Sunday, April 30, 2006



I was at a gathering of progressives recently and 3 national progressive leaders were addressing the room. They were on a raised dais and they were all witty and brilliant and obviously dedicated. One of them seemed to speak a teensy weensy bit disparagingly about "pre-2000 Democrats." The 3 progressive leaders were pre-2000 Republicans, now staunch Democrats. I have to admit I felt a twinge of resentment-- just a twinge, I swear-- but then I remembered: I wasn't born a Democrat either!

Just the way Stan's dad Randy declared that the whole Marsh family would henceforth be Mormon, my grandpa, the family patriarch, one day declared we were no longer Socialists but Democrats. I was even younger than Stan, so I didn't understand-- but I grew up a Democrat. There were no Republicans where I grew up-- unless they were in the closet. But I always remembered feeling proud that when my party ran candidates, the yard signs always proudly, boldly said DEMOCRAT; the Republican candidates never used to mention their party affiliation on their signs.

When I got to college-- a state University-- I met people from all over the state and there were some Republicans, though not many. In fact I was president of the Young Democrats on the campus (until I changed it-- much to the chagrin of DC-- into an SDS chapter) and I recall we had lots of members and the Young Republicans had like 10, 9 nerdy guys with pimples and a girl. (I just checked the yearbook.) I didn't hate them. They were kind of beneath contempt; the 9 nerdy guys were all very pro-War in VietNam but-- like Cheney-- they were on all student deferments.

After college I went to live abroad until Nixon was removed from Washington and there were no Republicans I ran into in Afghanistan or Nepal or Sri Lanka, nor in the meditation center I worked in for 4 years in Amsterdam. I didn't really get to interact with any until I sold my little indie record company to CBS in the early 80s. There was one there; he was a complete dick and the worst person I ever met and a coke freak and I learned a lot from him, like what to never do to an artist or an employee. (The first minute I ever met him he said to me, "I never had a problem with Richard Nixon. Did you?")

I'll tell you how committed I am to the Democratic Party. Aside from never once in my life having voted for one for anything-- and I never missed any election since I was 18, even when I had to ride down from the Hindu Kush to Kabul to find the American Embassy and vote there once-- I even held back the puke I felt rising in my craw to pull the lever in 2000 for the Democratic ticket (which was hard to do for me, considering Gore's two horrible choices: his censorship postergirl wife Tipper and his corrupt, moralistic hypocrite of a VP nominee, Joe Lieberman). I've grown up since then. I will never ever vote for a Lieberman again. No. Matter. What. Luckily for Holy Joe I don't live in Connecticut-- and lucky for the even-worse-the-Lieberman Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's putative senatorial nominee in Pennsylvania, Bob CaseyI don't live in PA either-- but in California, although I am helping to raise grassroots contributions for their progressive Democratic opponents, Ned Lamont and Chuck Pennacchio.

I just got back from a weekend in San Francisco where I picked up the Bay Guardian. There was a frontpage story on Pete McCloskey and his somewhat quixotic Republican primary campaign against what many people consider to be the post-DeLay U.S. House of Representative's absolute worst congressman, Richard Pombo. [Look, I don't want to get anyone angry at me who thinks that Bob Ney (OH), Jerry Lewis (CA), Duncan Hunter (CA), John Doolittle (CA), Katherine Harris (FL), Rahm Emanuel (IL), Pete Sessions (TX), Charles Taylor (NC), Curt Weldon (PA) or any number of evil doers in the House is as bad or even worse than Pombo; when it gets to measuring how horrible these people are, a point or two one way or the other barely registers. These are the worst of the worst, the absolute bottom of the barrel cesspool.]

Anyway, you may have noticed I stuck a "Democrat" on that list: Rahm Emanuel. If you're a DWT regular, you know I'm no more a fan of his than I am of his GOP mirror image, Tom DeLay. Emanuel is part of this story-- more so than Pete Sessions or Katherine Harris or Bob Ney. You see, Emanuel's DCCC has taken the extraordinary step of anointing a weak, former Republican, Steve Filson, who has nothing much to say beyond "Pombo is bad," in the midst of a spirited Democratic primary that features an exemplary grassroots, progressive candidate, massively favored by Democrats throughout the San Joaquin Valley (CA-11), Jerry McNerney.

Emanuel and his henchmen-- like Steny Hoyer and the agendaless, desperate-to-be-the-first-woman-Speaker-please-let-me-Rahm-I'll-do-anything Nancy Pelosi-- have been trying to make Filson's candidacy seem inevitable. But, unlike in many districts where their tactics have worked, Democrats in the 11th CD are too independent and feisty for them and have only pushed back harder against the anti-grassroots, anti-progressive, Inside-the-Beltway Democratic power elite. Filson's pathetic candidacy, despite all the big name Beltway-ites behind him, just has not taken off. McNerney just keeps getting stronger and stronger.

And today something really healthy for the 11th CD and for the California Democratic Party happened. The State Democratic Party Convention told Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, Ellen Tauscher and all the other power-for-power's sake Democrats to go screw themselves, voting overwhelmingly to endorse Jerry McNerney. Party rules-- not the ones Emanuel ignores by declaring war on grassroots candidates everywhere in the country, but California Democratic Party rules-- require 60% of the delegates' approval to endorse a candidate in a contested primary. 75% of the delegates voted to endorse McNerney, making it unclear whether or not Emanuel and Tauscher will tell their puppet candidate to pack it up now.

"I am very honored to receive the endorsement of the California Democratic Party. This  is the culmination of campaigning tirelessly over the last two years and working to  establish strong relationships with party leaders throughout the district," said McNerney.  The California Democratic Party endorsement follows significant endorsements for  McNerney from the 2-million member California Labor Federation and SEIU's California State Council, representing another 600,000. These are people seriously committed to defeating Pombo and who don't want some out-of-touch DC power brokers telling them what to do. This didn't come from Rahm Emanuel; listen to it. This kind of hard-hitting attack is how Pombo is going to be retired, not by following Emanuel's namby-pamby playbook that confuses voters and makes people unsure about the differences. Yes, Tom DeLay and protégées like Richard Pombo are grotesquely corrupt but what about Emanuel and his protégées? Yes, Pombo votes against consumers at every opportunity, but what about Emanuel? (He's not nearly as bad as Pombo, of course, but bad enough to make some voters stop and think and then say, not without reason, "they're all the same. Politicians in DC don't care about people like me.")

I'm going to say something sacrilegious now (which is why I wrote that big intro establishing some kind of Party bona fides for myself). I would just as soon support Pete McCloskey, where he to beat Pombo in the Republican primary, as unlikely as that is, as I would support a boss-backed shill like Steve Filson were he to win the Democratic primary, also unlikely. With today's brave and forthright action by the California Democratic Party, it is more likely than ever that a true blue Democrat, a grassroots and progressive one-- with crystal clear differences between himself and Pombo for voters to consider-- will be able to take Pombo on mano a mano and with support of all real Democrats.

May I recommend that we all show some support for Jerry's McNerney's campaign today-- and for the brave stand of the California grassroots in the face of Emanuel and the Beltway Insiders-- by donating $10 or $20 or whatever you feel like, directly to Jerry's fund-raising efforts through ACT BLUE.


Aside from Jerry, other non-incumbent congressional candidates endorsed at the Democratic Party Convention Sunday include Charlie Brown who has positioned himself to credibly battle John Doolittle in one of the most seriously gerrymandered Republican districts in the state (CA-04). Similarly, if less dramatically, the Convention endorsed Russ Warner, who already has pathetic GOP closet queen David Dreier (and his lover/over-paid chief of "staff") shivering in their boots over in CA-26. Louie Contreras got the official nod to take on Jerry Lewis who is, if anything, probably even more corrupt than either Pombo or Doolittle, just better and sneaking around and hiding it (CA-41). Over in CD-45 David Roth is the pick to take on GOP rubber-stamp and lightweight Sonny Bono's ex-wife (not Cher).

Bill Falzett got the go-ahead to take on Herger in CA-02, as did Bill Durston in CA-03 to take on the odious right-wing imbecile Dan Lungren. Neither T.J. Cox (CA-19), Steven Haze (CA-21), Jill Martinez (CA-24), Roberto Rodriguez (CA-25), Jim Brandt (CA-46), nor Jeeni Criscenzo (CA-49) had primary competition in their races to oust, respectively Radanovich, Nunes, reluctant Elton Galleghy Buck McKeon, bigoted right-wing psycho Dana Rohrbacher, and Darrell Issa.

Sharon Beery was endorsed over Ronald Carter to contest the open Republican seat in CA-22. Florice Hoffman got the nod over Christina Avalos to try to unseat Edward Royce (CA-40). Steve Young will face off against John Campbell in CA-48 again. Of course one of the Democrats big heroes, Francine Busby, got the nod to take on the Republican lobbyist scum they nominated to take Cunningham's seat. And there was no endorsement in the crowded field of candidates eager to challenge one of the GOP's arch-crooks, Duncan Hunter.

