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.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bush's expensive photo op

Bush's 'surprise' visit to Iraq is nothing more than a carefully, and though I hate to admit it, brilliantly conceived public relations plan in advance of General Petraeus' report to Congress in a couple weeks. Petraeus' testimony is in turn part of the larger plan to pressure Congress to continue funding Bush's Iraq disaster.

The Washington Post has bought the PR effort hook, line, and sinker. They actually published this quotation from the President:
"General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces," the president said.

Seriously, this has been the deadliest summer in Iraq since the war began. The logic in Bush's statement is on such a slippery slope that I can't even believe he said it. But then again, they've lied and been disingenuous with us countless times before.

If Bush actually draws down troops, without Congressional mandate, before leaving office, the only reason will be to strengthen his party's nominee for President. That scenario would likely play out only in a close race. Regardless, their propaganda may achieve their objective of continuing this war.

Recent feedback from staff of Democratic Leadership in Congress leads me to believe that they are either resigned to losing the battle over the War or haven't yet put together a game plan. Either way, I think it's pathetic. The White House is running circles around them in the PR game and this may ultimately apply just the right amount of pressure on moderate Republicans and a handful of Democrats to continue giving a blank check to Bush's Iraq disaster.

Pentagon PR Push pushes the envelope

I planned to write about this on Friday, but found myself far busier than I had planned. Better late then never!

This Washington Post article (which was on page 13) shows how the Pentagon must push their propaganda not only to Congress and the American public, but also to the rank and file troops.
The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank. So when Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) asked a soldier last weekend just what he was holding, the congressman was taken aback to find out.

In the soldier's hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen's meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war. "Moran on Iraq policy," read one section, going on to cite some the congressman's most incendiary statements, such as, "This has been the worst foreign policy fiasco in American history."

I find this reprehensible. A source of mine who has worked in Public Affairs for a branch of the military tells me that this is, without a doubt, a product of Psychological Operations, or PsyOps, as many people refer to it. He says that Public Affairs would never engage in something like this, even with all of the shady things this Administration has pushed.

Further, the military allowed no contact from anyone that wasn't a part of the carefully scripted visit by Members of Congress. People who tried to insert themselves into the dog and pony show were silenced.
At one point, as Moran, Tauscher and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) were heading to lunch in the fortified Green Zone, an American urgently tried to get their attention, apparently to voice concerns about the war effort, the participants said. Security whisked the man away before he could make his point.

And, just so you know how serious the Iraqi government is about listening to American government officials and convincing them that they are dedicated to making their government work:
At one point, the three were trying to discuss the state of Iraqi security forces with Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, but the large, flat-panel television set facing the official proved to be a distraction. Rubaie was watching children's cartoons.

When Moran asked him to turn it off, Rubaie protested with a laugh and said, "But this is my favorite television show," Moran recalled.

Finally, buried at the tail end of the article is a noteworthy quotation from Republican Congressman John Porter of Nevada.
"I tend to lean with the rank-and-file members of military who have nothing to gain," he added. "They want to go home as soon as possible."

Will it reflect his vote on the upcoming appropriations supplemental or it is more lip service that we've been seeing from Republicans who seek to distance themselves from the disaster the Iraq war has been, while supporting it at every step along the way.

Monday, September 3, 2007

No Dirty Tricks!

There is an effort underway by conservatives to split up California's electoral votes. This would dilute the power of California to have a say in who becomes President and it would give an unfair advantage to Republicans.

The Courage Campaign has launched a Campaign against this effort called "No Dirty Tricks". Republicans have been finding ways to cheat for years. The time has come for us to let them know that we're going to stand up.

Please consider chipping in $20 to save 20 electoral votes from being stolen by Republicans.

Below, Rick Jacobs, Chair of the Courage Campaign explains the importance of this effort.

Friday, August 31, 2007

One Warner for another?

Longtime Virginia Republican Senator John Warner announced today that he's done. No more Senator Warner of Virginia. Maybe.

Speculation around DC and in Virginia is that former Virginia Governor Mark Warner will run for the seat. Of course, he offered no comment today, ceding the spotlight to a lifetime of public service by John Warner.

Nonetheless, Mark Warner's approval rating in Virginia remains sky high. He is also rumored to be considering another run at the Governor's mansion, but my bet is that he'll seek a Senate seat that he can hold onto indefinitely.

The next couple of weeks are likely to reveal his plans. If he runs, he's a sure win.

Richardson pledges to respect DNC Primary Calendar

Bill Richardson just announced that he has signed a pledge to respect the Pre-February 5 window set by the Democratic National Committee. This is a great thing and here's why....

For those of you who missed my earlier posts about this, they are here and here. Basically, the Democratic National Committee set out on a years long process to open the early stages of the nominating process to more diversity than Iowa and New Hampshire had to offer. After a long process, and having given consideration to many States, Nevada and South Carolina were selected to join the original two "Early States".

However, Florida's Legislature moved their Primary date into conflict with DNC Rules. Michigan began the process to pass a law in response. In short, a chaotic nominating process was well underway that could soon have spun out of control. Thankfully, the DNC let it be known that they were sticking to their guns and would severely penalize anyone who held a delegate selection process in violation of the rules.

Apparently, it was heard loud and clear by Michigan, whose State Chair Mark Brewer seems to be backing down from the January 15 Primary he previously seemed to be pursuing. Michigan Liberal has this:

"The Michigan Democratic Party has made no decision as to whether to participate in a primary," (Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer) said in the article. "When enacted, this bill gives us another option in addition to our DNC-approved caucus. When this bill becomes law we will weigh our options and decide how to proceed."

And, in giving credit where it is due, Governor Richardson apparently heard the message loud and clear as well. Who will be the next candidate who is in favor of following the rules?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Marriage Equality in Iowa?

I'm getting initial reports that the Supreme Court of the State of Iowa has ruled that the State must grant marriage rights to same-sex couples. I'll update as I get more information, but this could have pretty big political implications.


Here's an article in the Des Moines Register. Gary in the comments points our that this was a County Judge. I'm not sure if there is another step or not before the Iowa Supreme Court hears this case. Either way, I'm all for striking down laws that discriminate against people.

