Thursday, December 6, 2007

There is a report that House Conferees on the Defense Authorization Act will scrap the Matthew Shepard Act that was attached to the bill in the Senate.

House Democrats are reportedly resigned to removing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crime bill from defense authorization legislation.

Congressional Quarterly reports that House Democratic leaders believe they lack the votes to pass the measure.

The Shepard Act would add sexuality to the list of categories covered under federal hate crime law.


CQ which covers Capitol Hill extensively quoted unnamed House aides as saying House members on the conference committee are rewriting the defense bill and will likely recommend leaving out the hate crime provision.

That has apparently sparked differences with Senate conferees who want the Shepard Act to remain. Nevertheless it is expected that a compromise will be reached where the act will not be part of the spending bill.

"It looks like it’s got a lot of trouble,” George Miller (D-Calif.) told CQ. "so far, nobody’s come up with a whip count that says it could pass."

There are a couple problems with this situation. First, it doesn't even make sense. The House of Representatives was able to pass a fully-inclusive stand alone hate crimes bill this year. It defies logic to tell us now that they don't have the votes now that it is attached to the Defense Authorization bill. If anything, it should make it significantly easier to pass.

After all, this is legislation that I'm told is supported by about 80% of the public in opinion polls. It's also named after a kid who was beaten to death and has become an icon in American history. But, the Democrats are scared that Bush may veto the bill and they'll get blamed for trying to starve soldiers. There go the Democrats again. Scared of our own shadow.

This is shaping up to be a complete sell out of any campaign promises that Democrats made to the gay community. Repeatedly, officials within the Democratic Party promised hate crimes legislation and an Employment Non-Discrimination Act. If this report is true, then they are batting ZERO.

Honestly, the Democratic Majority has been a string of disappointments for those who were hungry for change following twelve years of almost exclusive Republican rule on Capitol Hill.

In addition to the disappointing (at best) handling of these issues, it doesn't stop there. In a New York Times editorial on December 2, it became clearer that House Democrats were ready to fund $28 million in abstinence only Programs. That amounts to nothing more than a handout to right wing groups that are blind to the fact that these programs DO NOT WORK. Further, they completely ignore LGBT youth and specific issues that they need to be aware of.

Not only do Democratic Leaders in Congress need to cease their fear of The Right, they need to start doing the RIGHT things. Thus far, I've been willing to give them time to find their footing and grow into their newly won majority. My patience is wearing thin and so is America's.

The final piece in this puzzle is the effectiveness of gay rights organizations. They raise tens of millions of dollars a year from dedicated activists. Thus far, there is very little to show in Congress that their approach is effective. LGBT Leaders need to decide if they are going to be inside the beltway political lobbyists who care more about cocktail parties or whether they are indeed Civil Rights organizations dedicated to principle. Will they use this as another opportunity to raise money? Or will they go to Capitol Hill and raise Hell for being lied to?

We will soon see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

S-CHIP is a defining issue that neither side can afford to lose

The ongoing battle to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program is a big one. Stakes are high for everyone involved: The Congress, The White House, Governors, State Legislators, and, most importantly, nearly 3.5 million additional children that would be covered by health insurance.

This is an enormous issue of morality. There are an estimated 48 million Americans without access to healthcare; 9 million of those are children.

At issue here is a disagreement on how much the program should be increased. Democrats and many Republicans are advocating a $7 billion per year increase. That would achieve the coverage of the additional 3.5 million children previously noted. However, the White House only wants to increase the spending $5 billion per year. The program lasts for five years, so the total difference over the life of the program is $10 billion.

Over the $2 billion dollar per year difference, President Bush and his soul-lacking White House Staff are not only threatening a veto, but applying an incredibly amount of pressure on House Republicans to vote against the bill. He says that it is moving us toward socialized healthcare.

Frankly, I don't care what you want to call it. Government exists to serve its people. Children are the most prized possession of any nation and we have a moral imperative as a nation to protect and nurture the children who represent the future of our Democracy.

To put this into perspective, we're spending a billion dollars a day on the War in Iraq. In less than a week and a half, we will have spent the entire difference between the two proposals on the War. That is embarrassing. I can't believe the White House is digging its heels in on this. Further, I can't believe that they aren't being publicly flogged by every politician and organization in America.

Here's what is at stake politically. Bush, after approving six Republican budgets that increased spending at a far greater rate than pretty much all of his predecessors, is trying to reclaim a position of fiscal conservatism. Because of his historically low approval rating, he is trying to shore up the support of his conservative base. Bush is also in great need of a Congressional victory not related to Iraq or the trampling of Constitutional rights.

