Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Dean Machine

Dear Paramendra,

Less than 24 hours ago we launched a two-week drive to send a clear message that Democrats want to grow our party everywhere -- and we're already close to reaching the goal.

If we hit the goal we'll keep going, because we're not going to let up on this. During these two weeks we're going to make the clearest case possible for the 50-state strategy and back it up with a potent force. That's you.

Earlier this week I asked our Executive Director Tom McMahon to put together some facts and figures for you -- his message is below. There's a lot of information there, but questions have been raised about the 50-state strategy and I want you to have as many facts as possible in order to make your own decision and spread the word to others to make theirs.

Results like these are just the beginning of what we will achieve with a simple new principle governing our party: People count.

Stand up and be counted now:

Thank you.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.


TO: Paramendra Bhagat
FROM: Tom McMahon, Executive Director, DNC
RE: 50-State Strategy Results

Per Governor Dean's request, I have put together a few facts and figures for you on the successes of the 50-state strategy. I have made one last-minute addition to this memo -- at the end you will find excerpts from a USA Today profile of our 50-state strategy in action in my home state of Nebraska. It ran on Wednesday as we were preparing this message for you.

Critics say that our 50-state strategy focuses on the long-term at the expense of winning this year. As you will see, that simply is not true. Here are a few important results that our 50-state strategy has produced already:

MISSISSIPPI: Republican Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Democrats representing competitive districts in the state legislature to various boards and commissions, triggering four special elections at a time when he believed that his personal popularity would translate into new Republican legislators. Just a few months prior, the 50-state strategy had taken the number of Democratic Party staff in Mississippi from one full-time person to five. By organizing on the ground the way Democrats in Mississippi haven't had the resources to do in a generation, we swept all four special elections. Now Gov. Barbour has four more Democrats holding appointments in his administration and the same number of Democrats sitting in the legislature.

OHIO: The 50-state strategy means new staff in Ohio who have been reviving the field organizing efforts across the state. In a place where it had been typical to build and tear down an entire campaign infrastructure every election cycle, new staff are creating permanent organizing teams in every single county. These teams will be responsible for various functions during the course of the very competitive campaigns there in 2006 -- and won't disappear after Election Day.

SOUTH DAKOTA: With the added boost from new staff and resources, Democrats fielded a record number of legislative candidates this year, recruiting challengers in nearly 40% more races than in 2002.

INDIANA: With fresh resources and energy, Indiana Democrats have been making waves. The Indianapolis Star reported recently that, "Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state Republicans have taken a beating in recent months from the Indiana Democratic Party" thanks to the 50-state strategy, which provided the opportunity to hire a full-time spokesperson. Indiana is also the first state in the country to hold elections under new laws that requires voters to use photo identification that includes an expiration date. Predictably, rightful voters have been disenfranchised by this law. New staff and resources have helped collect data from the May 2nd primary election that will be needed to appeal to the federal court.

OKLAHOMA: The 50-state strategy has been credited with re-energizing grassroots throughout the state. In April, the new staff paid off when the Democratic candidate scored an upset victory, unseating a Republican incumbent as mayor of Tulsa.

NEW YORK: In rural upstate New York, which Republicans rely on for their base voters, unprecedented ground organizing is showing that the 50-state strategy means leaving no county behind. Already, new staff on the ground have identified 12,000 new Democratic voters -- voters who we will get to the polls this November and in elections to come, helping Democrats up and down the ballot.

UTAH: Already, 2006 marks the best candidate recruitment for the Utah Democratic Party in over 15 years. Democrats have recruited candidates for every single State Senate race, and Democrats have challengers running in ten State House races that went unopposed in 2004. The recruitment efforts, led by new staff deployed as part of the 50-state strategy, include not only life-long Democrats but also six Republicans who have switched parties.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Regional field organizers deployed as part of our 50-state strategy have already racked up important wins. They have already worked hands-on to elect three new Democratic members to the State House -- in seats that had been held by Republicans since 1912.

These are just a few of the amazing things happening across the country as a result of a 50-state strategy. Remember, we cannot win in every state until we organize and mobilize Democrats in every state.