DOJ investigating the Attorney General

From the Washington Post:
The Justice Department is investigating whether departing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave false or misleading testimony to Congress on a broad range of issues, including the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program and the removal of nine U.S. attorneys last year, the lead investigator said today.

The disclosure by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine shows that internal investigations that began with the prosecutor firings have widened substantially to include a focus on Gonzales's actions and statements.

Amazing, huh? The state of our Justice system must be pretty messed up when the Attorney General of the United States is being investigated by his own subordinates. Or perhaps it means that the system is finally starting to work....

Lobbyist Fred to (finally) announce

Michael Shear has the info over at the Washington Post's The Trail. Lobbyist Fred has hurriedly put together a 4pm conference call to announce to folks what we've known all along: He's running for President.

Once you get over the shock of the surprising news, you should be aware that this does not make his gross violations of Federal Election Law disappear. As Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks pointed out last week, "Just because Lindsey Lohan is driving sober today doesn't make her DUI charge go away."

We should all continue to hold Lobbyist Fred accountable for his intentional disrespect for the rule of law. This man is not Presidential material.

More bad press for Thompson

The Economist says that Thompson's campaign has gotten off to a rocky start. Oh, I mean, his "non" campaign or whatever it is supposed to be.

Either way, it doesn't bode well for a (non)candidate that is supposed to sweep Republican primary voters off their feet with only five months left before the first votes are cast. And...we still don't know when he's going to actually become a legal campaign.

NY Times omits Thompson's lobbyist career

This article in the NY Times was published a few days ago. It's a *very* in depth profile of his life and career. It's so detailed that we learn that he married his pregnant girlfriend in high school, but we don't know what came of that marriage.

We also learn that he was the go to man for the Republican Party when they came under scrutiny by the Congress. He was and is the ultimate insider Republican and has been cleaning up their messes for decades.

The article also reminds us that he was the Chief Senate Republican to lead the investigation into the fundraising activities of President Clinton. Isn't it ironic that he is now the subject of an FEC complaint himself?

However, this *detailed* article, while doing a good job at painting him as a total Washington insider, fails to tell their readers that Thompson was one of Washington's highest paid lobbyists for years and years. He has long been part of the problem in Washington. Now he seeks the highest office in the land as some sort of Republican savior. He's definitely done a lot of heavy lifting for the Republicans. But, this isn't what the American people are looking for now. It's time to do a little lifting for everyone, not just the right wing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina still being talked about

Katrina hit New Orleans two years ago. We're still talking about the devastation that exists in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. That's pathetic.

We all know the Administration's response was embarrassing. But, promises by Democratic Leaders have also yielded little to show in the hardest hit areas of New Orleans.

It's time for somebody to take responsibility and use their position to demand that the proper attention be paid to rebuilding one of America's favorite cities. It would be really nice if it were someone like Nancy Pelosi. I mean, she could at least pass the job onto another Member whose job it would be to serve as a watchdog and oversee the Federal role in the rebuilding.

Every day that passes without progress is another day that America's reputation suffers. Enough is enough. Honor the lives that were lost in this tragedy by valuing the human beings who remain to carry on their memory.

GAO Report cites little progress in Iraq

Yet another headline in the Washington Post screams what we already know: there's little progress to be shown for the thousands of dead Americans and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the Iraq War. The Post snagged an early copy of the report. Here's a snippet:
The strikingly negative GAO draft, which will be delivered to Congress in final form on Tuesday, comes as the White House prepares to deliver its own new benchmark report in the second week of September, along with congressional testimony from Iraq commander Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. They are expected to describe significant security improvements and offer at least some promise for political reconciliation in Iraq.

The draft provides a stark assessment of the tactical effects of the current U.S.-led counteroffensive to secure Baghdad. "While the Baghdad security plan was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced," it states. While there have been fewer attacks against U.S. forces, it notes, the number of attacks against Iraqi civilians remains unchanged. It also finds that "the capabilities of Iraqi security forces have not improved."

The other interesting tidbit in the report is found here, in addressing how the Post came into possession of a report not yet released to Congress:

The person who provided the draft report to The Post said it was being conveyed from a government official who feared that its pessimistic conclusions would be watered down in the final version -- as some officials have said happened with security judgments in this month's National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Congress requested the GAO report, along with an assessment of the Iraqi security forces by an independent commission headed by retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, to provide a basis for comparison with the administration's scorecard.

Interesting, huh? Government officials are now leaking reports because they fear the White House or the Pentagon will change them so much that they will no longer accurately reflect the truth. It's pathetic that I'm not surprised one tiny little bit. That's how far gone my trust in the Administration is. It's also all the more reason why Congress needs to stand up and put an end to this charade and stop the War.

A moving moment on the campaign trail

The Edwards campaign just sent out this video. It's incredibly moving. In the interest of full disclosure, I was a delegate for John Edwards to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I was for him in 2004 because he inspired me to believe that we could fight for a better America.

Thus far in the campaign, I haven't really felt the same way about his candidacy. I just can't put my finger on it, but something seems out of kilter....then I see something like this and begin to wonder if it is still there.

Thoughts on the Gonzo resignation

There has been no lack of chatter about the motivation behind the resignation of Alberto Gonzales. At first glance, it could also be that Gonzales was tired of being hauled to Capitol Hill and publicly flogged for lying to Congress.

But, I think that BushCo has a larger reason behind the resignation. We've clearly seen that the Democratic Congress is not (yet) capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. For instance, there are lots of hearings investigating the utter corruption that exists in the Administration. But, nothing substantive has yet to come from it.

With Alberto Gonzales gone, the Senate will need to confirm a new nominee. Lots of conventional thinking is that the President will appoint someone who will gain easy approval of the Senate, which is incredibly wary Bush nominees. Today's Washington Post reports that Bush is 'willing to fight for the right nominee'. This is the signal I was looking for.

The White House has stonewalled any attempt to investigate pretty much anything that has occurred there since January of 2001. We now find ourselves five months away from the start of the 2008 Presidential nominating contests. If BushCo can make it into 2008 without a major breach in their stonewalling efforts, they are likely to get off scott free. There is no indication that the Democratic nominee or the Democratic Congress have the political wherewithal to see this through to the bitter end.