On the Democratic side, they desperately need a victory over the President in order to assert their new power in the Majority. Their base is very disappointed in their inability to change the course of the War. A failure here would further demoralize the confidence that the base, and the general public, will have in the ability of a Democratic Congress to achieve measurable results.

All that being said, House Republicans hold the keys to the castle here. It is up to them to change course and vote to override the President's expected veto. Failure to do so should put them at the top of the DCCC's target list. Their Democratic challengers should go on the offensive immediately. If a Democratic challenger doesn't yet exist, then a Party surrogate should target the Republicans who voted no.

At issue here is access to healthcare for nearly 3.5 million children. We as a nation can't afford to leave them behind for the sake of George Bush's political needs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rudy's Camp Lies to WaPo

In a post yesterday, you learned about Rudy's desire to live by a different set of rules than Today, his camp is lying about it!

In a write-up over at the Washington Post by Michael Shear, Rudy's spokesperson had this to say:
"Our ad not only met the acceptability standards of The New York Times, but it was placed at the standby rate with no commitment it would run on a specific date."

However, in direct conflict to this statement is Hizzoner himself. Check it out here. In Rudy's own words, he DEMANDS that his ad run in that Friday's New York Times at the SAME rate he had already criticized MoveOn for receiving. He sounds like an angry little kid demanding an equal share of a piece of chocolate, NOT a Presidential candidate.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rules don't apply to Rudy. Or do they?

Rudy Giuliani is a hypocrite who thinks he should live by rules different than others. He attacked and the New York Times for the rate charged for a newspaper ad. Promptly, he ran an ad in response and paid….wait for it….the SAME amount.

Since the NYT says it was a mistake that they were charged the lower amount, MoveOn promptly paid the difference in an ‘abundance of caution’. Rudy refuses to.

The wingnuts filed an FEC complaint against MoveOn and the NYT, but didn’t include Rudy. That oversight has now been corrected:

See an important UPDATE here. Rudy's being a bad boy!

September 24, 2007

Lane Hudson
Washington, DC

General Counsel
Federal Election Commission
999 E. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20463

Dear Counsel:

This is a formal complaint against the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee, Inc. for the receipt of corporate soft money contribution in excess of the limits established by the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The information in this complaint is derived from publicly available reports on the internet and falls under 2 U.S.C. 441 B and 11 CFR S 114.2.

In response to an advertisement purchased by Political Action on September 19, 2007, the Giuliani Campaign purchased an advertisement to run in the September 14 publication of the New York Times. Both Political Action and the Giuliani Campaign paid $64,575 for their respective ads. This ad quote is known as the ’standby rate’ because the day of publication and its placement are not guaranteed.

In a September 23, 2007 newspaper column, Public Editor of the New York Times, Clark Hoyt, admitted that the New York Times made a mistake in charging the standby rate:

Catherine Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for The Times, said, “We made a mistake.” She said the advertising representative failed to make it clear that for that rate The Times could not guarantee the Monday placement but left with the understanding that the ad would run then. She added, “That was contrary to our policies.” responded to the column by saying this on September 23:

Now that the Times has revealed this mistake for the first time, and while we believe that the $142,083 figure is above the market rate paid by most organizations, out of an abundance of caution we have decided to pay that rate for this ad. We will therefore wire the $77,083 difference to the Times…

In the same column, Mr. Hoyt has this to say about the advertisement purchased by Mr. Giuliani:

In the fallout from the ad, Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor and a Republican presidential candidate, demanded space in the following Friday’s Times to answer He got it — and at the same $64,575 rate that paid.

According to the New York Times’ own policy, Mr. Giuliani should have paid the fixed-date rate instead of the standby rate. Therefore, the difference, $77,083 is an in-kind corporate contribution, which far exceeds the limits allowed by law. Now that he has knowledge that his campaign is in receipt of an illegal $77,083 contribution from the New York Times, it is incumbent on Mr. Giuliani to repay the difference. If he does not, that is not just a violation of the law but a betrayal of the public trust at a time when Americans want integrity from our leaders.

When Mr. Giuliani’s campaign was called on to pay the difference, therefore avoiding a violation of law, his campaign declined to do so.

Respectfully submitted,

Lane Hudson

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Senate Democrats to Netroots: F@*# YOU!

Twenty three Senate Democrats today showed that they are cowards and will bend to the slightest threat by the right wing. They all joined every single Republican Senator in censuring's advertisement in the New York Times. The add, now famously known as the "General Betray Us" ad, asserted that General David Petraeus had a record of carrying the political water of the Bush Administration and that a less than honest assessment of the situation in Iraq was a betrayal of trust.

