Somewhere, over the rainbow, a blog is born. A blog for Kansas. A blog for America. A blog by a reporter with a difficult-to-pronounce last name. But most importantly, a blog that is AMERICA'S ONLY PLACE dedicated to the vital intersection of politics and Sunflowers. The Heartland gods nod in wise approval.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Peerless Princess of the Plains

Hangin' out in the Eagle newsroom on a Sunday, hoping an anti-tax activist calls back so I can go to the Museum of Ancient Treasures, one of Wichita's oddest places of wonderment. Basically, the museum is this eccentric old guy's collection of weird stuff, like Egyptian scrolls and medieval suits of armor. I've never been there. But today is all about new experiences.

I guess I should be writing insightful political commentary about Tuesday's election, but it's pretty much all beeen said. It's interesting to be off the beaten path this week. I took a walk through a shopping mall last night, grabbed a burger in the food court and just listened for awhile, wondering if the inanity of political discourse was replacing the inanity of everyday life. I actually heard people talking about the presidential election -- but it's a far-off thing in Kansas, more like a TV show than a participatory event. Local races hit a little closer to home.

A note on Wichita: Since I moved away in the fall of 2001 I've been returning every six months, a phenomenon not unlike time-lapse photography, where you can watch a flower grow on film because the photo gets taken every day or so. It's like every time I come back there's a new big-box retailer where there used to be an open field. Used to be that development used to stop on Rock Road, about eight miles east of downtown. Now I'm staying in a hotel a mile east of that, and retail's solid a full mile further, finally merging with Andover, which now looks like a true suburb. West side is leapfrogging as well.

I always wonder who's using all these shops, since population isn't growing that much and unemployment's up. But Wichita keeps sprawling onto the plain, with no geographic boundaries for literally hundreds of miles. Expanding faster than an American waistline, I guess.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


Greetings from the Wichita Eagle newsroom, where I'm finishing up a get-out-the-vote story after a day watching last-minute efforts from the Republicans and Democrats.

The GOP in Sedgwick County is well-oiled, to say the least. The Todd Tiahrt organization's been a wellspring of volunteers and grass-roots muscle ever since he first won in '94, and their sign-waves are some of the most prominent political happenings in the district. But don't count out Democrats in local races -- voter registration is high in Kansas, like elsewhere, and a lot of very motivated first-time voters are coming to the polls.

Saw a guy in a "Rathbun" t-shirt outside a Burger King on South Broadway while talking to Tiahrt's chief of staff. "Must be his brother," he said, referring to the candidate who in 1996 came closest to beating Tiahrt in the election. But that 's the mood right now. You have partisans on both sides pulling out all the stops -- even an 8-year-old t-shirt, if need be. Yes, this isn't a swing state, but don't tell that to folks running for state legislature, judge, or a whole host of other races that don't show up on a larger rader but generate intense interest in their own precincts. Kansas will have no problem setting a voter volume record this year.

Friday, October 29, 2004


Nate from Lawrence writes:
Come up to Lawrence and you'll see a whole different world regarding bumper stickers.

Indeed, Nate, the view is different from Kinko's on Mass in sunny Lawrence, Kansas, where the sun is even more enveloping than yesterday and two competitive House races, not to mention local contests galore, are coloring car bumpers citywide. Indeed, KU wins the bumper-sticker battle with WSU. Viva democracy.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Morning fog turned into an achingly beautiful Indian Summer day in Topeka, perfect for waving signs and shaking hands.

Attended events for both Rep. Jim Ryun and challenger Nancy Boyda. Boyda was outside Topeka's Goodyear plant, catching workers on shift change. Gov. Sebelius stopped by and lent her support. Boyda's kept neck-and-neck with Ryun, in part with her own money -- all the better to not rely on corporate PACs, she retorts.

Boyda's kept this district a race longer than many "experts" thought she would. "I'm the dark horse, the one eveyone will look at on Nov. 3 and say, she really pulled this off." I talked to a Goodyear worker on my way out from the event, and he said he was considering Boyda because, unlike other Democrats, she supports conceal-and-carry laws. (Boyda differs with Sebelius on this as well.) I mentioned to a fellow reporter that that's an unconventional Democratic position. "You must not be from around here," he replied.

Ryun, meanwhile, was standing outside a Panera right off an I-70 exit, waving signs with his wife, his family, his staffers ... they've grown pretty close-knit over four terms in office, and this may be Ryun's most challenging race. It's been noteworthily negative, with Ryun accusing Boyda of distorting his record and Boyda still smarting over an ad that showed Osama bin Laden in reference to her. Hard, though, to feel negative on a gorgeous day, with workers shaking hands at the plant and folks in their SUVs honking at the incumbent on their way out from Wal-Mart. This is one of America's strongest features -- its leaders have to stand on sidewalks and in front of fences, personally appealing to voters. And it's not just for the cameras, either -- lawmakers who don't engage the electorate might make it a term or two on muscle or money, but it never lasts under the American system. Ryun and Boyda are in their final days, and they're competing for votes. And may the best representative of those voters win.

Pins and needles -- not

The most obvious difference between Kansas and Virginia or Minnesota right now is the total lack of campaign bumper stickers. Walking past row after row of the Wichita State parking lot I saw a vintage Ford Falcon with a Kerry sticker, a Honda with some generic lefty slogans, and nothing Bush/Cheney. But why use the stickers in Kansas, when Ohio is where it's at?

Spoke to a poli sci class this morning. Overall conservative, very questioning about the last-minute impact of stories like the missing explosives, etc. But more importantly, the main headline in today's Eagle is "'Nude therapy,' slavery alleged" -- and there isn't a single politics-related headline on the front page. That's not the case in Topeka, where I'm heading for an hour. But not all of America is on pins and needles.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

I came, I saw, I voted

It's funny -- my heart rate still skips a beat whenever I hit that button that says I've cast my ballot. It's like the culmination of all the debates, external and internal, and the final affirmation that indeed, the process ends, and it produces results.

Looks like we may be destined for mud, though. Early voting has gone well in some places, and not in others. Lawsuits are already being filed. Me? I cast my ballot -- which looked like a ringing endorsement of divided government once I was done with it -- because tonight I head to Wichita to spend the pre- and post-election in Kansas. Thursday I'm heading to KS-2, where the Pittsburg paper endorsed incumbent Jim Ryun, and where he and opponent Nancy Boyda had a spirited debate last night.

Friday, it's off to KS-3, where incumbent Dennis Moore is leading in both public and internal party polling against GOP challenger Kris Kobach. The two had words in their final debate, after Kobach accused Moore of being a do-nothing congressman. Meanwhile, some Catholics are upset with Kobach's appeals to them.

Saturday I'm back in Wichita, following get-out-the-vote efforts, especially on a local initiative on building a downtown arena. Local college students say the vote is all about attitude, while opponents say it's the taxes, stupid.

And then, Election Day on Tuesday. Stay tuned, as Ozblog returns to Oz itself. Now, if the paper'd give me some of those ruby slippers, I'd save a heckuva lot in airfare.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Weekly Reader poll

So President Bush has won the Weekly Reader poll, which has accurately predicted every election since 1956. In the poll, the only state Kerry won was Maryland, with a handful of other East coast states in doubt. Bush took 60 percent of the kids' poll.

