March 2005 Archive:

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Montana 2006 Senate: New Poll

Posted by Bob Brigham

Montana Senator Conrad Burns only has a 36% re-elect number. The new poll, by the DSCC, shows Burns to be one of the most vulnerable Senators in the land.

A re-elect number under 40 means that Burns is seen by the voters as a failure who does not deserve to return to DC.

This new poll is the latest sign that Burns will probably lose his seat, even if he isn't indicted for his role in the Abramoff corruption scandal.

Posted at 05:47 PM in Montana | Technorati

2006 Senate Races to watch

Posted by Bob Brigham

Larry J. Sabato, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics, has identified (in alphabetical order) the following 14 Senate races to watch in 2006 ("moderately to very vulnerable"):

FL-Bill Nelson (D) MD-Open (D)

MI-Debbie Stabenow (D)

MN-Open (D)

MT-Conrad Burns (R)

ND-Kent Conrad (D)--only if GOP Governor
John Hoeven runs

NE-Ben Nelson (D)

NJ-Open (D)--only if Senator Jon Corzine is
elected governor in 2005

PA-Rick Santorum (R)

RI-Lincoln Chafee (R)

TN-Open (R)

TX-Open (R)--only if Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison runs for governor in 2006

VA-George Allen (R)--only if Governor Mark Warner (D) decides to run

WA-Maria Cantwell (D)

Sabato brings up some key points in his analysis of the 2006 battle for control of the US Senate:

On the surface, this appears to be an impressive total: 14 of 33, with another three potential retirees (mentioned in last week's email: Dianne Feinstein, Trent Lott, and Craig Thomas), which could bring the competitive total to 17 of 33--more than half! But let's look again. All three possible, additional retirees come from states that strongly favor the current party to retain control of the seat (CA, MS, WY). New Jersey would likely elect another Democrat to replace Corzine, and Texas would probably choose another Republican to succeed Hutchison. The incumbent senators, endangered though they are in FL, MI, MT, NE, PA, and RI, are all still favored to win. (We'd bet that a couple of them will be defeated in the end, but it is too soon to know which ones.) Tennessee may well elect another Republican to succeed Bill Frist, and Maryland will likely pick another Democrat to replace Sarbanes. Governor Mark Warner is actually unlikely to challenge Senator George Allen in Virginia. And Governor John Hoeven, the only real GOP hope, has not committed to challenging Senator Kent Conrad in North Dakota.

So what is left? The Senate seat in Minnesota may be the most likely to switch parties (from D to R), though we have a long way to go before reaching any definitive conclusion. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is also vulnerable, not least because of GOP anger over a "stolen" Governor's election in 2004; however, Washington leans Democratic and the Republicans have not yet lined up an impressive candidate to carry the banner against Cantwell. Finally, there will be a few other incumbent defeats from our list (and maybe off it) that cannot be clearly projected two years out.

Does that add up to a change in party control in the U.S. Senate? It's very early, but so far the Sixth Year Itch is purely theoretical in Senate races. The Republicans could drop a couple of seats, or they could even add a couple of seats, but search as one might, it is tough to find the five net seats--six with Vice President Cheney's vote--that would need to go Democratic for the GOP to lose the Senate.

Sabato also notes that this is his, "snapshot at the starting gate" and there is great potential for major shifts that are difficult to identify this early in the cycle.

I recommend bookmarking Sabato's Crystal Ball.

Posted at 03:14 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate | Technorati

IL-6 Christine Cegelis Open Seat Bid in 05/06

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Neighboring my sometimes residence of Palatine, Illinois (just outside of Chicago), there is a race brewing in the 6th Congressional District of Illinois. In 2004, with the support of grassroots organizations in Nortern Illinois, like Democracy for America, Christine Cegelis challenged congressional dinosaur Henry Hyde for his seat in the House of Representatives.

When the smoke cleared, Christine fared so much better than anyone would have even imagined in 2004, earned 44.2% of the vote, and turned the heads of insiders and outsiders across the country. She is back at it and already campaigning for 2006.

She should be the Democratic nominee. The votes that she gained were votes earned. They were earned because of her committment to grassroots, and even netroots (to some extent) outreach. The only question is, who will be the Republican nominee, and when will the election take place?

Henry Hyde is going to retire. Either that or he is going to appointed as the Ambassador to the Holy See. Whenever the race is, what is clear is that Christine will be battling for an open seat, probably against Republican Peter Roskum. As such, her campaign is already in full-swing and she is reaching out to the netroots in a meaningful way. She has already posted a few times on DailyKos, and today has a new entry up on Mydd.

If you get a chance, and want to learn more about the 6th CD in Illinois, take a look at her recent post.

Much more on Christine at SSP over the next year and a half. The race is certain to be one targeted by the DCCC. If you are from Illinois, consider volunteering to help, they already have meaningful opportunities for involvement available.

Posted at 03:08 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Illinois, Open Seats | Technorati

Senator Rich Santorum is a liar

Posted by Bob Brigham

Philadelphia Inquirer:

Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean ripped into U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum at a party fund-raiser in Old City last night.

Dean, a former Vermont governor and former Democratic presidential candidate, called Santorum, a Republican who is up for reelection in Pennsylvania in 2006, a "liar" and "right-winger" who actually lives in Virginia.

"He doesn't tell the truth," Dean told a gathering of about 150 at Bluezette on Market Street.

Dean said Santorum had voted to kill Amtrak, an important service in Pennsylvania, and had then turned around and written a piece for The Inquirer saying he supported Amtrak.

He said that Santorum should return the more than $100,000 that Santorum's declared home school district, the Penn Hills School District in Allegheny County, paid over the last few years to educate his children at the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

While attending the school online, Santorum's children actually lived at his house in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. The charter school and the Penn Hills district are in a dispute over payments for Santorum's children. Santorum has maintained that he has followed the law.

Dean joked that Santorum should "stay in Virginia," although he added that the senator was "too much of a right-winger for Virginia. How about Venezuela?"

In Pennyslvania's 2006 U.S. Senate race, Rick Santorum is being challenged by Chuck Pennacchio and Bob Casey, Jr.

Posted at 02:57 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Pennsylvania | Technorati

Karl Rove worried about Burns scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

Montana Senator Conrad Burns' re-election campaign is in such dire straights that Karl Rove is travelling all the way to Helana, Montana in a desperate attempt to bail Burns out:

While President Bush's visit kicked off discussion of Social Security privitization and reforms, Rove's appearance could bolster Sen. Burns' re-election run, according to Craig Wilson, MSU-Billings political science professor and pollster. A big-time event could help Burns shake any negative publicity surrounding what some have said are improper financial ties with a lobbying firm and a Michigan tribe, Wilson said.

For the record, Burns' problem is not "improper financial ties," but rather the fact that Burns and many of his staff are key figures in multiple corruption investigations.

But my favorite line came from the local GOP Central Committee Chairman Bill Snoddy:

Snoddy said he thinks local activists are being rewarded for all of their hard work during the 2004 campaign.

"Folks worked really hard to make a difference," Snoddy said.

Rewarded? The GOP was spanked in Montana last year. The GOP lost the Governor's mansion, the State House, the State Senate -- the Democrats had a full sweep.

Rove isn't there to reward the GOP for screwing up, he's there because all signs are indicating that it will be another bumper cycle for the Montana Democratic Party.

Senator Conrad Burns is a few depositions away from a perp walk and Congressman Dennis Rehberg (MT-AL) has been playing out of his league for so long that the odds may be catching up with him.

Posted at 02:26 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Montana | Technorati

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

2006 Rhode Island Senate: Kennedy out

Posted by Bob Brigham


WASHINGTON -- Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., on Wednesday ruled out a run for the Senate in 2006, saying he could better serve his constituents by staying in the House and serving on the Appropriations Committee. [...]

Bill Lynch, the state's Democratic Party chairman, said he thought it was the right decision because the state could suffer if it no longer had a representative on the Appropriations Committee. But he said he thought Kennedy would have easily beat Chafee.

"I have mixed feelings about it," he said. "What is clear is that there's consensus in the Rhode Island community that Sen. Chafee is very vulnerable. That much doesn't seem to be in dispute."

Another Democrat who has been mulling a run is Sheldon Whitehouse, the former state Attorney General.

Whitehouse said Wednesday that he wait until next week to make any announcements about his plans.

"I thank U.S. Rep. Kennedy for his kind words of encouragement today regarding my candidacy," Whitehouse said. "For personal reasons, I will defer making any public announcements regarding the 2006 campaign until Monday morning."

Lynch said he spoke with Whitehouse earlier this week and his sense is that Whitehouse will run.

The only declared candidate for the race is Secretary of State Matt Brown, who Langevin last week said didn't have enough experience to work in the Senate. Lynch said he didn't share that view.

From what I'm hearing, Matt Brown is the frontrunner.

Posted at 09:14 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

IA-1: 2006 Open Seat

Posted by Bob Brigham

With Congressman Nussle running for Iowa Governor, the first congressional district will be an Open Seat that Democrats can win. If they don't screw it up. Blogfather Jerome Armstrong has the details.

Posted at 09:10 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Iowa, Open Seats | Technorati

2006 Montana Senate: Conrad Burns flip-flops

Posted by Bob Brigham

Montana's Junior Senator, Conrad Burns, is flip-flopping in a desperate bid to shore up sinking support.

Kalispell Daily Interlake:

"This money will go to help Montanans transition from one line of work to another," Burns said. "These folks have been put into a difficult place and this award is a much welcome example of a good program going to good people. It's a good first step, and I'll continue doing everything I can to make sure small mills like Owens and Hurst don't ever face this kind of struggle again."


Conrad Burns Twice Opposed $678 Million for Job Training Programs.
Burns twice voted against investing $678 million in the Workforce Investment Act which provides funds for job training programs. [HJR2, 1/23/03, #24; S Con Res 23, 3/25/03, #102]

Conrad Burns Twice Opposed Extending Unemployment Benefits.
Twice in 2004, Conrad Burns voted against providing an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their state jobless benefits. [S 1805, 2/26/04, #18; S 1637, 5/11/04, #88]

Conrad Burns Twice Voted Against Overtime Pay for up to 8 Million Workers.
Burns twice against overtime pay for up to 8 million workers. In September 2003, Burns voted to implement regulations that would take away overtime pay eligibility for American workers. Again, in May 2004, Burns voted against a proposal to block the Labor Department from implementing new rules to overhaul eligibility standards for overtime pay. [HR 2660, 9/10/03, #334; S. 1637, 5/4/04, #79]

Conrad Burns Voted Against Increasing Unemployment Insurance Funding.
Burns voted against increasing spending on unemployment insurance by $16.3 billion in 2003 and 2004, offset by a reduction in tax cuts. The amendment would double the program's length the 26 weeks and expand it to include part-time and low-wage workers. [S. Amdt 315, 3/25/03, #85]

Conrad Burns extremely vulnerable and is a key figure in a major corruption scandal. This flip-flop is a sign of desperation. Even without an announced opponent, this seat is looking like it belongs in the Toss-Up column.

Posted at 08:36 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Montana | Technorati

Virginia AG: R. Creigh Deeds launches campaign

Posted by Bob Brigham

Richmond Times Dispatch:

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County formally launched his bid yesterday as the Democratic candidate for attorney general, vowing to keep a post-Sept. 11 Virginia "safe and secure."

At a Capitol news conference yesterday afternoon, Deeds touched on a wide range of issues he promised to pursue if elected to the state's No. 3 job and said he wanted to protect Virginia families and consumers.

Deeds appeared with Gov. Mark R. Warner and several Richmond-area legislators.

Warner called him "the best candidate for the job" and said, "It's going to be great for Governor Tim Kaine to have Attorney General Creigh Deeds."

Deeds became the only Democratic attorney general candidate when state Sen. John S. Edwards of Roanoke stepped aside this month. In the November election, Deeds will face either Republican Steve Baril of Richmond or Del. Robert. F. McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach. The two Republicans will square off in a June 14 primary.

Also yesterday, two statewide candidates became the first to file petitions to place their name on the primary ballot. Sean Connaughton, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors filed his for the GOP nod for lieutenant governor. He was followed by McDonnell. The petition deadline is April 15.

Posted at 08:07 PM in 2005 Elections, Virginia | Technorati

2006 Pennsylvania Senate Primary: Internet-fueled challenge

Posted by Bob Brigham

This morning's Philadelphia Inquirer:

If Chuck Pennacchio's candidacy was judged by conventional campaign standards, he would stand little chance in the 2006 U.S. Senate race.

The Democratic establishment bypassed the Philadelphia professor earlier this month to line up behind state Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. Pennacchio has never run for statewide office. And he has pledged to reject money from special interests in favor of small individual donations.

All of that could have buried Pennacchio from the start just a few years ago, but not necessarily these days when Web logs, or blogs, can lift an obscure candidate into the realm of contender.

Pennacchio and his small, Web-savvy staff have been leaving footprints across dozens of blogs during the last month, hoping their Internet presence - combined with traditional campaigning - builds a loyal grassroots following to rival Casey's stranglehold on the establishment.

"Wherever you look - we'll be there. Like a bad pop-up ad for the University of Phoenix," Pennacchio's 28-year-old blogging guru, Tim Tagaris, wrote on one Web site, referencing that school's Internet saturation.

Blogging guru, eh?

Pennacchio's Internet approach is a smart way to jump-start an outsider's campaign, such as Howard Dean did in the 2004 presidential race, said Daniel M. Shea, director of Allegheny College's Center for Political Participation.

The ol' Howard Dean comparision, I hope Tim is prepared to deal with front-runner's syndrome...

Pennacchio, who hopes to raise $3 million for the primary, has asked his supporters to start their own blogs. He spent $5,000 on his first ad buy. But that kind of money wouldn't buy a few seconds on TV or radio, so he blanketed 18 national and local blogs. Pennacchio held his first conference call in late February. But instead of gathering print and broadcast media, he discussed his campaign with 10 Pennsylvania and New Jersey bloggers, including a 16-year-old.

"They are opinion leaders and they need to be respected," Pennacchio said.

How else would SheaBrianna Christilaw, 24, a Pittsburgh student and author of the blog Urban Democracy, have gotten involved in his campaign this early? She's organizing a Friday reception during his first swing through Western Pennsylvania.

Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, a writer for Young Philly Politics, said Pennacchio appeared to be benefiting not so much from anti-Casey sentiment - "I think a lot of people were very happy with him running" - but anger stemming from efforts by Democratic leaders to clear the primary field.

"It is this presumption from the state party that they know best," Urevick-Ackelsberg, 23, said. "People want to feel more like they can have a say."

Pennacchio has "a lot of potential," Urevick-Ackelsberg said, but a far way to go.

"It would be the upset of all upsets."

More from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, scheduled to appear tonight at a Center City fund-raiser, said the party would do "anything we can" to defeat Republican Sen. Rick Santorum next year.

The expected clash between Santorum and the consensus Democratic candidate, State Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr., already is intensifying. Dean's GOP counterpart, Ken Mehlman, last week said reelecting Santorum was his party's top priority. [...]

Casey faces an Internet-fueled challenge for the nomination from Chuck Pennacchio, a University of the Arts professor.

"realm of contender"
"loyal grassroots following"
"Internet saturation"
"smart way to jump-start an outsider's campaign"
"blanketed 18 national and local blogs"
"the upset of all upsets"
"Internet-fueled challenge"

It looks like Tim has been busy when he isn't blogging for Swing State Project.

Posted at 07:25 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Netroots, Pennsylvania | Technorati

CT-2: Rob Simmons challenged to refuse DeLay Money

Posted by Bob Brigham

Campaign for America's Future:

The Public Campaign Action Fund begins a $25,000 buy of television ads also calling on Rep. DeLay to resign this week in three districts represented by Republican members Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn., Republican National Committee Chair Rep. Tom Reynolds, R-N.Y., and House Ethics Committee Chair Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.

The Campaign for America’s Future spot is available for viewing at Text of the ad follows:

“Without DeLay” TV :30

Female narrator:

He has scoffed at the law.

Male narrator:

Tom Delay. A pattern of abusing authority.

Female narrator:

Repeatedly the House Ethics Committee has found Tom Delay guilty of serious rules violations.

Male narrator:

Tom DeLay is a national embarrassment. He should resign his leadership position, if not his office.

Female narrator:

It’s time for Republicans to stand up and demand Delay’s resignation

Male narrator:

Congressman Simmons. Refuse the tens of thousands of dollars Tom DeLay’s PAC just raised for you, and clean up Congress without DeLay.

Posted at 07:17 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Activism, Connecticut, New York, Washington | Technorati

TX-22 Tom Delay corruption ads launch

Posted by Bob Brigham

Campaign for America's Future:


Campaign for America’s Future Fights Most Corrupt Congress’ Abuse of Power

WASHINGTON – The Campaign for America’s Future unveiled a new television ad today that urges Congress to “wash its hands” of Rep. Tom DeLay, highlighting the controversy surrounding the House majority leader, who is increasingly seen as a liability to his party.

The Campaign for America’s Future spot begins airing Thursday throughout Rep. Delay’s Texas district and on major news stations in Washington. The initial $75,000 buy runs for a full week.

Text of the ad:

“Washing Hands” TV :30


Tom DeLay. He’d like to wash his hands of corruption.

He'd like you to forget he's been accused of accepting a gift worth thousands from a foreign agent.

He'd like you to forget that two of his close associates have been indicted for money laundering.

Tom DeLay can’t wash his hands of corruption by involving Congress in one family’s personal tragedy.

[Onscreen:, paid for by the Campaign for America’s Future.]

But Congress can certainly wash its hands of Tom DeLay.

The Public Campaign Action Fund ads are available for viewing at

Posted at 07:10 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Activism, Texas | Technorati

2005 New Jersey Governor: Jon Corzine kicks off campaign

Posted by Bob Brigham


SEWELL, N.J. -- Jon Corzine kicked off his gubernatorial campaign with events in south and north Jersey on Wednesday, touting his experience in business and politics as he asked New Jerseyans to elect their freshman U.S. senator as their next governor. [...]

"It's time for a leader who comes to state government from a different experience: someone who is not encumbered by an old culture, historical entanglements and the status quo," he said.

Corzine, who is serving his first term in the U.S. Senate, also promised voters a campaign that would not be derailed by personal attacks.

"When I announced my candidacy in December, I pledged a campaign of substance, rather than slogans _ a campaign of ideas rather than insults _ a campaign of straight talk, not false promises," he told the crowd, which included 900 high school students and some of their parents.

