Monday, September 28, 2015

Small world: Pulitizer prizewinner David Kennerly was at the event

David Kennerly is from Roseburg, Oregon.   He has had a spectacular career as a photographer, starting with his photographs of Vietnam during the war there, then of American politicians for the past 40 years.  We have seen his cover photos on leading magazines hundreds of times.

We had a chance to visit at the Christie event. I told him we had met and visited when he spoke at an event held by the Jackson County Library Foundation in Medford.   He remembered the event well.   We talked about Oregon, about his photography of Gerald Ford and his having coached Ford on the correct way to say Oregon, about the joys and hassles of following politicians around,  and about his website:

He took the photo below and sent it to me.    It captures two of the elements that I had mentioned here in my blog, Chris Christie's good manner for retail politics and his wife Mary Pat, who has been a relentless good sport, standing beside Chris, smiling and looking adoring.   I had a nice visit with my own wife, Debra, about Mary Pat's support for her husband.  We both agreed that the best I could expect would be brief flashes of pleasant smile in response to genuinely extraordinary behavior.

At the time the photo was taken I believe I was simply telling Christie that Oregon has a primary election, too, but whatever I was saying certainly did not deserve the joyful reaction I am getting from Mary Pat Christie.   But as I note, she is a real trooper.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The admiring smile of a political wife, plus Chris Christie wants to re-establish the war on marijuana

There was another Christie event today, a front yard gathering at the home of a local County Commissioner.   About 50 people were in attendance.   Among them was David Kennerly, presidential photographer and Roseburg Oregon native, who was there photographing events on business for Politico.  We agreed that he had a great career, photographer of candidates and presidents, at least on very pleasant September afternoons.

He said many of the same things he said the night before.  But he added a brief comment regarding drugs, calling marijuana a gateway drug, referencing the states of Washington and Colorado, telling people to "get high now" because when he is president "the party's over!".   See and hear it for yourself in the fifteen second video below.

Part of Chris Christie's political patter is to involve his wife and their four children, with multiple references to her.  Mary Pat appears to be a very good sport.

Here are some nice photos of Mary Pat Christie, a good template for a political wife.  She is there, she pays close attention, she seems delighted with what she hears and sees, smiling and attentive.


Chris Christie: Powerful, Engaging, Persuasive. A very strong candidate

Chris Christie is better in person than on camera.

On camera he appears not particularly different than most of the other Republicans.   He appears to believe mostly the same things they do, with tiny variations around the margins:
    He supports allowing early term abortions in the event of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
    He emphasizes that he is an "outsider" because he is not a senator and because he is Republican in a blue state who got nearly half the votes of Hispanics.
    Defund Planned Parenthood.
    Strong defense, bigger army and navy and air force, more troops, because strength means peace, because our opponents know we mean business.
    He said he learned the lesson of being close to ones opponents because "it is hard to hate up close", and therefore Obama failed badly because Boehner had not been in Air Force One until just recently.

The Town Meeting was set up for about 300 people, with standing room.   The seats were all taken by an hour before the event.   By 6:00 p.m. start time there were about 200 more people than the venue could accommodate, and standing room extended way back into the fringes.

But what is noteworthy about Chris Christie is his retail skills, his eye contact, his outpouring of empathy.   He started the Town Meeting with a bit of speechifying, introducing his wife, criticizing Obama, demonstrating that he is a conservative Republican with all the usual positions.   But he quickly went to Q and A, noting that he had nothing to fear from questions, that he would answer them bluntly and honestly.

The thing that was noteworthy about the Town Hall presentation was how successfully he framed and translated his blunt New Jersey style into proof of his authenticity, I am what I am, what you see is what you get.  Christie, in person, absolutely commands the stage, and projects leadership and strength.  By sharing elements of his life he frames that strength as something genuine, non-narcissistic, and a benefit for America.

He explained his opposition to abortion as an epiphany that came from the awe inspiring moment when he heard his daughter's heartbeat in utero at three months.   He explained his success in New Jersey by having grown up in a boisterous family.  He made joking reference to his size.  He engaged a 2nd grader who asked about education by telling her how much her parents loved her and that that is why he trusted parents, not presidents, to make school choices for the girl (thus getting in his support for charter schools and home schools and vouchers not as policy positions but as his expression of a parent's natural love of their children.)

The skill of making policy points as an expression of authentic human emotion, emotions which he legitimately feels, as contrasted with making policy points as a checklist of positions held, is the skill which will make Christie very, very formidable in a debate or joint appearance forum with a small number of people, and especially in contrast to Hillary.   Hillary probably is not a natural in this area.   Christie is undoubtably well practiced, but he is a natural.

He concluded the Town Meeting with a story about his mother that was genuinely touching.  He gave a shout out to his aged father, then said that his mother was a lifelong smoker and was diagnosed at age 72 with lung cancer.  He said the disease progressed quickly and when he was on business in the west coast he got a call from his brother saying that his mother had taken a very bad turn for the worse and was in the hospital and he should come home.   He took the red-eye and came to the hospital directly from the airport.   On arrival at her hospital bed she awoke and woozily asked what day it was.   Christie said he told her it was Friday.   What time is it, she asked.   Morning, he said.   Christie then said she told him, "Go to work."   Christie said he said he would just sit here with her.   He said she told him to go to work, that that was was his job was, go to work.   Then he quoted her saying, "We've said everything that needs to be said.  Go to work."