Oddly, there is no Democrat challenging Ken Calvert in CA-44, although he has been implicated in some of Randy "Duke" Cunningham's more nefarious plots, including a very suspicious trip to Saudi Arabia with some extremely crooked bribers.

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Damn You Tony Hendra!

Somewhere in the murky murkiness of my past religious insanity, I remember the day it occurred to me that believing in the return of Christ and the rapture was not only unscriptural, but downright irresponsible. It was giving up on the world and everything in it. It was laziness on a grand scale, and not only that but a shirking of responsibility not only for myself, but for my kids and grandkids. Because one day it came to me in a flash……well, ok maybe it did not flash at all, maybe it just seeped into a crack that was developing in my already overheated brain…. to wit… “What if it is all untrue?”

Shiza! That would mean that anything neglected that caused people to die or environments to be poisoned would be our fault. And, anyone killed over some belief that wars were meant to be….no, destined to happen would bloody my hands and the hands of every Christian touting this delusion as fact. In short, if we were wrong, how would we ever apologize to our children and grand children. And, to top it off, even if we were right about the events, but thousands of years or even hundreds of years off in the timing, we would still be culpable.

I wish I could say this was a sudden realization that made everything A-ok and that it cured my religious zealotry, but no. This realization came after years of focus on “end times” books and prophesies and the bible. The realization came after I had taught myself biblical Hebrew and after I had taken up a self-directed decade long study of the history, archaeology, and sociology of the biblical era. Not only that, I had read anything I could get my hands on of scholarly work on the nature of the scriptures, their formats and the Hebraisms contained in them. After all that effort, I could only conclude that much of the Revelation of John was not at all what Hal Lindsey had said it was. However, ole Hal made millions deluding and scaring the bejeezus out of people.

I’m sure you have to be wondering why someone who is religiously insane would do all of that extra work trying to back up the teachings of their church. Look, like Tony points out, this is a great gig if you can get it. No suffering, no death. It was akin to the worm holes on Deep Space Nine…the blessed poop shoot as it were straight to heaven. No mortal coils for us, no siree. But, the time I invested in it came from an uneasy feeling that it was too good to be true. Bad enough the Jesus and resurrection thing seemed everyone accepted that, but this….this had the feeling of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy to it and so far, life had pitched an 0 for 3 count on those characters.

I have not read Tony’s book (Costco, here I come), The Messiah of Morris Avenue, but I have just read his editorial on Huffington Post, but I say, “Damn you Tony Hendra!! That should have been my book!”

Sure I was busy diapering babies and wiping snotty noses, and then later finishing up college and struggling to support 4 kids on my own, but damn, it should have been my story to write. Or at the very least, I should have been in the loop. I know Tony had no way of knowing I was free now to collaborate with him, to hardy har har it up with him over the delicious joke played upon the unsuspecting ostrich like American public, to add my two cents worth to the twists and turns of his little novel. But, damn! What fun it would have been.

Of course, I forgive Tony, and in reality I say “Good on you Tony Hendra. It is about damn time someone wrote it.” I am angry with myself really. Until lately I fumed instead of writing. I fussed trying to figure out how to convince folks of something or other. I wasted time “discussing” but mostly cussing fools and trolls on the internet when I could have been playing with these crazy ideas and writing the comedy. We could all use a little levity during the dark reign of King George the Lesser. Let that be a lesson to me!

As for me, well, there seems to be no shortage of religious insanity out there. All of it is surprisingly public. Who would have thunk it? Surely, I can find something worth a comment or a story. I got a book in me, I swear. Sure…..oops, here come my grand daughters…..okay then, at least a column or two.

Saturday, April 29, 2006



My pal Danny sent me a copy of an open letter that his friend, Jeff Whitty, sent to Jay Leno. Jay Leno is no Jerry Falwell or Karl Rove. So why does he act like them?

Dear Mr. Leno,

My name is Jeff Whitty. I live in New York City. I'm a playwright and the author of "Avenue Q", which is a musical currently running on Broadway.

I've been watching your show a bit, and I'd like to make an observation:

When you think of gay people, it's funny. They're funny folks. They wear leather. They like Judy Garland. They like disco music. They're sort of like Stepin Fetchit as channeled by Richard Simmons.

Gay people, to you, are great material.

Mr. Leno, let me share with you my view of gay people:

When I think of gay people, I think of the gay news anchor who took a tire iron to the head several times when he was vacationing in St. Maarten's. I think of my friend who was visiting Hamburger Mary's, a gay restaurant in Las Vegas, when a bigot threw a smoke bomb filled with toxic chemicals into the restaurant, leaving the staff and gay clientele coughing, puking, and running in terror. I think of visiting my gay friends at their house in the country, sitting outside for dinner, and hearing, within hundreds of feet of where we sat, taunting voices yelling "Faggots." I think of hugging my boyfriend goodbye for the day on 8th Avenue in Manhattan, and being mocked and taunted by passing high school students.

When I think of gay people, I think of suicide. I think of a countless list of people who took their own lives because the world was so toxically hostile to them. Because of the deathly climate of the closet, we will never be able to count them. You think gay people are great material. I think of a silent holocaust that continues to this day. I think of a silent holocaust that is perpetuated by people like you, who seek to minimize us and make fun of us and who I suspect really, fundamentally wish we would just go away.

When I think of gay people, I think of a brave group that has made tremendous contributions to society, in arts, letters, science, philosophy, and politics. I think of some of the most hilarious people I know. I think of a group that has served as a cultural guardian for an ungrateful and ignorant America.

I think of a group of people who have undergone a brave act of inventing themselves. Every single out-of-the-closet gay person has had to say, "I am not part of mainstream society." Mr. Leno, that takes bigger balls than stepping out in front of TV-watching America every night. I daresay I suspect it takes bigger balls to come out of the closet than any thing
you have ever done in your life.

I know you know gay people, Mr. Leno. Are they just jokes to you, to be snickered at behind their backs? Despite the angry tenor of my letter, I suspect you're a better man than that. I don't bother writing letters to the "God Hates Fags" people, or Donald Wildmon, or the Pope. But I think you can do better. I know it's "The Tonight Show," not a White House press conference, but you reach a lot of people.

I caught your show when you had a tired mockery of "Brokeback Mountain," involving something about a horse done up in what you consider a "gay" way. Man, that's dated. I turned the television off and felt pretty fucking depressed. And now I understand your gay-baiting jokes have continued.

Mr. Leno, I have a sense of humor. It's my livelihood. And being gay has many hilarious aspects to it -- none of which, I suspect, you understand. I'm tired of people like you. When I think of gay people, I think of centuries of suffering. I think of really, really good people who've been gravely mistreated for a long time now.

You've got to cut it out, Jay.


Jeff Whitty
New York, NY

Friday, April 28, 2006

Paul Krugman reveals the identity of the federal government's "Crony Fairy" (hint: when you think of cronyism, who pops to mind?—no, WHICH Bush?)


Nobody has been more specific than Paul Krugman in making the connection between the right-wing philosophy that government doesn't work and the staffing of the current administration entirely with people who can't make government do anything right. In today's column, he takes on the new Senate committee report on responses to Hurricane Katrina, which recommends abolishing FEMA and creating a new agency from scratch within the Department of Homeland Security:

The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.

Once again, in response to the "NYT Columnists Held Hostage" campaign, I'm posting the full column as a comment. Here, reluctantly, I will just skip to the conclusion:

So let's skip the name change for FEMA, O.K.? The United States will regain effective government if and when it gets a president who cares more about serving the nation than about rewarding his friends and scoring political points. That's at least a thousand days away. Meanwhile, don't count on FEMA, or on any other government agency, to do its job.

Can Karl Rove and his henchmen really keep us common folk from reading about clown-style Republican antics on


Is there any way to measure when a merely suspicious mind has crossed the line into full-blown paranoia? (And even then, as it's often pointed out, paranoid people do have enemies.)

This morning I tried several times to click on the link in a newsletter to Al Kamen's "In the Loop" column, which is usually good for a chuckle or two. Each time, the website claimed to be unable to locate the page and seemed to be suggesting that I was making the whole thing up and might benefit from a brief liedown.

Instead of giving up, I typed "al kamen" into the proffered search window and was ultimately offered a link to the column, titled "A 'Commitment' Goes Only So Far." The column turns out to consist entirely of items that poke pretty good fun at Our Ruling Republicans.

The headline refers to the lead item, which tells the hilarious story of House Speaker Denny the Blimp Hastert taking a blocklong photo-op ride in an experimental GM hydrogen-powered car, then—apparently forgetting that mobilizing a corps of photographers was the whole point of the event—waddling into his Chevy Suburban for the long ride (as much as a couple of blocks) back to his office. Now, I'd already heard this morsel on the radio this morning courtesy of Rachel Maddow. But it's the kind of soul-satisfying story that makes you crack a smile however often you hear it.

The other items in today's "In the Loop"?

• "Good News Comes in Waves"—a report from the RNC website's steady dribble of good news from Iraq, that "Baghdad is to get its first water park and wave machine," thanks to the Scottish company Murphy's Waves.