Convention wisdom says Senator Corzine's popularity will easily deliver a resounding victory:

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released in mid-March, Corzine held a 50 percent to 34 percent lead over Schundler and a 50 percent to 33 percent margin over Forrester. The poll of 937 registered New Jersey voters, had a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs chief executive, entered politics five years ago, spending $60 million of his own money on a U.S. Senate campaign which he won.

He also will spend his own money on the governor's race, and reiterated Wednesday he will forego public financing.

In a deaft political move, Senator Corzine has tapped Matt Stoller to run the show over at

Welcome. This website is the online headquarters for the Corzine Connection, a coalition of interested groups, citizens, and politicians who believe that progressive political change happens only when the people are involved in politics and government. Involved in campaigns, public life, and in conversations about what kind of state we all want to live in. 

So sign up and become part of something very exciting, an entirely new way of doing politics. Corzine Connection will offer volunteer opportunities, a rolling 24 hour conversation, offline opportunities like house parties and conference calls, Corzine campaign updates, and a community of activists, leaders, and citizens.

Most of all, Corzine Connection is about you. What you care about. What you want to see done. What you are willing to work to get done.  

To get going, sign up here and leave a comment or two.

If you'd like to learn a little something about Jon Corzine, check out his biography.

I've bookmarked and you should too (Stoller's writing is reason enough to visit and visit often).

Posted at 06:24 PM in New Jersey | Technorati

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Russ Feingold, Alabama kiss and make up

Posted by Bob Brigham

Feingold made up with Greenville.

Tim has more on Feingold for President, 2008.

Posted at 10:51 PM in 2008 Election - President, 2008 President - Democrats, Alabama, Wisconsin | Comments (2) | Technorati

New York Governor: Eliot Spitzer

Posted by Bob Brigham

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is the frontrunner for Governor. Here is some background.

Eliot Spitzer 2006:

Eliot Spitzer was born on June 10, 1959 in the Bronx. He is a 1981 graduate of Princeton University and a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review, and where he met his wife Silda, also a Harvard Law School graduate.

Eliot and his wife, Silda, live in Manhattan with their three daughters, Elyssa, Sarabeth and Jenna and also maintain a home in Columbia County.

Eliot Spitzer was first elected New York State Attorney General in 1998 in a stunning upset. Eliot brought considerable experience to the office when he became the state's 63rd Attorney General on January 1, 1999. He was a clerk to United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet and then, an associate at Paul Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison.

From 1986 to 1992, Eliot served as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, rising to become Chief of the Labor Racketeering Unit, where he successfully prosecuted organized crime and political corruption cases. He later worked at the New York law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, and was a partner at Constantine & Partners. In 2002, he was re-elected New York State Attorney General with the largest winning margin--1,509,403 votes--of any statewide candidate.

There is a great tradition in New York of Attorneys General being aggressive public advocates. Since Eliot took office in January 1999, he has continued this tradition. Working with a team of dedicated professionals, Eliot has won important victories in the areas of investor protection, healthcare and prescription drugs, environmental protection, consumer affairs, civil rights, criminal justice and public safety.

When New York Magazine gave him their Public Service Award, they wrote, "... if you've heard of it, Spitzer did it. Spitzer demonstrated that you win these fights with hard work, a zest for battle--and, most of all, with facts (and a great staff). Sure he gets headlines, but unlike a lot of people in public life, he does the work that earns them. What he gets is results."

In 2003, Eliot's office recovered $1.74 billion in penalties, fees and tobacco money -- a 34 percent increase over the record $1.3 billion collected in 2002. The New York Observer editorialized, "Mr. Spitzer probably has done more to stabilize the state's finances in the last few years than any other elected official. By refusing to look the other way as C.E.O.'s and financial institutions ripped off New Yorkers, he helped bail out the state during a difficult budget crisis. "

Eliot Spitzer: The Two Billion Dollar Man – 5/26/04

The San Francisco Chronicle named Eliot their 2003 "Businessperson of the Year," saying that he was "all about looking out for the little guy." The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board called his 2003 investigation of the mutual fund industry a "public service" and the New York Times editorialized, "Investors can be grateful that the attorney general is once again propelling the inquiries."

Businessperson of the Year: Eliot Spitzer – 12/31/03

Revenge of the Investor Class – 10/23/03

Mutual Fund Misdeeds 9/5/03

TIME Magazine named Eliot Spitzer their 2002 "Crusader of the Year" for his landmark settlement with ten of the nation's largest securities firms over charges of misleading investors--and posed the question, "What will Spitzer do for an encore?"

Time Magazine names Eliot Spitzer "Crusader of the Year" – 12/21/02

Then, there is Eliot's leadership in protecting our environment. As a result of a 2002 lawsuit he filed to keep clean-air policy intact, the United States Court of Appeals recently blocked a Bush administration attempt to weaken the Clean Air Act. The New York Observer editorialized that we "need officials like Mr. Spitzer, because the Environmental Protection Agency has abdicated its responsibilities." After his settlement with Virginia Power over pollution from their power plants, the Albany Times-Union praised him in an editorial, "Take the moment to savor a rare victory. We will breathe a little easier as a result."

Spitzer versus the Pollution President – 11/16/03

State in Clean Air Lawsuit against power company – 5/21/04

Posted at 10:35 PM in 2006 Elections - State, New York | Technorati

2005 Virginia Governor, who is running Kaine's campaign?

Posted by Bob Brigham

"Democrat" Tim Kaine's campaign for Governor of Virginia is self-destructing. It is ugly, Kaine appears to be going out of his way to embarrass himself and the Democratic Party.

Last week, Kaine gave an interview lecturing Democrats on religion by employing a self-hating strategy of trying to build himself up by attacking fellow Democrats.

It failed miserably.

When I say failed miserably, I mean failing in every quantifiable manner. So let us look at this academically:

Professor George Lakoff has this to say about swing voters:

Fallacy: Progressives can gain more voters by moving to the Right.

There is a myth that voters are lined up in a left-to-right line, and that to gain the support of swing voters, you must move to the center. When progressives move to the right, they lose in two ways, setting up a self-defeating double-whammy:

1. Moving to the right alienates your progressive base.

2. It actually helps conservatives because it activates their model in swing voters.

Notice that conservatives do not gain more voters by moving to the Left. What they do is stick to their strict ideology to activate their model in swing voters by being clear and consistent in policies and messages framed in terms of conservative values.

Moral: Voters are not on a left-to-right line. Stick with your ideals, frame what you believe effectively, and say what you believe. Say it well, strongly, and with moral conviction.

Kaine has provided the textbook example.

1. Moving to the right alienates your progressive base.

I covered this yesterday on my post about the backlash documented by Chris Bowers and the Gadflyer. The Kaine campaigned excelled at proving this rule. It appears they are going out of their way to keep Democrats from supporting the campaign.

2. It actually helps conservatives because it activates their model in swing voters.

Now that Kaine has begun activating the GOP model in Swing Voters, Jerry Kilgore is piling on:

Kaine said Kilgore had questioned the authenticity of his religious beliefs. Kilgore said he was misquoted, that he was discussing Kaine's professed opposition to the death penalty.

The latest dustup in the campaign between the Democrat and Republican flared after the Washington Examiner, a daily newspaper in the Washington area, quoted Kilgore as saying in an interview Friday that Kaine never mentioned his faith in connection with the death penalty until Kaine's opposition to capital punishment became politically unpopular.

Not only did Kaine activate the conservative model in the minds of Swing Voters, but he came off as an opportunist in the process. And if that wasn't enough harm for one week, here's Kaine's spin:

Kaine likened the criticism to a "jihad," a religious holy war, but later backed away from that analogy.

Textbook indeed.

Posted at 06:22 PM in 2005 Elections, Virginia | Comments (8) | Technorati

2006 Senate: Conrad Burns' scandal hurts re-election

Posted by Bob Brigham

From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

State Democrats are demanding Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., return $137,000 in campaign contributions connected to a lobbyist now under investigation for allegedly buying favors from lawmakers.

The charge came the same day that a Washington D.C. newspaper reported that Burns had hired a GOP lawyer to mount a legal defense to clear his name. [...]

Burns has received $137,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and his tribal clients, the Post reported. Also under scrutiny is a 2001 trip to the Super Bowl for two Burns staffers that may have been paid for by Abramoff.

$137,000 and Super Bowl Tickets? Yes, Conrad Burns is a key figure in multiple corruption investigations. Remember, Conrad Burns almost lost in 2000 and is rumored to be retiring to work as a lobbyist (for Abramoff????????).

The Washington Post reported in early March that Burns had diverted a $3 million grant meant for impoverished Indian schools to the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, one of the richest tribes in the nation.

The tribe was a client of GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under investigation by the FBI and Congress for allegedly buying legislative favors with campaign contributions and bribing Congressional aides.

Senator Burns needs to give back the dirty money.

Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Brad Martin said Monday Burns' acknowledgement of Abramoff's actions should be justification enough to return the money.

"That alone should give him pause about whether that money should spend another minute in his bank account," he said.

But that money is no longer around to give back, Burns' spokesman J.P. Donovan said.

"It's all spent," he said.

Whoops, Burns spend the dirty money. Too bad, because now Burns needs a ton of money to pay big-shot lawyers for his legal defense:

Also on Monday, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that Burns had hired GOP lawyer Cleta Mitchell to oversee his legal defense as questions were raised about his connections to Abramoff.

Donovan said Mitchell was brought in as an outside observer to deal with some of the ethics allegations made against him. She is not part of any legal defense, he insisted.

Martin was a bit more skeptical.

"You don't hire someone like Cleta Mitchell if you got a press problem," he said.

Posted at 02:49 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Montana | Technorati

Skip the filter, talk directly to the People

Posted by Bob Brigham

Christian Science Monitor:

Yet politicians are beginning to see blogs are more than forums for snoops. [...]

In many ways, the blog provides politicians an opportunity to recast themselves away from the mainstream media. [...]

"Blogs are where online fundraising was before Howard Dean," says Michael Cornfield, a political scientist at George Washington University. "Radio was around for a while before [President Franklin Roosevelt's] first fireside chat.... For the Internet, nobody's had that breakthrough moment yet."

Posted at 01:15 PM in Activism, Netroots | Technorati

Monday, March 28, 2005

An Open Letter To The National Press Club

Posted by Bob Brigham

I added my name to the Open Letter To The National Press Club:

Members of The National Press Club,

We, the undersigned bloggers, are very concerned about how liberal political bloggers are being systematically under-represented and belittled in the mainstream media, academic settings and media forums. By being intentionally excluded away from these venues, we are effectively pushed out of the discourse of opinion-leaders. The result is that the conventional wisdom about blogging, politics and journalism, as it concerns liberal blogs, becomes a feedback loop framed by the Conservatives and their media allies.

Indeed, just a few weeks ago, The Brookings Institution hosted a panel that originally included no liberal political bloggers and yet while including numerous conservative political operatives in the event. We registered our protest and the Brookings Institution's response was simply to invite a few liberal political bloggers to attend, yet not sit on the panel, as we had originally insisted upon.

Today, however, we are faced with an entirely new situation that is more insult than misrepresentation. The discredited conservative media operative Jeff Gannon, nee Guckert has been invited to sit on a panel at the prestigious National Press Club to talk about the scandal surrounding his access to the White House and more generally, the similarities and differences between bloggers and journalists. Guckert's token liberal counterpart will be a gossip blogger and sex comedy blogger. While we have nothing but the greatest respect for Mr. Graff and Ms. Cox we believe that neither represents bloggers who write about hard-nosed politics. And as for Mr. Guckert, he isn't a blogger, he's barely a journalist, and not a single political blogger involved with the Gannon/Guckert scandal, or otherwise, has been invited to sit on the panel to counter Mr. Guckert's arguments.

Therefore, we the undersigned bloggers, respectfully but firmly insist that a serious political blogger such as John Aravosis, of be included on the panel to fairly and accurately represent our industry and us. Mr. Aravosis has agreed to our request that he serve on the panel as our representative and is available should such an invite be forthcoming.

This situation is simply unacceptable. We will push back against the growing bias and sloppiness we see in the mainstream media as it concerns serious political blogging. If we do not we will never achieve any semblance of balance in the media. If we do not, we abdicate our ability to tell our own side of the story. If we do not we leave it to others to define us and defame us.

Please call Julie Shue at the The National Press Club and politely insist that they include John Aravosis of at their event. Here are there numbers: 202-662-7500 or 202-662-7501 or email at and

Posted at 11:11 PM in Activism, Netroots | Technorati

Senator Jon Corzine for New Jersey Governor

Posted by Bob Brigham

Senator Jon Corzine is running for Governor of New Jersey. He is kicking off his campaign this Wednesday, March 30th:

10:30 AM
Washington Township H.S. (Gloucester County)
519 Hurffville-Crosskeys Road, Sewell, NJ

1:30 PM
New Jersey City University
Gilligan Student Union, Multi-Purpose Room
2039 Kennedy Blvd, Jersey City, NJ

Why Corzine is running:

After serious thought and consideration, I asked you here today to let you know that I hope to serve the people of New Jersey as their next elected governor.

It is a decision that didn’t come easily, but I am convinced it is the right one.

Let me be clear — I’m not running for governor as a reaction to what others have done. . . I’m running for governor for what I can do.

I’m not running for governor to oppose any individual . . . I’m running for governor to build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans.

I’m running for governor to lead a state government that gives citizens value for their hard earned tax dollars and respects the values that hold us together.

I’m running for governor because I have the CEO experience of running one of the most successful private businesses in the world and I’ve served effectively in the most important deliberative body in history.

I’m running for governor after leading a respected financial institution that was rated one of the ten best places to work in America. As governor, I hope to make New Jersey one of the best places to live, to work, to go to school, to start a business and to grow old with dignity to set a new standard of excellence.

I’m running for Governor because the causes of social justice, quality education, accessible health care, and environmental accountability are under attack across America, but they must advance in New Jersey. With this campaign we will demonstrate that progressive ideas can be far more powerful than divisive politics.

A return to the traditional American values of concern for community, belief in each other and integrity in public life must begin somewhere. With this campaign, it begins in New Jersey.

This will not be a campaign about me — it will be a campaign about us.

Five years ago, I left private life to fight for the people and causes I believe in. I’ve been very blessed in my life. I’ve had the benefit of good public schools, the strength and encouragement of my family and community, and I was afforded tremendous professional opportunities that left me better off than I could have ever dreamed.

I believed five years ago and I still do that it is my responsibility to fight so that everyone can have the same kind of opportunities I’ve had and it’s my responsibility to fight, that fight where I can do the most good.

I believe that place is here and it is now as the governor of this great state.

That said, I am truly honored to serve as New Jersey’s United States Senator, and quite frankly, I love the job and the chance to affect change on critical issues:

National security and the war against terrorism;

Homeland Security;

Health Care;


Civil rights and civil liberties;

Social Security

The list goes on. But today, I believe that I can do more for New Jersey as its Governor.

I have served the people of this state with one goal, always in mind:

To represent their interests.

I promised the people of this state that if they elected me to the Senate, they would get a fighter who would stand up for them against the insiders and special interests UNBOUGHT AND UNBOSSED. That is what the people of New Jersey have gotten.

In my work in the Senate, it is always the people here at home who matter most.

And because I believe that, I have decided to run for Governor.

Given the history of recent years, New Jersey needs credible, hands-on, executive leadership in Trenton.

We need an outsider’s perspective, and we need a Governor whose first priority is to earn the trust of the people of this state.

I’ve been warned that the atmosphere in Trenton has been poisoned by procrastination, corruption and financial mismanagement that I should stay in the Senate above the fray. But that’s not why I got involved in public life.

Now more than ever, the challenge of restoring the credibility and confidence of our government falls on all of us in public life. And I accept that challenge.

I have worked hard to be the kind of United States Senator who is focused on my constituents, and the issues that impact their lives.

In this post 9-11 world, where tens of thousands of brave men and women many of them New Jerseyans -- risk their lives on the front lines in Iraq, there can be no tolerance for any other objective.

The public interest will be my, only, interest as Governor.

In the Senate, I pushed for the creation of the 9-11 commission, led the fight for tighter security at our chemical facilities and was outspoken in pushing for allocating homeland security resources based on risk.

I won corporate reforms to protect small investors and expanded home ownership opportunities for the middle class and our veterans.

I fought to make sure New Jersey’s PAAD program was protected in the new Medicare prescription drug law and wrote and passed with Congressman Frelinghuysen -- the 110 million dollar Highlands Conservation Act.

I have been a leader in pushing back against overreaching tax cuts and pork barrel spending that will bankrupt our children’s future.

Today, I pledge to be the same kind of Governor -- independent, principled, fiscally responsible, socially progressive, and effective.

I know what it takes to create jobs, to scrub a budget, to meet a payroll, and to make tough decisions about what investments make the most sense for the future.

I have made this announcement today to make my intentions ABSOLUTELY clear. Over the coming months I will offer my ideas for moving our state forward.

On providing affordable access at health care;

On improving education in the places it’s broken;

On protecting the most vulnerable our children and seniors;

On restoring a balanced and responsible fiscal plan;

On protecting a quality of life that provides for open spaces, clean beaches, clean air, and clean water;

On expanding New Jersey’s economy and building businesses;

On restoring the trust of our people in their elected officials.

As I said before we need to set a new standard of excellence in state government.

I respect the difficulty of the task ahead too much to come before you today with clever slogans or ten point plans. We need far more than a broom and a web site to change New Jersey for the better.

Most of all, being governor is being a leader. And if the people of New Jersey give me the privilege, I will be that leader.

Posted at 02:35 PM in 2005 Elections, New Jersey | Technorati

2006 Rhode Island Senate Democratic Primary

Posted by Bob Brigham

Providence Journal:

But I do get a kick out of his calling on Secretary of State Matt Brown to drop out of the race for the Democratic Senate nod and pave the way for an unimpeded bid by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, or, more likely, former Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse. Who is Langevin -- or anyone else -- to suggest Brown needs permission to run? [...]

Whitehouse has mulled so many offices this time around -- governor, lieutenant governor, and Senate -- that Chafee says it reminds him of the kids' game, Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Chafee wonders, "Where's he going to end up?"

It seems much more credible to think that Whitehouse, not Kennedy, will enter the Senate fray. Kennedy, whose father, Ted, is the famous Massachusetts senator, for years has episodically eyed a Senate bid and passed up the chances. As recently as December, he ruled out running in 2006 and urged Langevin on. Kennedy said it was more important that he stay in the House, where his service on the Appropriations Committee enables him to funnel big bucks to Rhode Island.

Though colorful, wealthy, and impassioned, Kennedy also has had a lot of personal scrapes that well-financed detractors -- you know, Swift-boat veteran types -- could rehash and turn into a campaign nightmare.

