and its corollary, 'abortion is murder.' So you want the state to treat abortion precisely as it treats ax murder. I would like to explore this with Erik Paulsen: What if your side won, and abortion was covered under existing anti-homicide statutes? Here's the hypothetical:
After your law has been enacted, a woman gets pregnant, decides she would prefer not to be pregnant and goes to an illegal abortion clinic for you-know-what. In other words, the woman has voluntarily, premeditatedly entered the clinic with the goal of having an abortion. The abortionist has voluntarily, premeditatedly come to the clinic to perform the abortion. It would seem unusual to me--assuming a democratic majority had included abortion within the existing law proscribing murder--to consider one party more culpable than the other. Indeed, one party has considerably greater ability to prevent a voluntary induced abortion from occurring: the pregnant woman. (If the abortionist refuses, the pregnant woman can go elsewhere.)
So you might be interested to learn that MCCL views the matter quite counterintuitively. Scott Fischbach, MCCL's Executive Director, emailed me saying, 'We...do not believe that women undergoing an abortion are criminals, but rather, they are victims. It is the actual abortionists that are killing the innocent unborn child and it is the abortionists that should be stopped by law.'
Why do you think MCCL, which says it believes non-hypothetically that abortion = murder, would prefer the law to treat the abortionist as the murderer and the woman voluntarily choosing to undergo the abortion as a victim? There's a rather obvious answer to this: MCCL doesn't believe women are psychologically equipped to be full citizens.
Today I tried to find more information about the misuse of public property which the City of Edina has now acknowledged took place at the CD3 GOP convention in Bloomington on Saturday. Who at the Republican Party requested the use of the vests? The City of Edina says that Linda Presthus was the person who secured the public property for unauthorized use. I'm not a lawyer...does anyone know whether that's against the law?
Monday, April 21, 2008
Your Endorsement Prayer Will Soon Be Answered
I just read the Star Tribune's report on the CD3 GOP endorsement of Erik Paulsen. A commenter yesterday noted the key revelation, that Paulsen is cognizant of the need to formulate a sane Iraq policy somewhere in the vicinity of local public opinion. In other words, Erik Paulsen is completely rejecting the full-speed-ahead position promoted by LtC Baumann at Saturday's convention, who received a standing ovation from the assembled delegates, among them, Erik Paulsen. The quotation, again:"Our venture into Iraq has been badly mishandled," Paulsen acknowledged in an interview. "It's important for the United States to draw down responsibly. We created a mess. But we should not have a precipitous withdrawal that's going to create a vacuum ... for extremists to take over who could be a threat to the United States."
Seems darn close to Ashwin Madia's position, no?
Paulsen's Iraq statement stimulates many follow-up questions, of course; i.e. If Paulsen is now attempting to argue that the war was a good idea, poorly implemented, when did he first give voice to this criticism? It's important that Paulsen make clear what lessons he draws from having supported our initiating this disastrous war. Does he, like Ramstad, feel no regret whatsoever? If so, would he do the same thing again, were a similar set of international circumstances to arise? And if indeed his 'reconstructedness' is so similar to his foreign policy views prior to his supposed foreign policy retooling, then we certainly ought to plum his ideas on Iran. But first and foremost, I'd like to know if he regrets having supported the invasion of Iraq--that seems the most basic of questions for a Ramstad protégé who claims to have sane foreign policy views.
Erik Paulsen invites comparison with Jim Ramstad--"Jim Ramstad is a mentor of mine. I am cut from the same cloth on many issues, particularly fiscal issues"--and many are now arguing that Paulsen is far to Ramstad's right, politically. But the two men's personalities merit comparison, also. Ramstad is the late-marrying baby boomer, the bear hugging AA sentimentalist, the one-time barroom brawler who reveled in partying with Minnesota Vikings players, pre12step. It is not unusual to see him quavering with emotion during his public speeches, as we saw more than once on Saturday. Congressman has seeped down into Ramstad's every cell; he has the strong voice, the sincere eyes, the winning smile, the expensive suits; Ramstad has perfected the constituent-legislator mutual adoration echo chamber to such a degree that criticism leveled against him gets dismissed, sight unseen.
There's nothing larger than life about Erik Paulsen. He has an uninspiring speaking style devoid of emotion. He's even reticent about pretending to project public emotion, as when he nearly refused to accept his mentor's on-stage embrace on Saturday. Erik Paulsen never had a skirt-chasing, hell-raising, beer-swilling life phase--he's a mama-pleaser's mama-pleaser. He has the blankness, facially, of one who's ping-ponged several decades between church, home, St. Paul and Target.
It's good that Doug Grow has Paulsen admitting "I'm more conservative than Ramstad,'' he said."I'm more a Tim Pawlenty Republican.''
Gov. Tim Pawlenty also spoke at Saturday's convention. When addressing the Republican flock, Pawlenty uses the 'lovingly patronizing' tone of the indulgent patriarch, telling übercorny buildup, buildup, punch line 'jokes,' apparently reminding the head-banging Michael Savage nutcases present to get a grip until the next election. As a personality, Pawlenty is not repellent; he seems a friendly suburban lawn mower. His self-delusion that he is funny comes across as a forgivable foible. Paulsen, by contrast, gives no hint of any such self-delusion: He is not funny and he knows it. He doesn't evince much interest in other people, as one noted in his travelogue, in which he perceived the various far-flung foreign lands as mere economic entities, displaying little if any interest in their people, histories, cultures or current struggles.