Since the Republicans have made an art form out of exploiting the weaknesses of Democrats, the White House has surely found this as their final chess move to prevent the success of the investigations of corruption. By appointing an Attorney General that will create controversy, he will tie up the Senate for a couple of months. If indeed, he appoints Michael Chertoff, he could tie up the Senate for the rest of the year, creating two cabinet vacancies for Bush to fill. These confirmation fights, combined with the expert obstructionism of Mitch McConnell is all the White House needs.

Instead, Democrats in Congress need to act swiftly and stay focused on the important mission of getting to the bottom of every scandalous and corrupt action of this Administration. The success of this effort is important to the future of our political system.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Larry Craig blames the local newspaper

Republican Idaho U.S. Senator Larry Craig just held a press conference to deny that is gay. He further said that he panicked and made a bad decision to plead guilty to a criminal charge of lewd conduct. In fact, he blames it on the pressure he felt because of an investigation by the local newspaper, Idaho Statesman, into rumors about his sexuality.

He also revealed in the press conference that he didn't tell his family, friends, or staff about the charge. Just now on MSNBC, Ana Marie Cox of, just revealed that Senator Craig actually returned to Minneapolis a month after the incident to plead guilty to the charge. It is not the 'heat of the moment' plea that Craig wants us to think it is.

In the end, this is likely about another conservative hypocrite. He has been caught red-handed by a society which he has worked for decades to foster. That society is one in which LGBT people are treated separately and unequally under the law. The discrimination that exists because of people like Larry Craig is the very circumstances which have lead him to deny his sexuality by living in the closet and seeking sexual encounters in public bathrooms. The sooner that America moves towards true equality for all Americans, the sooner we can leave sad scandals like this behind.

Fred Thompson admits breaking law

The Daily Iowan editorial board addresses Fred Thompson's illegal campaign today. Towards the end of the column is an unbelievable quotation from Fred Thompson. The editorial board continues to make one of the most important points behind filing the FEC complaint:
Considering the importance of the office, it would seem critical to have a set of rules and guidelines to follow concerning the election process. Thompson dismisses those who say he is waiting too long to enter the race: "I wasn't around when they made those rules, and I'm not abiding by them."

Thompson should hope that no one reads too much into his apparent blasé attitude toward FEC rules. Doubtless, his supporters would remind such an individual that, as president, he would regard the rules of the job with much more respect.

Were I a supporter of Thompson, I would be jumping ship. He is starting to sound like the Enron of the Republican Presidential Primary.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Republican arrested in a bathroom stall

Roll Call newspaper reports that Senator Larry Craig, a 'conservative' Republican from Idaho, was arrested for lewd conduct in a Minnesota airport men's restroom in June. It marks the second such arrest for a Republican elected official in the past couple of months. It also marks another amazing example of hypocrisy on the part of the Republican Party.

The Roll Call article describes, in detail, the encounter that resulted in Craig's arrest. I had no idea there was an entire 'code' for seeking a bathroom encounter. But it appears that Larry Craig did. He actually plead guilty to lewd conduct and paid a fine. He remains on probation in the State of Minnesota.

Mike Rogers, at deserves a shout out here. He reported on Senator Craig's sexuality last year on his website. Although Craig and his office denied Mike's claim, it appears, in the end, that Mike was right and the Republican was a liar. Should we really be surprised?


I've just received a pathetic statement from Senator Craig's office:
Senator Larry Craig stated, "At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

Doesn't it sound like a teenager caught doing something wrong? I really can't believe that a United States Senator is playing victim to the justice system. What is even more disturbing is that he still isn't coming to terms with his homosexuality.

How sad.

Hillary at the LiveStrong Presidential Forum

A little bit ago, I watched Hillary Clinton at the LiveStrong Presidential Forum. She made a couple of statements that are incredibly interesting.

First, she announced that she would declare a "War on Cancer" when she is President. She said that we need to unleash the potential of researchers to accomplish big things, like curing cancer. She believes that this is one piece of the 'big ideas' that she has been talking about on the campaign trail.

She contrasted the idea of a war against cancer with what she claimed was a "War Against Science" led by George Bush. It has become more and more documented the muzzle that his Administration has put on government scientists in order to promote the political interests of the White House.

Hillary has certainly got her detractors in the Progressive Movement. But this statement is something that we should be proud of. We need to have something that we can put our hope in. We need to believe that we can accomplish big things. Hillary's statements today do that. Good for her.

Miss Teen South Carolina: I swear we're not all this dumb....

I just saw this video over at Queerty. It's just like the gays to call out a dumb blond. Given that it's Miss Teen South Carolina, I feel compelled to tell you that not all South Carolinians are this dumb. Hell, not all beauty queens are this dumb!

Gonzales' legacy according to Bush

I'm watching W's remarks about Alberto Gonzales' resignation. He has just credited Gonzales with being an architect in the 'War on Terror' and also said that the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act bear his influence. He further said that he has worked to root out public corruption and that he has reduced gang violence.

The comment on gang violence is pretty random. The rest of it is just crap.

Adoption of the Patriot Act and Military Commissions Act represent some of the most serious abuse of the Constitution that we've ever known. To try to pass that off as a career accomplishment is a bad joke. I would contend that, rather than rooting out public corruption, Gonzales was the ultimate example of it. His tenure at the Department of Justice has been about little more than expanding illegal activity at the behest of the White House and covering up the efforts to do so.

Calls for his resignation have come from both sides of the aisle for months. It's about damn time that he heard it and heeded it. Good riddance.

Now we should focus our attention on helping to promote the idea of having an Attorney General that honors the rule of law and will begin the work that must be done to restore confidence in the United States system of justice. That is the most important thing that we can do.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Tale of Two Democrats: McNerney and Schakowsky

Progressives were recently chagrined over the remarks of newbie California Congressman Jerry McNerney upon his return from a Congressional trip to Iraq. He was elected as a progressive, anti-war Democrat, defeating a DCCC-backed candidate in the Primary and Richard Pombo, the only Republican Committee Chair to lose re-election in resolutions, to be more conciliatory with Republicans who might also be looking for a way out of the war.

