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Hot flashes are usually a private matter. Alison Teal shares hers.

Monday, August 30, 2004

My friend John O'Sullivan responded to my last blog with the following: The story reminds me of how George McGovern realized he was going to lose his Senate seat. He was standing in line at a grocery store in South Dakota and two women were saying that they t hought he had been around too long and wasn't doing enough for them. Then they paid with food stamps -- a program George initiated to help both his state's farmers and the country's poor.

And my childhood friend Sally Sherwood wrote: Amen sister. You forgot the part about his wife and her job and her promotions and her struggle for equal pay and for her right to choose because of all of us who are bra burning, lesbian loving, men hating liberal women.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

This morning we visited the Forest History Center, a living history enactment of a logging camp in 1900. I was a bit disappointed since I thought Sam said we were going to a “blogging” camp. “Logger”, “blogger” - let's call the whole thing off. Actually, it didn't really matter. The experience is similar: both loggers and bloggers are mostly teenagers and find middle-aged women invisible, both use words I don't understand, and both use equipment with which I am utterly incompetent.

It has come to my attention that there is to be a Republican Convention. I thought incumbency was enough of an advantage. (In fact, I thought it was the one issue Bush was running on.) But no, they insist on equal time for wearing silly hats, so I'm taking off. But one more blog before I leave for a couple weeks of wilderness experience. Given the weather in the northern Midwest, I am required to give advance warning of my absence. People are used to huddling around during my hot flashes in order to keep warm.

Ervin Drake, a songwriter who wrote "When I Was Seventeen, It Was A Very Good Year”, “I Believe For Every Drop Of Rain That Falls," and "Good Morning Heartache," sent me the following, which nicely sums up what dumbfounds me here in Minnesota:

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

His employer's medical plan pays all but $10 of his medications because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it, too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public
transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his workday. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.
Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. The FSLIC federally insures Joe's deposit because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe
wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of himself, just like I have.”

Saturday, August 21, 2004

On today's Chicago Tribune website, an editor of the paper, William B. Rood, who served with John Kerry as a captain of one of the three Swift boats on February 28, 1969, at last broke a 35-year silence to back Kerry's version of the events on their missions together. He criticizes the “Swift Boat Veterans For Truth” saying they “splashed doubt on all of us.” The Sunday Chicago Tribune and the Sunday New York Times will carry the story. In light of this breaking news, I am reprinting another testimonial that appeared on August 20th, in Colorado's TheTelluride Daily Planet.

Dear Editor,
This letter is in response to the new attacks on John Kerry's war record by a group calling itself the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." As for most veterans of any war and as people who know me will testify, it is not easy for me to talk about my experiences in Vietnam. However, because of these new ads and, I understand, a new book recently published by an old Charles Colson "Enemies List" hit man, I feel compelled to speak out. Unfortunately, the veterans featured in these attacks are being used by extreme right wing Bush supporters to spread their lies and malign John Kerry.

I feel that most of these veterans who are joining this attack are against Kerry for what he did after he was home from the war than for what he did in the war. If they are against him for his stance against the Vietnam War, that certainly is their right, but to spread lies and malicious innuendos about his time on the rivers of Vietnam is not morally right and does a disservice not only to Kerry, but to all those who served and were wounded or died in that war. The people who are using these veterans for their own means obviously do not care about that. They did the same thing to Senator John McCain and Congressman Max Cleland in 2000 with no remorse or care for the consequences.

To me what is worse is that by their silence, the current administration has not, with any real meaning, disavowed itself or distanced itself in anyway from any of these scurrilous attacks, past or present. I feel that this truly shows the Bush administration for what they really are and ultimately, who is truly responsible for these attacks.

Since I happened to be along on one of the "excursions" where the boats that we were on were attacked and after which Lt. Kerry was cited for valor, I thought it appropriate to give my recollection of that event. This happened on March 13, 1969. I was assigned as Psychological Operation Officer for the Swift Boat group out of An Thoi, Vietnam, from January 1969 to October 1969. As such, I was on No. 43 boat, skippered by Don Droz who was later that year killed by enemy fire. We were second in line while exiting the river and going through the opening in a fish trap when a mine blew up under the No. 3 boat directly in front of us and we started taking small arms fire from the beach. Almost immediately, another mine went off somewhere behind us. All boats, except the one hit, immediately wheeled toward the beach that most of the fire came from (a tactic devised by Lt. Kerry, I later learned) and commenced showering the beaches with so much lead, that it could probably be now mined there. The noise was of course, deafening.