Vestgate Update: At the CD3 GOP Convention, Saturday
At Saturday's CD3 GOP convention, perhaps a half dozen men policed the floor, their paramilitary status symbolized by their Edina Public safety vests. This struck me as being an obvious misuse of public property, and so I sent the photo to Gordon Hughes, Edina's City Manager, asking whether this was authorized. Hughes very politely replied, saying 'The use of City of Edina vests at the political convention was very inappropriate and had we known the intended use, we would not have provided them.' I'm still trying to find the name of the person in the CD3 GOP who requested the use of the vests, and whether they lied to the City of Edina in order to secure their use at Saturday's event.
[Correction: When published this post included a photograph in which a Paulsen for Congress volunteer was misidentified as being a co-founder of Minnesotans for Global Warming. At the convention, I was handed a piece of M4GW literature by a delegate. When I emailed M4GW, I received a response confirming the organization's support for Erik Paulsen. But I misidentified the person's name, in the photograph, and I was incorrect in suggesting a Paulsen for Congress volunteer was also a principle at M4GW--that's why I've removed it from this post.]
Sunday, April 20, 2008
After returning home yesterday from the CD3 GOP Convention, I turned on the Northern Alliance's radio show on the Patriot. Michael Brodkorb was lashing out at me [though not by name] for various complaints he had about my behavior at the CD3 GOP Convention. I replied to him, correcting him on his multiple factual errors and reminding him that no convention staffer at any time told me not to take pictures. If he stands by any sliver of the complaint he expressed on yesterday's NARN show, I would very much like to hear from him. Everyone at the convention was polite to me.
The convention featured an invited speaker, Lieutenant Colonel [Ret.] Michael Baumann, author of Adjust Fire: Transforming to Win in Iraq. No other speaker addressed Iraq during the convention. Baumann believes the war was a great idea and supports Pres. Bush's open-ended US commitment in that country. The CD3 GOP convention rewarded Michael Baumann with a standing ovation; it seems fair to infer that Baumann's full-speed-ahead view on Iraq is supported by the delegates.
I didn't get a chance to speak with the droning, charisma-free congressional candidate, who spoke in generalities and again promised not to be out-hustled--my personal favorite Paulsenism. Rep. Ramstad spoke with emotion concerning himself and with somewhat less emotion when extolling Erik Paulsen's various virtues. The best pro-Paulsen speech was his daughter Cassie Paulsen's introduction.
Later, at the convention's ostensible dénouement, Ramstad offered an on-stage bear hug to Paulsen. Paulsen responded by expressing a preference for a more symbolic, prissy embrace: By extending his elbow forward, Paulsen maintained his preferred 1-humerus distance from bear-hug-seeking men, reinforcing propriety. Erik Paulsen: A gray Eden Prairie minivan, in human form.
Paulsen is ducking the main issues. He refuses to speak on the topic of Iraq; his issue statements generally are very soft-focus.
Yes, the candidate received a standing ovation, but it was a lifeless standing ovation. Paulsen is running a silent majoritarian campaign of generalities and sound bites; that's why the hall never ignited with any gusto during the entire convention. To picture the emotional tenor prevalent at the CD3 GOP convention, imagine if a DFL state representative had come into the CD3 DFL convention unopposed. In such a situation, the candidate might sense he'd be better off throwing as little red meat to the base as he could get away with, so as to aid his post-convention effort at seizing the moderate middle. Whether such a strategy works or not, it makes for a boring convention.
The delegates appeared to be about two-thirds male, though I was confined to a very small area so it was a bit difficult to tell. If I took two steps in any 'wrong' direction, I had a constant minder ready to bark out a command to assume the position. Weird, I thought, that the CD3 GOP convention's floor-access enforcers--at a private, partisan political event taking place in Bloomington--were identifiable by their City of Edina public safety vests.
[Correction: A sentence misidentifying a member of Minnesotans for Global Warming as a t-shirted Paulsen volunteer was removed, above, after it was brought to my attention that the M4GW fellow wasn't in the Paulsen-volunteer brigade. Mea culpa.)
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
This evening I attended a presentation by Iraq Veterans Against the War at Valley Community Presbyterian Church in Golden Valley. About forty veteran antiwar activists were in the audience. Three Iraq War veterans spoke. Their presentations were of some interest to the already-converted, without much spillover towards the skeptical. When you collate the three soldiers' reminiscences, no coherent viewpoint emerges. (We're in Iraq because Bush is a liar and Kellogg, Brown and Root is all-powerful. The surge is a sham; violence is down but perhaps not due to the surge. If we leave immediately things will improve right away; after we leave things might go to pot, but they'll be even worse if we delay leaving.) The various stories simply don't add up to any single clear policy guideline.