McNerney's election was a huge victory for the netroots, as they wrote extensively about the race and steered significant amounts of money from readers to his campaign. He was expected to be a solid anti-war vote, but he has turned out to be a mixed bag.

During the August 2007 recess, McNerney traveled to Iraq to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation and receive briefings from military officials. The Washington Post quoted McNerney upon his return, giving reason for Progressives to be concerned.
But in an interview yesterday, McNerney made clear his views have shifted since returning from Iraq. He said Democrats should be willing to negotiate with the generals in Iraq over just how much more time they might need. And, he said, Democrats should move beyond their confrontational approach, away from tough-minded, partisan withdrawal.

"We should sit down with Republicans, see what would be acceptable to them to end the war and present it to the president, start negotiating from the beginning," he said, adding, "I don't know what the [Democratic] leadership is thinking. Sometimes they've done things that are beyond me.

Contrast this with remarks by Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. She has been in the Congress since being elected in 1998 and has, shall we say, considerable more experience than McNerney. The Washington Post also asked her about her impressions when she returned from Iraq.
But the military presentations left her stunned. Schakowsky said she jotted down Petraeus's words in a small white notebook she had brought along to record her impressions. Her neat, looping handwriting filled page after page, and she flipped through to find the Petraeus section. " 'We will be in Iraq in some way for nine to 10 years,' " Schakowsky read carefully. She had added her own translation: "Keep the train running for a few months, and then stretch it out. Just enough progress to justify more time."

"I felt that was a stretch and really part of a PR strategy -- just like the PR strategy that initially led up to the war in the first place," Schakowsky said. Petraeus, she said, "acknowledged that if the policymakers decide that we need to withdraw, that, you know, that's what he would have to do. But he felt that in order to win, we'd have to be there nine or 10 years.

In this comparison, it seems to me that McNerney is the victim of inexperience. It's almost as if he's a young, impressionable teenager. I'm sure it's quite convincing to sit across the table from General Petreus and listen to him assure you that progress has been made. Couple that personal meeting with all of the nuances of being a part of a Congressional trip to Iraq and you can feel pretty darn self important. No wonder he's strayed from his original position. He was under the influence of the ultimate propaganda: a Congressional junket.

McNerney would do well to go back home and listen to his constituents on the subject of the war in Iraq. That was the top reason he was elected.

He would also do well to consult with more senior members of his party. Maybe it is a little unreasonable to suggest this, but I think he needs a 'Congressional mentor'. Normally, a seasoned Chief of Staff would fill this role until a Member became accustomed to the demands of office. However, McNerney has his own impressionable newbie Chief of Staff.

Perhaps Jan Schakowsky will take McNerney under her wing and show him the way. Otherwise McNerney could end up on the wrong side of the biggest and most important issue of our time.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

DNC sends strong message

Today, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee met to approve delegate selection plans for the 2008 Presidential nominating process. While it is usually a mundane process about percentages and process, today's meeting held additional significance.

Over the past several years, a process has been underway for Iowa and New Hampshire to share the "pre-window" period, which is the date before which no State Party is allowed to hold its nominating contest. The date for 2008 is January 5 and only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina are allowed to hold their caucuses and primaries.

South Carolina and Nevada were chosen mainly because they added the voice of minorities to the very important early contests. Nevada has a significant Latino/Hispanic population. In South Carolina, African Americans are expected to make up as much as half of the Primary vote.

However, Florida's legislature passed a law moving their Primary to a date before February 5. I previously wrote that the Florida Democratic Party was a 'rogue' Party. I regret having used such strong language. Florida faces a ballot initiative on January 29, 2008 that the Democratic Party vigorously opposes. It seems as though they were hoping to use the turnout from a Presidential Primary to defeat this initiative.

While I understand the motivations of the Florida Party, that is not justification for violating the generations-old pre-window period. Every State faces its own challenges without the expectation that the Presidential nominating process of its party be altered to meet their specific needs.

Accordingly, the Rules and By-Laws Committee gave the Florida Democratic Party thirty days to amend their delegate selection plan to conform with Party Rules or risk a 100% penalty of their delegates to the 2008 National Convention. This means that, unless they respect the pre-window, no delegates from Florida will be seated at the Convention.

This is significant. Very significant. Today's meeting was about sending a strong message that the Party nominating calendar will be honored. That message was emphatically sent.

The Michigan Democratic Party is the next that could be affected. While their plan today received conditional approval, there is a bill on the way through their legislature to move their Primary to January 15, in violation of Party Rules. Today's actions should put the skids on that effort.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair, Mark Brewer has been playing a dangerous game that could endanger his reputation. While putting out a statement saying the MDP vigorously opposes the "Republican plan" that passed the State Senate, he failed to mention that, on the substantive issue of the date of the primary, all Senate Democrats voted FOR the January 15 date.

Further, Governor Jennifer Granholm's office confirms that Democratic Party officials in Michigan, in a conference call, agreed in principle that Michigan's Presidential Primary should be changed in order to make it a significant part of the the nomination process.

Florida's argument is much stronger than Michigan's as to whether they should receive a waiver to the Rules. Therefore, Chairman Brewer and the Michigan Democratic Party should take notice of the action today by the DNC. They appear to have no patience for the violation of the Primary calendar set by them after years on input.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tucker Carlson is going crazy

Tucker this evening on MSNBC, referring to the NAACP: is a sad joke of an organization that needs to go away for the sake of everybody.

about 22 seconds later:
I'm not a big judge of anybody.

Tucker is trying so hard to be Bill O'Reilly that he is either going crazy or just making a fool of himself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Michigan and Florida are breaking DNC Rules; disrespect minorities in doing so

As a South Carolina Democrat, I've watched closely the process that has played out over the past six years or so that the Democratic National Committee has undergone to expand the early Primary/Caucus field to include more minorities. It was a very long process and meticulously handled by the Rules and By-laws Committee of the DNC. Many hearings and meetings were held to get input from countless numbers of people.