As Governor Dean says, we can wait around for the pendulum to swing back in some of these states -- or we can get out there and give it a push. To step up and give it a push yourself, donate here:


Here are excerpts from the article that appeared this week in USA Today:

Democrats rebuild on the prairie
By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY

[...] When Howard Dean ran for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he promised state parties he would spread money and professionals around the country in a long-term quest for viability in "red" Republican states. He's followed through with a 50-state plan to revive moribund state and local organizations.

Dean says Democrats have dug themselves "a deep hole" by focusing on one election at a time, usually in the "blue" states where Democrats are strong. "That's a cycle that has to be broken. We want a long-term business plan," he says. [...]

The state was a low priority for the DNC. Of the $731 million the party raised for the 2004 elections, Nebraska got $12,000. "The national Democrats were sucking money and volunteers" out of Nebraska, state party chairman Steve Achelpol says. Adds executive director Barry Rubin, "They called us an 'export state.'"

Times have changed. The DNC is now spending $120,000 a year to pay the salaries of three organizers and a spokesman here. Nationwide, the party has hired and trained about 190 people in 50 states in its $10-million-a-year program. The goal is to create voter lists and activist networks that don't vanish when campaigns are over or powerful Democrats retire [...]

Success stories cited by the DNC include West Virginia, where the party created a precinct program to bolster organizing and turnout and has recruited leaders for almost half the state's nearly 2,000 precincts; and South Dakota, where the state party fielded candidates for 94 of the 105 legislative seats -- 26 more than in 2002. [...]

Two years ago, 11 Democrats were on the November ballot for the state Legislature; this fall there will be 15. Four years ago, Democrats had a candidate in one of three races for Congress.

This year they have candidates for all three seats: cattle rancher Scott Kleeb, attorney Jim Esch and former lieutenant governor Maxine Moul. All three are "a cut or two above" the usual in quality, says state politics expert Robert Sittig, a retired University of Nebraska professor. [...]

Click here to read the rest.

Don't forget to stand up and be counted:


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In The News

Howard Dean Supports Gay Tax Revolt, But Media Silent NewsByUs, ID
Howard Dean: Karl Rove Lied About Committing Perjury! Wizbang, DC
Brown Dings Dean: With Dems, 'Don't Know What I'm Voting For' NewsBusters
DNC Chairman Howard Dean Statement on Primary Election Results U.S. Newswire (press release), DC
Howard Dean is at it again, TX
Al Gore is a Model Democrat, Says Howard Dean, FL
The World According to Howard Dean Human Events

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hakeem Jeffries: Principled Compromise

Looks like this election hinges on one thing: this Atlantic Yards thingie. This was an issue also in Bloomberg's reelection effort. It is some kind of a project I don't know much about. Bill Batson is against it. Hamilton is for it. Hakeem Jeffries wants a "principled compromise."

I plead ignorance. I don't know a whole lot. I am not too familiar with the local contours of what Hakeem is dealing with. But if I were to offer advice, it would be as follows.

(1) Really work on schmoozing. Shake many hands, say many hellos. Don't get too hung up on issues. Show your human face. Feel easy, make people feel easy. Come across as folksy. Down to earth, in touch. You are highly qualified. That is a plus. But you run the danger of coming across as bookish. Walk the streets. Have fun. Do some barbecue stuff.

(2) Right does not always win. My instinct says you have the most sensible stand on this Atlantic Yards thingie. You are not posturing. You are trying to make the best out of the situation. You want to work a compromise. But you run the danger of coming across as not strong enough, not willing to pick the fight. So do pick a few fights along the way. Don't leave the "principled compromise" plank. But do cite a few instances that might make you want to leave the plank and go anti-Yards. So that although it is "principled compromise," it is "principled compromise" from a position of strength. Also work to show that a blanket opposition to the project is not a position of strength but weakness, because that is like not having the guts to deal with the nuances. Be prepared to run an attack ad or two on that theme.

Summary: Appear folksy, appear strong. Lose your temper a few times if you have to, if you feel like it, don't restrain. Be easy on the smile.