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is making an argument about the current situation in Iraq. He's saying that violence is down alongside the surge, but that the decrease in violence is happening because we're paying off various militias who are using the time and money to arm in preparation for the all-out civil war that will happen after we leave. Ergo, the sooner we leave the less bloody the post-exit Iraq conflagration. When candidates speak about their plans for pulling out of Iraq, I want to know whether they're promising me things will get better. If they're admitting things are likely to get worse in the immediate aftermath of a US pullout--as Nelson-Pallmeyer seems to be admitting--how much worse? If a US exit is sure to bring on a bloodbath, perhaps delaying such an exit would be the more merciful option, for the Iraqis.
The documentary Winter Soldier was much discussed this evening; if you haven't seen it you ought to. The returned soldiers who spoke tonight and audience members expressed frustration with the lack of interest among the general public in the antiwar movement's narrative and policy prescriptions. But an obvious distinction between the Vietnam War-era Winter Soldier movement/documentary and its present-day namesake is that none of the vets who spoke this evening related any stories of gross human rights violations. Indeed, one of the fellows this evening spoke about the difficulties the dusty Iraqi environment inflicts on those charged with maintaining our military's computers, in theater--he hadn't seen any violence at all.
Within the various current political battles--I'm thinking of the race for Congress in CD3 and the race for Senate in Minnesota--one hopes that some coherent policy discussion emerges. As a political matter, Ashwin Madia has been talking often about the war, and expresses his position briefly, on his website.
During late 2007, I myself wanted to contend for the CD3 DFL endorsement for Congress. Having supported our entry into the ongoing Iraq War, it was obvious to me, for both practical and ethical reasons, that I had to do some explaining--and apologizing--for the unhappy situation we Iraq hawks helped bring on. So if you go back and read my anti-Ramstad speech, or my candidacy announcement speech [delivered, to the great amusement of a Wayzata librarian, to an empty room], you'll note that I took pains to address my Iraq fuckup.
And so as we briefly survey the current local political landscape, we note also that Erik Paulsen, like me, supported our entry into the Iraq War. But Paulsen feels no need to take responsibility for the consequences of his policy prescription--indeed, he doesn't even acknowledge it on his website. We don't even know whether he regrets his previous position. Paulsen's acknowledged mentor, Jim Ramstad, to this day cannot bring himself to express regret for having supported the invasion. Erik Paulsen refuses any civil dialogue with this blogger, as has been previously noted. (I continue, every day, to send Paulsen--my neighbor--emails asking who my state representative is. For reasons he refuses to disclose--even in the presence of his hand-designated mediator--he will not divulge his reasons for refusing to answer even the most mundane citizen inquiries.)
Erik Paulsen makes no mention of Iraq on his website. His 'Strong National Security' page features the vanity photograph of Shimon Peres and himself, displayed above, for anyone gullible enough to think Shimon Peres seeks out the guidance of Minnesota state legislators in formulating Israel's national security policy. So Paulsen's goal on Iraq is to pretend that country doesn't exist, and that he played no role in getting it into the situation it's in today. Erik Paulsen's position on Iraq is simply dishonorable--an insult.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Esme Murphy interviews Ashwin Madia, above. The post-pivot candidate comes across very well. One might quibble a teentsy bit over Ashwin's posture, hair and handshake, but Madia has excellent instincts for this new general audience phase of the campaign.
The interview is interesting too for the exquisite MSM cluelessness so proudly displayed by Esme Murphy. That a professional follower of the news in Minnesota, six months into the Madia campaign, can still unashamedly grapple with the pronunciation of the candidate's first name could drive one to pay for a broadband connection. Exotic Ah-Shwinn...what could these DFLers be thinking...in the Third District? Get this:
Murphy: 'In terms of the Third District, the makeup of the Third District I think a lot of people think of the Third District as Wayzata, as Minnetonka, sort of, a white suburban area, yet it is "a changing district." When you first ran were you concerned about being a candidate of color? Did you feel that that would affect your candidacy, and has it affected your candidacy?' [my typesetting]
How bizarre. That's what separates Esme Murphy from the non-professional journalists, of course: She's proudly clueless. She hasn't paid a whit of attention to the CD3 DFL endorsement race and considers that the inevitable position of the professional. (Supremely unbiased = pristinely fact free.) How do they get people to watch television anymore? Ashwin is of course quite prepared to absorb and bounce forward after cheesy exoticism gambits such as Murphy's. The reporter thinks up another question:
'You will be almost certainly running against Rep. Erik Paulsen’...‘a very popular man, an experienced legislator...what are you going to do to set yourself apart from a very popular guy?’
How do we know Erik Paulsen is a very popular guy, Esme? Among Paulsen's various attributes--that he's extremely antiabortion and that he maintains a blacklist against bloggers he suspects of non-Republicanism--why emphasize a personal characteristic unsupported by any reasoning?
Eric Black recently published on the Madia phenomenon, too:
Ashwin Madia, a very young, dark-skinned, bachelor lawyer with a foreign-sounding name, who had not run for anything since college, who started with name recognition in the zero range, beat state Sen. Terri Bonoff, a bright, attractive, well-regarded, well-financed woman for the DFL endorsement and is now the all-but-certain DFL nominee in what is expected to be one of the hot congressional races in the country.