Three things that are forever pictured in my mind since that day over 30 years ago are: (1) The No. 3, 50-foot long, Swift boat getting huge, huge air; John Kerry thought it was about two feet. (He was farther away from it than I). I think it was at least four feet and probably closer to six feet; (2) All the boats turning left and letting loose at the same time like a deadly, choreographed dance and; (3) A few minutes later, John Kerry bending over his boat picking up one of the rangers that we were ferrying from out of the water. All the time we were taking small arms fire from the beach; although because of our fusillade into the jungle, I don't think it was very accurate, thank God. Anyone who doesn't think that we were being fired upon must have been on a different river.

The picture I have in my mind of Kerry bending over from his boat picking some hapless guy out of the river while all hell was breaking loose around us, is a picture based on fact and it cannot be disputed or changed. It's a piece of history drawn in my mind that cannot be redrawn. Sorry, "Swift Boats Veterans for the Truth"- that is the truth.

To say that John Kerry or any of us were on that river to intentionally collect Purple Hearts really does every soldier and sailor, past and present, a disservice. We were going up those rivers (with an ongoing casualty rate of 86 percent at the time) on the orders of the same people who approved of Kerry's medals and who are now joining in the attacks against Kerry. Unbelievable.

I would hope that the American public sees these evil extreme right wing attacks for what they really are and also pray that the veterans being used by these unpatriotic right wing extremist political operatives will divorce themselves immediately from them and speak to the real issues as to why they oppose John Kerry. I just don't understand how anyone can align themselves with those who intentionally and gleefully painted a decorated triple amputee (Max Cleland) from Vietnam as unpatriotic. I think that this is the most disastrous, un-American thing that can be done to our servicemen and women, especially now with another unending war going on. Your ends cannot possibly justify these means. Come on!

Jim Russell
Vietnam veteran


My friend, Elsa Rush, has the perfect comment on all of this “Swift Boat Veterans For Truth” stuff. She sent me this Shakespeare quote adding, “God, was he smart, whoever he was.”

Like one
Who having into truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie.
The Tempest. ACT I Scene 2.

Milton Glaser, the world famous graphic designer, is urging all New Yorkers to shine a flashlight, light in the window or plastic wand up toward the sky. The result: “a stunningly simple vertical, rectangular, graphic of yellow fusing with white at the top”. Glazer hopes New Yorkers will set the city “ablaze with a silent and overwhelming rebuke” as “light transforms darkness, both literally and metaphorically for one night, starting on August 30, the eve of the Republican Convention.”

The brilliance of the idea lies in its simplicity. No permits or licenses to demonstrate are required. It's inexpensive and it could be very effective.

Posters will hit the boroughs next week, asking New Yorkers to set a tone of civility and friendliness in order to contradict the world's image of us as bullies. The light image will reinforce this gracious tone. Glaser adds, “The world will understand our message. Not a word need be spoken.”

Air America plans to interview people from all walks of life who are taking part in lighting up the sky on August 30, starting at dusk and continuing to 1:00 am.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

The attack on Kerry from the whacky wing of the Vietnam vets crowd (all of whom never served with him) is incredible. John O’Neill, the leader of the pack, was on Crossfire the other day pushing the “Unfit to Serve” book. James Carville came very close to physically taking him out on air. Then as Robert Novak tried to keep Carville under control, Carville spiraled further into a lunatic diatribe. Being on the air was probably the only reason Novak and O’Neill avoided strangulation. Friends of mine met John O’Neill and Senator Kerry in 1971 at the Conference of Mayors’ meeting in Philadelphia. They remember the following: Kerry was in Philadelphia with Vietnam Veterans Against the War and was asked to come to the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, where the mayors were meeting. New York Mayor John Lindsay and Conference President Jack Maltester, of San Leandro, California asked Kerry to address the mayors at a plenary session the following day where the mayors were voting on a resolution to end the war in Vietnam. The Nixon White House flew O’Neill in from San Diego on the “red eye” to represent the position of some bogus group called Vietnam Veterans For A Just Peace. The Mayors passed the resolution to end the war. Kerry was spectacular in his fatigues and O’Neill was pathetic in his crumpled seersucker suit.