Given this, my question is, has the Weekly Reader become another touchpoint in the Red-Blue American divide? I don't think anyone thinks Bush is going to win 49 states and 60 percent of the popular vote -- but it is true that children's choices tend to reflect their parents. So factor these things in: Weekly Reader is more commonly used in rural schools (like Motley Elementary of Motley, Minn., where Reagan received 17 votes, Carter 10 and John Anderson 3 in the 2nd grade poll of 1980 -- and that was only because two kids in our class were named Anderson) than urban ones. Also Democrats do better in polls among singles, Republicans do better among families with kids. (Although Democrats do better among single parents, a constituency not to be discounted.)

Ergo, Weekly Reader readership is likely to be more conservative than the country as a whole. Under this prism, the Weekly Reader poll is about as indicative of America's choice as the first ever New Yorker magazine endorsement of John Kerry last week. The Red-Blue cultures are becoming more distinct.

Or maybe 9-year-old GOP operatives stuffed ballots in lunch boxes while telling the children of felons that they can't vote in the Weekly Reader poll! Calling the Supreme Court. ...

A word of caution

Just read the latest Charlie Cook column, which I think has some excellent cautionary advice for people who are getting a little too addicted to polls ...

But as a political handicapper, it is the uncertainties that haunt me in this race. There are massive, unprecedented numbers of new people registering to vote -- we don't really know who these people are, if they will vote and if so, for whom. We see extraordinary levels of interest being shown on the part of the sporadic, infrequent voters -- the folks that haven't shown up for a presidential election since 1992, for example -- so who are they and how will they vote? There are truly uniquely high levels of interest among young voters, a term that is normally an oxymoron, with 74 percent of college students nationwide telling pollsters for Harvard's Institute of Politics that they have discussed the election in the preceding 24 hours. The biggest controversy on campus when I was in school was when the pub was raising the price of beer from 25 cents to 35 cents per glass.

Finally, there is the issue of cell phones, with estimates ranging from as low as five or six percent to as high as eight or nine percent of all individual telephone subscribers having only cell phones and no land lines. It is against the law for a pollster to call a cell phone. While that means a large number of young people aren't being included in these poll samples, it is also true that pre-paid cell phones are rapidly becoming the primary way in which low-income people get telephone service, as many cannot qualify for the credit check required to get a land line.

Between the inadequacies of even the best survey research in really close races and these other factors, people can hope who will win this presidential race, but nobody really knows the outcome.

Down to the wire

So how easy should voting get? That's the Journal-World's question this morning, looking at advance balloting. The Dennis Moore campaign is delivering ballots for voters, and Jim Ryun's camp is contemplating the same thing. And why you're at it, why not ...

The L J-W also has its dual Boyda-Ryun profile.

Two outside groups -- Americans for Prosperity and Club for Growth -- are active in Kansas campaigns this year, according to the Winfield Daily Courier. Both of them are low-tax, low-regulation groups. AFP is a direct outgrowth of Koch support, and the Kansas Club chapter is headed by a former Sam Brownback chief of staff, David Kensinger.

The Christian Science Monitor has a piece on why the Upper Midwest may be where this election is decided:

Despite intense focus on the three biggest swing states - Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida - there's another Florida-size prize that the campaigns can't ignore: three states in the upper Midwest that have gone Democratic since the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa together match the Sunshine State's 27 electoral votes. With the race coming down to just a handful of swing states, this region has the potential to be pivotal this year. ...

While all three states are willing to elect Republicans to state government, many pollsters expected the national party to have a tougher time. The more conservative politics of the Bush administration can be a tough sell among moderate Midwesterners.

But a few trends have helped: a population boom in the far-out suburbs, or "exurbs," which tend to be more conservative, and a gradual dying-off of the older, New Deal generation, replaced by voters raised with Watergate and Vietnam and receptive to an anti-government message.

Watch with interest.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Mil, Phil and Kansas -- still!

As is often the case with this blog, I stand corrected. Responding to my query about Milton's Message, Todd S. from parts unknown writes:

The 'nannygate' thing WAS noted by Desert Rat Ramblings blogspot
http://www.swdesertrat.blogspot.com/ and in a NewsMax article

The NewsMax article is actually a restatement of Desert Rat, and that's it for "Nannygate" so far. In the meantime, nannygate questioner "Milton" has e-mailed photos of "John Kerry throwing away his medals" (taken from the pro-Kerry documentary "Going Upriver," no less) and another e-mail called "John Kerry is a pathological liar." Fair and balanced, indeed.

But hey ... since the post-debate "who-won" e-mails were about a bazillion-to-one pro-Kerry, at least I know that partisans from all side of the spectrum at least find me worthy of their mailing lists. Take, for example, this recent message from "Philip":


Why are you not in Iraq killing terrorists? You're not doing your country too many favors just collecting thousands from the Republican publicity machine and sitting in front of a computer. Get over there, get into a supply truck, drive and wait for the white Toyota parked on the kerb to end your delusions.

Be a man...get thee to Falluja!

Anyway, happy Monday, everyone. Looks like we're hitting the final breathless stretch. A Kansas City Star poll has Dennis Moore up by 12 on Kris Kobach. After three terms, has Moore finally reached the comfort zone of incumbents? Or is Kobach's turn-out-the-base strategy in trouble? Of course, turn-out-the-base would make Moore's numbers artificially high, and it's tough to think Moore would win this traditionally Republican district by 12. Then again, maybe there are people who think he's done a good job -- that actually happens in politics, too.

Also in KS-3, we have the first vote investigation, over advance ballots in Wyandotte County ... Meanwhile, Nancy Boyda continues to make news in KS-2, holding on against incumbent Jim Ryun. ... While electoral-vote.com continues to flip-flop on who might win, the Lawrence Journal World is skeptical that Kansas is anything but deep red. Sam Brownback gets the profile treatment here as does opponent Lee Jones. And aaccording to this article, the state's political donations are on a record pace. Doesn't matter if you're red or blue this year -- the real story is green, green, green.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Milton's message

See, here's what's fascinating about how politics works in the Internet age: A few minutes ago I get an e-mail from a guy only identified by the name "Milton." The e-mail, in part, says this:

John Kerry, billionaire wife, Teresa tax return - Lines 55 and 59 on Form 1040 are Social Security and Medicare taxes paid to Household employees, ie: nannies; housekeepers; gardeners; etc. ... What Heinz-Kerry is claiming on her tax return for Household 'wages' extrapolates to approximately $7,500 - $8,000/year.

$8,000 a year paid to small army from five estates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The implication, of course, is of a "nannygate" -- starvation wages paid to illegal immigrants, the sort of thing that brought down Linda Chavez when she was nominated to become Bush's Labor Secretary. It's hard to believe that a situation like that, even were it to exist, wouldn't have either A. Been addressed by the Kerrys earlier or B. Been brought out by somebody like Wes Clark or Howard Dean during the primaries.