Please, please can we drop the pseudo-hayseed exoticizing of 'well-spoken' Madia? It's creepy and insulting [to residents of CD3 and to Madia]. But at least Black describes Bonoff as 'bright, attractive, well-regarded, well-financed'; a summary universally embraced, no doubt, somewhere over the rainbow. After the CD3 DFL convention Madia supporters and 'unbiased' MSM journalists feel obligated to pretend that we're all just completely mystified by why Ashwin Madia took down a sitting Minnesota state senator--and a bright, attractive, well-regarded, well-financed one at that. Donning the mask of pretend stupidity is being demanded of all upright citizens this week. Never, never, never.
The big blogworld news today, concerning the Madia candidacy, was the revelation that Madia apparently bullshitted on a his vote in the 2000 election, when responding to an on-air question on MPR, falsely claiming to have voted for Al Gore in 2000. A Madia staffer 'clarified' the matter after the CD3 DFL Convention. An error not to Madia's credit, but not of sufficient magnitude to justify a primary challenge, imho.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I attended part of the SD46 Central Committee Meeting this evening at the Brooklyn Park Library. Much good discussion about how to get out in the community and register new voters, and how SD46ers might motivate more folks to vote. I also caught just a snippet or two of the group's discussion of Saturday's convention.
Tax preparation beckoned. (Completed and mailed!)
Monday, April 14, 2008
I recently emailed MCCL to try to learn more about its legal goals. So I asked three questions:
1) Would America be improved, in your view, were all abortion to be made illegal?
2) Do you view elective abortion as being the equivalent of murder? (as 'just one other method of murder,' no different morally than a premeditated shotgun killing, i.e.)
3) Would you seek to make women voluntarily undergoing abortion to be liable under existing homicide statutes? Would this make good public policy, in MCCL's view?
Here's the complete reply I received, from Scott Fischbach, MCCL's Executive Director:
Great questions. MCCL seeks to restore protection for innocent unborn children and we believe that society as a whole would be much better off if that protection is restored. We also do not believe that women undergoing an abortion are criminals, but rather, they are victims. It is the actual abortionists that are killing the innocent unborn child and it is the abortionists that should be stopped by law.
Our goal is to build a society in which all human beings are respected in life and protected by law. I hope you will see fit to join in our efforts to help expectant mothers make life affirming decisions so that they and their babies can live well.
While life holds not guarantees, abortion is a dead end every time.
Executive Director, MCCL
So he didn't answer my questions, despite his acknowledgement that they merit response. He expressed a belief that an abortionist is killing 'the innocent unborn child.' So one solution to such a state of affairs, it occurs to me--were I to accept the premise--would be to simply define the performing of an abortion, in law, as a first-degree murder. This solution would seem the most obvious to me--adding elective abortion to Minnesota statute 609.185--if I believed Fischbach's quoted statement. If it is MCCL's viewpoint that someone premeditatedly killing an 'innocent unborn child' ought not be subject to prosecution for first-degree homicide, Fischbach ought to explain why. [Email sent.]
Sunday, April 13, 2008
The CD3 DFL Convention was the big event this weekend. During much of the convention there was disconcertingly minimal movement, from ballot to ballot, so the ending came with unanticipated speed after the eighth ballot indicated some softening in Terri Bonoff's support.
We knew going into yesterday's convention that the superdelegates were blissfully out-of-touch with the democratic process, that they're happy to make highly consequential candidate-selection decisions in the absence of any due diligence and that they view their prerogatives as sacrosanct. They simply don't care what senate district convention delegates think; superdelegates are smarter than you, so much so that it would be a waste of time for them to have to explain themselves.
To solve the superdelegate problem, in the future I think that superdelegates ought to be addressed--without eye contact of course--as Lord or Lady, and they should be issued special convention dress uniforms complete with epaulettes, spats and shiny helmets with ermine tassels. At future CD3 DFL conventions, non-superdelegates could adopt a special nose-touching-floor bow with which to greet superdelegates. This formal increase in superdelegate status ought to be accompanied by the removal of superdelegate voting rights, as we gradually beef up the D component in DFL.
After the eighth ballot yesterday, message reversal time arrived quite suddenly. When Terri Bonoff took the stage to announce her withdrawal, we knew what was afoot. People who'd been fighting Team Bonoff all day were suddenly chanting Terri, Terri in the standard face-saving, party-unifying gesture. After the Bonoff concession, Ashwin Madia then spoke and praised the 'classy,' wonderful campaign Terri Bonoff ran. These are just the standard polite lies one tells to lubricate political interaction, and I entirely accept Ashwin's reasons for doing so.
But many people who followed the two campaigns closely know that to say Terri Bonoff ran an uplifting, classy wonderful campaign is simply untrue. During the campaign, Terri Bonoff made a number of statements revealing a woeful lack of knowledge concerning key current issues and she employed a number of sleazy tactics which quite justly earned her widespread condemnation from well-informed observers. This blog does not owe America an apology for Bonoff's tawdry campaign, nor should bloggers behave as quasi-campaign workers, implementing the polite-BS face-saving rhetoric which is so understandable when coming from Madia himself.
