Wednesday, October 31, 2007



Only the Senate gets to vote on presidential nominations. At least we won't have to sit and watch Rahm Emanuel's little kennel of Bush Dogs-- like Heath Shuler (NC), Chris Carney (PA), Jason Altmire (PA), Melissa Bean (IL), Dan Lipinski (IL), JoeDonnellyBradEllworthBaronHill (IN), Tim Mahoney (FL),  Harry Mitchell (AZ), and Zach Space (OH)-- obediently voting to confirm Bush's candidate to succeed Alberto Gonzales as Vlad the Impaler Attorney General.

When Bush first nominated Michael Mukasey, Beltway Insiders, of both parties, rallied round and gave a great big cheer and pretty much claimed the hearing would just be for fun and he was in like flynn. But then he started talking-- or not talking-- about the Bush Regime's wiretapping policies and torture policies... and progressives started having second thoughts. As usual these days Chris Dodd was first:
"Mr. Mukasey's position that the President does not have to heed the law disqualifies him from being the chief attorney for the United States. We have seen for too long, and at great expense to our national security, an Administration that has systematically attacked the rule of law and turned our Justice Department into a political wing of the White House. I'm afraid that Mr. Mukasey as Attorney General would be more of the same."

Obama, Clinton and Edwards also came out against Mukasey. Obama:
We don't need another attorney general who believes that the President enjoys an unwritten right to secretly ignore any law or abridge our constitutional freedoms simply by invoking national security. And we don't need another attorney general who looks the other way on issues as profound as torture.

Hillary said "Mukasey has been given ample opportunity-- both at his confirmation hearings and in his subsequent submission to the Judiciary Committee-- to clarify his answers and categorically oppose the unacceptable interrogation techniques employed by this Administration. His failure to do so leaves me no choice but to oppose his nomination." The Senate Judiciary Committee has set November 6th as the day they will vote on the nomination. Patrick Leahy, the committee chair, who was the first to declare confirmation a virtual slam dunk, has gone through Mukasey's 172 pages of written responses and he says they do not satisfy him. Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Richard Durbin, also a committee member, said "I can't support his nomination." Reactionary Democrats in the tightly divided Senate, like Ben Nelson, arch-villain of the KKK confirmation battle last week, are already lining up to support Bush and ignore the Judiciary Committee.

Andrew Greeley explained today why Mukasey is probably a much bigger danger to America than Gonzales, who he describes as "an incompetent buffoon, a hack from Texas."
[He] believes the president can ignore statutes passed by Congress by virtue of his power as commander in chief. The separation of powers, the essence of American democracy, is thereby abolished, and the president becomes a dictator who can do anything he deems necessary to defend the country. There is no review either of his decisions or his judgments about the powers of the commander in chief or the specific threat to the country. The president in theory is as absolute in his power as Stalin was in Russia. No one reviews him, no one rules on him, no one questions his decisions. The next step will be FBI men in jackboots appearing at the doors of presidential critics in the middle of the night.

Tomorrow's NY Times worries that Mukasey is treading a line so fine because he has to protect against future prosecutions against Regime members. A few nights ago I went to hear Paul Krugman speak at the L.A. Public Library. He was even more brilliant on stage than in the columns. I asked him if he thought Bush and his cronies had committed crimes that rose to the level of post-Regime prosecution. He wasn't sure but he told a little jokey. I'm paraphrasing: "On the last day of the Regime Bush pardons Cheney and resigns and then Cheney pardons Bush."

The Senate Judiciary Committee usually is stocked with partisans from each party. Even if some Democrats decide to filibuster Mukasey on the floor-- the way they did the KKK judicial nominee last week-- enough reactionary Democrats will throw their lots in with the GOP to shut it down and confirm him. If he gets out of the Judiciary Committee, he's home free. The KKK nominee had Feinstein jump the fence for him (or at least for old flame Thad Cochran). Will anyone jump the fence for Mukasey? We'll see next week. Today's Congressional Quarterly thinks if there is a traitor among the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats likely to let Mukasey pass it is-- surprise, surprise-- the increasingly reactionary Feinstein, someone who is very much compromised by her husband's longstanding financial relationships with criminal elements inside the Bush Regime.

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Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats to play it safe and keep away from controversial issues. Last year some of the canddiates who listened to him-- especially on the Iraq issue-- did not capitalize on discontent with Bush's policies and with rubber stamp Republicans and today they are not members of Congress. Think particularly about Tammy Duckworth (IL), Lois Murphy (PA), Ken Lucas (KY), Diane Farrell (CT), David Mejias (NY), John Cranley (OH), Tessa Hafen (NV), Patty Madrid (NM), Phil Kellam (VA), Francine Busby (CA) and Christine Jennings (FL). This year Emanuel is selling the same play-it-safe snake oil. Dan Grant, a progressive and energetic young Democrat in a mostly suburban district stretching from Austin towards Houston, is ignoring Emanuel and keeping the focus on the Bush rubber stamp who represents his father-in-law's company, Clear Channel. Here's how he's doing it-- and here's how every Democrat who wants to win should do it:

That's right; kick them in the balls; don't dance around in a tutu.

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Let me lay it right on the line. A couple of months ago when Bush flew to Seattle to do a fundraiser for rubber stamp hack Dave Reichert, the blogosphere dug deep and helped Darcy Burner outraise Bush and Reichert. How different is it for another creature from Inside the Beltway, Madam Off the Table, to be headlining a fundraiser for one of the most treacherous and sleazy Democrats in Congress, Al Wynn? Wynn has no Republican challenge. Pelosi is shameless-- and quickly losing all credibility. She is there to make sure Wynn can beat a brilliant, energetic and progressive real Democrat, Donna Edwards. If Donna Edwards were in Congress instead of Al Wynn, Maryland would have one of the nation's sharpest public policy minds at work for it. And America would have someone who understands what a progressive is and understands that the role of government is not just self-enrichment for officials.

Democrats like Donna Edwards, Mark Pera, and John Laesch are all in primary battles against reactionary hacks. They are battling the Insider socialization and the Democratic Establishment mindset that worked hand in glove to present our country with, and perpetuate, the foul Regime of George W. Bush. At best, Madam Off the Table has turned from a true blue progressive to a George Bush co-dependent. At worst she is a full-fledged collaborator.

George Bush will finally be gone in January of 2009, in all likelihood replaced by Hillary Clinton who will have to be a lot more progressive-- and a lot less a part of establishment insider corruption-- than her husband ever was to even begin to tackle the real mess being left by 8 years of the toxic Bush Regime. I have my doubts that she will measure up to the job; I hope I'm wrong. And that makes it even more essential to elect men and women like Donna Edwards, Mark Pera and John Laesch. Imagine being rid of the likes of Bush Dogs Al Wynn and Dan Lipinski, not to mention ultimate rubber stamp Denny Hastert-- 3 of the root causes of all that is wrong in Washington-- and replacing them with the best and the brightest!

We have seen this year that it is not good enough to just replace horrible Republicans with mediocre-- or worse than mediocre-- Democrats. There is probably little we can do, at least right now, to rid ourselves of Republican-lite garbage like John Barrow and Jim Marshall in Georgia, Gene Taylor in Mississippi or Chris Carney and Jason Altmire in Pennsylvania-- let alone Steny Hoyer or Rahm Emanuel. But Al Wynn and Dan Lipinski are weak and faltering and Donna Edwards and Mark Pera are strong and ascending. Simultaneously, the insider millionaire shill in IL-14, Blue Dog Bill Foster, is a laughing stock everywhere west of DCCC headquarters (not counting those whose fealty he has purchased) and John Laesch is poised to stomp his Blue Dog ass into the ground. Laesch is a natural and energetic leader for serious progressives who understands there is a real job to do in this country.

