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