Kamen comments: "What better way to cope with the coming brutally hot summer in Baghdad with temps hitting 120 degrees? In the prewar days you might have had air conditioning, but electricity is still not up to prewar levels—even to WWII levels."

• "Are You Expendable?"—an item brief enough that there seems no reason to paraphrase:

"The State Department, anxious to fill openings in Iraq, recently sent out a cable detailing job opportunities for spouses and other family members in Baghdad. Some—office managers, housing coordinators, cashiers and such—appear fairly safe, since they are in the Green Zone.

"But then there is 'Expendable Supply Manager.'

"The job doesn't appear to pay much, and it sounds as though they aren't going to care enough to provide any security for you."

Now what I can't help but wonder is:

Do you suppose that Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman really have tentacles that reach into to prevent websurfers from seeing Their GOP at Work—in full clown mode?



Wednesday there was a mini-revolt among the most docile and spineless Senate in contemporary American history. As revolts go, it wasn't really much of one. But for pathetic, rubber-stamp Republicans, especially the galoots up for re-election and desperate to show they are not what they are (rubber-stamp Republicans), it was wild and crazy.

Pouting and whiny, Bush threatened (zzzzzzzzzzzz...) to veto a pork-laden emergency spending bill unless the Republicans take out some of the excess pork. (Note: Bush, who threatens more than any president ever, has not even one time vetoed anything, making him clearly responsible-- along with his rubber-stamp Congress-- for the worst fiscal situation in American history and, obviously, the worst deficits. The senators laughed in his face and told him, basically, to "bring it on." They passed the horrendous bill by a veto-proof margin.

It was also a rejection by rank and file GOP senators of Bill Frist, the despised Majority Leader who most feel was foisted on them by Karl Rove. A complete Bush puppet and self-server who is not seeking re-election so he can pursue a now-farcical run for the White House in 2008, Frist is more likely to end up in the Big House than the White House. The man back-stabbed by Frist and Bush and pushed out of the majority Leader job when the mask he shares with nearly all Republican senators-- KKK-symp-- slipped off when he was boozed up at a public event honoring racist colleague Strom Thurmond, lead the way in humiliating Bush this weak.

"I might be humiliated by my constituents," taunted Trent Lott, keenly aware that 53% of his constituents do not approve of the job Bush has done, "but not the president." The bill's biggest hunk of pork is a railroad rebuilding project for a privately-owned railroad in Mississippi which is being pushed by Lott and the equally corrupt and slimy Thad Cochran. "The very idea," continued Lott with visible disdain for the mentally challenged leader of his party, "that presidents, Republican or Democrat, have the only say over what is in a budget, is outrageous." Perhaps chiding Bush for how he came to power, Lott continued, "I got elected. I was here when Bush got here, and I'll probably be here when he's gone." He called Bush's veto threat "totally irrelevant... He's probably under pressure to veto something. Thank you for your input, Mr. President."

Despite Frist's best efforts to support Bush's position, the bill passed 72-26 in the Republican-dominated Senate. About half the Republicans voted against Bush's position, many hoping they could use this to prove to skeptical voters with long memories that they are not Bush rubber-stampers.



Who's the best U.S. Senator? A case is often made among progressives that it's California's fiery Barbara Boxer. She's my Senator and I'm very proud she stands up to the Bush Regime more than anyone else in the Senate. Only two U.S. Senators have formally signed on as co-sponsors of Russ Feingold's resolution to censure Bush: Tom Harkin and Barbara Boxer. And only one U.S. Senator stood with the progressive, committed believers in democracy from the congressional Black Caucus to challenge Bush's theft of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio: Barbara Boxer, forever earning her the respect from, and endearing her to, progressives from around the country.

So this morning when I got an e-mail that led me to Senator Boxer's PAC FOR A CHANGE, I clicked right on it. Grrrrrr... Not what you want to see from the Democrat's putatively most progressive senator-- and certainly not something you would see from a sharper politician. I've written about "the Boxer flaw" before. (Senate staffers rate her intellectual capabilities at the very bottom of the barrel-- almost as dumb as Rick Santorum, the Senate's stupidest man, and, basically, in the same league with the 2-digit IQ club of George Allen and Jim Inhofe. But, like people used to say about Teddy Kennedy when he was first elected, being a great senator goes beyond mere intellectual capacity. Like Kennedy-- more so in fact-- Boxer has great instincts for fairness and justice.) Damned but does she need better political advice!

I wrote her a letter today and asked her where she came up with the list of incumbent Democrats she's asking us to contribute money to (through her PAC). Every single one of them is a right-of-center, corporate-oriented, endangered Democratic incumbent, endangered because they are all Republican-lite members of Congress who don't bother to offer a clear choice to voters. Everyone one of them is the kind of Democrat who wrecks, to one extent or another, the Democratic Party brand. And I knew exactly where the most progressive senator in America is getting her miserable advice-- the reactionary, anti-progressive, anti-grassroots DCCC boss, Rahm Emanuel. Key give-away: were Boxer doing her own research she would have definitely included endangered Democratic incumbent Julia Carson (IN), who votes a lot like Boxer (and not at all like Emmanuel and the corporate stooges he's gotten Boxer to shill for). The 10 incumbents on her list include Jim Marshall(GA), an aggressive Bush Regime war defender-- as bad as Lieberman-- who in early November broke ranks with the House Democratic caucus and provided Republicans with the one-vote margin of victory to prevent a serious investigation into the Bush Regime's lies and deceptions surrounding the lead up to their attack and occupation of Iraq. I wonder if Boxer even knows that she's asking her donors to contribute to that instead of to needy Democrats like Carson who also face tough challenges from the GOP.

And, like I said, all the Democrats on her list-- 100% of them-- are, at best, non-progressive: besides Marshall, John Salazar (CO), John Barrow (GA), Leonard Boswell (IA), Melissa Bean (IL), Charlie Melancon (LA), John Spratt (SC), Stephanie Herseth (SD), Chet Edwards (TX), Rick Larsen (WA). Am I advocating the defeat of these candidates? ABSOLUTELY NOT (at least not in general elections against Republicans). But does that mean that thinly stretched, grassroots resources should be directed, from one of the-- if not the-- Senate's most progressive superstars to the congressional Democrats Bush has been most able to count on to vote for his war and occupation policies, for his horrendous economic policies, for CAFTA, for much of his hare-brained and distrastous corporate agenda that has been so destructive to our country, our party and to the Democratic values we hold dear: Opportunity, Fairness, Investment (in people and our future)?

She also has a category for challengers and at least she includes some actual progressives along with the Emanuel/DCCC stooges. I recommend you click on over there and vote for one of the good ones, like Francine Busby (CA), Lois Murphy (PA), Eric Massa (NY), Peter Welch (VT), or Joe Sestak (PA). As for Barbara, she ought to take a look at the difference between grassroots progressive Gretchen Clearwater(IN) and Rahm Emanuel conservative Dem Baron Hill before she asks her supporters to shell out money for someone like Hill.

Thursday, April 27, 2006



Today's Hill carries a story about the DCCC's Red to Blue project. DCCC head Rahm Emanuel, probably destined to be the Tom DeLay of a Democratically-controlled House, revealed the names of 22 Democrats, many of whom still have to face primaries from grassroots Democrats, who he is supporting. This completely contravenes Democratic Party rules about not interfering in primary contests. This is also a harbinger of what kind of sleaze Democrats can expect from the current Inside-the-Beltway leadership.

“This is an exclusive program that rewards the candidates and campaigns that are most skilled, not only at raising money on their own, but at getting their message across to the voters they hope to represent,” Emanuel wrote. Like most of what comes out of Emanuel's mouth, this is a total lie. These are just his pet candidates-- for one reason or another (and some, to be sure, are great-- like Francine Busby, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Lois Murphy)-- and they do not meet the criterion he always lays out about raising money and being the most skilled.

In northern California's hottest race (CA-11), the challenger favored by grassroots Democrats-- and probably the only Democrat who could beat the arguably worst unindicted Republican in Congress, Dick Pombo-- is not Emanuel's pathetic shill candidate (Steve Filson) but progressive Jerry McNerney. McNerney is too independent-minded and too unbossed for Emanuel's tastes but Democrats in the San Joaquin Valley value independence more than centralized party dictatorship and Emanuel's candidate has virtually no support inside the district whatsoever.

Emanuel, a corporately-oriented Democrat, once Bill Clinton's heavy-handed point-man on NAFTA, threatens challengers who try to campaign against Bush's occupation of Iraq. He represents the very worst of the Democratic Party, the kind of oozing pus sore that make independents shrink from political participation thinking that all politicians are corrupt, regardless of party. Emanuel is the #1 brand-killer for the Democratic Party and Nancy Pelosi is too weak (and ambitious) to stop him.