Saturday Nancy Pelosi Madam Off the Table will be in Silver Spring to help a reactionary and corrupt tool of the Bush Regime raise money to fight a strong and vibrant progressive voice. Pelosi knows no shame. She is owned by Hoyer and Emanuel and the Clinton Machine. She is them and not us. Let's give some special help over the next few days to Donna Edwards' campaign. Matt Stoller put together a special Act Blue page, Better Democrats that I want to invite you to visit. Matt also has a powerful explanation of what we're trying to accomplish over at OpenLeft, as does Jane at FDL. Donna's campaign put together a special Halloween video for today I thought you might enjoy:

And let me leave you with a statement from James Rucker of Color of Change:
"Black Americans have long relied on Black elected officials like Al Wynn to represent their interests in Washington, and far too often, they find those leaders unaccountable and compromised. Al Wynn has repeatedly worked against the interests of his Black constituents, siding instead with big business and the wealthy special interests that fund his campaigns.

Today, we're saying enough is enough. Donna Edwards, Wynn's opponent in the Democratic primary, has been a powerful advocate for policies that benefit the Black community, especially low-income Black folks. She has an excellent record of public service, and we are confident that once in office she will serve her constituents with integrity and accountability.

While Nancy Pelosi holds a fundraiser this weekend in support of one of the least accountable members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we're asking Black folks to stand up, demand better representation, and support Donna Edwards for Congress."

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I've seen one viciously homophobic Republican elected official after another get caught red handed (or something) with boys and men and one thing all the perps have in common is that they all claim they're "not gay." After reading Bob Bauman's honest and insightful book into his own forced outing, The Gentleman From Maryland-- Conscience Of A Gay Conservative, which tells the tale of how a powerful right-wing congressman was arrested and went through the whole rigmarole until finally admitting his sexuality to himself, I realized that it is going to take a very long time for the Larry Craigs (R-ID), Bob Allens (R-FL), Mitch McConnells (R-KY), Richard Curtises (R-WA), Patrick McHenrys (R-NC), David Dreiers (R-CA), Lindsey Grahams (R-SC), etc to ever come to grips with their own natures. All of these men have been vociferous in denying their own sexual natures and each has voted against the interests of other gay men and women in a way that endangers regular American citizens trying to get on raising families and living their lives. Homosexuality has not made any of them more empathetic; quite the contrary. Non-closeted gay legislators, like Barney Frank (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) do stand up for equal protection under the law for all citizens. The Republicans seem to use virulent anti-gay stands as a way of proving "I'm not gay."

It hasn't been working out very well for Washington's Richard Curtis, a very conservative Republican state Rep from La Center. Although he was obviously messed up on drugs-- unmentioned in any news report I've seen until today-- all we heard from him yesterday was "I'm not gay. I've never had sex with any guys." He sure sounded like Bob Bauman (R-MD), Ed Schrock (R-VA), and Jon Hinson (R-MS) once did, like Larry Craig does now... and like Mitch McConnell probably will very soon. But, behind closed doors, he told the police quite a different story.

According to today's Columbian the police report states clearly that Curtis "admitted to having sex with a man he met at an adult video store in Spokane last week."
The police report offers a far different version of events from the brief account Curtis gave Monday to The Columbian, one that seems likely to threaten Curtis' political future.

The report is filled with graphic details of an encounter that began at a porn store on a Spokane Valley strip and concluded miles away in Curtis' room at the city's poshest hotel.

The police report contains an account of how Curtis allegedly donned women's clothing, red stockings and a black sequined lingerie top before engaging in a sex act at the store. He then continued to wear them throughout the night under his clothing, the report says.

Curtis, who has consistently voted in the most homophobic and bigoted manner, is 48 years old, married and has two daughters. He told the male prostitute he picked up that his wife knew when he married her that he liked men. I've read about people who crave-- and are willing to pay for-- unprotected anonymous sex but I've never talked to one. It seems like a pretty suicidal approach and from what I've heard it's almost always something people do in the context of severe drug problems. Curtis offered to pay a male prostitute $1,000 for unprotected anal sex but afterwards tried to weasel out with a $100 or $200 or $300 payment. (Unlike Larry Craig and Bob Allen, at least he wasn't a $20 gay Republican.)
Curtis did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. He initially told police that he did not have sex with the man but later recanted, according to the police report. He also told police that he thought he might have been given some type of drug because his memory of the evening was hazy, the report says.

The report says that after the two men had sex, Castagna left the hotel room with Curtis' wallet. Curtis agreed to give the man $200, which he left at his hotel's desk, only to be confronted with a demand for an additional $800, the report says.

Spokane Police Detective Tim Madsen wrote in his report that Curtis wanted to keep the whole incident quiet. At one point, Madsen told Curtis that "the toothpaste was already out of the tube."

"Curtis told me he was just trying to put the cap back on the tube," Madsen wrote. "I told Curtis that the suspect may victimize other people in the future, and Curtis acknowledged that part of his job was to protect people in the state of Washington. ? Curtis said he wished he would have just paid the additional money to the suspect because he didn't wish the case to be prosecuted. If the incident became public, it could cost him his marriage and career."

You think?

Interestingly, Curtis figured he could threaten and bamboozle the prostitute and cover the whole thing up with a fellow Republican law enforcement pal. "The entire incident might have never come to light if Curtis hadn't contacted Sgt. Roy Rhine of the Washington State Patrol. Rhine, who works out of the patrol's Southwest Washington office, is a fellow Republican who has run for the state Legislature. According to Madsen's report, Curtis contacted a friend in the Washington State Patrol and wanted the agency to investigate 'because the local police would talk and it would get out to the press.' The WSP referred the case back to Spokane officials." And that was the end of another GOP hypocrite.

Meanwhile, far right propaganda sites are all up in arms because people are mentioning that Curtis is a Republican. They like it much more when Republican perps are apprehended by the law and called Democrats, as Fox TV did repeatedly and maliciously when Republican child predator Mark Foley (R-FL) was caught.

This video should not be viewed by anyone under the age of 18 without a parent in the room. If there's a priest or a Republican in the room, make him leave before you play it... for your own safety.


He resigned. From "I'm not gay" to "I resign" in 24 hours is pretty good... for a Republican.
“Today I submitted my letter of resignation to Governor Gregoire effective immediately. While I believe we've done some good and helped a lot of people during the time I served in the Legislature, events that have recently come to light have hurt a lot of people. I sincerely apologize for any pain my actions may have caused.

“This has been damaging to my family, and I don't want to subject them to any additional pain that might result from carrying out this matter under the scrutiny that comes with holding public office.”


New developments... well, the Seattle Times has a couple of factoids I neglected to mention before. Curtis' love interest, Cody Castagna, is nicknamed "Stallion" and although Curtis was very cooperative with the police, showing them semen stains and even santorum on the sheets, he balked when they tried to examine "the bag with the nylon rope and toy stethoscope in it, saying it had nothing to do with the matter at hand." Oh dear; this is a new one on me.

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Search as hard as you like, you're not going to find worse Democrats in the House of Representatives than Georgia reactionaries John Barrow and Jim Marshall. Example: Marshall was the only Democrat to vote to sustain Bush's anti-children's healthcare veto. There were 43 Republicans who voted better than he did. Two years ago he was the only Democrat to vote with Bush on an anti-war roll call. And-- how about this?-- overall, Barrow has an even worse voting record. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that these two were the only Democrats who even came close to losing their seats last year in the anti-Republican landslide. And this year they are considered the two most vulnerable Democrats, primarily because real Democrats don't want to vote for either. Both are on the DCCC Front Line list, reserved for vulnerable freshmen and a tiny handful of Democrats with no grassroots Democratic support. (Notice that none of the DCCC candidates have a single contribution on that list, a testament to the intelligence and discernment of Democratic donors so far this year. Barrow and Marshall taint all the other candidates on the list.)

Today's Congressional Quarterly look at the situation of the two despised Dixiecrats. "Barrow won the 12th District race by just 864 votes of more than 142,000 cast, and Marshall secured the 8th District seat by only 1,752 votes of nearly 160,000 cast." And next year could finish them both off, with quasi-legal GOP gerrymandering kicking in against both. Outside the Beltway, few tears will be shed if these two are defeated. In Barrow's case, particularly, it would offer an opportunity for a moderate Democrat-- rather than the far right Republican-lite Barrow-- to win in 2010.