Christie tells the story in a way that gets a hushed house.

He then says that he is blunt because he learned his mother's lesson.   Tell it all, get everything out, tell people what you believe, don't hedge or obfuscate, just say it.   People will either be generally OK with it, or not, but then you can live or die knowing you have said all that needs to be said.   So that is why I am frank and blunt because that is who I am, how I was brought up, he said.

It was a very powerful frame.

At no point in this story did he say "And look how different that is from Hillary!"  But the just-say-it, get it all out there story as an explanation for his authentic bluntness and honesty creates a difficult comparison for Hillary.

I suppose, after a long campaign, Christie will get beat up enough that he will be busy explaining problems (New Jersey bond ratings, Bridgegate aides, etc.) but I am imagining a head to head joint appearance against Hillary and I think that people will prefer Christie.   It worries me to say it, but he is likable.

I will attach some videos and photos, which will give a taste of his manner.
Christie at a Town Meeting of about 500 visitors

Friday, September 25, 2015

Rand Paul, cool cat.

I followed Rand Paul to three events in five hours on Friday, September 25.   He began with a visit to a popular inexpensive diner in a working poor area of Manchester, in a neighborhood of the descendants of French Canadian immigrants who came to work in the textile mills.   There are other nearby neighborhoods of Greek and Italian ethnicity, but they don't mix, I was told by a neighborhood resident.

Then he went to a gun club to shoot and visit with voters and the media.   Then he held a Town Hall.   The events were in three different places, all about a half hour drive apart.

The first event was a drop-by visit to a popular place.    I show two photographs here which make the central point of my observations, which is that Rand Paul is philosophically the most libertarian of the Republican candidates, in the live and let live, you do your thing I'll do mine vein.

I have never observed a candidate for any office more detached in manner in face to face meetings.
A couple of photographs illustrate my point, the photo of him strolling to the diner meet-and-greet, wearing blue genes, black shirt and black vest, dark glasses, greeting no one.   It was the manner of a put-upon and jaded rock musician tired of being greeted by fans.    And note Rand Paul at the diner:  hands in his pockets.   In his pockets!   He is there but keeping his distance.

He walked right by me and three or four others standing on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.  He didn't look at us.  No acknowledgement whatever.
Strolling, self contained, private
Detached, hands in pocket at a meet-and-greet

There were about 60 people waiting at the door at the gun club when Rand Paul arrived on time at ten a.m.   But only 30 of them followed the candidate into the conference room for some Q and A.  The rest went directly in for the purpose they came, to shoot.   Senators and presidential candidates aren't an attraction, they are a nuisance, in New Hampshire.

People who have owned adult cats will understand Rand Paul.   They are self contained, they have the virtue of internal self possession.  They know what they want to do, but they don't really care about you.  They don't long for your approval because they approve of themselves, and that is enough.   That is the manner Rand Paul projects.

I mention Rand Paul's hearing aid and gray hair grow-out not because I think it is in any way "gotcha".  Lots of people use hearing aids and there is no shame in coloring ones hair.  I do it myself.   But in the next videos I note that he has greater gray hair grow out than my wife would fail to mention to me, and I am a retired tourist and he is a presidential candidate daily on high definition TV.   It isn't evidence of anything other than his cat-like lack of particular concern about what we think of his hair.


As is pretty obvious from the angle of the above videos, I was standing two feet from him, as were three or four other people, presumably New Hampshire residents and voters.   He completely ignored us.  It was more like the relationship of people finding themselves together in an elevator or a subway car, rather than a person hoping to find votes.   Or even a moderately friendly host.

n the Town Meeting event at noon he mentioned the resignation of Boehner, which drew cheers and applause from the crowed.   Rand Paul was critical of the dozen or so "establishment types" in the Senate.

But to conclude my point about the cool detached cat-like attitude I will conclude with a badly videotaped display of how Rand Paul handled a tiny bit of theater at his Town Hall.   A group of three or four college students asked a question, then introduced themselves as representing Exxon and Chevron and they wanted to give Paul a trophy for ignoring climate change so well.   Paul did not engage them at all, neither to attempt to explain his position nor to make humorous banter back with them.  He just walked away.

Please don't be put off by the bad video quality on the short video above.   I made the mistake of getting seated with a bright window on the other side of the candidate.    I am still on the front end of the learning curve.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lindsey Graham at an Ice Cream Place. As likable as Andy of Mayberry

This gathering was an open-to-all gathering at an ice cream place in a strip mall, one that has the distinction of taking the liquid ice cream base and freezing it before your eyes with liquid nitrogen.

Anyone interested in attending could have known about the visit.   Two different media sources, a cable news station that focuses on New England news, plus a local ABC station, have websites with "candidate trackers" posting all candidate events.  One does not need to be an insider, just someone willing to Google "Candidates in New Hampshire."

Here he shook hands with kids in middle school, told their mother how wonderful it was she is a nurse, asked the employees if they liked their work, shook hands with the host owner of the ice cream shop, a man who is a member of the VFW.  He ate some ice cream and pronounced it delicious.  In short, he mostly wandered around being folksy.

