What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 1, 2007

Howard Dean In Pittsburgh

Close to 500 people showed up at the Church Brew Works to hear Gov. Howard Dean, head of the DNC, speak tonight.

I showed up a little early and before the crowd arrived. Signed in, my named carefully checked off a sheet of paper, a yellow paper band around my left wrist, I walked into the already bustling hall. The wait staff was preparing the hall for the a couple hundred political types. Volunteers from the USW in matching t-shirts and non-USW volunteers were shepherding the other earlies to their seats. I got to hang with the other "press" types.

The OPJ was there, too! It's an odd occurrence, the two of us being in the same place at the same time but it happened tonight. The grand irony of the evening, she quickly told me, is that as a volunteer she was in charge of the MSM area. Think of it, Chris Potter, a blogger was put in charge of the MSM press folks.

Soda (what the locals inexplicably call "pop") and bottled water were free. Beer you had to pay for. And there were boxes of pastries from Prantl's. The chocolate frosted chocolate cake cubes covered with chocolate sprinkles were particularly good.

The specific planning for this event took about a month, Richard Pierson, one of the hosts, told me. They wanted everything to go smoothly. At a previous event, the PA system wasn't really working out very well, so some effort was put into getting a better one. Tonight, there were the main speakers up front and then another bank of speakers all pointed outward set in the middle of the hall.

By 4:30 (the time the event was supposed to start) people were still streaming in. Everyone from the press stood around waiting. TV crews from PXI and KDKA were scrambling for a position on the camera stand. Delano was planning a live shot. Jim O'Toole was thumbing through a copy of the latest City Paper. Any sort of crew from WTAE-TV, Maria told me, was no where to be found.

Springsteen was playing on the PA system. In a loop. I heard "Philadelphia" at least three times. "Glory Days" at least twice.

The Party Begins

At 5:15, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and County Executive Dan Onorato arrived, shook a few hands and made it up onto the stage, followed up the other "Hosts" of the evening. Jim Burn, head of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, in his introductory remarks noted that the Mayor and the County Executive were sitting together and that they're "getting along just fine."

There was a minor ripple of laughter through the crowd at the joke. If you didn't get the joke, read this.

Burn went on to talk about how the Republicans were using the primary debates to tarnish the Democratic presidential candidates. He reminded the crowd (this time to great applause) that "the debate is in the spring, the fight is in the fall."

He then introduced the mayor. It's difficult to describe the level of applause heard. It was not at all overwhelming (that would come a little later) but calling it merely "respectful" would be just as incorrect. It was somewhere inbetween. "Healthy" might be a good adjective to describe it. It was obvious the mayor had a few fans in the crowd. I even saw a couple of "I Like Luke" buttons.

The mayor outlined some of the things Democrats needed to do in the upcoming election season - show the differences between what Democrats stand for and what Republicans stand for. He then introduced the County Executive who then repeated (to much the same effect as before) Jim Burns' joke. He put his arm around Mayor Ravenstahl and told the crowd "He's my new best friend. He spoke of the need for economic development, how he was looking forward to working with the mayor in the fall, and how we all have to work together to make sure "we take back the White House" in 2008.

When Patrick Dowd was introduced, the crowd erupted. Loudly. It was his crowd. He said it was an honor to introduce Gov Dean and pointed out the two things Dean understands. 1) that the Democratic Party is the popular party, it's the party of the people, and 2) how to build a party organization.

Gov Howard Dean

When Patrick Dowd introduced Howard Dean, the crowd really went wild. Tieless but wearing a Patrick Dowd sticker on his blue shirt, he entered from the back of the hall, strode down the center aisle and onto the stage.

After thanking the dignitaries in the crowd (especially Prantl's) he went into a passionate defense of the Democratic Party. He began by saying that the age of the the "one way" campaign is over - and used as an example Dowd's recent campaign - Dowd knocked on 12,000 doors. It's no longer enough to just put a 15 second commercial on the air. You have to get involved with the people whose votes you're looking for. He said that's why he thought the recent YouTube debate on CNN was such a great idea. For the first time in 45 years ordinary Americans could ask questions in a serious debate forum.

He said later that he wasn't surprised that the Republicans are running from a similar format - probably for exactly the same reason.

Talking about the party, he used 2006 win of Jason Altmire as another example of the new Democratic "50 State" strategy. Altmire was not afraid of "a darling of" the far right, Dean said. When the election was over, and Altmire was the winner, it was all discovered that the average American does not agree with the politics of the far-right.