Unfortunately, Barrow has no primary challenge. In a district where African-Americans are a plurality of the Democratic Party and where the congressman is not especially friendly to African-American interests, it is tragic that there is no challenge from inside that community. Marshall, on the other hand, does have two primary challengers, though neither looks like they can dislodge him.

Later today I'll be talking about three primaries where progressive, grassroots candidates can beat reactionary Democrats, one in Maryland and two in Illinois.

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Don't get the idea that the only corrupt Republicans are the ones lurking around toilet stalls or paying for unprotected anal sex while wearing red lingerie. Most of the worst are just after money. And for Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona it has always been just about money. In fact there is something about the Mike Carona story that I related to at once. He and his posse called themselves-- although the name no longer fits-- Team Forever. The entire purpose of Team Forever was to get Carona elected sheriff so they could pillage at will and enrich themselves. I'm not that materialistic but when I was around 17 my friends and I had-- and put into operation-- a very similar scheme. Our first day at college we heard a lecture from the president of the student body, a long haired hippie named Sandy Pearlman. We figured the best way to score drugs would be to get into his good graces, as he seemed to be the leader of the hippies on campus. So we decided to grow out our hair and effected scruffy looks and I ran for freshman class president. Wasn't I disappointed to find out he only looked like a druggie and that he had never even smoked any pot (until I turned him on to it by chance one day). Anyway Carona and his pals' plan worked out way better-- for them... until recently.

Although Larry King lamely-- like Larry King does anything any other way-- nicknamed him "America's Sheriff," a title he deserves as much as Rudy Giuliani deserves the moniker "America's Mayor, Carona fooled few people outside of desperate Republican circles. Schwarzenegger, Bush and Rove were all attracted to what they thought of as his genuineness and sought to promote him as a GOP up-and-comer. All the while he was enriching himself and his cronies at the public trough.

According to yesterday's L.A. Times "Carona broke the law by failing to disclose that he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts for himself, his wife and his former 'longtime mistress,' according to a federal indictment unsealed this morning. The women, Debbie Carona and Deborah Hoffman, were described as co-conspirators and were also indicted." Nice. Read the full Grand Jury indictments.

Team Forever had been at it since the moment Carona got into office in 1998, hiring cronies, selling concealed weapons permits, doing anything a sheriff could do to vacuum up hoards of money. Members of his gang have now turned on him and are testifying against him, although-- being a Republican-- he claims he did nothing wrong and refuses to step down.

Today's NY Times make a point of the fact that "Plea agreements with two men charged as co-conspirators in the alleged corruption scheme were also unsealed Tuesday. Mr. Carona had appointed the men, George H. Jaramillo, a lawyer, and Donald Haidl, a businessman, assistant sheriffs. Mr. Jaramillo admitted that he had illegally accepted money from Mr. Haidl from 1998 through 2002. Mr. Haidl pleaded guilty to filing a false 2002 tax return and admitted paying Mr. Carona and Mr. Jaramillo for years. In court papers, prosecutors said Mr. Haidl paid Mr. Carona and Mr. Jaramillo as much as $2,000 each per month at one point, as well as giving them gifts that included use of a private plane and a yacht, a vacation to Lake Tahoe and, for Mr. Jaramillo, a lease on a Mercedes-Benz."

He met with reporters this morning. What a dick!

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Max Blumenthal is just getting better and better as a documentarian. He went to the Values Voters shingdig and gave us an inside, birds' eye view of the nuts who control the Republican nominating process. Enjoy:

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007



the naughty love interest

According to today's Times-Picayune David Diapers Vitter (R-LA) "has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine for violating federal election laws during his campaign for the Senate in 2004." Kind of completes the image of what he is and always has been. He cheats on his wife and cheats the voters as well.

Meanwhile, way on the otherside of the country, up in Washington another I'm-Not-Gay-Republican-- yawn-- Washington Rep. Richard Curtis is all caught up in some extortion business with a gay prostitute. KREM, a Spokane TV station, reported that Curtis and the male hooker had "a sexual encounter and were seen together at various spots around the city." Spokane is just up the road apiece from Idaho and Curtis said, "I am not gay. I have not had sex with a guy." A.P. is reporting that Curtis and the hooker met at one of those porno video shops (the Hollywood Erotic Boutique) at 12:45am and then went back to Curtis' hotel room at 3:30am for sex. They don't say who did what to whom but the trick, Cody Castagna, demanded a grand to not blab that Curtis, who is married, is also enjoying the company of young men, and Curtis called the cops.

Before you start feeling too sorry for this chump, keep this in mind: he's a self-righteous right-wing turd who he voted against domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. Last year, he opposed a gay rights bill that banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Flush another Republican hypocrite down the toilet. I've lost count.


KXLY reports that GOP Rep. Curtis was not just into picking up young men for sex, he was also into wearing lady's clothing. My God! What is wrong with these Republicans? This guy voted no on employment equality for gay men and women while he was wearing frilly undies! (He insists he's not gay. Maybe the Republicans have their own words for things that are different from normal people's vocabularies. The KXLY Report is completely graphic (anal sex, etc).
State Representative Richard Curtis says he's not gay, but police reports and court records indicate the Republican lawmaker from southwestern Washington dressed up in women's lingerie and met a Medical Lake man in a local erotic video store which led to consensual sex at a downtown hotel and a threat to expose Curtis' activities publicly.

A search warrant unsealed Tuesday morning disclosed that State Representative Richard Curtis (R - La Center) had sex in his room at the Davenport Tower with a man identified as Cody Castagna, 26, of Medical Lake, who he met at the Hollywood Erotic Boutique on October 26th.

Curtis, according to a search warrant unsealed Tuesday, went to the Hollywood Erotic Boutique on East Sprague on October 26th at approximately 12:45 a.m. The store clerk, who had talked with Curtis, referred to him as "The Cross-Dresser" and said that during their conversations he confirmed he was gay and was married with children at home.

During his visit to the video store Curtis was observed wearing women's lingerie while receiving oral sex from an unidentified man in one of the movie viewing booths inside the store.

The rest of the details are incredible. Just makes you wonder if these kinds of people become Republicans or if being a Republican makes you like this. You might be interested in knowing that this fine GOP specimen, aside from a 100% homophobic voting record, also opposed using state dollars to provide health care for the children of undocumented workers and has uniformly low marks from Washington Conservation Voters, the abortion rights group NARAL and the AFL-CIO. All fits together-- especially the lingerie.


I'm wondering if they'll play this tape at the Republican Convention. On his way home Rep. Curtis totaled his car. Did he try committing suicide? Curtis has given up on the standard GOP "I'm not gay routine."

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-by Paul Lukasiak (of the AWOL Project)

On Monday, a new report was released to little fanfare by The Project For Excellence in Journalism and The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. The Invisible Primary: Invisible No Longer provides a quantitative and qualitative analysis of press coverage of the Presidential campaign during the first five months of 2006. For the most part, the report treats the coverage as if there was a single campaign, rather than two distinct campaigns. But a comparison of the top line data with other sources of data tells a story that the report barely mentions: the way in which media coverage has not merely influenced, but severely warped, the primary process.

The warping was both quantitative and qualitative. Certain lesser-known candidates (the ‘media favorites’) received a disparate amount of coverage, while other candidates with more experience and/or higher name recognition were all but ignored. And these same ‘media favorites’ received much more positive coverage, and much less negative coverage, than well-known, established candidates.