But stranger things have happened, so you can't just dismiss the e-mail out of hand. But that's not the fascinating part. Milton's message isn't just interesting for what the e-mail says, it's for who received it. Just for fun, I hit the "reply-all" key to see who else got this. Basically, everyone at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the major broadcast and cable networks, and a smattering of regional correspondents like myself all did. "I am Milton, and I approve this message," basically. Now, we'll see if/how the rumor percolates. Drudge hasn't picked it up yet. Haven't seen it on any right-wing blogs or news sites yet -- but these things gather their own steam.

I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing. Sometimes, the smoke does indeed show a fire. If it hadn't been for similar efforts, we may never have known that those CBS Bush National Guard docs were fake. But it's also a tactic that's very, very susceptible to smear -- like the John Kerry "intern scandal" that went nowhere last spring.

That's my biggest fear for this election -- that in the last couple days, some allegation's going to surface, some trick's going to be played, that, true or not, will swing just enough voters to tip the election even though the "news" didn't pan out. It wouldn't take much -- just something that grabs headlines immediately, but can't be sorted out until later. Something that, if it's proven false the day after the election, well, too bad, voters -- guess you'll have to live with the best info you had on Nov. 2 for the next four years.

Lots of frayed nerves right now, and plenty of folks who have Internet access but don't have any scruples. We'll see if John Kerry's nannygate gathers any steam the next few days, or if this is the only media outlet where you see it published. Frankly, I can't tell you which way I'd like to see it play out.

After all, I don't know if what I just reported is actually true.

Reader's digest

Three Kansas congressmen received flu shots, two didn't, and one didn't answer, according to AP. None needed to drive to Saskatchewan.

Ryun-Boyda debated last night, and the accusations flew. Sam Brownback gets a mention in a Yale-area alt-paper study on religious fundamentalists. Focus on the Family, it's not. Pat Roberts, member of the conference committee on the congressional intelligence bill, is pulled into the CIA report release controversy. The report details whether CIA employees should be held accountable for intel failures leading to 9/11 -- Democrats are crying conspiracy, and want the report out before the election. Roberts has asked what's going on with the thing, but hasn't demanded its release.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

1,288 miles to Regina

Ron L. from Wichita writes:

I think that I will need to drive from Wichita, Kansas to Saskatchewan to get a flu shot, since the United States cannot provide for its own people.

It's better to burn out, than fade away - Def Leppard

That might not be the only reason you'd want to go to Canada, Ron -- but if you do, better load up on gas. MapQuest says it's 1,288 miles from Wichita to Regina (you zigzag a bit, though, driving east to I-29 in KC, then veering northwest again from Fargo). And those Canadian gas prices'll nail ya. AND, you best not be quoting Def Leppard to our friendly neighbors to the north when that lyric can be traced to the immortal Neil Young -- "Out of the Blue."

My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

Sigh ... you ever have those mornings when you set the alarm for six, you wake up at four-forty five and you're like, oh well, might as well get a jump on the day? I'm alone in the office right now, waiting for the first Knight Ridder Tribune editors to crawl in and wishing someone had filled the plastic pumpkin with candy last night -- I could really use a Crunch bar. I'm thinking of just forgetting about election news and devoting my life to reading every published detail about Christina Aguilera, but before long I wouldn't even have gas money to get to Saskatchewan, and then what? Back to the grind ... I participated in a panel at Wichita State University yesterday via telephone, and had an interesting discussion on polling. Tracking polls have shown everything from a tie to a fairly secure Bush lead, but they're all a combination of art and science, and the fact is, we really don't know. What we do know is that people make their decisions based on really weird factors, and yet the Republic endures.

Libertarian congressional candidate Dennis Hawver of KS-2's upset he isn't included in a televised debate. ... Moderate Republicans are once again the key voters in KS-3, according to the Johnson County Sun. Here's a link to Sen. Sam Brownback's recent USA Today column on media decency, and an article on congressional recipes including Mo. Sen. Jim Talent's macadamia delight and Brownback's Napa salad.

Napa salad ... guess you never know. So here's to Napa salad. And ephemeral poll numbers, and Canada road trips and to those Ralph Nader supporters last night who broke my heart with their bittersweet, doomed anger-idealism -- you know who you are.

To imperfect perceptions, on a day that could have started later and already feels behind. Still nobody here, and someone needs to bring candy.

Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.
Hey hey, my my.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Congress, gettin' theirs

Flu shots are in short supply, but Congress won't have a problem getting them. Meanwhile, Canada is willing to help out with the U.S. undersupply. Better be sure those shots are safe!

The Post's daily tracking poll has Bush ticking upward, which other polls are mirroring. But swing-state polls show a more tightening race. This raises the possibility of 2000 in reverse, with Bush carrying the popular vote and the Democrat, Kerry, winning the electoral college.

That's more difficult for a Democrat to pull off, thanks to the tiny disproportionate power of the solid-red rectangle states, but it's possible. If Bush wins Texas by say, 5 million votes and Kerry wins Ohio and Pennsylvania by, say 500,000 votes combined, Kerry's down 4.5 million popular and up by about 20 in the electoral college.

And what if that did happen? How heartily are the lawsuits pursued? Are the cries of accidental presidency muted, with both sides fearing hypocrisy? H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS NO!!! This is politics we're talking about, and may the best eye-scratcher win! It would be fun, though, to hear Al Gore telling W. that he feels his pain -- maybe they could appear jointly on a "uniters, not dividers" tour. And once a Republican gets smacked down by the electoral college, maybe we'd see a bipartisan effort to reform the thing.

That said, my gut tells me this election's going to turn out to be pretty dull. The buildup's just too great for a worthy climax.

In Kansas ...

Kansas counties could still use a few good poll workers. Anybody who wants to work a 16-hour Election Day in Wichita click here. I'll drop in and say hi while I'm working Election Day in Wichita.

The Kansas City Star did its Kobach profile today. Nancy Boyda had a misstep, pointing out Rep. Jim Ryun's Vietnam-era deferment in a debate, then apologizing. In a completely random note, among Boyda's campaign contributors in the last three months is actress/activist Mary Steenburgen, who gave $500. No sign of husband Ted Danson, though. Former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis told The Hill that he quietly crafted an upset win for Rep. Todd Tiahrt in 2000. Upset? And the Garden City Telegram criticizes Sen. Sam Brownback for sitting out a debate with Democratic challenger Lee Jones:

Considering Brownback is a heavy favorite in conservative Kansas, it would take a miracle for a challenger to unseat him. With victory practically a given, Brownback's camp likely believes that he has little to gain by appearing in the debate.

But that doesn't excuse him from participating and defending his stand on issues that matter to Kansas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Touche, Professor. Brian of Springfield asks this about The Bulge.

Shouldn't the commander-in-chief of the world's only superpower be able toget a suit that fits - and a bullet proof vest that isn't noticeable?

Things that make you go hmmm ... Meanwhile, in Kansas ...

Sharp words in the Moore-Kobach debate. ... Both 3rd District candidates are raising impressive funds, while the 2nd District race is closer than you might think in the money race. The Lawrence Journal-World analyzes content of Ryun and Boyda ads. Todd Tiahrt is touting his experience in KS-4, while challenger Mike Kinard relishes the underdog role.