Bill Batson

He walked over to shake my hand at the DFNYC event. (Dean, DFNYC, Daily Kos, Justin, Brooklyn, Nepal) I saw him again at the Mixer where Howard Dean showed. He comes across as a nice guy. But I got to throw in my lot with Jeffries. I am trying to stay on Leila Noor's good side! (Who Is Leecia Eve?)

Besides I genuinely like Hakeem. This guy is making a major financial sacrifice to make a trip to Albany. I like that. And he is so very highly qualified. He is part of the new breed of African American leaders who will give pound for pound in the merit department to any white competitor. He is so clearly part of the Obama Brigade. (Barack The Glass Walls, Ceilings, Smash 'Em)

It was at that Brooklyn event that Hakeem spoke the magic phrase: principled compromise. First time I heard it. And the second time I heard that something about him and his wife! This guy is more interested in getting things done than in posturing.

Hakeem Jeffries has this non politician style about him. He speaks soft. He is so obviously intellectually curious. He is constantly foraging for that next nugget in the conversation. And he is open to the possibility that nugget might come from you.

He oozes promise. He could go national down the line.

Obama Brigade

During my very first conversation with him Hakeem informed me of the new breek of black politicians emerging across the country. It is not enough for them to know of each other. There is a need for formal networking, perhaps an organization.

You rise together.


Every other black politician calls himself Barack these days.

If Barack Obama were to call you what would you say?

"Yeah, right? Barack Obama? If you are Barack Obama, I am Neil Armstrong."


DFNYC did not endorse Hakeem. I lost some respect for the organization. Granted the decision was through a vote, but that is no excuse.


"I am not African American, and I am not going to pretend I am, but I am blac," I told Hakeem at the first Hakeem event I showed up for.

I talked the same theme at an Asian Pacific American get together this weekend that was quite well attended. Rocky Chin organized it. One lady there knew Hillary, been in the White House in 1992.

I gave up on the chopsticks after about six tries. I asked for a fork. Blac is tricky.

I said let's use MySpace for networking, and everyone burst out laughing. My next suggestion was let's have more icebreakers, team building exercises, and everyone burst out laughing. I don't get it. What's funny?

