what do you see in this picture? check out this graph of the florida polling data. if you can make sense of it, you qualify to punditize on any network station.

this wisconsin one is slightly less funky, and very promising.


Posted by Hello

me and you know who. right here, last night.

battle bots

a battleground state is one that – since the get-go – has been identified as where a tight race will occur. a state is considered a “tossup” if it’s still too close to call. what began as a list of some 17 battleground states is now down to just 11: florida, hawaii, iowa, michigan, minnesota, nevada, new hampshire, new mexico, ohio, pennsylvania, wisconsin.

according to the
washington post today, bush has solid leads in 23 states with 197 electoral votes and is favored in four more, which could bring him to 227. kerry is equally solid in 13 states with 178 electoral votes and is favored in five states, which would bring him to 232. it takes 270 electoral votes to win.

i am lucky enough to be
embedded in one of the 6 most critical states in the election. these are the states that with 79 electoral votes, could determine the winner of this election: wisconsin, florida, ohio, minnesota, iowa and new mexico (each of these is considered a tossup at this point).

i couldn’t have picked a better vantage point for this intoxicating election. live from madison, with 53 hours until the polls close, here’s what i can tell you:

• parties and partisan orgs are kicked into way-high gear
• election campaigners are exhausted but pumped
• voters are feeling bombarded, saturated, fatigued
• each of the two major parties is confident it’s going to take the state

you may or may not have heard that campaign workers of all stripes have been shuffling around the country based on numbers and urgency. with wisconsin on everyone’s short list, the past weeks have seen a steady increase of volunteers from out-of-state. this weekend alone, thousands of people from minnesota, illinois, missouri and others have been pouring into wisconsin and iowa. most of this is being coordinated by
this group, a phenomenal org that’s feeding progressives into where they are needed.

the latest shift of canvassers left this office minutes ago. they were fired up by some words of truth: the clock ticks loudly, this is going to be a fucking squeaker, every single solitary vote counts, go get ‘em...

we just heard that the green bay packers beat the washington red skins (nice name, ‘eh?) – legend has it that if the red skins win their last game before the election, the incumbent president will win. one of the sports channels even broadcasted kerry’s face on the bottom of the screen next to the packers score. talk about suspicion! but it works for me. oh so sorry mr. bush!


gloria was superb. we fretted about the office tidying and costuming up in time for her 6.45 arrival. i was in the bathroom applying some lipstick when who should emerge from a cubicle but ms. steinem herself.

"you're gloria steinem." i said.
"i believe so." she replied.
we chuckled and i introduced myself as the one who's been communicating with her pr rep for the past ten days.
"aahhh, where are you from again?"
"wow, thank you for coming"
"oh no, thank you."
(holy fuck am i ever a loser; sometimes i really do astonish myself)

glo and i had a brief briefing in the can, interrupted only once by an awestruck woman who had followed her to our building from the campus event (stalker?) glo was pleased to hear that we wanted a casual environment in which the young people could engage comfortably with her and that this event was really about acknowledging them and uplifting them.

adam introduced chrissy g in drag as christiane amanpour. chrissy didn't veer too far off the talking points i'd prepped for her when she introduced gloria. the room was quite full (50 or so people showed up). there was anticipation in the air. gloria was lovely. we were struck by how gracious she is. she demonstrated a profound respect for the volunteers, providing some words of inspiration, then encouraging the turning of tables to hear stories and questions from the crowd. she was overwhelmingly positive, referring to herself as a "hopeaholic". she talked about where the movement has been and where we need to go, saying that the work does not stop at november 2nd, that there's so much possibility in diversity and openness to learning from other cultures. she said that intergenerational bridging is possible, and that her generation has as much to learn from young people as to teach. she said all the right things, but did any of us expect her to be that cool? did we expect her to invoke the punk voter movement, anti-flag, le tigre, and 100 black women? the questions and comments from the crowd were excellent, covering ground from organizing to electoral reform to class consciousness to mentoring to communication. gloria spoke about native teachings, the woman in every family that "nobody talks about", the ongoing stereotyping of gay men (it's really hetrosexual men who are more likely to abuse children), the lessons to be drawn from other parts of the world, and the modern reclamation of sex as power. hmmm.

gloria didn't flinch when i got all up in her face, paparazzi style, with jason's digital camera. (posting of choice pic to happen after he rolls into the office)

by the way, she looks fucking amazing. did i mention she was wearing leather pants? what a fantastic ass (shut up, we ALL commented on that, not just me). everything about her is elegant and she carries herself with tremendous grace. and she's funny. she kept talking about how she will live another 30 years to be 100. and she probably will. she's not finished yet, thank christ.