It's not rocket science. In fact, none of the people attacking MoveOn even bothered to take issue with the facts contained in the advertisement. Not one. I challenge you to prove me wrong.

Instead, one after another, pathetic, cowardly Democrats allowed the not-so-invisible hand of Karl Rove to make them fear that they would yet again, be questioned as to whether or not they support the military. Seriously, HOW MANY TIMES WILL THEY FALL FOR THIS?

Here's the list of cowardly Senators:

Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Ben Cardin, Tom Carper, Bob Casey, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Dianne Feinstein, Tim Johnson, Amy Klobuchar, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Pat Leahy, Joe Lieberman (not that he really counts, anyway), Blanche Lincoln, Claire McCaskill, Barbara Mikulski, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Mark Pryor, Ken Salazar, Jon Tester, and Jim Webb.

So far in the 110th Congress, the Democrats that the Netroots worked tirelessly on behalf of, has been one disappointment after another. The support they gave this resolution condemning MoveOn is an embarrassment.

MoveOn has done more than anyone else in this country to bring an end to the war. Anyone. (I can already hear the bitching that folks on the Hill will be doing about this statement.) The fact is that all summer long, MoveOn worked with a coalition of organizations throughout the country to target Members of Congress to influence their vote on ending the war.

Meanwhile, the White House ran circles around the Democratic Leadership in the PR game leading up to the conclusion of August recess. In advance of the Petraeus testimony, MoveOn set to frame the expectations in a provocative, fact-based way.

What MoveOn hasn't told you is that the "General Betray-Us" moniker isn't their invention. It's been reported in the British press to be coined by a retired General.

Critics, including one recently retired general, are privately calling him "General Betraeus" on the grounds that he is too ambitious to deliver a balanced report on the war.

But, the Democrats in Congress didn't take the time to look past the baseless finger pointing and elementary name-calling. Instead, they gave in to cowardly instinct and said a big "F@*# YOU" to the millions of Americans who call themselves a part of the Netroots Movement and have worked side by side with MoveOn to end the War.

If the Senate Democrats can't be trusted to stand up to simple attacks like this, there is likely no way they can be trusted to end this War. What are we to do?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Student asks Kerry tough question, Kerry watches him get tasered; free speech nowhere to be seen

There are so many things wrong with this video that I don't even know where to start.

You can see another video, posted at Daily Kos here that shows the student's full question.

Sure, he ranted and raved just a bit. But, he barely got his 'impolite' question out before the University of Florida Rent-a-Cops started harassing him. If you ask me, more people should rant and rave like this. He's clearly upset that Bush's Administration is clearly ripping the Constitution to threads, edging towards ANOTHER ill-conceived war, and that Kerry could have stopped it if he had forced the issue on the 2004 voter suppression reports.

If more people were this passionate, then we might have a chance at bringing this country back from a state of absolute apathy in the face of corrupt government. This guy made the people in the room feel uncomfortable because of his passion and tough questions.

Because of the uber sensitive environment that George Bush's "free speech zone" society has created, everybody is on edge and thinks that free speech has gone away. I'm not sorry to say that most of America needs a reality check. Serious issues are before us and sober conversation with polite head nodding isn't gonna make anything better.

NEWSFLASH: The government might be spying on you and have suspended habeus corpus, but our right to free speech remains. And that means you can be a nutso, annoying, know-it-all jerk. That student didn't cross any line that put him into illegal territory. Period.

Have you seen the bumper sticker, "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention"? This guy was paying attention and it rubbed some people the wrong way.

Those Rent-a-Cops, unjustified in the initial moments of confrontation, further failed to properly handle the situation. There were FIVE cops there and there's no reason they couldn't remove him from that room and handle it outside of the company of an entire auditorium. Their actions fueled the situation and they should be held accountable for it.

This whole thing makes me sick because it represents a lot of what is wrong with America right now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Petraeus in Perspective and Bush No Way Forward

The Center for American Progress has compiled a 2 1/2 minute video that gives a realistic perspective on the situation in Iraq. It's well sourced and includes a bi-partisan survey of national security experts.

Bottom line: Petraeus' report to Congress was inaccurate, any suggestion the latest PR stunt is a drawdown in troop levels is false, and Bush has no clear idea on what the way forward should be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Giuliani support soft and disappearing, Clinton leads everywhere

The L.A. Times has an article about how Giuliani leads the Republican race in national polls, but doesn't lead a single early Primary State. Poor Rudy....

