June 30th, 2009

Your Weekly Senate Campaign Update: Where We Stand On Raising This Barn

by Philip Baruth

You always have to wonder, when you put out a call to your community, whether your community will in fact take the call. Because let’s face it, sometimes your community has you on voice mail, or worse, they’ve blocked your calls. Not so in this case, fortunately. Back in May we invited those of you who wish the State Senate campaign well to help out by donating early. Very early. Strategically very early.

In fact, we asked you to become a Barnraiser: one of the first 100 people to give, regardless of the amount of the donation involved. And you took the call. Which, honestly, was a relief.

So far we’ve heard from about 65 of you, both online and off, and that’s brilliant. If we’ve heard from you, you’ve heard from us, but thank you all one more time.

But that leaves us in search of 35 more donors before July 15th, the first finance reporting date we face. Act Blue makes it blindingly fast. Just click here.

One way to look at it: if you plan to give at some point, because you like the politics of this site, or because you like the idea of having eyes and ears and an outspoken advocate inside the State House, then giving now has the effect of increasing the overall impact.

Now is when we’re setting up a website; now is when we’re printing cards and designing lawn signs; now is when we build the organization to help make later donations easier to come by. Now is when we need you.

Another way to look at it: there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with being on the bandwagon before there’s a band, or a wagon. The 100 Barnraisers for this campaign may not ever win the lottery or personally cure cancer, but if this campaign comes together as planned, they will always know that they particularly made it possible.

(Or maybe, you know, they will cure cancer. In which case it will make their early help in this campaign seem trivial and insignificant. But you take our point.)

And if this race ultimately impacts the debates about Vermont Yankee, or wind power or statewide digital access or single-payer or the clean-up of Lake Champlain, then those 100 folks will have leveraged their own personal impact in a clear, measurable way.

In case you missed it, Bill McKibben endorsed the campaign just this past week, for reasons more or less the same as those just laid out. Said McKibben:

“Philip Baruth has been out in front since at least the day he helped to bring the Obama campaign to Vermont, way before most folks had figured out what was going on. In Montpelier he’ll hopefully be able to break the legislature out of the same round of battles, and get people focusing on the deep questions — like food and energy self-sufficiency — that will determine Vermont’s future.”

So you’d be in good company. And of course, whether or not you can donate now, you can always join the campaign Facebook page, more good company, and now much easier to link at

So 1) thanks for reading to the end of this long post; 2) thanks for considering moving from reader to activist donor; and 3) thanks for coming back to this site in the first place, for no good reason.

All very much appreciated.

June 29th, 2009

Forget The Edwards/Hunter Love Child, Because Here Comes The Actual Love, Folks

by Philip Baruth

Heads up, people: apparently there’s an Edwards sex tape floating around, to which we may all be subjected at any moment, without warning. Not the most appetizing prospect, but it does clear up one mystery. When Edwards was asked recently by the Washington Post whether it was a mistake to run for President when he was also cheating semi-publicly on his terminally ill wife, he sagely replied, “Time will tell.” Now we know what he meant: let’s wait until the sex tape drops, and then we’ll see where we are. Can’t even look at a picture of this guy now without thinking: you are one dumb, self-destructive son of a mill worker.

June 27th, 2009

Is Mark Sanford An Even Worse Parser Than John Edwards or Bill Clinton? Depends What The Meaning of Is Is

by Philip Baruth

Is Governor Mark Sanford capable of speaking or writing a line of prose that does not reveal him to be an even more mendacious and desperate hair-splitter than we’d previously believed? It always depends, of course, what the meaning of is is. But doubtful. Today’s proof is in the press release, speaking to his use of state funds to visit the South American mistress. Read it and weep, Bill Clinton and John Edwards:

“While the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip, I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with.”

Not just “professional” but — unfaithful non-wife sleeping mistake aside — “entirely professional and appropriate.” Brilliant. Just brilliant. This guy’s a keeper, on the Palin comedic level.

Mark VDB’s words.

June 25th, 2009

Mark Sanford, Southern Conservative Hero

by Philip Baruth

Hard to say which angers VDB more, when it comes to the Mark Sanford “Run For The Border” escapade: the state-funded affair in Argentina, or the way the Obama-obsessed, drive-by, liberal-elite media forced Sanford into the SUV and demanded he catch a red-eye in order to have sex with that woman. Or esa mujer, as the adulterers say in Argentina. Yes, VDB is not fooled. Clearly, Mark Sanford’s downfall was orchestrated by a shadowy cabal only partially composed of George Soros, Alec Baldwin and Keith Olbermann.

We laugh, but of course wing-nuts will be wing-nuts, and this ultra-nutty idea — that Sanford and Ensign were set up and taken down — will eventually take firm root in the gamy soil of Conservative blogs.

Which is fine. VDB will continue to enjoy the spectacle of high-profile Conservatives busily setting fire to their own careers. And along the way, we’ll enjoy the confusion and backtracking and sputtering frustration of some of the wackier elements of the right-wing blogosphere.