Still, with Langevin out, Sean Richardson, Kennedy's top aide, says the congressman is now taking a "serious" new look at a Senate run. My instinct: If Kennedy really wanted to be in the Senate, where he'd be in the direct shadow of his dad, he'd already be running.

Posted at 02:07 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Rhode Island | Technorati

2006 Maryland Senate Democratic Primary

Posted by Bob Brigham

Washington Post:

Barely two weeks after Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) announced he would retire at the end of his term, the field for Maryland's 2006 U.S. Senate race has begun to take shape -- with three prominent Democrats and a leading Republican seriously considering bids.

Former Democratic congressman and NAACP leader Kweisi Mfume waited just three days before printing up campaign signs and entering the race. Democratic Party officials said last week that they believe Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will run as well.

Kweisi Mfume

Although Mfume was first into the race, he said in an interview Saturday that he recognizes he will face a fierce battle for the nomination. To prepare, he said, he spent the first full week forming a campaign apparatus, including reaching decisions about strategists and fundraisers that "will include names that are familiar to everyone."

"Paul [Sarbanes] caught everyone off guard," Mfume said. "We had to drop everything we were doing and get started. But right now I'm very energized. I haven't felt like this since 1979," the year he first ran for Baltimore City Council.

Congressman Benjamin Cardin

Cardin, a former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, is in his 10th term representing Maryland's 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties. He said repeatedly during an interview last week that he "will not run away from a tough battle."

His effort to drive home that point was intended to challenge perceptions that he is unwilling to take risks with his career. Last week, Maryland GOP Chairman John Kane called him "Congressman Cold Feet" because twice in the past 20 years -- in 1985 and 1997 -- Cardin expressed interest in runs for governor but backed out.

"There was no way I could win those races," Cardin said during the interview in Annapolis, which he gave after conducting a town hall-style meeting for two dozen constituents on the subject of Social Security reform. "At the time, my supporters told me not to get in. And if I had gotten in, I would have lost."

That is not what his supporters are telling him this time, Cardin said. "It's only been nine days, but in those nine days it's been very encouraging. I'm feeling very confident that my record will appeal to the voters of this state. I'm convinced of that."

Chris Van Hollen

Van Hollen, a former state senator from Kensington in his second term representing Maryland's 8th Congressional District, attended a labor rally in Baltimore County last week and announced that he had brought in veteran Democratic operative Michael Morrill to "play an active role as the exploratory team communicates with Democrats around the state." Morrill was communications director for former governor Parris N. Glendening (D).

Van Hollen sent a letter to supporters Tuesday, asking for financial help and seeking "input and support as I seriously and actively explore this possibility."

And others?

Though it's too soon to tell exactly how the field will look -- several other Democratic potential candidates, including Reps. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Elijah E. Cummings, are pondering their options -- veteran Maryland political observers said last week that the contest will test several long-standing political assumptions about race and geography.[...]

Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Queen Anne's), who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) last year, said he has not decided whether to try for the seat. But he thought his chances would be greatly improved from his last attempt.

"An open seat creates a whole different dynamic," he said.

The dynamics:

For Mfume to win a three-way Democratic primary, he will have to find backing beyond the black communities in Baltimore and Prince George's County, said Timothy Maloney, a former state delegate who practices law in Prince George's. For Cardin to succeed, he will need to strike a chord with voters in the Washington suburbs who have had little exposure to him over the years. And for Van Hollen to prevail, he will have to disabuse Baltimore voters of the notion that Montgomery County breeds politicians who are wealthy and aloof.

Two decades ago, Del. William A. Bronrott (D-Montgomery) helped organize then-Rep. Michael Barnes's attempt to mount a bid for the U.S. Senate after Barnes served in the 8th District House seat Van Hollen occupies. Bronrott said he believes the perception of Montgomery "as a gold-plated place" helped seal Barnes's defeat.

This should be quite a primary. Good.

Posted at 01:49 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - State, Maryland | Comments (1) | Technorati

2006 Connecticut Primary: Lieberman unacceptability

Posted by Bob Brigham

From The Washington Times:

"His message is basically 'Republican good, Democrat bad,'" says Keith Crane, a member of the , Branford, Conn., town Democratic Committee. So lately Crane has taken on another role: He is one of the founders of Dump Joe, a group dedicated to finding and supporting a candidate willing to challenge Lieberman in next year's primary election. "Opposition to Lieberman is driven by the sense that at a time when Democrats are seeking to achieve unity, and liberals are seeking to construct a new infrastructure comparable to the one the conservative movement has built over the past 30 years, Lieberman is uninterested in acting as a team player. Postings on the Dump Joe e-mail list cite his willingness to disparage fellow Democrats on Fox News, often alongside his 'good friend' Sean Hannity, as evidence of his unacceptability."

Kissing Bush on the floor of Congress, good friends with Sean Hannity? Brings to mind the old saying: The friend of my enemy is my enemy.

Posted at 01:42 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Connecticut, Netroots | Technorati

Schumer takes heat for anti-Choice candidate

Posted by Bob Brigham

From the New York Post:

In Pennsylvania, for example, where Democrats believe they have a decent chance of toppling anti-abortion conservative Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, Schumer had a hand in luring State Treasurer Bob Casey, an anti-abortion Democrat, into the race.

Clearing the primary field for Casey required elbowing out of the way a pro-choice Democratic woman who wanted to take on Santorum — and the hard-ball move has left some hard feelings.[...]

Women's-advocacy groups are steaming that Schumer, who himself strongly supports abortion rights, is working behind the scenes to recruit pro-life candidates.

National Abortion Rights Action League president Kate Michelman called Schumer's actions "disturbing," while Emily's List spokeswoman Ramona Oliver said she was stunned by what the New York Democrat is doing.

Posted at 01:35 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Pennsylvania | Technorati

Rhode Island 2006 Senate: Reproductive Rights

Posted by Bob Brigham

From Brian Faler in the Washington Post:

Abortion rights advocates were sighing with relief this week, after Rep. James R. Langevin (D-R.I.) announced that he will not challenge Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.) , a supporter of abortion rights, in the 2006 elections.

Langevin, who was considered his party's preferred candidate -- but who opposes abortion rights -- said he will forgo the race to hold on to his current job. "I have come to the conclusion that rather than starting over in the Senate, I can be most effective for Rhode Island by building seniority in the House," he told the Associated Press.

Posted at 11:57 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Rhode Island | Comments (1) | Technorati

2005 Virginia Governor, Tim Kaine?

Posted by Bob Brigham

I had been planning on closely following Virginia's gubernatorial race with Democrat Tim Kaine. But that was before I found out Kaine is a self-hating Democrat.

Hopefully, Kaine be enough of a leader to fire whoever is giving this awful advice. Here is his website, somebody drop me an email if Kaine decides to grow up and stop triangulating.

Posted at 11:57 AM in 2005 Elections, Virginia | Comments (12) | Technorati

Saturday, March 26, 2005

2006 Pennsylvania Senate "virtual" campaign

Posted by Bob Brigham

Bob Novak seems to think Tim doesn't exist:

Dole's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, has guaranteed a virtually uncontested primary in Pennsylvania for the strongest Democratic candidate, State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., against Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum.

Virtually, it appears the 2006 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary is very contested.

Posted at 09:47 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Netroots, Pennsylvania | Comments (7) | Technorati

2006 Rhode Island Senate Campaign

Posted by Bob Brigham


Rep. Patrick Kennedy is considering a run against Sen. Lincoln Chafee for the only congressional seat held by a Republican in heavily Democratic Rhode Island. The mere prospect of such a matchup next year has set tongues in motion.

"It would be a great race. The two are very evenly matched," said Brown University professor Darrell West, who has written a biography of Kennedy, 37. "Chafee is a sitting senator and people like him, but he has an 'R' next to his name in a 'D' state."

Kennedy, a six-term Democrat, initially ruled out running against Chafee, leaving the door open for his House colleague, Rep. James Langevin. But Langevin opted out earlier this week, and now Kennedy is taking a second look.

A Kennedy-Chafee race could thrust Rhode Island into the national political spotlight.

Posted at 09:43 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Rhode Island | Technorati

REAL Ultimate PA Power

Posted by Bob Brigham

When I saw the headline, "Ninja to Take Over Pennsylvania's Central Susquehanna Valley," I knew it must be about gearing up for the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate election.

Remember The Facts:

1. Ninjas are mammals.

2. Ninjas fight ALL the time.

3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people.

You have a choice.

If you don't believe that ninjas have REAL Ultimate Power you better get a life right now or they will chop your head off!!! It's an easy choice, if you ask me.

An easy choice indeed.

Posted at 08:41 PM in Pennsylvania | Technorati

TX-22 Tom DeLay flops; GOP stomps

Posted by Bob Brigham
"Mrs. Schiavo's life is not slipping away, it is being violently wrenched from her body in an act of medical terrorism."

- GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay


"Right now, murder is being committed against a defenceless American citizen. Mrs Schiavo's life is being violently wrenched from her body in an act of medical terrorism. What is happening to her is not compassion, it is homicide."

- GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay

First, DeLay's ethical problems put him in the hospital and now it appears the guilt has caused DeLay to lose his mind. This is about the Ethics Investigations, of course:

One senior GOP lawmaker involved in the negotiations, who did not want to speak for the record, said that DeLay, who is fighting ethics charges on several fronts, faced considerable pressure from Christian conservative groups to respond to pleas by the parents of the brain-damaged woman to intervene before her husband, Michael Schiavo, removed the feeding tube that kept her alive. The lawmaker said that DeLay "wanted to follow through" but added that many House Republicans were dubious and suspected that the leader's ethics problems were a motivating factor.

Republican concerns grew, the senior House GOP lawmaker said, as a succession of federal judges, some of them conservative appointees, rejected Congress's entreaty. "A lot of members are saying, 'Why did you put us through this?' " said the lawmaker, who agreed to recount the events on the condition that he not be named.

Republicans are pissed. DeLay is burning Political Capital:

Just about the time when you think you've heard enough, the politicians enter the fray, particularly one headline-sniffer of note, Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who is burning up all of his political capital on this issue and encouraging fellow compassionate conservatives to use this case to build a moral foundation for the next elections. I want no part of the karma that will come back to haunt him for trying to cash in politically on somebody else's misery.

Grover Norquist is pissed...

"Advocates of using federal power to keep this woman alive need to seriously study the polling data that's come out on this," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who has been talking to both social and economic conservatives about the fallout. "I think that a lot of conservative leaders assumed there was broader support for saying that they wanted to have the federal government save this woman's life."

On Meet the Press, the discussion is on Stephen Moore being pissed off...

Mr. Harwood: Well, as polarized as our politics are, Republicans feel that now they're in control of the Congress, they can also be in control to a greater extent of the ethics process and they're not likely to enable Democrats to do things that are going to erode their popularity.

Ms. Ifill: Now, here's a weak point in that argument which is there are Republicans--the "NewsHour" this week that Stephen Moore was there who's Club for Growth, Free Enterprise Foundation.

Mr. Russert: Free Enterprise Foundation.

Ms. Ifill: He is one of Tom DeLay's staunchest supporters. He thinks Tom DeLay, the moon rises and sets on him, but even he said, "I'm a little concerned about this ethics question. I think we should be addressing that." He doesn't think that smells particularly right. That's where the cracks begin in the GOP armor where they disagree about how you handle these questions.

Even worse, in DeLay's TX-22, local Republican Officials are pissed off.

The worst case scenario for the GOP is for people to realize that Delay is crooked, nuts, and running the show. That is why the economic conservatives are scared to death when they see AP stories like this:

DeLay, 57, was first elected to Congress in 1984, representing Houston suburbs, and has risen to become one of the most influential conservatives on Capitol Hill.

He fights government regulation at every turn, a position hardened during the years before he came to Washington when he ran a pest control business and railed at "Gestapo" environmental regulators. He's also a leader among religious conservatives, pushing for a more God-centered nation.

Ahead of the 2000 presidential race, he outlined a vision where "we march forward with a biblical worldview, a worldview that says God is our Creator, that man is a sinner, and that we will save this country by changing the hearts and minds of Americans."

"We have the House and the Senate. All we need is the presidency!"

Despite a growing ethics cloud over the past six months, he remains enormously influential.[...]

Republicans tried and failed to change House rules so DeLay could remain majority leader in case he is indicted. They then replaced the panel's GOP chairman, who presided over the rebukes, along with two GOP members who supported them.

"I don't see this as a witch hunt," said Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert at Washington University in St. Louis. "I see it as a question of whether anyone can do anything to hold someone that powerful accountable."

Posted at 01:21 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Technorati

Friday, March 25, 2005

2006 Republican Senator Re-Election Campaigns

Posted by Bob Brigham

Some things to keep in mind...

Republicans Say NO to Protecting Social Security Benefits: Allen, Burns, Chafee, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against a Resolution rejecting any Social Security plan that "requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt." [CQ, Vote #49, 3/15/05]

Republicans Say NO to First Responders: Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against $1.6 billion for first responder programs. [CQ, Vote 50, 3/15/05]

Republicans Say NO to Veterans Health Care: Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas Voted against $2.8 billion for veterans health care and $2.8 billion for deficit reduction. [CQ, Vote #55, 3/16/05]

Republicans Say NO to Keeping Medicaid Viable: Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas Voted Against Restoring $14 billion to Medicaid and Establishing a Bipartisan Medicaid Commission. [CQ, Vote #58, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to America's Homeland Security: Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Kyl, Lott, Santorum and Thomas voted against $855 million for Homeland Security Grants: first responder programs, port security grants and border patrol agents. [CQ, Vote #64, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to America's Communities: Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against restoring $1.9 billion in cuts to the Community Development Block Grant Program. [CQ, Vote #65, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Vocational Training: Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against $7.46 billion for the Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act and deficit reduction. [CQ, Vote #61, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Fiscal Sanity: Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas Voted against restoring pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules. [CQ, Vote #53, 3/16/05]

Republicans Say NO to Protecting ANWR: Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska from oil drilling. [CQ, Vote #52, 3/16/05]

Republicans Say NO to Keeping Amtrak Operating: Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against restoring $1.04 billion for Amtrak. [CQ, Vote #51, 3/16/05]

Republicans Say NO to America's Schools: Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against $4.75 billion for education and $4.75 billion for deficit reduction. [CQ, Vote #45, 3/14/05]

Republicans Say NO to College Students. Allen, Burns, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against restoring $5.4 billion to education program cuts and increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $4,500. [CQ, Vote #68, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Farmers. Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against restoring $2.8 billion to agriculture programs. [CQ, Vote #69, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to COPS. Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against increasing funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) by $1 billion and use $1 billion to reduce the deficit. [CQ, Vote #70, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to America's Highways. Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against increasing the budget authority for surface transportation projects. [CQ, Vote #71, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Teen Pregnancy Prevention. Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Talent and Thomas voted against a resolution supporting $1 billion for family planning programs, such as teen pregnancy prevention. [CQ, Vote #75, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Disclaimers on Fake News. Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against refusing to establish any appropriations bill that allows funds to be provided for "prepackaged news stories" that do not have a disclaimer stating "Paid for by the United States Government" running throughout the presentation. [CQ, Vote #77, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Special Education. Allen, Burns, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against a reserve fund that would provide $71.3 billion for special education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. [CQ, Vote #79, 3/17/05]

Republicans Say NO to Advanced Technology. Allen, Burns, Chafee, DeWine, Ensign, Frist, Hatch, Hutchison, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, Santorum, Snowe, Talent and Thomas voted against making every effort to provide funding for the Advanced Technology Program. [CQ, Vote #80, 3/17/05]

Posted at 10:32 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate | Comments (1) | Technorati

TX-22 Tom Delay in local press

Posted by Bob Brigham

Last fall, Fort Bend GOP officer Bev Carter was censured for calling Tom Delay a "scoundrel" and endorsing his opponent:

Tom has openly declared himself sent by God to "stand up for a biblical world view in everything I do and everywhere I am." For him, politics is a "battle of souls." He says that he seeks a "God-centered" nation that, among other things, would curb contraception, discriminate against homosexuals, outlaw abortion, end the separation of church and state, and post the Ten Commandments in every school (even though Tom has violated more than a few of the Ten himself).

He states that "our nation will only be healed through a rebirth of religious conviction and moral certitude." The thing that concerns me is that this biblical world view sounds suspiciously like the "end times" prophets and I don't really like someone who wants to see the end of the world be the same someone with the power to affect the end of the world.

Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star and it appears has more to say:

I don't want to be a one trick pony by constantly castigating only Tom DeLay, although he makes it a tempting and easy target. But I did want to take this space to point out that many local Republicans believe that we should support him, warts and all and are willing to toss me out if I don't! I believe that we should hold public officials to a higher standard. And I also believe that Fort Bend County is such a wonderful place that we need and deserve only the very best to represent us.

Carter has been vindicated, this time many more will join her...

Let's see. Since the Fort Bend Republican Party censured me for supporting Tom DeLay's opponent, we have discovered this about Tom DeLay:

  • Two of DeLay's close friends, former spokesman Michael Scanlon and long-time advisor Jack Abramoff, are being investigated for the millions of dollars they defrauded from several Indian tribes and how some of that money may have illegally helped DeLay's political operations
  • Delay and his wife and several aides took a $70,000 trip to England paid for by questionable means.
  • DeLay is being looked at because of a trip to S. Korea which was allegedly paid for by the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, a registered foreign agent
  • DeLay took a 2000 junket to Scotland's St. Andrews golf course which appears to have been financed by the Indian tribes. This is a violation of the House ethics rules.
  • Shortly after the three reprimands DeLay received last year, the chairman of the House Ethics Committee that issued the reprimands and himself a Republican, was removed from the committee along with two other Republicans. They were removed by House Speaker and DeLay toady Dennis Hastert. Two of the new Republicans who were appointed in their place are reportedly DeLay backers and have contributed huge amounts to his legal defense fund.
  • Posted at 01:29 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Technorati

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    Conrad Burns key figure in multiple investigations

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Anytime Senator Conrad Burns votes for Native Americans, you know something must be crooked. So crooked that there are now three different investigations (FBI, Justice Department, and the Interior Department inspector general).

    A $3 million grant from a federal program intended for impoverished Indian tribal schools went to one of the richest tribes in the country under pressure from Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who oversees the budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    The tribe that last year received the money for a new school, the Saginaw Chippewas of Michigan, was at the time a client of Jack Abramoff, a prominent Republican lobbyist whose practices are the subject of multiple federal investigations. Abramoff, his associates and his wealthy tribal clients have been an important source of Burns's campaign funds, providing 42 percent of the contributions to his "soft-money" political action committee from 2000 to 2002, according to federal election records.

