April 17th, 2008

Big Joe Begins Busting Heinous Move; Plans GOP Keynote, Come Zell or High Water

by Philip Baruth

Long ago, we told you a very scary bedtime story. It was about a Senator named Big Joe Lieberman, a man who lost the Democratic nomination to an anti-War candidate yet managed to convince many Connecticut Democrats in the general election that he was their best shot to end that very same War. And here, excerpted from our post of August 1, 2007, is how that story ended:

big joe

1) Lieberman’s “endangered species” status will come to an end following the 2008 elections, more than likely. Given the differential in open seats between the two major parties, Democrats look all but certain to expand their razor-thin margin in the Senate.

At which point, Big Joe will pay the piper for the repeated slaps in the face of the Democratic leadership, no matter what they may promise him before November.

2) Switching parties (or agreeing to caucus with the Republicans) in the run-up to the Republican national convention, on the other hand, would maximize the impact of such a move in a way that must make Lieberman salivate.

Forget Zell Miller.

Joe Lieberman has the opportunity to become the hottest commodity among Republican audiences behind the actual Presidential candidate himself. Timed properly, it would certainly put Lieberman on the VP short list of every GOP candidate. Not seriously, of course, but they would all make a show of admiring his bravery, and fortitude, and true grit.

In other words, Lieberman can maintain his current position for 18 more months, after which time he will lose power on a daily basis; or he can opt for Red-state rock-star status, in a way that would also allow Republicans to control the agenda going into the next election cycle.

Current Odds Big Joe Jumps: 54%, very slightly more likely than not.


As we said, a very scary story. And it just got a whole lot scarier: Lieberman has now made it amply clear that he plans to keynote for McCain at the Republican National Convention, come zell or high water. And he’s taken to calling the probable Democratic nominee a Marxist.

New Odds Big Joe Jumps: 68%, with a bullet.

April 15th, 2008

Double Kudos To Hard-Charging Welch Folk

by Philip Baruth

For Talking Points Memo fans out there, today brings you a very harmonic convergence: Peter Welch has managed to pressure the White House into closing their dodgy overseas contracting loophole, and the story is today’s TPM Muckraker “Must Read.” Double kudos, Welch folk.

April 15th, 2008

Johnny Mac Full of Stuffing (Who Knew?)

by Philip Baruth

There are many things VDB can imagine doing to John McCain, given the opportunity: berating him for his bait-and-switch on torture, and pointing out that someone with eight (8) houses looks a bit silly accusing his relatively cash-strapped opponent of elitism, to name two.

But hugging the guy isn’t one of those things. Or at least that used to be the case, before Vermont Teddy Bear turned him into a huggable, squeezeable toy we just can’t resist! Follow the link for eye-popping photos.

That’s right: they’ve made a teddy bear of the guy.

And VDB is loving it.

Why? Because in addition to hugging and squeezing, you can throw the thing down the stairs when McCain confuses Iran with Iraq, or smear it with pork chop grease and throw it to your pitbull-mix when McCain waxes nostalgic about being “a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution.”

And not to worry, it’s a bipartisan pitch: there’s an Obama Bear, and a Hillary Bear as well. Of course, given the tendency for every shade or nuance to ignite into a full-blown campaign trail imbroglio these days, you have to wonder about the actual details of these overstuffed office-seekers.

Is McCain Bear a shade too white, and Obama Bear a shade too brown? Why is McCain Bear, in fact, whiter than Hillary Bear, and is that even possible? Why is McCain Bear the only one in a suit and tie? Where’s Hillary Bear’s shot glass and Kevlar vest? And is it a problem that she’s pictured only one row above Bear-Foot and Pregnant Bear?

These are important questions, but fortunately they don’t have to go unasked. Like any good political operation, Vermont Teddy Bear has set up a War Room, with their own blog. It’s called “Be Bear: A Blog.”

hillary, obama

Word from Vermont Teddy Bear R&D has it that they’re saving the best for August: Convention Bear, who has two teeth missing, an ear partially ripped away, and claw marks from his fuzzy little head to his fuzzy little feet.

April 15th, 2008

Attention NSA Data Miners: Tap VDB’s Phone and Allen Gilbert Will Kick Your Skinny Asses From Here to Guantanamo

by Philip Baruth

Everybody knows somebody who fights tirelessly for truth, justice, and the American Way. Usually that somebody is fighting uphill, against staggering odds, and armed with only the strength of their convictions. And maybe a lawsuit. VDB knows a guy like that. His name is Allen Gilbert, and he’s the Executive Director of the Vermont ACLU. He wants to protect your privacy and stop torture. Stuff like that. And he’s not afraid to bring the hammer down to do it, either.

state house

This Thursday, April 17th, Allen’s going to be hosting a discussion at the Langdon Street Cafe in Montpelier, from 6 to 7:30 pm. The topic: “The Changing Law And Culture Of Privacy In The Wired Age.” He’ll be joined by several other stalwart Friends of VDB, free speech Fred Lane and UVM’s Tom Streeter, whose book on the Dean campaign hit bookstores just last year.

Which means more intelligent discussion than anyone anywhere in the world has any right to expect when they walk into a coffee shop in mid-April.

Okay, except for Prague. But other than that.

April 14th, 2008

VDB: Sacred Vow “Non-Negotiable”

by Philip Baruth

Regular readers of VDB will remember that only weeks ago we took a Sacred Vow: to do our level best to become a Vermont Obama delegate to the Convention in Denver. Why? Because Hillary Clinton has made it clear that if she has her way, the Convention will be sudden death, rather than a victory lap. And if that’s the case, we need to be there, to throw down VDB-style. And then, before the smoke has cleared, report the details back to you.

So what’s stopping us? The Math, ironically enough: like every turn-out number this cycle, the number of people interested in being a pledged Obama delegate has smashed expectations.

Nearest we can figure, we have a 1 in 50 shot, when the State Convention opens in Barre, the 24th of May.

Which is why we need your help to better those odds.

If you plan to be in Barre at the Convention next month, drop a line. If you know someone who plans to be in Barre, drop a line. Even if you know someone who once drove through Barre, but couldn’t stop because they were late for an appointment, drop a line.

Our learning curve is steep, and the days grow short.

April 11th, 2008

Welch Takes Ball, Runs (Digitally) With It

by Philip Baruth

Follow us on this. In November, the Justice Department a rule, requiring that government contractors report fraud or overpayment to the tune of $5 million or more. But when the rule passed through the Office of Management and Budget, it came out immaculately re-conceived: an unknown hand had tweaked the wording to exclude “contracts performed outside the US.”

Which would seem to leave a gaping hole big enough to drive Iraq through.

But unfortunately for the Bush administration, another unknown hand didn’t like what the first unknown hand had wrought. And Peter Welch got a tip to the loophole, and the documents used to create it.

The result has been a small explosion of media coverage, and an undeniable black eye for the Administration. As he’s done with several other high profile oversight issues, Welch almost immediately joined forces with Henry Waxman, and an investigation was launched.

Predictably, the OMB has been distinctly unresponsive.

Now, Welch is launching the digital assault, taking the pressure to the net, where it can be amplified and applied 24/7. And as far as VDB is concerned, it couldn’t be aimed at the Administration of a nicer guy.