The Democratic Primary has been severely warped by the media’s insistence on turning it into a two-person race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There were more stories about Hillary Clinton (294), and almost as many stories about Barack Obama (240) as the other six candidates (John Edwards, Joseph Biden, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel) combined (265 total). Moreover, when there was a secondary focus to a story, Hillary (148) and Obama (147) far outstripped the other candidates like Edwards (48 secondary mentions.).  
Despite the enormous strides this nation has made over the last 40 years in combating racial and gender-based prejudices and negative stereotypes, the fact remains that a substantial percentage of Americans will not vote for a woman on a Black person to be President, and an even larger percentage will have their perception of female and Black candidates filtered through a veil of prejudices. This is especially true among older Americans, and in general the older a person is, the more likely they are to vote. Thus, women and Black Americans still face an uphill battle at the ballot box.
Nevertheless, a one term female Senator with extremely high negatives and a Black candidate with merely two years of national experience in the Senate received more coverage than two sitting Senators (Biden and Dodd) each with over 30 years in Congress; a sitting governor whose resume includes 7 terms in Congress, UN Ambassador, and Secretary of Energy who is also the first Hispanic to run for the Presidency (Richardson); a sitting 5 term Congressman (Kucinich); a former two-term Senator (Gravel); and a former Vice Presidential candidate and one term senator (Edwards.) combined.  
The lack of coverage for Edwards is especially notable. Traditionally, when a failed Vice Presidential nominee seeks the Presidency in the next election cycle (e.g. Walter Mondale and Joe Lieberman), they are given considerable coverage, and usually billed as the ‘front runner’. And in January 2007, Edwards had high name recognition, and was leading the pack in Iowa. But Edwards not only received little coverage for the first five months of 2007, what coverage he did get was decidedly negative-- the only month he got positive coverage was March, when his wife Elizabeth announced the recurrence of her breast cancer.
Also notable is the tone of Obama’s coverage, which was far more positive (46.7% of stories) and less negative ( 15.8%) than either Clinton (26.9% positive, 37.8% negative) or Edwards (31.0% positive, 35.2% negative.)

According to the Gallup Organization Clinton had a clear national profile (in Nov. 2006, 95% “of adult Americans [knew] enough about [her] to be able to give an opinion….”) at the beginning of the campaign. Edwards was well known (80% in February) too, but made no additional inroads into the public consciousness by May (81%).  

Speculation regarding an Obama candidacy was well underway by October, 2006, and by Decenber 2006 he was recognizable to 53% of Americans. Two months later, 72% knew enough about him to rate him (by May ’07 it was 75%).. The amount and tone of Obama’s coverage in January and February not only considerably increased his name recognition, but the overwhelmingly positive tone of the coverage has clearly provided him with an advantage in the national polls as well. Obama-mania peaked in March 2007, when he was given a positive rating by 58% of Americans, with only 18% viewing him negatively.

(In February 2006, a Diego/Hotline Poll showed that only 37% of Americans knew enough about Obama to rate him. Gallup did not start polling for Obama until December, 2006.)

As The Invisible Primary notes, “[t]he two sitting Senators [Clinton and Obama] were presented as locked in a two-way race.” The choice given to Democrats was between a woman about whom a substantial percentage of Americans (between 40% and 50% in various polls) have a negative impression of, and a Black candidate who has only two years national experience. It is difficult to not conclude that the media wants a Republican President-- or at minimum wants to make sure that the 2008 Presidential Election is “competitive."

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If you look for Springsteen in Google News, you get one rave review of his live sold out tour after another. Last Thursday and Friday he wowed 'em at the Oakland Coliseum. Last night he was in L.A.
At 58, Springsteen certainly can't call himself young any more-- at least not chronologically. Despite the hurricane force he and the E Street Band frequently mustered during their two-hour show, plenty of fans cheering them on no doubt recall the nights of yore when this fabled group was just starting to break a sweat at the two-hour mark.

Still, what this outfit does on stage each night remains fairly daring, and the older they get, the greater the risk of the without-a-net abandon with which they administer the sacrament of rock 'n' roll.

The invigorating thing about the New Jersey bard is the way he and his merry band embrace their coming of age. For all the kudos Springsteen's new Magic album is earning for the joyful rocking it delivers, it's rife with self-doubt, disillusionment, anger and acceptance of the disappointments and compromises life inevitably presents the thinking person.

A couple weeks ago the new album was #1 on the Billboard album chart. Kid Rock's new album knocked it down a peg and this week, Springsteen disposed on Kid Rock and is back at #1. The album is already gold and headed right towards platinum and he's got a great shot to win a Grammy for Best Album of the Year. Magic's reviews virtually everywhere are over the top and the intro to his latest interview in Rolling Stone refers to the album's subject matter as "weighty stuff like the direction of our democracy and party stuff that recalls the days when sparks first flew on E Street more than three decades ago."

Republican radio network Clear Channel, a monopoly in many cities and a dominant player in most of the rest, isn't interested. Is it because Springsteen has been an outspoken campaigner for Democrats and progressives? Clear Channel has taken a political stand with its programming in the past. Just think back to their boycott of the Dixie Chicks. Oh, no... not way back, just back to when they released their most recent album. Despite being one of the top 10 best-selling American albums of the year-- across all genres and demographics-- radio studiously ignored it. There were maybe half a dozen country stations that even played it at all. What Clear Channel did to the Dixie Chicks is a watertight case for the need to break the media companies up into a thousand pieces. (John Sununu disagrees; he's pro-censorship.) I spoke with an old friend who heads a record company and preferred to speak off the record.
"When you have artists like the Dixie Chicks and Bruce Springsteen who have overtly spoken out against this Administration, they are taken to task in spite the clear and undeniable indications from the marketplace that people want to hear their music. What seems to be happening-- if sales are any kind of a barometer of what the marketplace is-- is that these politically-connected radio networks like Clear Channel are not looking to succeed as radio stations as much as pushing forward some political agenda.

Another friend of mine distinctly recalls the Senate hearings on radio consolidation in light of the Dixie Chicks boycott where Barbara Boxer and John McCain heard testimony including an internal Clear Channel memo threatening "Just wait and see what happens if Springsteen tries this." I guess we're seeing that right now.

Of course, Clear Channel hasn't publicly said they are boycotting Springsteen's music. But they are. Fox News, hardly a hotbed of liberal alarmists, reports that "Clear Channel has sent an edict to its classic rock stations not to play tracks from Magic... no new songs by Springsteen, even though it’s likely many radio listeners already own the album and would like to hear it mixed in with the junk offered on radio."
Clear Channel seems to have sent a clear message to other radio outlets that at age 58, Springsteen simply is too old to be played on rock stations. This completely absurd notion is one of many ways Clear Channel has done more to destroy the music business than downloading over the last 10 years. It’s certainly what’s helped create satellite radio, where Springsteen is a staple and even has his own channel on Sirius.

I don't buy it. Clear Channel is a big-time and very consciously right-wing power player with a goal of changing American pop culture. They have done all they could to stifle progressive voices and to dumb down and trivialize the culture. Meaningless, offensive and inoffensive drivel by Fergie, Britney Spears, Nickelback, and Rihanna you'll hear. But not Springsteen. Clear Channel even has its very own rubber stamp Republican congressman to look out for it's interests, the boss' (not The Boss') son-in-law, the overly right-wing Michael McCaul (TX). You want to see Bruce back on the radio? Stop listening to Clear Channel stations-- and stop voting for Republicans. If there was no Clear Channel-- and no Republicans-- this is what would be on the radio instead of Britney Spears:


The Fox News report I linked to isn't exactly right. Some Clear Channel stations are indeed playing it, although mostly Clear Channel stations with independent-minded programmers like KBCO in Denver. Overall, Clear Channel isn't giving it the kind of exposure a #1 record would normally get.


In 2006 Clear Channel Communications ponied up almost $800,000 in legal campaign contributions, 65% of which went to Republicans. The two top dogs at the company are long-time Bush family retainers and cronies, Tom Hicks and Lowry Mays. Mays has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates for office over the years. A few: $69,500 for the Republican National Committee, $21,000 for the NRCC, $14,200 for Michael McCaul (TX), $2,500 for James Sensenbrenner (WI), $2,300 for Duncan Hunter (CA), $16,300 for Lamar Smith (TX), $6,500 for Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX), $3,000 for Tom DeLay (TX), $13,000 for Henry Bonilla (TX), $10,250 for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $2,500 for Heather Wilson (NM), $6,000 for John Cornyn (TX), and $2,100 for Flip Flop Mitt and grudging grand for Giuliani (NY). And there were tens of thousands more from other family members. Hicks was a similarly huge donator to Republicans: $65,000 to the RNC, $50,000 to the NRSC plus another $300,000 or so scattered around to grateful Republicans who have made it very worthwhile for have been so generous. When people talk about the need for campaign finance reform and public financing of elections, this is exactly what they're talking about.