confession: i chickened out on asking her about the whole fish-and-bicycle thing, given her recent nuptuals. but maybe i'll bring it up when i get an exclusive interview with her after the election.

the trick or vote thing was frenetic but slick. our peeps got busy downstairs handing out those goodie bags to the costumed crazy people plugging state street. chrissy and her partner amy (yes chrissy, she is indeed super fly and yes, is perhaps the cooler of you two!) really got into the spirit. we didn't distribute as many as planned (don't even ask) but volunteers moved a few thousand pieces of product. and had a good time doing it, despite the chilly temp.

by the way, adam walks differently when in heels (who doesn't?) - he wore the pink pair, on my advice - his sorta strut/sway is really captivating. before we headed, exhausted, over to the annual pocan/frank halloween party, austin simply hung a placard around his neck on which was written, sans finesse, "IDAHO". a few people got it. do you?

ps: the punk voter site has a batch of links to some neat spots on the web.



this is who adam is becoming tonight. the wig is ready, though it needs more combing. he's just finished fashioning a microphone out of a paper towel tube and a halved styrofoam cup. there's also a print out that mimicks what would appear on the bottom of the tv screen beneath her image: under her name, he's created some of those dizzying ticker headlines: "briney and kevin: on the rocks? • jenna bush admitted to re..." perhaps it seems funny that the state director of a campaign such as this might have time to do a crafternoon. truth is, things are clipping along here. many pieces of pizza have just been consumed. as i type, the second shift of canvassers are getting their packages and briefings. the phoners are doing their thing. i'm about to go drive one of the canvass teams into their assigned turf. then i'm headed to the dollar store for some trick or vote treats. i'm thinking some of these would be lovely to munch on during the g-l-o-r-i-a gathering.

and more

gop to the poor: don't vote


more voter suppression

we found out about this apalling scam to suppress students' vote at uw-madison and scurried to get press coverage. got front page above the fold - check it out here.


i've been meaning to post about what's going down tonight. it's big. at least it is for me. gloria fucking steinem is going to be in this very office in just a few hours. she's on a tour of the swing states to target young voters and women voters to fire bush. some young voters may not know much about her, but for others of us, she is indeed an icon.

she'll be hanging out with our volunteers here in the office from 7-8. then we're taking her down to state street to hand out those trick or vote bags i've mentioned. we're going to try to yank her out of the throngs before it gets too hairy. then she's apparently slated to shmooze with the likes of the state governor at the hilton.

ok, so i'm fucking excited. i've met her before, but tonight will be an intimate environment - we'll be able to speak casually with gloria, one of the most important living feminists. she has been a critical role model for me, serving as both a political mentor and as intellectual inspiration. there are so many things i want to ask her - deep earth-shattering questions like "what the fuck is happening to our movement?" and "do you ever dig out the bunny ears and tail and sashay around the house?" and "how do we get the third-wave grrls to say 'feminism'?" ... ok, perhaps i'll paraphrase. my oft-wavering feelings about the western women's movement could sure use an injection of gloria's spirit.


i negotiated space for a full-length op-ed in monday's edition of the badger herald. here are excerpts of what i whipped up:


Like you, I am a young voter. We are part of a generation that cyclically faces the stigma of being disinterested, disillusioned, disconnected. Youth are lazy. Youth are apathetic. Young people don’t pay attention to current affairs or politics. Though I’ve always been engaged with the community and world around me, this is the first time in my life that I can really taste the relevance of an election. What in previous years might have been more of an academic flexing of my ideology is now somehow more real. This time, it’s personal.

Our senses have been assaulted by the barrage of election-related messages. It’s been sensory overload with the TV and radio ads, articles, debates, punditry, and speechifying. Sure, we have been saturated by sound bites and slogans, but when you peel away the layers of rhetoric – thrust upon us by both sides – you’re left with a handful of very simple truths.

While many candidates have touted the importance of youth participation and aggressively courted our votes, their actions speak louder than words. In a recent act of unmitigated gall, the College Republicans and Students for Magnum mailed a literature piece to the UW residence halls containing confusing information about campus polling locations. It can only be surmised as an intentional move to suppress the student vote—as if we needed another example of how the Republicans will do whatever it takes to pillage their way to victory.

We won’t let the Republicans have it both ways. Young people overwhelmingly understand that electing leaders like John Kerry, Russ Feingold, and Tammy Baldwin is the right choice for those of us who have weathered the destructive policies of the Bush administration, and who desire so passionately a better world.

Our vote – the so-called young generation – is as critical a factor as the hyped battleground states. You and I hold in our hands the power to alter the course of US domestic and foreign policy with the casting of our ballots tomorrow. And I think we should do it. Not because it’s our democratic right. Not because both parties are begging us to. Not because it’s cool.