If you remember the early polling for Clinton, she was ahead in the national polls and behind in the Early States. The conservatives (read: FOX 'News') were saying that it was evidence that Clinton has broad appeal, but shallow support. However, as the LA Times notes, and Chris Bowers details at Open Left, Clinton has translated her national appeal into solid support in the Early States. She leads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. If this holds, she's unstoppable for the nomination.

Rudy, however is in trouble. Instead of a steady increase in organization and support, Giuliani's campaign has begun a slow deterioration. Lobbyist Fred Thompson's entrance into the race gives Giuliani an additional strong challenge in South Carolina. No Republican has won the nomination of his or her Party without winning the South Carolina Republican Primary.

In South Carolina, Rudy's main cheerleader in the law enforcement community has come under intense scrutiny. The Co-Chair of his "Firefighters for Rudy" is also the Executive Director of the 501(c)3 organization, South Carolina Firefighters Association. Not only has the organization drawn a complaint to the IRS, but a movement has begun among rank and file firefighters to discipline their leader for acting out of line.

Poor Rudy....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Petraeus' Pullout Politics

Today's Washington Post Headline reads, "Petraeus Backs Initial Pullout". That is pathetic. The headline should have read something like: "General dons rose-colored glasses in report to Congress".

The idea to 'propose' withdrawing some troops is a mere political ploy to continue funding the war with the least pushback possible from Democrats in Congress. General Petraeus' intention remains to stay in Baghdad for the long haul.
The general asked Congress to defer decisions on further reductions until March to get a better sense of the political and security situation.

Like Ambassador Crocker, I believe Iraq's problems will require a long-term effort," Petraeus testified before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. "There are no easy answers or quick solutions. And although we both believe this effort can succeed, it will take time. . . . A premature drawdown of our forces would likely have devastating consequences.

Nonetheless, the Republicans jumped all over the latest gamesmanship being offered up to them by the top military brass in Iraq.

Republicans, by contrast, seized on the plan as a political lifeboat after months of being forced to vote against measures repudiating Bush's policy. "Let the generals in the field dictate," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (N.C.). "We would support it," said Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.), a member of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense.

Meanwhile, Democrats huddled in Speaker Pelosi's office to "plot" their next step. What the hell are they doing trying to figure this out now? Where were they in August when the White House was in full PR mode in preparation for this debate? It seems to me like they have been asleep at the switch.

Glenn Greenwald of has teamed up with Fire Dog Lake and Open Left to create a petition to send to the Leadership. Please watch Glenn's video, which puts General Petraeus' testimony in proper context. Also, please take a moment to sign the petition and share it with a few friends.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Are you ONE?

Bloggers from both ends of the political spectrum rarely find agreement on issues. Even more rarely do they sit around a table to brainstorm on ways we can work together. This summer, The ONE Campaign provided the issue and the setting that brought conservative and liberal bloggers to stand together.

The issue is poverty. It affects men, women, and children all over the world. On the continent of Africa alone, it affects millions every single day. This is a moral issue of unprecedented importance. Martin Luther King had this to say decades ago:
"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

A child dies every three seconds as a result of poverty. That is a shocking statistic. Until now, there has been no widespread movement to force this issue into the political agenda of the United States.

Now, we have The ONE Campaign. When people see my white ONE wristband, they usually ask which cause of the day the white band is for. I simply reply "The ONE Campaign is the campaign to make poverty history." After allowing a moment for the levity of the situation to absorb, I usually throw in, "It's Bono's poverty thing."

While Bono may be the association that much of the public has with ONE, a talented group of people run the day to day operation under the leadership of Susan McCue, who left her job as Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to head this historic effort.

In the past, the approach to solving poverty would be to hold a bake sale and send some bags of food across the ocean. ONE's approach is to make poverty a top issue for the US Government. It should be a priority because it is the right thing to do but also because it is in our strategic interest to eradicate poverty. Colin Powell had this to say:
"The US cannot win the war on terrorism unless we confront the social and political roots of poverty."

So far, ONE has become nearly 2.5 million people speaking with ONE very loud voice. You should add your voice, too.

ONE recently launched a major effort to educate the public and the politicians about poverty. ONE Vote '08 is on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire and catching the attention of the candidates and celebrities alike. Here is a quick video about this effort.

And....a personal favorite. This video is a duet between Bono and Mary J. Blige. It's powerful, moving, and just downright awesome. Get inspired and go to and sign up! As they say, they don't want your money, they want your voice.