On The Web

Hakeem Jeffries - New York Rising Star - 40 under 40| Crain's New ... grew up in a middle-class home in central Brooklyn ..... an eloquent and highly paid litigator for CBS Corp., which deploys him to tackle complicated cases and quash high-profile lawsuits. Two years ago, when CBS was part of Viacom Inc., he worked on the suit filed in Utah over Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction........ NYU Law School graduate ...... shocked the political establishment in 2000 by nearly defeating 20-year Brooklyn Assemblyman Roger Green....... Mr. Jeffries' residence was spitefully drawn out of the district, but, along with his wife and their two children, he moved back into it ...... Winning would mean a massive pay cut and a commute to dreary Albany Hakeem Jeffries - Moving Brooklyn Forward graduating from Midwood High School in 1988..... bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York, graduating with honors for outstanding academic performance in 1992. .. attended graduate school at Georgetown University, where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Public Policy in 1994. While at Georgetown University, he also worked in the administration of Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. ...... attended law school at New York University, where he was a member of the law review. .. graduated magna cum laude from NYU law school in 1997, finishing in the top 10 percent of his class and delivering the commencement speech at graduation. In 1998, he clerked for the Honorable Harold Baer, Jr. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. ...... Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an internationally renowned law firm, where he practiced law between February 1999 and December 2003........ continues to provide pro bono legal advice to neighborhood community groups, most recently in support of anti-displacement efforts in Central Brooklyn. ....... lives in Prospect Heights with his wife Kennisandra, a social worker, and their sons, Jeremiah, 4, and Joshua, age two.
SVA 2002 Supporters - Hakeem S. Jeffries for NYS Assembly
Why Gerrymandering Must Go (Gotham Gazette. February 14, 2005)
Gotham Gazette's Eye On Albany: New York State Assembly: District 57
The New York Observer Politicker: A Pay Cut for Public Office?
January 17, 2005
Atlantic Yards Report: Hakeem Jeffries: a tougher stand on ...placed a half-page ad in this week's Brooklyn Downtown Star, an "open letter in an attempt to continue the dialogue" about the Atlantic Yards project. Maybe he's been listening to constituents, maybe he needs to nudge closer to rival Bill Batson's anti-Atlantic Yards stance, or maybe he's just reframing his previous sentiments....... mainly as a housing program, not--as originally billed--"Jobs, Housing, and Hoops." ...... There is a housing crisis that is suffocating our neighborhoods. Without a signficant infusion of affordable housing, working families, the middle class and senior citizens will continue to be pushed out of Central Brooklyn. The Atlantic Yards project does have the potential to help alleviate our housing crisis by setting a high standard for the inclusion of affordable apartment units here and in future development.... projects, like this one, using public subsidies and on public land ...... I do not support the use of eminent domain by a private developer to build a basketball arena. ..... “If it’s necessary to create the jobs and housing, then I think we have to take a hard look at the arena,” said Jeffries. ..... The profit to the developer would come mainly from the market-rate housing: 2360 condos and 2250 rentals, not to mention solid revenue from the 2250 affordable rentals....... The proposed project is too dense and would dramatically change the character of the tree-lined residential neighborhoods that it borders. ...... 16 high-rise residential buildings ...... Moving forward, it is important that there is an open process and active public participation at every step, so that whatever is ultimately built is consistent with the neighborhood's values and aspiration...... As your elected representative, I will work day and night to bring about a principled resolution that both alleviates the affordable housing crisis and addresses the serious concerns raised in opposition to this project....... Another reason for the Jeffries' stance may be an effort to distinguish himself from the third candidate in the race, 57th Democratic District Leader Freddie Hamilton, who unequivocally supports the Atlantic Yards project.
Bill Batson
20 years of community-based, city and statewide activism ..... recently resigned from his post as New York State Senate Democratic Leader David A. Paterson’s Director of Community Relations ...... In 2001, Bill was campaign manager for Norman Siegel for Public Advocate..... first came to the 57th Assembly District in 1979 to attend Pratt University .... Bill is finishing his undergraduate degree at the City College’s center for worker education. View Bill's Artwork
Brooklyn’s Barack? Batson declares for Assembly, could block AY project
..... There’s a whiff of the Barack Obama phenomenon about Batson: the biracial “son of an immigrant from Kenya” (in the words of UAC’s Sidique Wai), who grew up in the 'burbs (Teaneck and Nyack) but has lived in Brooklyn (mostly) since he began studying art at the Pratt Institute in 1979. (He's been in the district for five years.) Behind him, his adoptive mother (black) stood proudly and, off to the side, his girlfriend (white) beamed........ “Bill will build bridges across the racial divide that unfortunately still exist in subtle and sophisticated ways,” declared Siegel ...... Batson later cited the need to bridge the gulf between Africans and African-Americans, as well...... Batson’s candidacy—however broad the issues he addresses—will be seen by some as a referendum on the Atlantic Yards project, which he opposes. That’s why a good handful of the three dozen or so supporters in attendance were from the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn coalition. The issue has salience: Siegel lost big to incumbent Betsy Gotbaum in last year's election, but he won the 57th AD.......... he's an excellent candidate for one-issue (Atlantic Yards) voters ...... Green, a staunch supporter of the project..... “It’s not about the names,” he added, thus avoiding mention of the other declared candidate, attorney Hakeem Jeffries, who ran a strong race against Green in the past and, as of February, had already raised nearly $60,000. (There was no talk yesterday of Batson's war chest.) Jeffries has called for a “principled compromise” regarding the Atlantic Yards plan. Batson’s unequivocally opposed...... a win in the Democratic primary is tantamount to election ..... The Obama comparison isn't quite fair--the Illinois Senator-to-be was a far more polished speaker when thrust upon the national stage ......... Over 40 million square feet of new… development has been approved in Downtown Brooklyn in the absence of a master plan..... this wave of development on steroids ...... the funds used in this development bonanza that could be used for schools or keeping hospitals open ...... we have more development than we can afford ..... "Forest City Ratner's development is only nine million square feet of the problem. I say nine million square feet too much." ....... “They call it blighted, and then they give away to somebody to come in and build a massive private development because it’s going to help us, to work as service workers there—I don’t think so” ..... Batson has made a practice of sketching people he notices on the subway
Atlantic Yards Report: Parsing Hakeem Jeffries' views on Atlantic ... Batson unequivocally opposes the Atlantic Yards project. Jeffries, according to a report Thursday in the Brooklyn Downtown Star headlined Jeffries Concerned About, But Not Opposed To, Yards, has more nuanced view. And a closer look at his statements suggests that his fence-sitting could easily migrate to support--especially given the clearer sentiments expressed in an article in the Courier-Life chain. ..... This issue has been threatening to divide people in the district along race and class lines. Bringing in 15,000 people into a community [Prospect Heights] that has only 19,000 already...I need to know how that's going to affect police, fire, sanitation, schools, all kinds of services. I have strong questions. ... Jeffries said there is a complex set of problems that the community faces when thinking about Atlantic Yards, including affordable housing and the massive unemployment among men of color between the ages of 18-35.
“You don’t just tackle these complex set of problems by saying, ‘yes you should build, or no, under no circumstances
........ some of the complex social ills that exist in central Brooklyn ....... Anyone making the case that this is a race about Atlantic Yards will first have to demonstrate that the election of Bill Batson will actually be able to stop what is an already runaway approval process. The incoming 57th Assembly member will have no vote on this project.
LID: Borough Politics May 3, 2004