Another brand killer for Democrats, Adam Schiff of Glendale, CA, who has been practically begging for a primary challenge with his pro-war, pro-Bush voting record in a progressive L.A. district, has been picked by Emanuel, his ideological compadre, to "mentor" the candidates. The Emanuel-blessed candidates are Darcy Burner (WA), Phyllis Busansky (FL), Francine Busby (CA), Joe Courtney (CT), John Cranley (OH), Jill Derby (NV), Tammy Duckworth (IL), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Diane Farrell (CT), Steve Filson (CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Tessa Hafen (NV), Baron Hill (IN), Mary Jo Kilroy (OH), Ron Klein (FL), Ken Lucas (KY), Patsy Madrid (NM), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Chris Murphy (CT), Lois Murphy (PA), Heath Shuler (NC), and Peter Welch (VT).

Grassroots Democrats and progressives should avoid the DCCC and DSCC like the plague it is and only contribute to individual candidates. In fact, today would be a particularly good day to make a contribution to Jerry McNerney's campaign and let the Inside-the-Beltway power whores know that they do not own the Democratic Party; the people do!

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Tony Guzzi is a DWT reader from New Jersey-- born and raised (Rutgers). He escaped corporate culture recently and works in cartoon art now-- I'm hoping he can get us some artwork when Adam goes on his inevitable every-week-is-spring-break drunken binges and we're reduced to stealing images from Google.  A concerned dad of three, Tony wants his kids to grow up in a safe, sane and rational world. He's a Paul Hodes enthusiast and I invited him to do a guest blog on the importance of Paul Hodes' campaign to replace the odious rubber-stamp Republican Charlie Bass.

Hodes the Phone! Where did my rights go?
-Tony Guzzi

For two days this past March, I attended a children’s entertainment conference in NYC called Braincamp. The seminar, hosted by noted entertainment attorney Howard Leib of New York, is a confab for the free exchange of ideas between the neophytes like me, industry veterans and a roster of executives who provide insight into the direction of education/entertainment entities like Nickelodeon, Disney, PBS and Frederator.  Going to Braincamp is an opportunity to soak up valuable information and trends from some very intelligent folks. This year, however, I got something extra out of it. I’ll share more about that in a minute, but for now some background.

The first Braincamp I attended was actually last year, right around the time when a show called Postcards from Buster, airing on PBS and produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment, raised the ire of the newly installed Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. An episode entitled ‘Sugartime’ saw our friend Buster traveling to the great state of Vermont and sending back a postcard to his friends about the process involved in creating maple syrup. Nothing sinister so far, unless you don’t like maple syrup, but then, lo and behold, the program, a blend of live action documentary footage and animation, had the temerity to show a same sex couple and their child. All in the course of showing how maple syrup is made.

Mrs. Spellings, under pressure from her own bigoted outlook and activist Christian groups, among others, demanded that any federal money used to produce the show by PBS be returned. She was quoted as saying at the time, "…many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode." True enough.   By the same token, then, many parents can change the channel. Also, many parents don’t mind exposing their children to the real life, inclusive and open life-style shown in this episode. That is called FREEDOM of choice.

Sadly, under the chilling pressure of this funding blackmail, PBS decided not to air the episode, but member stations in New York and Boston (WGBH), aired the episode despite the attempts at censorship.

Prior right wing Christian attempts to disparage children’s entertainment as subversive efforts at poisoning youths’ minds were ultimately dismissed as the folly they were. Remember Jerry Falwell and the purple Teletubby. I do. Remember James Dobson’s lament that Spongebob Squarepants was introducing homosexuality into our schools? I do. However, the difference between those unbelievable examples and Mrs. Spellings’ foray into censorship is twofold. She is an officer of the United States Government, sworn to uphold the Constitution. Not diminish it. Remember All Men Are Created Equal. I do. She wants to tell everyone what their children should be able to see! She might as well stand in your home and change the channels with the remote! You are just the ignorant parent!

In addition, the hypocrisy of someone who had no problem spending taxpayer dollars to pay for propaganda and fake news stories about the crap that is the No Child Left Behind Act is galling. Mrs. Spellings, via a deal with the Ketchum Group, paid commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to tout the merits of the NCLB Act on his TV and Radio shows as if it were his true belief of its benefits. Not to mention that Mrs. Spellings was a co-author of the legislation. How is that for a conflict of interest? You can’t make this stuff up. Paid propaganda. Probably illegal to boot. “Questions have been raised about that arrangement, it ought to be looked into, and there are ways to look into matters of that nature,” said Scott McClellan, White House liarperson. Sure, sure. What ever happened to this ‘investigation’?

As the once funny Dennis Miller used to say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off on a rant there…” but the point of all of this, then, is that at that first Braincamp I attended, I was angry and disturbed by the actions of the Secretary of Education and figured the whole affair might be afforded a bigger reflection at the seminar. To my dismay, in response to a question to an executive from Cookie Jar Entertainment about the affair, there was only a brief discussion about the censorship of PBS and ultimately it was generally agreed upon that this was an aberration. I honestly didn’t believe so.

Fast forward to this year’s Braincamp. More examples of governmental censorship, FCC indecency fines and paid propaganda were prevalent in the year’s time between sessions. So, I was happily surprised that some of the discussion turned on several occasions towards the need to create a rational voice in Washington that could explain and espouse to the lawmakers both the quality of entertainment being created for children and to refute the hysteria and misinformation being spread by groups like the Family Research Council.

This finally brings me to the something extra I mentioned above. At the close of the two days, amid the thanks and information exchange, Mr. Leib mentioned a cause in relation to a candidate for Congress from the New Hampshire 2nd District by the name of Paul Hodes. As a friend and colleague of Mr. Hodes, Howard Leib spoke of the competent ability and unique viewpoint Mr. Hodes would bring to bear in Washington. I took note and left the meetings hopeful for a lot of reasons.

So, as both a concerned parent and an aspiring creator of children’s entertainment, I began researching Mr. Hodes background and based on what I found, learned that Mr. Leib was right about this candidate’s integrity, credentials and unique qualifications. Not to mention that he could supplant a rubber stamping Republican incumbent in Charlie Bass.

Putting it all together, I realized I was still stinging from the level of Margaret Spellings’ hypocrisy and heavy handed approach to PBS. That despicable behavior, coupled with the growing intrusion into the privacy of parents everywhere by groups like the Family Research Council, pushed me to take action. When I found the post here on DWT about the rubber stamping Mr. Bass’ stance against keeping the internet neutral, and Mr. Hodes opportunity to win in that District, I knew I had to act by working for a candidate I feel will give progressive parents, in New Hampshire and beyond, a voice that is, “committed to cleaning up the culture in Washington that places the interests of a very few above the rights of all Americans.” Visit for more info!

-Tony Guzzi

And in honor of Tony's guest blog, we just started an ACT BLUE Page for Paul Hodes. Please help in any way you can. He has pretty much been running neck-and-neck with Bass for campaign contributions, but, if patterns hold on, any day now a huge chunk of bribes corporate donations will fatten Bass' campaign coffers considerably. Hodes doesn't have Big Business to depend on-- only us.


David over at Swing State Project makes the case today about why Paul Hodes is a much stronger candidate this time. And SpongeBob Squarepants contributes to Hodes' campaign.



Star A. Decise is a fan of DWT and the author of The Engimatic Paradox, where Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" meets The New York Times' "Week in Review." The blog covers media and politics with a keen eye for humor and hypocrisy. It has an insider's knowledge but retains the public's skepticism. If you look on the blogroll you'll see it. Star agreed to cross-post this awesome Ned Lamont story for us. (Oh, and if reading Star gives you the urge to help out our country by helping Ned Lamont get into the Senate, please consider the DWT ACT BLUE Page, where you can become part of a nationwide movement of people chipping in $5 and $10 and $20 contributions that counter-balance the gigantic bribes corporations pay Lieberman to vote for their pet projects and for policies they favor.)

Once a political backwater with little import and even less voice, Connecticut is emerging as a national bellwether in the 2006 campaign with a chance of influencing the outcome of races across the country.

The key is the Nutmeg Senate race. But that’s caught Democrats on the horns of dilemma – whether to support one of the country’s reigning political powers, Senator Joe Lieberman, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000, or his primary challenger, the political neophyte Ned Lamont, a Greenwich cable magnate.

The opening rounds in the primary battle have pitted Democratic activists squarely against state and national leaders. The hierarchy sees Lamont’s campaign as a pyrrhic quest that will wreak havoc no matter the outcome. But for Democratic activists, set adrift by the party’s identity crisis and its mushy message, Lamont’s challenge is priceless, Viagra for the party’s backbone and a chance to rediscover what Democratic means.

The Washington and Hartford criticism has twin thrusts: Lamont, who has established surprising momentum, will devour energy and resources needed to defeat the state’s three Republican representatives, all of whom are considered vulnerable. And that, the critics lament, could cost Democrats a chance to retake control of the House. Many Democrats say it’s simply too big a risk, even if 'Elasticman,' as Lieberman is known, has stretched what it means to be a Democrat beyond recognition.