In the Senate race, while incumbent Sam Brownback won't attend the only candidate debate, the ever-pesky Horace Edwards is mounting a write-in campaign since he couldn't get on the ballot. And not-running-for-office Pat Roberts is refusing to release Richard Clarke's testimony before Senate Intel. No political ramifications to that, of course. (Roberts, by the way, is currently crafting the final intelligence reform bill for Congress, getting another opportunity to put fingerprints on a plan he said he didn't think went far enough.)

Don't believe the hype

Start peddling conspiracy theories, and watch the inbox fill up.

In response to last week's post about tasteless flyers, bulges, et. al., Jack from Nashville pointed out that a Bush "Special Olympics" ad may have been a Republican plant. Meanwhile, in the ongoing Bush bulge controversy, Prof. William Polley of Bradley University (and host of his own blog), speculates on whether it's a bulletproof vest or some other security advice about which the GOP is not being forthcoming:

Now, don't you think that thecommander-in-chief of the world's only superpower would be able to wear a wire that was undetectable under clothing. If it's a wire under his suit, the wire is the thickness of an extension cord! ... These people think that Karl Rove duct taped a big electronic device to the president's back for the debate? No, the simplest explanation is the best one here. It's a bullet-proof vest and a bad-fitting suit.

So much for conspiracy theories, although it did make for some lively e-mail. And that begs the larger question: Why is this blog here?

A friend of mine at the Post sent me this article yesterday about the over-hyped blog phenomenon:

These opinion-laden, e-journals draw only fleeting notice from Web surfers. But they have captured the interest of thousands of reporters who have written about bloggers and their supposed impact on the Bush-Kerry campaign.

I'll tell you what's going on here: journalist envy. A significant percentage of journalists (myself included), in their adolescent daydreams saw themselves as pirate-radio superheroes, people who, armed with a low-watt broadcast signal and THE TRUTH would not only topple giants (who often resembled the people who picked on them in high school), but gain long-sought adulation for it. Problem is, most of us ain't that special. Most of us have learned that to live with The Man, you become The Man. But here's this new medium, the blog -- our own voice, unedited and unfiltered for the masses.

And I admit, I keep up with this despite my best interests in time and resources. I track those readership stats weekly. And you know what -- they KEEP GOING UP! But even at the rate I'm going, I'm still nowhere near have a WEEK of my blog postings match what I can get in one day of readership of The Wichita Eagle, a none-too-giant newspaper.

That said, the blog's been good for the e-mail. And the new acquaintances. And the friends from college who have looked me up. Up close and personal. Just like a late-night college call-in show, with a Public Enemy intro.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Feeling Minnesota

Greetings from Minnesota, where my brother is now married, small pellets of ice are hitting the streets along the university, and the Internet cafe where I have checked my e-mail on Minneapolis trips since the dawn of the millennium has sometime in the past year become a Vietnamese restaurant. Parking's a pain, too -- I almost went into The Minnesota Daily parking lot to see if I could get a spot there. Do you think they'd be impressed that I was a columnist in 1998?

Brother's wedding went off yesterday nearly gaffe-free. And the gaffe was a "we'll-laugh-at-this-later" gaffe -- everyone showed up at the reception an hour earlier than anticipated, and the supper club was locked, leaving us all sitting in our cars with the heaters on as 10-degree windchills whipped the plain. Today's been devoted to rekindling friendships. Judging from yard signs in my friends' neighborhoods, Kerry's going to take Minnesota easily -- of course, my friends tend to live in neighborhoods that tend to do things like pass resolutions opposing the Iraq war. A bit skewed. My father, who is much more conservative and lives in the rural northern part of the state, notes that he hasn't seen many yard signs at all, and when they do, they tend to be Bush signs. Tonight I plan to stay in my hotel room and watch political ads, switching to another channel as soon as a program begins so I can find more ads.

It will be one of my life's more pathetic evenings. But it's truly what I want to do. And I'm not as sick of them. I don't live in a swing state.

That's the mixed blessing of Minnesota this year -- lots and lots and lots of attention from all the Washington people, trying to shape minds. But that's something I like about America. Most countries, folks who live in the capital city just sort of dictate what happens, and if the people everywhere else don't like it, the capital sends in the tanks to quell 'em down. In Ameirca, if the people everywhere else don't like what comes from the capital, they can change who's running it -- and the cap city people are painfully aware of that, and they come to the hinterlands, checks for ad buys in hand.

Yes, the system isn't perfect -- my description only applies to about 20 states this year, and the ways of the Beltway have a heavy-handedness to them that's painfully apparent when you turn on a Minnesota TV set. But I'll trust the Minnesotans. They're paying attention, they'll add their votes, and whatever comes out in the end, the people who should hold the power will have spoken. I'll keep that in mind when I'm back at work on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

On to Minnesota

Typing as I pack. Tomorrow leaving for a weekend in Minnesota, where my brother is getting married. My job is to wear a tuxedo and not embarrass him. I will do my best.

And I will undoubtedly reflect on my sudden injection from the beltway into a swing state -- not how I remember the place where I lived the first quarter-century of my life, but how it is now. Times they are a-changin'.

All in the family

Sen. Dayton continues to make the rounds on his staff-closing decision. For a transcript of his interview with "The Today Show," click here. And here is a transcript of what Sen. Kerry had to say about Boeing in last night's debate.

Check out this tasteless political advertising. This is being used in a Tennessee statehouse race, and basically takes a shot at Special Olympics contestants via the president. Wow ... The "wiregate" controversy keeps getting weirder and weirder, with that strange lump in Bush's back continuing to be probed. I'm getting e-mail from people saying Bush shows signs of having had a stroke, blah blah blah. Of course, part of why I get that e-mail is so that respected, looked-to-for-sanity bloggers like myself will link to them, further spreading the conspiracies and smears to weaken trust in a candidate. "Viral marketing." Of course, I would never fall for something like that.

(Actually, if you want to see some really good viral marketing, click here. You almost forget you're being manipulated by Burger King.)

Meanwhile, in Kansas. Americans for Prosperity, the low-tax group founded with a heaping amount of help from Charles Koch, is sending out more rounds of flyers. Their big agenda is a Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, and you can bet the legislature will listen. ... Third District incumbent Dennis Moore spoke online with the Lawrence Journal-World, and here's the transcript. The KC Star's profile of Moore is here. Sen. Sam Brownback makes the Boston Globe in an article about the successful lobbying of Christian lawmakers on human rights issues. And in Wichita, state Sen. Susan Wagle has decided not to seek a leadership spot should she be reelected this fall. Her son has had a leukemia relapse, and family remains most important. Amen, Susan.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The magic's gone ...

I suppose it's only natural. By the end of the third presidential debate (with a veep chat thrown in) it's hard to come up with a Pivotal Moment that Will Redefine the Race. We know most of the lines by now, big swings in opinion are less likely, and barring a major gaffe (which I didn't see), both sides settle in to a race that looks unpredictable until Nov. 2, if not later.

Enjoyed Kerry's bit about Boeing v. Airbus, though. I think he's the only person in Washington I haven't quoted yet on that topic, so I'll be sure to get that posted.