Some media interns from Emerson College (tuition $38,000/year, according to a graduate of the program) asked Graham some questions on abortion (he's against it in all cases after the 20th week, but is okay with the exemption for rape and incest and the life of the mother--exceptions some fellow candidates reject); some questions on climate change (he says it is real, and that humans are causing a rise in carbon dioxide); a question on Keystone pipeline (Canada has lots of great oil up there and if it does not come south to us in the Gulf it will go west to China) and a few other questions.

I will show some photos.  As you see, there was a strong presence of media.

Yeah, he has small feet.  Just something I noticed.
I am enclosing a photo of Lindsey Graham's foot, mostly to be funny and to make the point that this political vacation gives me some observations I would not get from the media.   Lindsey Graham is short in stature, maybe 5 feet, five inches.   He has small feet,  His height and foot size have no importance whatever, but it is something i wouldn't have noticed watching him at a desk on Face the Nation.
Ice cream employees.  Graham greeted each of them individually.
Meeting and GreetingAdd caption
About one minute of retail politics.  Greet the kids, congratulate the mom.  Just like Andy of Mayberry.: warm, folksey

Lindsey Graham a Meet and Greet in Nashua NH

Here is the conference room scheduled and just barely filled for Senator Graham's visit.

Things are different in New Hampshire.   Senator Lindsey Graham, who I have watched on Meet the Press and the other Sunday shows about three times a month for a decade, schedules a meet and greet in a law office in downtown Nashua (population about 100,000) and he draws a crowd of almost no one.  I suppose I count as one, but I vote in Oregon.  The host attorney and his father, plus a few employees of the law firm filled most of the 14 seats.  There were perhaps 5 total people who were legitimate curious voters and who were not paid employees of the host law firm.

This is retail politics in New Hampshire, and why I am here.  I wanted to see this up close.

Senator Graham came right on time by campaign standards: about fifteen minutes after scheduled.   The meeting room was a small conference room.  In the law firm lobby I was greeted warmly by a firm lawyer and told I was more than welcome, the more the better.

I was the only non-NH resident.  All of us were asked to introduce ourselves.   A  reporter for the Boston Globe thought it curious that I introduced myself as a "political tourist".  I told him I was here to see where all the money raised in Oregon went to be spent.

He spoke for about 20 minutes, then took 30 minutes of questions.

Amongst the policy talk of re-engagement in Syria and Iraq, the need to deal with the demographic challenge to Medicare and Social Security with something like Simpson Bowles, a need for comprehensive immigration reform to allow residents to get legal in their immigration status (and help solve the demographic financial problem, by providing more young workers to help service and fund the retirement off the baby boomers, he addressed his plausible path to election victory.

He says he needs to get third or fourth place in NH, which makes him credible, then win in South Carolina, his home state. That would leave him among the surviving four or so candidates.  Then he will get the media attention he needs to make his case, as the reliable, pro-defense, strong military Commander in Chief.   And the guy who understands Congress and who can get deals done.   In the meantime he hopes to attract votes a few at a time, so there he was in a small conference room.

He has a charming way of framing Trump and Trump's advantages, saying he had a great TV show, one Graham said he enjoyed himself, so no wonder Trump is all over the media.   He is a celebrity.  But eventually New Hampshire people will settle down to the serious business of choosing a president.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lindsey Graham event with three surprises. 1. Senator Graham voices a strongly compassionate form of Republicanism. 2. The ABC reporter covering the event was Adam Sexton from Ashland High School and KDRV, and 3. Senator Graham slams Greg Waldon

Lindsey Graham spoke to a group of about 80 men and women at a professional group, the Financial Management Association of New Hampshire in the function room of a nice restaurant.   The event was on  Senator Graham's public schedule but the group was a private association.  However, an official of the group told me how to sign up for the event, pay the price of dinner, and join the group.

There was a camera and reporter from two news organizations, but this event was much more like a Rotary meeting with a well known guest speaker for the program than it was a campaign event by and for the candidate.  The candidate had to sit through some Association business, descriptions of the work of two of its members, but happily for Graham, one of the short presentations was about methods for comparison shopping for health care to control costs.

Surprise number 1, was the tone and content of his 40 minute talk.  He was genial, self deprecating, and told the story of his origin, living with his parents and younger sister behind a liquor store, bar, and pool hall.   His parents died when he was 22 and his sister a young teenager and Senator Graham said the some $300/month she received as a survivors benefit was essential to them.   At various points in his talk he made clear that he was not out to condemn or eliminate entitlements; they were critical to people's survival, he knew from experience, a very different tone than the Romney 47% being "takers".

Conservative Republicans would say that he is "soft" on immigration, since he spoke of the need for comprehensive reform, not of border walls.  He spoke of how to save and prolong Social Security: raise taxes and cut benefits for rich people like himself, delay the retirement age for young people, and admit straight up that this is a sacrifice for the common good, saving Social Security's solvency which would otherwise be lost.

Lindsey Graham is not trying to blow up the system, he is not anti-government, and I can see why some of his Republican critics say he is a RINO, a Republican In Name Only.   His suggestion for saving Medicare is the same as the one for Social Security.   Not to end them, but to sustain them through sacrifice for the common good, including higher taxes on people like himself, people who earn $175,000 and more.