In the end, Nevada was chosen for an early Caucus and South Carolina was chosen for an early primary. The "window" was set to "open" a matter of days after the SC Primary, giving all other States the opportunity to jockey, as has been the tradition in the past, for position after a date certain.

Unfortunately, after not being chosen for the early Primary period, Democratic Leaders in Michigan and Florida are ignoring the rules that were passed by the Rules and By-Laws Committee and full DNC by an overwhelming margin. In doing so, they're denying minorities a much-sought after voice in the early nominating process.

Nevada was chosen as an early Caucus State because of its' growing labor population, it's Native American population, and its Hispanic/Latino population. South Carolina was chosen because African Americans are expected to represent at least 40% of Democratic Primary voters. These ethnic minorities have NO SIGNIFICANT representation in the other early States.

The Primary and Caucus calendar is a delicate thing. We've all seen the magic of Iowa and New Hampshire and the power they have in dictating the direction of the nomination. Understandably, we are all envious of that magic and would love to have a piece of it.

There was a vigorous competition to win the two coveted spots that the DNC opened to the pre-window period. In the end, Nevada and South Carolina were chosen.

Accordingly, we now have the most diverse early nominating process we have ever had. We, as Democrats should be incredibly proud of that. By having these contests in four 'small' states, it also allows more candidates the ability to compete, giving a wider array of options to Primary voters.

Michigan and Florida have broken the rules and should be penalized for it. They are rogue State Parties that have chosen to ignore the rules and the spirit in which those rules came to exist. It's offensive to those who worked so have to increase diversity in the process.

The Democratic National Committee should realize that they are on the verge of becoming irrelevant. If their Party Rules can be ignored without significant penalty, then their existence may be pointless. The most coveted thing the party controls in our nominating process is the calendar. The DNC MUST stand up and make it clear that any State Party that violates the pre-window period will be severely punished.

Romney waffling on abortion? YES!

That is a headline on the Washington Post website today. Isn't that kind of like asking if the sky is blue or if Dick Cheney is evil?

It goes on to say:
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said this week that as president he would allow individual states to keep abortion legal, two weeks after telling a national television audience that he supports a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure nationwide.

In an interview with a Nevada television station on Tuesday, Romney said Roe. v. Wade should be abolished and vowed to "let states make their own decision in this regard." On Aug. 6, he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he supports a human life amendment to the Constitution that would protect the unborn.

The Romney campaign must be on crack:

Top Romney advisers insisted yesterday that their candidate's statements on abortion this month were consistent with each other. They said Romney supports a two-step process in which states get authority over abortion after Roe v. Wade is overturned, followed eventually by a constitutional amendment that bans most abortions.

Really now? I guess the Romney campaign just doesn't realize how steeped they are in the Orwellian concept of Doublethink. They must have missed high school literature class or really think that contradictory beliefs are one in the same. Either way, they're not in line with reality.

Veteran: New Iraq make political props out of soldiers

Yesterday, we began to learn details about Freedom's Watch. It is a new effort, led by former Bush spokesperson, Ari Fleischer, that seeks to pressure Democrats and Republicans to continue giving President Bush a blank check in Iraq. They have bought $15 million in ad time. This tells me that's Iraq Summer campaign must be working, and working very well. It is also a great testament to the effect that VoteVets has been having on educating Americans about the situation in Iraq.

The ads are very heavy on connecting Al Qaeda and Iraq. I wrote a few days ago that I couldn't believe that the Administration was still spouting this crap. Well, they're now behind $15 million to keep selling that lie.

Raw Story has video of Ari Fleischer on Hardball. It's about 6 minutes long, but you've got to make it to the end, where the veteran who represents veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan gets a chance to comment on Ari's appearance. He's not happy.


Americans United for Change has produced a response to the Freedom's Watch ads. Watch it below.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A few comments on the Thompson FEC matter

I've been reviewing some of the blog posts and mainstream media coverage of the FEC Complaint against Fred Thompson's illegal campaign activities. So, I wanted to comment on a few things.

First, credit for this really goes to the progressive blogosphere for their great research on this issue. Without their work, I would not have realized the extent of the violations nor had the information that was assembled to create the complaint.

Second, the complaint is on solid legal ground. Holly Bailey of Newsweek gives her analysis on MSNBC, courtesy of Crooks and Liars. The New York Sun editorial board, which is known to be somewhat conservative, also agreed that the complaint is valid. The final example I'll give is from Bob Bauer, an author and scholar on election law matters. He agrees that the complaint is thorough in its content. There are many more examples that have been published on blogs, in newspapers, on internet websites, and been broadcast on radio and television. Ultimately, the Federal Election Commission will decide. For now, I'm confident in the complaint and believe that the preponderance of public opinion is as well.

Also, some of the writings say that once Thompson announces his candidacy, this will all go away. That is incorrect. In a conversation with officials at the FEC today, they confirmed what I already believed. By announcing and registering his campaign committee, it does not undo the illegal activity already committed. He is still obligated to respond to the FEC complaint and the FEC is still obligated to act on the complaint and render a decision.

Finally, I'd like to thank the active participation of folks from both sides of the political spectrum in discussing this in the comment thread. It honors me to have the supportive comments as well as the hateful ones. Yall are the best!

Did Reagan call W a ne'er-do-well?

The following quote has been passing around and being attributed to former President Ronald Reagan's personal diaries:

A moment I've been dreading. George brought his ne're-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.

While this would be great fodder for further criticism of George Bush, it's not a direct quote from Reagan. Apparently it was a 'joke' written in a column by Michael Kinsley, who used to be the Editor at The New Republic.

Oh well. Good thing there's plenty of other things to criticize him on.

New: Fox Attacks Iran

Renowned filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who produced the documentary "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism", has been producing a series of short films titled "Fox Attacks". In his latest, he highlights the incredible amount of propaganda that Fox News has been airing about Iran, presumably to move us closer to war with yet another country. Ummmm.....yeah. That's exactly what we DON'T need.

Here is the video by Robert's company Brave New Films:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Bush policy leaves children behind

In yet another glaring example of the Bush Administration's lack of compassion, they have issued new policies which make it much more difficult for State to provide health insurance to children. It also creates yet another layer of bureaucracy,which is sure to negate any savings the hair brained idea may have created at the expense of children.