O’Neill continues to say he does not involve himself in partisan politics. It has been reported that he was once a Humphrey Democrat. But he was a Nixon White House goon in 1971.

On August 8th, the Washington, DC affiliate of NBC reported that the Bush Administration had interviewed Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court Chief Justice if Rehnquist decides to retire. They may be talking to nearly everyone, but maybe not. Shades of things to come ....

The person in charge of groups at the convention (people like the female senators, congresswomen and the guys from Kerry’s swift boat) said it was worse than herding cats -- more like herding rhinoceroses. When it was time for the swift boat crew to go back to their hotels after their wildly successful appearance with Kerry on Thursday night, there was a major snafu. Somehow the transportation staff had forgotten to arrange to get them back to their hotels. Successfully hailing cabs for them when 32,000 other people were pouring out of the Fleet Center was not likely. So my friend went out front and found a couple of Boson’s finest. He explained the situation and asked if there was anyway the cops could help him out. “We’ll get the cabs,” the cops said, and then, after pausing a beat, “You know, it was a real good thing your man didn’t cross our picket lines last June. This could have been a very different convention.”

The most clever sign on the streets of Boston during the convention belonged to a homeless man:
“Standing up for a better place to lie down.”



Friday, August 13, 2004


The people at the next table in the North Woods’ Espresso shop are sipping cinnamon-bun lattes and discussing the newly-painted house up the road. Apparently, the owner of the house wanted God to pay more attention to her. “So she painted it this hot pink color. Now when he looks down, he can’t help but notice.”

On the way into town, the sign in front of the taxidermy shop says: “You snuff it, we’ll stuff it.” The local bait and tackle shop has added a fancy sign out front next to a copy of the Ten Commandments. One stop shop for shiners and salvation. (To view the photo, go to http://www.Tealdesigns.com and then to Hot Flashes From The Campaign Trail)

And in the Health clinic (from which I have just returned with a bad case of post-convention bronchitis), the hazardous waste basket marked “sharps” has an assortment of muskee lures removed from various extremities of fishermen mixed in with the used hypodermics.
“We have a cork board over here with the best of this season’s lures,” the nurse says. “Mostly we extract them from ears and fingers but sometimes they’re in a foot. But this collection’s nothing to the one at the vet’s office.”

We are definitely back in northern Minnesota.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Two more convention events:

**Blogger event with Dell Sandusky, Walter Meers, Governor Howard Dean and Barack Obama.

Sandusky, who was with Kerry on the riverboat in Vietnam, spoke touchingly about the first time he met Theresa Heinz Kerry eight years ago. “It was late at night. She looked at me, paused, put her hand on my cheek and started to cry. Then she invited me to dinner at their house where she made spaghetti for the three of us at three in the morning.”

Walter Meers told us all we were today’s pamphleteers. I have a little trouble believing that when I think about blog writing compared to, say, the Declaration of Independence (an original copy of which we saw at the Kennedy Library on Sunday thanks to Norman Lear).

“Fifty-percent of people under twenty-five get all their news from the Internet and Jon Stewart” said Governor Dean. He sees this as positive since mainstream news is turning more and more to entertainment and camouflaged opinion pieces and since there is so little local news. It makes the TV networks and the Murdochs of the world very nervous, Dean added, but he believes young people are compelled to think and synthesize when they get their news from the Internet.

Obama talked about his own blog and asked the event’s attendees to give him advice for improving it. Several people shouted “Write it yourself.” Personally, I think he has better things to do.

**“Funny But True” – DNC sponsored event
Paul Begala hosted a celebrity panel with Alec Baldwin, Deedee Myers, Ben Affleck, Rob Reiner, Al Franken, and Esai Morales. It began with a short film of Bushisms, such as, “you’re working hard to put food on your family” “subliminable”, “where wings take dreams” and our old favorite “nucular”. Referring to the later, Rob Reiner demanded of the audience: “You don’t have a problem with a guy whose finger is on the button and can’t pronounce it?” You can get more Bushisms at Bushism.net.