He said that bipartisan agreements along the lines of the Simpson/Bowles agreement were the only way out of the fiscal and demographic crisis facing America.  (The Simpson/Bowles plan was the recommendation of a bi-partisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility appointed by Obama in 2011.  They came up with an idea that had some things Democrats hated (some cuts) and Republicans hated (some revenue) that was an attempt to address the upcoming fiscal crisis caused by too many old folks collecting Medicare and Social Security and not enough young workers.)

And his tone was soft, not angry. He called for "give and take".  He called for people in Washington to get to know each other, get to understand each other, to drink together and hammer out some agreements.  Even his call for greater action in the Middle East had a tone of sorrow for the need for more sacrifice from the young people most directly in harms way, rather than a tone of anger.  

Surprise number 2 was simply the odd coincidence that in the social time for the group members I made my way over to the young TV reporter.   His name seemed familiar to me, for good reason--he had been on the air at our own ABC station KDRV in Medford.   We had a nice visit.  His old friends and classmates will be happy to know he looks great and his career is doing well.  What are the chances?   Of all the campaign events, in all the towns in all the world, he's there at the same event as I am.

Surprise number 3 came from a question I asked Senator Graham when there was a long silence when he asked if there were questions.   I was struck and moved (surprise #1) by the tone of bipartisan conciliation, which seemed very different from the tone of anger and condemnation voiced by some louder voices in the Republican debates.

So my question related to the difficulty of bipartisan cooperation, because when a politician gives up something to move toward an agreement he or she becomes vulnerable to attack by the opposition for doing exactly what the opposition is urging you to do.   One cannot dare compromise if the people you are compromising with attack you for taking the new position!   My question said that President Obama, at some political peril after negotiations with House Republicans put on the table for discussion revisions downward in the Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security.  (House Republicans had been strongly advocating this, because it would lower, eventually, the costs of Social Security, helping to make it solvent for longer.)  But I said that as soon as Obama said he would consider this change my own Oregon congressman Greg Walden, who is part of the House leadership team, went public with sharp criticism of Obama, saying that Obama was stabbing seniors in the back, and that he would defend seniors from Obama.   Obama immediately withdrew the tentative offer.

I noted that my congressman got great press and credit for his 'defense of seniors", protecting them from Obama's anti-senior overture, even though it was exactly what the rest of the leadership team was urging Obama to do.  Of course, the downside was that it ended the political trust and political fair dealings that are necessary to get to compromise since it signaled that Republican leadership team either wasn't serious about their stated goal, or that they couldn't control their own members from reversing course to make political points.

Happily I tape recorded the entire talk by Senator Graham so I have a good record of what he said, and can email it to anyone who inquires (and I will try to figure out how to get it posted here.)   But Graham said he was frustrated by all the silliness in politics, said that, yes, he believed Obama was born in Hawaii, he believed Obama is not a Muslim, and that he was unhappy with a member of his party who would "demagogue" in that manner.  And regarding Walden's subverting the move toward a bi-partisan agreement on Social Security:   "If I were president and a Republican did what that gentleman did,  I would wipe the hell out of him."

Summary:   Lindsey Graham may be out of touch with the Republican electorate just now.  He is not angry; he is sad.   He isn't trying to destroy or shrink government; he is trying to make it work.  He admitted that some of his opponents get great applause when they tell audiences they will abolish the IRS.   Graham said we cannot abolish it , we need it to collect money to pay our bills. He supports compromise and cooperation and people sitting down together, maybe over a drink.

He sounds like a grown up.

Lindsey Graham

Peter Sage with reporter Adam Sexton

Update on Trump and the Obama/Muslim Question. Trump said the audience was nodding.

As the world noted, Trump did not object to the question from the guy who asserted that Obama was a Muslim.     At the time of the event on Thursday I thought Trump's non-objection was something only a clever guy like me would notice, and I attempted to make that point to the two hungry and willing media people I spoke with immediately after the event.

(There were reporters with cameras and microphones hoping to get someone to talk with them after the event.  Most people pushed past them.  I did not.   I wanted to make the point that Trump failed to do what McCain had done.    It turns out that I was not the only person to notice it.   By the time I got back to the hotel it was all over the news.)

So in my writeup on the event I noted another fact: that Trump, who is very, very attuned to his audience, sort of like a good stand-up comedy person doing audience banter very well, was not given any real "heads up" by the rowdy audience that the question was a surprise or offensive or needed to be "handled".

It has taken Trump several days to get to that point, but apparently he just did:   Here is a transcript from a Fox interview yesterday:

TRUMP: No, I don’t (know anything about him). He had a Trump, a beautiful shirt on which shows that he’s a fan. And you know, when he was asking that question, by the way, a lot of the people in the audience were nodding. They were not laughing at him or anything. They were nodding. But I don’t think he was a plant, you know, I mean certainly not from our standpoint. That would not be, that would not be the question – in fact, when that question was asked, I thought, oh, boy, that could only happen to me, alright? I knew that question was going to be a slightly controversial one. But no, I think he was a hard-working guy from the area and he had this on his mind.

Trump got to this point by a long path:
    First:   He said he didn't hear the question
   Then:  He went silent for two days
   Then:  He said via tweet that he really said nothing and he had no obligation to defend Obama
   Then:   It was a free speech issue, and he let the guy talk, unlike McCain, who took the microphone
               away from the "Obama is an Arab" person.
   Now:   The audience felt the question was okay.