Again, bloggers ought not engage in the polite-BS face-saving rhetoric--that's Team Madia's job, not ours. We do not owe the world an apology for Terri Bonoff's various ethical and informational lapses during this campaign, nor for the embarrassing conduct of our district's superdelegates, with two notable exceptions in Bill Davis and Dan Weinand.
Here's what I'm talking about:
BREAKING: BONOFF TO WITHDRAW!
Update by Zack at 4:41: St. Sen. Terri Bonoff is a great public servant. Minnesotans are truly lucky to have her. She ran a great race right up until the end and should be commended for never giving up. I think many in the chattering class expected today to be a blowout win for Madia, but Terri never quit fighting. I think she has a lot to be proud of today. Matt adds: Seconded, 100%.
And Two Putt* wrote:
Throughout this campaign, I've been impressed with the determination of Team Bonoff. Special mention goes to Kay Lewis of Team Bonoff; she worked the floor with skill and helped keep delegates solid. But since turning delegates - for both sides - was not going to happen, it was up to the supers to make an endorsement happen.
I'd like to make clear that Terri Bonoff and her campaign did a great job - unfortunately, they ran into an exceptional campaign. And when push came to shove, party leadership did their job.
I mean, with all due respect, that's bullshit. The party leadership did not behave ethically--they chose their candidate without even considering Ashwin Madia, who they viewed as an unclubbable upstart. Terri Bonoff and her campaign did not lose due to happenstance; she lost the old-fashioned way: She earned it. Team Bonoff had an inarticulate candidate with a poor grasp on the issues who proved willing to engage in gasp-inducing campaign sleaze in order to subvert the will of senate district convention delegates. Perhaps it's Ashwin Madia's job to paper over this well-documented history; fine. But that's not my bailiwick, nor ought it be Zack's, Matt's or Two Putt's.
*In my original posting, I mistakenly attributed this statement to Grace Kelly. I was corrected by an esteemed commenter, so I fixed the error, above.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The thing that surprised me was how long it took. I'd predicted a quick Madia endorsement today; in fact, it went eight ballots before Terri Bonoff withdrew. The convention was pure heroin to the political junkie; afterwards I picked up my son and we drove over to the Hopkins VFW and briefly joined the post-convention Madia party. It was a hard-fought battle that culminated in a classy concession. Please click on the photo above for my Convention Day slide show, or click here for the Flickr set [same pictures]. Wow!
Friday, April 11, 2008
..and I was talking with [delegate] Phil Lowry the other day who is a veteran, and his son is in Iraq, and he told me a story about how his son and other soldiers on the ground were being with the children on the ground and they were playing with them and giving them things and had a great relationship and then they left, and after they left there were Iranian soldiers that were hidden in the bushes and they gave them DVDs, and these DVDs were in Arabic and they brought them home, and the DVDs showed pictures of Americans doing terrible things to children and their families, and so when the soldiers went back the next day, the children threw rocks at them. And I think what that story exemplifies is that there are cultural forces at work there that we don’t understand and that we are not successful in coping with and so that is why it is so important to not be there alone. We need to join forces with the other countries in the region so that we stand together in a peacekeeping fashion to rebuild that nation.
If this story was actually related to Terri Bonoff by the delegate mentioned, it is quite odd that she has assumed it to be true, no? How would this information have been known to the US soldiers, who are not present during most of the action? How many DVD-carrying Iranian soldiers have been discovered in Iraq?
How could anyone consider voting for a candidate who takes the anecdote above at face value?
Madia, second ballot, thank goodness!
Thursday, April 10, 2008
For some time we've known that the Republican candidate for US Congress in CD3 will be state Rep. Erik Paulsen.
On March 24, 2008 I went to the SD41 office of the CD3 GOP to observe what I'd expected to be a public meeting. It turned out that the public was not welcome at the meeting, so I left, but not before I had the opportunity to ask the half dozen or so members of the CD3 GOP Executive Committee a question: In their view, should Rep. Erik Paulsen answer questions put to him by a blogger, to wit, me? Without a single dissenting murmur, they said yes--and I then left.
I want to learn about Rep. Paulsen's perspective on various federal issues. So I've been writing emails to him quite frequently, asking him a very small number of questions. I've become somewhat frustrated because he refuses to acknowledge my emails, let alone provide any answers. I consider this an ethical infraction, exacerbated significantly by the fact that I am Rep. Paulsen's constituent. To the best of my recollection, Erik and I have never been involved in any unpleasant discussion; I cannot think of any rational justification for his stonewalling me. Every day I email him asking 'Who is my state representative?' and every day I receive nothing in reply from the guy whose job it is to represent my neighbors and me in St. Paul. Weird.
So this evening I drove back to the same Edina office where I'd met the members of the CD3 Executive Committee. No one was home, so I taped the following letter to their door:
Dear Margaret Cavanaugh, Jerry Paar, Ellen Wade, Linda Presthus, Angela Erhard, Carol Kerr, Loren Klassen, Liane Laddusaw and Alex Plechash:
Last month I went to the Minnesota Republican Party's Third Congressional District website, and viewed your publicly-posted calendar. That webpage announced that your organization's Executive Committee—you—would be meeting on Tuesday, March 24, 2008 at your office in the Edina Community Center. The calendar made no mention of any restrictions concerning who might attend, so I went to your room and said hello. Quite quickly, I was shown the door, but not before I was able to ask those assembled a few questions. One of my questions—and your unanimous answer thereto—has now proved quite consequential.