The panel talked about serious issues while trying to keep things funny. They pointed out that Hollywood’s support of the Democrats (except for a few notables like Wayne Newton and Bo Derek) is truly selfless. They’re the only group that would consistently benefit from Bush’s tax cuts. Franken said his support wasn’t selfless at all. “I’m a Democrat because I’m one of the most selfish people in the world,” he said. “Because I’m better off when we’re all better off, when people can fulfill dreams. And I don’t mean dreams of getting rich, but dreams of being a teacher or a cop. We need a society with a middle class. I’m a Democrat because it’s in my best interest to support that kind of society.” Gotta love him.

"To me, the Republican Party is the real great tragedy of the last 25 years because there are lot of good and decent people and a lot of good political points [that have] come from the Republican Party in the post-war period, but it has been hijacked by these fundamentalist wackos," Baldwin said.

Reiner added, “They manage the debate. They’ve defined values as Guns, God and Gays.”

The following were some of my favorite lighter exchanges:

*Franken: (After Begala had said Bush is seen as a nice guy) “I challenge you that he’s a nice guy. You’re on crossfire mate.”
Begala: “We’re just friends. We’re not mating yet.”

*Begala: “Bush is no more a cattle rancher than I’m an Hassidic diamond merchant.”
Reiner: “Haven’t I seen you on 47th street?”

*Baldwin: (Talking about Cheney’s swearing as compared to Theresa Heinz Kerry’s “Shove it” remark): “Whoopi Goldberg and Theresa are both women. Think about what would have happened if Edwards had said ‘Shove it’. This is wife beating”

*Franken: (Talking about the war and taking responsibility for it.) “It’s just like the signs at Pottery Barn, ‘If you break it, you own it.’ …And, by the way, that’s not true. You actually can break something at Pottery Barn.”
Begala: (turning to the audience) “We’re not actually suggesting you go out and break something at Pottery Barn.”
Franken: “Yes I am.”



Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Last week, I said I’d write about some additional convention events, so here is the first.

Finance Committee Briefing
Because I had press credentials, I wasn’t permitted to attend, but many friends did and they came away universally impressed. They raved about the strength of Michael Whouley’s plans for the grass roots campaign in the battleground states. Whouley, a ground level organizer of mythic proportions who shuns publicity, is credited with turning Iowa around. For example, it was his decision and planning that got Kerry in that helicopter -- which not only provided great photo ops, but also allowed Kerry up to three more campaign stops a day. Whouley insisted that a “1” in a phone call must sign a commitment statement – if there was no signature, there was no #1. (For those who don’t know, voters are numbered from 1 to 5 according to their level of commitment to the candidate, #1 being a solid, totally dependable vote.) It was Dean’s mistake to assume that polite Iowans (who told campaigners they really liked Governor Dean, which they would say about nearly anyone) were committed supporters. Big mistake.

The leadership of the grassroots campaign is John Norris, who ran the Iowa campaign for Kerry, and Karen Hicks, who ran the grassroots campaign for Dean in New Hampshire (their best effort). I know this has been a major concern of people all over the country. We hear the concern constantly from people in what are called the export states – those states that will be sending money and people to the designated swing states. We hear it from people who are in the battleground states who don’t see anything happening on the ground yet. And we hear it from people everywhere who still can’t get buttons or bumper strips.

The technology is in place. If the money is raised to support the effort, the organization will be in place to insure we: a) get all of our core voters to the polls, b) identify and persuade undecided voters and c) reach out to parts of the Republican base. There is a plan to provide meaningful opportunities for people who are willing to give at least a month (preferably six weeks) of their time in a swing state. When I have details, I’ll pass them along.

A lot of people are concerned about a lack of a “bump” in the polls from the convention. This was an issue that Mark Mellman, the campaign pollster, addressed during the convention, i.e., anticipating, not simply explaining away the results. Managing expectations is always a problem. There was a lot of Bush campaign talk about how the polls would go up (their subliminal message was “should” go up) at least 15 points for Kerry after the convention. This was nonsense. Mellman pointed out that bumps in the polls after a convention come from members of the convention’s party. Since virtually all Democrats already supported Kerry, there was little room for gain. Also, Kerry went into the convention in much better shape than any candidate since about 1956. Incumbents usually go into their convention with a 16% lead. Kerry and Bush are almost dead even.

Next, more of last week’s events

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