My own observation was NOT that the audience was nodding and actively approving, although Trump was looking out into the audience and I was within it, looking only at the audience seated behind Trump.  What I noticed was no particular reaction, not nods.

But Trump makes my point: Trump audiences are very comfortable asserting that Obama is maybe/likely/surely a Muslim and Trump audiences question the State of Hawaii and other evidence that Obama was born in the United States.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hospice: Scott Walker succumbs. The election is taking place RIGHT NOW

Hospice Watch.

Wednesday, September 23 was going to be a very busy day for me, and I was going to have to choose between seeing Scott Walker at a Meet-and-Greet or see Lindsey Graham at an Ice Cream Social Meet-and-Greet.  They had scheduled events at the same time in different places.

But I just now read that Walker is dropping out.   Why?  Because his poll numbers were bad, both in New Hampshire and Iowa.

I am an eyewitness to an "election."   No, not the November 16, 2016 election.   The election taking place right now. 

Money raised around the country is spent in New Hampshire, where it counts.   Candidates are falling all over themselves to be here in person in New Hampshire.  A very few people sampled in polls here in the very small state of New Hampshire are the electorate which killed the campaign of Scott Walker.   The fact that Walker was polling at about 1% rather than 8% meant that he couldn't raise money, that Trump could call him a loser, that his campaign lost donors, that his campaign lost hope.  All because of a few people telephoned in New Hampshire and Iowa. 

What happened to Scott Walker is why the New Hampshire airwaves are already full of campaign ads because the election is right now.  Walker lost this "election".

I was hoping to see Scott Walker at his Meet-and-Greet, hear him talk about how he ended university tenure, ended public employee unions, and made voting harder to do to protect against voter fraud.  

A Bernie Sanders Jeremiad, Philippic, and Town Hall

(There are a few short video clips of the event to give you a sense of what Bernie Sanders sounds like.  Click up there on the right to see some video uploads.)

Bernie Sanders is angry and principled and he has a message.

I checked the definition of "Jeremiad", an angry rant about the problems of a community, and "Philippic", which is an angry rant denouncing a person.  Bernie is angry, but not hopeless.  There are things that can be fixed

   **** He is angry about the corruption of American politics thanks to the avalanche of money, most of it essentially anonymous, which has poisoned the Congress and created an oligarchy.   But we can fix Citizens United, upon appointment of the three new justices likely to be appointed by the next president.

  ****He is angry about the trade policies of this country which have accelerated the destruction of the American middle class by shipping their jobs to low wage high pollution countries.  But we can fix that by electing a president who will change NAFTA, the TPP, and other trade agreements.

  ****He is angry about the disastrous effects of college costs and college loans on young people.  But we can fix that by making public higher education free, as it is in many other western democracies, and by allowing refinancing of student loans at current low interest rates.

  ****He is angry about the ongoing lack of access to affordable health care because of the obstruction by Republicans to the expansion of Medicaid, the mere half-step of the Affordable Care Act which uses a health insurance model.   We can fix this with a single payer system as is widespread elsewhere, simply "Medicare for All."

  ****He is angry that Republicans have acted as if Obama's efforts to turn the tide of the economic collapse had been a failure.   We can fix this by asserting loud and clear that the economy was in free fall and a disaster of failed banking deregulation when Obama took office, but that the economy has improved significantly, adding jobs at 150,000 to 200,000 a month now, instead of losing 800,000 a month when he took office.

  ****He is angry about our involvement in unwindable wars in the Middle East, where we are unwelcome.   We can fix this by electing someone with a track record of opposition to the Iraq war.

  ****He is angry about our crumbling infrastructure at a time simultaneous with high youth unemployment.   We can fix this with a major jobs program fixing the roads, bridges, airports which will improve the competitiveness of America and use a currently idle resource: young people without jobs.

    ***He is angry about Republicans coming to New Hampshire and talking about "family values" while simultaneously voting to restrict a woman's access to health care and her own autonomy regarding her reproductive choices.   We can fix this by electing people who genuinely respect women and who advocate for their autonomy and pay equality.

  ****He is angry about the inability of full time employees to survive on a minimum wage that is hopelessly outdated.   We can fix this by moving to a $15/hour wage over the next 5 years.

And more.

Bernie Sanders argues that most Americans support these views and that we need to stop "thinking small", discussing whether to cut education 2% or maybe 4%.   Instead, we need to accept that we need a "political revolution" and insist on real change which will re-empower the middle class instead of the very, very rich.     He never uttered Hillary Clinton's name.   But the implication that electing a "regular" Democrat like Hillary would be "thinking small", and that he was the alternative.   He was the embodiment of a revolution in thinking, thinking big, and that Democrats need to get their minds around the simple fact that the politics he is urging are popular with the people.

But they are hated by the billionaires.  

And that is why thinking small will not work because the Congress is captured by those billionaire interests and Congress will block little changes.    But we are ready for big changes.

Bernie Sanders took about four questions, but this was not an interactive meeting, notwithstanding the name "Town Hall".  It was a speech, sending a message.

And it was very well received by the audience in the hall.  Attendees were handed donation envelopes entering and leaving the event.   There were about 400 people in attendance in the middle school gymnasium.

There were lots of souvenirs for sale after the event, including Feel the Bern T-shirts in a variety of styles.
But there is a theme to the Bernie Sanders logo-wear: the unruly longish hair, as reflects the angry passionate man on a rant.

