Veal Pen Lunch Today At Hunan Dynasty, 215 Pennsylvania Avenue (Inside-the-Beltway)
When Nancy Pelosi said she picked Steve Israel to head the DCCC-- over sleazy operator Debbie Wasserman Schultz, no less-- she claimed she was looking for someone with sufficient reptilian tendencies. Well, she found a snake all right, but one who's likely to keep the House Democrats from winning a majority in November Reptile dysfunction! Beltway pundits say Israel and the DCCC simply haven't put enough races in play to threaten GOP control of the chamber. And worse than that, Israel is picking the wrong races, primarily races based on his moronic hope to re-stock the House Democratic caucus with reactionary Blue Dogs and New Dems again. Instead of helping progressives in districts Obama won, he's wasting tens of millions of dollars to push ConservaDems like Hayden Rogers (NC-11), Eric Stewart (TN-04), David Crooks (IN-08), Pam Gulleson (ND-AL), Nick Lampson (TX-14), Charlie Wilson (OH-06), and Rob Wallace (OK-02). Progressives like Nate Shinagawa, Lance Enderle, Syed Taj, Aryanna Strader, Rob Zerban and Lee Rogers-- all excellent, smart, independent-minded progressives (tendencies that Beltway reptiles hate)-- in districts Obama took in 2008 and will take again on November, in most cases by much bigger margins. This is what the Ventura County Star, the biggest newspaper in Ventura, had to say about the Lee Rogers/Buck McKeon race yesterday-- information Israel has worked very, very hard to suppress:
By objective political standards, the the election in the new 25th Congressional District should not be much of a contest. It is solidly Republican by voter registration (40.3 percent GOP, 35.1 percent Democratic), and the incumbent is a 10-term Republican, Rep. Buck McKeon, who hails from Santa Clarita, which is in the heart of the district.
But, there are some factors that could actually make things interesting in what on paper is a safe Republican district.
First is the fact that the longshot Democrat, Simi Valley podiatrist Lee Rogers, is much better funded than the typical challenger in a race such as this. Through the end of June, he had raised $236,543.
Second is the fact that there is at least a hint of scandal involving McKeon-- the fact that he received a favorable mortgage loan from Countrywide Financial at a time when the financial crisis was about to blow up. Regardless of whether McKeon sought favorable treatment, or whether it did or did not influence any of his votes, or even whether he was aware that he was receiving special treatment such as the waiver of fees, it is exactly the kind of situation that feeds into public anger about elected officials, whom they believe conduct their affairs under special sets of rules.
The issue is so potentially volatile that fellow California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, rushed to defend his colleague in the wake of a mailer and TV ad from the Rogers campaign that attack McKeon on the issue.
In a statement released to the press yesterday, and distributed by the McKeon campaign, Issa wrote: "I'm disappointed that Democrat Congressional Candidate Lee Rogers is using my image and embellishing the findings of a serious investigation of a mortgage company to attack my friend and colleague Buck McKeon. Buck is a man of great integrity, and Rogers' allegation that Buck's vote was somehow bought by Countrywide is at odds with the facts and certainly not something I found in my investigation of failed mortgage lender Countrywide."
The photo and comment used in the campaign material is taken from a 2009 Fox News interview with Issa on this issue in which he described the Countrywide VIP loans by saying, "I call them bribes." In the same interview, Issa noted that Countrywide had specifically sought out "people who could help them."
In response to Issa's statement, Rogers released one of his own:
"Our mailers and other ads are 100 percent accurate and quote Rep. Issa's report directly," Rogers said. "It's what Issa's press release didn't say that's most telling. He didn't deny that Buck McKeon received a favorable rate on his loan. He didn't deny that Buck McKeon knew he received special treatment. He didn't deny that Buck McKeon received a gift worth thousands of dollars which is not only banned under House rules, but also by law...
"It's really sad that Darrell Issa has spent all this time and taxpayer money uncovering the corruption that led to the mortgage meltdown, but he hasn't acted to bring anyone to justice or even to enact the recommendations in his own report."
It's a good bet Rogers will hammer on the Countrywide issue through Election Day. The fact that the district is newly drawn will make that effort potentially more potent because much of the district -- including the Simi Valley-- is territory in which McKeon is a relative stranger, meaning voters there have little or no historical context on which to judge the incumbent's character or ethics.
It remains to be seen how voters will react-- especially whether, even if they are concerned about the loans, the concern rises to the level that it would trump partisan considerations.
So what does all this have to do with the veal pen luncheon today at Hunan Dynasty? Alas, not much. The DCCC is hosting a gaggle of congressional candidates-- it's top choices-- in DC this week. Someone who doesn't know how much I hate reptiles invited me to one of the events, the one for DC progressives. This is how the DCCC plays the serious groups under the big tent in Washington. They have their list of mostly atrocious and corrupt "approved" candidates. They go to all the veal pen groups and say, "Here's the list of Democrats who we think have a chance to win. We know some of them are too conservative/progressive/anti-gay/anti-Choice"-- whatever fits the group they're talking to-- "so just pick the ones you feel good about and that's where we need your help." Of course, Israel has worked diligently to keep most of the really great candidates off the list so they don't even get considered. Every Blue Dog and every New Dem is on the list... of course. This is the attachment I got with my invitation this week.
Look at this insane list. Progressives? This is not a progressive list-- not by a longshot. This is a list of garden variety Democrats with a tiny sprinkling of progressives to dress it up a little. I'd trust David Gill (IL) in Congress, Annie Kuster (NH) and Joe Miklosi (CO), probably Lois Frankel (FL) and Raul Ruiz (CA). One or two others might turn out OK-- Kyrsten Sinema (AZ)... um... maybe Matt Cartwright (PA), maybe Pat Kreitlow (WI). But most of these people are New Dems-- Scott Peters (CA), Shelley Adler (NJ), Suzan DelBene (WA), Val Demings (FL), Jessica Ehrlich (FL), Keith Fitzgerald (FL), Patrick Murphy (FL-- not just a New Dem but, a lifelong Republican who switched parties to run... who remembers the disaster and tragedy called Tim Mahoney-- does no one ever learn anything?), Julian Schriebman (NY), Jamie Wall (WI), Dan Maffei (NY), Denny Heck (WA), Manan Trivedi (PA), Charlie Wilson (OH). Wilson's a New Dem and and Blue Dog. Others on the list are as bad or even worse... Ann Kirkpatrick, who was defeated after one disastrous term of voting with the GOP because Democrats in her district preferred to see a Republican win than to come vote for her in 2010. But Israel persuaded her to try again. Look, some of these people aren't bad people and might even make decent Members of Congress. But why call them "progressives" when they're not? Are they going to back Keith Ellison's Inclusive Prosperity Act? No. Are they going to vote for the People's Budget next year when the Congressional Progressive Caucus proposes it? No. Are they going to sign on to Boehner and Obama's Grand Bargain? Oh, YES!