    Burns pressed for the appropriation over the objections of Interior officials, who said that the grant was not intended for such a purpose.

    It gets better...

    The FBI, the Justice Department's public integrity section and the Interior Department inspector general are investigating Abramoff's lobbying practices, focusing on tribal clients that paid him and a public relations associate $82 million between 2001 and 2003. Among the areas investigators are examining, former Abramoff associates and tribal representatives said, are whether legislative favors were granted in Congress in exchange for tribal campaign contributions, and whether Abramoff opened doors on Capitol Hill by wooing congressional aides with the promise of jobs, as well as tickets to sporting events, trips, meals and other gifts.

    Abramoff's lobbying team had strong connections with Burns's staff. Among their ranks was an appropriations aide who shuttled back and forth between jobs on Burns's staff and Abramoff's shop. Another Burns appropriations staffer and Burns's chief of staff were treated to a trip to the 2001 Super Bowl in Florida on a corporate jet leased by Abramoff's team.

    As chairman of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee, Burns controls funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is in a key position for tribes seeking special projects. His political action and campaign committees have received $137,000 from Abramoff lobbyists and their tribal clients since 2000; Dorgan has received $45,000 from them.

    Ryan Thomas is at the heart of the scandal.

    Ryan Thomas, a Burns staffer on the appropriations subcommittee, took the lead in tangling with Interior officials over the funding, former department officials said. He did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

    Thomas had close ties to some members of Abramoff's lobbying team, former Abramoff associates said. He and Will M. Brooke, Burns's chief of staff, traveled to the 2001 Super Bowl on the Abramoff corporate jet, along with several staffers from the office of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

    Ouch, connections to Abramoff and Delay??? Will Brooke is also facing the heat:

    Brooke left Burns's staff and went to work for Abramoff's group at the end of 2003, two months after the adoption of an Interior Appropriations conference report that included other provisions benefiting Abramoff clients, among them the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts. That language urged the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move on the tribe's long-standing request for recognition, a first step toward gaining the right to open a casino.

    And Shawn Vasell also makes the story on the scandal:

    Shawn Vasell, another member of Abramoff's lobbying team, served as client manager on the Mississippi Choctaw account, and shuttled between jobs in Burns's Montana office and Abramoff's shop. Vasell was registered as a lobbyist for the Choctaw and Coushatta tribes in 2001, joined Burns's staff in 2002, then rejoined Abramoff's team as a lobbyist for the tribes in 2003.

    Posted at 02:36 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Montana | Technorati

    TX-22 Tom Delay 2006 Re-Election

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Conventional wisdom says Congressman Tom Delay will be doing a perp-walk instead of running for re-election.

    Today, Common Cause pulled together an overview detailing many of the unethical actions of the Majority Leader.

    Tom DeLay's Transgressions: A Pattern of Misbehavior
    Unprecedented four admonishments by unanimous votes of the bipartisan House Ethics Committee

    • K Street Project (1999) - Admonished for threatening Electronic Industries Alliance for not hiring a Republican as its president.  The Ethics Committee itself initiated this investigation.
      Source: "Ethics Panel Chastises DeLay For Threatening Trade Group," The Washington Post, May 14, 1999
    • Westar Energy (2004) - Admonished for creating at least the "appearance" that Westar Energy executives were provided special access at a West Virginia golf retreat as result of $25,000 in corporate contributions to Texans for a Republican Majority, a political group affiliated with DeLay. At the time of the retreat, the House was about to consider an energy bill that Westar hoped to influence. A complaint filed by former Rep. Chris Bell (D-TX) initiated this investigation. Link
      Source: Memorandum to Members of the House Ethics Committee
    • Texas Redistricting (2004) - Admonished for using government resources for a political undertaking. Delay's staff contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the 2003 Texas redistricting battle to obtain information from FAA databases on the whereabouts of Democratic Members of the Texas House who had fled Austin in a plane for the purpose of denying the House a quorum.  A complaint filed by Bell initiated this investigation. Link
      Source: Memorandum to Members of the House Ethics Committee  
    • Medicare Bill (2004) - Admonished for offering to endorse Rep. Nick Smith's (R-MI) son, who would be running for Congress, on the House floor in exchange for Rep. Smith's vote in favor of the Medicare/prescription drug bill. The Ethics Committee itself initiated this investigation. Link
      Source: Investigation of Certain Allegations Related to Voting on the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003

    Pending case

    • Illegal Campaign Contributions (2005) - The House Ethics Committee last year was asked to investigate Rep. DeLay for allegedly using his political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), to launder corporate money to Texas state campaigns in 2002, a violation of state law.  The committee decided not to take action on the complaint until after Travis County (Austin), Texas District Aattorney Ronnie Earle completes his investigation of TRMPAC activities and until indictments against DeLay associates in Texas are disposed of. Link
      Source: Memorandum to Members of the House Ethics Committee

    Questionable Conduct (not considered by House Ethics Committee)

    • Celebrations for Children (CFC) - This charity, which counted DeLay political operatives among its officers,  planned to sell tee times to Long Island golf courses, as well as VIP tickets to Broadway plays, yacht cruises and other events that offered access to DeLay during the 2004 Republican convention in New York. The plan was an attempt to misuse the charity's IRS tax-exempt status to circumvent the ban on raising soft money. After the charity's plan drew unfavorable attention from the House Ethics Committee, the charity backed away from its convention plans.
      Source: "Charity Tied to DeLay Is Questioned; Group Asks Lawmakers To Demand Ethics Probe," Washington Post, March 24, 2004
    • Cruise Ship in N.Y.C. - DeLay proposed anchoring the 2,224-passenger Norwegian Dawn cruise ship in the Hudson to accommodate Republicans during the Republican National Convention as an exclusive hotel for lawmakers, lobbyists and special guests.  This plan was  criticized for providing an environment of special access for large contributors to elected officials. The idea was scrapped after unfavorable publicity.
      Source: "They'll Take Manhattan: Republicans Drop Ship Idea," The New York Times, December 3, 2003
    • Legal Defense Fund Contributions - After Public Citizen complained about possible ethics violations, DeLay was forced to return contributions to his legal defense fund from registered lobbyists because House ethics rules explicitly prohibit such contributions.  Link
      Source: "Gifts Broke Rules, DeLay Trustee Says," The New York Times, December 8, 2004

    The Latest Ethics Allegations Against Tom DeLay

    • Accepting illegal gifts of foreign travel, lodging and an exclusive golf outing from lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Although DeLay listed the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research as the sponsor of a $70,000 trip,  Abramoff reportedly had actually solicited checks from two of his clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and eLottery Inc., to pay for the trip through the nonprofit group. Two months after the trip, DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the tribe and the company.
      Source: "Probe of Abramoff and Nonprofits' Money Opens; Senate Finance Committee Seeks Records on Trips by Reps. DeLay and Ney, Donations to Indian Tribes," The Washington Post, March 17, 2005
    • Taking trip to South Korea with other House Members and staff funded by Korea-U.S. Exchange Council, a business-financed group created with the help of a lobbying firm headed by DeLay's former chief of staff. The Council is a registered foreign agent, and House rules state: "a Member, officer or employee may not accept travel expenses from a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal."
      Source: "S. Korean Group Sponsored DeLay Trip; Visits May Have Broken House Rules," The Washington Post, March 10, 2005

    Protecting Delay: Changing Ethics Rules

    • Changed House ethics rules to let a complaint die if the ethics committee cannot decide whether it should be investigated within 45 days.
      Source: "After Retreat, G.O.P. Changes House Ethics Rule," The New York Times, January 5, 2005  
    • Changed House ethics rules to allow either party to block an ethics investigation by voting along party lines, thus denying a majority vote to allow it to proceed.
      Source: "After Retreat, G.O.P. Changes House Ethics Rule," The New York Times, January 5, 2005
    • Changed House ethics rules to allow several members involved in a single ethics investigation to hire the same attorney. House rules prohibited this in order to ensure one attorney could not gain access to too much information and prevent coordination of testimony.
    • The House Republican conference changed its internal rules, rescinding a provision that required a member to step down from a leadership post if indicted.  This rule change was  later rescinded after adverse publicity. Link
      Source: "GOP Pushes Rule Change To Protect DeLay's Post," The Washington Post, November 17, 2004
    • Unsuccessful attempts were made to change House ethics rules to eliminate the broad rule that Members should conduct themselves in a manner that "reflects creditably" on the House.  This had been the basis for sanctions by the ethics committee and the House. Link
      Source: "House to Consider Relaxing Its Rules; GOP Leaders Seek Ethics Changes," The Washington Post, December 31, 2004  

    Protecting Delay: Ethics Committee Purge

    • Speaker Dennis Hastert removed Rep. Joel Hefley (D-CO) as chairman of the Ethics Committee that  oversaw three admonishments of DeLay in 2004. Prior to his removal, Hefley said of Republican colleagues he would not name: "They said I was hurting my career here. The implication is that some form of retribution would be taken." Hefley also told a newspaper after the third DeLay admonishment: "I've been attacked; I've been threatened."  Link
      Sources: "Ethics Panel's Chair Is the Toughest Seat in the House," The Washington Post, January 7, 2005; "Hefley: `I was threatened'," The Hill, October 13, 2004
    • Replaced the two members of the Ethics Committee, Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), who both admonished DeLay and voted against the Republican Conference rule changes to protect DeLay, with two Republican loyalists, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Tom Cole (R-OK). Smith and Cole contributed $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, to DeLay's legal defense fund.  Smith also co-hosted a fundraiser with DeLay for Texans' for a Republican Majority, which is now the subject of a grand jury instigation. Link
      Source: "Ethics Purge," The Washington Post, February 5, 2005  
    • Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), who replaced Hefley as Ethics Committee chairman, fired several longtime committee staffers,  including John Vargo, the staff director and chief counsel, and Paul Lewis, a counsel. Hastings' office defended his decision to replace Vargo and Lewis as standard practice for a new chairman, although both Vargo and Lewis had been working on the committee since before Hefley was its chairman. Link
      Source: "Critics Slam Hastings' Dismissal of Ethics Staff," Roll Call, February 17, 2005  

    Protecting Delay: Intimidate Accusers

    • After being scolded twice by the Ethics Committee in one week, DeLay responded through his lawyer with a letter to the chairman of the House Rules Committee alleging Rep.  Bell's complaint was filed in order to "raise funds for non-member groups," specifically Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The letter stated "Bell and CREW lodged libelous and specious allegations against Majority Leader DeLay ... apparently with blatant disregard to the veracity of their statements." In response, Ethics Committee Chairman Helfey said: "If DeLay and his lawyer feel he was treated unfairly, they can come back and we can open it all back up again." Link
      Source: "DeLay attacks accuser after ethics panel rebuke," The Washington Times, October 9, 2004  
    • Even though the Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for two of the allegations raised in a complaint filed by Rep. Chris Bell (R-TX)  (and is withholding a ruling on a third allegation  pending the outcome of prosecutions in Texas),  the Ethics Committee in November 2004 warned  Bell  against using  "excessive or inflammatory language or exaggerated charges" and threatened disciplinary action against Members who filed complaints the committee considered excessive or inflammatory.  This action serves to discourage the already rare Member-filed complaint to the ethics committee. Link
      Source: "Foe of DeLay Rebuked By House Ethics Panel," The New York Times, November 20, 2004
    • Retaliation against Ronnie Earle, the Texas district attorney who is investigating possible violations by DeLay.  Specifically, legislation introduced in the GOP-dominated Texas  legislature to halt Earle's high-profile grand jury probe.  The legislation would have taken authority over campaign finance violations from the district attorney and given it to a special office in the Texas Ethics Commission that would have the power to stop district attorneys from prosecuting election code violations. Link
      Source: "Texas Ethics Bill Could Allow Appointees to Bar Prosecutions," The Washington Post, February 20, 2005  

    Fixing the Problem?

    • Mollohan Resolution:  Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, introduced a resolution (H Res. 131) March 1, 2005 that would undo the controversial changes made to the House ethics rules at the beginning of the 109th Congress.  The resolution would repeal the new rule allowing either party to block an investigation by voting along party lines; repeal the new rule allowing a case to die if the committee takes no action within 45 days; repeal the new "collusion" rule, allowing one lawyer to represent more than on individual involved in an ethics case.  The resolution has 206 co-sponsors, including Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and former Ethics Committee Chairman Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO).  It has been referred to the House Rules Committee and a subcommittee, ironically, also chaired by the new ethics committee chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), who can block the resolution from moving.  Mollohan has threatened a discharge petition if the resolution is not brought to the House floor.  Link
      Source: "Mollohan Offers Resolution To Reverse Ethics Changes," National Journal's CongressDaily, March 02, 2005
    • Committee Organization Stalls: Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), ranking member of the Ethics Committee and his Democratic colleagues on the panel refused to allow the committee to operate under the new rules adopted at the beginning of the session.  They blocked the committee from organizing or operating in the new Congress until the new rules changes are repealed. Link
      Source: "Ethics Panel Faces Organizational Fight," Roll Call, March 10, 2005
    • Pelosi "Privileged" Resolution: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House minority leader, introduced a "privileged" resolution (H. Res. 153) March 15, 2005, that would have established a bipartisan task force to recommend changes to House ethics rules.  The House voted to table (kill) the motion, 223-194, along party lines, except that Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) voted against tabling.  (To read the resolution and House debate on it, click here.  For a breakdown of how House members voted, click here.)
      Source: "Hefley joins Dems on ethics," The Hill, March 16, 2005
    • <font style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #c1ccd9" face="Times New Roman" color="#000000" size="3">Slaughter Request of the House Rules Committee:  In a March 17, 2005 letter, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY),  ranking member of the House Rules Committee, asked Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-CA) to hold hearings on the House ethics process and move the Mollohan resolution.  (link to Slaughter news release)
    • Hastings Requests More Funding for Ethics Committee Despite Staff Cuts:  Ethics Committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA)  asked the House Administration Committee for an additional $1.7 million in its fiscal 2006 budget, 55 percent more than the $3.1 million it received this year.  Hastings claims the additional money would be used to add staff to increase the committee's "investigative capability" and improve ethics education for Members and staff.  Ironically, this request comes a month after Hastings dismissed John Vargo, a member of the ethics committee staff since 1996, and Paul Lewis, a former Justice Department lawyer who joined the committee staff in 1997. Currently, the Ethics Committee can not conduct any business  until the face-off over accepting the controversial new ethics rules forced through the Houseis resolved.
      Source: "Hastings Seeks $1.7M Increase For Revamped Ethics Panel," National Journal's CongressDaily, March 17, 2005
    And here are the QandA:
    Q&A on DeLay

    What's the problem?

    The problem is a pattern of abuse and intimidation by Tom DeLay and Republican leaders, who have conspired to protect DeLay and in the process eliminated - at least for now ethics enforcement in the House.

    As you know, the majority leader has been admonished for his unethical conduct four times since 1999. The latest admonishments for DeLay last fall were too much for House leaders, who felt like the ethics process had gotten out of their control. So they privately wrote some ethics rules changes that virtually guarantee no new ethics investigations will begin. Then they fired the chairman of the Ethics Committee, Joel Hefley, and two other members and replaced them with members widely viewed to be party loyalists, including two who gave money to DeLay's legal defense fund.

    Then the Democrats on the Ethics Committee refused to accept the ethics rules changes, thereby preventing the committee from organizing and allowing it to conduct business.

    So you essentially have a defunct Ethics Committee, while at the same time, numerous allegations have piled up in recent weeks about Tom DeLay - and other members of Congress - taking expensive trips that were illegally paid for by lobbyists and foreign agents.

    Tom DeLay and his supporters say this is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt. Is that true?

    That's laughable. Tom DeLay has four times been admonished by the unanimous vote of a bipartisan Ethics Committee in a Republican-dominated House. The only partisan witch hunt underway is being carried out by the Republicans, who have trashed the ethics process to protect Delay and have retaliated against their own colleagues for admonishing Delay. Joel Hefley, the former chairman of the Ethics Committee, and two other members of the ethics committee - along with two senior staff -- were thrown off the committee for doing their jobs.

    What happened to the Ethics Committee from last year that admonished Tom DeLay?

    Three of the five Republicans on that panel were fired. Joel Hefley, the chairman, was replaced by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), who is widely viewed as a party loyalist. In addition, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Tom Cole (R-OK) were added to the panel. Smith donated $10,000 to DeLay's legal defense fund and Cole donated $5,000.

    Why should Tom DeLay and others caught up in the junket scandal get in trouble when they claim they didn't realize who was paying for the trips?

    Members of Congress have an obligation and responsibility to find out who is paying for the trip before they travel.

    What about Tom DeLay and his travel problems? Don't all members of Congress take those expensive trips, Democrats and Republicans?

    Yes, and that's just another reason we need a strong bipartisan Ethics Committee with the will and power to conduct thorough investigations and answer tough questions. If you don't have that, when these questions are left to float around in the press and on the internet, how can the public have confidence in its elected officials and government?

    If Congress is to command the respect, trust and confidence of the people, the members who serve in it, especially the leaders, must operate and must be perceived as operating according to high standards of fair and ethical conduct.

    What is the Mollohan resolution?

    Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), the ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, introduced a bill (H Res 131) March 1 that would undo the changes made to the House ethics rules at the beginning of the 109th Congress. The resolution has 206 co-sponsors, including Republican Reps. Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Joel Hefley (R-CO), the former ethics committee chairman. It has been referred to the House Rules Committee.

    What is the Pelosi resolution?

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the House minority leader, introduced a resolution (H Res 153) March 15 that would have established a bipartisan task force to recommend changes to House ethics rules. The House instead voted to table the motion, 223-194. (To read the resolution and House debate on it, click here. For a breakdown of how House members voted, click here

    Posted at 02:08 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Technorati

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    No Filter: The Net as a Tool for Upstart Campaigns

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    When an underdog campaign gets started, it generally has a difficult time taking the fight to opponent(s), a negligible ability to impact the daily mainstream media cycle, and often lacks the staff and organizational tools to effectively talk with the grassroots (ie. ground game).

    Fortunately, it's a brave new world.

    Some of you might have read what I consider the first piece in what I hope becomes a series based on my campaign experiences: "My ATM Pin Number: Or Online Fundraising." If not, you can check it out HERE, but not until after you finish reading this full entry. Deal?

    It is a collection of observations I had while working Communications/Online Outreach for Jeff Seemann's Congressional campaign. The writing is mostly about the ill-informed belief in "political circles," that the Internet is good for one thing, fundraising. It also touches upon what I believe are good practices and how treating the Netroots as an ATM Machine simply will not work.