It is the opposite of the barbered corporate look; it is a man with a truth to tell, a truth the corporations do not want told.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Seeing it Live--then Seeing the Media (Newspaper version)

This morning I read the NY Times headline:  "Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, in Own Ways, Show Pull at New Hampshire Convention"

The New York Times article seemed to me perfectly fair and accurate.   In some ways it was better than live reality, but it was different.   The article put the speeches by H. Clinton and Sanders into a context and bigger and longer narrative: the growth of Sanders' campaign, the multiple endorsements for Clinton by NH leaders, the context that the limited number of Democratic debates, for which Debbie Wasserman Shultz is credited/blamed, was the product of intentional rigging things for Clinton's benefit, and the context mentioned in the headline, that Clinton and Sanders had "pull", presumably meaning significant bodies of supporters in the audience.

The Times' article had a single photo, one of the supporters outside holding Clinton signs.

The article is not wrong, and indeed it was helpful.   But the live reality experience showed context, but a different one.   It showed the context of the long Saturday event being part of state Democratic showcase.  There was recognition of Democratic state representatives, past and present.  The Democratic Congresswomen got speaking slots.  The Governor got a speaking slot.  There was a presentation by the Human Rights Coalition and awards given.  In live reality, the presidential candidates were the highlights of a long state party building event with multiple down-ballot speakers

And then the speeches by the presidential candidates took place on their own.  The announcer voice announces the candidate, out he or she comes, they speak, the crowd yells, and off they walk.   Each speech was its own thing.     From my point of view the bigger narrative context was important, but different from the NY Times' context.   My context was:
   ***Bernie Sanders did another iteration of his strong progressive angry talk.
   ***Hillary Clinton changed and upped her game.   This speech showed strength and assertiveness, a liberal match for Trump, very different from the two "listening tour" events I had seen, where she presented more like a state senator on a fact-finding mission than a candidate for top leadership.
   ***O'Malley and Chafee were soldiering on in hopeless campaigns, good sports.
   ***The area outside the arena had maybe a thousand demonstrators, people from the O'Malley, Clinton, and Sanders campaigns.   There was a shouting and chanting battle between the various campaigns, a reality not shown in the single closeup photo of the Clinton supporter holding the sign.

Bottom line:  a person who reads the NY Times and then watches the speeches on CSPAN gets a reasonable and fair and balanced understanding of the event, gets it quicker, gets it without listening to down-ballot speakers, and gets it in the comfort of their home.  But it is a different experience than the one I had, in ways that are probably unimportant. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lincoln Chafee: My heart goes out to him

After Bernie Sanders spoke at the convention, and after about two minutes of sustained cheering for Bernie, the announcer said we would now have Lincoln Chafee.  

Lincoln Chafee came to the podium as 70% of the attendees were filing to the exits.  As he spoke the room emptied out.   I stayed to watch, as did the people in the front, the registered delegates to the convention.   What a dispiriting way to give a speech, to the backs of people filing out of the room, slowed by the congestion at the exits.

Chafee has been a Mayor, a Senator, and then a Governor.  He has been in Rhode Island politics for a lifetime and he has not been indicted, which sounds like a joke or faint praise, but in RI it is actually an achievement.

Chafee is an experienced pro, so I feel presumptuous to criticize his speech, but will do so anyhow.   He used the time to list policy positions in which he was correct (opposed Alito for Judge; opposed Iraq war) but there was no overarching theme of any kind.   He was introducing himself to Democrats, but there was no theme.  No explanation of his past which informed and shaped his political career, no description of the challenges he faced, no description of his aspirations, nothing whatever for me to grab onto so that I had some insight into him or his character.

I have a video clip of him, but it is unintelligible for the reason that the sound quality is terrible.  And it is terrible because I was surrounded by people standing and talking and exiting the building.   If you click on that video, the takeaway for you will not be the content of his speech, but rather than the speech was made to people who were paying essentially no attention and they were talking about Bernie Sanders as they were leaving the room.    Politics is a tough business.

Martin O'Malley Gives it a shot

Because Martin O'Malley's campaign signs are all done in upper case block letters I had to Google Martin O'Malley to get clear that he capitalizes the "M" after the apostrophe.   And this is from someone who is interested enough in politics to travel across the country to spend two weeks attending political events.

So he is unknown, mostly.

And I saw him in person and watched him speak to 3,000 people.   He spoke clearly, forcefully, and without notes.   On a 1-10 scale of good looking he would be a 7 among Hollywood actors and a 9.5 for presidential candidates.

And he has been a mayor, then a governor.  And he speaks well.  He addressed the big issues facing America, including the erosion access to the middle class, he asserted that black lives matter, he seemed all around reasonable.

But he is overwhelmed by the passion in the Convention version of Hillary Clinton (strong, pugnacious, firm, persuasive), or by the one and only version of Bernie Sanders, the progressive beacon and uncompromising fighter for workers and the poor.

It has got to be hard to attempt to raise money and to try to keep optimistic.   His campaign currently is hopeless, but something might happen.  But if "something" happens, it probably means Biden enters the race.  I would be perfectly happy to have him be my VP, and maybe that is what he is running for.   Like Bernie Sanders, he had not a single harsh word for Hillary or Obama or any other Democrat.