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I guess we do the only things we can do-- keep writing and talking and contributing however we can. I think the only thing that will wake up people like Pelosi and her henchmen, like Hoyer and Emanuel, is for some of them to get voted out. Some of them will have to be made examples of. They'll have to lose their jobs before they realize that people outside the Beltway live in a different country. That means it's a long process.

Something so obvious should not take so long but we're dealing with Washington. They live in denial of anything that might mean fewer dollars beinig slipped into their extra large pockets by Korporate
Amerika, just does not get very far very fast. Some progress was made in 2006 but it has to grow
exponentially with each election cycle. I just wonder if there is enough time left before it's too late for the country and the world.

I have my doubts about Sheehan but if she could knock out Pelosi, it would send a message, at least of some kind. Unfortunately, that message would be immediately spun as an exception or aberation. The media would be saying "well it's San Francisco, what do you expect
from those crazies."

So, the question becomes, which incumbents among the worst obstructionists and false Dems are the most vulnerable and most high profile whose defeat would send the most shockwaves and ring the
wake up bell the loudest. We need to have local and regional Democratic Primary Rebellions where Rahm and his minions get their asses handed to them. Local party rebellion against Rahm and his
picks. In a general election, perhaps some third party candidates who split the Dem vote and allow Repugs in might do it. I hate to see it but what's really the difference if a Repug gets in or a fake Dem gets in? At least Rahm and Chucky the Clown and those types might lose credibility and power within the Democratic party and then Progressives can take advantage of the opening. No? Meanwhile, supporting better Dems and getting more elected each time is the way to go.


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Ole Fred opposes civil unions but he's ok with dirty old rich men marrying youngsters

Yesterday I spent some time on the phone with one of the most brilliant and extraordinary candidates I have ever spoken with. Dennis Shulman is running against New Jersey rubber stamp Republican Scott Garrett in the northern and northwestern edge of New Jersey (NJ-05). He's a rabbi. He's blind. He's a drummer, a psychologist and a truly unique individual with the most positive energy I've ever encountered from anyone vying for office. He's going to be the Blue America guest at Firedoglake this Saturday at 2pm (EDT). Neither Rabbi Shulman nor I ever mentioned the words Fred Thompson (or Frederick of Hollywood) while we spoke and why should we? By the time Dennis starts debating Garrett, Thompson will be a footnote to the political history of the 2008 election campaign. But yesterday Thompson blurted something out that reminded me of an important point the rabbi made.

Yesterday Thompson was in New Hampshire unsuccessfully wooing Granite State voters. While visiting the Delta Dental Plans Association he was asked if he supports New Hampshire's new civil unions law and if he thought that would work on a federal level. Ole Fred wasn't sure what he was being asked. "Soviet Union?" he muttered. "No, civil unions," the questioner repeated clearly. "Oh. No, I would not be in support of that," Thompson said. No, I'm sure he wouldn't. I mean isn't that exactly why homophobic country singer John Rich of Big & Rich said he was supporting Thompson the other day-- because he's the most anti-gay of the pathetic pygmies™?

Rabbi Shulman, on the other hand, has a very different approach to this entire Republican-manufactured "issue." "These are issues of equality under the law, not issues of sexual orientation or morality... In the traditions of Reform Judaism, the rabbis have voted to bless gay marriages. I am appalled by the idea that the federal government would intrude on my right to perform a same-sex marriage if I choose to do so. Marriage should be an issue-- as it always has been-- between the states and religious institutions. I don't see that the federal government has any rights to define who and how people should be married."

Imagine if Obama, Edwards or Hillary were making this kind of clear, straight forward sense on this fake issue that the right tries to use to divide people? Meanwhile... help a blind drummer who speaks Truth get to Congress.

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Monday, October 29, 2007



David Brooks, GOP war profiteer

What ever happened to the good old days when war profiteers and traitors undermining our soldiers in the field were put against a wall and shot? (Yes, unlike many of my liberal pals, I'm a death penalty fanatic-- although just when the punishment fits the crime-- like in the case of the Bush Regime cronies who have long and solid records of treasous criminality.)

David Brooks is probably best known, in our shallow, celebrity-obsessed society, for the lavish and grotesque bat mitzvah be threw for his daughter Liza at the Rainbow Room in 2005. Aside from 50 Cent (for the kids) his own middle-aged friends were entertained by middle aged rockers Aerosmith (who were paid a million dollars for the show), as well as Tom Petty, Kenny G and the Eagles. I can't imagine that the Eagles or Tom Petty took less than the fee Aerosmith got since they all share the same manager. I don't know much about Kenny G. but I suspect he got more than your average bat mitzvah band even if his music sounds just like your average bat mitzvah band's.

But it isn't the $10,000,000 tax deductible, company-paid bat mitzvah, the $194,000 Bentley, the stable of 100 race horses, the $100,000 diamond-studded belt buckle and numerous other egregious instances of fashion crimes or even more shameful manefestations of the sybartic lifstyle the Bush tax breaks for multimillionaires encourages. It's how he made all that loot.

Now, keep in mind that when Brooks was in business with the Bush Regime, making defective body armor for our troops on the front lines, he gave the National Republican Campaign Committee a nice fat check for $25,000, much less than he paid Kenny G to wow his friends at the notorious bat mitzvah the same year, but still, something the Republicrooks were happy to see come there way. He got plenty of business... unfortunately.

According to today's NY Post it was our troops who got the shitty end of that Republican stick. Brooks reaped $185 million by selling his company's stock "when he learned that 6,000 bullet-proof vests the company made were about to be recalled for being faulty and not able to block bullets."


Brooks retained Joe Tacopino as his $750-an-hour attorney. Radar tells us he was the subject of a March 2007 GQ profile titled 1-800 Save My Ass. "Tacopino also defended the Dutch kid held in the disappearance of Aruba blondie Natalee Holloway, the cop charged with sticking a plunger up Abner Louima's ass, and Foxy Brown."


Smart judge!
A federal judge denied David H. Brooks bail Tuesday, citing concerns about his access to immense wealth and the possibility that he could obstruct justice from within the walls of his 58th-floor Upper East Side highrise.

"I think the government has established that there is a serious risk of flight," U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert said during a hearing in Central Islip. "I don't have a clue what this man's assets are."

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Holy Joe licks his chops at the thought of helping to re-elect his doppleganger, homophobic Chris Shays (endorsed by HRC)

I think Jim Himes made the case why he'd be a great replacement for rubber stamp Republican Chris Shays really well when he visited Firedoglake for a live blog session on July 28. Apparently the folks at HRC were still busy reading the hate mail they've been getting for helping homophobic Republican shill Joe Lieberman slip back into office. HRC is up to the same old tricks.

Aside from being a general rubber stamp for the entire toxic Bush Republican agenda, Shays has voted 4 times on specific legislation that impacted gay men and lesbians directly. Guess how many times Shays had to vote pro-gay in order to earn HRC's endorsement. Zero times. He was 4 for 4 rubber stamping the far right, homophobic agenda of intolerance and bigotry. Is that what HRC stands for?

At least another of HRC's horrible endorsements this year, Al Wynn (D-MD) voted for gay rights once out of the 4 times. HRC sure sells their endorsement cheap. Is today the right time to tell HRC to go screw themselves? I smashed the award they gave me and removed them from my will when they endorsed Lieberman. Not much more I can do, I'd recommend that people use this opportunity to donate to Jim Himes' and Donna Edwards' campaigns. And you can do both here at the Blue America ActBlue page.

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Please, no more hypocritical Republican morality sermons from John Rich

A friend of mine who works with Big & Rich at Warner Bros, and who felt "devastated" by John Rich's homophobic and hypocritical smearing of gay families last week, just sent me the canned, damage-control statement the p.r. department wrote for him:
"My earlier comments on same-sex marriage don't reflect my full views on the broader issues regarding tolerance and the treatment of gays and lesbians in our society. I apologize for that and wish to state clearly my views. I oppose same-sex marriage because my father and minister brought me up to believe that marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected."