In The News

Debate a Contrast of Styles Brooklyn Downtown STAR When it comes to contentious political issues in central Brooklyn, everybody knows about the Atlantic Yards project......... Batson and Jeffries are the clear frontrunners to succeed Roger Green's Assembly seat in the 57th District, but recently the female district leader, Freddie Hamilton, has entered the ring....... The two male rivals then refused to bait each other, and instead both lobbed a softball Hamilton's way....... On most local issues there is widespread agreement between the three candidates, except, of course, for the always-contentious Atlantic Yards proposal....... "I agree with Hakeem," said Batson. "I'd like to see more groups get involved with this process." ....... while Jeffries refrained from specifically criticizing Bruce Ratner, the mega-developer who proposed the Atlantic Yards process, Batson had no problem doing so. "I'm not saying anything about the good faith or the bad faith of this developer," hedged Jeffries, before explaining that he'd like to see better legal enforcement provisions in the contract either way.......

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Barack The Glass Walls, Ceilings, Smash 'Em

Barack, verb, to break the glass walls and ceilings
Barack Obama is hot today. He is old enough. He will still be hot four and eight years from now. But he is hot today. He is ready for prime time. He was ready in 2004. That is how he got introduced to the world.

Barack Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia. He does not feel foreign to me.

Barack Obama is biracial. He is not African American. But then his father was African, his mother American. He is more African American than the African Americans.

Barack Obama is blue, Barack Obama is red, Barack Obama is white. Barack Obama is black. Barack Obama is yellow, purple, green, magenta. Barack Obama is loud.

He will be 47 in 2008. John Kennedy was 42 when he became president. Martin Luther King was 35 when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Clinton was 46 when he became president.

You have to want to become president if you want to become vice president. A vice president is, by definition, someone who will be president should something happen to the president. It is important to have the oomph. Having the talent is not enough. You also need a burning desire. You need fire in the belly. And so I think Barack Obama needs to start amassing the bells and whistles.

Barack is black. Hillary is a woman. Both are amazing, outstanding. I don't think that is an accident. It has taken something extra for people like Barack and Hillary to make it into that ultimate white boys' club, the US Senate. They must feel the extra need to stick to their respective collective identities. Black. Woman.

Hillary has her last chance in 2008. If she does not run, she will not get another chance. If she does not win, she will not get another chance. And it will be a long time before another woman comes within striking distance of the top political job in the world.

Barack is ready, but people think he should wait. Hillary is capable, but people think she can't win. As if the country needs to grow up a little more to be able to digest some black guy, some woman. Such people don't understand what leadership is all about. You don't wait for the country to grow up. You help the country grow, you make the country grow. You become the reason the country grows. Or you are not a leader, you are someone hoping to become a constitutional monarch.

But this really is not about breaking the race and gender glass walls and ceilings. That will at best be a byproduct. The real deal is the real deal. It is about the new century and all its promises. It is about Hillary and Barack being the best possible vessels to take the country and the world into the new century.