We’re voting for our lives. The Republicans must be fired. We need to elect a government of people who give a shit about what we go through. Don’t sit this one out, ok? Vote tomorrow – it’s time to take things personally.

Adam Klaus, Madison, Wisconsin
Chair, Associated Students of Madison, 1999-2000

gotv push off

everything that has gone into the campaign thusfar has been to build toward the gotv push. that push started with a shove this morning. and it's not just us at the alliance (a name i cringe to use - canucks would know why - but that they seem to dig). all the 527s and party-related groups like this are using these last three days to invigorate all the id's (marks, as they're known back home). time has come to get out the fucking vote.

my first job this morning was to haul ass to pick up one of the rental vans. when i arrived at the office, i had to beat my way through throngs of moveon volunteers who were assembled around the hallway outside our office to get their marching orders. inside our freshly tidied and vacuumed epicentre, our paid canvassers were getting briefed in advance of the arrival of the volunteers. there are at least three shifts of sweeping canvasses each of the next three days to cover around forty wards in the madison area.

i am trying to coordinate the feeding of the masses. we're certainly not the biggest op in town, but it's still tricky trying to plan sustenance for dozens of people streaming in and out of this small space. adam took care of the bagel buffet this morning - and may i say that einstein's bagels sells the most delightful raisin and walnut cream cheese...

as if you give a shit, here's what's next: i'm using the morning to re-issue an advisory about tonight's event and do follow-up calls to targeted media. i hope they show up. then i've got to order 100 bucks worth of pizza. then i've got to buy halloween candy for tonight's event. then i've got to give a haircut to adam's wig for tonight.

let me say again that the energy is palpable. we're all dancing on that strange line between serious and nutty. there is good music playing and our bums are wiggling as we work.


halloween jackassry

by all accounts, tomorrow night is supposed to be absolutely insane here. exhibit a. exhibit b (scroll through the gallery if you have a second - wow). evidently, the halloween tom-foolery on state street here is legendary. local authorities anticipate a quarter million revellers to be toddling all over the place. riot cops are on stand by. those who are queasy about state street but want to mark the occasion are being offered some delightful alternative activities by the university, including the great pumpkin party and the saddle and sirloin haunted house. i'm not even fucking kidding.

those with children who have yet to figure out how to dress them for the halloween silliness might consider some of these clever costume ideas. economical AND timely.

bday announcement

happy birthday biddy!

hot and bothered

i'm late in posting today. i've been working on an op-ed piece, which i'll post later once adam signs off on it.

can't believe how fucking hot it is today. but not a good hot. based on the blazing humidex level, i might as well be in sao paolo or mumbai. can't walk two steps without breaking into a sticky sweat. attractive, to be sure.

i'm bummed to have missed an event today featuring shirley manson of garbage and kim gandy of the national organization for women. they're doing a gotv rally on campus with local dj's and a lot of noise. i wonder how many people showed up.

got to have dinner with some cool people last night: chris, the director of action wisconsin, lindsey, regional organizer for stonewall democrats, and visiting politico-celeb, chrissy gephardt. this just in: chrissy is cool. a late bloomer (she came out four years ago at 27), she's got some political instinct and seems committed to gay rights activism, a new area for her. i asked how her dad is doing, cuz i like him and have respected his work. we chatted a bit about the leadership race [i boldly suggested he should have assembled a pr team early on and she sort of agreed], what it felt like to contemplate being first daughter, what it's like to endure attacks, often personal, during a tenure of public service (he's fine, btw, preparing for a retirement of consulting and philanthropy). fascinating stuff. oh, and i asked her to dish about what her dad thinks of john kerry, but i shan't share those stories here.

after dinner, we wandered from the thai-laotian restaurant to the gay out the vote event. disappointing turnout, sadly. people are talking about voter saturation and i think it's true. most folks seem evented and rallied out. springsteen notwithstanding, most events are a gamble now in terms of drawing a crowd. on the one hand, this is a pulsating battleground state, on the other hand, it's a sure thing for the dems, right? news types call it "too close to guess" ...