I went back to some of the gay employees who seemed most hurt by his vituperative explosion of bigotry last week. Not a single one felt the apology was sincere, although they were all hopeful that the scare he got, which they felt made him issue it, might make him think a little harder next time he decides to express bigotry and hatred towards the people who have helped him build a career.

One gay man with a family told me, "You can't apologize after you say shit like that... what he originally said was how he really feels... I hope this will make him think it through more. I hope so."

Another WB employee, who has considered himself a personal friend of John Rich's, and said he felt not just "hurt" but also "betrayed," is glad Rich issued the "clarification." Still, he feels it "is disappointing to see such continued prejudice against gays and lesbians in this day and age. If bigotry and hatred are wrong then why would you prevent two adults who love each other and are willing to proclaim that love in public for their friends and family? As a person who's been in a stable, loving relationship for 12 years now (including both domestic partnership and public ceremony) and someone who has been working in support of Big & Rich professionally, I find it offensive that Mr. Rich has decided to make such a personal decision for me. Please mind your own business. In the words of the Dixie Chicks, 'Shut Up And Sing.'"

This guy works out in the field and is openly gay and has worked really hard to prove he could be the best in his field. I hired him many years ago and I saw how he grew and grew into an incredibly productive and dedicated part of a team. People have success at Warner Bros because of men and women like this guy. In the music business you don't succeed without a good song. And you don't succeed without a dedicated team behind you, getting your music into stores and magazines, on TV and radio. Big & Rich had a very devoted team behind them but Rich decided he's big enough now so that he doesn't think he needs them any more. Let's wait and see what happens.


Matthew Grant in Nashville likes Big & Rich's music. He says he "loves America, beer, his church and country music." And he's gay. Today's Tennessean published his letter to the editor asking John Rich to consider the impact his words of hatred have on the psyches of young people. He said it well:
There are a thousand young boys and girls who are fans of his, sitting in a room feeling so bad about themselves because they have feelings for the same sex that they do not understand or want. They get called a slur on the school bus and now, one of their favorite singers just said that they are "unnatural."

I would love to share with Mr. Rich the statistics of GLBT young people who kill themselves due to feeling "unnatural" and that there is no hope for them-- and of people who murder, "taught" to hate because of a statement that someone they knew or looked up to fed to them.

If you know of Big & Rich, their whole schtick is "Love Everybody." All we want is understanding and human rights.

As Mr. Rich counts his newfound money, he understands the power of his uneducated words as they leave his mouth and reach the ears and hearts of people who once looked up to him.

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It's easy to paint every Republican as a heartless monstrosity who hates children and loves war. After all, their voting records are there for all to see. But the S-CHIP veto but Bush has consistently mustered a few dozen Republicans who abhor the Bush Regime position if not the positioner himself. Today's Congressional Journal has an interesting story about Charles Grassley, a mainstream conservative (as in very conservative though not fascist) Republican senator from Iowa, and his unflinching and aggressive support for children and a bedrock family issue. Grassley will not let the bill die and he's still trying to convince fellow conservatives in the House to sign on and help override Bush's veto. He worked out the compromise with Democrats and wrote a bill he felt Bush and Republicans could support enthusiastically. Many Republicans in the Senate did and 45 in the House did, but still not enough to override Bush's veto in the House. He's willing to compromise on a few more issue-- probably kicking a certain number of children off the coverage plan-- in order to make it more palatable to the anti-family coalition that has stuck by Bush.
If House and Senate Democrats are willing to accept revisions to their latest bill, Grassley and his Senate partners on SCHIP legislation-- Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Finance members Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, and John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va.-- plan to offer an amendment to the measure when it reaches the Senate floor Tuesday or Wednesday.

The bill would then return to the House, which passed it 265-142 on Oct. 25. The chamber’s vote to clear the bill for the White House would show Bush-- and the measure’s supporters-- whether the changes had in fact produced a veto-proof majority in the House.

I wonder how many children have to be abandoned before the last reactionary Democratic holdout who is still sticking with Bush-- Jim Marshall (GA)-- decides to vote for it. Probably a million and he'll buy on.

Right-wing Republican House members coming under the most pressure for their adamant anti-family votes, all members whose seats could be in jeopardy for voting with Bush instead of with their constituents, include:
Rodney Alexander (LA)
Michele Bachmann (MN)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD)
Judith Biggert (IL)
Ginny Brown-Waite (FL)
Dave Camp (MI)
Steve Chabot (OH)
Barbara Cubin (WY)
the Diaz-Balart Brothers (FL)
Thelma Drake (VA)
Vernon Ehlers (MI), flip flopper
Tom Feeney (FL)
Scott Garrett (NJ)
Virgil Goode (VA)
Sam Graves (MO)
Robin Hayes (NC)
Tim Johnson (IL)
Ric Keller (FL)
Joe Knollenberg (MI)
Randy Kuhl (NY)
Michael McCaul (TX)
Thad McCotter (MI)
Marilyn Musgrave (CO)
John Peterson (PA)
Tom Reynolds (NY)
Mike Rogers (MI)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)
Bill Sali (ID)
Jim Saxton (NJ)
Mean Jean Schmidt (OH)
Tim Walberg (MI)

The bolded names are those most likely to haved nailed the final nail in their political coffin via the S-CHIP vote to sustain Bush's veto.

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I look forward to one thing about the presidential election in 2008. Like the vast majority of Americans, close to 80% now, I can hardly wait to see the last of George Bush, at least as the occupant of the White House. Like most Americans, I am eager to see his toxic domestic and international agendas leave with him and his foul, foul regime. I wish my next sentence could be about how I am equally excited to see a visionary and strong, brilliant new president come into office, someone who would be as good as Bush has been bad, someone who will kick-start the process of cleaning up the catastrophic mess he and the Republicans are leaving behind. I'm less than sanguine, however, that our next president will just be less horrible than Bush.

I can see that Hillary Clinton has a huge head start on all the other candidates and that she seems "destined" for the Democratic nomination. The Democratic nomination seems as golden right now as the GOP nomination is pointless and useless. After 2 terms of Bush, indisputably the worst and most venal leader America has ever experienced, there is great opportunity for real change. Is Hillary Clinton a vehicle for real change? Yesterday, William Safire, intellectually doddering and long past his prime, suggested on Meet the Press that Hillary's VP nominee would be Rahm Emanuel. Perhaps Lieberman would be a worse choice; it's a tough call. The fact that Tim Russert didn't laugh in his face and thank him for his years of service, while ushering him out of the studio-- watch the clip at C&L-- says something scary about our expectations for Mrs. Clinton. Remember, Emanuel got his start as her husband's hatchetman on the hated NAFTA, a Republican idea Clinton had bought into, much to the dismay of progressives and labor unions. Congressional Republicans were backing Clinton on this but he needed more Democratic votes than just the reactionary Blue Dogs and Dixiecrats. So he assigned Emanuel to bribe and threaten enough Democrats to pass the horrendous legislation. Emanuel was rewarded with a rotten borough in Chicago and immediately became the voice of the Clinton Machine in the House. He's the single worst member of the Democratic caucus, which he heads and, along with Steny Hoyer, the reason virtually no progressive or anti-war legislation is passing. Hillary will never choose him. The fact that the idea could be taken seriously for even a moment, however, is symbolic of what we're about to do to ourselves.

Is there a way out? I sincerely doubt it. I think she's got it locked. John Edwards, the only real alternative, disagrees with me. I hope he's right and I'm wrong. He released this statement today and I'm going to reproduce it here in its entirety in case you didn't see it. It's hopeful and inspiring. It's also probably too late.

Remarks by Senator John Edwards
St. Anselm's College, Manchester, New Hamphshire
October 29, 2007

Many of you know that I am the son of a mill worker-- that I rose from modest means and have been blessed in so many ways in life. Elizabeth and I have so much to be grateful for.
And all of you know about some of the challenges we have faced in my family. But there came a time, a few months ago, when Elizabeth and I had to decide, in the quiet of a hospital room, after many hours of tests and getting pretty bad news-- what we were going to do with our lives.

And we made our decision. That we were not going to go quietly into the night-- that we were going to stand and fight for what we believe in.