Here's the crux of the policy:

Under the new policy, a state seeking to enroll a child whose family earns more than 250 percent of the poverty level -- or $51,625 for a family of four -- must first ensure that the child is uninsured for at least one year. The state must also demonstrate that at least 95 percent of children from families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level have been enrolled in the children's health insurance program or Medicaid -- a sign-up rate that no state has yet managed.

You've got to wonder if they asked for any input from the State before issuing these new guidelines. But then again, I wonder if the Bush Administration has ever ask for input from anybody outside of 1600 Pennsylvania.

Cheney has wiretap documents

The Washington Post reports this morning that Vice President Cheney's office acknowledged for the first time that they have documents on the illegal government wiretapping program instituted by the Bush Administration. Surprise, surprise, they are NOT handing them over to Congressional investigators.

Here's a little tidbit about what they're holding back:

Nonetheless, Coffin identified by date a series of memos and orders that "may be responsive" to the Senate committee's demands. They include 43 separate authorizations from President Bush for the program, which had to be renewed approximately every 45 days beginning on Oct. 4, 2001.

The letter also lists dates, from October 2001 through February 2005, for 10 legal memoranda from the Justice Department.

Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), who is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has threatened to hold White House officials in contempt if they do not comply with Congressional subpoenas for documents. Given the lack of aggressive oversight, it's refreshing to see Senator Leahy flexing his muscle.

Help provide oversight

Before and after the announcement that Karl Rove was leaving the White House, we've had reports of unprecedented politicization of the Federal Government, including a massive effort to place Republican political operatives in every level of the Federal bureaucracy. ThinkProgress has a great report here. TPM Muckracker has a great archive of their coverage on Rove's abuse of power.

The reason I bring this up is because of the FEC Complaint against Fred Thompson. The legal opinions are unanimous that is is a solid complaint. My fear is that staff at the FEC may have been a part of Rove's strategy to use the Federal Government to benefit Republican candidates for office. I have no evidence of this, just a growing distrust of the process after learning more and more about what the Bush Administration has been up to for the past six and a half years.

So, I'd like to keep up the pressure on the FEC to let them know that the American People expect them to fulfill their duty to investigate these abuses by Fred Thompson. Ultimately, their job is to safeguard the integrity of the American political system. If they fail to do this, it will create a dangerous precedent for further abuses.

Please take a moment to call the FEC at 800-424-9530 to urge them to follow through on the investigation of Fred Thompson.

Monday, August 20, 2007

FEC Complaint filed against Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson is breaking the law and it's time somebody did something about it. So, this morning, I filed an FEC Complaint against him. For far too long, he has been ignoring the letter and spirit of Federal Election Law for his own political benefit. It reeks of the same disregard for the law that we have seen from the Bush Administration, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, Tom Delay, and Mark Foley.

By filing this complaint, posted below, the FEC can now proceed with action to right this injustice. According to FEC regulations, Thompson will have 15 days to respond to the complaint. Then, their lawyers will write an opinion on the basis of the complaint.

It is my contention that he has violated the 'testing the waters' exemption of election law. He has been presenting himself as a candidate for President, he has been raising large sums of money beyond what would be required to explore a possible candidacy, and he has signed a long term lease on a headquarters for his campaign. He has even spent advertising dollars, which are specifically prohibited by the law.

Up to this point, no one has taken the time to take action against this abuse. I hope that the FEC will act quickly on this issue. Failure to do so will contribute to further corruption of the American political process.

Text of Complaint:
August 20, 2008

Lane Hudson

Washington, DC

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

Dear Counsel:

I write to file a complaint against the Fred Thompson for President Exploratory Committee for violation of Federal Election Law under the Commission's jurisdiction. It is clear that he has violated 11 CFR 100.72, the "testing the waters" provision of FEC law. Accordingly, his failure to file disclosure reports violates the law, and the Commission should demand full disclosure of Mr. Thompson's campaign fund raising and expenditures, as well as penalize Mr. Thompson for his willful violation of the law.

As I understand the law, a "testing the waters" fund is only legitimate for the purpose of helping an individual decide whether he should become a candidate. Once someone has decided to become a candidate, the exemption no longer applies, and 11 CFR 100.72 lists five factors to determine when that has taken place. On three of these factors, the examples are numerous that indicate that Mr. Thompson has gone far beyond the activities and speech allowable under the law. These examples do not come from personal knowledge, but rather from numerous accounts in the press, some being direct quotations from Mr. Thompson or his staff. Other facts reported are from public documents available on the internet.

A. 11 CFR 100.72(B)(2) -- "The individual raises funds in excess of what could reasonably be expected to be used for exploratory activities or undertakes activities designed to amass campaign funds that would be spent after he or she becomes a candidate."

On July 31, 2007, Matt Mosk of the Washington Post reported on their blog that Mr. Thompson had filed paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service indicating that he had raised a sum of $3,400,000 for his campaign committee. (

The Washington Post further reports that this same filing with the IRS indicated that $72,000 of this total was marked for use in the General Election. This is an egregious violation of the "testing the waters" clause, as it clearly indicates an intention for protracted campaign activity. In the same report, former FEC General Counsel, Larry Noble is quoted as saying "I think it's problematic. Clearly it's a red flag."

The report filed with the IRS shows the exact amount raised to be $3,463,355. It further shows expenditures in the amount of $625,743. Among the expenditures are further items worth the Commission's consideration. There were six expenditures totally $168,940 on internet services. This could fall under the advertising clause of the "testing the waters" exemption. Further, there is an expenditure in the amount of $21,142 for Media and $133 spent to Google AdWords, which is an internet advertising service. These all violate the paid advertising clause.

In addition, it is also worth noting that Mr. Thompson's campaign has disclosed that it has paid $88,789 in rent. That is a substantial sum and is another clear indicator that he is operating as a candidate. One further example is an expenditure of $25,322 on legal services. If Mr. Thompson were truly "testing the waters" then the legal needs of a true exploratory campaign would be minimal.