Swing-state fare specials!

OK -- I think America's getting a little too caught up in these elections. Every week I get a promo e-mail from Travelocity.com with some creatively themed specials. This week we have ...

Swing State Salute: Last Minute Deals from $255

(Here's the letter:)

Dear Alan,

You have two choices this election year: Sit on the couch and yell at the television, or get out and participate in the political process. Campaigns across the country are in desperate need of volunteers to help with voter turnout and more. This weekend, make a difference and book a Last Minute Deal to one of over 20 battleground swing states and pitch in!

Check out these great deals from Washington, DC:Madison, WI: There's Nothing Average About Middle America

Flight, Hotel, Taxes & Fees from $255 for 2 Nights. Badger believers, progressive minds and outdoors enthusiasts teamup in this quirky state capital. ...

Etc., etc. Travelocity also offers a "Philadelphia Freedom" special and some cheap flights to Arizona and Oregon. So there you have it -- political activism as an airline marketing pitch. God bless America.

Do the right thing

The whole Dayton evacuation thing is shadowy and spin-prone, but so is the Global War on Terror, when you get right down to it.

If you want to share your opinion of the debate with the people of Kansas, click here. 'Twould be nice to direct my predictable avalanche of mail elsewhere, and besides, the Sunflower State would undoubtedly benefit from your thoughts. Comprehensive debate coverage can be found here.

Kris Kobach's turn-out-the-base approach to campaigning in KS-3 is termed "novel" in The Hill today. Rather than try to crowd incumbent Rep. Dennis Moore out of the center, he's focusing on voter turnout from the district's growing conservative base.

"It's a big experiment," said Burdette Loomis, a political scientist at the University of Kansas. "Moore could win big [if it fails], but it's entirely possible that Kobach could win."

Gay-rights activist Michael Henry spoke at a Kansas City "Coming Out Week" rally yesterday, and related a story from a recent visit to the office of Sen. Sam Brownback.

He told the senator's staff members that he was gay and supported gay civil rights. He said a Brownback staff member told him he was courageous for making such an announcement in the office of a senator who sponsored legislation banning same-sex marriage in the Constitution.

But, Henry said, he doesn't feel courageous: that label best suits those who feel endangered when they just walk down the street in their town and go out anyway.

And Democracy keeps rollin' on ...

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

More on the threat(?)

A capitol threat?

No one else on the Hill is talking about this, but it's interesting:


Recently, the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, presented us with a top-secret Intelligence Report on our national security. Obviously, that document's top-secret classification prevents me from discussing its contents.

However, based upon that information, I have decided to close my office in the Russell Senate Office Building until after the upcoming election. I will move part of its operations to my office in the Fort Snelling Federal Building in Minnesota and other parts to Senate office space available off of Capitol Hill.

I do so out of extreme, but necessary, precaution to protect the lives and safety of my Senate staff and my Minnesota constituents, who might otherwise visit my office in the next few weeks. I feel compelled to do so, because I will not be here in Washington to share in what I consider to be an unacceptably greater risk to their safety.

I have made this decision after careful review of all available documents, after discussions with other Senators and other officers of the Senate, and after long and serious consideration. On three occasions, I have spoken personally with the Majority Leader and asked him to convene a meeting of all Senators to discuss this situation. I am dismayed, and perplexed, by his unwillingness to meet with us further about the information, which he initially brought to our attention. In the absence of that further discussion, I have made my own decision about my office, as is my responsibility.

None of us can predict the future. I hope and pray that the precautions I have taken will prove unnecessary. If so, I will accept the inevitable judgments made with perfect hindsight. However, the consequences of my taking this action and being wrong pale in comparison with the consequences of taking this action and being wrong. I cannot leave Washington for the relative safety of Minnesota and leave the people I employ exposed to risks of which I have been made aware.

My staff will be supervised and responsible for working full-time during this period. Any ancillary expenses will be paid out of my regular office budget, and will not result in any additional costs to taxpayers. Telephone calls to my office will be routed to my Minnesota office, and constituent services will continue uninterrupted.

Happy Columbus Day

Harry Stonecipher was defending Boeing on Tuesday, while Congress kept passing bill after bill, including a drought aid package to defend Kansas farmers.

The Patriot Act is topic du jour in KS-3. Challenger Kris Kobach is touting his anti-terror credentials, while Rep. Dennis Moore expresses concern for civil liberties while defending his own votes ... An online chat with KS-2 Democrat Nancy Boyda is here.

Monday, October 11, 2004

One argument heard from Boeing immediately after Congress killed tanker leasing last weekend was that the language of the defense authorization bill didn't require competition for a tanker contract. The bill is indeed vague on this, but tanker opponents John McCain and John Warner held a colloquy on the Senate floor to make it clear that competition is the bill's intent. Text of the exchange is here.

Happy South Dakota Native American Day! South Dakotans changed the name about 15 years ago, and today will feature celebrations of the first inhabitants all across the state. Meanwhile, the federal gov't takes the day off, but the journalists don't.

The Kansas City Star's Steve Kraske handicaps KS and Mo. races so far, and finds something curious about KS-3, where Kris Kobach has been running on the right to unseat Rep. Dennis Moore.

Not long ago, Kobach appeared with conservative icon the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Kobach's campaign emphasizes its opposition to gay marriage and the country's loose immigration standards, not exactly a burning issue in the middle of America, although it qualifies as red meat to conservatives.

It could be that, with more Republicans moving into the 3rd every year, that Kobach's focusing on turning out the base. We'll see how it plays out. For a chance to chat online with the Kansas Democratic candidates, find details here for a 2 p.m. EST affair.

Kansas ranks 29th in federal funding among all states, according to the U.S. Census. That's not bad, delegation sources say, considering it's 32nd in population. The Great Plains, home to hard-working individualists, tends to get more federal aid per capita than it sends out.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Just found out that my date for the show apparently didn't see my e-mail from last night, and I didn't get her voice mail this morning, so we both bought tickets. Now we have an extra pair.

But they're really good seats! Lower level ... if you are an Alan Jackson-Martina McBride fan and want to see them in D.C. Nov. 19th, bet I can fix you up ...


Section 111, main concourse. That wraps up today's accomplishments ...

The world keeps turnin'

Given that several e-mailers on the debate gave critical, yet evenhanded evaluations of last night's debate that took into account strengths and weaknesses of both candidates, I'm concluding that at least some of the debate e-mails are being written by actual human beings. Thank you.

They still favor Kerry by a big margin, though, despite the polling consensus that the debate was close.

The Columbia Journalism Review has a spoof article on Kansas online. The lede:

An asteroid crashed to earth where Kansas used to be today, killing thousands, leaving a smoking hole stretching 80,000 square miles, and further complicating an already tight presidential race.

"This could have a huge impact, but it's hard to know which way things will break," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "Ultimately, the election is probably going to come down to who gets the most votes. Asteroids, in some sense, are just rocks. They don't vote, and they never have."

And on and on ...