In your office that day, I asked the members of the CD3 GOP Executive Committee if it was your view that Rep. Erik Paulsen ought to respond to me, when I ask him questions. You all said 'yes' and I then left your office, complying with your request.
Well, I've now written an email every day to Rep. Erik Paulsen, and he's refusing to respond. So I would like to file an ethics complaint against Rep. Paulsen, with your organization. In my most recent emails, I'm simply providing my home address to Rep. Paulsen—see above—and asking him who my state representative is. If in your view Rep. Paulsen has some valid reason for refusing to tell me the name of my Minnesota state representative, by all means bring this to my attention, okay?
If the CD3 GOP Executive Committee continues to share my viewpoint—that Rep. Paulsen is ethically obligated to answer my inquiries--can you please order him to do so, or mete out some penalty so as to provide him an incentive to behave ethically?
I look forward to your response.
Very best wishes,
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Third District Democrats held a Unity Social this evening at the Medina Ballroom. More than 150 people attended. People socialized; candidates spoke. Terri Bonoff and Ashwin Madia both departed considerably from their standard stump lines; Ashwin Madia in particular appeared to be reaching out to Terri Bonoff supporters and to Bonoff herself, making clear his respect and admiration for Sen. Bonoff and his eagerness for all factions to unite after Saturday's convention, come what may.
Sharon and Jerry Bahensky
At some point during the evening I was chatting with a woman who, gesturing toward the room, said it felt good to feel a part of this group of people. That's how it felt, for a moment at least.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
This evening the CD3 Endorsements Committee met at Ridgedale Library in Minnetonka.
Someone moved that the blogger be asked to leave; this was briefly discussed and voted [unanimously] upon. I could stay. Cool.
Unfortunately, Terri Bonoff and Ashwin Madia screened yesterday evening; this evening the committee screened Scott Greiman, who I profiled previously, here. Greiman has zero chance of getting the endorsement; he has no visible supporters or charisma. Greiman was allowed to address the committee and then each committee member was called upon to ask a question of him. Some present felt varying degrees of resentment toward Greiman's 'phony' candidacy, for whatever reason, many said 'pass' instead of asking him a question. But plenty did put a question to Greiman and he had plenty of time to put forward his case, failing utterly. The result: The CD3 Endorsements Committee will inform the convention that it deems two candidates qualified: Bonoff and Madia.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Jim Ramstad held another Town Hall in Plymouth on this cool spring Monday evening. Ramstad enters and thanks various entities, among them, his wife and father, who are present, and the people of the Third Congressional District--'the finest people on the face of the earth.'
Ramstad praises himself for being the last of a dying breed--the moderate Republican. He informs us he'll be speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School soon, to a study group called An Endangered Species: The Moderate in the US House of Representatives. At turns Ramstad employs rubber-chicken-circuit 'self-effacing' references to his Norwegian heritage, which elicit the predicted polite laughter. As at every Ramstad Town Hall, the congressman congratulates himself generously for his courage in holding Town Hall events. It's a credit to your genius, master.
In truth I've never really seen Ramstad fighting to retake his party from the likes of Kline and Bachmann; neither his judgment nor his courage ought to place him in the top 49% of newspaper readers. He never leads the moderate ideological charge because he's quite content being the last of the Republican moderates, as it gives people reason to flatter him, which he deeply enjoys--and returns--inviting more of same.
An example: Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security nightmare. Failing to drastically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, quickly--and exposing the American people to grave national security risk--ought to count severely against a congressman's reputation. But Ramstad doesn't goad his fellow House members to act; he doesn't rail and grandstand and attack those in bed with Big Oil. He's unwilling to lead such a charge, since to do so would take real courage and not the glen plaid substitute traded by the golfers at the Minnesota Prayer Breakfast. Ramstad is a professional laurel recipient.
Someone points out that a United Nations entity has ranked America's health care system 37th internationally. Ramstad hints that the questioner is somewhere in the obviously-wrong-to-wacko area, telling the audience that he would bet his life that statistic can't be true. But this factoid was widely reported; it comes from the UN World Health Organization's World Health Report 2000. See for yourself here--look for page 155. (Your constituents have decided to pardon you this time, Congressman; next time, please wager more responsibly.)
Ramstad helped get America into our disastrous current Iraqi quagmire. But he still can't bring himself to express any regret, embarrassment or shame for supporting our launching of this war. His particular variety of courage is again evidenced when he calls for binding benchmarks we might impose upon the Iraqi government--and then lists none, nor any consequences.
People start asking questions from the floor. Almost every question is preceded by a lengthy plastic-covered-sofa of a fawning preamble, praising our knightly Washington envoy for this, that and the other thing. 'I thank you for all your hard work Jim.' 'You are not just a representative; you are a statesman.'