This hyper-cautious approach stems from Republicans’ control of “everything,” to steal Jon Stewart’s memorable phrase. It has turned Democrats into Washington’s equivalent of cheerleaders, functionaries who can kick and shout but can’t directly affect any legislation. But with control of at least one lever of government, Democrats would command committees and have the power to issue subpoenas, making them a check in the constitutionally anticipated ‘checks and balances.’

Control of the House would allow Democrats to brake, if not stop, Republican’s most extreme legislative impulses, participate in drafting the Congressional agenda and investigate the administration’s most egregious ethical and legal lapses. It would open the door to Congressional hearings on Bush’s domestic wiretapping and his use of intelligence as a political cudgel. And, ultimately, it would pave the way for the House to consider the nuclear option – impeachment.

That’s led party officials in Hartford and Washington to line up cheek by jowl with Lieberman. But their attitude seems anachronistic, myopic and overly influenced by a natural hesitancy to turn on a longtime colleague. Rather than devouring resources, Lamont’s campaign is unleashing infectious energy that could propel Democrats to victory – both in Connecticut and across the country. So rather than cost Democrats the House, it’s likely that Lamont boosts their chances of picking up the 15 seats needed to recapture control.

The Greenwich businessman already has started to arouse the base and to attract Connecticut residents whose disgust with Bush in specific and politics in general had led them to turn off and tune out. Like Gene McCarthy in 1968 or Howard Dean in 2004, Lamont’s appeal sprouted among the political dandelions - those so angry that they were unlikely to get involved with – or vote for – anyone else. Lamont undoubtedly will absorb some resources that might have flowed to the Democrats challenging the incumbent Republican representatives. That’s especially problematic for Chris Murphy, the state senator running against the dean of the Connecticut delegation, Nancy Johnson, the pharmaceutical industry’s favorite daughter whose image as a beloved grandmother has survived her metamorphosis into the wicked witch of the far right.

But, at worst, it’s a temporary roadblock. The Lamont challenge is a primary battle: it will flourish or flounder long before the November election. If Lamont loses, as is currently predicted, Connecticut’s Democratic House candidates will have ample opportunity to recoup and to build on the nascent organization established by the defeated Lamont campaign. So their momentary handicap should be balanced by an expected surge from newly animated Lamont workers. And if Lamont wins, his victory will capture national attention and is likely to enthuse legions of anti-Bush voters - both in Connecticut and in other states. A Lamont primary victory will create the closest thing there is to a national bandwagon in an off-year election and will counter the widespread sense that Democrats stand for nothing. And that could be priceless, an incalculably important benefit to Democratic efforts around the country.

Under the Skin
Still, Democratic leaders in Washington and Hartford fret about the local impact of a Lamont victory. They hope that Lieberman, who is more popular among registered Republicans than among members of his party, will attract GOP voters who will then vote for the Democratic slate in what might be called “the flypaper” philosophy of politics. But it’s a desperate idea - probably a fantasy. Lieberman will certainly win many Republican votes. But while a complex ballot may have befuddled elderly Floridians, it’s unlikely that many Connecticut Republicans will make a similar mistake and vote a straight Democratic line. After giving the nod to their ideological soul mate, Republicans will jump across party lines and split their ballot by voting for their incumbent representative.

So Lieberman is more likely to be a Democratic Trojan horse than a tow truck for the party’s ticket: Republican turnout in the general election is likely to climb if the senator heads the Democratic ticket while Democratic turnout probably will fall. So Lieberman’s name at the top of the ballot may help Connecticut’s three Republican incumbent representatives by depressing Democratic votes. In the worst case scenario, it’s reasonable to argue that Lieberman could cost Democrats three House seats in Connecticut and several more in other states.

That’s the real risk of Lieberman’s campaign. It’s serious enough that even Democrats outside Connecticut should ignore the party’s hierarchy and marshal support for Lamont.



Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey and the American people-- or at least the non-billionaires among us-- had a bad day yesterday. Two really important amendments Markey had introduced-- one in the Energy and Commerce Committee and one in the Homeland Security Committee-- were defeated by the Republican rubber-stampers who control Congress on behalf of Bush and his coporate backers.

Energy and Commerce dealt with the Telecoms bid to takeover the running of the Internet with the express purpose of making its operation a corporate profit center. Basically the entire Republican caucus supports this and all but a few bought out Democrats oppose it. The bought out Democrats-- Al Wynn (MD), Charlie Gonzales (TX), Bobby Rush (IL), Ed Towns (NY), and Gene Green (TX), all of whom are scumbags on the Telecom gravy train-- joined with the Republicans and killed Markey's net neutrality bill. Now it will be dealt with by the Senate.

The action in the Homeland Security Committe was even more dire. Committee Chairman Peter King (Long Island GOP sleazeball) utterly sold out his duty to national security by going along with Big Business carrot-and-stick demands that Markey's amendment to require scanning of all shipping containers be killed. King and the rubber-stamp Republicans duly killed it.

Markey, like most Americans not on the payroll of big shipping companies, wants 100% scanning of American-bound containers. After hearing from their corporate masters, King and the Republicans poo-poo-ed the idea. Wow, won't King be embarrassed if an American port winds up with a dirty bomb! A lot of bad stuff happens when Repblican are in power. Have you noticed?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006



Unless you're a Zell Miller/Joe Lieberman type of make-believe Democrat, Jane Harman is probably not someone you want to see re-elected to Congress from her safely blue Democratic Los Angeles seat (CA-36) which runs from San Pedro to Redondo Beach to Venice. In a perfectly apt self-description, Harman has called herself "the best Republican in the Democratic Party." And although Joe Lieberman might debate her on that, her voting record is even more reactionary and more rubber-stamp Bush than even his!

The multi-millionaire Harman is a hawk on Iraq and supports Bush on the disastrous occupation. Not coincidentally, almost every one of her big campaign contrbutors are arms merchants. She voted for the Constitution-shredding "Patriot Act" twice and she was one of only four Democrats briefed on Bush's illegal warrantless domestic spying program. (Tellingly, when that program was finally revealed by the NEW YORK TIMES, Harman expressed outrage... not at the Bush Regime, of course, but at the TIMES, for making the American people aware of what she, Bush and other anti-democratic traitors were doing in secrecy.

This is a safe Democratic seat. Bush got his wimpy ass kicked by Kerry 60/40 in 2004 and the Republicans, perfectly content to keep their pal Harman in the seat, have a pathetic challenger sacrificial lamb named Brian Gibson who hasn't even bothered to put up a website. (He naps a lot and is said to be hoping for a Republican tsunami of support for Bush to defeat all Democrats in California and place him in Congress.)

On the other hand, there is a far more palatable way to get rid of the odious Harman. Much like Ned Lamont's courageous challenge to Lieberman in Connecticut, Marcy Winograd has decided to offer Democrats from Venice to Torrance a real choice in the June primary. Marcy, whose supporters were able to prevent the State Democratic Party from endorsing Harman, has been endorsed by Ron Kovic, Tom Hayden, Gore Vidal, Ed Asner, Cindy Sheehan, Tim Goodrich, Jim Hightower, Mimi Kennedy, Ed Begley, Jr., Mike Farrell, Howard Zinn, Stanley Sheinbaum, Dan Ellsberg, Robert Greenwald and scores of local Democratic clubs, as well as the local Democracy for America and Progressive Democrats For America and the Western Region of the United Auto Workers.

After reading Marcy's diary at MyDD I decided to start an ACT BLUE page for her. What got me so excited? Here, take a look yourself: "President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, I am running to replace pro-war incumbent Jane Harman in California's 36th Congressional District. I run with a great sense of urgency, for we stand on the precipice of losing our democracy, of sinking a trillion-dollars into Iraq, of launching another war in Iran, of developing over 100 new nuclear bombs each year, and of shredding the Constitution. Everywhere I travel in the 36th District, a 30-mile urban stretch from San Pedro up through Venice and Mar Vista, a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 40,000 votes, people stop me in the street, in elevators, at meetings to ask, 'Where are the Democrats? Why aren't they speaking out?'

"I assure them this Democrat, Marcy Winograd, is speaking out passionately, challenging the leadership of the Democratic Party to stand for the possibility of peace, for the rule of law, and for a brighter day when we reject pre-emptive war and, instead, engage the world community in tackling illiteracy, AIDS, and poverty, all the while engaging our own citizens in redefining security as universal affordable health care, quality education to close the achievement gap, and environmental protection to cool the threat of global warming.

"Some ask, 'Have you ever been elected to office?' and I tell them, 'No, isn't that great? I have no investment in the status quo, in the power of the Beltway.' Quite the contrary. I have spent the last three years on the ground, knee deep in the grassroots, organizing town hall forums and congressional lobby delegations to end the US occupation of Iraq.

"As Co-Founder of the California Election Protection Network, I have stood on the frontlines of the movement to ensure our votes are not gobbled up by hackable electronic voting machines and to keep a close eye on a Republican Secretary of State who waltzed into office with a Diebold lobbyist on his transition team.