I'm working today, following yesterday's work on the death of the 767 tanker lease. After three years, John McCain won. This doesn't mean Boeing won't get a bunch of planes out of the deal -- it will likely slow things down, however, and further put off all those jobs Wichita was once supposed to get. Congress is still fiddling around with intel reform and drought relief today, and I'm here for that, and to exploit my broadband connection to score Alan Jackson-Martina McBride tickets once they go on sale at 10 this morning. Martina's from Dodge City, ya know.*

* It turns out that no, ya don't know Martina McBride is from Dodge City, because she isn't. Thanks to the reader who noted that Martina grew up in Sharon, KS. Apologies.

Warner-McCain colloquy

From Oct. 9:

Mr. McCain: Mr. President, I would like to review with my colleague Section 133 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. Under the leadership of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Warner and Ranking Member Levin, Congress has agreed to amend Section 135 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, by expressly prohibiting the Air Force from using previously granted authority to acquire, through a lease or purchase, Boeing 767 aircraft for use as aerial refueling tankers.

This provision succeeds in accomplishing Chairman Warner’s primary objective, as he stated in this chamber on October 23, 2003, to put the tanker replacement program back into a traditional budget, procurement, and authorization track. In other words, the Air Force’s program to modernize its tanker fleet must be subject to the aerial refueling analysis of alternatives, the aerial refueling portion of the Mobility Capabilities Study, a new aerial refueling validated capabilities document and operational requirements document in accordance with all applicable Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instructions, and the express approval of a Defense Acquisition Board in full accordance with Department of Defense regulations.

Mr. Warner: The Senator from Arizona is correct. Section 133 specifically revokes the authority previously granted under Section 8159 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2002, to the Air Force to lease aircraft for use as tankers. The conferees expressed their intent very strongly on this issue in eliminating all references to leasing aircraft throughout Section 135.

Mr. McCain: Mr. Chairman, thank you for clarifying the intent of the legislation with respect to the prohibition on leasing tanker aircraft. Now, let’s turn to what authority Section 133 grants with respect to purchase of tanker aircraft.

Mr. Warner: Section 133 bars the Air Force from executing a contract for the multiyear purchase of aircraft specified under Section 8159, that is, general purpose Boeing 767 aircraft that would be modified as an aerial refueling aircraft. Section 8159 would have precluded full and open competition.

Mr. McCain: The Chairman is correct. This means that, under Section 133, the Air Force may not acquire, either by lease or purchase, Boeing 767s without full and open competition. In other words, any program to acquire tankers must start from the beginning, as you properly stated last year, on a traditional budget, procurement, and authorization track.

Mr. Warner: The Senator from Arizona is correct. I thank him for that clarification.

Mr. McCain: One last question, Mr. Chairman. Have we obtained an opinion from the Congressional Budget Office as to how it would score the acquisition of tankers under Section 133?

Mr. Warner: Yes, we have. The Congressional Budget Office would score this provision as a traditional procurement program which would expressly require the Air Force to pay for each tanker in the year it is purchased.

Mr. McCain: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am grateful to the gentleman from Virginia for his leadership in this 3-year odyssey. I remind my colleagues that three out of the four defense committees that were required to approve the original proposal to lease 100 tankers, did so without so much as reading the contract for that $30 billion procurement proposal. It was the Senate Armed Services Committee that put the brakes on that costly and misguided misadventure. That having been said, the final chapter on the tanker lease program cannot be closed until those among Air Force leadership who engaged in misconduct, are held accountable.

Mr. Warner: I thank the gentleman from Arizona for his steadfast leadership and vigilance on this critical issue. There could be no doubt as to the gentleman’s sincerity in always protecting the interests of taxpayers and the warfighter.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Dan Glickman, Tom DeLay

Here's a posting from American Prospect detailing possible retaliation against Dan Glickman by The K Street Project, which wasn't too happy when the former Democratic congressman got the MPAA job. Thanks to Dana B. of Minneapolis (Ozblog's fourth-highest readership city, according to the September stats!) for alerting me to this link -- nice to know bloggers got folks at their back.

Army of One

One thing that can frustrate about being the Kansas Army of One in the D.C. press corps is that I sometimes get scooper on stories because beat reporters who focus more on one topic get stuff while I'm working on one of my many topics. It's the generalist/specialist quandary. For example, today's Washington Post story on the 767 tanker is one I would have liked to have, but I was writing about a general aviation tax break that will help Wichita planemakers. Picking up the Post this morning was like getting thrown out trying to steal second. You get up, brush the dirt off, and get back in the game.

Now the story is that leasing is nixed -- that broke after midnight. Stay tuned for tomorrow's Eagle for more details on this.

Meanwhile, Kris Kobach and Dennis Moore continue to accuse each other of extremism. And Kansas City Star correspondent Matt Stearns, who was in Cleveland for the vice-presidential debate, said he saw former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Never saw him as the rock-and-roll type, but hey -- "Senators Gone Wild," I guess.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The "Do-over"

Here's an article on how the president's major foreign policy address yesterday, the one that prompted all the lefty e-mails, played out.

The power of positive thinking

I could choose to be depressed about last night's Twins loss in exta innings to the Yankees, but I choose not to be. We control our attitudes, and our attitudes contribute to our destiny. Therefore, today's post is dedicated to the bright side of things.

Today, it is highly unlikely that I will write any stories about the 767 tanker scandal -- a story I usually can't get enough of, but maybe not today. 'Twas a double-whammy for Wichita's largest employer Wednesday, as the company backed a WTO complaint filed against the European Union over Airbus subsidies. Many more stories will be written -- on both of these topics -- and it's darn interesting.

But not today.

Today, Rep. Dennis Moore and GOP challenger Kris Kobach are recovering from their first debate, held yesterday in Johnson County. Moore debated from Washington via a videolink, as House votes were taking place. Each tried to color the other as an extremist. Meanwhile, Kansas Republican and Democratic activists will debate on behalf of their candidates at Wichita State University, giving students a look at the issues beyond what they see on TV sets and read in periodicals and yes, this blog.

Ah, diversity of political experience, and a chance to hear candidates speak on their own, unfiltered.

Today, one more piece of the WMD puzzle was placed, with a new report on Iraq's weapons programs, or lack thereof. Still figuring out how to be happy about this ... any spinmasters out there have tips? ... Today, former Wichita Mayor Bob Knight is back in the public eye, advocating for Indian casinos in a $200 million in Wichita development. ... And today, I'm starting election profiles, an election-cycle tradition. And preparing for visitors this weekend. Much to look forward to.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Right back atcha

Have to head to the National Press Club for the latest salvo in the Boeing-Airbus wars. Also, intel votes today. Pro-Edwards e-mails still outnumber, but indeed, pro-Cheney is making a respectable showing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Wonders never cease

Huh. Only have nine e-mails so far about the debate, with a score of 8-1 Edwards. Is everyone tired already?

The theorists send e-mail

The pro-Kerry e-mail machine swings into action again, blasting the major address on terror that President Bush is planning for Wednesday. Essentially, I've been receiving an e-mail-a-minute all day accusing the president of trying to do a "do-over," making up for his lackluster debate performance last week with a scripted, controlled speech carried in prime time. The letter-writers want either A. for the networks to not air the speech or B. for them to give Kerry equal time.

