Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Out-Teabag the Teabaggers

It is becoming evident that in some cases just calling your congressperson isn’t going to work.  They are just too dense.  They think we are a bunch of phone stalkers.

The timing is right for the next step.  Events this week show this issue is come to a tipping point.

The results of the election were bittersweet (thank you NY-23). 

Michele Bachmann wants to scare our representatives with angry protests.  She wants more teabagging. 

Dan Froomkin suggests taking to the streets in his post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/06/want-obama-to-be-bolder-t_n_348969.html.  Not all of us can make it to DC for such a march.  But we need to do something.

I think we can out-teabag the teabaggers.  I suggested in other posts that you need to sell your body to your congressperson to get them to see the light on Healthcare.   (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-the-nerd-ferraro/i-want-you-to-sell-your-b_b_268319.html)

Now there are people staging sit-ins.  This is absolutly great!!!

Take a look at the following links:

Swarthmore College is Organized - http://phoenix.swarthmore.edu/2009/11/05/news/eight-students-arrested-in-phila-blue-cross-sit-in

Mobilize for Healthcare, http://mobilizeforhealthcare.org/ ,is really taking it seriously .  There is even a section on what to expect when you get arrested.  Fantastic site and a wonderful resource.

Portland, Ore has gotten their act together - http://www.koinlocal6.com/content/mediacenter/default.aspx?videoid=12738

However, these sit-ins are occurring at Insurance Companies.  I am afraid the Insurance Companies are laughing up their sleeves.  They are driven by cash and profit.  Sit-ins at their HQ doesn't affect them.  After all, these guys are the original death panelists.

It may be more effective if sit-ins were being staged at local Congressional Offices.  We need to negotiate with people who have the power to do something.

If your Congressperson or Senator is not supporting the public option it is time for a good, old-fashioned sit-in.  At their local legislative office(s) next Friday from about 9 am on park your fanny in near the door.  Bring a guitar, sitar, or just some nacho chips and cheese to share.

Bring a sign.  Dress-up.  Scare the socks off of them just by showing up in the costume of a concerned American. Actually, they need to see your smiling face telling them quietly that you want this and you are willing to work with them, not against them.

I am saying to start this on a Friday because they are normally home in their district on Friday (unless they have one of those special Appalachian Trail/Argentina appointments).

All summer long we got to see all sorts of protesting going on from the right wing.

  • Birthers did it,
  • Baggers did it,
  • Even the death panelists did it,
  • so let’s do it...

(sorry - I’m channeling Cole Porter)

Now is time to embarrass and enlighten them with your presence.  Get your butt in front of their doors.  They can invite the cops to visit, but you still have the right to assemble (unless the Patriot Act took that away too).

Let's use some honey to attract people to our side instead of vinegar.  It is extremely effective to show your congressman and their staff your smiling face with your neighbors in tow.  Feel free to go in individually to speak to the staffers, introduce yourself and tell them why you want this.  Ask to see the congressperson, I am sure they would personally appreciate your input, after all they are supposed to be working for you.

If you are uninsured or unemployed or disabled having a rough time of it, stop by and let them know how much you would appreciate some help.  You know, healthcare as a right, not just for the privileged.

If this works on Friday, great!  If it doesn’t, stop by again on Monday and bring a few more friends.

This is really crunch time people.  I know this is a little short notice, but sometimes the most fun is had with little or no notice.

If a bunch of Teabaggers can do this why can't we?

I remember the climax to a movie that used the line, "There are more of us than there are of you...".

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bishops of Atheism

I was listening to the Michael Smerconish Program where the main guest was Dr. Richard Dawkins.  He was hawking his new book.

Dr. Dawkins is one of what I call the Bishops of Atheism, people spreading the gospel of non-god.  To him anyone who believes in God is delusional. 

He claims to follow The Golden Rule.  You try going up to your neighbor and tell him his entire belief system is warped, there is something wrong with him upstairs, and expect him to say, “Have a nice day, Joe”.  Yeah, and he's calling ME delusional.