B. 11 CFR 100.72(B)(3) -- "makes or authorizes written or oral statements that refer to him or her as a candidate for a particular office."

In a June 26 report by the Associated Press (,2933,286820,00.html), Mr. Thompson is quoted as saying "You're either running or you're not running. I think the steps we've taken are pretty obvious."

In a June 4, 2007 interview with Susan Page of USA Today (, Mr. Thompson was quoted as saying "I can't remember exactly the point that I said, 'I'm going to do this, But when I did, the thing that occurred to me: 'I'm going to tell people that I am thinking about it and see what kind of reaction I get to it.' "

In a July 12, 2007 report by the Washington Post (, Thompson adviser Mary Matalin is quoted as saying "He has made up is mind" in reference to his decision about whether to be a candidate for President. As a spokesperson for the campaign, this serves as yet another indication of being beyond the allowable limits of current election law.

In an August 17, 2007 interview on CNN with John King, Mr. Thompson said, "We are going to be getting in if we get in, and of course, we are in the testing the waters phase," he said, adding, "we're going to be making a statement shortly that will cure all of that. But yeah, we'll be in traditionally when people get in this race" (emphasis added). This is the most recent and most blaring example of his intention of being candidate for President, in blatant violation of the 'testing the waters' exemption.

C. 11 CFR 100.72(B)(4) -- "conducts activities in close proximity to the election or over a protracted period of time."

In the July 2, 2007 edition of the Washington Post (, it was reported that Mr. Thompson's campaign organization signed a long-term lease on a building that would serve as their national campaign headquarters. This is a blatant example of breaching the 'testing the waters' section. In that same article, Mr. Thompson is quoted as saying that he "doesn't have any big announcement tonight" and further says "I plan on seeing a whole lot more of you, how 'bout that?" This statement also violates the spirit of the law.

While these examples should provide ample reason for the Commission to act to find Mr. Thompson in violation of Federal Election Law, I would like to cite, as additional evidence, recent precedent from the Commission itself. In MUR 5365 (Rev. Al Sharpton for President Exploratory Committee), the General Counsel states on page 8 of his Report:

...The Commission's regulations look objectively to candidate's activities, not to the stage of an individual's subjective decision making process, in determining whether the "testing the waters" exemption applies....Once an individual becomes a candidate, equivocal statements of intent, or a future "official announcement" do not eradicate the registration and reporting requirements that have been triggered.

Based on this reasoning, the Commission found that Rev. Sharpton had violated the "testing the waters" exemption. By applying the same standard, there is no other conclusion that can be reached in this complaint against Mr. Thompson.

One last point worth mentioning, Mr. Thompson had approximately $2.8 million in his campaign account after the IRS filing. This fact also clearly indicates that he did not intend to use this money for 'exploring' a possible candidacy. Otherwise, it would have been spent on exploratory activities, especially given the documentation of his impending announcement of candidacy. In the Sharpton decision, the fine was a significant amount in comparison to the amount raised. I would urge the Commission to adhere to the same standards in administering its penalty to Mr. Thompson.


Lane Hudson

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cell Phone Disaster

Just a quick personal request....My cell phone died. Completely. Fourteen years of collecting phone numbers have vanished into thin air.

So, if you're a friend of mine, please email me your phone number at the blog email address: lane at newsfortheleft dot com. (FYI, we're supposed to write email addresses like that on blogs to prevent getting email spam, but you are supposed to type it normally.)

Thanks for helping out!


More insulting Cheney comments on Iraq quagmire

On Sunday, I posted an interview that Dick Cheney gave in 1994 where he defended the decision not to invade Baghdad. He makes a really good case for not invading Iraq. If you haven't seen it, please take a moment to watch it.

After wide distribution of this video, a local CBS affiliate was able to get a, well, non-response from the VP's office.

“He was not Vice President at the time, it was after he was Secretary of Defense,” a spokesperson told CBS 5 San Francisco. “I don’t have any comment.”

But, the incredibly talented folks at Think Progress found the transcript from an interview that then-VP Nominee Dick Cheney gave on Meet the Press on August 27, 2000. Here's the relevant part, which responds to Tim Russert asking if he regrets not taking out Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War:

I don’t, Tim. It was–and it’s been talked about since then. But the fact of the matter is, the only way you could have done that would be to go to Baghdad and occupy Iraq. If we’d done that, the U.S. would have been all alone. We would not have had the support of the coalition, especially of the Arab nations that fought alongside us in Kuwait. None of them ever set foot inside Iraq. Conversations I had with leaders in the region afterwards–they all supported the decision that was made not to go to Baghdad.

They were concerned that we not get into a position where we shifted instead of being the leader of an international coalition to roll back Iraqi aggression to one in which we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world taking down governments. So I think we got it right, so suppose it’s one of those things that’ll be debated for some time. But I thought the decision was sound at the time, and I do today.

So, he held the same philosophy in 1991, 1994, and 2000, that going into Baghdad would create a disastrous situation. So, it begs the question 'what changed his mind?'. I asked the VP's Press Office the question and they referred me to an interview he did with Jonathan Karl from ABC News February 23, 2007:

Q: Back in 1991, you talked about how military action in Iraq would be the classic definition of a quagmire. Have you been disturbed to see how right you were? Or people certainly said that you were exactly on target in your analysis back in 1991 of what would happen if the U.S. tried to go in --

A: Well, I stand by what I said in '91. But look what's happened since then -- we had 9/11. We've found ourselves in a situation where what was going on in that part of the globe and the growth and development of the extremists, the al Qaeda types that are prepared to strike the United States demonstrated that we weren't safe and secure behind our own borders. We weren't in Iraq when we got hit on 9/11. But we got hit in '93 at the World Trade Center, in '96 at Khobar Towers, or '98 in the East Africa embassy bombings, 2000, the USS Cole. And of course, finally 9/11 right here at home. They continued to hit us because we didn't respond effectively, because they believed we were weak. They believed if they killed enough Americans, they could change our policy because they did on a number of occasions. That day has passed. That all ended with 9/11.