    This piece will focus on some of my early observations while working on Chuck Pennacchio's U.S. Senate campaign in Pennsylvania. It will focus on some of the tactics we have used to propel a previously unknown candidate into a national spotlight, get the statewide media to pay attention to us, recruit staff, and disseminate our message throughout the blogosphere.

    There are a lot of great progressive candidates out there that continue to get shunned by the party establishment across the country (Jeff Smith 2004 comes to mind). While I wish I could work for every single one of them, I can't. I do, however, hope that there is something in this post, or the ATM one, that people on sites like Swing State Project, Kos, MyDD, or wherever you are reading this can take to the candidates you support, regardless of who might pretend they don't exist.

    There Is No Filter

    One of the biggest problems that insurgent campaigns have is making that initial splash, and getting something about their campaign, or their opponents, into the news.

    On February 22, 2005, Rick Santorum was in the midst of criss-crossing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania when he stopped at Drexel University. As he was walking into the event, his youthful idealistic supporters (College Republicans) serenaded the Senator with chants of "hey hey, ho ho Social Security has got to go."

    The event ended innocuously enough. Most of the attendees walked away remembering two LaRouchies getting carted out by security for disrupting the proceedings. That changed the next day when the video of the serenade went live on the website of a previously unknown U.S. Senate candidate. So unknown, in fact, that most of the bloggers who originally linked to the piece were hesitant to even include the candidates name. However, because of the event, many of us know about him now.

    Maybe I buried the lede a bit here, but the most important point here is that with the Internet, there is no filter. I'll say it again, there is no filter. You don't have to wait for some traditional press-type hack to pick up your message; your ability to inform the public has a direct relationship with the time, effort, originality, and investment you are willing to make in the non-traditional medium.

    In our case, we went to the event, shot it, stumbled upon the clip, and used every means necessary to get it into the public spotlight. As it happened, MyDD picked it up, then Atrios, then Kos and Talking Points Memo, 60 plus blogs linked it, MoveOn put it in an email, and Paul Krugman talked about it in the New York Times.

    What's really interesting about that story is that CNN sat on the footage they had of the chant for over 24 hours. By then, they were scooped--scooped by a little known campaign and an armada of bloggers who recognized that the media filter of old is just that, part of the old-guard.

    The same can be said (to a lesser extent) with the poll that Rick Santorum yanked from his website when people weighed in at a clip of approx. 90% against Social Security Privatization. He yanked it, one of our supporters "screen-shotted it," we had it on our site, and the next thing you know, Raw Story and Roll Call were writing about it.

    We have all of the tools we need online to dictate to the mainstream media the issues we see as important. If there is information "good enough," we are more than capable of catapulting it into the national spotlight.

    The Power of the Internet Distilled Locally (Press Part II)

    "Yeah, yeah, that's great, but how has that event produced tangible results outside of web hits for the campaign?"

    Fair question. In short, it helped to legitimize our effort. It showed that we are not afraid to take the fight to Rick Santorum. Alright, tangible results? It proved to national and local press that the campaign is one that deserves to be taken seriously and in conjunction with our "standard" Netroots outreach, and subsequent support, has opened up the door to numerous main stream press opportunities.

    Let me take a step back, because this part of the piece veers off in two directions.

    1.) Getting the Mainstream Media to take you seriously

    On the day Bobby Casey Jr. announced his run for the United States Senate seat in Pennsylvania, I made numerous phone calls to newspapers and radio stations across the state to let them know this is NOT an uncontested primary. Some covered us, some did not. One call in particular stuck out in my head.

    It was a phone call to the Associated Press. In the call I was basically challenged to legitimize the campaign. Forget the fact that we have filed with the FEC, are raising money, have a staff, HQ, and hundreds of volunteers. My explanation wasn't good enough. Not only did the article not include Chuck's name, but the author included quotes from sources that indicated their would be no primary challenge.

    Wrong answer.

    That weekend, the grassroots/netroots supporters of our campaign took action. We put out a call to our local supporters, it was up on the front page of MyDD, Atrios, AmericaBlog, and in the diaries of DailyKos (as well as the campaign blog). If I had to guess, the AP probably received over 200 emails and over 50 phone calls from Pennsylvanians and others across the country. Whatever the number was, the wire service let us know that, we probably "over-reacted," but at the same time, they "got the message."

    One week later the AP was at our first Philadelphia organizational meeting the next weekend, and since then has been very receptive to our campaign and even informed us of the best way to get our information to them.

    Just another power of the grassroots/netroots that has nothing to do with money: Collective action online can spur results offline.

    2.) When the Mainstream Media Notices Your Efforts

    You can't badger every reporter across the state with your grassroots/netroots supporters. That in itself would be an organization feat. But what campaigns have to realize is that breaking ground/stories online will lead to coverage offline in the mainstream media. This will take us back to the Santorum "hey hey, ho ho" video.

    Example: The Philadelphia Inquirer has the largest circulation in Pennsylvania. You can imagine my initial outreach to them after the Casey announcement was an important moment in campaign HQ.

    I was eventually given the contact information of a reporter who would be covering the 2006 U.S. Senate race. After a brief introduction and discussion about the campaign and it's progress, I brought up the Santorum video. The reporter responded, "That was you guys?" I can tell you, because I was on the phone, that was the moment the conversation turned. The Inquirer will be running a full feature piece on Chuck this weekend. They have also assured us they are very interested in our campaign. They have done so through their words, and they are about to do so in deed this weekend.

    Not only that, but the reporter also wants to investigate the way we are using the Internet to reach out directly to voters. Even more earned media! And earned media about the "novel idea" of a candidate talking directly with voters. Imagine that. The Net will also generate earned media, which is a HUGE problem for most upstart candidates and campaigns. With the Dean campaign, and since then, a lot of the press attention has focused on how much money someone can raise online. Once again, the world is changing. You don't even have to raise $40 million dollars for someone to talk about the exciting new ways a campaign will use to reach out to voters.

    Viral Blogging

    The first I saw of it on such a large scale was (TINC). Matt, Josh, and Bob put up that graphic that people were given the code to syndicate on their own blogs and websites. Next thing you knew, over 600 bloggers had it up on their own site, directing traffic to TINC. So, by the order of the mighty scoop, we copied the idea with Chuck's campaign.

    You will notice on our website, we include instructions on how to place our graphic on your blog or website, I can tell you, as the guy that looks at the web statistics a few times a day--this has been quite a success. Dozens of bloggers (from large to small) have taken us up on the offer and the results, in terms of hits, show.

    Now of course, any old candidate can put up a syndication link on their own website, but that doesn't mean bloggers are going to take them up on the offer. The first place I would point candidates and campaigns to is the piece I linked above on the ATM Machine. While placing the graphic on a blog might not seem like a big deal to "seasoned operative," to me, I take it as something pretty serious. I know how people feel about their blogs, and it means a lot to me, and the campaign, every time I see a Pennacchio for Pennsylvania banner out there.

    The Greatest Medium for Rapid Response

    I am already getting pretty long-winded, and I still have something to ask of you at the end of this email. I will toss out some links if you are inclined to keep reading after the next few paragraphs. I would be remiss if I didn't address the rapid response capabilities of the Internet. But what I want to talk about specifically is the use of Internet Advertising as a rapid response tool.

    Sure, anyone can get online and create a regurgitated press release that poses as a thoughtful diary, and some do. It's a great idea, and I am sure that we will see more and more campaigns doing so in the upcoming election cycle. I would argue that it's not the best strategy for outreach, but what the hell. They will do it anyway.

    That said, one of the greatest tools online in terms of versatility, speed, and targeting is advertising. Specifically, Blog Ads.

    The founder of BlogAds, Henry Copeland recently cited our use of Blog Ads to promote a conference call we had with local bloggers, and some of their subsequent reactions. Here is what Henry said,

    Another cutting edge ad. It doesn't ask for an action or a "buy." It provides content, information, newsy stuff people actually might enjoy using. Rather than trying to megaphone its message over the community, this advertiser is engaging the blogosphere and using blogads to facilitate that communication.

    But back to the speed part of the message.

    Remember when the Democrats introduced the "Sense of the Senate?" That one line that said we shouldn't make massive cuts into Social Security benefits or incur serious debt in its "reform?" Well, Rick Santorum voted that down. Within hours, people were calling for ads against Republicans who voted against the "sense."

    So, we took our BlogAds, and turned it into an ad against Santorum's vote. How did this help? Well, I can tell you that a couple thousand more people know for sure that Rick Santorum is pro-massive debt and benefit cuts. I can also tell you that it helped prove to even more that we are willing to take the fight to Rick Santorum on important issues. People noticed.

    That's about it for now. This has already dragged on entirely too long, but I will write more later. Also, this message was truncated from its original format, because the original piece was a campaign communication. If I have left anything in here that asks you to do anything for the Pennacchio complain, ignore it.



    Posted at 07:27 PM in Activism, Netroots | Technorati

    New Democrat Coalition fears email

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Some dude, in his free time, writes an email about some members of congress. The members freak out and haul his boss up to the hill to get yelled at. Unfortunately, this happened on our side of the aisle.

    David Sirota deserves serios props for today's article in The Hill:

    Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who did not support the bill in committee, told The Hill that he found the e-mail “personal and inappropriate.”[...]

    Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the 41-member NDC, said, “I strongly disagree with Dave Sirota’s attack against Democratic members, but last week’s meeting with John Podesta and the Center for American Progress was a success.”[...]

    Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), one of the 16 lawmakers listed by Sirota, said, “The meeting was a constructive one and a good one. The e-mail was unfortunate.”

    So they consensus seemed to be that yelling at Sirota's boss was constructive but that the email never should have been sent. Really, the NDC sought to force Podesta to censor any private emails from his staff that criticized Democrats for voting with Republicans:

    Some participants said they were looking for more contrition than they received from Podesta and wanted assurances that his organization would abstain from attacking centrist Democrats for their pro-business stances.

    This is now all over the blogosphere, including Americablog: "wimpy" and "spinless" and "nuts". Along with Eschaton: "whiners" and "wimps".

    Sirota was spot on and the NDC now looks pathetic. It appears that in addition to not understanding ecomonic issues, the NDC also fails to understand post-modern politics.

    Posted at 11:36 AM in Netroots | Technorati

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Push to Revoke Frist's Medical License

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    They play hardball at the Liberal Oasis:

    You may recall that last December, LiberalOasis encouraged readers to contact the Nashville Academy of Medicine and request that Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist have his medical license revoked.

    That was because he violated the AMA Code of Medical Ethics by spreading misinformation about HIV transmission and condom use.

    Now once again, he has violated his pledge to be honest in all professional interactions, advance scientific knowledge and maintain a commitment to medical education by claiming to make a superior diagnosis than Terri Schiavos doctors by watching a few video clips.

    Since LOs earlier Frist post, LO has obtained the official Nashville Academy of Medicine grievance form from the academys executive director.

    To file an ethics complaint, download the form, follow the directions, have it notarized, and return it to the address at the bottom of the form.

    Feel free to roll all of Frist's ethical violations into one comprehensive complaint.

    Posted at 02:37 PM in 2008 Election - President, Activism, Tennessee | Technorati

    Casey/Santorum: Dead Heat

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    A new poll released by Patriot News/WGAL-TV in Pennsylvania shows Bobby Casey Jr.'s lead over arch-Republican Rick Santorum is down to one percent. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first (or second?) public poll since the "official announcement" of Casey Jr.

    March 22, 2005 (MoE +/- 4.2%)

    Bobby Casey Jr. - 44%
    Rick Santorum - 43%

    February 16, 2005 (MoE +/- 2.8%)

    Bobby Casey Jr. - 46%
    Rick Santorum - 41%

    These two results come after a DSCC poll released around January 13, 2005 that showed Casey with a 52% to 38% lead over Santorum.

    Disclaimer: I am working Democratic candidate Chuck Pennacchio's online outreach

    Posted at 09:52 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Pennsylvania | Technorati

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Montana Senate 2006: Conrad Burns to retire?

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    From Kos:

    State Democrats made huge gains in 2004, and are eagerly looking forward to taking on Republican Conrad Burns. Burns won narrowly in 2000, 51-47 against the then-unknown Schweitzer (now governor). Attorney General Mike McGrath and Senate majority leader John Tester are possible opponents. Rumors out of MT say that Burns may opt to cash in on K Street, rather than face a tough (and possibly losing) race.

    Last week Burns chose to toe the party line instead of playing safe for re-election when Burns voted for deep benefit cuts and a massive increase in debt. In Montana, the, "intensity of feeling about private accounts was much greater on the oppose side than it was on the favor side."

    Moreover, look at how Montanans feel:

    Deep Benefit Cuts
    Support/Oppose: 15%/75%

    Massive Increase in Debt
    Support/Oppose: 18%/73%

    If Burns was planning on running for re-election, then positioning himself against 3 out of 4 Montanas (on the biggest issue of the day) would have been political suicide. Burns is voting like a future lobbyist, not as a vulnerable candidate.

    If the seat opens up, then the odds flip:

    Rumors abound that Burns will cash in to K Street rather than face another tough battle, in a state that is increasingly hostile to Republicans. Hard to believe, but Montana Democrats took control of the governorship and both houses of the legislature in a 2004 election-night massacre.

    Montana Democrats feel confident that either Senate Majority Leader Jon Tester or AG Mike MaGrath could put a serious dent in Burns' mojo. I've got this race as "lean GOP" so long as Burns is in the race. If Burns retires, then an open seat race leans Democratic.

    Posted at 03:36 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Montana | Comments (1) | Technorati

    GOP Overextended

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    New Polling Numbers:

    New polling numbers on the Schiavo case have been released by ABC News. Here are some highlights:

    - 70% of Americans say it is inappropriate for Congress to involve itself in the Schiavo case.

    - 67% of Americans “think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.” (Just 19% believe the elected officials are acting out of concern for her or their principles.)

    - 58% of Republicans, 61% of independents and 63% of Democrats oppose federal government intervention in the case.

    - 50% of evangelicals oppose federal government intervention in the case, just 44% approve of the intervention.

    - 63% of Catholics and a plurality of evangelicals believe Schiavo’s feeding tube should be removed.

    Posted at 03:05 PM in 2005 Elections, 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - Senate, 2006 Elections - State, 2008 Election - President, 2008 President - Republicans | Comments (1) | Technorati

    Sunday, March 20, 2005


    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    Another example of why Digby should be required reading:

    By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.

    Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on medicaid funding that pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country.

    The rest is in the extended entry.

    Those of us who read liberal blogs also understand that that the tort reform that is being contemplated by the Republican congress would preclude malpractice claims like that which has paid for Terry Schiavo's care thus far.

    Those of us who read liberal blogs are aware that the bankruptcy bill will make it even more difficult for families who suffer a catastrophic illness like Terry Schiavo's because they will not be able to declare chapter 7 bankruptcy and get a fresh start when the gargantuan medical bills become overwhelming.

    And those of us who read liberal blogs also know that this grandstanding by the congress is a purely political move designed to appease the religious right and that the legal maneuverings being employed would be anathema to any true small government conservative.

    Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the congress is "stepping in to save Terry Schiavo" mimicking the unctuous words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for their political gain.

    This is why we cannot trust the mainstream media. Most people get their news from television. And television is presenting this issue as a round the clock one dimensional soap opera pitting the "family", the congress and the church against this woman's husband and the judicial system that upheld Terry Schiavo's right and explicit request that she be allowed to die if extraordinary means were required to keep her alive. The ghoulish infotainment industry is making a killing by acceding once again to trumped up right wing sensationalism.

    This issue gets to the essence of the culture war. Shall the state be allowed to interfere in the most delicate, complicated personal matters of life, death and health because a particular religious constituency holds that their belief system should override each individual's right to make these personal decisions for him or herself. And it isn't the allegedly statist/communist/socialist left that is agitating for the government to tell Americans how they must live and how they must die.

    One of the things that we need to help America understand is that there is a big difference between the way the two parties perceive the role of government in its citizens personal lives. Democrats want the government to collect money from all its citizens in order to deliver services to the people. The Republicans want the government to collect money from working people in order to dictate individual citizen's personal decisions. You tell me which is the bigger intrusion into the average American's liberty?

    Posted at 11:22 PM in General | Technorati

    No Shame. Period.

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    By no means am I a political veteran. I have worked three campaigns in my life, and understand that I am very far from "having seen it all." At the same time, I am a realist and a political cynic; rarely do I do a double-take in astonishment. But if what the Seattle Times, ABC News, and Washington Post reported today is true, I think we might currently be witnessing the most spectacular display of shamelessness and some other adjective that my 753 page thesaurus in front of me cannot even capture:

    The one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, called the debate over Schiavo legislation "a great political issue" that would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who is up for re-election next year.

    "This is an important moral issue, and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. "This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a co-sponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

    Then there is Drudge, ripping a page right out of the National Enquirer, Sun, or Washington Times (pick your favorite tabloid rag):

    DRUDGE RADIO to present audio of Terri Schiavo responding to her father on Friday, immediately following the removal of her feeding tube.... Check local listings...

    There is no shortage of irony in this story. The biggest chunk to strike me is the fact that Medicaid is footing most of the bill to keep Terry Schiavo alive.

    Posted at 10:41 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Florida | Technorati

    Thursday, March 17, 2005

    Two Generic Congressional Poll Give Dems Slight Edge

    Posted by DavidNYC

    Last month, two new generic Congressional ballot polls came out, the first I've seen in 2005.

    The first one was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic firm, and Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican outfit, for NPR. (So do the fears of bias cancel each other out?) Feb. 15th - 17th, likely voters, no trendlines:

    Democrats: 42
    Republicans: 36
    Unsure: 22
    (MoE: ±3.5%)

    The other poll was also conducted by GQR (but just GQR) for Democracy Corps, itself a Democratic organization. GQR must really have had a good Chinese Wall going - this poll was conducted at almost exactly the same time, and yet came up with different results. Feb. 13th - 17th, likely voters, mid-Jan. trendlines in parens:

    Democrats: 46 (48)
    Republicans: 44 (43)
    Unsure: 10 (8)
    (MoE: ±3.1%)

    I wonder why the Dems didn't perform as well in this poll as in the other one, and why they've slipped in a month when the GOP hasn't exactly been doing well.

    All polls available at Polling Report.

    Posted at 07:39 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House | Technorati

    Reid and Lieberman

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Tuesday, Democrat Leader Harry Reid threatened to shut down the Senate if the Republicans went Nuclear, invoking a MAD paradigm of interaction.