All of us, he said, vote based on our emotions. And when we speak from our emotions, and with a positive message, we can overcome the hate spewed out from conservative talk-radio. Americans are tired of feeling bad about America - and that's what they get from talk radio.

He went on to counter a new Republican talking-point.

The Democratically controlled Congress has done more in 6 months (funding for Walter Reed hospital, the recent ethics bill, instituting the findings of the 9/11 commission etc) than the Republicans did in the previous s 6 years.

The Republican candidates (all except for the lone libertarian among them) want to stay the course in Iraq. They thought it a great idea to commute the Scooter's sentence, to veto healthcare for kids. It's the same old stuff from the same old party. The same old tired right-wing nonsense.

The Democrats are the ones saying no to torture. The ones opposing the Republican culture of corruption.

He said that something's happened in the past 8 years. Something not normal. It's not normal, for instance, to have a president of the United States who doesn't understand the Constitution of the United States.

He made one more comparison between the parties. The Democrats will not put party over the interest of the nation. The Democrats will restore honesty to government.

The future looks brighter for Democrats. Looking at the various polling data, on who's polling and what they believe. The values of those under 30 far more match the values of the Democratic party than they do the Republican party.

They are the Old America, he said.
We are the New America.


Anonymous said...

Whatever diffrence I might have with Dr. Dean on specific issues, the fact of the matter is that the guy's out there and getting it done. I say this as a 'DLC' kina guy; and, yes, I know how unfashionable that can be these days. But the point still stands - he's up and he's out. Someone out there busting his a** is what this party needs. Thank G-d we've got it!

Still, I can't help but think that Mayor Lukie was thinking through his next game on the links while the Doc was speaking, but I digress....

Mark Rauterkus said...

Thanks for being honest and clear when blogging. Well done when you post that all the Rs except for the one R who is a libertarian (Ron Paul) is for the status quo, surge, patriot act, etc.

Heir to the Throne said...

I would have shown up. But I was not going to pay $25 just to ask Howard Dean where he got the information for this quote.

"Dean:You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was President ?"

Of course I would be thrown out on my butt, Howard Dean likes to dodge debates where he is challenged.

Some like it not said...

Love the irony of mayor & onorato, two exemplars of the ham handed, old school ways of winning elections, being so high profile at this event.

And their minion, Jim Burn.

These 3 are the antithesis of what Dean's talking about.

Whoever organized that event should've kept ravenstahl, ono & burn off the podium - not given them the opportunity to speak. They are poster boys for machine politics and totally inappropriate representatives of the tactics Dean's so ably using to encourage grassroots engagement & a new crop of successful candidates.


Anonymous said...

Fact-checking Herr Throne.

If you have a minute, click either of the sites HT is linking to.

They're each 2 years old. It's now August, 2007. The first link, to Factcheck.org is from May, 2005 - a little more than 26 months ago.

The second, about how Dean refused to debate Kent Mehlman is about an incident that goes way back to March of 2005 - about 30 months ago.

Can't HT find any new arguments against Howard Dean?

Heir to the Throne said...

Fact-checking Herr Throne.
I take it my facts check out.
I am pointing out that based on past experience that Howard Dean will pull "facts" out of his butt and will run from debating anyone who challenges his "facts".

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Congratulations. You got us on that one, Mein Heir. Now here a couple more facts for you to verify:

-- Saddam could launch a nuclear attack on 45-minutes notice.

-- The insurgency is in its last throes.

-- There were no serious disagreements within the Administration about any wiretapping or data mining operations.

-- We know for sure that there are WMDs in Iraq. We even know where they are.

-- Al Qaeda in Iraq and Al Qaeda are the same organization.

-- We have looked into Putin's soul and found a man we can do business with.

-- The Iraqis will welcome our troops as liberators.

-- Our ports will be perfectly safe being managed by an Abu Dhabi firm.

-- Dubya showed up for his ANG physical.

-- Saddam tried to purchase yellow cake uranium from Nigeria.

-- Harriet Miers would make an excellent Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

-- If the leak of Valerie Plame's name came from the Executive Branch, the perp will be dealt with.

-- GWB's a uniter, not a divider.

-- The Vice President is not a part of the Executive branch.

Surely you will be in a hurry to get back to us on how these check out.

Heir to the Throne said...