Here's a typical excerpt:

Bush is reverting back to his standard operating practice of conducting events where he controls the participants, the questions and the agenda. This format is not an attempt to inform the public as much as a pathetic excuse of trying to erase his horrible debate appearance with Senator Kerry. Bush has shown time after time he does not have the ability to lead this country. Thus far the media has aided and abetted him in this cover-up. This election is too important to allow this very partisan attempt to go unchallenged.

It is hard to understand why America suddenly needs a major address now, when the president just had 45 minutes to explain himself last week. Has something dramatic changed that America needs to be told about? We definitely have seen some American successes on the ground, with the recent battle over Samarra. And a new report on Iraq's WMD is due Wednesday. But similar events in the past haven't warranted presidential addresses. Slides in the polls, on the other hand ...

This is the tension between "The Presidency" and "The Presidential Campaign." The idealist hopes that somewhere, a line exists where the institution trumps the campaign. The realist knows that that line doesn't exist, if it ever did. And the dark theories abound. And the theorists send e-mail.

The vampire draft

The copy editors cut this from my column last weekend -- which I just found out about now -- so Ozblog readers get this item first:

First President Bush has to win reelection. Then U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman would have to step down. But if those things, happened, a Washington-based agricultural firm thinks the next secretary could be ... Rep. Jerry Moran.

World Perspectives Inc., which does global agricultural research, handicapped possible Veneman successors in a recent paper. While the group didn't see a Veneman stepdown as likely, it mentioned Kansas's First District congressman, who is seeking reelection, as a possible replacement.

"A popular name off the Hill - the guy has a chalkboard in his office displaying daily commodity prices," the paper states. "Taking Moran from his seat doesn't risk that seat - it is safely Republican. He's a Kansan and could work with likely Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts; he knows the nuts and bolts from his Subcommittee assignment as Chairman of General Commodities, and with his affable style and experience (former Majority Leader in the Kansas Senate), he has the skill to shepherd a farm bill through Congress."

That item was supposed to run last Sunday. Sorry. Now, on to today's news.

The House of Reps is expected to vote this evening to defeat a pesky revive-the-draft bill, HR 163, offered by NY Dem Charles Rangel last winter. The bill was introduced to make a point -- that if the Iraq war was worth serving in, everyone should serve. But it's taken on a new life as an urban legend -- the Bush administration's plan to revive conscription. Now, there are scenarios where a draft could happen, but nobody's planning it now, and defeating this bill is kind of like digging a vampire out of the ground to drive a stake through its heart -- Republicans are sick of it rising up at night to suck the blood out of their candidates.

(If only sentences like that appeared in the newspaper.)

Sen. Sam Brownback continues to quietly shape the agenda of Senate conservatives, leading the Values Action Team group within the GOP. ... Jim Ryun's being questioned for using an Osama bin Laden image in an attack ad on opponent Nancy Boyda. ... And tomorrow's the first Moore-Kobach debate.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Swinging for the seats

Sometimes, connections pay off. And for sheer glitz, no connection was more coveted tonight than the connection to Kansas.

Sure, the movie was "Mr. 3000," starring Bernie Mac. Yeah, the presenter was a lobbyist. But it was a film lobbyist, and the lobbyist was Dan Glickman, and the setting was the Motion Picture Association of America during its first-ever private screening since Glickman succeeded Jack Valenti as its head. And you could only get an invite if you were connected to Kansas, per the insistence of the new regime. How cool was that?

Indeed -- we weren't merely Heartland Hoi-polloi this evening. We were to see and be seen -- Sen. Pat Roberts, shiny-headed and ebullient, casually chatting with long-time friend Glickman. Rep. Dennis Moore and former Rep. Jim Slattery showing off their Democratic cameraderie and bipartisan good-naturedness with Rep. Todd Tiahrt (Glickman, whose 18-year congressional career ended when Tiahrt beat him in the Revolution of '94, thanked the congressman for giving him his start in his current career). Dynamic lobbyists, think-tank intellectuals and gregarious Hill staffers, Kansas-proliferant and dining on -- what else -- beef!

Since Glickman was named to the MPAA job in July, I've heard a lot of good-natured joking about how everyone connected to Kansas would suddenly start flashing their film credentials, now that One of Our Own had what passes for D.C. celebrity. (Alas, Glickman said it isn't as La-La Land as one might fantasize. One month already on the job, and the only star he's met is Alicia Silverstone.) So far, so good. 'Twas a wheatfield golden start for Glickman's career, featuring a movie produced by his son (and one in-joke. If you see the movie, look for the Houston Astros pitcher named "Glickman."), and a good time had by all.

Now -- about that ratings system ...

Playin' in the bands

So my upstairs neighbor is now playing the radio all day to keep her dog calmed down, which is fine -- but does it have to be 104.1, the chick-rock station? Maybe she thinks the Dave Matthews Band will make Marley, her growing male black Lab, a quieter, more sensitive dog -- and it is true that Marley's been neutered, so perhaps DMB is appropo. But really, I think black Labs should listen to classic rock stations, or edgy alternative at the least. I may have to talk to her about this ...

Sen. Sam Brownback spoke to a largely pro-life crowd in West Virginia yesterday. Without much of a reelection campaign, Brownback has the ability to go nationwide with social conservatives, which is exactly what he did in the key swing state.

Brownback spoke in favor of adult stem cell research.

"With adult stem cells, 54 human maladies are being cured. One cup of fat has six million stem cells. Praise God, he's given us a beautiful answer. Why are we pursuing these things that destroy life," Brownback said.

The Jim Ryun-Nancy Boyda race is turning uglier, according to the Pittsburg paper. Ryun lamented the tone the race has taken while defending an ad he's running accusing Boyda of organizing anti-war protests.

"She has been attacking me from the first day. She has been very aggressive...," Ryun said. "She has been very negative for quite some time. It's unfortunate because it would be nice if we could just stay on the issues, but she has made it very apparent that she doesn't want to stay there."

While Kris Kobach and Dennis Moore prep for three debates, Kobach held a rock rally in Olathe.

And finally, for the latest in the litany of commentaries on Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter With Kansas," here's a Hillboro Free Press perspective.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Full-speed ahead

Catching up, catching up ... It looks like Horace Edwards has hit the end-of-the-line in his quest to get on the ballot opposing Sen. Sam Brownback. He's staying in as a write-in ... the 767 tanker scandal has brought its first jail term, but maybe not the last ... Pat Roberts says drought aid might hurt the South Dakota U.S. Senate race of Republican John Thune against incumbent Tom Daschle ...

... meanwhile, Wichita residents can show their presidential preferences by casting tomato beans. From Sunday's Eagle:

Those eating at either of Wichita's Red Hot & Blue locations can whet their appetites for the presidential election by taking part in the Ketchup Poll.

Through the month, customers receive a tomato bean to drop in a ketchup bottle for President Bush or Sen. John Kerry.

A drop in the Heinz bottle gets a vote for Kerry. The W Ketchup bottle is for Bush. Voters get one bean per visit. The restaurant will announce the winner Nov. 1.