"I am relentless, unstoppable, moved by a deep sense of conviction that the Bush agenda of eternal war is not the answer, and that it will take a groundswell of both outrage and hope to lead our nation back to sanity, to strengthen the Democratic Party, and to ensure the Party stands for something other than accommodation to those who rush to war and pledge allegiance to a false sense of patriotism.
"A former LA County Democrat of the Year, I managed a Democratic Club headquarters in Santa Monica during the 2004 election and helped launch Swing State Sisters, a group of women who traveled to Arizona and Florida to GOTV for Kerry. Never again will I support someone who waffles so treacherously on the question of war and peace, particularly when the war in question is wrapped in a package of lies by men who want to build a corporate empire via a sanitized notion of regime change.

"Now is the time for all of us to summon the activist, the humanitarian, and the visionary inside ourselves. Yes, we must invest our precious time and energy into taking back Congress, but not without a commitment to peace, to leaving this world a better place for our children and our children's children, not without seizing the reigns from leaders, be they Democrat or Republican, who climb into bed with war profiteers and then masquerade as advocates for the people.

"To those of you who remain skeptical, who argue that a grassroots activist cannot claim victory over a $550,000 six-term incumbent, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee-- Jane Harman, the same woman who boasted she was flattered to be considered the best Republican in the Democratic Party, to those of you who say the people cannot prevail over entrenched power and influence, I say, 'Join the hundreds of volunteers walking precincts from Venice to San Pedro, stand with me and Cindy Sheehan and Daniel Ellsberg and Ron Kovic and Fernando Suarez del Solar and Ed Begley and Ed Asner and Howard Zinn and Jim Hightower and Mimi Kennedy and Tim Carpenter and Lila Garrett and feel the excitement in the air, and hark back to the day weeks ago when we blocked my opponent's endorsement by delegates to the Democratic Party or the day that the rank and file of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the California Federation of Teachers, now mindful that their leadership had knee-jerked endorsed a pro-war incumbent, said NO, we reject this candidate, we rescind our endorsement. Yes, hark back to the day when the Sierra Club could not muster enough votes for Harman after hearing me, Marcy Winograd, speak of war and nuclear proliferation as the worst environmental crimes imaginable, and know that the time is ripe for change and that the people are hungry for real leadership and that Winograd for Congress will prevail. Be part of this movement electrifying the grassroots, contribute, endorse, volunteer, blog away. Join Winograd for Congress ( as we sprint to the finish.'"

She sounds good to me and, although I recognize what a tough journey it is for a grassroots progressive to go up against an entrenched Inside-the-Beltway incumbent, if anyone can do it, it is Marcy Winograd. Click here if you'd like to send Marcy some support.

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I've been watching apprehensively as the Beltway Republican machine fell in line behind GOP politician-turned-lobbyist who wants to turn politician again, Brian Bilbray. They have financed a vicious, misleading and massive-- $800,000-- negative attack campaign against good-government reformer Francine Busby down in CA-50 (northern San Diego County), where she hugely outpaced Bilbray in the first round of voting a few weeks ago. The new ads they are running-- completely false and over the top (trying to paint Busby-- an educator who has devoted her life to protecting children and fighting for their welfare-- as sympathetic to child pornographers). These GOP smear tactics, when backed by enough money, have been very effective in shaking confidence and determination among voters in the past.

So I should be happy to be reading the spate of stories recently about how the Democrats have been out-raising the Republicans this year. I'm glad the Democrats have been raising a lot of money, although I've seen Rahm Emanuel's corrupt, DeLay-like and Stalinist DCCC squander much of it attacking progressive and grassroots candidates to make room for Republican-lite shills and stooges who mirror his own reactionary Inside-the-Beltway politics. Democratic Party rules about letting districts pick their own candidates have been scrupulously observed by Howard Dean and the DNC and completely cast aside by the craven Chicago and NY party bosses Emanuel and Chuck Schumer.

But something scares me even more about this great influx of money. The small contributions coming in to candidates like Ned Lamont and Francine Busby, and even right-of-center Dems like Ben Nelson, from the grassroots warms my heart. The tainted sleaze factor money pouring in-- while much needed between now and November-- also scares me. Bloomberg just reported that the Inside the Beltway sleazy Democrats beat the Inside the Beltway sleazier Republicans in 2005 fundraising on Wall Street. "Democrats outdid Republicans last year in attracting political donations from investment banks, brokerages and fund managers for the first time since 1994, helped by support from hedge funds and companies such as Merrill Lynch & Co. Democrats got $13.6 million, or 52 percent of the financial industry's $26.3 million in political donations in 2005, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan Washington group that researches the influence of money on elections and public policy. In the two years leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Republicans received 52 percent of the $91.6 million given by the industry.

The money barons don't hand out money because they favor good government or Democratic Party grassroots values. God only knows what pigs like Emanuel and Schumer are promising to get their hands on this stuff!

The BLOOMBERG story paints a nice picture when they bring up an anecdote by progressive Torrey Funds chairman James Torrey. "Wall Street wants change'' on issues such as the Iraq war and the budget deficit. "I'm finding people who are registered Republicans who are saying to me, 'what can I do to help?'" BLOOMBERG further points out that Bush's catastrophic occupation of Iraq and the blatant corruption by the Republicans in Congress and in the Executive Branch "have helped drive President George W. Bush's public approval ratings to the lowest point of his presidency. That has spurred donations to Democrats."

But when you start digging down a little into the story, it gets less cheery. A big part of the Democratic success has to do with some of the worst elements inside the Democratic Establishment. "Hillary Clinton and Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, both Democrats facing re-election this year, were the two most successful fund-raisers in 2005 on Wall Street, said Sheila Krumholz, acting executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. Senator Charles Schumer, also of New York, heads the Democratic fund-raising arm in the Senate."

A good example of how this sleazy business works is the picture BLOOMBERG paints of Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack's giving habits. A Bush Ranger-- he raised over $200,000 for BushCheney in 2004-- Mack gave Hillary's Senate campaign $4,000, his biggest donation to an individual politician. Has he seen the light? You tell me. He also contributed $1,000 to corrupt, far right maniac Rick Santorum. Furthermore, the article points out, that "while the industry's trend is to give more to Democrats, firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the world's second- and third-biggest securities firms by market value, have boosted their giving to Republicans in the past year... So far this cycle, Morgan Stanley's PAC has given 71 percent of its donations to Republican candidates, its highest proportion ever, according to PoliticalMoneyLine."

And, ominously, the story ends with the inevitable warning: "Still, if Democrats take control of at least one house of Congress, bankers and fund managers will have to cultivate relationships among a new set of committee leaders, some of whom have ideas about taxation and regulation that may not be well-received in the industry. 'I would imagine that is one of the calculations they are making now' when financial-industry leaders are planning their donations for the rest of the year." No doubt-- and no doubt they will feel very soothed talking to the likes of Lieberman, Emanuel, Schumer and Clinton, people not known for rocking any corporate boats.

In a not unrelated matter, today's NY TIMES has an editorial about the Republican's sham ethics reform bill, which the TIMES is properly calling "The Lobbyist Empowerment Act." This disgraceful piece of anti-citizen garbage almost makes the Democratic leadership's tepid and pathetic attempts at pseudo-reform look decent. Basically it's the difference between an F for the Republicans and a C- for the Democrats. Sure a C- is better than an F but... not that much better. To me it's just the Inside the Beltway Dems and their horrid, always-sure-to-lose consultants once again playing into Republican hands by not distinguishing themselves from the Inside-the-Beltway Republicans. (Of course, how could they when the Inside the Beltway monsters of both parties have more in common with each other than they do with their own constituents?)

"The House Republican leaders," rails the TIMES, "managed a new feat of cravenness during the recent recess, hollowing out their long promised 'lobbying reform' bill to meet the dictates of-- who else?-- Washington's power lobbyists. During two weeks of supposed inactivity, the leadership bill was chiseled down at the behest of K Street to an Orwellian shell of righteous platitudes about transparency and integrity. The measure to be debated this week has been stripped of provisions to require full disclosure of lobbyists' campaign fundraising powers and V.I.P. access in Congress. The measure buries all attempts at instituting credible ethics enforcement in the House. The nation should not be fooled. The proposal is a cadaverous pretense that Congress has learned the corrupting lessons of Jack Abramoff, the disgraced superlobbyist; Representative Tom DeLay, the fallen majority leader; and Duke Cunningham, the imprisoned former congressman. It makes a laughingstock of the pious promises of last January to ban privately financed junketeering by lawmakers. Instead, these adventures in quid pro quo lawmaking would be suspended only temporarily, safe to blossom again after the next election. The bill's cosmetic requirements for limited disclosure are overshadowed by the brazen refusal to plug the loopholes for lobbyists' gifts or to end their lavish parties for 'honoring' our all too easily seduced lawmakers. The G.O.P. leaders can't even marshal the courage to rein in the shameful use of corporate jets by pliant lawmakers. It's hard to believe that members of Congress mindful of voters' diminishing respect would attempt such an election-year con. One Republican proponent had the gall to argue that we mustn't 'chill' the right of lobbyists, the ultimate insiders, to petition government."



