Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Not a day you want /. on your side!

It’s bad enough that the half-hour updates to the campaign blog (which have thousands of us hitting refresh every half hour), but to get Slashdot linking to you on the last day of the freakin’ quarter!

(For the non-geeks reading this: this means that anywhere between 5-10,000 geeks all tried to read the campaign weblog at the same time. The typical result of a site getting Slashdotted is for it to crash under the unexpected surge in traffic.)

An eerie coincidence

I’ll leave coverage of the Plame affair to the experts (TPM, Atrios, This is Not Funny, Daily Kos are all good places to start), but I did find this to be an exceptionally odd coincidence:

  • Bob Novak’s original article in which Valerie Plame’s cover was blown. Dateline: July 14.

You don’t think Ari and Bob had a chat the week before Ari left, do you?


Monday, September 29, 2003

Fundraising update for Q3

The campaign blog notes that we’ve surpassed $13m raised this quarter, and the Washington Post provides an update that notes that Kerry, Lieberman and Edwards will all see declines from their Q2 totals.

This should bring the year to date totals to approximately (Q3 assumptions from PoliticalWire in parentheses):

  • Dean: $25m ($15m)

  • Kerry: $21m ($5m)

  • Edwards: $15.5m ($3.5m)

  • Gephardt: $13.5m ($3.5m)

  • Lieberman: $12m ($4m)

  • Clark: $2.5m ($2.5m)

Assuming this is about right, it will likely mean Howard Dean went from having just $157,000 in the bank in January to having the most money of any candidate (between $10-15m) at his disposal going into a race that’s just showing signs of heating up. That’s a staggering turn of events for a candidate flagged as the longest of long shots just 9 months ago.

Services Supply Chains

Writing in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune, attorney and adjunct professor at the School for New Learning at DePaul University David Steiger writes that the outsourcing in the IT industry is just a precursor to what’s coming in other industries:

It is becoming clear that CPAs, management consultants, attorneys and health professionals who traditionally have been insulated from global market forces will be faced with competition as they never have seen before: bright, driven people capable of offering comparable-quality service at perhaps a tenth the cost of their developed-world counterparts.

He says, a bit later:

Because transportation costs are low and communications sufficiently sophisticated to coordinate each part of the supply chain, manufacturers have incorporated developing-world labor into their operations seamlessly and profitably.

What seems to have been lost on most commentators and the public until now is that communications technology has made services supply chains possible, and more important, economically compelling. As service professionals perform more job functions by using networked computers, it becomes easier to work on a given project remotely.

Readers of this blog, of Ernie, Jerry and others know that this talk of a much-needed change in business models is long overdue in the legal profession. And I can’t say I disagree with Steiger when he says that some of the work currently done for tens of thousands of dollars in the legal profession could be done for a fraction of the cost overseas.

But to set this up and then conclude that the legal profession (and others for that matter) are going to more or less disappear as a result of this automation? That seems a bit of a stretch to me.

I’m going to read through this again later today to try and formulate exactly why this strikes me as over-reaching. In the meantime, your comments are welcome.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Sunday Ticket: Most of the games, most of the time (unless we change our mind)

Unreal. I subscribe to DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket so that I can watch the 49ers each weekend. Though their play this year wouldn’t seem to justify committing three hours a week to them, I actually enjoy watching them play.

Living in Chicago, Sunday Ticket would be a good answer, right? After all, you get to watch every NFL game no matter where you live!

Except you don’t. If your local affiliate decides to carry a particular game, then DirecTV blocks it from Sunday Ticket. Well, theoretically that’s fine: you just watch the game on the local channel.

But because the Niners (God bless ‘em) are losing by too many points right now, my local affiliate decided to switch to the Eagles/Bills game. And when I try to pick up the Niners on their DirecTV channel, I’m told that the channel’s not available in my area.

I just spent a half hour on hold waiting for customer service (last week, during a similar problem, they hung up on me!) — only to be told that “there’s nothing DirecTV can do about it.” I escalated to a supervisor, who informed me that the NFL changed the terms of the agreement in the off-season (it used to be that you could watch all games each weekend, regardless of what the local carriers decided).

So here’s the thing: I’m now paying $200+ for a subscription to games that may or may not be available. Even if they are available (via the local affiliate), if the local affiliate decides to switch games, then I can’t watch the game at all.

So — the subscription automatically renews each year (unless you inform DirecTV you’re cancelling before the season starts). The NFL can change the terms under which the subscription operates — without explicit notification to the subscribers. And lucky for me, the subscription even went up in the off season. So I’m paying more for less.

This feels like deceptive behavior on DirecTV’s part, at the least. I’m sure I’m not the only customer who’s similarly frustrated (according to the customer service rep, they’re getting “tons of calls” about this each weekend).

Since they’re telling me I can’t cancel (there are no refunds for Sunday Ticket subscriptions), is there anything I can do? Anyone else similarly affected?

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Friday, September 26, 2003

Fox News - Journalists or thugs?

There’s a bit of talk on the web about the fact that Fox News posted Tucker Carlson’s unpublished phone number in response to a joke from Carlson (Carlson is co-host of CNN’s Crossfire). Here’s what happened:

Prodded by Paul Begala to give out his phone number during a discussion about the Do Not Call controversy, Carlson appeared to relent and gave out a 202 number. “Someone’s there all the time,” he said.

Except that it wasn’t his number — it was the number of Fox News’s DC News Bureau.

Dumb, but marginally funny joke. Except that Fox’s response was to publish Carlson’s unpublished home phone number.

Interestingly, when I returned to the page at foxnews.com, it turns out that they’ve retracted that page and replaced it with a plea to call CNN’s news bureau. (The original page is mirrored here.)

Fair and balanced.

Another search engine for your aggregator

I have been a Feedster subscriber for months now — just punch in the RSS feed for a search query, and your aggregator will return to you any results for that query. It’s a very handy way of monitoring what’s being said out in the blogosphere outside of the blogs you normally monitor.

Courtesy of Lilia (two in a week! she’s on a roll!), I now have another service that provides RSS feeds of its search results: Waypath. The Waypath page explains how to do it here. Very straightforward, and very helpful. So far, there’s been little overlap between what I’ve seen at the two sites.

Anyone else aware of other RSS-enabled search engines?

CIO Australia: One law firm gets it right

CIO Australia published today a profile of InterAction customer Brown McCarroll, a Texas law firm that recently implemented InterAction. There are a number of excellent ideas for being creative in rolling out your CRM system. Next time someone tries to tell you professionals won’t adopt CRM, point them to to this article:

Although lawyers have often been slow to adopt new technology, Brown McCarroll says they have embraced InterAction, which is allowing more targeted and frequent marketing and beginning to realise strategic business benefits. “We currently have 100 per cent of our attorneys, 100 per cent of our secretaries, 100 per cent of our paralegals and select staff on InterAction,” says marketing director Bonnie Martin. “We continually get requests for additional support staff to be given the application to assist in contact management. Since our rollout last September, we have had over 7000 new contacts entered, a 14 per cent increase.”

And the lessons learned about getting employees to use systems along the way? “Plan well, get strong support from management and, most importantly, have fun!” Martin says. “I think our biggest help in succeeding was that we truly believed in what InterAction could do for our firm – and when a team has that much enthusiasm, we knew that we could spread that enthusiasm to others.”

Be sure to read the article for some of their less than conventional tactics for sparking interest in the roll-out.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Join DeanLink

Just a friendly reminder that if you haven’t already done so, swing by DeanLink and sign up. There’s over 12,000 people there, but we need as many as we can get. And feel free to leave any suggestions for improvement in the comments or by e-mail…

Going to Burlington!

Thanks to a generous invitation from the tech crew at Dean for America HQ (Mathew, Zephyr, Nicco and Bobby) I’m heading to Burlington for a weekend of brainstorming. I’ll be there the weekend of October 17.

I can’t wait.

Time and again I’m amazed at how consistently the campaign proves that opinions from the grassroots matter to them. I’ve been fortunate to help them out on a couple projects, and based on some recent feedback I gave, they told me I needed to get my butt to Burlington. Who am I to say no?!

How many other campaigns are reaching out this way to their supporters? How many are listening?

InterAction question from the blogosphere

Former Mintz Levin CIO Ron Friedmann saw our press release announcing InterAction 5.1, and also noticed our announcement of InterAction Contact Verifier. Contact Verifier allows firms to manage the updating of contact data by letting contacts themselves visit a secure website and provide their updated contact information.

Ron asked today at his blog:

It would be nice (and perhaps already possible, I’m not up on all of the technical product specs) to integrate this feature with e-newsletters that law firms regularly broadcast (or perhaps narrowcast is a better description). If each message contained contact data verification at the beginning or end of the substantive news, law firms might find it easier to maintain up-to-date contact information.

Bingo. Contact Verifier will do this out of the box — and provide firms with a powerful way of letting their contacts do the hard work of keeping the contact data accurate.

Fire your website

Erik Heels weighs in with some cogent observations about the value of using weblog software to manage your website (in his case, for his law firm, but the lessons apply equally well to other businesses).

In particular, Erik provides a good review of several software systems (Radio Userland, Movable Type), discusses aggregators, and lists a few tips for leveraging the platform effectively. The article is well worth reading.

Over at EmploymentBlawg, George asks why Erik doesn’t review Blogger. I can’t speak for Erik, but I can add my $.02 — Blogger’s fine for basic weblog updating, but falls far short when it comes to managing non-blog content. Erik’s really talking about managing an entire web presence with the weblog software as the infrastructure. That’s possible with Radio and Movable Type, but almost impossible with Blogger.

There is no doubt in my mind that web content management systems that grow out of today’s crop of blog apps (in particular, keep your eye on Movable Type’s creators, Six Apart) are the disruptive technology that will threaten the established WCM players (think Documentum, Interwoven, Vignette).

100,000th comment on Dean Campaign Blog

Anyone interested in milestones — the 100,000th comment was left on the campaign weblog yesterday. That means that 100,000 individual comments from supporters all over the world in just over 3 months.


Update: Thanks to Mathew for the link from the campaign blog. Question to those of you coming from the official blog: when do you think we hit 200,000 comments? 500,000? 1,000,000? Log your vote here. We’ll revisit periodically. Fame and fortune — well, fame anyway — will result for those who guess correctly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Caption contest

Submit your captions in the comments.

Talk Like O'Reilly Day

Courtesy of Interesting Times, I learned that Media Whores Online declared this Friday is “Talk Like Bill O’Reilly Day”.


MSNBC.com: Bush approval rating below 50%

Full story here.

Traditions with your kids

Every Saturday morning, I take my boys to Krispy Kreme. Just us – my 3 year old calls it “Boys Only Breakfast” and as the week wears on, each morning he asks “Is it Saturday yet?” I look forward to it, the boys love the time alone, and it’s become a nice part of our routine. On Sundays, we make waffles (from scratch, thank you very much) — giving their mother a day off from feeding three hungry mouths.

And after reading this from Wil Wheaton (yes, that Wil Wheaton), I’m pretty sure I have to invest some serious time in learning poker. I’d planned to put a card table in the basement when I’m done finishing it, and now I know what I’ll do with it.

Who Will Beat Bush?

Register your vote at Who Will Beat Bush and enter for a chance to win prizes.

As of this writing, the only two contenders are Clark (46%) and Dean (41%).

Let’s get on it.

New web-based aggregator

From my referral logs, MyWireService appears to be a new web-based aggregator.

Free while in beta. Might be worth a look.

Office space

No, not the movie — the concept. Joel on Software has an outstanding overview of how they just built their new office environment.

Thinking out how space is used is criminally ignored. I just had to spend a half hour this morning rearranging my desk because there’s no easy way to get a monitor on my desk without elevating it to sit above the ledge that abuts the window. So my 17” monitor is now sitting on two books — while my docking station is wedged into a corner (because the cables for the various components are not long enough to get to where the docking station should be) that makes it hard to access.

Bottom line — pay attention to this stuff. It’s impressive that Joel and the rest of the company at Fog Creek Software put as much energy into it that they did. I have no doubt they’ll attract the superstars they’re looking for. And after reading this article, do you have any doubt that the software they develop is elegant, functional and exceeds expectations? (Note: I have no idea if it’s true — I haven’t used their stuff. But after reading this report, I don’t doubt it at all.)

Trillian patch 'E' available

For Trillian “basic” (i.e., “free”) users, there’s a new patch available that lets you connect with the Yahoo IM servers. To check and see if you’re current, right click on Trillian in your system tray, go to help | about and see what patch you’re at. If you’re at anything other than “E”, click here to download the new patch. Otherwise you’ll be locked out of Yahoo IM.

If you’re not using Trillian, why not? This is a superior IM client, with the ability to connect to Yahoo, MSN, AOL and ICQ, along with the ability to peruse the many IRC chat rooms that are out there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Setting up a "reviews" blog

This looks like a great tutorial to adding a “reviews” tutorial on your Movable Type-powered blog.

Found at ETC. who showed up in my referral logs (they liked my tutorial on using MT to manage your blogroll).

FBI Systems still years behind corporate America

Baseline Magazine was one of the publications we met with on our recent press tour. They’re an interesting, and as near as I can tell, unique publication in that they focus exclusively on case studies for content, and try extraordinarily hard to document large implementations, warts and all. It’s a refreshing change from the press release copy machines that pass for “major” publications (who shall, uh, remain nameless).

In any event, this just showed up on my radar: FBI: Under the Gun. It documents the FBI’s failed efforts at synthesizing the well-publicized myriad systems that littered the FBI’s IT infrastructure post-9/11.

The article is as depressing as it gets. Some stats:

  • Originally budgeted at $380 million, the effort is now expected to cost upwards of $500 million and is more than six months behind schedule.

  • “Today, as we speak, the FBI still is using multiple networks for its day-to-day operations,” John says. “Let’s just say it’s less than five networks but more than two.” Huh?

  • The FBI’s 622 field offices are still not all connected.

  • After completion of the project, the FBI still won’t have a secure e-mail system.

  • The FBI is working on building a “Virtual Case File” system that will consolidate more than 180 databases to give agents a consolidated view of all case information. (Can you guess? Yup. Behind schedule and over budget.)

  • Visas to more than 300+ people were issued while work on this project continued — even though the names were either already on a terrorist watch list or were under explicit orders by the State Department not to get visas. (No system existed to easily check against, and responsibility for checking names against lists varied among several agencies.)

Reminds me of the promo for Reno 911 on Comedy Central: “Are we gonna catch all the bad guys? No. Are we gonna catch half the bad guys? No. Are we gonna catch a third of the bad guys? Probably not. Are we gonna catch some of the bad guys? I’m optimistic.”

Monday, September 22, 2003

Taking the pledge

Chris over at Interesting Times has also become turned off at the waste of energy lately, and pledged to keep his eyes on the prize:

No more will I be:

  • A tool of those who want to disrupt the Anybody-But-Bush movement.

  • A partisan who would rather bring down the other guy’s candidate then find reason to elevate my own.

  • A dupe who will automatically assume that anything negative about the other guy’s candidate is more likely to be true than the negative things said about my guy.

  • A fool who loses sight of the ultimate goal: the removal of George W. Bush.

Well said.

Interesting blog enhancements

First, from Lilia Efimova — the Waypath plguin (for both Radio and Movable Type) that lets you show possibly related links from other blogs. It apparently identifies text strings in the current post and attempts to match them to others in the blogosphere. I haven’t played with it yet, but it strikes me as something that would have significant benefits as part of a k-log.

Second, from Jenny Levine — two add-ins to your weblog that will notify you by AIM that someone’s at your site (and even tell you who they are and how to IM them if they’ve shared that info) and another that will present blog-friendly traffic analysis. I tested out the AIM notification and it worked perfectly. (Possible applications: private websites where you want to engage visitors. A consultant would do well to use this kind of service to provide rapid access to clients.)

Jack O'Toole on Dean supporters

I’m not the only one calling on Dean supporters to focus their energy on supporting Dean instead of trashing others. Jack O’Toole writes today:
Lastly, the folks getting carried away in this fashion are putting their own candidate in a tight spot. Because the Dean campaign has paid its Internet supporters the high compliment of embracing them as full partners in the overall operation, those supporters are now perceived as players, which makes only one of two conclusions possible: 1) Dean is intentionally ginning this stuff up, or 2) he can’t control his own people. Either way, it looks bad. 
So, if you’re one of the undoubtedly well-intentioned folks sending out e-mail like this, please, please, try to stay focused on the big picture, and just cut it out.
Nicely said, Jack. Welcome to the Dean tent.

DestinationCRM: Vendors can make a difference

This isn’t specifically related to our 5.1 announcement today, but is a great mini-case study on how a customer of ours nearly went off the rails (read for details) but is today successful in their deployment (in part thanks to our efforts).


InfoWorld: CRM vendors tout major upgrades

From Ephraim Schwartz’s column in InfoWorld today:

CRM is getting a black eye. Gartner and Meta [Group] reports both cite data quality as the main reason,” said Rick Klau, vice president of vertical markets at Interface.

The key component of InterAction 5.1 is a data service that will identify anomalies in data, de-duplicate the data, and return it to the customer in a cleansed database, Klau said.

You can read the press release here.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Kid's book

There I was, reading Those Can-Do Pigs to my 3 year-old, when I came upon this odd rhyming pair:

In the grass down by the shore,
A Can-Do Pig distrubs a boa —

Now I don’t know where you’re from, but there are very few places where “shore” and “boa” rhyme. In fact, there are really only two I’m aware of: Boston and the United Kingdom.

Sure enough — the author, David McPhail — is from Newburyport, MA.


Josh Marshall Hunting Season

In case you missed the announcement, this weekend was the kick-off to Josh Marshall Hunting Season. (See examples here and here, in addition to Josh’s own site below.) Josh, for those two or three of you who don’t know, is one of the leading left-leaning pundits in DC and maintains Talking Points Memo, one of the most highly-trafficked political blogs.

Josh is also a friend of mine, not that it really matters. But I’ve known the guy nearly 10 years, and in that time have found him to be a smart, witty and sincere guy. He’s made no secret of his views on Iraq (for the war, eventually against the administration’s prosecution of the war) nor of his views on the Democrats in the race (impressed with Dean’s fundraising, not sure about his electability likes Clark’s military bona fides).

Now, it’s no surprise to readers of this blog that Josh and I won’t come down on the same side of the fence when it comes to Howard Dean. But what exactly is everyone so upset about? Josh has been attacked in the past couple days for a) pointing out a weakness of Howard Dean’s via à vis Kerry and Clark: his military record, b) questioning the source of leaks immediately prior to Clark’s official entry in the race, c) publishing an e-mail from a Dean supporter attacking Josh’s credibility, and d) identifying that Dean’s position on the war in Iraq has a few nuances of its own.

I don’t think anyone can really claim that Dean’s military and/or foreign policy has the same credibility that Clark’s has. Whether you think that is an Achilles’ heel with his candidacy is another matter. And is anyone really claiming that someone in the Dean campaign wasn’t responsible for hinting to the press that Clark might be discussing the vice presidency?

As for Dean’s position on the war, the quotes Josh highlights demonstrate that Dean believed (as did most everyone) that Saddam had WMD hiding out somewhere. But Dean said then — and maintained from last fall throughout the spring — that unless Saddam posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States, then a preemptive strike in Iraq was unjustified and unnecessary. A war wasn’t out of the question — but a war led by us and without allied support (militarily and financially) just didn’t make sense.

If that’s nuanced, fine. But the crux of the buzz over the Senators (minus Graham) and Clark is that they voted for (or in Clark’s case said he’d vote for) the authorization for President Bush to go to war. Now many of those same individuals are saying that they didn’t want Bush to go to war, that the vote was simply a way of trying to spook Saddam into blinking.

I really don’t see the consistency in this position. Josh, on the other hand, does (in part, I suspect, because it mirrors his own evolution on the war and its justifications). It’s a legitimate difference of opinion. And it reflects the larger debate within the Democratic Party. But for it to descend to name-calling and cheap shots at individuals like Josh who represent the more sensible corners of the party seems childish and wholly unnecessary.

Josh will come around. As he says today, true Democrats are committed to winning the White House. Period. And if Dean’s the nominee, he’ll have Josh’s total support, I have no doubt. In the meantime, let’s all channel our respective energy into getting our candidate of choice in the game.

In the words of another Josh (aka Outlandish Josh) today:

This election is about whether or not we can break the cycle of fear and non-participation that has dominated politics for so long, and become intolerable over the past few years. Gephardt’s campaign and at least one member of Kerry’s grassroots are giving in to the dark side. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, and let’s keep turning people on with participation.


Saturday, September 20, 2003

Westwood One covering 9/25 debate

Details here.

Kerry trying to play Bartlett?

Kerry’s at it again — a second “mistake” on a mic after an interview concluded? This isn’t a great tactic, Senator Kerry. If you’ve got something on your mind, come out and say it.

It made good TV on The West Wing a few years back: remember when President Bartlett claimed he wasn’t aware that the on camera interview he did was “still recording”? It came across well — gave him deniability, could claim it was an off-hand remark (“Governor Ritchie is a .22 caliber mind in a .357 world”) not intended for broader distribution. And still he got the benefit of the airtime broadcasting the remark.

But twice in a week? If Kerry pulls a Naked Gun moment and shows up in a bathroom while still mic’d, I’ll believe it. Otherwise, I’ll remain certain that this is poorly disguised strategy of slamming Dean while not slamming him.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Line56: InterAction 5.1 announcing on Monday

And the last shall be first, I guess. Just spoke to Line56 today as our final briefing on our press tour (this was the third week in a whirlwind tour through London, Boston, New York, and several remote briefings on the web) for InterAction 5.1, the latest release of our CRM software application for professional services firms.

And they’re already reporting our announcement that’s coming on Monday.

The details are mostly right, though there’s a bit more to it than just a button in Outlook. But when there’s no application demo to do (for whatever reason, that wasn’t in the cards in this briefing) we were limited to a 20 minute phone conversation.

All in all, not bad. Most other publications are respecting the embargo until Monday, so expect to see a lot more coverage starting Monday.

Going offline to improve customer service?

That’s the plan at Phones 4U in Britain, where it looks like Phone 4U’s owner John Caudwell broke his neck one too many times. Someone needs to screw his head on straight:

He estimates the ban will save staff three hours a day and his company at least £1 million a month in saved time.

The biggest benefit from the ban would be increased customer loyalty as staff focused on providing a better service, he said.

“The quality and efficiency of communication have been increased tremendously in one fell swoop — things are getting done and people aren’t tied to their PCs.

“The net result is that the business has been dramatically liberated, leaving the typical Phones 4u person with an extra three hours a day to concentrate fully and without distraction on sales and customer service.”

See there? Just like that he’s saving money, saving people 3 hours a day and increasing customer loyalty. He’s a genius.


Join DeanLink

What are you waiting for? Go sign up for DeanLink (it’s free!) and find out who is supporting Governor Dean in your neighborhood. Link to people you’ve never met (but want to — poke around, there are some pretty famous people lurking in DeanLink!), find people who share common interests.

As you build your own network, you’re creating a tool for communicating with your “circle” — and giving others a way of reaching you.

I’ve made some great connections that wouldn’t have been possible without DeanLink. I hope to see you there!


Ahoy, me hearties! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

(About Talk Like a Pirate Day.)


Thursday, September 18, 2003

Chronicles of a volunteer in Burlington

Outlandish Josh is in Burlington, and writing about his experiences.

And David Weinberger just showed up, where Josh gave him a walk-through of DeanSpace, the latest collaborative effort designed to make the grassroots communities self-organizing.

Burlington is the place to be these days, isn’t it?

2004: 1972 or 1968?

Enough already. The “Dean is McGovern” meme just won’t die, which is really code for “he’s too liberal and he’ll lose everywhere just like McGovern did in ’72.”

I think these analogies are off by a few years.

At the 1968 Democratic Convention, party bosses controlled the nomination process, resulting in Humphrey’s nomination. This infuriated the grassroots of the party and left many feeling alienated from the process. To appease the party’s base in the wake of their loss to Nixon, the party drafted a group to oversee a reform effort, headed by Senator George McGovern (himself a presence in ’68, and a hero of the left for his opposition to the war in VietNam).

McGovern enacted several reforms, resulting in the far more democratic nomination process we have today. But in so doing, he pissed off many of the people whose help would be instrumental in a Democratic victory over the incumbent Nixon. Result? Jimmy Carter leading the “Anybody but McGovern” contingent of southern governors. LBJ refusing to endorse him. Mayor Daley, still smarting over their remarkable showdown at the ’68 convention (Daley was caught on camera, middle finger extended, yelling “Fuck you!” repeatedly at McGovern), didn’t lift a finger to mobilize the fabled Chicago machine. A Vice Presidential candidate who’d been treated with shock therapy for depression (bad enough, but made worse by the fact that McGovern didn’t know until the press broke the story, resulting in McGovern eventually dropping him from the ticket). The list goes on: McGovern ran a terrible campaign.

So while many want to make the comparison between Dean and McGovern, I think the more interesting lesson is this: what precipitated McGovern in ’72 wasn’t McGovern himself, it was the party leadership who insisted on controlling the process in ’68.

For those who insist on looking back 30 years for an indication of what might happen in this election, go check out these comments at This Is Not Funny or Adam Nagourney’s article in today’s NY Times and tell me if you think Dean is today’s McGovern or if Clark is today’s Humphrey.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Full-text search at archive.org

New beta full text search of Wayback Machine archives now available

Reminds me of that guy in the movie Total Recall who says, “recall, recall, recall.” You’ve seen the Wayback Machine, right? Now check out the beta search engine, from the same folks, which allows you to seach across those 11 billion plus pages in those archives from way back. from Things That…

This is seriously, unbelievably cool. Go try it — you won’t believe what you find.

Welcome to LawTech Guru Jeff Beard

It’s great to see my friend Jeff Beard join the blogosphere at LawTechGuru. And in his first week he’s already given me a great tip — Azure. It’s a Palm app that allows you to connect to your weblog app (like Movable Type”, which is what I use).

In fact, I was all set to post this to my blog from my Treo when I discovered a major shortcoming in Azure: that if you get an incoming phone call, Treo jumps to answer the phone call. And Azure goes away… the next time you launch the app it starts you at the beginning… and after you’ve spent 10 minutes laboriously typing in raw HTML on the tiny Treo keyboard and lose it, you get a bit annoyed. That’s not necessarily Azure’s fault (after all, it’s the Treo that decides to give the phone call priority), but it’s a pretty big shortcoming in my book.

Nevertheless, I really appreciate the pointer, Jeff. It’s now on my Treo and I expect it will come in handy if I ever want to add to my blog when I’m not in front of my PC.

I’m looking forward to Jeff’s continued contributions.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Trippi to Jim Jordan: Faced!

Joe Trippi just sent Jim Jordan a letter. As Josh would say, Dude! You’ve been faced!

Controlling the peace

The Marshall Plan is coming up a lot lately. Several have pointed out that the Marshall Plan, in today’s dollars, was roughly equivalent to what we’re spending in Iraq. In other words, Iraq wasn’t all that expensive by comparison, and what we’re doing has significant historical precedent.

Not so much.

I have a little (emphasis on “little”) experience when it comes to the Marshall Plan. I wrote a thesis as an undergrad in 1993 that focused on US foreign policy and the Marshall Plan. I spent a little time this morning brushing up on the Marshall Plan to make sure I wasn’t too rusty. The best online resource I could find came from the Marshall Foundation. And I even re-read my thesis. (If you allow for the fact that I was just 20 years old when it was written, and overlook the incredible reliance on just a couple sources (who is van der Beugel anyway?) it’s not entirely without merit.)

In any event, here are some figures:

  • The Marshall Plan cost $13.3b over four years. Adjusted for inflation, that number equals about $100b in 2002 (the latest year for which inflation figures are available).

  • The preparation for our Iraq invasion, aid to allies, and invasion itself cost $80b. And President Bush just asked for another $87b for the next fiscal year.

  • Vice President Cheney today admitted on Meet the Press that the administration will ask for more money and our occupation will not end in the next fiscal year.

  • To date, just $2.5b of the money spent on the war and occupation has gone towards reconstruction. And nearly 80% of the money requested by President Bush will go towards the U.S. military.

To sum up: by the end of next fiscal year, we will have spent at least $167 billion. And if current estimates hold, we’ll be spending $4b per month (which is actually half of what President Bush asked for in the next fiscal year). Let’s be optimistic and assume that the reconstruction will end by 2006 (optimistic, I know. But let’s be conservative in our cost estimates). So that means we’ll end up spending a total of $267b over four years. And if President Bush’s estimates hold over the final two years, we will have spent $350b.

In other words, when the four year tallies are in, our Iraq reconstruction will be more than double — and perhaps nearly quadruple — the Marshall Plan. (And if you subtract out what we’re spending on our own military, then the amount actually spent on the reconstruction pales in comparison to what we spent in Europe.)

But let’s look at what really made the Marshall Plan successful. Money was critical. But money alone doesn’t solve the problem. What made the plan successful was that we put the Europeans in charge. From my thesis:

The sheer amount of money that the U.S. pledged to Europe would lead one to believe that the U.S. would want to control the process as much as possible.

This was not the case. While the Marshall Plan was an American plan, the methods for implementation were European, the goals were European, and the success was largely thanks to the incredible planning required by the Europeans. This is not to say that the United States maintained a hands-off treatment of the policy — it is simply to say that the Europeans had more to do with the details of the plan than has been commonly credited.

In fact, check out the “suggestions” we made to the Europeans in advance of nailing down the aid package that would accompany the Marshall Plan:

1. Europe should prove that after four years she would be self-sufficient.
2. The balance of payments deficit of member countries to the dollar area should be eradicated by 1951.
3. Specific promises should be given by participating countries with respect to
industrial production programs.
4. Long-term capital investments should be excluded from U.S. aid.
5. Participating countries should take effective steps to create internal monetary and financial stability.
6. Steps should be taken to diminish trade barriers, with the eventual goal of complete conformity with the International Trade Organization.
7. A permanent organization should be created for the management of the recovery plan.

Question: have we heard about any such conditions placed on the Iraqis in exchange for the massive dollars we’re pouring into Iraq?

It seems to me the mistake that we’ve made so far in establishing the peace is that we’ve made it an American-imposed peace. Where is the Iraqi Jean Monnet? And that, ultimately, is the rub. In 1991, one of the reasons Bush 41 didn’t try harder to topple Saddam was the fear of a vaccuum in Iraq. The fact that there is no Jean Monnet, Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer or anyone else taking a leadership role in Iraq means that we have created that very vaccuum twelve years later. (What about Ahmad Chalabi, you ask? I’ll let Josh Marshall tackle that one.)

In other words, comparing our policy in Iraq to the Marshall Plan isn’t an apples to apples comparison. It’s not even an apples to golf clubs comparison. The Marshall Plan worked because, well, it was a plan. Beyond that, it worked because we gave up control. We had defined objectives. We ensured others had accountability to the process. And we set a timetable. (And the money spent was directly linked to those objectives.)

So where do we go from here? The Dean campaign has put together a page that pulls all of Governor Dean’s positions on Iraq. The first step is to get others involved. President Bush asked for U.N. involvement, yet maintains that we remain in control. For me, that’s the ultimate difference between the Bush Administration and the Dean campaign.

The Dean campaign model is decentralized. Its success to this point is due in part to its ability to sacrifice control in order to create momentum and energy. That energy has produced real results thus far — and there’s no reason to think that the approach wouldn’t carry over to how President Dean would run his administration.

In other words, give up some control. Success in Iraq may depend on it, just like success in Europe did.

Another convert

Over at Unfogged, “Ogged” (who is “not a lawyer and does not live in Chicago”) figures out why many of us are attracted to Dean:

I just got my first good look at Howard Dean at the Harkin Steak & Fry broadcast on CSpan. Holy shit. Electric. And two words for why Dean is doing so well: in charge. I’m amazed, now having seen him, that I’ve heard so much about the ultimate weakness of a campaign fueled by anger. That’s not an issue here. Dean comes across as less angry than driven. No doubt he’s tapping into the anger his audience feels, but he doesn’t have anything like McCain’s unpredictability. He remains in control.

And that—control, self-assurance, confidence—is what I think really attracts people to Dean.

Sounds about right. Welcome to the crew, “Ogged.” Whoever you are and wherever you do live, we’re happy to have you with us.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Chris Lydon interview with Mathew Gross

If you’re interested in some behind-the-scenes information about the official Dean campaign weblog, be sure to listen to Chris Lydon’s interview with Mathew Gross, the “chief blogger” for the campaign.

The Dean Faithful

Back a couple weekends ago, John Kerry was on Meet the Press and I remarked that Kerry appeared to be avoiding Russert’s Dean baiting:

Kerry’s got to be thinking that if he manages to navigate through this race with the nomination in hand, he’ll need the fiercely motivated Dean supporters behind him.

And that seems to be the conclusion reached by Richard Blow, writing at TomPaine.com:

[T]he Dean campaign has brought such unexpected energy into the Democratic primary that the Dems now have an entirely different problem: If Dean loses, the party will probably lose in November 2004. …

It’s true, a Howard Dean victory may pose a challenge for the Democrats. Dean has to show he can run credibly in the South, and he needs to get black and Latino voters as fired up as he has white Democrats. But as problematic as his candidacy might be, Howard Dean is making it increasingly difficult for the Democrats to nominate anyone else.

If the other candidates aren’t careful, those attacks sure could backfire…

My prediction: the flip-flop meme sticks as the press look for a characterization of the Dean campaign that allows them to appear more objective. But when the fundraising totals are released for Q3 and Dean raises as much as $15 million (which would beat Clinton’s record of $10.3 million at this point in a campaign), the press will adopt the theory outlined by Blow above: that Dean’s energy — and money — are simply too big and growing too fast for any other candidate to beat him.

It’s a variation on this theory that led Matthew Langer to predict that Wesley Clark’s big announcement won’t be that he’s running for President but that he’s agreed to be Dean’s VP. Unconventional? Sure. Likely? Maybe not. But the double-whammy would prove to be too much for at least two of the campaigns. And there’s a certain elegance to it: Clark has to know that entering the race creates more confusion. Joining Dean (or any other candidate for that matter) preemptively would be about the only presidential campaign news to thoroughly dominate the news cycles (everyone else, of course, will be focused on California’s election in early October).

The next couple weeks will be telling.

K Street

Get those Tivos ready, kids. K Street premieres tomorrow night on HBO. From HBO’s website:

Executive produced and directed by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, HBO’s latest groundbreaking series is an experimental fusion of reality and fiction—an entertaining, fly-on-the-wall look at government, filmed in and around the corridors of power in Washington. Starring Beltway insiders James Carville, Mary Matalin, Michael Deaver—and a host of political celebrities. Premieres Sunday, September 14 at 10:35 p.m.

According to today’s New York Times, Dean appears in the first episode and may have even received some pre-debate assistance from pols Paul Begala and James Carville.

Friday, September 12, 2003


And you thought it was just the deficit that was getting bigger...

… and if that’s the case, you’re missing the growing bellies in blogland. Over at Bag & Baggage, there’s Denise’s pre-pre-pre-pre-law training. And Markos (he of the immensely popular Daily Kos political site) is documenting the joys of the third trimester (or, as I like to refer to it, as the “can’t we just move on to the part where we don’t sleep for a year?!” period).

As both Denise and Kos’s wife Elisa get closer to the Big Day, my only advice is this: get out and see movies now. Go to a restaurant. Savor these last quiet moments. Believe it or not, you’ll look back on these days and wonder what exactly you did with all your “free time” before it was all consumed by the thing of beauty that is your child.

Good luck, and stay healthy!

Update: Will Cox tells me that Larry Staton and his wife are expecting in the next week or so. Perhaps that explains Larry’s quiet blog of late? :)

Feedster is a search engine

Feedster is a search engine for RSS feeds. But, I was just over at Gadgetopia and see that I can now search Feedster from my MSN Messenger. This is awesome!

Scott Johnson, the guy who wrote Feedster, is doing 30 Feedster features in 30 days.

[via The Scobleizer Weblog]

Wow is this cool. Try it out. Add feedbot@hotmail.com to your MSN messenger (or Trillian, which is what I use for instant messaging) and type in your query (like “search klau”). Pretty slick.

DeanLink - further explanation

This is a copy of the e-mail I just sent to our local Dean mailing list to explain some of the benefits of DeanLink. Given that DeanLink (in my opinion) will become the central hub of the growing Dean grassroots tools, it seemed like it might make sense to share here as well…

Why use DeanLink? DeanLink allows you to create links to other Dean supporters. (Try it: login, and then click “search supporters by zip code”, and type in your zip code.) Once you see a name of someone you recognize, or someone whose interests are similar to yours, click “DeanLink (name)” in the top left-hand corner. Now you’ve linked to them. How does this help you? Whenever that person wants to share information about the campaign, or invite their “circle” to participate in a Dean event, you’ll receive that e-mail. And anyone who links to you becomes part of your “group” that you can communicate with. Think of it as your own personal Dean mailing list!

This only works if you seek out others to link to (and invite others to link to you). So spend a few minutes searching around. Look for people nearby, start building your links.

Another feature is to “leave feedback” for others. While this is a bit limited right now, it’s a way to show that you know someone and to identify what you think their strengths are. Why is this useful? If you happen to see a DeanLink member who you don’t know, but you see that a friend of yours said they’re an “enthusiastic Dean supporter”, then you know that your friend’s worked with them and they’re working hard. Even though you don’t know the person directly, you’ve got a good idea that they’re someone you might want to work with. Link to them and find out!

Finally, there are several ways to communicate with DeanLink members. I already discussed the group e-mails above. But you can also send private e-mails through DeanLink. And if you use AOL Instant Messenger, you can also find out who is currently online so you can chat with them. (Look for the little AOL “running man” icon – if it’s yellow, they’re logged in.) This makes it very easy to find others to chat with about what you’re doing on the campaign.

And if you haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for?! Go to the sign-up page — it just takes a few minutes!

So take some time to poke around the system. Search for people you’ve met through the campaign by name, and create links to their DeanLink page. Search by zip code and find people nearby who share similar interests to you so you can link to them as well. And send messages to people you know to make sure they link to you — that way you can grow your “group” within the system.

If you have any questions, there’s an introductory FAQ that should be helpful.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Candidate's software

In his latest DaveNet, Dave Winer says this about the Dean campaign’s forays into software:

The Dean campaign made a big mistake, imho, by getting into the software business. Now it looks like the Edwards campaign is following them. Software and the candidates should be separate. A blogging tool can just as easily be used to advocate for a Republican or a Democrat.

To clarify a bit, the DeanSpace effort is in fact a volunteer effort, which happens to be loosely coordinated by the campaign (on the theory that the volunteers were going to do it anyway, why not have a little input into the process?).

But Dave would probably have a similar reaction if he knew about the “real” software the campaign has developed. Called DeanLink, it’s social software designed to allow Dean supporters to connect to each other, find common interests, plan events, etc. (Think Ryze, but for politics.)

I wrote more about this at my Dean blog. It’s a very compelling development, and I’ve been playing with it for just a day or so. If you’re already using DeanLink, link to me and I’ll link back. Otherwise join up and let me know you’re out there!

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

In Boston

In the middle of a press and analyst tour, getting the press ready for an announcement we’ll make in a couple weeks. We’re getting far more positive feedback than we’ve had in the past: evidence of the benefit of staying power (in many cases, this is our fourth presentation in front of folks like Yankee Group, Aberdeen Group, eWeek, etc.) and for those that are new, they’re hearing something real (we have 400 customers and 200,000 users worldwide, not just a PowerPoint and a good pitch) with demonstrable benefits to the bottom line.

PR is so much easier when you’re not lying.

I’ll go home tomorrow, then we head out next week to meet with the NYC media.

Join DeanLink

Thanks to a breakfast meeting this morning with Jock Gill (an advisor to the campaign and one of the guys behind DeanLink), I finally paid attention to DeanLink and want to strongly recommend it.

What is it? It’s social software — meaning that it’s a way for people who have common interests to find each other. (If you’ve seen Friendster, Ryze, or Linked In you have an idea of what this is.) The difference with the Dean campaign is that they’re aggressively building tools that allow supporters to self-organize.

As if we needed further evidence, this is just another example of the campaign’s embrace of decentralization. Instead of controlling the message, they encourage weblogs. Instead of controlling the activists, they create the Get Local tools. Instead of controlling the organizations, they create DeanLink. What can you do with DeanLink? You identify people you know, people you’ve run across, people you’re interested in. They can reciprocate, or not.

As your network grows, you have an ability to identify people within your network with certain skillsets. Looking for people who are interested in environmental policy who are nearby? DeanLink will tell you who they are. Want to find out if there are new Dean supporters in the area who live nearby (or in your building)? DeanLink can reveal that.

The implementation is still new. so there are some rough edges. But the campaign has shown their willingness to hear what you like and what you don’t… so send e-mail to deanlink at deanforamerica.com or leave comments to this post and tell me what you’d like to do that you can’t currently with DeanLink and I’ll relay that back to Burlington. In the meantime, sign up so that we know who you are and your neighbors can find you!

Update: Be sure to read the DeanLink FAQ for more info.

On my wishlist: RSS feeds for my Deanlinks, for new supporters by zip code, etc.

Welcome to Salon.com readers!

Well, well. Imagine my excitement to find out I’m quoted in Salon.com today, only to see the implication is that I don’t care about minority support of the Dean campaign.


In fairness, I did in fact say what Farhad says I said. And I didn’t qualify my statements, didn’t offer up any other suggestion that I was concerned about the lack of minority representation in the campaign. So… my bad for not going into a bit more detail on the blog.

But there’s an interesting rub: Farhad never contacted me for the story. I wasn’t given a chance to respond to the quote, not given a chance to provide any context. So my statement hangs out there, mainly because it serves the overall hook for the story. I’m not sure whether I think this is a mistake on Farhad’s or Salon.com’s part… just a bit frustrated with the convenience of using the quote and ultimately representing me as the voice of those who believe that this is just an overblown media issue. (For the record: Farhad did contact me when he wrote Blogland’s man of the people back in July.)

Two responses to the piece: overall, I’m glad to see so much interest expressed at all levels (both official campaign representatives as well as volunteer supporters) at the needs to expand Dean’s message and reach out to those who might not be “wired.” And had Farhad called me to discuss this article ahead of time, I could have pointed out that I am in fact one of those people: as I mentioned last week, I went and spoke to a Seniors Center a couple weeks ago to discuss Howard Dean; not one person in the room had ever used e-mail. And this weekend, I’ll be fliering at the Mexican Heritage Festival in West Chicago, IL, as well as marching in the parade to help spread Dean’s message (with bi-lingual fliers, by the way) to groups that haven’t had strong representation at our local MeetUps and candidate events.

Bottom line:

This is an important issue. Do I think the press is blowing it out of proportion? Absolutely. (Where are the articles about Graham’s lack of minority interest? Edwards? Lieberman’s? Answer: there aren’t any, because they’re not attracting anywhere near the crowds Dean is.) But do I think the campaign needs to aggressively go after these constituencies early? Without question.

The ultimate message of Farhad’s article is that the campaign is responding to this challenge just like it does many others: by relying on the decentralized legions of supporters who are already providing the momentum to this campaign. And I’m confident that in the next few months those legions will be quite a bit more colorfol. And that will be a good thing.

Monday, September 8, 2003

Sunday, September 7, 2003

X1 - Great download

From John Robb, a terrific product recommendation:

Bill Gross has finally launched X1, his fast search tool on the desktop (Web, e-mail, files, and attachments). There is a full-featured, no time limit, free version available. This is a good replacement for the hideous search feature in Outlook.

I just installed X1, and so far it looks terrific. Thanks John!

Edwards not running for re-election to Senate

Yahoo! News – Sen. Edwards: I Will Not Seek Re-Election

RALEIGH, N.C. — John Edwards will not run for re-election to the Senate in 2004 so he can concentrate on seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, a state party official said Sunday.

Well, that answers that question. No matter how you play it out, the Senators in the race are sure making it hard for us to avoid a Republican majority in the Senate in 2004.

Guerilla Marketing

Tell me this isn’t guerilla marketing at its finest:

(Click picture for an explanation of how this scoreboard appeared.)

Oh – and while we’re linking to the official blog, according to this post, Howard Dean will be on all three networks tomorrow morning to react to President Bush’s remarks this evening on Iraq.

DuPage for Dean in two parades yesterday

Here’s a photo from our group marching in the Bloomingdale Septemberfest parade:

We were the only presidential candidate represented in the parade and the only Democratic contingent to boot!

A larger group marched in yesterday evening’s Winfield Good Old Days parade. Three presidential candidates were represented: Kerry (two people), Kucinich (three people) and Dean (sixteen people!). Congrats to all involved and keep up the great work!

Spam suggestions?

I’ve been using SpamCop for the past year, and have been fairly happy with the service. It’s $30/year, and it catches the vast majority of spam sent my way. But before I renew, is anyone aware of services I can use that might be better or easier than SpamCop?

SpamCop works by having my mail forwarded from my personal account to their servers, where they then process their blacklist, analyze for suspicious content, etc. I then set up my mail client to poll SpamCop’s servers, where I get my non-spam e-mail.

I’m looking for a server-based solution — I don’t want to download the e-mail then process for spam. SpamCop may be the right answer — but I’d like to know what my options are. Do any of you have good experience with other systems that I should look at?

Thursday, September 4, 2003


Allow me to step out of my Dean partisan shoes for a minute and note two very promising developments in competitive campaigns:

  • John Kerry’s campaign kick-off in Boston attracted 15,000 supporters at Faneuil Hall.

  • John Edwards’s campaign launched their weblog today, which is based on Slash, the open-source software that was originally built to support Slashdot. Based on a quick skim of the site, it looks solid and promises to provide some good lessons for other campaigns.

This presidential campaign is very, very different. We have candidates who are raising more money from more people than ever before (proving that people are interested in politics, and willing to put their money where their mouths are). We have campaigns who are redefining what it means to build grassroots organizations. And at a time when 2/3 of Democrats still can’t name a single candidate in the race, campaigns are turning out tens of thousands people to hear them speak.

Tell me that doesn’t make you excited. If this is what we’ve got with just a 1/3 of the party paying attention, can you imagine what this will be like in three months?

Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

The Investor Class

Over at Politics & Law (a great new blog by Jeremy Kissel), I saw this statistic (quoting a poll in the Rasmussen Report):

[T]he Investor Class gap … exists for all Democratic candidates. Bush leads Dean 51% to 33% among Investors and 40% to 35% among non-Investors. …

Just under half of all Americans belong to the Investor Class. Investors are more likely than others to vote, so they make up nearly 60% of the voting public.

I wonder how many of those polled know that Dean is a third generation stock broker? That he grew up in Manhattan and worked on Wall Street before going to medical school? That he balanced budgets in Vermont, paid down debt, created a rainy day fund? (My guess: few, if any.)

I’d love to see the results of this poll if it were done in the same vein as, say, Clark’s “blind bio” poll against Bush. (To refresh: Zogby ran a poll where Clark’s bio — not his name, but his bio — was run against Bush. Clark won.)

Techie question - VMWare

We use VMware to build virtual machines for our sales demos. It’s a great solution — we can bundle entire demo environments on a single DVD (the environment includes the OS, the database, the applications, etc.) and get them out to sales people.

But there’s one flaw in the system: the environments all have the same machine name. When you try and boot up the environment, if you’re connected to our network, you get an error that a machine with that name is already connected. In order to successfully boot up the virtual machine, you have to first disconnect from the network, login to the virtual machine, then reconnect to the network.

Is anyone aware of a way to either (a) avoid the duplicate machine name check in Windows, or (b) mask the machine name in such a way as to have it pass the dupe check?

(In case you’re wondering, yes, as I understand it, we need the virtual machines to be attached to our domain — something to do with the installation of Exchange in the virtual machine environment.)

Pop quiz

Ed Cone — How often is God mentioned in the Constitution of the United States?