Bernie Sanders at the New Hampshire Convention: Progressive Voice

The crowd went wild for Bernie Sanders.   It was a liberal group.

The kinds of people who show up at Democratic conventions, including the 1000 or so college students who were  bussed in from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, like strongly progressive candidates, and Bernie is their man.   I have included a few video clips, which you can access there on the upper right.

The cheering for Bernie Sanders was louder and more fervent than the chanting for Hillary.   More people, more signs waived, more applause.

He never said a single word about Hillary Clinton, never spoke her name.   But in his 30 minute talk he described several positions in which he differed from Hillary:
    He opposed the Iraq war.
    He opposed the end of Glass Steagall
    He opposes the lack of prosecution of Wall Street malefactors
    He opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership and NAFTA

He mentioned Obama's name a couple of times but in the area of opposition, he did not phrase it in terms of his disagreement with the President--or Clinton either.--by name.   He disagrees with Clinton and Obama in some areas, but discusses the policy, not the proponent of the policy.   I didn't hear any future Republican sound bites to appear in anti-Clinton ads.  Bernie was protecting the Democratic brand, and did not want to be used as a bludgeon to attach the potential future nominee.

A brand new Hillary. Tough and fierce as Trump

Details to come, since this is written just after she left the stage at the New Hampshire convention hall.  She was as intense as Carly Fiorina in the 2nd debate, as fierce as Trump in asserting her views, and she went nose to nose with Trump's "make America great".   America IS great, she said, and we are going to make sure the greatness is available to everyone in America.

The quiet thoughtful "listening" Hillary was being overwhelmed by the Trump energy and call for bold, forceful leadership.   But this is a different Hillary.

She was forceful.  Pugnacious.  Certain. Powerful.  Unapologetic for being a woman.

Time elapsed.   I am back at my office, six hours later, and able to post some photos and video clips, plus put the day into some perspective.

The thrust and comparison in my previous comments on Hillary was that she was presenting herself as a cooperative facilitator, in contrast to the Republican candidates who are sharp in denouncing Obama, Hillary, the state of the economy, etc., and that Trump has positioned himself as a persuasive and very powerful leader.   He is unapologetic for not being a policy wonk.   He doesn't bore people with legislation.  He asserts bluntly that when there are problems he will knock heads and get things done.

But today is a new Hillary, every bit as forceful as Trump.  The A-student is also a pugnacious leader herself.

It is easier to show it than describe it, so go to the video link there on the upper right.  It brings you to short clips from today's speech, each of which are about a minute.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hillary at the University of New Hampshire, regarding College affordability

11:00 a.m. On a Friday, and a young crowd-- undergraduates, mostly women, and lots of them.

They booked a room that held 150, so the crowd spilled over into an overflow room holding about 250 students.

The crowd leaped to its feet when she entered the room and nearly everyone had a smartphone pointing at her.   This is the new look of political events--a camera in every hand.

Mine, too.

Hillary spoke to college affordability, saying we needed:
   More state and federal support of higher education
   Student loan interest reduced to the current low interest rates.  
   Caps on student loan payments of 10% of income

This event is a continuation of the Hillary theme from yesterday: that there are serious problems in the world and that serious discussion of practical and well thought out solutions are the answer to them.  She presents herself as a facilitator for positive change because she is a hard working student doing her homework.  Plus she has a generous and compassionate attitude toward people struggling to have a good life and fulfill heir own American Dream. 

The event helps clarify how different is the style between Hillary and Trump.   Trump expresses that the solution to problems in America is strong, energetic leadership.   It isn't listening or doing homework; it is strength and will and no nonsense leadership.   He expressed what he will do if he runs into a problem: "you're fired!"    He isn't the A student; he's the star quarterback.  

And when people say he is a bully he recognizes the are paying him a compliment.  Trump dominated his event; Hillary Clinton listened at hers.  Who gets elected student body president, the jock or the valedictorian??   

Hillary and Trump. The Trump rally

There was no place to park within an hour before the event.   The high school band was playing football game type songs, intermixed with America the Beautiful.

The room seated about 2500.   The crowd was white (but so was the Hillary event, this being New Hampshire.)

The event had some 2500 people jammed into a high school gym.  It was raucous and hot and airless in the over-capacity space.   Trump said the things in the same way he does in his multiple Town Hall events.   I had a chance to talk to two TV reporters at the end of the event, making the point that the important thing that happened at the event was the non-answer to the Obama-Muslim question.  Neither reporter seemed to think that was an interesting observation, although by the time I got back to the motel at 9:30 p.m. the cable news networks had picked up that as the main story.

The only insight I would add is that there is a good reason why Trump may not perceived the question as one he needed to address McCain-style.    It is that the raucous crowd did not give any hints of being surprised or offended by the question.   No one shouted “idiot” or “sit down” and no one booed or hissed.  The general crowd noise, audible in the tape, stayed the same as before and after.  Donald Trump is very attuned to the crowd, engaging it constantly.    

The proverbial cue of what did not happen, the dog in the night that did not bark, is not that Trump failed to do a McCain.   It was that the crowd he is speaking to, both in that stuffy hot gymnasium and in the wider public among Trump supporters, was that they were not particularly disturbed by the question.   The crowd was the silent dog.   The crowd was not surprised to hear someone say in a disgusted tone that Obama is a Muslim and is not actually an American.