When the rumors were just whispers I had to assure DWT readers that I wasn't making a late April Fools Joke when I said Tony Snow had been felt out by Josh Bolten to play Scotty McClellan's role in a reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic. Well, today it becomes official.

I guess Bush and President Bolten don't mind that Snow referred to Bush as "an embarrassment" and the most "impotent" president ever. Snow, an extreme right wing propagandist masquerading as a "fair and balanced" tv journalist went from lock-step Bush rah-rah, fruit-cake to someone forced by the obvious to mention that Bush "doesn't seem to mean what he says." In fact last September Snow wrote in his column that Bush "has given the impression that [he] is more eager to please than lead, and that political opponents can get their way if they simply dig in their heels and behave like petulant trust-fund brats, demanding money and favor-- now!" That isn't the image he will be expected to help portray-- the carefully crafted, bogus Rovean image of Bush as a "leader"-- in his new position inside the White House. No more staying from the Party Line with remarks and digs-- just one month ago-- like "George W. Bush and his colleagues have become not merely the custodians of the largest government in the history of humankind, but also exponents of its vigorous expansion."

Fact of the matter is much of Snow's criticism of Bush and his disastrous Regime has come from an even further right-wing perspective, which should surprise no one who has looked into ex-socialist hippie-turned right-wing fanatic and nut-case, Snow. (The far, far right, which finds Snow one of their own easily embraces nutty statements like "On the policy side, he has become a classical dime-store Democrat. He gladly will shovel money into programs that enjoy undeserved prestige, such as Head Start. He seems to consider it mean-spirited to shut down programs that rip-off taxpayers and mislead supposed beneficiaries.") Of course, even normal Americans agree with some of Snow's criticism of Bush, like "When it comes to federal spending, George W. Bush is the boy who can't say no. In each of his three years at the helm, the president has warned Congress to restrain its spending appetites, but so far nobody has pushed away from the table mainly because the president doesn't seem to mean what he says."

I wonder if any of his colleagues will bring any of this embarrassing stuff up when he starts spouting the Bush Regime malarkey on a day-to-day basis. (Oh, and thanks Sean Paul from the Agonist for the nice photo.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006



Last week I went over to a friend's house for a little get together he was having for Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga in honor of their recently released book, CRASHING THE GATE-- NETROOTS, GRASSROOTS AND THE RISE OF PEOPLE-POWERED POLITICS. Arianna Huffington served (ably) as an mc and Jane brought Ned Lamont along, an extra bonus for anybody-- and at this party, that was everybody-- who would like to see America's best interests served by the defeat of George Bush's favorite Senate Democrat, the execrable Joe Lieberman.

Before I run away into an anti-Lieberman tirade, let me reel myself in a bit and talk about something Lieberman knows absolutely nothing about whatsoever: Democratic values. I don't mean the values of the corporate whores Inside the Beltway, like Rahm Emanuel or the swinish Democrats who are joining with Republicans to sell out the free Internet to the big bribing Telecom corporations. I mean the values of the Party of FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Harry Truman, Howard Dean, Russ Feingold and, most important, by far, the values of the working men and women who make up the actual grassroots Democratic Party and are daily betrayed by the Rahm Emanuels and Joe Liebermans and Joe Bidens in DC.

The highlight of the CRASHING THE GATE soiree was when Markos elucidated-- in a way Inside the Beltway Democrats never seem able to-- the elusive Democratic values slimy politicians can never quite get:
    investment (in people and our future)

Zen moment, everybody. It's simple, even elegant and it's why we all vote for the Democrats instead of the Republicans. It's even why I forced myself to eat a live skunk pull the lever for the odious and despicably reactionary Joe Lieberman for Vice President in 2000. The Democratic values: "Opportunity, Fairness, Investment in people and our future." The Republican values: Selfishness, Narrow-minded bigotry, Greed, Fear. Um... I'll stick with the first guys, please.

When I met Barack Obama (pre-Senator era) he struck me as super-smart and a true believer in the American dream and these all-American values. He's been a bit of a disappointment so far-- I mean be admits Lieberman is his mentor and his voting record could be better, a lot better-- but he's still one of the smartest Democrats in the Senate. So I was even more disappointed the other day at his smart ass quip when someone accused Democrats of not standing for anything. "That's not true," he shot back. "Democrats do stand for anything." Ha ha. I'm sure your colleagues on the other side of the aisle and over at Fox were rolling.

When Ruy Texeira and John Halpin say the Democrats' most urgent need is to stand for something, they're focusing inside the Beltway. Someone like Rahm Emanuel, or even a more progressive Democrat like Chuck Schumer, will never stand for something value-based. These are power players and their values are winning. We need people like that-- technicians who know how to win political and electoral wars. But that doesn't mean people like that should be involved in determining policies and other matters of importance. Rahm Emanuel is a crude authoritarian thug-- not unlike his GOP mirror image, Tom DeLay-- and he fights like a mad dog in the gutter. Right on, Rahm. But when it comes to setting Democratic Party policies, people like that should be talked to about the core values that Democratic grassroots supporters stand for, not asked to remold them in his own perverse image.

Forget the craven, self-serving politicians and careerists-- especially the proven enemies of grassroots Democrats and our values: the professional losers known as "consultants." As Armando wrote on Daily Kos Sunday, "Progressives need to fight for what they believe in-- and put the common good at the center of a new progressive vision-- as an essential strategy for political growth and majority building."

Democratic elected officials and strategists-- and even boosters-- don't understand how powerfully the perception of Democrats "not standing for anything" (a canard currently embraced by nearly 60% of Americans polled on the matter) drags down the Party when it comes to elections. "No identity," explains Armando, "translates into no character. No personal integrity. No vision worth fighting for. No domestic agenda. No national-security agenda. No basic understanding of the problems facing everyday citizens. No contrast with the other side. No reason to vote for progressive candidates."

This doesn't sound like my Democratic Party. And if we're going to win in November, despite the Rahm Emanuels, the Jane Harmans, the Jim Marshalls, the Melissa Beans, the Nelsons and the consultants who should have been fired long long ago, this shouldn't sound like anyone's Democratic Party outside the Beltway.

(Note on the art: Adam claims to be off drugs, although he defines drugs with a great deal of elasticity. If they comes from a licensed doctor-- oh, and do they ever-- he doesn't consider them "drugs." I'll let you be the judge.)



Bush just finished a speech-- in Chicago I think-- about the sky-rocketing gas prices his Regime's policies have brought on. I admit I didn't watch it but it was on in the background while I was brushing my teeth and getting dressed and getting ready for my morning hike. Afterwards some silly CNN talking heads were babbling to themselves about "what can a president do?" What indeed?

A great idea-- albeit a "blue idea"-- would have been to give tax advantages to people who bought hybrid cars or small, gas-effcient cars. An old commentary on BUZZFLASH had a great take on the "red idea" of how to approach (acerbate) the problem. "Our last 'jobs bill,' enacted in May of this year, included a provision that allows small business owners to deduct the entire cost of vehicles over 6,000 pounds gross weight, up to $100,000. This was done to encourage small business owners to purchase new vehicles for their businesses. Well, kids, it just so happens that some luxury SUVs are over 6,000 pounds, including such small business workhorses as the Mercedes M Class, Cadillac Escalade, Range Rovers, and the ultimate machine for men with small genitalia, the Hummer. It also happens that the IRS doesn't care if you purchase a delivery truck for your small business or one of these gas-guzzling monstrosities to, say, attend business meetings at your law firm's private golf course. Either purchase is completely deductible. Since May this disgraceful loophole in the tax code has cost America $1.3 billion in lost tax revenue as anybody who could claim to be a small business owner rushed out and purchased a tax-subsidized luxury SUV. This was Tom DeLay's approach to the high price of gasoline and with a tightly Republican controlled rubber-stamp congress, the only way to have stopped this madness would have been for Bush to have vetoed it. He signed it. And then he signed a renewal the following year.

So, back to the CNN talking heads question about what a president can do. This one? Forget it. And we don't get a new one for another 2 and a half years. So... maybe it's time for us all to think what WE can do-- really do-- to get rid of the rubber-stamp Congress. I mean, are we going to sit around and wait for fearless federal prosecutors to arrest them one after the other until the prisons are filled with Republicrooks like "Duke" Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Wade Mitchell, Tom DeLay, Bob Ney, Conrad Burns and the rest? Or are we going to get involved? Contributing to the progressive, grassroots candidates on the DWT ACT BLUE Page is a good step. People like Francine Busby, Ned Lamont, Jerry McNerney, Jan Schneider are in tough races right now and these are men and women who will get to work in Washington un-doing the years of destruction that Bush and his rubber-stamp Congress have wrought. And there's more that can be done than donating. I was so proud the other day when a DWT reader wrote me a letter about his frustrations with the political climate in the country. He's in Montana and I wrote back and suggested he volunteer at John Tester's campaign headquarters. I was over-the-moon when he wrote back a couple days later to tell me how he had just done so. One voter at a time, one district at a time, we need to take back our country. It is our country, not the corporations' and their political whores' country.