    But MAD only works if everyone is on the same page. Imagine the response if a general, in the heat of the Cold War, had said that he wouldn't respond in-kind to a nuclear attack.

    If your friends aren't with you when the other side goes Nuclear, then they are probably your enemies.

    MSNBC sets the stage:

    'Cataclysmic event' “If Republicans want to go down this road, they are going to be beginning a huge, partisan, cataclysmic event, the implications of which are so profound that none of us really know the answer to it,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., one of the Democrats arrayed behind Reid on the Capitol steps.

    The next subhead:

    Key Democrats: Nelson, Lieberman Conspicuous by their absence from Reid’s Capitol steps event were two Democrats: Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who has voted against all but one of the Democratic filibusters since 2003, and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Both men are up for re-election next year, and Nelson is running in a state Bush won with 66 percent of the vote.

    Damn straight Lieberman's absence was conspicuous.

    Harry Reid responds in Raw Story:

    Sen. Reid took pains to detail why he feels blogs–and Internet news sites in general–are paramount. Reid says he believes much of the American agenda today is dictated by wealth and power, and that blogs offer “regular, ordinary people” a place to have a voice.

    “What has happened in recent years… [is] the concentration of media power, so one station, one owner can own 1,200 radio stations,” Reid said. “What this means is that wealth and power control most everything in this country. But one thing they do not control–wealth and power does not control the Internet.”

    “I think the blogs are a tremendously important way for the American public to find out what’s really going on,” the senator continued. “That’s why I go out of my way to communicate any way that I can on the Internet.”

    Of late, Reid and other Democrats have taken heat from progressive bloggers on the issue of party unity. The Democrats in the Senate split nearly evenly on the recent bankruptcy bill, and some Democrats have been tagged as waffling in their opposition to the president’s Social Security plan.

    Reid dismissed the critique, saying it was “not valid.”

    “That’s really not valid,” he told RAW STORY. “We have people who have different views on what should happen once privatization is dropped. But that’s good and healthy; there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    “We have had unity on Social Security,” he added. “Total unity. Everyone agrees that privatization would destroy Social Security and we have also total cooperation and unity in the fact that if he’s willing to back off that–privatization–we’re willing to work on Social Security’s out year problems.”

    Total unity on Social Security is a good start.

    Posted at 11:50 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, 2008 President - Democrats, Activism, Connecticut | Comments (1) | Technorati

    OH-02 - Congressman Portman's seat

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Congressman Rob Portman has been tapped for Trade Envoy.

    In 2004, the Democrats surrendered Portman's second congressional district (even though it was in OHIO). Charles Sanders spent $15K and -- act surprised -- Portman coasted to re-election. This left Portman free to raise money for his cohorts, which he did.

    I'm sure Tim will have more.

    Posted at 11:30 AM in 2005 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Ohio | Comments (3) | Technorati

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    CA 2006 Gubernatorial Race

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    California: The State Attorney General Bill Lockyer has also entered:

    First, the attorney general said he plans to run for governor next year, adding "it's not a formal announcement, but that's what I'm working on."

    Then, he criticized Schwarzenegger's leadership style, saying "I don't like to dwell on this. But it has a little bit of the sort of the odor of Austrian politics. There's a sort of arrogance of power that bothers me. You know, Arnold is still an Austrian citizen."

    Asked pointedly if he were referring to Nazi-era Austria, the attorney general replied, "I'm just talking about the culture,'' he said, adding that there was a "long history from the Austria-Hungarian empire on, of sort of a more autocracy... it's a more elite system."

    This is California politics:

    Karen Hanretty, spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, quickly responded, calling Lockyer's statements appalling and outrageous. She sought to tie Lockyer and Angelides together as out of the mainstream with state voters.

    "We have two spokesmen for the California Democratic Party today, one of them promoting tax increases, and the other comparing the governor to the Nazis," she said.

    Angelides: $12.5 million
    Lockyer: $11 million

    This is going to be fun to watch. This primary has been building for a long time.

    Posted at 07:22 PM in 2006 Elections - State, California | Technorati

    CO 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Colorado: Last week we looked at some names of potential Democratic candidates for governor. Today, the AP looks at the initial movement in the Republican primary:

    University of Denver President Marc Holtzman has announced plans to run for Colorado governor next year.

    Holtzman, a 45-year-old Republican, was appointed by GOP Gov. Bill Owens to oversee the state's technology development efforts in 1999, later leaving to take the university job in May 2003. He has never held elected office.[...]

    Other Republicans considering joining the race include state Treasurer Mike Coffman, U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez and former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis.

    Posted at 06:55 PM in 2006 Elections - State, Colorado | Comments (1) | Technorati

    Lieberman Primary challenger?

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Dr. JOHN ORMAN has announced the formation of an exploratory committee. It looks like it is getting interesting in Connecticut 2006 Senate Primary.

    Full release below the fold, from a Kos diary

    PRESS RELEASE March 16, 2005

    Citizen activist and political analyst, Dr. JOHN ORMAN, Politics Professor at Fairfield

    University, announced today his intention to create an advisory committee to evaluate

    his candidacy to challenge Joe Lieberman for the Democratic nomination for U.S.

    Senate in the 2006 primary. Orman said, "There is a great national debate going on

    for the heart and soul of the Democratic party. Let the battle begin here and now in


    Orman said, " What sealed my discontent with Lieberman was the famous kiss

    that President Bush planted on him after this year's State of the Union Address."

    "Our party's Senator is no longer a Democrat. He has joined the Republicrat Party.

    After 17 years as a safe seat Senator, Joe has lost touch with his party and with his state."

    Orman declared," Just as Lieberman indicated in 1988 that Lowell Weicker was a

    sleeping bear in the woods who was an arrogant incumbent, Lieberman has crossed

    over into that same forest. Joe is a minority member of the national minority party who

    has a worse attending record in the Senate than Lowell Weicker ever did."

    Orman noted, "Lieberman was wrong on his support of Bush's claim that the Social

    Security System is in crisis. He was wrong to support Bush's war on terror diversion

    into Iraq. He was wrong to support Attorney General Gonzalez for confirmation.

    Lieberman should just join the Republican Party."

    Orman observed, "Lieberman has ignored his Connecticut Democratic base of seniors,

    working women and men, students, teachers, liberal Democrats, progressives and others.

    Regardless of whether I decide to run for the U.S. Senate nomination against Joe

    Lieberman, the Senator has been put on notice that he will be challenged."

    Orman was the Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in 1984

    in the 4th Congressional District who ran against Stewart McKinney. In 2000

    Orman was the Connecticut citizen who stepped forward to challenge Joe Lieberman

    for running for two different national offices at the same time. When Orman started to

    file official complaints in September ,2000 he made it a national issue. By October 2000

    the issue had become a state issue and the Quinnipiac Poll reported that 45% agreed

    with Lieberman and 46% disagreed with him running for two offices at the same time.

    Orman is the author of five books including PRESIDENTIAL SECRECY AND


    ACCOUNTABILITY; THE POLITICS OF ROCK MUSIC; and his most recent book

    CELEBRITY POLITICS (co-author Darrell West). Orman has appeared on CNN, Fox,

    ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, BBC and other networks talking about politics in America.

    He is frequently quoted on American politics in national newspapers and publications.

    Posted at 11:47 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Connecticut | Technorati

    Vote on Social Security

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Yesterday, the Senate gave the following statement an up or down vote:

    "It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

    Here are the 12 Senators (standing for re-election in 2006) who voted for deep social security cuts and massive debt:

    Allen, George VA
    Burns, Conrad MT
    Chafee, Lincoln RI
    Ensign, John NV
    Hatch, Orrin UT
    Hutchison, Kay Bailey TX
    Kyl, Jon AZ
    Lott, Trent MS
    Lugar, Richard IN
    Santorum, Rick PA
    Talent, Jim MO
    Thomas, Craig WY

    Here is the link to the vote.

    Posted at 09:24 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming | Technorati

    DLC List of Shame

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    In the comments of my post on the DLC agreeing that Kos was right, DavidNYC directed me to the google cache of the Democratic Leadership Council list (David has screen captures).

    The site was cached on March 4, 2005. In addition to finally granting Senator Obama's request to remove his name, there was at least one additional change.

    The March 4th version identifies Gavin Newsom as member of the Board of Supervisors, San Francisco CA while the current version has been updated to reflect that Newsom is Mayor. In fact, he celebrated the end of his first year on the job (a couple of months ago).

    I'm sure the DLC was as instrumental in Newsom's campaign as in Obamas, which makes me wonder why they didn't notice that he won. Or maybe they are just incompetent.

    If anyone else is trying to decide whether the DLC was out of the loop or simply incompetent, here's Al From discussing Newsom's victory -- two days after the 2003 election:

    Newsom's election "puts him together with a group of young, really bright stars who are emerging as the new leaders and future leaders of the Democratic Party in the cities," From said Wednesday.

    Posted at 12:50 AM in Activism | Comments (2) | Technorati

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    More controversial than a phone book

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    For some time, the DLC has been lying about Barak Obama. Kos called them on it and the DLC freaked out:

    Man, talk about beams and motes. The vitriol that's been poured on the DLC by Kos and several other netwarriors in the last couple of years is endless, personal, often obscene, and frankly, a little nuts. If we're as irrelevant as he keeps insisting we are, why bother? Just ignore us, and we'll go away, right? If our only value, as Kos suggests today, is to provide right-wing media with anti-Democratic quotes, then you have to wonder why so many elected officials bother to identify with us and come to our events (e.g., one today attended by Sen. Joe Biden)?

    Indeed, that question seems to bother Kos as well, since his very next post begins a process of "calling out" DLC-friendly Democratic pols and asking them to disassociate themselves from us. He even took the trouble to dig down in our web page--bypassing a few hundred thousand pages of policy work, which is what we do to pass the time while waiting for the next call from Fox News--and discover that Sen. Barack Obama is still listed in our data base! Scandal! (He's in there because he recently joined the Senate New Democrat Coalition, all of whose members are in our database, which is about as controversial as a phone book).

    a few hours later...

    UPDATE: Turns out I was misinformed about Obama's being a member of the Senate New Democrat Coalition. The misunderstanding was based on the two different meanings of "New Democratic Senators," but we were wrong about that, and have removed his name from our Directory.

    If there are any other mistakes with the list, people should call them out. Feel free to use press releases. If you work for somebody on the list, point out this is a quick and easy way for a politician to score some points with the netroots.

    Posted at 08:55 PM in Activism, Illinois, Netroots | Comments (2) | Technorati

    Maryland Senate Primary

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    The AP's Gretchen Parker gives us the following names:

    Maryland's U.S. Senate race still is 20 months away. But the race is on. On Monday, three days after Sen. Paul Sarbanes announced he won't seek a sixth term, former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume launched a bid to take over the seat.[...]

    Two Democratic contenders for governor — Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan — have said they're concentrating on the governor's race.

    But two of Maryland's Democratic U.S. congressmen, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Chris Van Hollen, spoke up after Mfume's announcement Monday to say they are forming exploratory panels. Reps. Elijah Cummings and Ben Cardin have not publicly ruled out making bids.

    Posted at 03:46 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Maryland | Technorati

    VA-07: Eric Cantor in Serious Trouble

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Raw Story has the exclusive. If you're wondering how our candidate did against Cantor last year, sorry, but we didn't have a candidate.

    Posted at 11:55 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Virginia | Technorati

    IL-06 Hyde retiring, Cegelis leading Open Seat

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    From the Chicago Sun-Times:

    In a few weeks, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the chairman of the House International Relations Committee who as Judiciary Committee chief wielded the gavel during President Clinton's impeachment, will announce that he will not seek another term.

    The public position of Hyde, 80, an icon of the conservative movement, is that he will make up his mind for sure in April. But I am told he has decided to retire and is unlikely to reverse course.

    Cegelis has kept her organization running and is even posting on dailykos as she ramps up her efforts:

    As seasoned political advisor told me, if I wanted to win in 2006 I needed to start in November of 2004. I took that advice to heart and kept as much of my organization in place as possible to gear up for what is now will most likely be an open seat in 2006. I have been running with a really strong sense of urgency though since there are strong rumors that Henry Hyde will be given an ambassadorship to the Vatican in 2005, kicking off a special election. I do not know if it really will happen, but I would be foolish not to be ready if it did. So in the next few months we will be running this campaign as if the election is going to happen this summer. If it does not then we will be just that much stronger in 2006. There are many who believe that the Sixth District is the best target in Illinois in 2006 for a Democratic seat.

    Posted at 11:37 AM in 2005 Elections, 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Illinois | Comments (1) | Technorati

    Lieberman's potential 2006 primary

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    In my last post on a potential Lieberman primary, I used a series of maps to illustrate the problem Lieberman would have due to the unique situation of his state being situated in the middle of a high density bastion of Democratic support. The argument that I laid out was for the potential of an invasion of out-of-town Democrats focused on enforcing Party discipline.

    In response, it was noted how Howard Dean’s invasion during the Iowa Caucuses backfired.

    I agree with the analysis that the Iowa voters were turned off by out-of-state activists telling them who to vote for. This was heightened by the vast cultural divide between the Dean supporters and Iowa Democrats.

    However, this will not apply to a potential primary campaign for three main reasons.

    The blogosphere learns very quickly and having identified this, the blogosphere will adapt. Any such primary campaign will focus on organizing Connecticut residents who support a united Party to convince their neighbors to join them in support.

    The second major reason why this won’t be relevant is because the cultural divide between Connecticut and the surrounding area is minimal. Many Connecticut voters work in New York and New Yorkers campaigning will not intrinsically offend their cultural sensibilities.

    Finally, the lesson of the Dean campaign is that people don’t want outsiders telling them who to vote for. The inverse of this statement has yet to be tested. At this point, any primary campaign would not be a positive movement for a candidate, but a negative statement. Extensive evidence proves that voters respond as intended to negative attacks and a campaign that focuses negatively will not face the same hurdles.

    When these factors are considered, it is easy to conclude that out-of-state volunteers could effectively contribute to a potential primary campaign against Lieberman. By focusing out-of-state volunteers on communicating and organizing supporters, their efforts could help build the type of infrastructure necessary for a true grassroots campaign. When interacting with undecided and Lieberman voters, having their efforts focused on a purely negative message would allow their argument to gain traction regardless of their home address.

    These are only some initial points and strong on-the-ground leadership and direction will surely refine such tactics.

    But it is true that if there is a challenge, people will come. By realizing how such efforts have been counter-productive in the past, organizers could construct a campaign that will minimize liabilities while maximizing effectiveness.

    Such a campaign could be an exciting test case for post-modern primary involvement.

    Posted at 11:02 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Connecticut, Netroots | Technorati

    Monday, March 14, 2005

    Proud partisanship

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Over at the DLC, logic has long since left the building. This was quite apparent with the recent Bull Moose post, Grow up Bloggers:

    The recent rage on the left is to heap scorn on Joe Lieberman. The Moose is honored to stand with Joe against the dogmatic idealogues of the blogosphere. And he wears their scorn as a badge of honor.

    What the aisle-crossers over at the DLC refuse to accept is that the angst against Lieberman isn't ideological, it is pragmatic. Bloggers love Reid and hate Lieberman because the Stormin' Mormon fights for Democrats and Lieberman fights against Democrats.

    Specifically, the blogosphere is ready to unleash a savage fury against Lieberman if he gives Bush cover on Social Security.

    So who does the DLC stand with? Today's Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests the DLC stands with the 35% of Americans who approve of Bush's privatization. Last week's AP poll says the DLC stands with the 37% of Americans who approve of Bush's privatization.

    For those who haven't been reading the cross-tabs, this means the DLC is standing further away from the Democratic Party than a good deal of the Republican congress. This means the DLC would rather stand with the most right-wing of Americans than help our Party win on an issue that is the bedrock of Democratic values.

    The scorn of the blogosphere is shared by almost 60% of Americans...and that number is growing. The DLC had a good thing going, they filled their pockets by getting Democrats to cross the aisle and help out the GOP, but the gig is up.

    Lieberman needs to stop being such a baby. And the Bull Moose needs to stop "grazing" at the privateers trough. The gig is up.

    Posted at 10:07 PM in Activism | Comments (2) | Technorati

    Gavin Newsom wins on Gay Marriage

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    SF Chronicle:

    A judge ruled Monday that California can no longer justify limiting marriage to a man and a woman, a legal milestone that if upheld on appeal would pave the way for the nation's most populous state to follow Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to wed. In an opinion that had been awaited because of San Francisco's historical role as a gay rights battleground, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said that withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians is unconstitutional.

    "It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," Kramer wrote.

    Eric Jaye, Newsom's political consultant, has an important strategy memo on Gay Marriage that I posted earlier. Big day for Newsom.

    Posted at 03:46 PM in 2008 Election - President, 2008 President - Democrats, Activism, California | Technorati

    West Coast Offense

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    The thing about leadership is that, inherently, you must be a leader. Unfortunately, the poll-hacks think there is a magic formula of stances that equals victory. Total horse-shit.

    To lead requires standing up for beliefs, not backing down…running and hiding.

    Polls don’t tell us what issues to choose, they tell us how well we are doing in the fight for each issue. If an issue Democrats care about polls poorly, it means our leaders aren’t leading enough -- we aren’t doing a good enough job. Leaders drive polls, they don’t follow.

    But, before a voter looks at any issue, they will decide whether or not they respect the politician. Poll-driven candidates appear shallow. People respect action, people respect leaders who stand-up and fight for their values. Even if people disagree, they will still respect the politician. Cowards are the doormats of post-modern politics.

    Gavin Newsom showed us how a Democrat can grab a difficult issue by the horns and fight.

    Friday, Eric Jaye (Newsom’s political consultant), published an important piece in the subscription-only Hotline.

    Here’s what he had to say:

    A Democratic Strategy on Gay Marriage
    by Eric Jaye
    Last year the Democrats had numerous opportunities to stand on principle -- and in doing so show they had the courage to stand for something. No opportunity was greater than the raging debate over gay marriage.

    Facing an evenly divided electorate, Republican strategists surmised that victory in 2004 lay in driving turnout among their base voters. That's why they placed attacks on gay marriage on state ballots in swing states. They believed that such a debate would drive turnout, particularly among low-turnout Christian evangelical voters.

    What did the Democrats do? By and large they ducked, with poll-crafted drivel that made them seem like typical politicians, not courageous leaders.

    Most voters do not yet support gay marriage - although support for equal matrimonial rights has risen dramatically in the past decade. Polls show a sharp generational divide, with the majority of voters under 40 in support of gay marriage and the majority of voters over 60 strongly opposed.

