Ground Game

As momentous as the possibility of a perfect 19 game seasons is (Go Pats!! Go hit ’em, thuggish Rodney Roid!), Tuesday’s Super is way more momentous than today’s, not least because it’ll have significant input over whether we send the first woman or the first African-American to the White House, and because either one promises to start our painful recovery from the Bush disaster.

But the story most people are telling is still missing the equivalent of Bill Belichick’s pre-game film analysis. Though it has arguably been decisive in all four non-Clusterfuck Democratic contests thus far, few people are talking about ground game. Obama out-performed polls (except one) in Iowa and South Carolina (the latter by an astounding amount); what appeared to make the difference was real grass-roots mobilization–and effective execution–among many who had been largely disaffected in the past. Hillary’s win in NH was at least partially her GOTV. And her win in NV can be attributed to a combination of her own ground game and Obama’s failure to make the most of union support. Ground game is the story of this election thus far.

Now, there’s one big reason why you’re not hearing about ground game. The teevee networks, which still largely set the narrative of the election, cannot sell "ground game." They can sell ads that appeal to women or African-American voters, their insider pundits can either rail for or against the Big Dog and provide value to the network that way. But they have no product to sell called "ground game." As a result, it’s simply not part of the story.

But it’s more than that. Perhaps for this very reason, the media have missed another big story–what has happened to the ground game over the last four years.

When I was at the "No News Is Good News" conference in Boston, one of the participants (I think I remember who it was, but I’m not positive so he’ll remain nameless) said,

If I had to choose between us [the media] picking the President or the County Chair picking the candidate in a smoky room, I know which one I’d pick.

At first, I thought he meant, "I’d pick the one that has the locals expressing the will of the locals, no matter how imperfect the process." But as I thought about it more, I realized he meant the opposite–he believes the smoky rooms of local politics are so flawed, that it’s better for a bunch of Village insiders to choose the President than it is for a bunch of locally elected county officers.

As someone who had been, until a few months earlier, a County Vice Chair, I really should have pursued the question and challenged his understanding of what is happening in those smoky rooms. The thing is, he assumed that all County Chairs are undemocratic and they all work in smoky rooms.

Now, I assume that is true in a lot of–perhaps most–places still. But one of the things that I’ve been seeing happening since 2004 (and granted, this is anecdotal), is that the people have been taking over the smoky rooms and, with them, the local parties. I’m biased, sure. A bunch of us Deaniacs and other progressives worked our tail off in 2004 for a candidate we were less than enthused about and we dramatically increased County turnout–the same kind of dramatic increase that we’re seeing now in primary after primary. Then, when County election time came around, a lot of us stuck around in leadership positions in the party; along the way, the County party leadership started to look a lot more like our county’s population. In our case, at least, just replacing some of the people who had a very stale conception of how things were supposed to work had an effect–not as much as we’d like it to have, but definitely an effect–on the general idea of how things were supposed to work. But it’s not just my county (which is, admittedly, a ridiculously easy one to work in). I know of people all over Michigan doing the same, usually in places that are a lot more challenging than Washtenaw County. They, too, are enjoying some gradual changes; in some cases, they’re effecting dramatic change.

The voters are becoming citizens again.

Which is why, looking forward to Super Tuesday, I’d like to pre-emptively salute the people who are, as we speak, doing work every bit as heroic as Tom Brady and Good Eli Manning will do today: those out there deciding the outcome of Tuesday’s election. I don’t know how it’ll come out, and I’m thrilled that either way, we win. But whoever wins tonight and whoever wins on Tuesday, there’s another victory that really deserves some attention.

Update: Jeffrey Feldman talks about the pamphlet tacked to the bulletin board in his building, hitting some of the points I’m trying to make here. 

104 replies
  1. redX says:

    Obama ground and money game is coming on very strong. However on big untold story is that Clinton is ahead in almost every major state poll.

    The only time I really knew that via MSM was when Obama started to cut into that lead and they gave the story of Obama coming on.

    I think they are both pretty similar and when Edwards was in the race keep moving around who my #2 was based on who did something stupid that day (thus losing my respect).

  2. redX says:

    When I was at the “No News Is Good News” conference in Boston, one of the participants (I think I remember who it was, but I’m not positive so he’ll remain nameless) said,

    If I had to choose between us [the media] picking the President or the County Chair picking the candidate in a smoky room, I know which one I’d pick.

    At first, I thought he meant, “I’d pick the one that has the locals expressing the will of the locals, no matter how imperfect the process.” But as I thought about it more, I realized he meant the opposite–he believes the smoky rooms of local politics are so flawed, that it’s better for a bunch of Village insiders to choose the President than it is for a bunch of locally elected county officers.



    Another point is that if the media payed attention to what they were supposed to do the country would actually be well informed and able to make decisions based on knowledge/eduction/merit.

    This is the big scam of our democracy, they refuse to educate us so that we can make informed decisions. The media is looking for this election to be the first with zero policy discussion (other than how high the wall should be).

    • masaccio says:

      I think it is very difficult to educate a large number of our fellow citizens. They weren’t served by our education system, perhaps intentionally. They get their news from the media and from their churches and their friends at church. They do not treat information critically, that is, they don’t ask themselves if something is true, they don’t say to themselves, that doesn’t match some other piece of information I have. They don’t ask themselves “what if”, as in “if that’s true, then what would it imply?”

      We assume that other people think the way we do, as in an interior dialog, between ourself and ourself, where we monitor our own thinking, all in the way Hannah Arendt describes the thinking of Socrates. But I think that isn’t true. I think there are plenty of people whose minds don’t work that way, who are not in the habit of internal questioning, whose way of being in the world is to accept what they hear or read without questioning it.

      Facts won’t affect that mind-set. They will march off the cliff with Bush, never realizing the danger. These are the people Rove and his lying friends go after. These are the bureaucrats and congresspeople and corporate hacks easily seduced by slithering lobbyists, and the unprincipled accountants and lawyers and other renegade professionals.

      All the education in the world isn’t going to help. Maybe the emotionally seductive language of Obama, like that of Bill Clinton, can win some marginal votes.

      • radiofreewill says:

        Hang in there, Mas! Fear has the wonderful quality of devouring its purveyors.

        In the meantime, if We provide an even-tempered and rational option for the People to choose, We will Win.

        Freedom, steady and shared, imho, will always find a way to push through Oppression.

        The Sinister flip-side of Willful, Blissful Ignorance is teh Pain of the Stupid: We Dems Knew that We, and Our Children for Generations to come, were being Fleeced, but the Trout-Mouthed Goopers thought They Were Winning.

        For them, now, it’s time to wake-up from the Madness and join US, or get Quarantined with the rest of the BushCo Ebola.

      • mamayaga says:

        It’s more encouraging than that. We have been living in an era of super-consolidated media, all in the hands of large corporations with a corporatist-repug slant on everything. Opposing views and opposing reality have been systematically suppressed. Yet somehow the overwhelming majority of American citizens still figured out that Bush is a disaster, that the Iraq occupation was not in any way worth it, and that the repugs do not have their best interests at heart.

        How did this happen, in the face of the solid wall of right-wing media? People read between the lines, and they talk to each other. The internet has also helped breach the wall, but in the end it’s been face-to-face water cooler, kitchen table chats among people who really are able to figure out what’s what.

  3. CasualObserver says:

    Well aren’t we all smooth and snazzy with our segues, EW.

    I’d like to pre-emptively salute the people who are, as we speak, doing work every bit as heroic as Tom Brady and Good Eli Manning will do today:

    I agree with your quote above and then some. This football stuff is just amusement. Our democracy machine, faulty as it may be, is what is important.

    That said, as we read our papers, blogs, watch our CSPAN, the news is so uniformly bad that I hope we can be excused for our diversions, be they football or some other escape.

  4. radiofreewill says:

    The Math for Dems:

    The numbers are with US – the more people that Vote – the better We do.

    Get Out and Vote!

  5. JEP07 says:

    Emptywheel and Trailmix, “on the same page”?!?!???


    Priorities are changing, very democratically…Millions of new caucus-goers add up to an election of historic turnout, the 21st Century populist “ground game” is afoot! Politics is properly becomng a particapation sport. It’s “cool” again.

    All those who were 14-18 year olds in 2000, who watched the precipitous rise and fall Bush are now getting into the electoral system out of sheer depseraton to get a handle on the “bucking” bronco we call government.

    Remember the Non Partisan League? …is there a pattern here, something like a hundred year populist flood?.

    Viva la Blogs!

  6. ThadBeier says:

    My daughter went to the Obama rally in St Louis last night, undecided (and unregistered), and came out just delirious with excitement over the possibility of his candidacy.

    One of the nicest things about the youth support is that there are going to be a huge number of new voters registered for the general election.

    • mkls says:

      My daughter, who has never ever been interested in politics, called the other night and said she had decided on Obama as her choice.
      But when I got home and looked at her blog, I was staggered. She hasn’t just decided who to vote for — she is organizing, fundraising, phonebanking — and very articulate about why (shameless proud mama, linking to her post).
      And there are lots and lots of kids like her, who are coming forward for the first time to vote and participate. That’s just the best news we could possibly have, as you’ve pointed out, ew.
      And while I’ve grown as cynical as the next person about how political progress is made, I have to look at these kids and these crowds — and talk to folks like the man at my mother-in-law’s retirement home, who said, “I like them both — but Obama says ‘we’ and Hillary says ‘I’ “
      I’ll work like crazy for whoever gets nominated — but Obama is the first candidate I’ve seen, maybe in my lifetime, who can reach out to the politically disaffected.

      • Loo Hoo. says:

        You should be a proud mom! She was sitting quietly while you all spoke of politics, but she was taking it all in.

        My daughter called yesterday and told me that she hoped it wouldn’t tear us apart, but that she was voting for Obama. It was too funny. I’ll support either candidate wholeheartedly.

  7. phred says:

    I really like your analogy EW. To extend it a bit further, the ground game opens up the passing game (or in this analogy the broadcast media). If the ground game is successful, the media eventually have to take notice and report on the candidate. The media hates it when outsiders disrupt their narrative (just see Tweety’s various meltdowns), but it can certainly be done.

    Beyond Tuesday however, I hope the eventual nominee remembers that offense does not win championships, defense wins championships (with all due respect to St. Brady). The candidates will need not just a solid offense (what they plan to do upon election), but an excellent defense (why their opposition’s approach is inadequate). As Jane recommended long ago, the nominee will have to be able to pivot and attack. Every time the Repubs try to paint the Dems into a corner, the Dems need to turn it around and point out the utter bankruptcy of the Repub philosophy of governing. Perhaps if the nominee does this, Congressional Dems will follow their lead…

    • emptywheel says:

      Just one thing you’ve got wrong, phred. It’s not St. Brady. It’s St. Belichick. And he, after all, doesn’t wait until the opponent attacks. He aspires to scout their weak points and exploit them before they get to mount a strong offense.

      • CasualObserver says:

        And he, after all, doesn’t wait until the opponent attacks. He aspires to scout their weak points and exploit them before they get to mount a strong offense.

        and the GOP-Neocon/Patriots comparisons just keep mounting up…

      • phred says:

        Just one thing you’ve got wrong, phred. It’s not St. Brady. It’s St. Belichick. And he, after all, doesn’t wait until the opponent attacks. He aspires to scout their weak points and exploit them before they get to mount a strong offense.

        That’s why I singled out St. Brady (the patron saint of offense). St. Bellichick is the patron saint of the GAME. He’s got the awesome defense I’m lookin’ for covered too ; ) Go Pats! Enjoy the game everybody (both today and Tuesday ; )

  8. PJEvans says:

    I don’t know if Obama would be a better president, long term, than Clinton, but everytime Clinton says something about what she wants to do, she turns me off. This morning’s story about her wanting to garninsh wages to pay for health insurance for those who don’t sign up for a plan – that is not a solution to the problem, even when she adds something like ‘oh, it’ll only apply to those who can afford to buy insurance and don’t.’

    That’s still corporate-think: solving the healthcare problems by making people buy insurance, not by making it less expensive for people – patients and doctors and hospitals – to get and provide care.
    I have three choices for insurance plans at work, and all three of them are in legal trouble because of providing poor care, cancelling policies (without notice or without grounds), and not paying claims and reimbursements promptly. That doesn’t make me want to sign up for insurance with any of them, and Clinton’s plan doesn’t help at all.

    I think insurance companies should be regulated like utility companies.

  9. TexBetsy says:

    my son has supported Obama all along but is too young to vote. my nephew, in his second presidential election cycle, is planning to vote Obama, but only because he hates the Clintons.

  10. Rayne says:

    Yes, it’s all about the ground game. We learned the hard way in 2004, those of us who’ve since insinuated ourselves into local party apparatus to displace dead wood. It hurt like hell in 2004 to watch mounting bullsh*t about electability during the primary, used to denigrate other candidates with substantive chops, only to see it all dashed by a confluence of incompetence in campaigning and dirty politics.

    And by incompetence, I mean not only the poor response to SwiftBoating, but ineptitude in mounting a ground game. There were far too many assumptions made and no Plan B or C to support a failed Plan A. There was far too much push rather than pull in messaging, which in turn disempowered team members in the field. There was a huge disconnect between the facts on the ground and the numbers we were fed.

    (It still pisses me off to think of the volunteers that were shooed off or scared away because the formal campaign team was so poorly prepared. Picture me swearing a blue streak every time I think of it; I would NEVER turn away volunteers. There’s ALWAYS something they can do.)

    It was obvious that a complete sea change was necessary if we stood a chance in 2008. We started with a better coach, which I think has made all the difference to those of us who were already aware of the changes that were needed; that coach helped persuade many of the unpersuaded. Nothing like getting state parties full-time organizers in each state to make them feel like they were wanted and needed. That we have viable candidates in states where we had not a hope in the world only 4 years ago says a lot about the work that was done by this coach and the rather organic team on the ground. It would have been a lot harder for many of us grassroots activists if we couldn’t have pointed to the work being done at the top of the party that was already aligned with what we had been doing in the field. I’ll swill a beer for Howard Dean tonight in gratitude.

    And while I won’t necessarily be supporting the candidate that I thought was the best we had to offer this fall, I will be ready to win. Everyone of the peeps I’ve worked with locally knows the terrain, knows the drill; we are now crammed with the institutional knowledge we didn’t have in early 2004, because we took over the institution at the local level, and where there was no institution, we made one. (And are still making them.) We are leapfrogging an entire generation right now, collapsing the timeline between grandparents, parents and kids — my own school-aged kids will be licking envelopes and passing out literature, now seasoned veterans at this ground game stuff, while I install a new network in new campaign offices and coach elderly volunteers on phonebanking over VoIP as well as how to blog about their experiences and political decisions.

    We are to be feared this time. Mr. Rove is really going to need a crash course in teh NEW math.

  11. TexBetsy says:

    Rayne, the summer before last, Cassie and a friend tried to volunteer for Chris Bell, dem candidate for Texas governor. They were not turned away, but neither were they actually given anything to do. Two bright, highly energetic, articulate and computer-savvy young ladies (14 yrs old at the time) did nothing but change the paper in the copy machines. They quit after 2 weeks.

    • Rayne says:

      Agh. THAT bugs the CRAP out of me. Did Bell have consultants managing his campaign, or did he have locals doing it? That’s the first question that comes to mind.

      In my county, if young people show up, there’s always a mess of stuff for them to do. There’s literature to give them to drop in certain precincts (provided they are escorted by elders and always work in pairs). There’s phone calls to make, doing surveys and collecting data to validate the voter database. There’s signs to put up in the last month of the campaign. There’s research to do — like count the competing signs on the block record which houses they appear in front of, whose signage, so on. There are fliers for organizations’ meetups to post. There’s a message to put on Facebook or Meetups to check, and so on.

      Heck, even cleaning the office helps hugely; my son will run a broom and my daughter will dust, another kid can clean the glass on the door. But we mix that up with other important stuff, likely running anti-virus and spyware software on machines between phonebanks, preparing literature drop packets for precincts, so on. One of the most important things that must be done with young people and these jobs that appear to be scut work is to explain how important it is for the entire campaign; if kids are put to doing nothing but running copies, with no idea how the copies are going to be used, and are not allowed to help with the next step in the life cycle of the paper they’ve just made, they won’t feel valued, nor will they learn what else is required to run a successful campaign.

      If there’s nothing for young people to do, it’s not the kids fault. It’s the campaign’s, and it’s a huge failure because they’ve just affected the future attitudes of these young people about all other campaigns. What a pity.

  12. MarkC says:

    This is actually an important disanalogy between the primaries and football. In the primaries, the game isn’t be decided by the score on the field, but by the vote of fans as they leave the stadium. And it is an optional vote. Your team might win 70-0 on the issues, but if the fans think the election is wrapped up and head for their cars to beat the rush, your team will lose, lose, lose! Somehow I worry that Clinton supporters understand this better than Obama supporters.

  13. TexBetsy says:

    MarkC, the stadium fans are only a fraction of the battle in the primaries. It’s those fans watching at home that need to get motivated to go vote.

  14. JohnJ says:

    We also need an expansion of efforts: none of this matters if the voting process is still corrupted. Even with all our political failing in opposition to the Repugs, we still actually out-voted them in 2000 and 2004. Let’s not be fooled; the paper ballot readers are actually even easier to corrupt than the touch screens since they run the most hacked operating system ever devised: WindowsXP or Vista.

    If you look at the Sarasota race that Barbara Harris was SUPPOSED to be in, they didn’t put those limits in, and the cheating was obvious. (My understanding is that the machines used in that election were held for THAT election after they were bought, before Harris got greedy and switched races.)

    Now to support the political solution; I still think that 2006 was due to the fact that we overwhelmed the cheat limits built into the system (to keep from being too obvious). That means we had to win with more than ~60% to actually seat a Democratic Congressman.

    What I am saying is that if the election process was accurate, we have already won. It would take less effort to fix the voting system than to convince the 30%ers that they are not voting in their own self interest.

  15. JohnLopresti says:

    We have a blueDog representative in the House. In 2005 the county Democratic Party central committee passed a resolution to withdraw support from any county official’s reelection campaign if that official had appointed nonDemocrats to nonpartisan posts while in office. In 2006 a netroots inspired new gen gathering reversed the local Democratic party central committee’s Tamany politics, referencing the guidance in the state constitution that bars politicizing nonpartisan office appointments. It could have been McNulty, Goodling, Taylor, Rove, Dewey Cheetham +Howe. The largest town in our county serves about half million people; its city council campaigns, and the council demographic itself, are dominated by a sole political campaign consultant who was part of the Bob Dole presidential campaign; if you know Herb, your election to city council succeeds; and when you are seated on the council 7 of 9 council members all are in Herb’s pocket. The local paper is majority owned by NYT, but some old conservative Democrats and Republicans control the minority of the paper. In our part of the county last election the nonpartisan supervisor’s race was between two candidates; a proDeveloper, antiEnvironment former computer programmer Republican male; and a proDeveloper, somewhat antiEnvironment former city planning department lady under whose leadership a rural suburb turned into dozens of square miles of treeless tract homes enriching lots of infrastructure businesses in the process of conversion from fields to a monoculture of homes. The Republican in the supervisor race sent out Rovian expensive literature on expensive stiff paper proclaiming his long record as an antiEnvironmentalist actually was protection of greenbelts, fliers replete with exquisite photography of our local natural resources.
    I hope the young generation helps shift away from these mouldering paradigms of Tamany in our neighborhood.

    • JohnJ says:

      Sounds like you just described the political system for Florida, except, leave out the Democrats. We are still reeling from the damage of a “Land Developer” Governor who was scheduled to be our next preznit if his brother hadn’t fucked it up.

  16. Phoenix Woman says:

    Deep Throat may never have said “follow the money” in reality, but it’s still a good tip.

    Why did the press stuff John Edwards? Why do they pretend that Obama and Hillary don’t have clear tax plans? Because the press is not only on the side of the rich (who would be forced to pay pre-Bush tax rates under Edwards, Hillary or Obama), they ARE rich, and so are their bosses.

  17. Hmmm says:

    Sorry to veer OT on a holy day for the sports-afflicted (kindly insert wry smiley here), but I offer as additional data points the following developments in the puzzling world of cut cables that my morning news graze turned up:

    (1) Fourth cable cut:

    The cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday, Qtel’s head of communications Adel al Mutawa told AFP.
    Cables were also damaged last week in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Dubai

    (2) Initial cuts off Egypt not caused by ship anchors:

    No ships were present when two marine cables carrying much of the Middle East’s internet traffic were severed, Egypt’s Ministry of Communications has said, contrary to earlier speculation about the causes of the cut.

    • emptywheel says:

      Ah, Jeebus, thanks.

      Now we just need a map of which countries have lost services. Sure does make you wonder whether Laura’s first comment–that Iran has lost everything–wasn’t close to correct (she has since taken the post, and the refutation, down).

        • Gerald says:

          I signed up to comment on the game.

          My Giants won! Maybe pretty boy Tom can go Hollywood, but he couldn’t go long.

          However this thread is interesting too. I am ex-Navy and though I don’t know any NSA secrets I will say that it would be easy to get at any undersea cable if they are willing to spend the money and have a sub to modify. Several ways would work including first hosing out the sea bottom under the cable and having the sub settle down on it with a large built on closeable clamshell like pod that can be closed, sealed, and then have the water pumped out. There would be heavy seals where the cable enters the pod to keep the water out and to insulate the cable. The cable would be positioned remotely or an undersea diver could be used to manually line it up. After that was done, a hatch up into the sub would be opened for the technical personnel and it would be a piece of cake to install a permanent tap. The only problem I see is how to get the data back off the sea floor. It should require another cable laid because the sub can’t stay there forever.

        • emptywheel says:

          It’s gone. She basically pointed to an output chart showing Iran had zero connectivity. Then she wrote that one of her readers had said that he could get onto a bunch of Iranian websites.

          • Hmmm says:

            Actually the Internet Traffic Report figure of 0% for Iran is a little misleading as it it only tests a single router in Iran. That router is still out, hence the continuing 0%, but it says little to nothing about the country’s total internet flow. Too sparsely sampled to use as a true indicator.

            • phred says:

              A 4th cable cut??? This is worrying. If I’m not mistaken, disrupting communications prior to an attack is intended to hobble the response of the country being attacked. What I find puzzling about this is the internal communications within Iran (if that is indeed the target here) would not be hindered by cutting the international cables.

              Once again, I am wondering what the objective of cutting international internet cables is. If it is to reroute traffic to enhance our spying capabilities, we’ve gone about it none-too-subtly, and I really really doubt that other countries are going to sit still for this. Four cables warrants a thorough investigation. This strikes me as really ham-handed, even for Darth.

              • Hmmm says:

                Perp and motive remain murky at best. To hazard an ininformed guess?: US net-hoovering and/or cyber-war, or threat of same, may be going global in a public way, starting with those who pose the greatest immediate threat to the US, i.e. an OPEC now contemplating when (not whether) to move oil off the US dollar.

              • emptywheel says:

                Well, if it’s really focused on Iran or (perhaps) Pakistan, I do wonder if it’s intended to prevent people from communicating out–to let people know what is going on. Had Burma been able to cut off all internet commnuication coming out, they could have gotten away with their massacre with much less notice.

                • phred says:

                  Good Lord, that’s frightening. Still, they have cell phones in Iran don’t they? I would think between cell phone technology and good old fashioned broadcast TV they could pretty easily get around the internet problem. I’ll admit though, things get around a lot faster on the internet.

                  • Hmmm says:

                    Cell phone signals become indistinguishable from internet traffic as soon as they leave the cell radio site, and travel internationally on the same undersea cables as internet traffic. Satellite transmission is also possible but a) has much, much less total capacity, and b) is easily tapped. I suppose it could also be easily jammed as it’s just radio waves.

                • WilliamOckham says:

                  Perhaps the idea is to force the traffic onto routes that we have tapped. Maybe the cables that got cut were ones that we recently lost our ability to tap for some reason.

                  • Hmmm says:

                    Traffic that has been going directly between the Middle East and Europe is now routing via the next best route, which is through Japan and the US.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Which begs the question: where are all the black rooms?

                      Are there some that hoovered U.S. and international traffic, that might have been cut off if the arguing over FISA went the wrong way from the EOP/OVP’s perspective?

                      Who owns the cables or the traffic that was cut? Haven’t see that detail yet…

                  • emptywheel says:

                    That was my original thought–that they did it because they were missing comm between say, Hamas and various other parties around the ME (apparently no one knew about the Gaza wall break before it happened, which says they are missing key traffic, and there was some ME coordination that I wager they’ve missed too).

                    But if things really are honing in on Iran, then I start to get worried about other things.

    • klynn says:

      Ditto on the O/T. Didn’t want to disrupt to flow too. Caught this story too. So I’ve been researching “who” may have been in the area through different sources. This is a story to follow… Thanks for posting

    • behindthefall says:

      (1) Fourth cable cut:

      The cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday, Qtel’s head of communications Adel al Mutawa told AFP.
      Cables were also damaged last week in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Dubai

      (2) Initial cuts off Egypt not caused by ship anchors:

      No ships were present when two marine cables carrying much of the Middle East’s internet traffic were severed, Egypt’s Ministry of Communications has said, contrary to earlier speculation about the causes of the cut.

      To statistician: “Unpack. No longer needed. It was and is an ongoing op.”

      My nickel is on a joint U.S.-Israeli operation. No reason.

      • Hmmm says:

        Goddamn Whales.

        “Oh no, not again.” might be the proximate Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote.

  18. klynn says:

    Majority of Iran’s conductivity is cut. 70% of Egypt. A little over half of India’s.

    None of Israel and little disruption in Iraq…

  19. Sara says:

    One of the most critical positions in any campaign is “Volunteer Coordinator” — something I did during part of Paul Wellstone’s first Senate Campaign in 1990.

    What does this person do? First — has access to all parts of the campaign so as to “look for” the jobs that need doing, and that can be organized as volunteer projects.

    Second, needs to be able to “claim” a small bit of the Candidate’s time. Nothing charges volunteers up to keep up the pace till election day, and feel positive about the whole effort, than a small group informal conversation with the candidate. It may take ten minutes, but it can reward the campaign with hundreds of volunteer hours. The Candidate and the Scheduling person need to comprehend this.

    Third, recruit an old-timer as campaign story teller. Some jobs are not all that skilled (for instance building lawn signs), but they are done in a back-room or a garage someplace, and it’s a good time to talk, to give new volunteers a sense of belonging to a political tradition.

    Four, Always feed your volunteers, and feed them inexpensive but home cooked food. Volunteer coordinator should recruit older women in the party to “make something” with “real food” that can be laid on at the end of the volunteer project. A tray of home made Lasagna, a hot dish, home made brownies, in the fall a pot of Home Made Vegetable Soup or Chili — all say thanks, and come back soon. But don’t mix eating with the job — work first, then eat and socialize. Phone banks usually stop working at 9:00 PM, you eat at 9:15 once the tables are cleared of lists and all.

    Five: sign in your volunteers, and at the end of the campaign send out hand signed by the candidate, thank you notes. People keep these, and put them in scrap books. I don’t know how many I’ve seen over the years signed by Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy and now Paul Wellstone. Perhaps more important in keeping their votes in the party than anything else you can do.

    The Party needs to insist that any candidate running with Party endorsement, both have a volunteer coordinator, and properly train them. And Coordinators from different campaigns should co-operate. In 1990 while working on Wellstone’s first campaign, lots of lower level elected officials thought Paul would lose badly, and particularly state legislators didn’t want to hand out Wellstone Lit as they canvassed their districts. But Wellstone had a ton of highly motivated volunteers, so I would make the offer, I will send you ten door knockers for a four hour stint in your district, if you will carry a small Wellstone piece. Of course they forgot the “deal” I made once Wellstone won, and became Saint Paul. Anyhow the Party should make certain the volunteer coordinators know each other and can cooperate.

    • emptywheel says:

      Just one difference from how that works here in the People’s Republic: we recruit a volunteer coodinator to get sushi donated. One of my most enduring political memories is standing in the food line with John Dingell as he tried to grok plates and plates of sushi to feed the volunteers.

      You folks here in Washtenaw do things a little differently than I’m used to in Wayne. But whatever you’re doing, it’s working, so keep it up.

      (It took place just about half an hour before the poor, unsuspecting volunteer from Alaska started ragging to Dingell on Lisa Murkoswski saying, “it just seems wrong for someone to inherit a seat.”)

  20. WilliamOckham says:


    I don’t think “ground game” is the right term. That puts the focus on the campaign. The significant thing we’re seeing is the rejection of “consumer politics”. The political elites in this country aren’t addressing the concerns of citizens and we’re starting to get tired of being told how to think. Entrenched power structures are hard to dethrone, but there’s some real conflict ahead that’s deeper than this election.


    Yesterday, I was looking into our local Republican email scandal, and I think I finally figured out what was going on at the WH. I’ve been struggling to figure out how the EOP ended up with .pst files on the network as their email archiving solution. Here’s one scenario (and I think it is very likely).

    There is a utility program for Exchange Server called exmerge.exe. Its primary purpose is to allow administrators to move users’ mailboxes from one Exchange Server to another. You can also use it to copy entire mailboxes to individual .pst files. Everything we know is consistent with the theory that the EOP used this utility. If that’s what they did, it has some interesting implications. I’ll try to come back after that American football game that’s being played today and explicate.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, no. For this post, I meant ground game. Obama has succeeded in getting people to turn out or make asks in a remarkably effective fashion. That’s an investment that won’t show to Tweety, but seems to be making the difference where he’s doing well. There is, as well, the rejection of the old way of doing things that Obama has tapped into, but it still takes great organization to win an election with it.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      That article is incorrect, I think. Reliance is the customer, not the cable owner. Two of the cables that were damaged are owned by UK Flag Telecom. One is owned by a consortium called SeaMeWe-4.

  21. WilliamOckham says:

    Ok, this is really interesting. Reliance does own Flag Telecom. One of the CNN articles quotes Reliance as saying they were unaffected. I guess it really is an advantage to own the cable. It sounds like they prioritized their own traffic from India over their competitors.

    • Rayne says:

      So did they cut over their own traffic in advance, suggesting complicity, or was it a surgical cut?

      Or was it labeled a “cut” when it was really a cut-over?

      Timing is everything here.

    • Hmmm says:

      Thanks, klynn. Just to help highlight your finds, your first link includes this new info:

      Hosseini criticised a deal Paris signed with the United Arab Emirates to build France’s first permanent military installation in the Gulf, just across the water from Iran. The base, housing 400 to 500 personnel, will keep France within reach of sea lanes through which over a third of global oil shipments pass.

      Presence in Gulf: The French Defence Ministry on Jan 31 said forces from France, the UAE and Qatar would hold their first joint war games in the Gulf later this month.

      Direct correlation to the later cut locations there.

      From your second link:

      We have gotten a few queries about why we did not highlight Iran in our review of the network outages that resulted from the cable breaks. … Like most countries in the region, the outages in Iran were very significant, but for the most part they did not exceed 20% of their total number of networks

      Making plainer still that Iran was never close to totally without internet service, which (if the source is legit) devalues immediate info-isolation of Iran as a motive.

      And your third link has that map of affected countries that EW wanted to see.

      • klynn says:

        Thanks. I have time to find the information, but no time to clean link or highlight — three sick kids to take care of… (besides the link icon does work for me with EW’s new sight). Thanks for the highlighting…Interesting resources aren’t they?

    • Rayne says:

      Jeebus, Betsy, that really spooked me. I almost wonder if Murdoch was telling George to piss off.

      Pat Tillman’s widow reciting the part about usurping despotic government? WTF??

    • Hmmm says:

      What’s with the reading of the declaration of independence before the Superbowl on Fox? Do other networks do that?

      That’s just weird. I am worried now.

    • klynn says:

      Thanks, I know how to use it but every time I try my internet connection shuts down. So, I just don’t do it…

  22. skdadl says:

    Revenge of the militant dolphins.

    It’s not that I’m not taking this story seriously. Coincidences happen, but these are peculiar, no doubt. If it were somehow intentional on someone’s part, wouldn’t this be an awfully slow and clumsy way to start off? Not that I’m putting slow and clumsy past any of the usual suspects …

  23. PetePierce says:

    It seems to me those guys in the Blue uniforms might have been suffering from PCS–Premature Celebration Syndrome.

  24. PetePierce says:

    Lesson for the Belichickies (maybe they needed to steal some signals today)–don’t waste time celebrating ’til the Fat Lady sings because you may need the energy to watch the White Jersies celebrate.

  25. Sara says:


    But the 4th Annual Puppy Bowl was really fantastic this year, it is the ultimate game with no real winners, except for the MVP award, which soon should be on-line. I voted for the cute little scottie black mix, who tackled everyone then in the game, and then cleaned the take down’s ass and pisser very thoroughly. The owner of another scottie should be so polite and considerate.

    The half-time Kitty show was an improvement over last year’s version, with the show stopper being the little shy grey who just stayed in a constructed box, and looked cute.

  26. PJEvans says:

    I know people who were visited by the Obama volunteers this week. First time in years that a campaign has had any kind of ground game in their area, and they were impressed.

    At dKos, it’s reported that Maria Shriver (Mrs Ahnold) has endorsed Obama.