Ramstad is in large part a psychic projection for what the audience likes about America. People aren't really impressed by his intelligence, elegance of expression or by his record in office. The ongoing exchange of mutual admiration between Ramstad and his constituents is a placeholder which might one day be substituted with real thought, and non-slobbering democratic citizen interaction. It is a good thing this inane congressman's tenure is coming to an end.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Jerry Pitzrick and family hosted a candidate event at their house today in Eden Prairie. Pitzrick is seeking the 42B house seat currently held by Erik Paulsen, who's soon to leave government service. The candidate introduced himself, the supporters introduced themselves and then we assembled for the picture above. The rest of the attendees then went doorknocking on behalf of Jerry, to be followed by refreshments.
After the Pitzrick event, I learned a valuable lesson in blogging: If the DFL calendar says an event is going to take place at 2 PM in Blue Earth, don't expect to observe much if you leave Eden Prairie at 1:45 PM. (On the map they were mere centimeters apart; Blue Earth is ten miles from the Iowa line.) This was the Faribault County Convention, not to be confused with Faribault city, which is in Rice County, much closer to Minneapolis. Faribault County is 722 square miles and has just 16,181 people.
Just forty or so delegates were seated in the library of Blue Earth High School. People said that before I arrived, the prospective Senators had some dialogue in front of the group and that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer related some colorful story involving Osama bin Laden which a web search revealed to be unfounded [they told me]. Further reason to arrive on time; apologies, readers.
Franken and Nelson-Pallmeyer appeared to be on reasonably chummy terms, chatting a bit during the convention's occasional lull.
This convention got to choose three delegates to the DFL State Convention, but because SD24 is much bigger than Faribault County, six delegates were elected, each of whom will have just half a vote at the state convention. People nominated others to be delegates; a few nominated themselves. The reserved Faribault County folks have never used the walking subcaucus system; they elect their delegates at-large from the convention floor. It seemed funny that at this tiny convention the two serious US Senate candidates had driven hours to get here and orated at length--and then the assembled elected delegates to the state convention without knowing who the prospective delegates supported for US Senate. Technically you only need one person to insist on using the walking subcaucus system to force that alternative, but tradition clearly continues to hold sway out in pastoral Minnesota. So for all of their effort today, neither Franken nor Nelson-Pallmeyer appeared interested in pursuing a full-court press.
After the delegates had been elected, I went up to one and asked him if he supported Franken or Nelson-Pallmeyer. He was stunned by the Fourth Estate's effrontery and looked at the Faribault County chair asking, 'Do I have to answer that?' 'You can if you want to,' he was told. 'Franken.'
My driving time was worthwhile, really, as it was cool hobnobbing with Al and Jack for a few minutes and meeting some real live Faribault County folks. But it was also great getting a chance to meet John Branstad, who's running for state representative in 24B. That seat is currently occupied by Tony Cornish, the Assistant Minority Whip, who won his 2006 election by nine points. 'Are you a farmer?' I inquired. No. Branstad works for Dayport in some software development capacity. He'd just yesterday returned from a business trip to Malaysia and Singapore; not what I'd immediately conjured up thinking about the life of a 30 year old rural Minnesotan.
Branstad asked me where I lived; I told him Eden Prairie. 'How's Jerry Pitzrick doing?' he asked. (He explained that the two had met at Camp Wellstone not long ago.) Branstad also surprised me with his well-informed perspective on our beloved Bonoff-Madia showdown. Elsewhere in outstate Minnesota, I've also found some curiosity about Ashwin Madia among DFLers. His story is attracting interest and excitement far and wide.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
I attended the SD/CU 34 Convention today in Chaska, in Minnesota's Second Congressional District. Click on the photo above to view the forty-eight pictures I took there. (Or click here if you prefer to view them as a slide show.) Click here if you prefer neither.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Rep. Jim Ramstad held a Town Hall forum at Bloomington City Hall today at noon. I could only stay for a few minutes, just long enough to snap a few pictures. Our Congressman was a bit scratchy-voiced, though well-dressed as always, dissenting with his party's leader on a few small issues.
Oh, and: India West--you know, North America's Most Honored Weekly Newspaper--published this informative piece on Ashwin Madia.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I went to hear Warren Read [on left, above] speak this evening at the Galleria's Barnes and Noble. His grandfather was an instigator of the Duluth Lynchings on June 15, 1920. [Grisly photograph] He is pictured above with a relative of one of the lynching's victims who attended this evening's talk. Warren Read just came out with The Lyncher in Me: A Search for Redemption in the Face of History. (I haven't read the book; I'm given to understand it describes an indirect way in which the murderous values of his forebears were very nearly continued right smack into himself, and how he's resisted.) Quite interesting. I was somewhat put off in hearing his title, as it seems to suggest one might rationally feel guilt for a specific horrible historical event, due to one's genes, but having heard the author speak I am reassured that that's not his point.
At the SD32 Convention in Maple Grove on March 8, a minor CD3 congressional candidate came forward to speak to the delegates. His name is Scott Greiman; he's a veterinarian practicing in Maple Grove. I spoke to him on the phone today; he's not crazy nor is he a stealth Republican. He has no organization or website and if he has any chance of receiving a single vote on April 12, it is invisible to me. He will abide by the endorsement decision of the April 12 convention.
Dr. Greiman, 55, is married to the romance novelist Lois Greiman (Taming the Barbarian, Bewitching the Highlander). They live in Dayton with three children and various quarter horses. The candidate comes across as a man whose life hasn't been changed one scintilla by the arrival of the internet: When I ask him for his email address, he gives me his wife's (without identifying it as such), telling me it ends in 'earthlink.com.' 'Might that be "earthlink.net"?' I ask. 'Yes, earthlink.net, thanks.'
Greiman grew up in Garner, IA. He's nice but doesn't kiss your ass. Twice during our interview, he pronounces something reediclous. If he's going to charm 90 delegates into dumping Bonoff and Madia on April 12, they're going to have to make the bold step. Greiman isn't about to slobber all over Wayzata to gain their support. He's aware he doesn't have a chance; there's a principle involved.
The centerpiece of the Greiman program is his tax plan. He wants to cut income and Social Security taxes in half on the middle class while raising taxes on the rich. The marginal tax rate on the rich should go up to 80%.
Greiman thinks John Edwards was the best presidential candidate but thinks Barack Obama might turn out okay. He admires Amy Klobuchar and Paul Wellstone. He despises the corporate stranglehold on life in America in 2008. He's very concerned about the environment and global warming. He thinks congressional Democrats have been far too timid toward the Bush Administration; Greiman would have advocated impeachment for Bush.
He opposes the legalization of marijuana; he even thinks the nation's goal on tobacco ought to be an eventual ban, though it 'won't be overnight,' he acknowledges.
I asked Greiman a bunch of questions to try to find some loony viewpoint; I find none [though that tobacco one gets a bit close, to me]. He thinks Israel treats the Palestinian people terribly and that we shouldn't be providing Israel with weapons and aid. We should pressure Israel to abandon its settlements in the Occupied Territories; we shouldn't automatically take Israel's side in every dispute. 'The Palestinian people have it terrible,' he says. Israel ought to be brought to surrender its nuclear weapons.
He favors a single payer solution to the health care problem. He says he opposed both the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war from their beginnings. We're there to steal their oil. 'We're over there to take everything these people have.'
Greiman doesn't believe a dime's worth of difference separates Madia and Bonoff and that neither can win. 'Would I be correct in calling you very liberal?' I ask. The cantankerous veterinarian upbraids me; he's an Eisenhower / JFK conservative, he insists. (I still don't get that part.)
Have you ever noticed how rarely people refer to Jim Oberstar as a perennial candidate?
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
The CD3 DFL Endorsements Committee met tonight at Ridgedale Library.
At the April 12 CD3 DFL Convention, 159 people will be seated as delegates (one of whom will cast just half a vote).
Among Minnesota's eight congressional districts CD3 is the only one in which DFLers use an endorsements committee to screen candidates for US Congress. Traditionally the Endorsements Committee has interviewed folks who want to run for Congress, assessing the strength of their organizations, their biography and character and their adherence to DFL positions. In reality the party leadership has traditionally been united around one candidate by this stage; the Endorsements Committee has been in place to prevent an unknown or unstable candidate from disrupting a smooth coronation.
This year is unlike previous years. The seat is open and DFLers are stoked to avenge Roy Wier's 1960 defeat. In the past decade, no CD3 DFL congressional campaign has spent more than $100,000. Both Madia and Bonoff will have burned through far more than $100k by April 12. The money spent on this endorsement contest isn't all wasted; the Bonoff-Madia battle has generated interest and excitement which would now be at a much lower pitch had only one serious DFLer been campaigning. The candidate who gets endorsed on April 12 will have emerged from a robust, intensive mostly-democratic process, giving our candidate a high degree of democratic legitimacy.
Delegates are reporting they're not feeling neglected by the Bonoff and Madia campaigns. Playing hard-to-get has its costs; the hail of telephone calls and emails likely encouraged many delegates to align themselves with a candidate if for no other reason that get the phone to stop ringing and the spam flood to abate.
After interviewing the candidates, the Endorsements Committee (on the day of the convention) typically issues a recommendation to the convention floor. At tonight's meeting, committee members selected questions to ask the candidates during the screening and discussed the process they'll use. They also discussed their options, once they're done interviewing the candidates: The committee can essentially end up issuing any statement it likes--recommending one candidate, multiple candidates or no candidate.
The people involved in this process are earnest and sincere, but the process is screwy, frankly. Why agonize for hours when almost everyone has already made up their mind? And why ought a small subset of the CD3 convention be issuing a recommendation at all? I mean, all delegates have likely given considerable thought to this decision already; the pretense of neutrality, at this stage, would place unfair demands on the thespian gift of Helen Mirren. The main body of delegates will, in any case, be unlikely to take a deferential attitude toward the opinion issued be the Endorsements Committee; by April 12 the Madias and Bonoffs will have schmoozed repeatedly with any delegate still amenable to schmoozing. A Madia-supporting delegate, by April 12, have broken chapati with the Madias often enough that she'd likely be oblivious if not insulted were the Endorsements Committee to tell her she ought to vote for Terri Bonoff, and vice versa [almost--wink].
People seemed to be having a good time at the Endorsements Committee meeting this evening. Seems harmless enough.