As Elizabeth and I have campaigned across America, I've come to a better understanding of what that decision really meant-- and why we made it.

Earlier this year, I spoke at Riverside Church in New York, where, forty years ago, Martin Luther King gave a historic speech. I talked about that speech then, and I want to talk about it today. Dr. King was tormented by the way he had kept silent for two years about the Vietnam War.  

He was told that if he spoke out he would hurt the civil rights movement and all that he had worked for-- but he could not take it any more-- instead of decrying the silence of others-- he spoke the truth about himself.

"Over the past two years" he said, "I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silence and speak from the burning of my own heart."

I am not holier than thou. I am not perfect by any means. But there are events in life that you learn from, and which remind you what this is really all about. Maybe I have been freed from the system and the fear that holds back politicians because I have learned there are much more important things in life than winning elections at the cost of selling your soul.  
Especially right now, when our country requires so much more of us, and needs to hear the truth from its leaders.

And, although I have spent my entire life taking on the big powerful interests and winning-- which is why I have never taken a dime from Washington lobbyists or political action committees-- I too have been guilty of my own silence-- but no more.

It's time to tell the truth. And the truth is the system in Washington is corrupt. It is rigged by the powerful special interests to benefit they very few at the expense of the many.

 And as a result, the American people have lost faith in our broken system in Washington, and believe it no longer works for ordinary Americans. They're right.

As I look across the political landscape of both parties today-- what I see are politicians too afraid to tell the truth-- good people caught in a bad system that overwhelms their good intentions and requires them to chase millions of dollars in campaign contributions in order to perpetuate their careers and continue their climb to higher office.

This presidential campaign is a perfect example of how our politics is awash with money.

 I have raised more money up to this point than any Democratic candidate raised last time in the presidential campaign-- $30 million. And, I did it without taking a dime from any Washington lobbyist or any special interest PAC.  

I saw the chase for campaign money at any cost by the frontrunner in this race-- and I did not join it-- because the cost to our nation and our children is not worth the hollow victory of any candidate. Being called president while powerful interests really run things is not the same as being free to lead this nation as president of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

If protecting the current established structure in Washington is in your interest, then I am not your candidate. I ran for president four years ago-- yes, in part out of personal ambition-- but also with a deep desire to stand for working people like my father and mother-- who no matter how hard things were for our family, always worked even harder to make things better for us.

But the more Elizabeth and I campaigned this year, the more we talked to the American people, the more we met people just like my father, and hard working people like James Lowe. James is a decent and honest man who had to live for 50 years with no voice in the richest country in the world because he didn't have health care. The more people like him that I met, the more I realized something much bigger was stirring in the American people.

And it has stirred in each of us for far too long.
Last month Ken Burns-- who made the great Civil War documentary-- launched his newest epic on World War II on PBS-- and what a story it tells.  

At the cost of great suffering, blood and enormous sacrifice, within four years after Pearl Harbor it is incredible what this nation achieved. America built the arsenal of democracy worthy of our great history. We launched the greatest invasion armada in the history of warfare against Hitler's fortress Europe, and, with our allies, we freed a continent of suffering humanity.
At the same time on the other side of the globe we crossed 10,000 miles of ocean and liberated another hemisphere of humanity-- islands and nations freed from the grip of Japanese militarists. While at the same time succeeding in the greatest scientific endeavor ever undertaken-- the Manhattan project-- and topped it off with building the Pentagon, one of the largest buildings in the world in a little over a year.  

It is incredible what America has accomplished. Because no matter what extraordinary challenges we have been faced with, we did exactly what America has always done in our history-- we rose to the challenge.

And, now, as I travel across America and listen to people, I hear real concern about what's going on. For the first time in our nation's history, people are worried that we're going to be the first generation of Americans not to pass on a better life to our children.

And it's not the fault of the American people. The American people have not changed.  The American people are still the strong, courageous people they have always been. The problem is what our government has become. And, it is up to us to do something about it.  
Because Washington may not see it, but we are facing a moral crisis as great as any that has ever challenged us. And, it is this test-- this moral test-- that I have come to understand is at the heart of this campaign.

Just look at what has happened in Iraq. What was the response of the American people to the challenge at hand? Our men and women in uniform have been heroes. They've done everything that's been asked of them and more. But what about our government? Four years after invading Iraq, we cannot even keep the lights on in Baghdad.

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the American people were at their best. They donated their time and their money in record numbers. There was an outpouring of support. I took 700 college kids down to help-- young people who gave up their spring break. But what about our government? Three years after hurricane Katrina thousands of our fellow Americans, our brothers and sisters, are still housed in trailers waiting to go home.

There's no better example of the bravery and goodness of the American people than the response to the attacks of 9/11: firefighters and first responders risking and too often giving their lives to save others, charging up the stairs while everyone else was coming down; record bloodbank donations; and the list goes on. But what about our government?

Six years after 9/11, at Ground Zero there sits only a black hole that tortures our conscience and scars our hearts.

In every instance we see an American people who are good, decent, compassionate and undeterred. And, American people who are better than the government that is supposed to serve and represent them.

And what has happened to the American "can do" spirit? I will tell you what has happened: all of this is the result of the bitter poisoned fruit of corruption and the bankruptcy of our political leadership.

It is not an accident that the government of the United States cannot function on behalf of its people, because it is no longer our people's government-- and we the people know it.

This corruption did not begin yesterday-- and it did not even begin with George Bush-- it has been building for decades-- until it now threatens literally the life of our democracy.

While the American people personally rose to the occasion with an enormous outpouring of support and donations to both the victims of Katrina and 9/11-- we all saw our government's neglect. And we saw greed and incompetence at work. Out of more than 700 contracts valued at $500,000 or greater, at least half were given without full competition or, according to news sources, with vague or open ended terms, and many of these contracts went to companies with deep political connections such as a subsidiary of Haliburton, Bechtel Corp., and AshBritt Inc.

And in Iraq-- while our nation's brave sons and daughters put their lives on the line for our country-- we now have mercenaries under their own law while their bosses sit at home raking in millions.  

We have squandered millions on building Olympic size swimming pools and buildings that have never been used. We have weapons and ammunition unaccounted for that may now be being used against our own soldiers. We literally have billions wasted or misspent-- while our troops and their families continue to sacrifice. And the politically connected lobby for more. What's their great sacrifice-- higher profits.

It goes on every minute of every day.

Corporate executives at United Airlines and US Airways receive millions in compensation for taking their companies into bankruptcy, while their employees are forced to take cuts in pay.

Companies like Wal-Mart lobby against inspecting containers entering our nation's ports, even though expert after expert agrees that the likeliest way for a dirty bomb to enter the United States is through a container, because they believe their profits are more important than our safety. What has become of America when America's largest company lobbies against protecting America?

Trade deals cost of millions of jobs. What do we get in return? Millions of dangerous Chinese toys in our children's cribs laden with lead. This is the price we are made to pay when trade agreements are decided based on how much they pad the profits for multinational corporations instead of what is best for America's workers or the safety of America's consumers.
We have even gotten to the point where our children's safety is potentially at risk because nearly half of the apple juice consumed by our children comes from apples grown in China.

  And Americans are kept in the dark because the corporate lobbyists have pushed back country of origin labeling laws again and again.
This is not the America I believe in.

The hubris of greed knows no bounds. Days after the homeland security bill passed, staffers from the homeland security department resigned and became homeland security consultants trying to cash in. And, where was the outrage? There was none, because that's how it works in Washington now. It is not a Republican revolving door or a Democratic revolving door-- it is just the way it's done.

Someone called it a government reconnaissance mission to figure out how to get rich when you leave the government.

Recently, I was dismayed to see headlines in the Wall Street Journal stating that Senate Democrats were backing down to lobbyists for hedge funds who have opposed efforts to make millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers pay the same tax rate as every hard-working American. Now, tax loopholes the wealthy hedge fund managers do not need or deserve are not going to be closed, all because Democrats-- our party-- wanted their campaign money.