Posted by Hello

i was there. that's me, behind the election sign. neat-o.

rally 4 kerry

well, today was the big rally for john kerry and it was fucking huge. final estimates put the number at roughly 100,000. not bad for five day's notice [humbling when compared with this familiar canadian campaign phone call: "the leader's coming through your town tomorrow - get a crowd of at least 200"].

when i go out the front door of our building and into the middle of state street, then look left, this is what i see. the rally was originally to be held there, at the state building on what they call capitol square. but the location was changed at the last minute, so today, tens of thousands of supporters braved each other as we squeezed onto west washington street. starting at 10 am, people were snaked up and down adjoining streets according to the colour of their ticket. exhausting. shepherded crowds can get grumpy, and today, other than a couple of temperamental exceptions, spirits were high.

eventually, thanks to our blue tickets, we pushed our way down a narrow passage at the side of west washington until we emerged into pigpen two, for blue-holders. we were actually pretty darn close to the stage, although i'd be lying if i said i could see anything. my recurring question to neighbours: "tall people, can we get a status report please?" the crowd took over the sloped street and climbed all the way back to the capitol. this is what momentum looks like.

we were treated to speeches by madison
mayor david cieslewicz, county executive kathleen falk, congresswoman tammy baldwin (first openly lesbian congressperson and an all-around cool broad), senator herb kohl, senator russ feingold (his "tough questions" ad is some of the funniest shit ever), wisconsin lieutenant governor barbara lawton and maybe one or two others but quite frankly, it wasn't easy to follow.

and then, wait for it, ah yes - dave grohl and a couple of members of foo fighters played a 3-song set which included my latest fave, times like these. dave speechified a tad, saying all the right things.

much to the chagrin of the roughly 100,000 people (and of my throbbing feet), there was a painful gap between foo and the boss. you could just imagine producers and sound techies scrambling to fill the dead air with anything, then finally we were pumped - get this - queen's we will rock you and canadian rocker tom cochrane's life is a highway. after some van halen and something else, the crowd tried to self-entertain by doing the wave and chanting "four more days!" [to which we'd quietly add, "then one more" because our comrades can't count].

finally, nearly 45 minutes and bad giddiness jokes later, springsteen himself emerged. and not a minute too soon. he did 3 songs and made some thoughtful remarks as an introduction to kerry. hear for yourself.

and then, we got to hear from this guy. kerry gave us about 30 minutes of everything we've already heard, but better. his message is stronger. his delivery is more powerful. his energy is infectious. he doesn't seem the least bit tired.

fave kerry quotes from today:
"when bush heard that "the boss" was performing in madison, he thought we meant dick cheney."
"americans shouldn't have to work for the economy, the economy should work for americans"
"george bush keeps saying it [the presidency] is hard work. hard work. well i'm ready and excited to relieve him of that work"

a terrific article about today's event by salon calls today the "largest crowd - ever, for anything - in madison's history". and little ol' me was there.


potus, the boss & foo

ok, so tomorrow is the big rally for kerry here in madison. i haven't posted anything about this yet on the off chance it might not have happened. and as we've been getting word about supposedly confirmed headliners, i've resisted posting those too because who's fucking sure if they're really coming.

but now, the planets seem to be aligning such that the show will indeed go on. and guess who i'll be seeing? in addition to oogling the future potus, we will be entertained by none other than the boss himself, bruce springsteen, along with a little known (not!) rock band called the foo fighters.

ok, so i don't actually own any music by the boss, but who can deny his status as a music legend, an icon, and the voice of one social class and at least two generations. oh, and a confession: i still have a wee crush on dave grohl. aw c'mon, admit it, you do too.

i'll tell you all about it tomorrow, hopefully with visual accompaniments. we didn't get 'red' tickets for the event, but are holding 'blue' ones which are at least cooler than the plain old 'white' ones for just anybody, the riff raff, la pleb.

voter suppression

this just in. you're not going to believe this. or maybe you will. it's totally disgusting. let me just tell you that what appears below is the exact text of a flyer (crude in content and appearance) that was handed to a high school student in milwaukee by a black man who appeared to be homeless. let me also tell you that yes, we issued a swift and sharp response as soon as we caught wind. and that wind (hopefully) is about to blow into a national typhoon. stay tuned.


milwaukee black voters league

some warnings for election time
if you’ve already voted in any election this year you can’t vote in the presidential election.
if you’ve ever been found guilty of anything, even a traffic violation you can’t vote in the presidential election.
if anybody in your family has ever been found guilty of anything you can’t vote in the presidential election.
the time to register for voting has expired. If you haven’t registered you can’t anymore.
if you violate any of these laws you can get ten years in prison and your children will get taken away from you.

stone love

miss sharon - from the "women on the move" event from last week [see entry from October 22nd]. let's not even talk about the hair.
Posted by Hello


the white stripes are playing and the full time paid staffers have collected for their morning check-in meeting. i’m listening in. this whole thing just gets better and better. according to the latest count, we are up to 150 canvass shifts lined up for this weekend. volunteers will be heading out to the doors of identified supporters to pump people up to vote. meanwhile, back at the ranch, we will have a full slate of phoners in the office, dialing to mobilize. the exact same thing is going on in offices throughout this building, and so many others. with so few days left to go, adrenaline is really kicking in now. according to today’s polling numbers for wisconsin (and we in Canada know how reliable pre-election polling is), the state of wisconsin is still either candidate’s to claim – the difference is still within the margin of error. the fire in the bellies of progressives around here is fucking fierce. i love it.


web watch

ok, this politicized phone sex commercial actually did cause me to pee a little. clever comedy ... and hot! [apparently the phone number works - i haven't tried it]

gotv 101

ok, gather round. after just a week in the trenches, i think i’m getting a sense of the makeup and intent of this dense constellation of organizations that are working to get out the vote (gotv).

there’s a monstrous national coalition known as
america votes – this org is serving as a coordination hub for the various progressive campaigning groups so that everyone’s resources and efforts are maximized. here’s a list of the groups. these are groups like the one i'm with - national/regional level issue or constituency orgs that have been campaigning on the ground towards this election. many have large level operations that include multi-levels of personnel and voter identification strategies.

one such group that has emerged as a critical factor during these elections is
america coming together (act: "building victory one voter at a time"). one of the america votes partners, act has built one of the biggest field operations going (maybe even in history, some say) – they’re running full-on campaigns in at least 17 states, thanks to a budget of over 100 million usd.

think about it. 100 million fucking dollars. the un development programme
needs 100 million dollars to remove 40 wrecks in northern gulf waters. the gdp of the marshall islands is around 100 million bucks. in 2002-03, cida spent just over 100 million on “countries in transition”.

people around here are zooming around the whole gotv plan. as of this week, adam participates in a morning check-in call with reps from the networked groups to coordinate gotv plans and activities.

november 2nd is expected to be an incredibly intense and exciting day (duh). here’s how gotv will shake down: a highly coordinated volunteer dispatch strategy will be operated inside of ‘staging sites’ in key locations around the country (like madison); when an e-day volunteer arrives, s/he is given an info pak and one whopping minute of training, then sent off to gotv.

here, they get out the vote. back home, we pull it. either way, we’re all still driven by the same damn thing – ensuring progressives actually cast their ballots. and holy fuck, that takes work.

eminem video

for electionsake, set aside how you think you feel about the ever-controversial eminem. he has put out a high tech high impact video as part of the whole push to mobilize the youth vote. i may be tuckered and raw and caught-up-in-it-all, but the video gave me goosebumps - it's mainly animated, and features eminem collecting and leading an 'army' of angry voters to the polls. and the lyrics are dope. check it:

"they ain’t gon’ stop us, they can't, we're stronger now more then ever; they tell us no we say yeah, they tell us stop we say go, rebel with a rebel, yell “raise hell”, we gon’ let em? No STOMP, PUSH, SHOVE, MUSH… FUCK BUSH, until they bring our troops home… COMMON"

[don't forget, eminem is part of the 'trick or vote' track of our campaign - this saturday night, we're handing out tens and thousands of goodie bags in the swing states - the bags feature an exclusive sirius mix-cd from shady records featuring dj green lantern and eminem]


od-ing on expectorant

i've been keeping adam healthified with vitamins, echinacea, and herbal expectorant. he's grateful. really. Posted by Hello

dear fuckheads

an example of what i've been doing around here, this is a response i wrote today when the wisconsin state journal endorsed bush (and yes, i resisted starting it with dear fuckheads).

October 25th, 2004

Dear WSJ Editorial Board,

The endorsement of the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board of George W. Bush as President of the United States is a gross disservice to this state and its electorate.

On behalf of a paper that claims to be a responsible news organization, you offer your readers nothing better than a rehash of the same old character comparisons of two men. Shame on the editorial board for deigning to unoriginal rhetoric instead of providing Wisconsin voters with substantive reflection.

Ask any organization like ours that has been engaging directly with voters for the past several months and you will find that, overwhelmingly, the people of Wisconsin, especially young voters, are deeply dissatisfied.

The WSJ editorial board fails to consider the real and immediate issues that Wisconsin voters will weigh before voting. You are right in saying that Bush "offers clarity in intent," except that the intent of the Republicans speaks for itself.

The Republican regime has deliberately steered us away from more affordable healthcare, security and quality employment. Young people continue to bear the brunt of their regressive policies. Thirty percent of young adults are uninsured for healthcare - the largest percentage of uninsured across any age group. Unemployment rates of young adults are twice as high as those of older adults. Eighty three percent of enlisted personnel (most involved in combat) are 35 or younger, and yet, were there ever really weapons of mass destruction to unearth?

Thank you, WSJ editorial board, for your shallow take on the most important election of our generation. Young voters are savvy consumers of media and political information, and so we reject it, wholesale. We will shop instead for a more enlightened analysis, one that contemplates the leadership Wisconsinites want.

Adam Klaus
Wisconsin State Director, Young Voter Alliance


web watch

what do you do if you hate dubya, you also hate the other guys, and you're a strategic voter. you spread your message with an atttitude. tell everyone you're voting for kerry, even though you think he's a douchebag.

red pink & blue

i walked to work today. a beautiful sunshine was weaving its way through technicolored trees as i wound my way through the typical neighbourhoods that led me to state street.

i could have been striding past houses in moose jaw, kingston or whitehorse. the walk up east dayton treated me to pleasant wafts of familiar sunday smells: coffee, baking, laundry. i was struck by the unusual number of homes that were painted lilac or pink.

john cougar was taught to fear jesus in a small town, and i thought of his wonder of these little pink houses that decorate the great midwest.

in today’s new york times,
roger cohen writes about ardent faith squaring off against earnest reflection in this election: two distinct approaches to spirituality represented by both presidential candidates. whereas kerry believes in questions as much as answers and differentiates between power and leadership, bush believes that questioning enables enemies and that leadership is the exercise of american power.

that voters seem equally compelled by both approaches is bizarre for someone like me, but then again, everything about this electorate is bizarre.

maybe i never saw the question of the
baby jesus as a particularly nuanced one – you’re either in or you’re out. but maybe faith comes in many shades of lilac – one little pink house is just as likely to be green inside as red or blue. the voters’ homes i passed today – those enclosed porches filled with wicker furniture, storage bins, bicycles, strollers – they each tell a unique story about faith… faith in god, good will, humanity, progress, faith in democracy, justice, peace. arrogant faith. modest faith.

but does an unwavering belief in a god imply a partiality for right-wing ideology? i never went to sunday school, but i thought jesus was a compassionate and peace-loving guy. compassion is nuanced too, i guess. the faith that compels people to advocate for the
dilution of civil liberties in the name of security is the same faith as that which compels others to fight for women’s equality and poverty eradication. faith can steer people like this as well as people like this. and occasionally, in a strange twist, they're the same people.

god help us.


web watch

dirty-minded lefties may be french-tickled by a delightful film featuring today's "hottest" adult film stars: farenheit 69. what could be better? porn + political satire in one kinky package. the website says that all profits from film sales will go to kerry campaign efforts. this is not a joke. those not faint of heart have got to check out porn for progress.

gay camp

your gay camp(aign)ing guide:

there are vote-mobilizing organizations like
gay vote and human rights campaign who are operating national level programs. in this state, action wisconsin has been actively pursuing the pro-lgbt vote via a petition campaign that's collecting names of people who oppose a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. for a decent overview of the issues at stake for lgbt communities, check out this op-ed. meanwhile, i'll attend the "gay out the vote" party happening at cafe montmartre this thursday featuring special guest, chrissy gephardt.

can't gay sway?

it was a cold and damp night. we meandered over to the slipper club to watch the cabaret show that adam has been telling me about for months. we were pooped, brain-fried, and godammit, so thirsty. i made myself comfortable on a bar stool amidst the queens, queers, and curious. somewhere between the neil diamond act (ahh, the 8-track soundtrack of my upbringing) and the rousing rendition of acdc's shook me all night long, i became accutely aware of the crowd around me. i wound up buzzed-ly contemplating the question of the gay vote.

the gay vote. why ain't there one such thing? single-issue voters who are lgbt have no question about who to vote for. after all, neither party is perfect, but the dems are pro-equality. yet someone not voting for equality is likely concerned with economic policy and terror alerts – enough to be swayed to the republicans, even if that party actively discriminates against lgbt.

so maybe it comes down to class. if you're well-off and gay, the issue of partner benefits may not move you. protecting business interests and tax brackets likely trumps pesky concerns like equality and human rights. obsessing over stock tips and nips and tucks, who has time to worry about community?

but if there was a gay voting block (consider notoriously gay spots like san francisco, nyc, seattle - kerry leads in those areas), then florida would still dangle on its own. according to this predictor map, the race is (still?!) tied in the homopalooza hot zone. que pasa? perhaps those tucked and tanned gay boys have confused tacky with progressive. talk about bliss.


star light

just came from the "women on the move" tour event. we were 200 or so mainly female supporters crowded into this small room at wisconsin's overture centre. all of the speakers did an impressive job of rallying the crowd of 200 or so mainly female supporters, notably kathleen kennedy townsend, maryland's first female lieutenant governor, 2 us olympic soccer stars, and of course, miss sharon stone. the olympians talked about the perception of america as an "oppressor" that us athletes experienced in athens. the crowd really enjoyed the rallying words of retired army general pat foote, a small but fiery woman who spoke passionately about herself as living proof that serving in the us military and being a democrat are not mutually exclusive. but of course, the big deal was sharon stone. i must confess, i found her very moving. i didn't want to, but it was an effective and subdued delivery of her heartfelt disappointment with all things bush. she did well in bringing home the tour's message, calling the power to vote a very "sacred" one: "when you vote, be compassionate... be thoughtful... be spiritually elegant. people's lives depend on it."


web watch

shake the bush tree and inevitably, there will be fallen branches ... you have just got to check out this website: http://www.bushrelativesforkerry.com

the glamorous life

despite appearances (whatever), the life of an organizer is not just glamour and glory. when i told adam i’d come down here to do absolutely anything, i meant it. so today, between my reminder calls to journalists about tonight’s event and finessing the next press release, i got down and dirty with a dirt devil. the office was in need of some refreshing, so i picked up bits and scraps from all over the floor, re-shuffled canvass sheets, posters, to-do lists, maps, flyers… my colleagues are slick and dedicated, but barely able to keep up with housekeeping. i just have to post a photo of the cupboard underneath the microwave, chock-full of raman and easy mac packages. glamorous, indeed.

star express

the rich and famous are as much of the american political fabric as the rich and powerful. the campaign trail is teeming with film, tv and music icons. tomorrow morning, sharon stone herself will be in little ol’ madison as part of the “women on the move” tour for kerry and edwards. she’ll be joined by olympic soccer stars and female politicians from the region. my basic instinct compels me to check it out. ooh, sorry - my bad.


web watch

there is some seriously funny shit on the web at the best of times. and this whopper of an election has spawned its share of comedic (not always intentionally so) internet sites. i will post urls of note. why don't you start with this one: http://votergasm.org/ (make sure you read the “disclaimers” in the “sign the pledge” section. i nearly peed.)

we're written in stone

the layers of grassroots (and that not-so-rootsy campaigning) during this election are nothing if not thick. so media mentions are of value. imagine our hip-hopped glee that YVA gets a mention+ (paragraphs 17 and 18, to be precise) in an in-depth piece in the rolling stone, mothafucka! here's the article: The Youth Vote - Neither George Bush nor John Kerry should take their support for granted. it actually offers a decent overview of all the youth-targeted activities, n'case you're curious. word.

sinclair affair

you’ve no doubt heard about sinclair broadcasting and how it’s forcing all of its 62 national network affiliates (including abc, nbc, and cbs stations) to air a full length partisan hack job distorting john kerry’s service and activism during vietnam: Stolen Honor is set to air this thursday night, prime time (although rumours are now circulating that they've scaled back the number of stations due to 'swift' criticism - we'll see). this may be the most disgusting display of corporate interference in democracy to date - groups everywhere are planning a fight-back.

we're doing an event tomorrow night as part of a national coordinated action to promote the real story with a film that promotes kerry’s experience. at memorial union on the campus of UW-Madison, we’re hosting a screening in solidarity with other screenings of the same film that will take place at the same time in locations across the country.

the film, Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry, is a feature length documentary that examines the story of kerry and the key events that made him the national figure we know today. the film highlights his bravery during vietnam and his courageous opposition to the war upon his return.

until yesterday, we were awaiting confirmation of a big-wig celeb to come and introduce the flick. if you can believe it, the 'maybe' list included justin timberlake, rosie o'donnell, madonna (or is it esther now?), or sarah jessica parker. the call came at around 5pm that we get none of the above. in a pinch, madison mayor david cieslewicz, representing an altogether different level of status, has accepted the gig. thank christ.

we're co-hosting the thing with UP for Victory and MoveOn Student Action (check out their neat-o "feel a draft?" campaign).

what am i doing? helping to drum up media interest for the screening and for our campaign, while attempting to map out some kind of comm strategy for this last leg. i have five tiny minutes to acquaint myself with regional media. who'd have thought i'd be pitching to the likes of cbs and nbc affiliates? wasn't it just yesterday that i was on the phone with aptn?


trick or vote

One of the 'final push' campaigns. Clever. Posted by Hello

did you know?

those attending pro-Bush events and rallies are required to sign an "oath of support" before being granted entry. dissenting voices, along with their "free speech" signage, are forced to protest at least one block away from the venue.