    But in this day and age, most swing voters reserve more venom for vacillating politicians than they do for two gay people deciding to adopt the bourgeois convention of lifetime commitment and matrimony.

    It is this disdain for vacillating politicians that allows President George Bush to take so many controversial stands yet still win elections for himself and his party. It's called leadership and voters reward it.

    On a woman's right to choice, Iraq, environmental protection, outsourcing and Social Security - Bush is 'wrong' from a pollsters' perspective. Yet, why does he still seem so right to so many voters?

    Bush wins by being "wrong" because his controversial positions resonate as authentic. American voters don't agree with him on key issues -- but they tend to believe he "stands up for what he believes." In a political landscape in which character matters more than ideology, Bush wins by seeming "real" to voters.

    So while Bush seems authentic at the very moment he is pursuing a political ploy to excite his right-wing base - Democrats seem weak and untrustworthy - not just to their base supporters, but to the broad mass of swing voters.

    With a few exceptions, most Democrats simply lack credibility when they say they oppose gay marriage. We have the honor of belonging to a party that has been on the forefront of the civil rights movement for more than 50 years. Most voters, in most states, expect us to stand for civil rights - even when these very same voters are taking a go-slow approach.

    So who do we think we are fooling when we mumble finely nuanced positions on gay marriage? The truth is we are only fooling ourselves.

    We have now survived an entire generation of poll-tested politicians and incremental politics. Finely crafted "agreement" messages, once an innovation, are now an invitation to ridicule. Not just late at night on television, but at almost any hour, we can all enjoy a good laugh at the expense of a politician who is merely reading from a poll-tested script.

    So what's the right answer when Democrats are asked, "Do you support gay marriage?" The right answer, in almost every case, is the truth. And in most cases, the truth is "Yes."

    First and foremost - by saying "Yes" we are standing for something, even when the majority of voters don't yet support our position. And telling the truth makes us sound like real people, not like robo politicians. But more than this - by saying "Yes" we can seize political terrain that allows us to drive the debate, not duck it.

    And we are finding that when we take the offensive on the issue of gay rights and gay marriage, we can make real progress. At the very least, we have a fighting chance when we stop ducking the issue of gay rights and start debating it with clear and concise language.

    Along with a team of top-notch consultants, we worked on the successful campaign in 2004 to repeal Article 12 of the Cincinnati City Charter, which allowed discrimination against lesbian and gays. Just this month we helped defeat the Topeka City Question in Topeka, Kansas that would have allowed discrimination against gays. Both campaigns were played out in the context over the debate on gay marriage.

    Last year, as former consultants to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, we were closely involved in presenting the "winter of love" gay marriages to the public. We were also part of the unsuccessful effort in Oregon in 2004 to defeat the attack on gay marriage.

    We took away from those successes, and that failure, the belief that when it comes to gay marriage the simple truth is better than a complicated lie.

    But more than that - in the long run we can't win if we don't debate. And let's not fool ourselves, this debate is not going away. The Republicans put it on the agenda, and they will keep it there, particularly so long as we refuse to even articulate our own position.

    Cautious Democrats should face the fact that no position on gay marriage is the weakest possible stance. Silence is read as support for gay marriage. And your silence is seen as political at best, cowardice at worst. As a party, we might not have chosen this fight. But it is here. Unilateral surrender is not a workable strategy.

    And to my fellow consultants I would offer this hard-learned lesson. Anti-gay marriage amendments are being fought on the basis of gay marriage -- not some "hidden flaw" or "costly consequence." These measures are not analogous to some down-ballot initiative that we can define. Voters know what they are about -- gay marriage.

    In California, we found during the San Francisco gay marriage insurrection that support for gay marriage increased slightly across the state, and support for civil unions increased dramatically, after we captured the airwaves with images of couples who were absolutely unremarkable in any way other than in their desire to profess life-long love and responsibility for each other.

    First in Cincinnati, and then in Topeka, we won campaigns against discrimination in part by seizing the language of morality, rather than ceding it to our opponents.

    We crafted mail pieces entitled "Not Just on Sunday," and "Daily Bread," that took up the language of the Lord's Prayer in defense of tolerance and equal rights every day.

    We didn't hide from the issue. We didn't run from the moral debate. We embraced it - and won. Democrats around the country have nothing to lose, and so much to gain, from doing likewise.

    Posted at 06:42 AM in 2008 Election - President, 2008 President - Democrats, Activism | Technorati

    Friday, March 11, 2005

    Santorum Funeral

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Last time Senator Rick Santorum was seriosly slapped around, it was due to two bloggers. Chris Bowers and Tim Tagaris went to a Townhall meeting the Senator was throwing.

    Tim captured the legendary video footage of the College Republicans chanting, "Hey-hey, Ho-ho, Social Security has got to go.

    Once inside, Bowers got Santorum to admit that he couldn't name a single Democrat willing to privatize.

    Now, the two are at the Funeral March for Social Security.

    Bowers told me that there are well over 200 people marching and that the sound is echoing off the buildings...creating a roar.

    Tim has a camera again and told me, "People do real stupid things when you turn the camera on." He claims to have, "great video" of the protest.

    UPDATE: There is a great deal of least eight cameras. Bowers says they are loud enough to be heard inside.

    more to come...

    Posted at 05:32 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Netroots, Pennsylvania | Technorati

    Thursday, March 10, 2005

    Richard Morrison for TX22

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    I had just published a post on Texas 22 when I saw this on Kos:

    Netroots Make it Happen by Richard Morrison for Congress

    Posted at 07:43 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Technorati

    Texas 22

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Could TX22 come into play?

    Last week, the Washington Post ran a story that noted:

    House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), struggling to protect his Washington power base as legal and ethical issues fester, also has to watch his back on the home front.

    Though the change has received little notice, DeLay's strength in his suburban Houston congressional district of strip malls and housing developments has eroded considerably -- forcing him to renew his focus on protecting his seat.

    DeLay garnered 55 percent of the vote in the November election against a relatively unknown Democrat, an unusually modest showing for a veteran House member who is one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. Some Republican officials and DeLay supporters worry that with President Bush absent from the top of the ticket next year, liberal interest groups might target the conservative majority leader and spend millions of dollars on campaign ads to try to defeat him.

    Yesterday, the New York Times exposed:

    Documents subpoenaed from an indicted fund-raiser for Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, suggest that Mr. DeLay was more actively involved than previously known in gathering corporate donations for a political committee that is the focus of a grand-jury investigation in Texas, his home state.

    The documents, which were entered into evidence last week in a related civil trial in Austin, the state capital, suggest that Mr. DeLay personally forwarded at least one large corporate check to the committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, and that he was in direct contact with lobbyists for some of the nation's largest companies on the committee's behalf.

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post spent yesterday alerting readers:

    A delegation of Republican House members including Majority Leader Tom DeLay accepted an expense-paid trip to South Korea in 2001 from a registered foreign agent despite House rules that bar the acceptance of travel expenses from foreign agents, according to government documents and travel reports filed by the House members.[...]

    It spent at least $106,921 to finance the three-day trip in 2001 from Washington to Seoul by the Republicans, which DeLay (Tex.) and accompanying staff assistants described at the time as having an "educational" purpose.

    Today, he was treated at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center for heart problems.

    What does the DCCC say about targeting DeLay?

    But when asked if House majority leader Tom DeLay (R) of Texas is on his list of vulnerable incumbents he wants to go after, the feisty Emanuel reemerged: "If I told you, I would have to kill you!" he said, smiling broadly. "There are no districts that are absolutely off the table."

    Indeed, ever since DeLay emerged as the enforcer to low-key House Speaker Dennis Hastert (another Illinoisian), the Democrats have been itching to oust DeLay from his perch — much the way the Republicans ousted the sitting Speaker, Tom Foley, from his congressional seat in the sea-change election of 1994. A look at DeLay's performance last November — winning reelection with just 55% of the vote — combined with recent rebukes over ethics and continuing investigations reveals the potential for vulnerability.

    For what it is worth, the his last filing only showed $68,278 cash-on-hand. And the local paper is headlining his denial.

    If God doesn't strike him down and he stays out of jail, he will still be vulnerable. I say we continue to hit him with everything we've got. At the very least, we can pin him down in Texas.

    Posted at 07:05 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - House, Texas | Comments (1) | Technorati

    Potential Lieberman Primary

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Some people need to realize that it isn't the blogosphere that would organize a potential primary campaign, the blogosphere would just nationalize the effort.

    It is Connecticut Democrats, on the ground in Connecticut, having the discussion:

    Connecticut Democrats dissatisfied with U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman want to mount a primary election challenge to the three-term incumbent in 2006 and say they are debating the merits of as many as six alternative candidates. Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group and a party insider involved in the insurgency, declined this week to name any of the potential challengers. "There's a great deal of displeasure with Joe and some of his recent actions," Swan said, referring to the senator's stance on proposed changes to the Social Security system and his support for the confirmations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. "But it would be premature at this point to discuss specifics."

    For those unfamiliar with Citizens Action, they spend most of their time walking door-to-door, but take breaks for in-your-face media events.

    Nevertheless, Swan and Nathan Karnes, a member of a Democratic ward committee in New Haven and a leader of a "DumpJoe" message group at, said those under consideration include current and past state officials and at least two "high-profile" figures from the entertainment industry who live in the state and are politically active.

    They said the latter do not include actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, a Westport resident who had been rumored to be considering a race against Lieberman that party leaders have since discounted.

    How do you nationalize a primary?

    The insurgents' comments came as a Web site created by a former Connecticut resident now living in southern California began collecting cash pledges from those who would help fund a primary bid against Lieberman.

    Under the rubric "timetogojoe," the site brands the senator as "a Democrat in name only" and seeks to raise as much as $1 million for "any real Democrat" who might oppose him.

    The tone of web campaigns?

    "Had enough of Joe Lieberman playing both sides of the aisle?" the site's home page asks. "Let's give the Left-Hating, War-Hawking, Bush-Kissing, Neo-Con, Torture Apologist the primary he deserves."

    In one of the most recent postings, a participant calling himself "joesnotmyhometownboy" attacks Lieberman for his position on the board of directors of The Nixon Center, a division of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation. The Washington-based think tank is headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

    It isn't about being a leftwing Democrat, it is about being a proud Democrat:

    "We're saying, "Hey, what do you guys think about this guy?'" Karnes said. "We don't have to accept him at the Democratic nominee in '06 without a challenge, and I think the reception has been very good."

    The listserve's participants have bristled at characterizations of Lieberman's Democratic opponents as "liberal," and Karnes said it is not necessarily true that he and his colleagues all hail from their party's left wing.

    He noted that his parents and their friends, who he said were by no means liberals, shared the sentiment prevailing on the listserve.

    "It's really Joe Lieberman that's moved away from the Democratic Party," he said. "And it's not just the social issues where he had moved away."

    In news probably unrelated to Lieberman looking at a tough primary, CREW exposes he has taken $16,000 from smut peddlers. Atrios posted the story and gave a good laugh to 50,000 netroots activists...

    Posted at 05:47 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Connecticut, Netroots | Technorati

    Senator Feingold

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    As featured on CNN's Inside Politics, Senator Russ Feingold posted on MyDD today.

    Senator Feingold cross-posted on DailyKos, I especially like what he wrote in his Tip Jar comment (yes, he had a Tip Jar comment):


    to everyone who has taken time out today to read my first blog and post a message. It is a great experience to enter into this new avenue of democracy. I think there are some excellent points being made on both mydd and dailykos.

    Today, I have been splitting my time between the floor debate and votes on the (horrible) Bankruptcy Bill and an all day Budget Committee mark-up on the (irresponsible) 2006 Budget Resolution, so I will not be able to respond to each comment. But I have been trying to keep up with the messages posted today in response to my diary. I am grateful for all the thoughtful responses ranging from the proper use of toasters to some serious constitutional questions.

    In particular, I think the discussion about the definition of "blogger" is particularly interesting. It is really helpful to me to read the comments of people who know a lot more than I do about blogging. I value the input.

    As a senator from Wisconsin, I visit each one of Wisconsin's 72 counties every year and hold a town hall meeting or "Listening Session." I've done over 800 of them up to now, and this has been a great help in my work. I hope this discussion today will be the beginning of another way for me to listen to people's views and do my best to be an effective U.S. Senator.

    I can assure everyone that while this may have been my first endeavor into the blogging community, it will not be my last. Again, thanks for your views.

    I tipped him. But he already had Trusted User Status...

    The post-modern era is flourishing.

    Posted at 05:28 PM in 2008 Election - President, 2008 President - Democrats, Netroots, Wisconsin | Technorati

    Rep. Meek's Online Town Hall: Social Security, young voters

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Representative Kendrick Meek (D-FL) has been one of the strongest defenders of Social Security. Together with Congressman Tim Ryan, the two are using Leader Pelosi's "30 Something" Working Group to distribute the youth and Social Security talking points.

    One tactic Meek and Ryan have been using is to take over the floor to talk about young Americans and Social Security.

    Their "routine" has been receiving high praise with insiders following the Social Security debate. They are now escalating their message distribution.

    Via The Stakeholder, tomorrow at noon eastern, Rep. Meeks is hosting an Online Townhall on Social Security and the younger generation:

    Online Town Hall on Young People and Social Security

    Why do young people have the most to lose under the privatization of Social Security?

    Why should young workers and people in school care about Social Security?

    Find out the answers to these questions and ask your own at the "30 Something" Working Group Online Town Hall on Friday, March 11th at 12 o'clock (EST). "30 Something" co-chair, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) will be answering your questions about Social Security and its affect on the younger generation.

    They are doing some great stuff and we deserve props. For example, check out their:

    George Bush's Social Security Time Line

    In 2000, in his campaign for the Presidency, Gov. George W. Bush was adamant that he wanted to privatize Social Security
    "For Bush, a Long Embrace of Social Security Plan", New York Times, 2/27/05

    In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed a Commission to develop a privatization plan for him
    Message to Congress (Budget outline), Feb 27, 2001

    In December of 2001 that Commission gave the President 3 options for privatizing Social Security
    Report of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, December 2001

    From December 2001 - 2004, SILENCE

    In 2004, while running for reelection, President George W. Bush was again adamant that private accounts are the solution to Social Security's long-range financial imbalance
    2004 Republican Convention Acceptance Speech, Sep 2, 2004

    Days after the 2004 election, President George W. Bush said that he had "political capital" and wanted to use it to push privatization of Social Security through Congress right away.
    White House news conference, Nov. 5, 2004

    In January of this year, press accounts claimed that the White House would have a privatization plan to Congress by late February or early March
    "Social Security Formula Weighed", Washington Post Article, 1/4/05

    In the budget submitted at the beginning of February, no privatization plan was included
    "$2.5 Trillion Budget Plan Cuts Many Programs", Washington Post Article, 2/7/05

    Now press accounts say that it is not clear that the President is going to offer a plan this year
    "Social Security Vote May Be Delayed", Washington Post Article, 3/2/05

    Posted at 12:40 PM in Netroots | Technorati

    Wednesday, March 09, 2005

    TX-22 Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    The dkosopedia entry on Tom Delay will be growing rapidly. Here is a snapshot:

    Thomas Dale DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is is the current majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a Republican from Texas and is well-known for his far-right stances on both foreign and domestic policy issues.

    Biography and early political career

    He was born in Laredo, Texas, and lived part of his childhood in Venezuela due to his father's work in the oil and gas industry. DeLay graduated from the University of Houston in 1970 and went into the pest control business. DeLay ran offices and mixed chemicals at several marginally profitable exterminator businesses though it is purported that he did not actually go to people's houses and kill rats and roaches himself.

    DeLay was elected to the Texas State House in 1978 and then was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1984, representing the Texas 22nd Congressional District of Sugar Land. He became a "born-again Christian" in 1985. Before he became a born-again Christian, DeLay had the nickname "Hot Tub Tommy" and was known for drinking and partying, as well as a fierce passion for deregulation.

    DeLay has two brothers and one sister—he is estranged from one brother and his sister, and has an on-again, off-again relationship with his other brother. DeLay is also estranged from his mother, whom he did not invite to his daughter's wedding. DeLay's wife is named Christine and they have one married daughter, Danielle. DeLay has been a foster parent to several troubled teenagers.

    Congressional career

    As a member of the Republican minority, DeLay made a name for himself in the 1980's by attacking the National Endowment for the Arts and the Environmental Protection Agency. DeLay had a knack for counting votes, and was made a deputy whip by then-Minority Whip Dick Cheney in 1988.

    When the Republican Party gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, DeLay was elected Majority Whip against the wishes of Speaker-elect Newt Gingrich. After serving as Whip for eight years, in DeLay was elected Majority Leader upon the retirement of fellow Texan Dick Armey from the House. Contrary to popular assumption, DeLay was not personally friends with Armey or Gingrich; he considered them intellectual posers who were not committed to Christian values. In 1997 DeLay even tried to topple Gingrich in a parliamentary coup. Nevertheless, at the heyday of the 104th Congress, DeLay described the Republican leadership this way: Gingrich was the visionary, Armey the policy wonk, and DeLay himself was the guy that got everything done.

    In Congress, DeLay earned the nickname "The Hammer," for his enforcement of Party discipline in close votes and his reputation for wreaking political vengeance on opponents. In the 104th Congress, which met from 1995 to 1997, DeLay successfully whipped 300 out of 303 bills. DeLay likes his nickname, pointing out that the hammer is one of a carpenter's most valuable tools.

    DeLay has accomplished this unprecedented centralization of power in a number of ways. His most significant power is his ability to raise money. Two-thirds of the way through the 2004 election cycle, DeLay raised $2.28 million compared to Dennis Hastert's $1.68 million. DeLay also threatens to "primary" Republican moderates who resist his votes, and uses promises of future committee chairmanships. He can also be personable and generous, sponsoring weekly lunches for the Republican caucus.

    DeLay also requires lobbyists to whip bills, something that had never been done before. Said one lobbyist in an interview, "I've had members pull me aside and ask me to talk to another member of Congress about a bill or amendment, but I've never been asked to work on a bill - at least like they are asking us to whip bills now." (The Hammer, 93)

    In order to allow Northeastern Republicans to appear moderate to their constituents, DeLay allows these "moderates" to take turns voting against controversial bills - a technique called "catch and release." If a Congressman says a bill is unpopular in his district, DeLay will only make him vote for it if his vote is necessary for passage - if his vote is not needed, he or she will be allowed to vote against the party without reprisal. You can see "catch and release" at work every time a bill passes by one vote. In the 108th Congress, a preliminary Medicare vote passed 216-215, a vote on Head Start passed 217-216, a vote on vouchers for DC passed 209-208. "Fast track," aka "trade promotion authority," passed by one vote as well.