    (Too bad the Patriots ground game couldn’t protect Brady: those holes were horrendous. But the near-win was impressive, anyway.)

  27. LabDancer says:

    Giants Win! Giants Win! Giants Win!

    Like a true aficionado of the purest form of oblongball I will refrain from pointing out “I told you so!” –

    for the most part because I did nothing of the kind.

    However I should like to observe that in 1958 the Giants were victimized by a quarterback which even today is included in every argument as to the greatest ever at his position: John Unitas – in what an NFL final which still is credited by those who saw it – among whom I am pleased to number myself – as “The Greatest Game in NFL History”.

    I think it is fitting – no that’s not right – it is poetic justice that in the 50th year after TGGINFLH the Giants can now claim both that it was TSGGINNFLH [”S” = Second].

    And the Hero of TNGGINFLH [”N” = New] is someone I never heard of until this evening: Mr. Ernest Accorsi – who has been proven not mere to possess a rare prescience but to be the Christopher Columbus of the Great Football Truth.

    I apologize for not yet having mastered the html link & hereby promise not to do this again – but the following article by Moneyball author Michael Lewis – taken together not just with the drama of this Super Bowl but the most valid choice of an NFL championship game MVP I can recall since – well, since Unitas – makes sense of this apparent rant:…..038;st=nyt

    If the above doesn’t work just go The NYTimes and search “Michael Lewis Eli Manning” – & there you will discover the quite marvelous vision of Mr. Ernest Accorsi.

    Read it. It’ll cut your daily need for Bush-Cheney antacid by half & may restore your faith in the human species.

    The one word in this wonderful piece by Lewis that struck home most was “detached”. I readily admit to thinking that Tom Brady was the unchallengeable wearer of that Crown given not just his record but his exceptional sangfroid under fire.

    But I learned from Lewis’ piece – from Mr. Accorsi actually – that detachment does not come in just one form.

    All this by the way from a confirmed Vike junky. It’ll be another half century before this one gets topped.

    May Tuesday be half as Super.

  28. prostratedragon says:

    Great game it was (though I’d’ve preferred the other outcome)!

    Want to put budget or stimulus numbers into perspective on the fly? Here’s a tool from CEPR (the firm Dean Baker’s with). Enter a dollar amount and time horizon, and it tells either the per cap level or the percent of total revenue or spending, and shows a comparison to defense spending as projected in Aug. 2006 (soon to be updated, I’ll bet).


    Example: Bush’s budget proposal includes $97b in Medicaid and other health premium cuts over six years. That works out to a reduction of $51.16 per cap or 0.5% of the unified budget, compared to $1934.11 per cap or 18.6% of 2006-projected defense budget over the same horizon. The visual comparison is even more laughable.

    Handy, eh?

    (Is there a links problem? I can’t get there from here. Anyway, that’s the place up there.)

  29. BayStateLibrul says:

    Since comments are closed at bmaz’s/wheel’s tailgate.

    Congrats to the Giants.
    Great 4th Quarter party.
    They deserved the victory.
    Did Tyree have a magnet in his helmet?
    Best catch I’ve never seen.
    Fitting end…
    Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of the “day the music died”

  30. skdadl says:

    Request for information: when the DoJ IG/OPR produce a report on their inquiry into the firing of the prosecutors, will that report be made public? To whom does it go?

    I ask because I’ve been reading Scott Horton’s terrific column on impeachment from yesterday.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      Thanks for the article.
      Mukasey knows that this investigation will be a blockbuster
      and will delay as much as possible. (obstruction)
      My gripe with the Judiciary Committee is that they never ask
      the question WHEN will the report be completed?
      Delays, ad nauseam..

    • emptywheel says:

      I think the last estimate would put the report still a few weeks out. It’s unclear whether the report will be public. OPR normally does not publish its results, OIG does. The Senate has been pushing for a public report, though, so I suspect we’ll get something.

  31. klynn says:


    ”All hail the NY Giants!”

    On a telecom/cable cut note…Here’s an article which seems to bring some perspective:…..c-cab.html

    ”In December 2006, 4 major fiber optic lines were severely damaged following a major earthquake in Taiwan. Subsequent underwater mudslides damaged 9 cables laid in the Luzon Strait south of Taiwan. The cuts basically erased all eastward data routes from Southeast Asia. It took 49 days for crews on 11 giant cable-laying ships to fix all of the 21 damage points, according to the International Cable Protection Committee.

    In response, telecoms shifted business away from North America-based backbone providers like AT&T, Level 3 and Savvis and towards European carriers, according to Underwood.

    But this go round, the North American carriers might gain from this outage, Underwood suggests.”

  32. skdadl says:

    Thank you, EW. I had a fuzzy memory (most of my memories are fuzzy) that someone didn’t publish internal reviews.

    Horton, btw, says something about a scenario that he expects to “appear before the end of this summer,” but I’m not sure whether he means just the report or the beginnings of HJC hearings as well.

Comments are closed.