I will just take this one.
Saddam tried to purchase yellow cake uranium from Nigeria.

The quote is
""The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.""
From my favorite commie atheist
Nobody appears to dispute what I wrote in last week's Slate to the effect that in February 1999, Saddam Hussein dispatched his former envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and former delegate to non-proliferation conferences at the United Nations, to Niger. Wissam al-Zahawie was, at the time of his visit, the accredited ambassador of Iraq to the Vatican: a more senior post than it may sound, given that the Vatican was almost the only full European embassy that Iraq then possessed. And nobody has proposed an answer to my question: Given the fact that Niger is synonymous with uranium (and was Iraq's source of "yellowcake" in 1981), and given that Zahawie had been Iraq's main man in nuclear diplomacy, what innocent explanation can be found for his trip?
That said I would like Dean to admit he was wrong.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

Do I have this right? Is this is your argument?
-- An Iraqi diplomat went to Niger.
-- Niger had uranium.
-- Therefore, Saddam was trying to buy yellowcake to build WMDs?

OK. Another big victory for you. That's pretty solid evidence. So let's try this one:
-- The same diplomat went to the Vatican.
-- The Vatican is the world's most prolific source of holy water.
-- Therefore, Saddam was trying to buy enough holy water to drown everyone in Crawford, Texas.

Here's another:
-- Dubya went to Germany this June.
-- Germany is now full of NeoNazis.
-- Therefore, he was looking for his next Supreme Court nominee.

I think you, Hitchens, and I have something going here. Now let's see what we can do with this one, together:
-- Laura Bush went to Greenwich Village.
-- Greenwich Village is crawling with gays and lesbians.
-- Therefore...

Heir to the Throne said...

Schmuck Shitrock said...
-- An Iraqi diplomat went to Niger

Wowie Zahawie
Just a diplomat who knows nothing about Nuclear Weapons?

In the late 1980s, the Iraqi representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency—Iraq's senior public envoy for nuclear matters, in effect—was a man named Wissam al-Zahawie.
At a later 1995 U.N. special session on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Zahawie was the Iraqi delegate and spoke heatedly about the urgent need to counterbalance Israel's nuclear capacity.

Schmuck Shitrock said...

I know. Let's extend our logical paradigm just a little bit:

Mein Heir posts on the 2PJ blog.
The 2PJ blog is replete with communists and fellow travelers.
Therefore, 2PJ should be executed for treason.

Whaddya think?

dayvoe said...

I'm gonna be executed?

Do I get a last cigarette? A blindfold?

HT is, of course, misleading (yet again) when he pops up the Hitchens quotation. Hitchens HAS been disputed about the Niger Uranium forgeries here. An excerpt:

It's now accepted by the U.S. intelligence community that there was nothing to the Niger charge. Even the White House in July 2003 disavowed its use of the allegation. Proponents of the war in Iraq no longer cite it as justification for the invasion. But there is one holdout: Christopher Hitchens. In a series of Slate columns, this champion of the war in Iraq has asserted that Iraq unquestionably did seek uranium from Niger in the late 1990s. He is wrong—that is, if one bothers to consider the actual evidence.

It's a good piece to read. Hitchens' response is rather pathetic, I am sorry to say.


Schmuck Shit-For-Brains said...

If you are very, very cooperative, we will even allow you a final conjugal session with Jane Fonda. This will occur immediately after your mandatory waterboarding session.

Maria said...

RE Dean & the abortion statistic:

A reminder that even the source that HttT links to shows that Dean and others were using that statistic in good faith when they saw it in the MSM. What isn't under dispute is that the rate of decline of abortions that was seen under Clinton has SLOWED under Bush.

Heir to the Throne said...

What isn't under dispute is that the rate of decline of abortions that was seen under Clinton has SLOWED under Bush.
You should reread the Dean's statemen. He is not talking baout rate of decline of abortions.
From the link
Dean:You know that abortions have gone up 25 percent since George Bush was President ?

Dean's "statistic" went unchallenged by moderator Tim Russert, so millions of viewers probably got the impression that Dean's very specific 25 percent figure was correct. But Dean was wrong -- and by a wide margin.

We asked the Democratic National Committee repeatedly where Dean got his 25 percent figure, but we got no response. Even if Stassen's estimate of 52,000 additional abortions were correct, that would figure to an increase of less than 4 percent. And in any case the rate is going down, not up, according to the most authoritative figures available.