lunar landing

my feet touched madison soil when i descended from a van gelder bus from chicago yesterday afternoon. i couldn't resist the symbolism of the gloomy weather (have any of us considered this u.s. election a sunshiney one?). so tired i was, i told my cab driver i felt as though i'd just emerged from a coma. and i immediately started tripping. my madison memories are fond, if not vague. and would you believe the bus dumped me right in front of the building in which i would have worked if life hadn't taken a sharp turn in an altogether different direction. more on this later.

so my first glimpse of the madison office of the young voters alliance was everything i expected. a small second floor space occupied by adam's team and the wisconsin base of the naral pro-choice america, it greets you with piles of boxes, materials, frenzied volunteers, makeshift work cubicles, and that unmistakable smell of a campaign. across the hall is the wisconsin headquarters of that now-infamous beacon of progressive activism, moveon.org. also housed in this building is the madison office of america coming together (i'll say more later about this powerhouse group), league of women voters, now, clean wisconsin... it's like a hipper one nicholas. a vibrant place to be.

we are situated on state street, a drag inhabited by trendy shops and funky cafes. directly across the street is the peacemeal vegetarian eatery which is next door to frida's mexican restaurant. not sure if i'll experience much opportunity to eat, much less the desire to, during these busy weeks, but i'm well situated for access to my drug of choice: coffee.

so i dragged my sorry ass and heavy bags through the office door to stumble upon a gaggle of volunteer canvassers who were given the final minutes of pep-talked instructions. i pushed through the outflow of clipboard toting hopefuls to wind through the maze, seeking adam.

and there he was, this extraordinary friend of mine, crouched over a baby dell, putting the final touches on an event poster. we both squealed with glee at the first sight of each other in four years. what a trooper, this young man, leading the wisconsin wing of this exciting 527 organization. his team consists of four paid staff in madison, another three in milwaukee, and hundreds of volunteers burning up the canvass trail. and that number is growing. bria, the volunteer coordinator, continues to build that number as we now count down from two weeks to e-day. i'll say more about the gotv plans as i come to figure things out.


ticket to ride

i'm leaving in a few hours for madison. i'm not packed and i'm hungry and i'm procrastinating and i'm disorganized. but i'm fucking excited. i'll be working for my friend adam who's running the wisconsin part of this campaign. i have a vague idea of what i'm in for but really, let's be honest, who fucking knows. the so-called campaign operations down there are huge compared to what we know. i can't wait to soak it all up. i can't wait to shift from a worrying, tv-screen yelling, headline surfing, nail biting, poll watching unregistered voter to an actively campaigning unregistered voter.

more to come.


two things

first thing: holy fuck i can hardly believe it. in a few days, i'll board a plane to chicago, then hop a bus to madison, wisconsin, the hot-bed of progressive activism in the heart of those fabulous united states. can hardly get my shit together before leaving and am feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of it. but two whole weeks on the ground there - the final two weeks before that hardly-trustworthy electorate selects its next president. the kerry/bush debate tonight was a heart attack, thank christ there are no more of those left.

kinda takes my breath away. all that power in the hands of those people. c'mon, you know what i mean by those people. they've
been through a lot and are spreading freedom and democracy to the world. there are even fun trading cards to commemorate the divine intervention. after the consumption of so much horseshit, what might they do at the polls? a mighty decision for an electorate that i hope is nothing like this.

stay tuned for tales from the cheese state.

second thing: i've become active in another on-line community, of the human catalogue variety, and it's kinda weirding me out. quite the experiment, perhaps to be short-lived. the stories may be funny enough to some day post here. for now i'm just getting a sense of it all. there sure is some fucked up shit on this wacky world wide web.


whirly bird

i'm transitioning. from thoughts, jobs, ideas, friends. i'm making plans and fearing them. i'm tending to my roots and contemplating rootlessness. maybe restlessness is my natural resting state. i mean, aren't we all on a quest for rest? my quirky peace just might be found way inside my whirling insides. places of questions marks and immovable truths. corners of the mind, caverns of the heart, shadows of the soul. tick tock thump thump. it's rhythmic, this rocking between contradictions. i know and feel everything. to the core. too much.


project, interrupted

i bought cigarettes tonight. i had one a week ago, had one on friday, had one this afternoon. and now i have a full hot contraband pack in my possession. it's like this: i'm in the thick of a major work thing. tension was served up alongside the to-do lists and i developed quite a hankering for a cigarette. oh well. no self-loathing tonight, no siree. i'm pooped. tomorrow is the big day for the work thing. we'll launch the report, dance through the circus, take a few days to come down, call it done. i'll dangle a smoke from my mouth every so often to con myself into calm and that's that. the way i see it, i haven't fallen off the wagon so much as allowed a limb to flop way over the edge. that limb now hangs precariously close to the moving ground. but i'll reel it in soon enough. yup, nothing to it.