And a few weeks ago, around the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a leading presidential candidate held a fundraiser that was billed as a Homeland Security themed event in Washington, D.C. targeted to homeland security lobbyists and contractors for $1,000 a plate. These lobbyists, for the price of a ticket, would get a special "treat"-- the opportunity to participate in small, hour long breakout sessions with key Democratic lawmakers, many of whom chair important sub committees of the homeland security committee. That presidential candidate was Senator Clinton.

Senator Clinton's road to the middle class takes a major detour right through the deep canyon of corporate lobbyists and the hidden bidding of K Street in Washington-- and history tells us that when that bus stops there it is the middle class that loses.

When I asked Hillary Clinton to join me in not taking money from Washington lobbyists--she refused. Not only did she say that she would continue to take their money, she defended them.

Today Hillary Clinton has taken more money from Washington lobbyists than any candidate from either party-- more money than any Republican candidate.

She has taken more money from the defense industry than any other candidate from either party as well.

She took more money from Wall Street last quarter than Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama combined.

The long slow slide of our democracy into the corporate abyss continues unabated regardless of party, regardless of the best interests of America.

We have a duty-- a duty to end this.

I believe you cannot be for change and take money from the lobbyists who prevent change. You cannot take on the entrenched interests in Washington if you choose to defend the broken system. It will not work. And I believe that, if Americans have a choice, and candidate who takes their money-- Democrat or Republican-- will lose this election.

For us to continue down this path all we have to do is suspend all that we believe in. As Democrats, we continue down this path only if we believe the party of the people is no more.

As Americans, we continue down this path only if we fail to heed Lincoln's warning to us all.

"At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected," he asked, "if it ever reaches us it must spring up amongst us. It can not come from abroad. If destruction be our lot-- we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we must live through all time or die by suicide."

America lives because 20 generations have honored the one moral commandment that makes us Americans.

To give our children a better future than we received.

I stand here today the son of Wallace and Bobbie Edwards. The father of Wade, Cate, Emma Claire and Jack-- and I know, as well as you, that we must not be the first generation that fails to live up to our moral challenge and keep the promise of America.

That would be an abomination.
There is a dream that is America. It is what makes us American. And I will not stand by while that dream is at risk.

I am not perfect-- far from it-- but I do understand that this is not a political issue-- it is the moral test of our generation.

Our nation's founders knew that this moment would come-- that at some point the power of greed and its influence over officials in our government might strain and threaten the very America they hoped would last as an ideal in the minds of all people, and as a beacon of hope for all time.

That is why they made the people sovereign. And this is why it is your responsibility to redeem the promise of America for our children and their future.

It will not be easy-- sacrifice will be required of us-- but it was never easy for our ancestors, and their sacrifices were far greater than any that will fall on our shoulders.
Yet, the responsibility is ours.  

We, you and I, are the guardians of what America is and what it will be.  

The choice is ours.

Down one path, we trade corporate Democrats for corporate Republicans; our cronies for their cronies; one political dynasty for another dynasty; and all we are left with is a Democratic version of the Republican corruption machine.

It is the easier path. It is the path of the status quo. But, it is a path that perpetuates a corrupt system that has not only failed to deliver the change the American people demand, but has divided America into two-- one America for the very greedy, and one America for everybody else.  

And it is that divided America-- the direct result of this corrupt system-- which may very well lead to the suicide Lincoln warned us of-- the poison that continues to seep into our system while none notice.

Or we can choose a different path. The path that generations of Americans command us to take. And be the guardians that kept the faith.

I run for president for my father who worked in a mill his entire life and never got to go to college the way I did.

I run for president for all those who worked in that mill with my father.

I run for president for all those who lost their jobs when that mil was shut down.

I run for president for all the women who have come up to Elizabeth and me and told us the like Elizabeth they had breast cancer-- but unlike Elizabeth they did not have health care.

I run for president for twenty generations of Americans who made sure that their children had a better life than they did.

As Americans we are blessed-- for our ancestors are not dead, they occupy the corridors of our conscience. And, as long we keep the faith-- they live. And so too the America of idealism and hope that was their gift to us.

I carry the promise of America in my heart, where my parents placed it. Like them, like you, I believe in people, hard work, and the sacred obligation of each generation to the next.

This is our time now. It falls to use to redeem our democracy, reclaim our government and relight the promise of America for our children.

Let us blaze a new path together, grounded in the values from which America was forged, still reaching toward the greatness of our ideals. We can do it. We can cast aside the bankrupt ways of Washington and replace them with the timeless values of the American people. We can liberate our government from the shackles of corporate money that bind it to corporate will, and restore the voices of our people to its halls.

This is the cause of my life. This is the cause of our time. Join me. Together, we cannot fail.

We will keep faith with those who have gone before us, strong and proud in the knowledge that we too rose up to guard the promise of America in our day, and that, because we did, America's best days still lie ahead.

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Perhaps you'll recall that a couple of weeks ago Alex Flores wrote a guest post about the grassroots movement to draft Rep. Tom Udall to run for the open New Mexico Senate seat being vacated by disgraced Republican Pete Domenici. There have been some developments since then and I asked Alex to catch us up a bit. His report:

Back around the beginning of October, an idea was hatched to draft Congressman Tom Udall to run for the US Senate from New Mexico. Since then, the netroots have raised over $1,100 for the Congressman by asking for donations of only $5!

Now we're changing strategies to send an even stronger message. Many supporters of the draft emailed in applauding the efforts to collect $5 donations but lamented that they would rather not contribute to the Congressman's account unless he's really committed.

DraftUdall.Com is taking a new approach. The online petition now has a new question: How Much Do You Pledge to Give Tom Udall's Senate Campaign?

Since we started this new plan four days ago, another $1,200 have been committed. We think that can increase a hundred fold! Please help out.

Four other Democrats are running for the seat, one well-known in Mayor Martin Chavez and three lesser-known Dems, Don Wiviott, Jim Hannan and Leland Lehrman.

Heath Haussamen, a New Mexico blogger, wrote a bit recently about Martin Chavez's problems with progressives:
Securing big-name supporters and financial contributions is an important step for Chávez's senatorial campaign, but he has another problem to overcome: Progressive Democrats, at least those in the Albuquerque area, aren't his biggest supporters.

That's an understatement. After candidates and referenda backed by Chávez, or at least his staffers, were defeated in the recent Albuquerque municipal election, the unique coalition of Republicans and progressive Democrats who made it happen literally celebrated together.

It's also apparent that going to position himself in the center for this race. Contrasting himself with the more experienced and more progressive Tom Udall, Haussamen writes:
He also said he is confident he would defeat Udall in a primary.
"Philosophically, he's so far to the left," Chávez said. "I'd rather not have him in the race, but that's a challenge I'd not shy away from."

Angry? Sign the Petition and tell Congressman Udall how much you'll pledge to a real progressive if he runs for the US Senate ($2,300 is the Federal campaign limit).

Tom Udall already said he wouldn't run for the seat, but Chavez is running scared of the draft effort, doubtless aware that Tom Udall is the most popular Democrat in the state who can still run for the Senate.

Remember those SurveyUSA numbers? When Steven Pearce is the Republican nominee, moderate Mayor Chavez loses and progressive Congressman Udall wins; the spread is 39 points! When Heather Wilson is the Republican nominee, moderate Mayor Chavez loses and progressive Congressman Udall wins; the spread between them in this race is 22 points!
Starting with Republican candidate Steven Pearce, Congressman from New Mexico's 2nd District:
* Pearce loses to Congressman Tom Udall by 18 points
* defeats Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez by 21 points
Now to Republican candidate Heather Wilson, Congresswoman from New Mexico's 1st Congressional District:
* Wilson loses to Udall by 18 points (same as Pearce),
* defeats Chavez by 4 points (Wilson runs 17 points weaker than Pearce)

The Draft Udall movement is really picking up steam. If you haven't seen yet, we were on page A2 of yesterday's Washington Post and were recently given coverage in The Hill, a newspaper circulated in Washington, DC to every office in Congress. Help keep up the pressure, sign the petition and pledge money to Tom Udall today!

If you've already signed, please sign again, your old duplicate signature will be deleted.

See the "Draft Udall Around the Web page for more coverage.

-Alex Flores

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