It is Hillary Obama 2008.

It will be Hillary versus McCain, and Hillary will win. Obama's presence on the ticket will help neutralize the gender factor that some think might be a drag on Hillary. But this is not about race, this is not about gender. This is about offering the very best we have to offer.

Hillary is the first letter in the word hope, and Obama is the second.

And Mark Warner would look great in the cabinet, perhaps as Education Secretary. I got to meet the guy last night.

Three Pillars, Draft 2
Hillary 2008
Immigrant Power
The First Major Revolution Of The 21st Century Happened In Nepal
Eliot Spitzer
2008 Countdown: Hillary-Obama
Obama Votes Nay
Russ Feingold And 2008
Rahm Emanuel: Big Ideas For America
Obama, Ethics Reform, And White Dems
Karl Rove, Hands Off Hillary
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker
Hillary In Person
The Spectrum Concept: Wide Applications
A Different Kind Of Campaign, A Scientific Campaign
Primitive Liberals Need To Stop Attacking Hillary
Race, Gender, Progressive, Conservative Divides
The Spectrum On Gender
Michelle Bachelet: Yet Another Woman
Soviet Health Care In America
Politics At The Speed Of Thought
Social Progress: Show Me The Money
Blacks, Hispanics At The Core Of The Democrat Rainbow Coalition
The Spectrum/Dialogue Concept Is Key To Power
Obama Was In Town And I Missed It

On The Web

Clinton, Hillary Rodham
White House: Hillary Rodham Clinton - Hillary Rodham Clinton for Senate
Hillary Rodham Clinton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hillary Clinton Forum
Hillary Clinton For President
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton: Constituent Email Form
Hillary Rodham Clinton News - The New York Times
The Unofficial Hillary Rodham Clinton
Sen. Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama - US Senator for Illinois
Barack Obama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The New Yorker: Fact
OBAMA, Barack - Biographical Information
American Rhetoric: Barack Obama -- 2004 Democratic National ...
Transcript: Illinois Senate Candidate Barack Obama (washingtonpost ...
BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Profile: Barack Obama

In The News

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton says gay marriage not main concern WCAX, VT
Sen. Clinton Attacks GOP Over Gay Marriage Amendment FOX News
Husband Bill an asset to Hillary Clinton's campaign Pasadena Star-News
Hillary Clinton is running for something
Belleville News-Democrat, IL
RICHARD BENEDETTO: Clinton's Senate run setting her up for '08
Huntington Herald Dispatch, WV
Can Hillary Win Florida or Ohio in '08? Yahoo! News
Senate run will determine Hillary’s White House chances Muskogee Daily Phoenix
Beyond the Hillary Hype Town Hall
Hillary Clinton Kicks Off New York Senate Bid FOX News
Hillary Clinton in Senate re-election bid, New Zealand
Hillary Clinton in Senate re-election bid Swissinfo, Switzerland
Democrats endorse Hillary Clinton's re-election bid People's Daily Online, China

Sen. Barack Obama calls on Wal-Mart to offer alternative fuels Blogging Stocks
Barack Obama Isn't Not Running for President TIME
Is Barack Obama looking at Presidential '08? Is America ready for ... South Carolina Headlines, SC
Senator Durbin Backing Barack Obama for President, IL
Despite Neil Young's endorsement, Barack Obama's not a candidate San Jose Mercury News, USA
Neil Young Supports A Barack Obama Presidency All Headline News
Barack Obama, CA
Despite Neil Young Song, Barack Obama Won't Run In '08, WA
Sen. Barack Obama: Bush Slogans 'Can't Hide Coffins', FL
Barack Obama jokes Conan O'Brien could be his presidential running ... WIS, SC
Barack Obama Draws Ovation From Omaha Audience Nebraska, NE
Senator Barack Obama Calls on Wal-Mart and Other Large National ... All American Patriots (press release), Sweden
Senator Barack Obama Introduces Bill Requiring Oil Companies to ... All American Patriots (press release), Sweden
Obama: Writes outrageous letter to Stephen Colbert! Read it here. Chicago Sun-Times, United States


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