The DSCC has a fact page showing how Bush and the Republican rubber-stampers are responsible for high gas prices. When Bush occupied the White House in January 2001, the average price of a gallon of gas was $1.46. Today, the price is $2.91, a 100% increase over the course of the Bush presidency. [It's already over $3.00 a gallon in many areas of the country-- including my own.] Despite the verbiage to the contrary from Bush and his spokespersons, under his watch, U.S. dependence on foreign oil has increased by nearly one billion barrels.

Bill Frist and the Senate rubber-stamp Republicans killed a Democratic proposal to make gas price gouging a federal crime. Without making price gouging a federal crime, the federal government can only prosecute oil companies if they can prove collusion to control markets, a standard that is nearly impossible to meet. The Republicans who voted to directly raise the price of gas by opposing this simple bill include the following clowns who are up for re-election in November: George Allen (R-VA), Conrad Burns (R-MT), John Ensign (R-NV), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Richard Lugar (R-IN). Meanwhile, the watchdog agency that should be protecting consumers' interests, Bush's Federal Trade Commission has looked the other way when it comes to price gouging. Even during Hurricane Katrina, when price gouging was completely evident, the FTC investigation "found no evidence of collusion among oil companies in the 2005 gas price surge."

And the rubber-stamp Republican-led Congress has ignored oil and gas monopolies. Since 2001, the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee in charge of overseeing mergers, chaired by Ohio crooked pol Mike DeWine, has held exactly one hearing-- two years ago-- to examine high gas prices. They didn't do anything (helpful). And, of course, the GOP Congress has turned a blind eye to holding executives from the nation's richest oil companies accountable. In November, when executives from the nation's richest oil companies testified before the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees, Ted Stevens and the Republican leaders refused to force them to testify under oath. These are the same bribe-taking Republicans who crafted the 2005 energy bill which showered billions in tax breaks on oil and gas companies, (the same companies that showered Republicans with kickbacks, bribes and "campaign contributions")-- and even these greedy scumbags later testified under oath that they don't even need these breaks!

Last December, Senate Republicans-– with Cheney casting the tiebreaking vote-– adopted a budget package that included $20 million in cuts to Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. Republicans who have to face their constituents in November who voted against renewable energy include George Allen (R-VA), Conrad Burns (R-MT), John Ensign (R-NV), Jon Kyle (R-AZ), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Jim Talent (R-MO). Every single Democrat-- even reactionaries like Lieberman and the 2 Nelsons-- voted for renewable energy sources, as did a small handful of embarrassed Republicans. And, as every DWT reader should know by now, the oil gas companies are constantly lining the pockets of Republican incumbents and GOP candidates. In the 2004 election cycle alone, the oil and gas industry contributed more than $20 million to them and in the 2006 cycle, this number has already topped $6 million and is expected to go much higher as the corporations fight tooth and nail to keep their docile rubber-stamp Republican Congress in power.

And, last but not least, the Bush Regime's failure to properly plan for the war in Iraq has caused a disruption in the pre-war supply of 900,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq, the largest single supply disruption that is leading to spikes in the price of oil.

Meanwhile New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is proposing an immediate cut in the gas tax by eliminating tax breaks for oil companies to bring down the price for working men and women who are suffering under Republican rule.

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is fighting to give immediate relief to consumers during this summer’s busy driving season by providing a Federal Gas Tax Holiday paid for by repealing over $6 billion in tax breaks and giveaways to Big Oil. His amendment gives Americans temporary and immediate relief from sky high gas prices directly at the pump. It suspends the federal gas tax for 60 days to help reduce the cost of gas and diesel for consumers. This amendment will provide $100 million per day in relief directly to Americans.

This amendment will provide more than $6 billion in relief directly to consumers by eliminating the federal tax for both gas and diesel for 60 days. During the period of this gas tax holiday, the cost of gas will be reduced by $0.184 per gallon and the cost of diesel by $0.244 per gallon. Drivers will receive real relief every time they go to the pump during this period.

Big Oil made unbelievable profits-- over $100 billion last year alone. Menendez' proposal will provide direct relief to consumers and be fully paid for by repealing three major tax breaks that Big Oil clearly does not need and eliminating unnecessary and expensive royalty relief.

And Nancy Pelosi got pissed off and had something to say about Bush's idiotic speech too! You go, girl! (This is a rough transcript:)

"If you want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and therefore improve our national security situation, you can't do it if you're a Republican because you are too wedded to the oil companies. We have two oilmen in the White House. The logical follow-up from that is $3 a gallon gasoline. There is no accident. It is a cause and effect, a cause and effect. how dare the President of the United States make a speech today in April many, many, many months after the American people have had to undergo the cost of home heating oil-- a woman told me she almost fainted when she received her home heating bill over this winter-- and when so many people making the minimum wage, which hasn't been raised in eight years, which has a very low purchasing power, have to go out and buy gasoline at these prices? Where have you been, Mr. President? The middle class squeeze is on, competition in our country is effected by the price of energy and of oil and all of a sudden you take a trip outside of Washington, see the fact that the public is outraged about this, come home and make a speech, let's see that matched in your budget; let's see that matched in your policy; let's see that matched in and you're separating yourselves yourself from your patron, big oil, cut yourself off from that anvil holding your party down and this country down. Instead of coming to Washington and throwing your Republican colleagues under the wheels of the train, which they mightily deserve for being a rubber stamp for your obscene, corrupt policy of ripping off the American people."



Jeepers! Now I feel bad that I singled out the daughter of fat, ole, corrupt sack o' shit Curt Weldon. Oh, it's not because I had my facts wrong or anything like that. Weldon's daughter has inded been a bag lady collecting millions of dollars in bribes for the Weldon Family from shady Russian and Sebian criminal interests. But what I didn't realize is that this is a basic Republican Party value and that in singling out Weldon-- regardless of how corrupt and criminal his activties-- I was ignoring all these other Republicrooks who suck up the bribes through their family members. And I'm not just about the obvious career criminals like Tom DeLay and families raised to be mobsters.

In fact, just yesterday the BILLINGS GAZETTE reported about how the #1 most corrupt Senator in the whole U.S.-- someone who takes no back seat even to the low-down likes of Bill Frist and Rick Santorum-- Montana's own Conrad Burns, was pullin' some strings for his daughter too. "Republican Sen. Conrad Burns announced a $1 million federal contract in 2003 for a company that employed his former top aide as a lobbyist and that put Burns' daughter, Keely, on its board of advisers two months after the senator announced the money." Burns, already beleagured by all kinds of investigations stemming from the bribes he was taking from his pal Jack Abramoff, refuses to answer any questions about this. Keely claims she "never received a dime," which is also what DeLay's daughter said and what Cunningham's and Doolittle's little wives said.

Monday, April 24, 2006



Last week everyone was shocked when Fox "News" announced that Bush's approval rating had slipped to a dismal 33%. "Hmmm..." I thought," if Fox says it's 33% it must be barreling right down towards Bush natural base, the 23-26% of Americans who are just sitting around pickin' their butts waiting for the Apocalypse to transport them to the clouds Heaven. And today, just a couple days later, Gallup is showing further slippage as Bush rushes to see if he can get as loathed and distrusted as Dick Cheney and Paris Hilton.

Meanwhile Bush's rubber-stamp Congress is held in even greater disrepute. In fact the good folks at Talking Point Memo have started compiling a ranking of the most corrupt politicians in the current Congress. I'll have to leave the fine lines of who is more guilty Bob Ney, John Doolittle or Jerry Lewis (TPM's top 3 most corrupt congressmen) to a jury of their peers. I'm just gratified to see that they Republicrooks we've been spotlighting over the past year are all getting the attention they have earned. (Our first anniversary is in a couple weeks!) Anyway, their top 3 crooked U.S. Senators are Conrad Burns (MT), Katherine Harris (FL, although she's still technically in the House and only running, if you can call it that, for the Senate) and Rick Santorum (PA). And their rankings for the U.S. House of Representatives are Bob Ney (OH), John Doolittle (CA), Jerry Lewis (CA), Duncan Hunter (CA), Richard Pombo (CA) [at this point on the TPM list there's a shout out for Duke Cunningham and the crooked lobbyist who is trying to be the next Duke Cunningham, Brian Bilbray, but I think we should just give a hearty Bronx cheer for the entire California Republican caucus; what a bunch!!!-- dirtiest, filthiest and most corrupt in the nation-- even worse than Texas!], Don Young (AK), Charles Taylor (NC), John Sweeney (NY), Tom Reynolds (NY), and Curt Weldon (PA). Oh, and speaking of Texas... what happened to Pete Sessions in this schema? And Cunningham gets a shout-out but the recently deposed GOP Capo di Tutti Capi, Tom DeLay doesn't?


Eric at reminded me that in order to understand Republicans you have to speak a little bit of their language. I knew that. I mean my other job is as an international travel blogger and I always try to learn at least a few words when I go to strange and exotic places. Anyway, has an awesome Republican-to-English Dictionary that is absolutely a must. Enjoy!