Nov. 1. Could this be an attempt to prejudice the election on its eve?

A note on the e-mails referred to on Friday: Through Sunday evening, I received 112 e-mails. 101 for Kerry, 8 for Bush, 3 non-endorsement commentaries. The Washington Post describes the Kerry e-mail campaign, and I've had testimony from folks on mailing lists from MoveOn.org, etc., that they were encouraged to e-mail. Not a big surprise -- what WAS surprising was how the Dems caught the GOP so flat-footed on this one. I'm predicting about 300 e-mails after Tuesday's Veep debate -- and they'll skew much more 50-50.

Shameless self-promotion

If you live in the DC area and read this blog, please consider yourself invited to this Thursday's karaoke night at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW (14th and F). Singing's on the top floor, it starts at 7 p.m., and I'm emceeing. See bloggers in song! Anyway, if you show up and tell me you came because of this blog, I _will_ give you a prize. And it would be great to see you.

Thursday. 7-11. National Press Club. Be there.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry on Boeing

SCHIEFFER: New question to you, Senator Kerry, two minutes. And it's still on jobs. You know, many experts say that a president really doesn't have much control over jobs. For example, if someone invents a machine that does the work of five people, that's progress. That's not the president's fault. So I ask you, is it fair to blame the administration entirely for this loss of jobs?

KERRY: I don't blame them entirely for it. I blame the president for the things the president could do that has an impact on it.

Outsourcing is going to happen. I've acknowledged that in union halls across the country. I've had shop stewards stand up and say, "Will you promise me you're going to stop all this outsourcing? "And I've looked them in the eye and I've said, "No, I can't do that. "What I can promise you is that I will make the playing field as fair as possible, that I will, for instance, make certain that with respect to the tax system that you as a worker in America are not subsidizing the loss of your job.

Today, if you're an American business, you actually get a benefit for going overseas. You get to defer your taxes. So if you're looking at a competitive world, you say to yourself, "Hey, I do better overseas than I do here in America. "That's not smart. I don't want American workers subsidizing the loss of their own job. And when I'm president, we're going to shut that loophole in a nanosecond and we're going to use that money to lower corporate tax rates in America for all corporations, 5 percent. And we're going to have a manufacturing jobs credit and a job hiring credit so we actually help people be able to hire here.

The second thing that we can do is provide a fair trade playing field. This president didn't stand up for Boeing when Airbus was violating international rules and subsidies. He discovered Boeing during the course of this campaign after I'd been talking about it for months.

The fact is that the president had an opportunity to stand up and take on China for currency manipulation. There are companies that wanted to petition the administration. They were told: Don't even bother; we're not going to listen to it. The fact is that there have been markets shut to us that we haven't stood up and fought for.

I'm going to fight for a fair trade playing field for the American worker. And I will fight for the American worker just as hard as I fight for my own job. That's what the American worker wants. And if we do that, we can have an impact. Plus, we need fiscal discipline. Restore fiscal discipline, we'll do a lot better.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President? BUSH: Whew!Let me start with the Pell Grants. In his last litany of misstatements. He said we cut Pell Grants. We've increased Pell Grants by a million students. That's a fact.

You know, he talks to the workers. Let me talk to the workers. You've got more money in your pocket as a result of the tax relief we passed and he opposed. If you have a child, you got a $1,000 child credit. That's money in your pocket. If you're married, we reduced the marriage penalty. The code ought to encourage marriage, not discourage marriage. We created a 10 percent bracket to help lower-income Americans. A family of four making $40,000 received about $1,700 in tax relief.

It's your money. The way my opponent talks, he said, "We're going to spend the government's money. "No, we're spending your money. And when you have more money in your pocket, you're able to better afford things you want. I believe the role of government is to stand side by side with our citizens to help them realize their dreams, not tell citizens how to live their lives.

My opponent talks about fiscal sanity. His record in the United States Senate does not match his rhetoric. He voted to increase taxes 98 times and to bust the budget 277 times.

Dayton on Today

TIME: 7:16 A.M. EDT
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. -------------------------

KATIE COURIC: Senator Mark Dayton, good morning to you, sir.

SEN. DAYTON: Good morning.

MS. COURIC: I know the intelligence briefing you received, as 1/8NBC reporter 3/8 Pete Williams just mentioned, described the worst-case scenario. It was available to all members of the Senate and House.

Since you're the only one who made a decision to close your office, do you have any reservations about doing so? Do you feel that you might have overreacted?

SEN. DAYTON: I don't believe so. I can't speak for other senators, but it was not a worst-case scenario; it was a prediction. It was what one officer of the Senate said was the most declarative statement he'd seen in the intelligence community in over 30 years of Secret Service and law enforcement. So, to my mind, to leave Washington, as we did this week, adjourn, and leave our staffs exposed and unawares was irresponsible.

MS. COURIC: But according to the Washington Post, an unnamed government official said the briefing included an alarming al Qaeda scenario but said, "This scenario was way over the top," and he characterized it as "fire and brimstone raining down from the sky and the continental U.S. up in smoke."

SEN. DAYTON: No, that's not the report that I read. The September 15th top-secret intelligence report was not that at all. It was a prediction. It was an assessment. It was certainly chilling, but it was not raining fire and brimstone.

MS. COURIC: Washington's mayor, as we heard, Anthony Williams, asked what frequency you were on. New York Representative Peter King called your actions an abdication of responsibility and leadership. And DC's delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, said you unnecessarily panicked people.

What is your reaction to these critical comments?

SEN. DAYTON: Well, I wish they would declassify the report, or at least as much of it as they could, and people could read it and make their own conclusions. Reality is not a pleasant subject often at times. And I would not myself hesitate to be in the greater Washington area. I myself will be in Washington and on Capitol Hill when we're in business.
But it's irresponsible to me to be thousands or hundreds of miles away from Washington, as some members of Congress are, and making bravo statements. We're out of session. We left the earliest in the four years that I've been in the Senate, and we left our staffs behind. And I'm not going to leave my staff exposed to risks that I'm not there to assume.

MS. COURIC: But Senator Dayton, since you are in recess, why do you think a terror attack would be planned on Capitol Hill if most people aren't even there?

SEN. DAYTON: Well, Katie, I didn't make the assessment. I read it. It was an intelligence report from the counterterrorism center. And I wish I could reveal its contents and people could make their own assessments. I'm not allowed by law to do that. But I read it. I read the ancillary reports. I considered it very carefully, and I considered the fact that my staff are young, most of them in their early 20s, sons and daughters of Minnesotans, and I wouldn't leave my sons there. So that was the acid test for me.

MS. COURIC: And what was their reaction to your decision?

SEN. DAYTON: They were surprised, but I believe that they're relieved not to be exposed to a
risk that I consider unacceptable. And that's a decision that I have to make for them.

MS. COURIC: And finally, could the intelligence community tell you anything that would prompt you to reopen your office?

SEN. DAYTON: Sure, if they wanted to make an unqualified retraction of the assessment they made in that report.

MS. COURIC: All right, Senator Mark Dayton. Senator Dayton, thanks so much for talking with us this morning.

SEN. DAYTON: Thank you.