Take a completely run of the mill anti-Obama site like ExposeObama.com — please. These are the sort of folks who went to work even before Obama’s election, to declare him illegitimate as a candidate, and fraudulent as a President-elect. And when Mark Sanford stepped forward and refused some $8 billion in stimulus funds for hard-hit South Carolina, they had their man.

He spoke with a reassuringly thick Southern accent. He hated the idea of unemployment benefits. He’d once brought pigs into the state house to make a point about something, which sounded, vaguely, like something Jesus might have done. And he had the family, a stalwart wife and four boys, four boys, almost if not quite Mitt-like in its masculinity and fecundity.

They called him “heroic” on ExposeObama.com, and they talked about him more or less incessantly as the Next Best Thing.

But this sort of loyalty was weak and tepid compared to that demonstrated for the last six months on a sad little site called MarkSanford2012.com, a site dedicated to bringing Sanford forward into the limelight of a national candidacy.

And when Sanford was finally caught in a web of hastily constructed and contradictory alibis, it was Mark Sanford 2012 that stood by their man, and blamed everything on the “intrusive” elite liberal media. What could be more poignant than the reverse order of these two entries, pre- and post-revelation?

Sanford talked in his press conference about hurting his four strapping boys, and his dear wife, and his state, and his mistress, but he said nothing about the pain being felt today at Mark Sanford 2012. And that was wrong, because they gave him everything: unconditional loyalty and pure blind illogical devotion.

Mark Sanford: standard GOP road-kill. But it’s the little ones he leaves behind that make your heart hurt.

And in the topsy-turvy way of politics, Sanford’s sins get visited on his Party, and everyone who ever came into contact with this romantic, pig-carrying Conservative. The repercussions, believe or not, are even being felt here at VDB. We had the following anxious email this morning, straight out of Shelburne:

Dear VDB,

As you know, I am following your campaign for the state senate with great interest. While it’s all fine and good that you’re using your blog to let voters know where you stand on issues that affect Vermonter’s lives, I for one have more pressing concerns than the fate of Vermont Yankee. These are uncertain times, and I already have abandonment issues. VDB, are you ready to pledge to us, your future constituents, that should you hear the siren call of Buenos Aires, you won’t tell your staff you’ve gone to recharge your legislative batteries on the Appalachian Trail?

Concerned in Shelburne

Well, let VDB just say this about that: we plan to take our cues from Vermont’s own Governor, about whom many critical things may be said and often are.

But the one thing you never, ever have to worry about with Jim Douglas is that he’ll catch a red-eye to South America and engage in a steamy tryst beside the sea with a dark-eyed Argentinian ex-journalist. Our Governor has far more important things to do, crucial things, each and every day.

And so, of course, do we.

June 24th, 2009

Size Matters, Cheney Finds to His Dismay

by Philip Baruth

The news: Cheney has signed to write a memoir of his time(s) in the White House, for a reported $2 million advance. The book will be brought out by Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster run by his former close political aide, Mary Maitlin. In effect, Cheney has agreed to pay himself a couple of million dollars to talk, at length, about himself. The analysis: How pissed is this guy that his advance is only about a fifth the size of Sarah Palin’s rumored $11 million, after essentially running the world for eight years? The answer: Extremely, friends. Extremely.

June 23rd, 2009

Only McKibben Can Endorse At 200 MPH

by Philip Baruth

We’ve talked a lot in this campaign so far about thinking ahead, and getting out early — both politically, and in terms of policy. Lagging in either area leads to, well, losing. Just received the following endorsement from one Bill McKibben, a guy internationally renowned for seeing around the diciest curves, curves that won’t appear for several decades.

“Philip Baruth has been out in front since at least the day he helped to bring the Obama campaign to Vermont, way before most folks had figured out what was going on. In Montpelier he’ll hopefully be able to break the legislature out of the same round of battles, and get people focusing on the deep questions — like food and energy self-sufficiency — that will determine Vermont’s future.”

Very kind words, and much appreciated, especially since McKibben managed to send them while zapping from Berlin to Munich via high-speed rail.

Tausend dank, Mr. McKibben.

June 22nd, 2009

Tony Blair Completes Canine Makeover

by Philip Baruth

There was a time when VDB wore velour shirts, and thought they looked pretty damn slick, especially when lounging in a beanbag chair while watching Welcome Back Kotter. And there was a time, circa 1993, when we thought Clinton and Blair were going to remake the world, escape the old paradigms, find the fabled Third Way. Where are they now? Worse, what are they now?


If you had a shred of respect for Blair left in your scarred heart, prepare to relinquish it. A previously secret memo has just been revealed in the run-up to Britain’s own hearings on the Iraq War, and it shows Blair not simply signing on to the invasion, but plotting to falsify grounds for same. That’s right.

Once the two men realized that inspectors would find no WMD, the memo makes clear, they kicked around some real frathouse pranks to kick-start the brawl. From The Guardian:

“Bush told Blair the US had drawn up a provocative plan ‘to fly U2 reconnaissance aircraft painted in UN colours over Iraq with fighter cover.’ Bush said that if Saddam fired at the planes this would put the Iraqi leader in breach of UN resolutions.”

Classic Bush logic, of course: by breaching international code, we’ll force our sworn enemy into breaching international code, and then bomb heavily. Blair’s response? Again, quoting from the memo: “Solidly with the President.”

poodle Tony

You begin to suspect that Blair made a deal with the Devil, at some point back in the boom-boom days following 9/11: he’d be able to ride high as long as Bush rode high, but when the ride ended, Blair would have to agree to be transformed, actually and physically, into a toy poodle.

With bad teeth, bad eyes, and worms. And frankly, it couldn’t happen to a nicer pooch.

June 20th, 2009

VDB Will Daysie No More Forever

by Philip Baruth

For the last three years, we’ve come to you, our readers, hat in hand, and asked straight up for your vote in the Seven Days Daysie Awards. And for three years running, you voted us the Best Political Blog in Vermont. But this year things are different. Much different. We’ve already begun to ask your help with a long race for the State Senate from Chittenden County, to join our and to become one of the growing campaign’s first 100 donors, a group we call Barnraisers. Which is enough asking. So we won’t be asking for your vote in the Daysies this year. No.


Instead we’ll ask you to consider two other highly worthy and influential choices: Green Mountain Daily, in the category of Best Political Blog, and Candleblog, in the category of Best Non-Political Blog.

The folks at Green Mountain Daily have found a way to join heads-up citizen journalism with the best features of a community-style political blog: you get multiple points of view, as well as a devoted band of commentors, all of which makes for a consistent, bracing addition to your news day.

Bill Simmon, who runs the shop over at Candleblog, helped pioneer the blog format in Vermont, yet has managed to evolve and grow as the various constituent technologies have developed and changed. At once serious artist and uber-nerd, Bill does what he does with style and drive.

Thanks for considering these good folks who don’t get a dime for what they do. And thanks again, truly, for your votes the last three years. Very much appreciated.

June 18th, 2009

Time Has Told: Edwards Narrowly Nips Clinton For Most Egregious Idiot Award

by Philip Baruth

Okay, Bill Clinton attempted to parse what the meaning of the word “is” was. And that was wrong. But John Edwards is now world renowned for claiming that his blatant affair was miraculously shoehorned into the small space marked off on the one side by his wife’s cancer going into remission, and on the other by a second terminal cancer diagnosis. You’d think Edwards had reached his maximal degree of sheer unadulterated stupidity, wouldn’t you? But no, friends. No.

edwards, in his element

Like Spitzer, Edwards has apparently decided it’s time to test the waters again. You know, to see if the waters will bear additional stupidity.

When asked by the Washington Post whether it was wrong or unethical or imprudent or dumb as a post to continue the run for President when everyone and their brother knew that he was cheating on his terminally ill wife, Edwards grew thoughtful.

“Did it make sense to run and stay in the race? Time will tell,” Edwards told the Washington Post in an interview published on the paper’s Web site Wednesday.

Now look, when Dick Cheney or George Bush say that time will tell whether the invasion of Iraq was justified, it’s wrong and cowardly, but at least you know what they mean. They mean that there’s still a .001% chance that Iraq will lead the rest of the Middle East to Jeffersonian Democracy and rename itself The United Emirates of Bush.

john edwards, thinking about how to spank McCain

But what does Edwards mean when he says that “time will tell” whether it was a good move to run for President in light of his semi-public infidelity?

That he may yet wind up winning the 2008 campaign? That history will one day realize that Elizabeth Edwards was not an admirable, long-suffering American icon but a figure of immense evil who deserved everything she got and more?

That Edwards’s love child may one day discover a cure for cancer, and dedicate a 2032 Nobel Prize to the courageous, free-loving father who made it all possible?

Let VDB put it bluntly, John: time already told. You lost. And you lost your self-respect, as well as the respect of everyone for whom you ever claimed to be speaking. Deal with it.

And by dealing with it, we don’t mean going on television and speculating about a future world which will look kindly on your sins. We mean deal with it. Drop an email if you’re still confused.

June 17th, 2009

RE: This Fresh and Wild New Banner Design

by Philip Baruth

For months now, a certain small but determined group of readers have been militating for a new banner design, something less Bush-centric, something more indicative of our Changing World. Well, militate no more: as you can see, we have a sharp new banner up and running as of today.

Which means that two public thank-you’s are very much in order.

First, more than anything else, Marc Nadel’s caricatures have always given VDB its distinctive visual air. In our opinion, he’s outdone himself with the Obama, McCain, and Douglas renditions above. Second, Ines Berrizbeitia continues to find a way to translate our vague, shambling descriptions into clear, crisp website design. Anyone looking for elegant design sensibility would do well to click her link on the upper corner of the sidebar.

Thanks again, to both.

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