He has no problem throwing billions of us under the bus.  Yes, I said BILLIONS of us.  A Billion Roman Catholics here ( not including at least a half BILLION combined Eastern Rite Orthodoxies plus Protestant plus Evangelical churches), a BILLION Muslims over there, a BILLION Hindus hiding in the sub-continent; that is a pretty big darn bus.  I haven’t included all those who believe in God, but are not part of a formal religion, or one of the ones enumerated here, or have rejected the concept of religion and still have faith in God.

I guess it is good we are self contained on this planet.  Maybe since we are all so delusional, it may be better for him to place himself in some sort of institution, isolated for his own protection. 

Aside from being extremely arrogant, he is wrong on his premises.

It is understood just having overwhelming numbers doesn’t make a position or proposition correct.  You need some basis from which to operate. I know, I will use logic!

Logic is the tool that the Bishops of Atheism use.  It is their Genesis to the Fundamental Evangelicals.  You cannot assail logic; we all know logic is all powerful.  It is what can be used to eliminate the existence of God!  I think Douglas Adams had some thing go poof in an exposion of a logical bomb somewhere in the Hitchhiker Series.

Here’s a little secret I learned from 2 semesters of logic taught by a guy named Dr. Wisdom (no lie, I couldn’t make that one up) at Temple University in the 80’s.  Logic has limits.  It is called a tautology. (I misspoke here and have been corrected by Neal Jansons.  I should have said paradox.) It is a breakdown in the logical system.  You can also check a book called called Godel, Escher, Bach for a different take on this.  It is best to demonstrate.

I have 2 statements, you tell me what the result is and I will have a counter argument to you.

1 – This statement is true.

2 – The previous statement is false.

After you twist you logic around for a while you realize that logic is a tool.  Just like a hammer or a wrench.  You can’t use a flathead screwdriver on a Philips head screw; it is just not the right tool.

If you are going to call me delusional for my belief in God, whatever His or Her form would be; then you better come at me with a pretty big tool.

Sorry champ, your tool just ain’t big enough or consistent enough to move me off my belief in God.

The Bishops of Atheism are very good practitioners of Sophistry.

My point is I cannot prove the existence of God using pure logic (nor do I wish to).  But neither can you disprove the existence either.  We are at a stalemate.

Here is Pascal’s bet.  Two statements:

I believe in God.

There is a God.

Either can be true or false. 

If I believe in God and there is a God, I should be in good shape when I pass on. 

If I believe in God and there is no God, I’ll have lived a good life, but no harm, no foul when I pass on. 

If I don’t believe in God and there is no God, I’ll have a “whatever” life, it means nothing when I pass on. 

If I don’t believe in God and there is a God, I may have a slight problem when I hook up with Him/Her when I pass on. 

That is why I look at The Bishops of Atheism as very wise fools.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breakfast with the Scars

On the national level the blood sport game of politics is played on a grand scale.  Locally, the rough and tumble can leave real scars and scarring. 

I doubt that some of the talking heads on TV have families that would associate with each other at the Home and School Association, or the local supermarket.  Places where they would have to interact with families of those they are ripping for a living.

In local politics, these are the people you see at the lacrosse field when your kids are playing or at Augie’s Auto when dropping off for an oil change or grabbing a Pizza at Tosco’s (well-done Sicilian with ground beef is recommended).  There is real skin in the game here.

I call it a game for a reason.  Baseball is a game, basketball is a game, football is a game; but they don’t mean much.  In 1960, who won the presidential election, World Series, Rose Bowl (the NFL is too easy everyone knows the Eagles beat the Packers!), NIT Championship (the NIT was the bigger one back then)?   How did each of these events shape our national lives?  Politics is the only game that means anything. 

Local politics is where your life is affected the most.  It is also the least attended to.  That means if you get involved you have the biggest bang for your buck.

I wrote on the Berks County Democratic annual dinner a few weeks ago.  The Joe Sestak campaign asked if I could attend their county meeting. Berks County has a full slate of qualified candidates ANY Democrat would be proud to have.  It was a Saturday breakfast meeting in October – great idea.  You are not taking away any canvassing during crunchtime.  Start knocking on doors with a fresh attitude and a full stomach. 

I am still trying to figure out the real dynamic of what went on.  Berks is not a unique place.  I am sure things like the following are going on across the country.  A substantial portion of the county is served by Congressman Tim Holden.  He has been a Democratic stalwart for close to two decades.  I learned his district carries a 40% Democratic base.  This tells me the Congressman is listening to all constituencies and can successfully navigate his way back to DC every two years.

When I sat down at the breakfast meeting, I intentionally found a spot near a wall (appropriate for a firing squad) where no lit for candidates was placed. I am a guest delivering an announcement (Ned Lamont from CT endorses Sestak on Monday at Independence Hall). 

As the room filled, some of the more passionate and committed members of the committee sat near me.  I share their belief that Single Payer would be the best solution for health care.  This is part of a group that has taken control of one of the bridges connecting Reading, Pa. to the rest of the world.  On Fridays these folks carry signs for peace, health care and social justice.  They are moving the ball down the field nicely.  They are also for one of my candidates’ primary opponents.  The opponent has tactically set political positions; Single Payer, Pro-Life, Anti-Civil Union.  I suspect the bridge folks are attracted to his moral purity of Single Payer and can sweep all other things under the rug.

Since the seat I occupied wasn’t dressed with literature, I didn’t know there was a motion to be discussed.  The bridge group passed out literature about an amendment to the motion.  Didn’t pay much attention, but soon realized a circular firing squad was forming.

The bridge group was attempting to force language upon the entire county party that would formally hold accountable the Congressman’s vote on health care without naming the Congressman directly.  If they thought they could have gotten a motion to rip the Congressman’s toenails out if he didn’t go with them on health care, they would have tried.  Any waffling must be punished.  The guns were being raised.

The next hour and a half was that special ring of hell reserved for Roberts Rules. 

  • Motion,
  • amendment,
  • amendment to the motion,
  • flanker in motion,
  • v-cut to the left,
  • amend the word expect to urge,
  • amend to purge urge,
  • everybody sit down,
  • who has the urge,
  • now stand if you are for the fifth amendment and against the fourth one. 

When the firing stopped, by a series of close and hard fought votes, the committee decided to URGE any Democrat to support health care. 

The party chairman did an outstanding job of minimizing the damage, but some was inflicted internally.  I complemented him on running an excellent cat rodeo at the end of the meeting.

Basically, the underlying debate is; what is the purpose of the Democratic (or any) Party and how should it be used.  A long time ago I came to my conclusion the (Democratic) party system is an executive search committee for our government.  Find the best qualified people, warts and all, endorse them, and back up your endorsement with elbow equity and/or cash.  Get them in to do their stuff.  This is the group of people who narrowly carried the day.  They were the old heads of the party who don’t go away when a particular issue isn’t on the table.

An alternative position to this is that the party system is a vehicle to be used as a way to enact specific societal change.  In this case it was health care or bust.  Last year it was Hillary/Obama. These are folks that bring fire to the party.  They have the expansive energy to get things done.

I saw a political fight where everybody lost.  At least 98% of the people in that room are for health care with a public option at the minimum.  The first casualties were the row office candidates that need the full attention of everybody in the last month of a local campaign.  The worst scar was the sense we are all in this together.

Both groups are necessary for a vibrant party.  Mix them in the wrong amounts and you can have an explosion that can destroy a party. 

Want to see my scars?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Boy in the Balloon - Let's Watch it Pop!

The surreal once again took over.  A 6 year old theoretically was whisked away by a weather balloon.

Helicopters, National Guard, Talking Heads – wow this is great TV!

Must watch TV!  Let’s have an OJ chase.

Must watch TV!  Let’s have a chase like the one Fox broadcast for most of the day that Obama won the Nobel.

Must watch TV!  Let’s overanalyze like every other micro-event.

Give me a flipping break.

I am not in the media, I just write on a blog on a really cool site.  The media is a business.  They wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t making a buck.

Come on, we all know a buck is being turned here.

Every cable news outlet ran with this thing.  Every news organization has had their 2 cents on it.  Every newspaper in the country had something on it in their first section.

In between Ed Shultz, or Wolf Blitzer, or Shep Smith’s gaping eyes of amazement on a new UFO is a common theme.  In between Today or GMA family shots of the kid hurling is a common theme.  As every word is delivered to the doorstep is a common theme.

Advertizing dollars!  In between segments, a word from our sponsors!  YEEEAAAAHHH!  I know it sounds almost trite and cynical.

I am calling this a publicity stunt.  The cost estimate to the government is about $2 million.  Those are tax dollars there.  They are being whisked away, floating above the cheering cameramen below.  We the taxpayers are getting nothing in return.

Ok, so we can go after the bonehead dad who started this.  At the end of the day he won’t be worth much financially.  Certainly not enough to justify the public sector cost.  From my perspective, this bonehead dad did this for one reason, to get on the tube.  The media was more than willing to watch this family break up for profit on the Wife-Swap Channel or whatever.  (Any family values commentary can go here…).  He figured he can go one better by setting up his own amateur hour.

The Media is The Message – The Message is The Media.  Where have we heard that before?

I believe the media circus concerning this was set in motion by the media.  At what point does the media have an obligation to pay for its’ content. 

I know I will never get a straight answer for this, but wouldn’t it be cool to see the revenue numbers for a typical Thursday into Friday with no off-the-wall chases or goofiness.  Then look at the revenue numbers for the latest dog-and-pony show.  I have to believe those media outlets made out great.

The least the media can do is reimburse the treasuries of the first responder organizations who went out of their way to be part of the drama of the story.  I say that tongue-in-check - those first responders did a great job just doing what they do.

How much extra did they take in yesterday?  Wouldn’t it be nice for the media to have a 6-year-old’s value system of sharing?  … a 6-year-old’s value system of right and wrong?

Now that would be surreal.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Can't We Just Say "Obama, We're Proud of You?"

I know this may become a piece of Saturday morning pizza.  Sometimes overlooked or thrown out.  If you have it for breakfast you get a different taste than Friday night.  I waited to write this so I could look on the blogs and absorb the media to get a perspective on the announcement of Obama's peace prize.  How he did/didn’t deserve it.  Too soon to tell/maybe it is encouragement.  Obama is evil/good.  Snub to W/Hurray for Barack.  The Nobel will cripple/enable him.

These articles tell me something else.  It is a mirror on us.  We are now small petty people.  Peck-a-little, talk-a-little, cheep, cheep, cheep, peck-a-little, talk-a-little.

What kind of people have we become?  Our leader has won the planet’s greatest honor, The Nobel Peace Prize.  It is something for little kids to sing about.  (I am sorry to you indoctronaires.)  It is a great excuse for low-class people to snipe.  I thought about this 2 years ago when Al Gore took home part of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The media machine has geared up quickly to distract and diminish the substantial.  Dismantle it before, God forbid; Obama gets any traction out of this.  This action is coming from both the left and the right.  It is disgusting from both ends.

Is there a bigger honor to be bestowed upon a person living or dead?  Yes, blessed are the peacemakers.  It is not some quaint notion.  It is now what we must do to survive.  The planet is too small, the weaponry too good, and the populations too on edge.

The world rejoiced to see Obama elected.  Over the past decade, the United States’ ego had become bigger than the land masses of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo, and North Korea combined.  The nominations closed in February, when the fresh newness of this administration still had a banana oil smell (like a new car). 

I believe this selection is as much about what lies ahead for Obama as much as it is a rebuke of GW Bush.  Two stolen terms in the White House, yes stolen terms by the GOP, has crippled the world economy and killed thousands of people.  The world looked at our behavior over the last decade and is rightly appalled.

The selection wasn’t announced until October.  As the committee went through its deliberations, I am sure it was not lost on them that the United States, or at least a rabid portion of the right, was loudly rejecting Obama.  Death Panels and Birthers; Tea Baggers and armed protesters are not lost on these folks.

We have seen too many leaders fall in the process of assimilating power or using it properly.  Lincoln, Gandhi, JFK, MLK, RFK, Benigno Aquino, Rabin, and Bhutto come to mind.  After something happens we lament that we should have done more while they are here.

The people on this committee are Swedish citizens.  I wonder how many recalled the assassination of their Prime Minister, Olof Palme in 1986.  Palme was a Social Democrat.  He was a lightning rod for both the left and the right.  When he got power and authority he did something with it.  Spoke for peace, justice and equality.  If you Google him and look at his biography from any number of sources, you will find that our President has an affinity for his positions.  Palme’s murder investigation is still open.  It has the requisite number of conspiracy theorists.

This is the world saying loud and clear that the right wing zealots in the United States are out-of-line with everybody else on the planet.  The world recognizes we have a special leader.  Obama is in a state of flux.  In physics terms we are at a moment, or a turning point. On one side of a lever stand GOP activists and racists trying to do anything they can to attack this president.  Shoulder to shoulder with these sycophants are the egotistical Democrats in Congress haven’t figured it out yet that Obama is the leader.  The world is rightly giving Obama more credit than some bloated loon Senator from Montana.

The world is standing on the other side of this lever with jaws dropped on the floor trying to think of something to do to help.  They have caught this act before. 

I am damn proud that my President, Barack Obama, has won this accolade.  I am tired of the Arizona Staters that say he hasn’t done enough to warrant anything.  I am sick of the morons using pretzel logic who think this will cripple him.  This is the world speaking to us.  We could try to listen for once.

Have some pizza and think about it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Rubber Chickens in Reading...

The aging Senator leaned in on the dais, his right hand starting to show what arthritis can do.  His digits flare downward slightly.  It made me think about how uncomfortable it must be for a guy in his 80’s to be glad handing a crowd of a couple of hundred people.

His voice is still there enough to remind one of a figure who ran for president a couple of decades ago.  He is clear with the standard stump speech and the obligatory one-liners.

Polite applause greeted the fact that he has visited Berks County close to 70 times during his Senate tenure.  He talked about a long career in the senate where he chaired different committees and stopped the likes of Robert Bork.  There were cheers to the projects put in place using the monies he had secured on the Senate floor.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I am talking about Senator Arlen Specter. I attended the Berks County Annual Dinner outside Reading, Pa. last Friday night as a guest of the Joe Sestak Campaign. 

When the Senator switched parties earlier this year I held some hope and held my breath. The man comes with 29 years seniority in the Senate.  Our state can’t get that very easily.  It is not as though we can trade two congressmen, a mayor, and three future draft picks to Vermont to get a decent senator with seniority who can hit a curve ball.  I was hoping when he changed his jersey we would have someone who cut a decent deal for himself that would benefit Pennsylvania in the long run.  I expected to see a senator who would be dogged in his support of President Obama.  We have our 60th Senator, why mess with that?

I wasn’t crazy about Joe Sestak getting into this race. He is my congressman.  He could have the job for life if he wanted it.  As far as I am concerned this candidate is manna from heaven.  Normally, when I look at a candidate I ask what has the person done with their life?  Would you talk to them in the grocery store about small talk?  Do they run a successful business?  Are they involved in their community in a special way?  What do the kids look like?  Do the people around them look sane?  Getting a personable 3 star admiral who ran a carrier fleet who likes Philly sports with every member of his large family pulling for him, well, it is hard to go wrong.

As I start to exhale I am realizing, personally, that Specter is not right for Pennsylvania at this time. When he talked about stopping Bork, I thought about Specter allowing Clarence Thomas entry to the bench.  If this were a Republican Dinner instead of a Democratic Dinner, would Specter have congratulated himself on allowing Clarence Thomas to the seated on the Supreme Court bench instead of stating he blocked Bork?

It is still not lost on me that Bush v. Gore was a 5-4 decision.  I once silently stood with my back to Sandra Day O’Connor in protest as she spoke at a July 4th awards ceremony at Independence Hall a few years ago for the same reason.

When the movie JFK came out I had to be pulled off the ceiling of the theater when the Kevin Costner character revealed it was Arlen Specter that came up with the single bullet theory.  I was blown away not only by the theory itself, but by how long Specter has been around.  I don’t know the greater amount of time that has passed; when Specter became a Republican or when the Eagles (NFL’s version of the Cubs) last won a championship?

When Specter came over, he could not figure out how to put a Democratic uniform on. In front of the president, he stated that he would not go along with all of Obama’s policies.  He was going to pick and choose.  This guy is supposed to be a master politician.  The Dems in the Senate, showing rare backbone, revoked his seniority status.  No chairmanships, no clout for Pa.

Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is another spot where I scratched my head.  If you read the law nowhere, I mean NO WHERE, does the law revoke a secret ballot.  It appends methods to allow workers to organize.

Specter played games with this issue.  I called his office in the spring and asked directly about EFCA and was told the Senator was towing the GOP line.  I think he has since come over and is supporting EFCA, but he damaged the President by playing politics with this. He has allowed the president’s opponents space to work with to attempt to bring down this president.

Obama showed a great deal of class through this.  He came to a fundraiser to help Specter in Philly.  All the party mucky-mucks were there.  I understand they got a solid seven figure take on the night.  I get why the President has to do this.  I get why the party hierarchy has to do this.  The next time we get someone to switch parties; they can’t let them hang out to dry.  They don’t want the prospective Democrat to say, “Well, look what happened to Specter.”

I sat in the room with the folks from Berks and listened as Specter talked about the 2009 local races and how the Democratic Ticket there would do well and how he would do whatever he could to help.  It was met with a very nice, respectful applause.

I am feeling like I am not that far from the rank and file Dems with their feet in the trenches.  We will respect the man and his office.  When Specter’s remarks turned to 2010 and asked for help in his races next year.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Campaign a Trios...

New Jersey sits about 20 miles from here.  It is a peninsula bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware River and Delaware Bay.  It is free to go into the state and people gladly pay to leave (all the toll booths are set up on the Jersey side).  Some people think you need a passport to leave the state, but that is just a rumor.

Politically, they are more advanced than my home, Pennsylvania (some call us Pennsylbama or Pennsyltucky).  Jersey allows open primaries.  That means that Democratic voters can select Independents or Republicans in their primaries.  It also allows for more Independents in general.  This is a good thing.

The race for Governor across the river is starting to look interesting.  It is a 3-way race, as much as you can have one these days.  If you haven’t seen Independent Chris Daggett’s commercial please check it out now.  It is entertaining and creative.  

I don’t know any of these guys from a hole in the ground.  I have no dog in this fight.  But what I hope happens here is the double-clutch.  The double-clutch is the point that makes you re-think something.  An event makes us break out of our routines to react differently to the environment.  Today, a good three-way race can make a good double-clutch.

Ok, let’s look at a standard 2-way race – D vs. R; Blue vs. Red; Phillies vs. Mets (notice I put the good guys first on those…) you don’t have to define yourself.  You define your tactics and strategies to the opponent to give you the best advantage.

If my opponent is soft on gun-rights, call up the NRA, they’ll be happy to stir the pot for you.  If the opponent wants to eliminate all taxes everywhere, you can always find the public school parents who are directly benefitting from those taxes and they will have a vested interest in defeating your opponent.  If your opponent has a clearly defined stand on the abortion issue you get a guaranteed team on your side, either pro or con.

Two way races allow you to paint your opponent into the corner so that you can maximize the space in between you.  It is a linear game.  As an example, I’ll use the Casey – Santorum race a few years ago (notice I put the good guy first again…).   Pennsylbama is really defined by the far Southeast Corner of the state (Philly and the 5 surrounding counties) which are trending more blue over the last few years, the 30-40 mile radius around Pittsburgh which tend to trend purple, and the rest of the state have different shades of red. 

Catholics are big here.  I mean REALLY BIG here.  If you want to see a saint in a glass coffin, stop by St. Peter’s Church basement in North Philly and pay your respects to St. John Neumann, philosopher and the founder of the Catholic school system in Philly (very cool guy for a bishop).

Bobby Casey is the son of Robert Casey, the governor who, in 1992 stood up to the powers that be in the DNC over the abortion issue and was ostracized from the convention.  When Robert Casey Sr. ran for re-election he took all but one county in the state (mine unfortunately).  Bobby is pro-life, but not in your face about it.  I call him a social justice Catholic, meaning he puts the meaning of the entire Gospel into action (subversive things like feeding the poor, helping the sick – real nasty stuff), not just picking and choosing the parts that look good politically.  Casey would probably be about 5 to 6 on a Liberal - Conservative scale (1 = uber Liberal; 10 =  Limbaugh and Friends).

Faced off against him was Rick “the Rabid” Santorum.  This guy is already trying to run for the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination.  He is an in-your-face Catholic who had no problem whatsoever interfering in the Terrie Shiavo case.  I place him at about a 10 on our scale.  His first 2 Senate elections were against polar opposites, Harris Wofford, a man who truly walks the talk, is about as a 1 as you can get.  Ron Klink ran against him 2000, appeared to be a 2-3 liberal, but got no traction.

With a two way race, Casey was perfectly poised to clean Santorum’s clock.  Casey, being a step or two around the midpoint line allowed all the people to the left of him to stand at his back.  Casey could eat into the Catholic vote that was previously exploited by Santorum.  I like having a soft-spoken low-key Senator that helped guide Obama to the White House.

We now have the three-way going on in Jersey.  With the introduction of a viable Independent to the race, the linear idea is out.  Daggett is viable because prior to any advertizing being run he had broken the 10% barrier.  It is no longer a Blue vs. Red scenario. The idea of painting one opponent into a corner is not going to work.  As you saw in the commercial, Christie is portrayed as a whiney fat guy with a North Jersey attitude.  Corzine is too self-absorbed to look at his surroundings.  This is a great double shot at both of them. 

Psychologically, Daggett may also be playing to the South Jersey crowd, who are generally fed up with being defined by North Jersey.  You could draw a line just north of Trenton and split the State in two and both would probably be happier. (If Texas leaves the union, this may be a way to keep our 50 state limit.)  If the major parties split the North and Daggett can run the table in the South…

The question now is how do the campaigns answer this challenge?

We now have 3 camps going negative, but it is an odd dynamic.  Both major party candidates are now double teamed.  Any negative messaging sent out against the other major party will be seconded and amplified by the Daggett camp. 

If left unchecked, Daggett can keep driving the negatives against both sides and it will eventually work.  He is actually running against the 2 party-system.  In a warped way his going negative against both equally keeps him above the fray.  If he has the cash and can continue to make his case, he may be able to force one of the other camps to drop back to take him on directly.

The first campaign that goes after Daggett instantly gives him the credibility he needs to gain ground.  It will also send the message that the double team worked, because now that campaign has opened the second front.  That means the campaign that didn’t go after Daggett will have a more room to launch clearer shots at the first aggressor.  In other words, Daggett will be doing the dirty work of the non-aggressive campaign.

The aggressive party that attacks first will also need to be careful of the effect of being too negative.  It is kind of like, “what is with this guy that he can’t say anything nice about anybody”.  If we get to that point, you may see that campaign go into a death spiral, benefitting the Independent.

This opens the opportunity for the non-aggressive campaign to go positive.  Instead of defining your single opponent in terms of their weaknesses (the two-way race), you have to define why you should be elected because of how great your ideas or programs are.

There are a hundred other permutations here, but it creates the double-clutch.  If you want to get rid of the negativity in these elections, maybe encouraging the third party candidates is a way to go. 

Who would have thought the New Jersey would be a leader here?  Go figure.