Video on crowd response to Obama is a Muslim question:  Click on the video link to get a brief look at the crowd after the question from the man saying Obama is a Muslim and not an American.   I missed getting video of the question and the first part of Trump's answer but my video does show the crowd, which thought the question unexceptional.

The Hillary Clinton Event in the afternoon, prior to the Donald Trump Event

The Hillary Event

2:20 pm.   Seniors coming in early.   The venue is a former-church, now Boys and Girls club.   Basketball hoops have been pushed to the side.  A 72 year old activist Democrat who was helping make sure the twenty reserved sears up front were saved for the correct dignitaries, said sh hoped the event would be well attended.   Sears were set up for about 225 people.   TV camera are set up on small risers in the back.  Volunteers are passing around water bottles.

Then 80 minutes of discussion of drug treatment policy.

Hillary Clinton listened attentively while the Vermont governor spoke about treatment policy for the new avalanche of heroin and prescription opioid addiction; then from a police chief talking of community policing success; then a woman who runs a treatment organization; then a clean and sober  person in recovery; then a field officer doing interventions; then two grieving mothers; then a teacher who spoke to income inequality.  Hillary spoke for about 11 minutes of the 80.

Hillary appeared to listen attentively and she spoke with compassion and sensitivity about the problem and the victims of addiction.   She denounced no one.  She spoke of practical solutions and partnerships.

If serious policy is what the public wants to hear about then Hillary will be our next president.  From the size of the crowd, though, she isn't creating excited and passionate voters.

Click on the video link on the right to see about one minute of the event.  It gives a sense of the sensible tone of the event.  It is how democracy works, but it isn't exciting television.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Showdown in New Hampshire: September 17

Hillary Clinton will be speaking at a Boys and Girls Club in Manchester mid afternoon on Thursday.   The community forum is on substance abuse.

That evening in nearby Rochester, New Hampshire, Donald Trump will have a Town Hall, which have so far been free-form stand-up entertainment.

I will attend them both, and hope to capture some sound and video, which I will share in the video links you see there to the right of this page.

They are running for the office of the person who has the nuclear codes, which is as serious a job as exists.  One would presume that the public wants a serious adult in that job.  But no doubt about it, Trump is interesting.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

New Hampshire preview: One down (Perry) but still lots to see

I am told that my blog will interest more people if there is a photo of  Trump.   Here he is, crowing that Rick Perry has dropped out.   But I need not worry there will be nothing to see.   Hope springs eternal among the remaining 16 Republicans.

I am listing below the events scheduled in New Hampshire today, Sunday the 13th, and tomorrow Monday the 14th of September.   As you can see there is still lots of activity with Christie, Florina, and Graham all there at multiple events.  

The schedule printed below is a copy and paste job from a news website:    Following candidates around and knowing their public schedule isn't rocket science.  And they aren't sneaking around.  Candidates are trying to be seen.

I could catch some of this on CSPAN, broadcast, and cable news, but I wanted to see it unmediated.    There are leaves to see if there are no candidate events, but I expect there to be more events than I will have time for.

My intention--if I were there today--would be to see what Christie does and says at the  Seafood festival before he speeds off to the Lobster House in Dover, and to follow him there.    Will traffic ruin my effort?  Will Christie run late to everything?  Will there be security confounding my effort to move around?  Will Christie eat?  Will he joke about what he eats? Will there be much of an audience?  

I don't know, but I will tell you when I find out.


Chris Christie9/13/2015295 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton, NHVisit the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival, 2:30 p.m.
Chris Christie9/13/2015Newick's Lobster House, 431 Dover Point Rd, Dover, NH Town Hall with Maine Gov. Paul LePage, 4 p.m.
Carly Fiorina9/13/2015Alton American Legion Hall, 164 Wolfeboro Highway, Alton, NHBreakfast with Carly, 10:25 a.m.
Carly Fiorina9/13/2015Grace Capital Church, 542 Pembroke St., Pembroke, NHCornerstone Picnic, 1:50 p.m.
Carly Fiorina9/13/2015Glen Ellis Family Campground, 83 Glen Ellis Campground Road, Glen, NHGene Chandler's Fall Family Picnic, 4:10 p.m.
Lindsey Graham9/13/2015Milford VFW, 1 VFW Way, Milford, NHTown Hall meeting with Sen. John McCain, 10:30 a.m.
Lindsey Graham9/13/2015Grace Capital Church, 542 Pembroke St., Pembroke, NHAttend Cornerstone's God, Country & BBQ with Sen. John McCain, 2:30 p.m.
Lindsey Graham9/13/2015Deering Town Hall, 762 Deering Center Road, Deering, NHTown Hall meeting with Sen. John McCain, 4 p.m.
Lindsey Graham9/13/2015Keene Senior Center, 70 Court St., Keene, NHTown Hall meeting with Sen. John McCain, 6:30 p.m.
Chris Christie9/14/2015Farm & Flower Market, 15 Webster St., Manchester, NHVisit Farm & Flower Market with Mayor Ted Gatsas, 9:30 a.m.
Chris Christie9/14/2015William B. Cashin Senior Activity Center, 151 Douglas St., Manchester, NHVisit senior center with Mayor Ted Gatsas, 10:15 a.m.