Okay, so I want to make sure I understand this correctly. He changed a decade or more of his opinion, based on the events of 9/11, even though it is clearly established that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the U.S. Blatant hypocrisy at its worst. Hypocrisy that has cost us nearly 4,000 American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars that could have been spent on health care, education, and developing alternative fuels.

I can't believe that Bush-Cheney world is still spouting this crap. 9/11 is not a justification for war with Iraq. Period. It's insulting and a downright lie that they've been telling the American people. I think it's gross misconduct in office.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hillary's first campaign ad

It's on the air in Iowa and it's called invisible. She talks about the different kinds of people that have been invisible to the Bush Administration and how she'll be different. I have to admit, I think it's great. I'll be looking to see what Edwards and Obama come up with in Iowa, and when they go on the air.

Hillary seems to be making a move to overtake Edwards in Iowa. It's the only early Primary State that she's not leading in. I'd say this commercial is a good first effort to give Hillary more warmth and depth as a candidate. There is still a ways to go, but I think they know what their challenges are!

Quick thought on the bridge collapse

Yesterday, I saw on CNN that plans had 'already been produced' to replace the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota. That just sounds fishy to me.

When I lived in Charleston, SC we built a new bridge. I remember the painstaking process that happened during the design of the bridge. Granted, some of that long process dealt with stylistic preferences, the number of lanes, the height of the bridge, and other things. But, it simply isn't possible to produce plans for a major engineering project in a week.

So, that tells me that somebody had actually designed a bridge ahead of time to replace the aging bridge that used to be there. Logic would further tell me that somebody else said that the new bridge would cost too much.

Okay, so we pretty much knew all that already. But, does anyone else find it completely disingenuous that these new plans are rolled out like the officials in Minnesota are suddenly on top of the issue and moving at the speed of light?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hastert to Retire; Leaves legacy of enabling a sex predator

The networks have been announcing all day long that Hastert will not seek re-election in 2008. I say it's about damn time he left the House of Representatives.

I haven't forgotten that the House Ethics Committee Report on the Foley scandal gave us clear evidence that he knew that Mark Folely was engaged in unethical conduct with House Pages. In spite of this, he did nothing to stop Foley from continuing his inappropriate behavior.

Further, he was fully willing to allow his staff to blame the entire ordeal on Kirk Fordham and Jeff Trandahl, Foley's Former Chief of Staff and the Former House Clerk, respectively. We know from that same Ethics Report that Kirk and Jeff are the only Republicans that did anything to stop Foley's actions. In fact, they went to great lengths to stop it.

Below is a local news report in Illinois in the wake of the Foley scandal where Hastert does what Republicans do best, blame Democrats and the media for their troubles.

Yesterday, Karl Rove. Today, Dennis Hastert. This could be a good week.

Another example of Old Way vs. New Way

On Sunday, I wrote about Markos Moulitsas' appearance on Meet the Press opposite Democratic Leadership Council Chairman, Harold Ford. In that post, I indicated that I believed that the DLC represents the Old Way and that Markos, and by extension the Progressive Netroots Movement, represents the New Way.

Mike Lux, who is one of the triumvirate behind the new progressive blog Open Left, has been around Washington for a long time. He is even accused of being an 'Insider' among some of us in the lefty blogosphere. That being said, Mike has solid progressive credentials and offers an interesting perspective in a post about the DLC, its' history, and where it is today.

Mike thinks that the DLC has three main problems:

First, it's the obsession with being "tough" on foreign policy at all costs. As David Sirota and others have written, there was a whole generation of tough-on-the-Commies Democrats who saw the McGovern campaign in 1972 as their ultimate vindication- if Democrats weren't "tough" enough on foreign policy, we would get beat like McGovern did. You see this philosophy in the Ford attack on Harry Reid.

Second, the intrinsic tendency, which they just won't walk away from, to trash progressives and most other Democrats time and time again since their founding in 1985. From and other DLC spokespeople have launched one verbal assault after another against labor, peace groups, and other progressive forces, as well as against mainstream and progressive Democratic politicians. They go out of their way to pick these fights. third point. Because they have never built a mass base for their style of centrism, their entire operation has, by its nature, relied almost entirely on corporate elites for its financial support. As a result, the DLC-style of centrism is a quintessentially big business-style of centrism. That's why their pollsters, principally Mark Penn, whose main clientele is also big business, are so determined to never find any evidence of populism among the electorate. In fact, many of their financial supporters are not Democrats at all.

Mike hits the nail on the head. Although Harold Ford sough to 'unify all parts of the Democratic Party' the DLC isn't interested in that. They are more interested in remaining relevant. Markos correctly pointed out on Sunday that at this year's YearlyKos convention, the only part of the party not in attendance was the DLC wing of the party. Consequently, there really isn't a DLC movement at all, hence a lack of representation anywhere except on television and at corporate fundraisers.

Take a moment to read Mike's full posting. It gives great insight into what was a hiccup in establishing a long term Progressive Majority in America. The true movement is underway and if you're reading this right now, you're a part of it.

More Embarrassing Bush Moments

I came across this yesterday. It's a compilation of some of Bush's dumbest mistakes. It used to be funny, but now it's just a huge national embarrassment. As much as we bitch about his lack of press conferences and the lack of access the press has to him, maybe we're better off just sticking him in a closet until January 2009.

Turd Blossom's Legacy

Chris Cilizza, Anne Kornblut, and Michael Shear, write in the Washington Post today about the legacy that Karl Rove hoped to have on America: building a long term conservative majority in America. Reasonable folks disagree on what his lasting legacy will be.

Personally, I think his legacy is propping up a moron and getting him elected President. He then set out to manipulate our governmental institutions for solely political purposes. After September 11, he seized on national pride and twisted that for political purposes as well: weakening the Constitution, breaking laws, and bastardizing the institutions and process of the political system. I think his legacy is that he misused power and that America saw through it, FINALLY, and that the only person tearing up over his leaving is himself. As John Edwards said in his statement, Good riddance!

What does the average American think that Rove's legacy is? Given that it collectively has well over a million hits on YouTube and that it was broadcast on television to millions more, his legacy is probably the embarrassing moment that we've all come to know as "MC Rove".