    The US Congress has never seen the kind of parliamentary discipline that Tom DeLay has been able to impose. Barney Frank, a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, commented that the House Republicans "have the same kind of discipline as the British Conservative or Labor Party, that's why anybody who votes for a Republican in November is voting for Tom DeLay." At the conclusion of "the Hammer," Jan Reid and Lou Dubose remark of Frank's insight, "it was a partisan observation but nonetheless valid and insightful. Tom DeLay will someday be elected Speaker. When he does, he will in effect be the first Prime Minister of the United States."

    Some have come to call the Republican Congress the "legislative arm of the White House".

    On economic and environmental policy, DeLay is rated a 95 by the anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform, and 95 to 100 by the United States Chamber of Commerce, a business lobby. However he earned ratings of 0 from the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters. He has been a fervent critic of the EPA, which he has called the "Gestapo of government." DeLay has also sided with business owners over labor unions.

    DeLay blames Senate Democrats and what he dubbed "BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) environmentalists" for blocking legislative solutions to problems such as the 2003 North America blackout. [1]

    His Christian conservative viewpoint led him to vote 100% in line with the views of the National Right to Life Committee and 0% with the National Abortion Reproductive Rights Action League.

    In foreign policy, DeLay has been a strong Christian Zionist supporter of the State of Israel, saying, "The Republican leadership, especially that leadership in the House, has made pro-Israel policy a fundamental component of our foreign policy agenda and it drives the Democrat leadership crazy--because they just can't figure out why we do it!" [2]

    On a 2003 trip to Israel, DeLay toured the nation and addressed members of the Knesset. His opposition to land concessions is so strong that the far-right National Union Party deputy Aryeh Eldad revealed "As I shook his hand, I told Tom DeLay that I thought I was the farthest to the right in the Knesset." Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said "The Likud is nothing compared to this guy." (The Hammer, 236)

    DeLay is widely considered to be among the more stridently partisan members of Congress. For example, in discussing the candidates for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, DeLay referred to their "hateful, moronic comments" and added that they had "nothing to offer the public debate but rage, resentment and quackery." [3]

    Misconduct in Texas fundraising

    After the 1990 census, the Texas Democrats drew what even some Republicans would argue was the most effective partisan gerrymander in the country. After the 2000 census, Texas Republicans wanted to draw congressional district lines that were more favorable to them, or to gerrymander the Democrats into a small minority, but they were unable to break the Democrats' majority in the Texas legislature. The district lines for the 2000s were thus drawn by a court.

    DeLay saw Texas as a great opportunity for the Republicans to pick up as many as seven Congressional seats if they could redraw Congressional district lines in their favor. The only problem the Texas GOP had was Democratic control of the legislature. Republicans were able to gain a majority in the state legislature after a measure for the new state house and senate districts failed. When this happened, a clause of the state constitution was invoked allowing the Legislative Redistricting Board, made up of statewide elected officials (the Lt. Governor, Comptroller, Speaker of the House, Attorney-General, and Land Commissioner) to draw up districts. As only one of these (Speaker Pete Laney) was a Democrat, the result predictably drew districts in which the Republicans had a strong majority in both the House and Senate. To break the Democratic hold on the state legislature and take advantage of the newly drawn districts, DeLay decided to raise large amounts of money and outspend the Democrats in the 2002 elections. In the process of raising that money, corporate money made its way into DeLay's PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority. As part of Texas' progressive legacy, corporate donations are illegal in Texas.

    Despite the illegality of the fundraising, which at the time did not come to light, the Republicans were able to beat the Democrats in Texas in 2002. Thus, the Republicans opened up an unprecendented mid-decade district redraw, or gerrymander. In 2003, Texas Democrats from the State House made national headlines when they travelled across the state border to Oklahoma en masse to deny a quorum for voting on the plan. They effectively broke the bill for the time being. When it was brought up again in a special session, the bill was passed by the House, but most of the Senate Democrats went to New Mexico, and killed one special session that way by denying a quorum again, promising to return if Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (the Senate President) would promise them that the two-thirds tradition (not allowing a bill to be debated without two-thirds of the members of the Senate agree). Gov. Rick Perry called them back a second time, and with one member (Senator John Whitmire) deciding to return, the remaining Senate Democrats did as well.

    Democrats were only able to hold off the legislative majority for a short time. The Democrat legislators of Texas cried to the press that they had maxed out their credit cards in their effort not to be abducted without a warrant by the state of Texas. The principal and interest on their credit cards, the Democrat legislators are still being forced to pay. Eventually the Democrats returned to Austin to face defeat. In the Texas Senate, the Lt. Governor broke precedent in letting something not supported by a two-thirds majority come to a vote.

    Opponents of the plan noted the long tradition of vote splitting between the parties and suggested that such dramatic changes in the makeup of the Texas Congressional Delegation were evidence of gerrymandering, while supporters noted that the Democrats' 17 to 15 edge in the congressional delegation, held since the 1991 Texas redistricting implemented by the Democrats, does not reflect the politics of a state where all 29 statewide office-holders elected are Republicans.

    Ethics investigations

    During the summer of 2004, DeLay was investigated for ethical violations stemming from complaints filed by Democratic Representative Chris Bell of Texas.

    On September 30, 2004, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the "Ethics Committee") found that DeLay had violated House rules in 2003 in his efforts to pass a bill concerning health care. The committee admonished DeLay for having made an offer to Representative Nick Smith, who was retiring, that DeLay would endorse Smith's son for the seat if Smith would vote in favor of the bill. This admonishment caused the conservative-leaning Judicial Watch to issue a call for DeLay to resign as Majority Leader.

    On October 6, 2004, the Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for a second time, this time for violations stemming from the Bell complaint. Specifically, it stated that he should not have asked the Federal Aviation Administration to track a small plane that he believed to be carrying Democratic Texas state legislators, who were fleeing to Oklahoma from Texas to prevent a quorum, thus stopping a redistricting plan they did not approve of.

    The panel also admonished DeLay for his dealings with Westar Energy, a Kansas-based firm; it cited memos from Westar stating that they believed $56,000 in donations to DeLay's PAC and others would get them "a seat at the table". Subsequently, DeLay appeared at a Westar-hosted golf fundraiser, "just as the House-Senate conference on major energy legislation...was about to get underway". This, the conference stated, violated the requirement that lawmakers may not solicit political donations "that may create even the appearance" that they will lead to special access or special treatment.

    However, the committee decided to delay action on Bell's third charge, dealing with improper fundraising by the DeLay-headed Texans for a Republican Majority PAC; Bell charged that it improperly raised funds from corporations to channel to local Texas legislative races. The matter is currently being investigated by a grand jury in Travis County, Texas.

    On September 21, 2004, the grand jury indicted three members of Texans for a Republican Majority, including its executive director, on charges of money laundering and accepting illegal campaign contributions. DeLay and his supporters contend that this investigation and the indictments are politically motivated maneuvers by the Democratic Travis County, Texas District Attorney Ronnie Earle - a controversial and colorful political figure with a history of pursuing unconventional indictments against elected officials including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Fearing a possible indictment of DeLay, which they feel is politically motivated on November 17, 2004, House Republicans changed an early 1990s rule that would force House Leaders to step down if indicted; the new rules will allow a committee to review any indictment to determine if it is politically motivated and if it is not politically motivated the House Leader would be required to step down. However, a firestorm of protest from rank-and-file Republicans forced DeLay himself to back off from the rule change on January 3, 2005.

    On November 18, 2004, the Ethics Committee also issued a statement admonishing Bell, advising him that his accusation violated a rule barring "innuendo, speculative assertions or conclusory statements". DeLay responded by criticizing Bell as well as Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    Posted at 02:21 PM in Texas | Technorati

    Under The Radar: Matsui Wins Special Election

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    In the seat vacated by the passing of her husband, Congressman Bob Matsui, Doris, his wife, won a landslide special election last evening and expects to be sworn in on Thursday.

    With all precincts reporting Tuesday, Matsui had nearly 72 percent of the overall vote and 88 percent among Democrats in a race marked by low turnout. She is expected to be sworn in Thursday.

    Matsui will represent California's fifth congressional district in the seat held by her husband for 26 years.

    Posted at 12:41 PM in 2005 Elections, California | Technorati

    Tuesday, March 08, 2005

    Colorado 2006 gubernatorial, 2008 senate races

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    Udall is running for US Senate:

    Saying he wants to work on federal rather than state issues, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall surprised fellow Democrats on Thursday by deciding not to run for governor in 2006 but to vie for the U.S. Senate in 2008 instead.

    "Frankly, I am reluctant to set out on a different path," said the fourth-term Eldorado Springs congressman who was the favorite in the small camp of Democrats publicly eyeing gubernatorial runs.

    Udall's announcement emboldens former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter and venture capitalist Rutt Bridges, both of whom have expressed interest in the job but lack Udall's name recognition and party ties.[...]

    Udall's decision also clears the field for other potential Democratic contenders. Some in the party have urged state Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald to run for governor. And many Democratic brass are leaning heavily on Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to consider the seat.

    This is one of my favorite states and critical to the future of the Democratic Party. I'll be watching the 2006 primary closely, you should too.

    Posted at 04:42 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, 2006 Elections - State, Colorado | Comments (3) | Technorati

    The Takeover: Part II

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    Jay-Z would be proud:

    Months after their historic wins in November, Colorado Democrats have ousted party chairman Chris Gates in an upset organized by activists angered by his handling of Mike Miles' failed bid for the U.S. Senate.

    Pat Waak - a nonprofit director from Erie who is little-known in statewide political circles - narrowly edged out Gates in a final vote of 187 to 184 during Saturday's meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee.

    Chris Bowers has the rest at MyDD.

    Posted at 01:46 PM in Activism, Netroots | Technorati

    Lieberman, DLC, Bloggers and the 2006 Primary

    Posted by Bob Brigham

    As of late, there has been a great deal of discussion concerning a potential primary challenge to Senator Joe Lieberman. As is to be expected, the DLC is flacking for Lieberman, here's what our friend at Bull Moose says:

    While the Moose is clearly partial to the blogosphere, as of yet, he has not seen evidence it carries much political clout outside of raising money.

    First of all, I'm glad we can all agree that any primary would be very well financed. Furthermore, it bears notice that bloggers don't pay consultants on percentage, and absent such conflicts of interest the bulk would not be wasted on TV (Lieberman would not have such an advantage and considering the expense of the media markets involved, this is very relevant).

    Democratic Primary voters love an underdog (cue: Eye of the Tiger), so any such investment in media would gain immediate traction. The numbers I spend all day looking at on Social Security suggest that any such campaign would have even more support among seniors than among young anti-war activists.

    So, bloggers would have the money to run plenty of mail, robo-calls, radio, etc. And the money to build the organization.

    The organization is where things get interesting. Because the unique geographical location of the district in relationship to a fuckton of people.

    In fact, if you look nationwide at population density outside, but nearby a state, Connecticut would be the poster child for volunteer mobilization in a nationalized primary. Here's a density map based on population density that I pulled together from National Atlas
    Keep reading for all the maps.

    Clearly Connecticut brings this potential dynamic into play more than any other state in the union. Not only would comparisions to non-internet driven campaigns be irrelevant, but so would comparisions with past primary campaigns in other regions.

    In fact, when we zoom in, it becomes even clearer that there are a helluva lot of people nearby.

    The problem is that this map uses the same color (dark blue) to show density of 250-66,395. Which is a fairly wide range, so let's look at the extreme population density with another map where each point of light represents 7,500 people. When you look at the area around his district it is lit up like it could be seen from space.

    The biggest problem for Lieberman in any potential primary campaign is that a great deal of these people are Democrats. Playing around with Professor Robert Vanderbei's maps shows that not only are there a great deal of people, but that the people who live near Connecticut compromise a bastion of Democratic voters. The following map is a sliding partisan scale (blue to red) with the vertical axis representing population density.

    The blue skyscrapers just outside of Connecticut represent the northeastern base of the Democratic Party. Many of these voters are activists and if organized (hmmm, such as online) could be mobilized to form an organization unlike any army ever raised for a primary campaign.

    The important thing to note is that these volunteers would have more than idealogy on their side, they would actually have science. Yes, scientists study how Lieberman hurts the Democratic Party in the minds of swing voters. Cognative Scientist Professor George Lakoff concludes:

    There is a myth that voters are lined up in a left-to-right line, and that to gain the support of swing voters, you must move to the center. When progressives move to the right, they lose in two ways, setting up a self-defeating double-whammy:

    1) Moving to the right alienates your progressive base.

    2) It actually helps conservatives because it activates their model in swing voters.

    Notice that conservatives do not gain more voters by moving to the Left. What they do is stick to their strict ideology to activate their model in swing voters by being clear and consistent in policies and messages framed in terms of conservative values.

    A potential primary be instantly nationalized, would have a pile of money that would fundamentally be spent more effectively, access to a greater pool of out-of-district activists than any race in the country, and the volunteers would know that they are scientifically doing the best thing for the Democratic Party.

    Oh yeah, it it would start online so it would be extra nasty...

    Posted at 12:35 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Connecticut, Netroots | Technorati

    Sunday, March 06, 2005

    Two more State Party Blogs

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    Take a moment and head over to the two newest state party websites that have included blogs as a means to communicate directly with the grass/netroots.


    New Hampshire

    I am particularly fond of the Maine blog. It looks like the party has really spent some time and effort in getting it up, running, and did an effective job getting people to participate.

    On a sour note: The Pennsylvania Democratic Party basically said, "f you" to members of a DFA in Bucks County who requested a blog. CLICK HERE for more information -- and expect even more in the near future. As Chris Bowers of MyDD puts it:

    Ahhh, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, where reform goes to die. Forcing candidates out of the Senatorial primary. Endorsing Fowler for DNC chair after Dean secured the votes to win. Not giving Ginny their full support (more on that later). And now, this. No wonder in a state where Democrats lead in voter ID and voter registration, they are substantially behind in the legislature, the congressional delegation, and don't have a Seantor. Color me disgusted

    Posted at 05:56 PM in Activism, Maine, Netroots, New Hampshire | Comments (2) | Technorati

    Friday, March 04, 2005

    What a day...

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    When we started the day, Barbara Hafer was in the PA Senate race to stay, Bob Casey Jr. was unsure, no word from Joe Hoeffel, and Chuck Pennacchio wasn't going anywhere.

    Well, at around noon, the stuff really hit the fan. Casey is now in, Hafer is now out, still no word from Hoeffel, and Pennacchio remains steady.

    Read more at PoliticsPA.

    Apparently the back-room efforts have paid dividends for the Casey Jr. campaign. I suppose its only a matter of time before Hafer is offered the Lt. Governor position for her party loyalty.

    Pennacchio website

    Casey Jr.'s new website

    Posted at 01:10 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Activism, Pennsylvania | Comments (4) | Technorati

    Thursday, March 03, 2005

    You wanna charge me for a hyperlink?

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    During the 2004 election cycle, the Internet brought millions of Americans into the political process. For me, it was the first time I ever became actively engaged; until the Net, I simply received "a 'D' for voting."

    Knowing that your voice is heard and your small dollar contribution is appreciated has a not-so-surprising way of increasing political efficacy. Walter Lippmann discussed reasons for low levels of efficacy among citizens in “The Phantom Public,” almost eighty years ago. “The private citizen,” Lippmann writes, “has come to feel rather like a deaf spectator in the back row…listening to speeches, uttering opinions, and voting do not, he finds enable him to govern it [his environment]."

    Because of the Net, we have a voice. Unfortunately, some on the FEC and in Congress are helping to stifle political expression online. I am not kidding you when I say they want to start charging for links online. Links. If I were to say, "Barbara Boxer is cool," that would be a campaign contribution. That is just the start of it. And you wonder why so many Americans are dissafected with politics. It gets worse, according to FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith:

    It's going to be a battle, and if nobody in Congress is willing to stand up and say, "Keep your hands off of this, and we'll change the statute to make it clear," then I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger.

    The impact would affect e-mail lists, especially if there's any sense that they're done in coordination with the campaign. If I forward something from the campaign to my personal list of several hundred people, which is a great grassroots activity, that's what we're talking about having to look at.

    Were I cynical, I would be the first to charge the politicians are doing everything they can to increase a "sprial of dissafection" that Pinkerton and Weintraub first described in 1998.

    They believed that media tactics turned voters off, which contributed to increased cynicism, alienating them from politics and the political process. The result of that alienation is voters making less of an effort to obtain new information from the media which leads to further cynicism, and the cycle continues (Johnson, Hays, & Hays, 1998).

    The Internet has changed this. To take that away would be bad. Very very bad. Contact information for the FEC:

    Main Telephone Numbers:
    Toll-free: 800-424-9530
    Local: 202-694-1100
    TDD: 202-219-3336

    Mailing Address:
    Federal Election Commission
    999 E Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20463

    Full slate of contact information HERE. Out of curiosity, what campaign would the FEC bill for linking to sites you disagree with?

    Posted at 01:43 PM in Netroots | Comments (1) | Technorati

    State Party Blog Project

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    You can lend a hand with Pennsylvania, and have immediate impact. Tonight, I am meeting with the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, Don Morabito.

    The local DFA asked me to speak to him about the importance of getting a blog up on the PA State Party website. So, that's where you come into play.

    Are you from Pennsylvania?

    If you are, please send me an email letting me know what it is you would like to see from a brand new Pennsylvania Democratic Party website. Let me know how you want the state party to use a blog in their grassroots outreach. In fact, pass along whatever you want passed to Morabito.

    I will collect the emails and bring them into the meeting:

    If you aren't from PA, feel free to write something on how your state party uses its blog, or even how you have seen blogs as an effective fundraising, organizational, and communication tool.

    I will pass those along as well. I hope we can get about 10-15 of them by the time the meeting starts.



    Posted at 10:59 AM in Activism, Netroots, Pennsylvania | Technorati

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Concealed Carry

    Posted by Tim Tagaris

    If you ever felt the need to defend yourself with a rocket launcher while in a schoolhouse, then Arizona is the place for you:

    The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to let people carry weapons - including guns, grenades, rockets, mines and sawed-off shotguns - into schools, polling places and nuclear plants if they claim they're only trying to protect themselves.

    The bad news for legislators is that you can now use a landmine in the chamber of the Arizona House of Representatives if you are forced to defend yourself. But the bill doesn't stop at just self-defense--it includes language that indicates you can use your rocket launcher in defending ANY home, and the ambiguous "defending the state."

    Posted at 10:42 AM in Arizona | Technorati

    March 2005 Archive: