Wednesday, May 31, 2006



When I started DWT exactly one year ago I had two especially egregious Republicrooks in my sites: Randy "Duke" Cunningham, formerly an extreme right-wing Congressman from San Diego's northern suburbs, currently serving an 8 year, 4 month term in a federal prison for bribery, and Thomas Noe, a kingpin of the Ohio Republican Party. Just hours ago, Noe-- after screaming about his innocence (like all the Republicrooks always do, from Tom DeLay to Robert Ney to Ken Lay) for a year-- plead guilty. According the the TOLEDO BLADE "Former GOP fund-raiser Tom Noe admitted today that he used politicians, former aides to Gov. Bob Taft, coworkers, and friends to illegally pour thousands of dollars into the effort to reelect President Bush."

Actually, it's even more exciting than just that. Noe, a Republican Party County Chairman, had been Mr. GOP power broker in NW Ohio for many years. There isn't an important Republican office holder in a state-- where ALL the important office holders are Republicans-- who isn't beholden to Noe, from Governor Taft, Secretary of State Blackwell, ex-Governor/now Senator Voinovich, Attorney General Petro, State Auditor Montgomery, right up to 5 of the 7 Supreme Court judges. And in a state with virtual one-party rule (and with a Secretary of State who has been clearly shown to be a manipulator of vote counting), there were no checks and no balances. Even if you didn't follow the Enron case too closely, you must be aware how many millions of dollars were lost (read: "STOLEN") from employees' retirement funds (that is, from the voluntary private accounts the employees had). In this case, the Republican office holders-- the ones with the legal fiduciary responsibility for protecting the money collected from taxpayers, the ones with no checks and no balances-- decided to "invest" MILLIONS of dollars from the Ohio Workers' Compensation Bureau into a highly speculative fund, which buys and sells rare coins, run by the GOP Chairman of Lucas County, Thomas Noe. No other state invests public money in something this risky but the most charitable thing I've heard about this "strategy" is that its safer than taking the money to a riverboat gambling operation.

While Noe was funneling HUGE sums of money into the Bush/Cheney campaign and into the campaigns of Governor Taft, Secretary of State Blackwell, Senators Voinovich and DeWine, Attorney General Petro, State Auditor Montgomery, a gaggle of Republican congressmen and state legislators, and 5 of the 7 Ohio Supreme Court judges, as much as 20% of the investment was "lost" (again, read: "stolen"). We're not talking about the values decreasing; we're talking about the coins being PHYSICALLY lost ("stolen").

At one point Noe had publically threatened to "take down" the whole Ohio Republican Party with him, but, apparently, some kind of a deal has been made and he hasn't taken down anyone.

His plea was guilty on all 3 felony charges against him. No date has been set for sentencing yet anbd the maximum would be 15 years. Being white, rich and Republican it is more likely that he'll get 2 years and then get pardoned by Bush, who he helped steal the Ohio 2004 election. And the crooked Secretary of State who worked on all this stuff with Noe? He's the GOP candidate for Governor.


Turns out Noe's guilty plea yesterday was only for the federal charges of "illegally funneling money to George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign." According to today's NY TIMES the prosecutors' recommendation that Noe serve between 24 and 30 months in prison will be held in abeyance until after the state trial for stealing the millions of dollars from the Ohio worker compensation fund. Noe has already pleaded not guilty to those (far more serious) charges. And those are the charges that could lead to unpleasant consequences for Ohio's Republican Party office holders, most-- not many, most-- of whom were part of Noe's scheme to defraud Ohio workers with a massive transfer of funds from their compensation fund to GOP party coffers (and pockets). There are 53 charges pending in the state case. Three Noe recipients in the biggest trouble right now are Senator Mike DeWine, Congressman Bob Ney and Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

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The Dixie Chicks aggressively promoted their new album, TAKING THE LONG WAY, by reminding people-- not papering over the "problem"-- how they feel about Bush's catastrophic war against Iraq. It was a strategy fraught with danger, at least from a commercial perspective. Until last week, the only song most people could hear was "Not Ready to Make Nice," which made it clear that they weren't backing down from a position that some conservative radio stations cited as a reason to ban their music. The "strategy" has worked well for the Dixie Chicks-- really well.

Only one album a week can be #1 and this week TAKING THE LONG WAY debuted as the #1 album in the U.S. Now, the Dixie Chicks have had #1 albums before, of course, but this is the first time ever that a female group has had 3 albums debut as #1. They sold (over the counter) more than 500,000 album, which means it is also gold already, right out of the box. And, predictably, foreign sales are also excellent.

My guess is that most people who bought the Dixie Chicks new album bought it because they love their music. But it's hard to imagine that anyone bought it unaware of the controversy swirling around the band, particularly since they publicly withdrew their polite, pro forma apology to Bush, issued at the height of their last crisis with him. Between the cover of TIME Magazine and the segment on 60 MINUTES, everyone knew they were standly their ground-- loudly. And if someone still doesn't know how they feel about Bush and his policies, tonight the band will sit down for an in-depth interview with Larry King on CNN.

Meanwhile music fans-- regardless of politics-- are going bonkers over the songs and reviews have been superb. "This is an album that has something for everyone," opined THE NY TIMES, "old fans who thought the Dixie Chicks were at their finest in their fancy-free early days as well as recent admirers who are eager to see the band push beyond the confines of country." Tickets for the band's tour, which starts on July 21 in Detroit, go on sale next week (June 3).




I don't know how many people are aware that the White House and the New Hampshire Republican Party conspired-- successfully-- to steal a senate seat for John Sununu (currently a loyal Bush rubber stamp in the U.S. Senate, consistently voting against his constituents' best interests to further the far right/Big Business agenda. But if you're a regular DWT reader, you've known since last Augustabout how Republican party operatives were caught in the act and about the trials that have ensued.

And although the mass media has tended to protect Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove, some of the local Republican operatives were found guilty of various crimes that amounted to a systematic attempt to subvert democracy in New Hampshire and guarantee the election of an extreme right wing senator, and were sentenced to prison. Some are still in prison. But one has gotten out. And he's rehabilitated and back to work. Well... he's back to work. Sunday, the WASHINGTON POST ran a heart-warming storm-- well, heart-chilling if you're a Democrat running for office-- that Republican jail-bird
Chuck McGee, the former executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, and "a major figure in the Election Day phone-jamming scandal that embarrassed and nearly bankrupted the New Hampshire GOP is out of prison and back in the political game... He's back at his old job with a Republican political marketing firm, Spectrum Monthly & Printing Inc., and will be helping out at the firm's 'GOP campaign school' for candidates."

Reminds me of when Denny Hastert appointed Bob Ney to teach ethics to Republican freshmen. (I know you think I'm making that up-- I mean even Hastert wouldn't dare-- but I'm not; look. I don't know if it's a contemptuous sense of humor, cluelessness or just plain old hubris.)

Anyway, sorry for the tangent; back to New Hampshire. Richard Pease, one of the presidents of Spectrum, said ole Chuckie, now a Spectrum VP "would be available to advise candidates at the two-day event, planned for next weekend in Manchester. McGee's role at the school was reported Thursday by the New Hampshire Union Leader. 'Chuck will work with the candidates in any way they want... If they want his advice, if they want his . . . experience, it's there for them to take or leave.'"

Pease reassured the interviewer that Chuckie is "certainly not going to be standing there and advocating breaking the law," although McGee refuses to comment about what his role will be. "In court, McGee acknowledged that the phone-jamming of get-out-the-vote drives by Democrats and organized labor was his idea, inspired by a lesson he learned in the Marine Corps: cut off your opponent's communications. The calls had the desired effect for two hours the morning of Election Day, but then the scheme began to unravel. Two other people have been sentenced to prison in the phone jamming."

Sununu won't have to face voters again for 4 years. In the meantime Granite State voters can show rubber-stamp Republicans what they think of election theft by defeating Bush's and DeLay's two New Hampshire allies, Jeb Bradley and Charlie Bass. Democrats in NH-01 will choose their standard bearer on September 12 (Carol Shea-Porter looks like the progressive in the primary race). But in NH-02 Democrats and Independents have put aside all differences to rally around Paul Hodes in the hope of sending Bass into retirement. Hodes is on the DWT ACT BLUE Page and if you want to help send the GOP a message about stealing elections, a clean sweep in New Hampshire is both do-able and a great idea.


Today Paul Kiel at IN THESE TIMES asks "How high did the Republicans’ New Hampshire phone scheme reach?" Well, definitely to Jim Tobin, then regional director for both the RNC (Republican National Committee) and the RNSC (Republican National Senatorial Committee), now another convicted Republicrook hoping to avoid prison time. But there is also plenty of evidence that Tobin was getting his orders directly from the White House and that someone had directed Jack Abramoff to help fund the little operation to the tune of $15,000. Good investment for the bad guys. Sununu has given them their money's worth-- and much, much more.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

If I show I can write something as dopey as a Nino Scalia legal opinion, can I not have to go back to that [expletive deleted] job in the morning?


It's entirely a coincidence that on one and the same day:

(a) the new Roberts Court did a dry run of the reign of legal terror the new majority has in store for us with that no-free-speech-for-gummint-drones case, and

(b) I had just this really, really sucky day at work. I mean,the kind of day where all you want to do is tell those [expletive deleted]s what to do with their suckilaciously [expletive deleted] job.

Like I say, it's just a coincidence. But it's the kind of coincidence that makes you think. Makes you think, for example, "Like, man, how the [expletive deleted] do you get one of those [expletive deleted] jobs like Supreme Court justice?" As far as I can see, there isn't even, like, a test you have to take.

Oh, I remember when Justice Antonin Scalia was invented. Great legal mind. That's all you heard—great legal mind. Greatest legal mind since, I don't know, Perry Mason, "Bullet Bob" Bork, one of them guys.

Really, now, have you read any of these guy's legal opinions? Do I have to say any more? I could say plenty, but it would just lead to a free flow of expletives, and a possibly dangerous elevation of my blood pressure.

Whereas the people I work with, and especially for. Jeez, why don't you try it, why dontcha? I fantasize like a Twilight Zone episode where I wish them all dead and suddenly they all die, and it seems as if I ought to feel bad—only I don't.

But it's not just Supreme Court justices. What about all those Republicrooks who treat taxpayer-paid salaries as mere "walking-around money" while they busy themselves stealing every dollar they can get their sticky hands on? Not to mention all those free trips. Do you have any idea how long it's been since I took a trip?

I've also been thinking about think tanks. What's the [expletive deleted] deal with [expletive deleted]-in think tanks? I've got to ask, how the [expletive delted] does a person get one of those gigs? Like I keep wondering, do you suppose anybody has calculated how many right-wing rich guys' zillions were funneled through think tanks into the pockets of the neocon geniuses who cooked up the invasion of Iraq?

I'm here to tell you that I can think rings around those bozos. Not to mention that I would do it for a price that all those professional thinkers would consider too insignificant to be worth stooping to pick up. As a matter of fact, I figure that if I just cashed the check—however insultingly small—and did nothing but play computer solitaire and tetris all day, wouldn't I be making a considerably more worthwhile contribution to society?

Now, I don't know if it's customary to offer, like, ideas on spec for prospective think-tank "work." But I'm prepared to give one up for nothing, just to show how serious I am about this. (Serious, anyway, about not having to go back to that [expletive deleted] place tomorrow morning.)

OK, here it is: an American version of the British TV series Murder Prevention Unit. I haven't gotten to casting yet. I figure for that I should wait for the first check, and I mean waiting for it to clear. This is an idea, I'm telling you, that is better than the invasion of Iraq.

Alternatively, let's say I do go back to my [expletive deleted] job in the morning, and let's say when I get there, they're all dead. I don't think I'll feel bad. Sure, I'll have to make the coffee, but don't I usually? I pour myself that last yucky cup from the bottom of the pot and then put on a fresh pot that is of course drunk down to the bottom by the time I get back to drink from it.

The thing is, though, if by chance they are all dead, in case anybody should happen to ask, you'll tell them I was here with you all this time, right?

But won't Sen. Doctorbill Frist's chilly heart be warmed to learn that gay people just wanna be Beltway insiders—just like regular folks?


A footnote to Howie's rant (below) regarding the HRC's endorsement of Sen. Joe "Some of My Best Friends Are Gay" Lieberman:

I'm so far out of the alphabet-soup loop that in reading this apparently well-deserved ringing denunciation of HRC, I had to follow one of the links to find out what the heck HRC is. Or, at any rate, what it was before it turned into what it has become.

I just want to suggest another way of looking at the evolution of HRC. You could take it as a heart-warming tale of the mainstreaming of gay folks, who turn out to be just like "normal" people—just lookin' to carve out a little p'litical turf o' our own to call home (and shoot any goddamn trespassers).

Surely this will warm the heart of patriots like Sen. Doctorbill Frist, who I hear went on the TV this weekend to announce that the two absolutely most critical issues facing the U.S. today are:

(1) flag desecration, and

(2) the attack on the institution of marriage from same-sexers who (shudder!) wanna get married

Just think, once the senator comes to realize that gay people are just like normal people, wanting nothing more than to be cozy Beltway "insiders," he'll be free to take a few minutes to pause and ponder whether there aren't any other problems confronting the country at this particular moment which might be worthy of his attention.

If he really can't think of anything, not anything at all of possible current concern to Americans, perhaps he can use the rest of his allotted pausing-and-pondering time to contemplate some of the more extreme damage done to the institution of marriage by straight people. By, for example, and just to pick a random example, God-fearin' and God-spewin' wife-beaters and kiddie-bashers (who are not to be confused—oh, exceptin' sometimes—with God-fearin' and God-spewin' kiddie-molesters.)


Poor DoctorBill-- well actually he has somehow managed to make himself a billionaire while serving in the Senate-- just when he was getting ready to mount a full frontal attack on America's 2 biggest problems: gays marrying each other and someone burning American flags, the damned Federal Election Commission finds him guilty of one of the cases pending against him. This case, brought against Frist by the nonpartisan Citizens For Responsibility in Washington (CREW)-- the same folks who filed against the DLC's William Jefferson-- alleged (and have now been backed up by the FEC) that "Frist 2000, Inc. failed to disclose a $1.44 million loan taken out jointly by Frist 2000, Inc. and by Frist's 1994 campaign committee, Bill Frist for Senate, Inc. The result of the discrepancy was to make it appear that Frist 2000, Inc. had significantly more money that it actually had." Frist was fined $11,000.



Because I was lucky enough to have had something of a reputation as an enlightened corporate leader for several years, my mantle is filled with awards from progressive public advocacy groups like the ACLU, GLAAD, People For the American Way and HRC. Actually my mantle used to have an HRC award on it. But a little over a week ago, just as the National Organization For Women (NOW), DFA and were bravely stepping forward to say they would no longer support Democrats who have taken their constituencies for granted and have voted in support of bigoted nominees and who have consistently sent mixed signals on hate-issues-- two glaring problems between Lieberman and the GLBT community-- HRC endorsed Lieberman over clear, enlightened, unambiguously progressive and pro-gay Ned Lamont. So I took the award down and put it in a box where no one-- including, or especially, myself-- will see it.

In 1997 I had been so proud to accept HRC's Leadership Equality Award "for outstanding corporate leadership and dedication to the gay and lesbian community." My mother and my grandmother were kvelling and my boss, the Chairman of Warner Bros, was beaming at my side when I went up to make my speech. Last week I thought about calling friends and family over and having a smashing-up ceremony but I decided to just wait and see if HRC changes and gravitates more towards their roots as real agents for change and leaves the severely compromised kiss-up politics that pervades the sick, sick system Inside the Beltway to others. I'm not overly optimistic. HRC's fancy new 8-story building symbolizes their institutional self-perpetuating role inside that insider game.

When I was in Washington a few weeks ago, visiting friends at another progressive civic group, someone there asked me why HRC had donated money to right-wing Republican Joe Schwarz' re-election campaign in MI-07. The Club for Growth and other extremist hate groups have fielded a lunatic to run against Schwarz but Schwarz' record on GLBT issues is clear and unambiguous: anti, anti, anti. No doubt his opponent is worse, but Schwarz' score of GLBT issues is zero so no matter how much worse his opponent is... well there's nothing below zero. And looking at the "featured HRC endorsees" on their website was pretty sad. It includes 2 of the most reactionary Democrats being shoved down progressives' throats: Melissa Bean in Illinois and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. (Among the not featured endorsees is Congress' most outstanding and tenacious fighter for GLBT rights, openly gay Wisconsin congresswoman/heroine Tammy Baldwin. What the hell is wrong with HRC?)

Hugh Baran is disappointed but he isn't surprised that HRC endorsed the duplicitous Lieberman, who has consistently failed to support gay marriage equality.

Ultimately, what HRC values is access to power, and its money certainly does provide it with access. Consistent support of an incumbent like Lieberman, especially when he is facing a tough race, is certainly a way, if he is elected, to help maintain that access. But HRC is never going to lose its access or influence by not supporting people like Lieberman. It would only stand to gain by withholding support in the race, or by coming out strongly for Lamont. HRC already has access, but what good has it been, when the situation of LGBT Americans has for the past decade remained little changed?

The only way the LGBT community is going to win equality is if we build up not our access, but our real political power. If we are unwilling to demand that candidates take the best stands on our issues-- especially when it is completely politically possible, as it is in Connecticut-- then how will we ever build a pro-marriage, pro-equality majority in either house of Congress? I'm not even saying that the HRC had to endorse Lamont (though that would have certainly been nice). But in such a high-profile contest, on the same day that NOW is willing to take a stand not only for women but for queers too (because they, unlike HRC, understand that the feminist and queer struggles are inextricably bound up with one another), why does HRC feel the need to use its (unearned) position as the leading LGBT advocacy group to undercut them that same day? There was no need for HRC to endorse in this race, and in doing so they continue to undermine the fight for LGBT equality in this country both by acting against their interests and by alienating key progressive allies gay and straight.

Lieberman does his best to come across as an aww shucks, folksy type. It masks a slick power-player and, as I remarked above, a duplicitous nature. Many of us watched with dismay earlier this year as Lieberman used one of his slimiest tactics to help Bush get uber-reactionary Sam Alito confirmed in the Senate. Although Lieberman brags now-- defensively-- that he voted "no" on Alito, he didn't cast that no vote until he had done what was necessary to make sure Alito would indeed get confirmed. The only chance progressives had to defeat Alito would have been a defeat of the Republicans' cloture motion to shut off debate. Knowing full well that that was the vote that mattered, Lieberman voted with Bush and the Republicans and against the Democrats. He does it frequently-- especially when it really matters, like when he helped make sure Clarence Thomas was confirmed with the same exact tactic. And of course, Lieberman protected his Big Business campaign contributors by doing the same thing when the bankruptcy bill came up. He voted to cut off debate, knowing that would doom any chance of stopping the bill-- and making it safe for him to vote against it so he could ingenuously tell his liberal and moderate CT constituents that he voted the way they wanted him to-- against Bush's horrific bankruptcy bill (as well as against Thomas and against Alito). And of course, what the slippery snake is really voting against are his constituents' interests.

A few months ago I mentioned here how Lieberman has been running around wringing his hands about how some of his best friends are gay. (Yes, he really said that-- to editors of a local CT newspaper.) When he voted for the hateful and treacherously-named Defense of Marriage Act, HRC was led by a stronger and more forthright executive director than it is now. Elizabeth Birch minced no words about why DOMA was a hateful, gay-bashing piece of legislation. "The Human Rights Campaign is appalled over the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act... Denying lesbians and gay men equal marriage rights will not stand. HRC vows to continue to fight this legislatively and in our country's courts of law and public opinion." Maybe someone should explain that to the new executive director and also explain to him why, when a politician tells a newspaper that "homosexuality is wrong," its a clear indication that, although he may court gay voters, he is unlikely to be sympathetic to a gay perspective on life and death issues to the gay community.

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Monday, May 29, 2006



Today's NY POST has a cute paragraph about how ex-South Carolinian Stephen Colbert once voted for Strom Thurmond ("excellent constituent services"). I don't know if it's true or a joke but it reminded me that I once had a Strom Thurmond experience too.

It happened in the mid-60s. I was stoned the whole time until 1969 so forgive a couple of imprecisions here and there. I was Chairman of the Student Activities Board at Stony Brook on Long Island. I wandered into my faculty advisor's office, dear Miss Couey, who was very sweet but did work for a dean who hated my bearded, longhaired, pot-smoking dealing self. Her job was to keep me as under control as was humanly possible. (I had already been expelled from the dorms for being a bad influence.) Anyway, I turned up at Miss Couey's to let her know I had booked a radical young Georgia African American who had just been elected to the state legislature, to speak at Stony Brook. It was Julian Bond, the head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and white folks used to think the "non" before "violent" was just a ploy.

"Howie, don't you think it would be a more interesting program if it were balanced?"

Ughh... I saw where she was going. I had no interest whatsoever in balance. "Are you telling me, you want me to get the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan to speak as well?"

We had such a nice relationship. She asked me to please find someone appropriate. I couldn't find a number for anyone from the KKK but I came close enough. I found a Senator Strom Thurmond, a former Democrat who bolted the party when they finally started to abandon apartheid, who then ran for President (of the United States) on the Dixiecrat Party and eventually found a more than comfortable home at the new racist party, the party of Abraham Lincoln. I agreed to pay Thurmond $5,000, just like I was paying Julian Bond.

About a week before the event I was higher than usual and I had a flash of an idea. I called the senator's office and explained to his aide that we were a poor state university and that the budget was cut drastically-- something they would heartily approve of, of course-- and that I was forced to have to beg the senator to speak for a paltry $2,500. The aide agreed, making me think I should have offered $1,500 but I let it slide. Then I called Julian Bond and told him there had been a mistake in the contract and that I'd have to pay him $7,500. He agreed.

The day of the event I asked one of my closest friends-- a kind of Perle Mesta of the Student Activities Board, the chairman of the hospitality committee, the gayest person I had ever met at the time-- to please meet Senator Thurmond at the station and take him to dinner where he could meet lots of students. I suggested a pizzeria a short walk from the campus and asked Perle not to spend over $10. I then went to the waiting stretch limousine and had the chauffeur drive me to meet Julian Bond. We went to the fanciest, most exclusive restaurant on the North Shore of Long Island. All the waiters were African-Americans. All the dinners were white. I may have been the only Jew eating there but we soon found out that Julian was the only African-American who had ever eaten there. As we were leaving two elderly waiters approached us in the parking lot to thank us for doing something that they never thought they would ever see-- eating in their restaurant (which was like 55 miles from Manhattan). I still tear up whenever I tell the story. (And a few days ago Julian was nominated to be on the Board of Directors of a Civil Liberties Board I'm on. I got to second the motion.)

We drove back to campus. Julian Spoke first. He fired up the audience. When he was finished 1,200 people walked out, including me. Could it have been spontaneous? Things like that happened in those days. Perle and Miss Couey and a couple dozen weird people had Strom all to themselves. I never did meet him. I loved sending the check to his office though.



A devoted DWT reader made a great offer today. He wants to put up a grand worth of matching money at the ACT BLUE Page. So we got into a little discussion about which candidates he wants to do it for. The first thing he said was something like "I love Busby too but she's got her race in the bag so let's direct the money towards candidates who really need it."

Well, I'm sure Karl Rove would love that kind of talk-- and thought. Francine's poll numbers and trends look good and her money flow is decent. But it's a solidly Republican district and even though Bilbray is a corrupt lobbyist and is seen by many in the district as a potential Cunningham, the GOP is dumping unprecedented money into a well-coordinated smear campaign against her. Rove isn't called the lowest lowlife in the history of American politics for nothing. This is totally not the time to give up on Francine's campaign. A week from tomorrow people go to the polls. And then she has to do it all over again-- albeit as an incumbent-- 5 months later!

Meanwhile the story circulating from U.S. News & World Report today, could be good news or could be a plant. Steady, unblinking, eyes-on-the-prize extra effort is what's called for now, not slacking off. If the report-- that the Repugs are crapping their pants-- is true, fine. But so what? This race will be won when the last recounted vote is counted and the last dirty trick is countered.

This stuff shouldn't effect what anyone inside or outside the campaign has been planning. The Republicans will stop at nothing to derail Francine. This is the time to redouble efforts. If you can afford it... you know the drill. And if this kind of stuff titillates you, enjoy:

Staffers from the National Republican Congressional Committee are quietly telling GOP House members to prepare for a possible loss in the June 6 special election to fill the seat of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now in prison for taking bribes. The Southern California district is heavily Republican, but some GOP insiders believe that Democrat Francine Busby will defeat former GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray and go on to win a full term in November. More alarming some worry that a Bilbray defeat could signal the GOP's loss of control of the House. The NRCC has already pumped $3.1 million into the race. "It is becoming more and more likely," says one GOP strategist, "that Bilbray will squeak out a victory." But another longtime Republican operative isn't so sure. "This is a district we should never lose," he says. "It's the stink of Cunningham, and the Bush problem."

Oh, you mean Cheney's visit to the district didn't sweeten the smell and rally the troops? His mindboggling approval rating didn't rub off on Bilbray? Or maybe it did.



CA-42 is a district of suburban sprawl snaking down from Chino, Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights through Brea and Yorba Linda to Mission Viejo. It has the highest percentage of married people in the entire state and it is very white bread (although 40% of the people living there are Hispanic and Asian). In 2004 Bush carried the 42nd with 62%. The district is so hopelessly conservative that no Democrat bothered to even file to run against extreme right-wing nutcase, Gary Miller, who has one of the 10 most far right voting records in the entire Congress, more extreme than Tom DeLay or Roy Blunt and more extreme than any of the California Republican dead-enders like Richard Pombo, John Doolittle, Duncan Hunter, Jerry Lewis, although, like them, he is a crooked self-server who uses his congressional power to enrich himself at the public's expense. The only times Miller is not busy being a Bush rubber stamp is when Bush's (and DeLay's) positions aren't steeped in a high enough degree of sheer Wingnutery for him. Hate to see a kook like this get off without even having to defend his pro-war, pro-Big Business, anti-environment, anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-Labor, anti-education, anti-health care, anti-human positions?

The good news: a full-fledged progressive, a citizen-patriot, Mark Hull-Richter is running as a write-in candidate. A former Dennis Kucinich volunteer, Mark is campaigning on the kinds of themes you would expect from an enlightened progressive: supporting our troops by bringing them home from Iraq, reigning in the run-away presidency, putting an end to the culture of corruption in DC, restoring a sense of power balance between Big Business and common citizens, protecting civil rights and civil liberties for all Americans.

Mark needs 2,461 write-in votes next Tuesday to qualify to run against Miller. Do you know anyone in the district? The congressman before Miller, another right-wing crook, Jay Kim, who was convicted of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, was punished by voters for his unethical behavior (although I think he was still serving in Congress while under house arrest). Perhaps the conservative voters in the district won't wait for Miller to be hauled off to prison before ridding the Congress of his sorry ass. But you can't defeat someone with no one and Mark Hull-Richter is the best hope-- and only hope.


Jonathan Singer over at MyDD spent some time on the phone with Mark. He's got all the information you need to see why getting rid of California's most extremist wingnut in Congress could have a very positive effect beyond just extinguishing the political career of another far right loon.

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I want to tell the mailman to dump all those slate mailers I've been getting in the mail everyday directly into the garbage. He won't though. I bet you get them too, right? I don't want to make a blanket statement and say every single one of those slate mailers is a bought-and-paid for fake that is a for-profit scheme meant to deceive you because maybe one or two aren't. Most are though.

I'm going to talk about California because I live here. But I have a feeling the same is true no matter what state you live in. Do you remember last year when the big pharaceutical corporations were trying to confuse voters into endorsing their anti-consumer Pop 79? They purchased the "endorsement" of a few dozen completely bogus operations disguised as legitimate organizations. Among the cards you probably got in the mail at least some were from civic-sounding organizations like P.O.W.E.R., GeM Communications Group, Citizens for Representative Government, Valley Taxpayers Coalition, Family Faith and Freedom Association, Voter Information Guide, Democratic Voters Choice, Team California, Citizens for Good Government, Non-Partisan Candidate Evaluation Council, CRA Voter Guide, United Democratic Campaign Committee, Continuing the Republican Revolution, Save Prop 13, The Council of Concerned Women Voters, Coalition for Senior Citizens Security, Our Voice Latino Voter Guide, Voter Education and Registration Action, ADF Networking Consultancy, Team California, Your Ballot Guide, Californians for Quality Healthcare, Republican Voter Checklist, COPS Voter Guide, Orange County Firefighters Voter Guide... Some of them even sound legit and familiar; they're not legit and they're supposed to sound familiar.

I could start one called The Yerevan-Glendale Voter Education Alliance to capitalize on the large and influential Armenian-American community in the L.A. area. Maybe I put pictures of popular Mayor Rafi Manoukian on the mailer and maybe Duarte City Councilman George Chapjian and Downey City Councilman Kirk Cartozian. That establishes my bona fides. Then I could go hit up non-Armenians looking for endorsements and votes among Armenian-Americans either for their own candidacies or in support of ballot initiatives. Oh, but do people really do this?

A friend of mine who works in state politics told me that the "pay-to-play" mailers are big business, although he says he thinks it's predominantly a California scam. "Basically," he told me last week, "these slimy firms use fake astroturf groups and put a 'gun to the head' of campaigns and have them bid against each other." Here are a couple of "groups" jonesin' for campaign money in return for endosements on their mailers this year (notice the addresses):

Coalition for Senior Citizen Security
2350 Hidalgo Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90039

Our Voice Latino Voter Guide
2350 Hidalgo Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90039

Parents' Ballot Guide
1954 West Carson Street Suite B
Torrance, California 90501

The Early Voter
1954 W. Carson Street Suite B
Torrance, California 90501

Many of these "organizations" don't exist and the address is just the address for the proprietor of a slate mailer company. Using these tools is one way that well-heeled corporate candidates attempt to buy elections against actual grassroots candidates. Political operators like Rahm Emanuel and Tom DeLay give their puppet candidates money for these kinds of slate mailers in order to deceive voters into thinking that civil and grassroots organizations support them. Up in the San Joaquin Valley, for example, the Emanuel shill, Steve Filson, has bought every bogus mailer he could find in order to combat the actual grassroots support that his opponent Jerry McNerney has built in the district over the last several years. He's even on one that is urging a NO vote of Prop 82 (the pre-school initiative)! And, predictably, Steve Westly is using the same technique.

Sunday, May 28, 2006



When it came out in 1977 I sort of liked Cat Scratch Fever" (although not enough to actually play it on my radio show) and there was something almost cool-- albeit a little derivative-- about The Amboy Dukes' "Journey to the Center of the Mind" about 10 years before that. But I was booking bands in my college at the time-- The Doors, Big Brother, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Dead, Hendrix, Otis Redding, Jackson Browne, Tim Buckley, Muddy Waters-- and I never seriously considered booking Ted Nugent. And those were the only songs of his I ever had a positive feeling about. To me the wanna-be-gross Ted Nugent was always just a wanna-be, an excessive one-- as well as a deaf one. And when he reared his head again in the 1990s with Damn Yankees, a "supergroup" of corporate mediocrity, his music reached new lows. It wasn't until the 90s that I realized that the annoying and tasteless musician was also a rightwing imbecile. I knew he was a hunting maniac but that isn't something I get as upset about as some of my friends. It just reinforced my overall feeling that he is completely gross.

Later I read a typically over-the-top speech he gave as a speaker at an NRA convention, advocating murder and vigilantism. "Remember the Alamo! Shoot 'em! To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead. I want rapists dead. I want burglars dead. I want child molesters dead. I want the bad guys dead. No court case. No parole. No early release. I want 'em dead. Get a gun and when they attack you, shoot 'em." Yes, "No court case" is particularly telling.

Big tough guy-- and, of course, a die-hard Republican shill and major supporter of Bush's war against Iraq. In fact, he loves war-- as long as other people and their kids are the ones who are fighting it, of course (after all, he is and millionaire Republican and that is a basic tenet of millionaire Republicans: "war good as long as other people have to fight it." In fact in 1990 Nugent explained to his hometown paper, the DETROIT FREE PRESS, how he had avoided the draft during the VietNam War. He claims that 30 days before his Draft Board Physical, he stopped all forms of personal hygiene. The last ten days he ingested nothing but junk food and Pepsi, and a week before his physical he stopped using the bathroom altogether, virtually living inside pants caked with excrement and stained by his urine. He claims that's how he got his deferment and adds, "but if I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed... or I'd have killed all the hippies in the foxholes… I would have killed everybody." No doubt. Goldfinger wrote a cool song about him called "Fuck Ted Nugent.

When the Illinois Republican Party was desperately hunting for someone to run for the U.S. Senate seat against Barack Obama, they approached Michigan-born/Texas resident Nugent, who turned them down and they were forced to settle on a certifiably insane person from Maryland. Nugent, however, wants to move back to Michigan and run for governor, probably inspired by Kinky Freidman's current race in Texas (and by the electoral success of fellow clowns Arnold Schwarzenegger and that wrestler from Minnesota a few years ago).

According to today's INDEPENDENT the 58 year old neo-fascist Bush backer-- yes, he's one of the 29%; they have a mutual admiration society of two losers-- is definitely looking to run for office. The INDEPENDENT tries explaining Nugent to their British readers: "A keen admirer of fellow-guitarist Tony Blair, he abhors drugs, including alcohol, and maintains that he has never used such substances. He considers homosexuality morally wrong. He speaks about Muslims in a way which, were he to repeat it on globally networked television, might endanger his life. Nugent is aiming to run as Governor of Michigan in 2010." He brags to the Brits about his visit to Fallujah in 2004. "I
visited Saddam Hussein's master war room. It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars. I saw his gold toilet. I shit in his bidet... Our failure has been not to Nagasaki them." That wakes the interviewer up.

"Is that opinion shared by your friends in the Republican Party?"

"Most of them feel that way."

"At what level?"

"I've heard it from high-level senators and congressmen."

"How high?"

"The highest."

"Do you mean Rumsfeld, Cheney, or Bush?"

"No," he says, with a defiant look.

Saturday, May 27, 2006



Last week I mentioned how important June 6 is, with primaries in 8 states, and I talked about a couple of crucial ones in California (Francine Busby's Special Election run-off against Republican lobbyist Brian Bilbray and Jerry McNerney's grassroots campaign, which first has to beat some Rahm Emanuel shill before he can go on to rid the nation of one of the most corrupt men to ever stalk the halls of the Congress, Richard Pombo). Makes sense to talk about these two high profile House seats in the biggest state in the nation, right?

Well today I want to focus on a race at least as important, for progressives, for Democrats and for America. And it's in Montana. Montana? Isn't that a red state with no people in it? No. Montana's the 4th largest state in the union and there are almost a million people living there. The Republican Party has been in a serious state of decline and the Big Sky State boasts a populist, progressive Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, as well as Democrats in all but one statewide office, as well as a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate. The Senior U.S. Senator, Max Baucus, is also a Democrat. That, and the fact that Montana is the most pro-labor union state in the Rockies, makes it sound pretty blue to me. And it is about to get a lot bluer, courtesy of Jack Abramoff. Well, courtesy of Jack Abramoff's extremely close relationship with Montana's junior U.S. Senator, ethically-challenged Conrad Burns, the U.S. Senator who took the most money from Abramoff-- and did him the most favors in return-- of anyone in the upper chamber. He has to face the voters in November-- and is he not popular! (The newest polling shows that 56% of the citizens of Montana think he's doing an unsatisfactory job, a rating surpassed by exactly one other much-hated senator, Rick Santorum, who has managed to alienate 57% of Pennsylvania's citizens.)

It looks to me like the Democrats are going to take the House in November-- or, rather, that the Republicans' greed and over-reaching and bankrupt policies are going to lose it. The Senate is a tougher nut to crack, just because only a third of the seats are up for re-election. The Democrats need 6 seats for a bare majority. Montana is a must-win. Without Montana there is no shot whatsoever. But we're looking at Montana today for more than just little old that. I mean, Democrats need to hold on to Ben Nelson's seat in Nebraska and Bill Nelson's seat in Florida too but we're not looking at those seats (both of which are pretty much in the bag). As bad as the music the Nelsons used to make, the voting records of the Nelsons in the Senate are even worse. Democrats, yes... but... the worst. In the June 6th primary we have a chance to chose between a really stellar candidate and a mediocre one to face off against the doomed Burns.

The really stellar one is Jon Tester. (The Democratic political hack-- way better than a Republican political hack (way, way, way better), but a hack nonetheless, a DLC one at that, is Montana State Auditor John Morrison.) Tester is more than just better than the other guy. He's a transformational politician, the kind of inspiring public servant who we will be able to look to for a genuine effort to actually make our nation a better place, the way candidates like Ned Lamont in Connecticut or Rick Penberthy and Jan Schneider in Florida, or Jerry McNerney, Francine Busby and Marcy Winograd in California can be expected to do the same. Not run-of-the-mill garden variety Democrats, but men and women who have the ability, the capacity and the intention of doing far more than just going along with the political whores who rule the roost Inside the Beltway.

I want to tell you a little about Jon. But first I want to ask you to read what someone else has to say about him. John Rodwick is a guy in Montana who stumbled across Down With Tyranny a few months ago. He was cynical about the sorry state of politics-as-usual and I asked him to look into Jon's campaign and to go meet him. Last week he did and his report is here. The word that comes up in John's report-- and in any report of first-hand experience with Tester-- is "straight shooter." When I was running Reprise Records I sometimes would get so excited about an album that an artist delivered-- more often than not, something from Green Day, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Wilco, Depeche Mode, Joni Mitchell-- that I'd fantasize about going door to door with an iPod and asking people to just listen. I'm positive that if Jon Tester could just meet every one of Montana's voters...

So who is this guy? I first started writing about him last July. My excitement has grown and grown as I've seen more of him in action. A 48 year old organic wheat farmer from Big Sandy and President of the State Senate, Jon announced his populist, progressive candidacy driving his tractor-trailer rig around Montana. He’s endorsed withdrawal from Iraq, a clean renewable energy policy (he actually sponsored a renewable energy standard in Montana), and is calling for expanded health care— including government funded health care for all children. He’s also endorsed a reasonable version of single-payer health insurance. Morrison (as a DLC shill) has more incommon with Burns on these issues than he has with Jon. Jon Tester's stands on the issues are what I expect from every Democrat; unfortunately my expectations are shot down more than they are realized. That's why when a strong and outspoken leader like Jon comes to the fore, I feel grateful... and eager to help in any small way I can.

When I asked Jane to look this over for me, she asked me 2 questions: How is Tester on Choice and Gay issues (talk about separating the wheat from the chaff!) and what are Tester's real chances? I call these next two my Jane paragraphs. Like John Kerry, Tester is personally pro-Life. The good news is that he has a 100% pro-choice voting record in the State Senate. That's because to him it's a privacy issue between a woman and her physician (and anyone else she wants to talk about it with). He's a Montanan and he's not eager to see Big Government interfering in peoples' private lives. The gay issue is always the hardest for any politician not living in an urban area. But Tester hasn't ducked that one either. He's come out strongly against the hate and bigotry amendments the Republicans have tried passing and he's worked hard to make sure others in the State Senate understood the issue as well. The man has great instincts and we can expect him to come to progressive conclusions about important issues.

Now, can he win? The DLC has been running around trumpeting the inevitability of their puppet Morrison because he's been scooping up lots of cash from wealthy, often out-of-state, donors, while Tester's strategy has been to fund-raise from average voters inside the state. In the last month, Tester has overtaken Morrison in fundraising, a result of more people in the state getting to know him and also of Morrison's ethics problems. The momentum is clearly with Tester now and he very much looks like a winner. Polls show either Democrat beating Burns, who is so mired in corruption that people wonder what the chances of his indictment before November are, but at this point the latest polls show Tester surging and Morrison basically holding steady.

The irony, of course, is that the DLC and Inside-the-Beltway schnooks who have been propping Morrison up all during the campaign and insisting that the issue was electability against the hated Burns, are screwed. Now that every newspaper and media outlet in the state has been titillating its audience with stories of Morrison's infidelity and how that mixed with state business, he no longer looks all that savory OR electable against an incumbent who has turned off most Montanans not because he's a far right maniac but because he is widely perceived to be corrupt and dishonest. Morrison is now similarly tainted in the public eye and Tester's straight-arrow reputation makes him look far more electable. Add that to the fact that the Beltway Establishment's #1 stated reason to turn against grassroots and populist candidates-- that they can't raise big money-- has been utterly demolished by Tester and all that is left are a bunch of corporate Democrats sputtering and fuming and feeling very much hoist on their own petards.

Last weekend's fund-raiser for Jerry McNerney and Francine Busby brought in around $3,000. I was really happy about all the generosity from the readers and Jerry and Francine were thrilled. Every contributor got a Neil Young CD in the mail. I have a feeling you can figure out who I'm hoping to collect some much-needed last minute money for this weekend. I just opened a Jon Tester page at ACT BLUE so that whatever you feel you can chip in will go directly to Jon's campaign. Is there an incentive this weekend too? Of course. As long as my old friends from the record companies take my calls I'll have boxes of CDs to share with contributors! But to play it safe, let's say... first 50 contributors (regardless of amount) get a CD. Give to Jon Testa's campaign today because you want to make America a better place; the CD's just a bonus from Jane and Ken and Adam and me, something we're happy to share.

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Friday, May 26, 2006



Unless I can stay awake long enough to watch John Stewart, the daily TV news cycle lasts about 5 minutes for me, usually from 5AM when I wake up and watch a little CNN 'til 5:05AM when I go for a swim. So I get my news other ways. Like my neighbor. She tells me the main headlines while we're climbing the hills early in the mornings. And today she told me that 4 ambulances were dispatched to Capitol Hill after gunshots, 4 of 'em, were heard in the garage of the Rayburn House Office building. 4 shots? Tancredo? Hastert? DeLay? Ney? Lewis? Doolittle? Sensenbrenner? It could be so many. Of course on the other hand, it would take 4 shots from a high-powered rifle to bring down something like Hastert or Sensenbrenner. I immediately banished those horrible thoughts from my mind. Remember Gandhi; remember Martin Luther King, Jr.: non-violence, non-violence, non-violence. And don't even wish harm on people, no matter how rotten they are. I stepped up the pace of our walk, though, 'cause I was anxious to get home and see who was killed.

Turns out it was just another paranoid Republican's crazy fantasy. Not that New Jersey right-wing loon Jim Saxton doesn't have plenty of reason to be hearing footsteps behind him. He's probably the absolute worst congressman from the state of New Jersey and if a tsunami of revulsion starts building against the corrupt slime masterminding the Republican Culture of Corruption and against the Republican rubber-stamp congressmen who have given the less than popular George Bush a completely free ride to inflict his harebrained schemes and disastrous agenda on America, James Saxton will be displaced by Richard Sexton in November.

No one is saying whether or not Saxton wet his pants when he came screaming out of the garage elevator in a panic and rushed back into his office and hid under his desk, but his silly outburst soon  "forced a lockdown of the sprawling Capitol office complex... and had tactical teams wearing flak jackets and police sniffer dogs swarm[ing] through several US Congress buildings."

After being dragged out from under the desk by amused aides, Saxton reluctantly "admitted to being the source of the mistaken report of gunfire that sparked the mayhem amid worries that an armed intruder was on the loose in Congress, leading authorities to shut down parts of the legislative office complex for hours."

Embarrassed, Saxton suspiciously changed his pants, and then ran to the place where all right wing nuts know they will find solace... and spin: "I heard what I thought to be between six and ten shots," he told Fox News. "It sounded exactly like gunfire to me. It was not of a backfire nature. It was the sharp crack as comes out of a weapon... I dove back into the elevator..."

Although the House-- as usual-- was not in session, a debate in the Senate was suspended as a precaution and there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people affected by the security clampdown. Saxton's jitteriness brought on a "scene [that] was one of barely-controlled panic, as armed Capitol police officers surrounded the complex. No one was allowed to enter Rayburn, and at least four ambulances were deployed outside the building. Meanwhile, hapless tourists who had been sightseeing at Congress -- one of Washington's top attractions -- were required to sit immobile on the floors of the congressional corridors while police conducted a laborious, room-by-room search of the building."

Eventually it was determined by Capitol police that Saxton's costly panic attack was the result not of "between six and ten shots" and the "sharp crack"of weapons but of noise from a nearby construction site. "There were some workers working in the area of the Rayburn garage," the police reported. "In doing their routine duties they made some sort of noise" that frightened Congressman Saxton. Even without admitting that he had messed his pants and "without apologizing for the mayhem his report unleashed, Saxton told Fox television that the silver lining in the whole episode was that it gave Capitol Police a chance to shine. "It was a great testament to a lot of people who were highly trained and very capable of taking care of the situation," said Saxton. The police had no comment on that one.

Before today, Saxton was probably best known for his sleazy relations with crooked Republican lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Brent Wilkes and for a seriously misleading report on the estate tax he released to the public. It is widely known on Capitol Hill that Saxton was a regular at Wilkes' tawdry poker parties where Republican solons willing to play ball were rewarded with winning hands at the poker table and with fulsome prostitutes. Saxton's Democratic opponent in New Jersey's 3rd CD, Richard Sexton, has flat out accused him of criminal activities in regard to Abramoff and other GOP operators with whom Saxton is close.



I had one not so very hot meeting with Wes Clark a few months ago-- during which his ideas about ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq sounded uncomfortably close to George Bush's ideas about ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq. I was very disappointed-- particularly because General Clark had been a lonely outspoken opponent of Bush's fatally flawed policies towards Iraq before the attack. After I wrote about it, I had many run-ins with Clark bully-boys who convinced me that at least an outspoken portion of his considerable following consists of the kind of weak-minded people who have historically attached themselves to military strongmen-- be it a Napoleon or a Tojo or a MacArthur.

But rudeness, racism, homophobia and bigotry from a few loud-mouthed fans of the general hasn't closed my mind to his message. And, even though I don't personally feel he has the right temperament and make-up for a U.S. president-- although he's be an improvement over the current fellow or his dad-- there is little doubt in my mind that Wes Clark can play a significant and positive role in our nation's destiny. I don't know if anyone is presumptuous enough to be making lists of vice presidential choices yet but if anyone is, I wouldn't be surprised to find Clark's name on the top of them all, especially Clinton's and even Feingold's. And if he doesn't wind up as Veep, he'd probably be a good bet for a Cabinet position.

I was really happy today to read that Clark's Iraq thinking has continued to evolve and that he is calling for troop withdrawals to begin. While he still hasn't been able to embrace a straight-forward Murtha-like approach, his thinking is definitely a major step-- albeit a late one for a leader-- in the right direction. He's miles ahead of reactionaries like Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and, of course, Joe Lieberman, on this.

“It's necessary ... to make this year a year of transition in Iraq,” Clark told The Associated Press in an interview during his visit to Kosovo. “The Iraqi government must take charge... And then we should begin the process of withdrawing the U.S. soldiers and other coalition soldiers from Iraq... I do think that there should be no permanent bases there. I think that the United States should soon begin its process of redeployment,” he said, adding that he believed there will be “some withdrawals very soon given where we are.”

MoveOn.Org Endorses Ned Lamont Today

> members in Connecticut voted in their own senate primary this week and today every member got an e-mail from Eli Pariser, the Executive Director of Political Action. Here is part of the letter:

Dear MoveOn member in Connecticut,

I wanted to share the results from our online primary with you before we tell the media.  Drumroll, please: By a whopping 85% to 14%, MoveOn members supported Ned Lamont for Connecticut's U.S. Senate seat—securing him the MoveOn endorsement.

Now that we've decided together to support Lamont, please consider making a contribution to his campaign by clicking on the link below.  Senator Lieberman has a war chest of over $4.2 million— so Ned will need all of our help to wage a good campaign.  Can you chip in a few bucks to help elect a new Democratic senator for Connecticut?

Your endorsement of Ned Lamont means that we'll raise money for him and help get folks out to the polls for the August 8th primary.  We'll bring some national focus to the race as well.  But how well he does in August will depend largely on our Connecticut members.  Now's the time to get involved.

So why did the vote come out the way we did? Here are a few representative comments that illustrate what we heard from a lot of you:

"I do not see that Senator Lieberman actually cares about Connecticut voters. He has treated them with contempt and complacence. I don't have a problem with Democrats who don't vote the party line, but I do have a problem with senators who treat their offices as an entitlement, and this is what Sen. Lieberman seems to be doing."
        -Dara from New Haven, CT

"Lamont is exactly the sort of candidate MoveOn should support: a true progressive running against the forces of Beltway conventional wisdom and accommodation of the Radical Right."
        -Greg from Watertown, CT

"I'm impressed with the 'fresh approach' that Ned Lamont seems to bring to the table.  I think that he's correct when he says that the Democratic party needs to stand out from the Republicans (and the 'W' administration). At first I was leaning towards Joe Lieberman because I can see that he is an established senator who has many contacts and perhaps has the power of persuasion within Washington, but I'm willing to take a chance on a 'new guy' who better fits the voice I'd like represented."
        -Meegan from Waterbury, CT

"Ned Lamont articulates my values about Iraq, health care, the environment."
        -Marion from Branford, CT

Ned's been having a couple of really good weeks. NOW endorsed him 2 weeks ago and then this week DFA endorsed him and now And on top of all this, the official Democratic Party Convention, where no one thought Ned could even get the 15% of delegate support to get on the ballot without going through the onerous and costly signature collection procedures, gave him 33% of the vote, stunning Lieberman and his old line Democratic Machine. (Even SpongeBob Squarepants is supporting Ned in his campaign to replace Bush's favorite Democrat with a real Democrat.)

Oh, and by the way, has 50,000 members in Connecticut. They are all registered to vote and they are all fired up to get America back on the right course. Getting America back on the right course means getting rid of rubber-stamp Republicans (and Democratic enablers) who have given Bush free reign to ride roughshod over the Constitution and who have supported Bush's catastrophic policies at home and abroad. If you'd like to join your brothers and sisters in Connecticut fighting for our liberty, please visit the ACT BLUE Page and donate whatever you can directly to Ned Lamont's campaign.



John Rodwick is a Down With Tyranny reader up in Montana. The first time we corresponded he seemed somewhat dejected and even cynical about the state of politics. Who could blame him? But I recommended that he go meet Jon Tester and get involved with his Senate campaign against the corrupt wing-nut Conrad Burns. I had read a lot about what an amazing candidate Tester is and I figured it would cheer John up about what could be done with politics. Besides, Pearl Jam had recently played a benefit for Jon's campaign and if someone as intuitively skeptical as Eddie Vedder could be convinced, anyone could be. Jon's sprawling legislative district-- 17,000 square miles (bigger than 9 entire states!) is extremely Republican-- but he won there and he can win everywhere in Montana. The notes I've been getting from John since then have been considerably more upbeat and a couple nights ago he wrote up a story about his meeting with the next Senator from the state of Montana.

May 24, 2006

I went to meet Jon Tester last night and found him to be an intelligent, straight shooting guy. He made great eye contact when I was speaking with him individually. When I asked him pointed questions about the war, economy, privacy issues and social programs, he didn't hesitate, flinch or have to think about how he felt. Regarding Iraq he said we need to develop an exit plan and get out or we are not ever going to be able to leave because you can't fight terror in the old war conventional manner. We have to lead by example and show compassion and that will be the way that others begin to see our country in a more positive light. We won't be able to beat them into submission.

He feels that the qualities he has demonstrated in the Montana Senate: hard work, the ability to listen and the ability to read (this got a big laugh because we all know Burns can't read) are what will serve him well in the U.S. Senate. He knows that Burns can be beaten and that he is the man to do it. Morrison has too much ethical baggage that will not stand up against Burns whereas he challenges anybody to question his ethics be it family, work on the farm or his record in the Montana legislature. An interesting statistic here is that Burns has a war chest of 10 million bucks. Only 17% of that money is from inside Montana! Tester's money is 67% from Montana. Conrad is supported by big business, pharmaceutical and oil money. Tester's money is largely middle class money.

Conrad is not a conservative. He spends money like it is going out of style- political pork runs rampant for the man. He said his own (Tester's) brother is a conservative and he hates Burns.

Tester said that he will be in the Senate to effect change and that an effective change agent leads by example and isn't afraid to speak their mind. We can't change the direction in this country unless we are willing to elect people who will effect change.

Tester has run his farm organically for 20 years. He supports wind energy development, particularly for eastern Montana and sees energy independence as a viable alternative- he helped move Montana from 50th to 15th in wind energy. He supports a tax policy that will help middle class people stay middle and not have their position eroded. He would like to see the Patriot Act repealed.

I liked the guy a lot. He seemed to be the genuine article and showed no fear about speaking his mind when he was asked some tough questions where he could have hedged on his opinion so as not to alienate anyone like Max Baucus, who obviously has seniority, but is not an effective change agent. He described himself as a progressive Democrat.

Hell, it's been 30 some years since I attended anything political but I was really impressed with his style, straightforwardness and his ability to express his thoughts spontaneously. I donated twice, once after I had asked him some questions privately and again after he spoke to the crowd.

I think if he can beat Morrison in the primary he will beat Conrad in the general. But that's a big "if." Morrison has big name recognition and this state is so damn conservative. If it's Morrison and Burns in November I'm afraid that Burns will win again and that will be so sad. Burns is a joke. He's stupid, only interested in feathering his own nest and arrogant as well. But mostly stupid.

Someone was telling me a couple days ago that they were on vacation in Hawaii and were talking with some congressperson over there who said that Burns is the laughing-stock of the senate. Mike Mansfield must be rolling over in his grave.

My overall gut impressions: nice smile, sense of humor, honest, caring, intelligent, great verbal skills and committed to making a difference and being a change agent. It's always nice to meet someone you agree with too-- especially here in northwest MT, which is pretty damn close to Hayden Lake sometimes. The best part of the gathering was being in a room with a hundred other people who have similar values. When Tester made a point about the war, economy, privacy rights, alternative energy, etc, the crowd applauded. That felt good to me.

A little bit of money goes a very long way in Montana political campaigns and all the Big Business money is going to Morrison because of his DLC orientation and to Burns because he's the #1 biggest lobbyist whore in the entire U.S. Senate. So... I just opened an ACT BLUE Page for Jon. You wanna help out?

Thursday, May 25, 2006



Bush claims he had some kind of a Saul-on-road-to-Damascus moment that solved his debilitating snow problem some time ago. And now that he's hired Fox "News" propagandist Tony Snow, he's figured out a way to rid himself of his other Snow problem. I mean who needs two Snows in one Regime? And it was getting taxing for poor Bush's over-stressed brain-- and you don't want anything taxing anywhere near anything to do with the Treasury Department! CNBC reported today that Treasury Secretary John Snow is leaving the Regime in a few weeks. Although Fox "News," rumored to have some connections inside the secretive and increasingly paranoid White House, is also reporting that Snow will be gone by mid-June, apparently neither Cheney nor Bolten nor whoever makes the deck chair arrangements has bothered to tell the Bozo-in-Chief yet. "He has not talked to me about resignation. I think he is doing a fine job. Our economy is strong." Sure it is, Bozo-- especially if you own an oil company.

Snow took over in early 2003 after Paul O'Neill grew increasingly disenchanted with the inherent dishonesty that had already permeated the whole Cheney Bush Regime and resigned or was fired. Snow has sucked up all the Regime's catastrophic pseudo economic policies but Bush or someone there wants a true believer for the job. No, that doesn't mean they'll be doing an extensive search of the graduating classes of Bible colleges in the next few weeks. He has a nutcase right in the house who has threatened to leave the Regime if Cheney didn't get rid of Snow before July and give him the job: the hapless Snow's cutthroat colleague, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.

That name sounds familiar? He's one of those shady characters in the background whenever really bad decisions have been made in the last decade or so. Perhaps you saw the list-- that should one day be a war crimes indictment list-- of the folks who started this whole fascist/NeoCon Project For A New American Century. Along with household nitemares like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Kristol, Bolton and Armitage, Zoellick was on that one too. Toni Solo had an apt description of Zoellick in a COUNTERPUNCH piece he wrote in 2003. "Zoellick is a superb and practised faith-based con-man. Preaching free trade, he trails a long history of private business interests in predatory multinational corporations like Vivendi, Enron, Goldman Sachs, Alliance Capital and SAID Holdings, the Bermuda-based South African patent and copyright security specialists. His outlook melds seamlessly into the Bush regime's deliberate confusion of the wishes of their rule-bending plutocrat buddies with the interests of the United States people."

Please take your seat promptly, Mr. Zoellick. And strap youself in tightly. The Titanic may be in for a little chop.



Although Cheney and the gang from Halliburton are safe for now, the other pillar of the Bush era slash and burn economy, Enron's Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling have been found guilty on, respectively, 6 and 19 charges and face spending the rest of their miserable lives in prison (although both will in all likelihood be pardoned by Bush on his last day in office-- a day on which he will need lots and lots and lots of pens). Reuters just reported that the case was "a major victory for U.S. prosecutors intent on sending a message that corporate America must clean up its act. Lay, 64, was convicted of six counts of conspiracy and fraud and faces up to 45 years in prison. Skilling was found guilty of 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, insider trading and making false statements which, combined, carry a maximum sentence of 185 years."

The L.A. Times said it all came down to the jury embracing "the testimony of a parade of former Enron executives who said Lay and Skilling lied publicly about the energy company's financial health and condoned, if not actively encouraged, the use of accounting tricks to boost reported profits and hide debt." quotes David Irwin, a former state and federal prosecutor who now handles white-collar criminal defense cases in Baltimore: "This conviction brings to a close the government's effort to send a clear message to the corporate world that fraudulent behavior won't be tolerated." We shall see. Remember, Lay and Enron gave Bush over $500,000 over the last years. Bush is unlikely to get him rot in prison. Sentencing takes place September 11, a date that has figured prominently in Bush's horrific presidency.


Robert Parry has all the particulars of Bush's unending support of arch-criminal Ken Lay in an article he just wrote for Consortium News. And it goes way beyond endearing nicknames and Christmas cards. For example, he points out that "As Enron’s crisis worsened through the first nine months of Bush’s presidency, Lay secured Bush’s help in three key ways:

--Bush personally joined the fight against imposing caps on the soaring price of electricity in California at a time when Enron was artificially driving up the price of electricity by manipulating supply. Bush’s resistance to price caps bought Enron extra time to gouge hundreds of millions of dollars from California’s consumers.

--Bush granted Lay broad influence over the development of the administration’s energy policies, including the choice of key regulators to oversee Enron’s businesses. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was replaced in 2001 after he began to delve into Enron’s complex derivative-financing schemes.

--Bush had his NSC staff organize that administration-wide task force to pressure India to accommodate Enron’s interests in selling the Dabhol generating plant for as much as $2.3 billion."


A DWT reader just let me know that online bookmakers are now posting odds on the length of Lay's sentence. It's pretty hilarious but I don't think it's supposed to be. So, if you want to place a bet... I hope this is legal.



I really love Democracy. I don't want to say "grassroots Democracy," because Democracy is grassroots. Here's a video a friend of mine in Connecticut sent me. It brought tears to my eyes, tears of joy, tears of joy as I watched my fellow citizens rising up to start a movement to declare that we, as citizens, would NOT let a self-interested and incompetent establishment continue to lead our country down a path of destruction and ruin. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did. It's about 7 minutes. And after you watch it I hope you'll be move to click here, for Ned Lamont.

There's lots and lots of this:
"And the great town of Fairfield, realizing that our country and Sean Hannity's favorite Democrat is going in the wrong direction, casts 18 ballots for Ned Lamont!"
"Eastford is pleased to cast 1 vote for peace, 1 vote for Ned Lamont"
"Madame Chairwoman, Kilingworth, the home of the anti-war Democrats casts 3 votes for Lamont"
"Mansfield casts all 10 votes for Ned Lamont"
"And one vote for defense of the Constitution for Lamont"
"In honor of the brave men and women fighting in Iraq Monroe casts its 8 votes for Ned Lamont."
"Oxford unanimously has 3 votes for Ned Lamont."
"The residents of Morris have entrusted their lone soldier of democracy to vote for Ned Lamont."
"New Fairfield casts all 5 of its votes for Ned Lamont."
"Madame Chairwoman the town of North Cayman believes that the war must end. We proudly cast our 2 votes for Ned Lamont."
"And two for the man of conscience, Ned Lamont."
"Madame Secretary, Southbury, the town that invited Joe Lieberman to speak in Feb and is still waiting for a return call proudly casts 5 votes for Ned Lamont."

Meanwhile, fellow arch-hypocrite and supporter of the religionist-right, as well as of Bush and his occupation of Iraq, John McCain, endorsed Lieberman on the Larry King show. So here we have it-- the power elite circles the wagons around one of their own to do their best to thwart democracy.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006



Let me answer both questions. VERY corrupt, right up to his ham hocks; and much more than just taking bribes from the Turks to foil Armenian-Americans. Early today I was somewhat astounded to hear Hastert howling like a madman that the FBI had dared to invade the sanctity of crooked Democratic congressman William Jefferson's freezer (where they found $10,000 less than the $100,000 bribe he had recently taken). Why, thought I, is Hastert running around like a stuck pig screaming about the Constitution-- after participating, quite actively, in gutting it for the last half dozen years? I mean he was stomping around and bellowing so loudly that he had another meeting with Bush-- this while Democratic House Leader Pelosi is demanding that Jefferson resign his House Ways and Means Committee seat! It makes more sense this afternoon.

Now ABC News is reporting that it was Speaker Hastert who got the most bribe money from Abramoff of anyone in the House of Representatives. This should surprise no one who has been paying attention. Remember, to agree to torpedo a House resolution, which he had been supporting, recognizing Armenian-American claims about their nation's genocide, Hastert took $500,000 in small bills from agents of the Turkish government. No one knows where he hides his money-- although he has been a major supporter of off-shore businesses-- but one thing for sure: considering what he consumes in a day, there's no room in hisfreezer for half a million dollars!

Although the FBI investigation of Hastert's previous bribe case was very mysterious and murky, the ABC piece is much clearer-- and far more out in the fresh air for Americans to see: "The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level government sources. Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government. Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago [co-signed by 3 of the most corrupt bosses presiding over the Republican Culture of Corruption: Roy Blunt (R-MO), DeLay and Eric Cantor (R-VA)], urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with other tribes. The other tribes were represented by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff who reportedly has provided details of his dealings with Hastert as part of his plea agreement with the government. The letter was written shortly after a fund-raiser for Hastert at a restaurant owned by Abramoff. Abramoff and his clients contributed more than $26,000 at the time."

That was certainly a nice day for Denny, although just a small amount of the nearly $70,000 Abramoff and his clients gave him between 1998 and 2004. (Actually the crime-busting SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE reports that Hastert took at least $100,000 from Abramoff, not $70,000.) Like all crooked pols caught like rats, Hastert denies everything, of course.

In September, 2004 The Washington Post had written about that very letter in an article about the systematic Republican corruption that had taken over the nation's capital. "DeLay has also shown support for causes important to Abramoff's clients. A source close to Abramoff who asked not to be named because of the continuing grand jury investigation said Abramoff lobbied DeLay's office to organize a June 2003 letter -- co-signed by DeLay, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Deputy Whip Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.) -- that endorsed a view of gambling law benefiting the Coushattas' desire to block gambling competition by another tribe. The letter, sent to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton, said the House leaders opposed a plan by the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians to open a casino at a non-reservation site, expected at the time to be outside Shreveport, La., not far from a casino owned by the Coushattas. The intent of the letter, the source said, was to protect the income from the Coushattas' casino -- about $300 million a year. V. Heather Sibbison, a lobbyist at the time for the Jena Band, said: "I do this for a living, and I have never seen a letter like that before. It was incredibly unusual for that group of people, who do not normally weigh in on Indian issues, to express such a strong opinion about a particular project not in any of their home states."

A friend of mine from a backward part of rural Georgia, Jeremy, who I've written about on DWT before, moved to California and is recovering from years and years of Fox "News" brainwashing. He's making progress but sometimes he slips. He slipped today. Jeremy has been demanding that I denounce Louisiana crooked congressman William Jefferson and admit that political corruption is not partisan. Let me tell you why he's off-base.

Sure there are-- and, as he pointed out, always have been-- corrupt people who have gotten into office and used their positions to advance their personal finances at the expense of the general public. William Jefferson appears to be one of those. But when I talk about a Culture of Corruption pervading Washington, that isn't what I'm talking about, far from it. Jeremy and anyone else who has been brainwashed by Hannity or Limbaugh or O'Liely-- please read, for starters, a short piece in THE NATION called "Exile On K Street". It will clear up any confusion about the difference between a rogue crook like Jefferson and a carefully-crafted and operated system of corruption utterly dominating all aspects of our nation's capital's political life.

Another difference people need to look at-- speaking of letters-- is the letter Pelosi sent to Jefferson today asking him to leave his powerful committee position. (Hastert, on the other hand appointed the already indicted DeLay to the same committee after the indictment and after he was named as a possible target in several bribery investigations.

May 24, 2006
Congressman William J. Jefferson
2113 Rayburn House Office Building
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Congressman Jefferson:

In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee.

Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader

Clear difference, right? Even in Georgia?


Ron at Politics 1 has all the skinny on congressmen who feel they're immune from FBI search. (And maybe they are but I gotta think that the ones who have consistently proven they don't give a rat's ass about The Constitution and who now scream the loudest, must be hiding something. And with Boehner's and Hastert's propensity for taking bribes... well, you gotta wonder.)

"Well, I have got to believe at the end of the day it is going to end up across the street at the Supreme Court. I don't see anything short of that ... [the search was] the Justice Department's invasion of the legislative branch ... [The FBI] take the same oath, so somebody better start reading the Constitution down there," said Boehner. Hastert was outraged: "Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years [of barring Justice Department searches of Capitol Hill offices] ... I am very concerned about the necessity of a Saturday night raid on Congressman Jefferson's Capitol Hill Office in pursuit of information that was already under subpoena and at a time when those subpoenas are still pending and all the documents that have been subpoenaed were being preserved. The Founding Fathers were very careful to establish in the Constitution a Separation of Powers to protect Americans against the tyranny of any one branch of government. They were particularly concerned about limiting the power of the Executive Branch. Every Congressional Office contains certain Legislative Branch documents that are protected by the Constitution." Hastert demanded -- and received -- a meeting with President Bush. At the meeting, Hastert said he told the President the search was "unconstitutional" and demanded that the Justice Department "back up, and we need to go from there."



Oh, is Arnold really all that bad? Yes, as a matter of fact, THAT bad and worse. I hope Democrats and Independents don't need me to tell them why he is. But just in case... You know, you don't have to run around in a white sheet and pillowcase or a Nazi uniform to be a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Schwarzenegger may be better than bigots and nutcases like Santorum, Frist, Sensenbrenner, DeLay, Cheney, Bush and Robertson but he's still way, way to the right of Californians on just about everything. It's incredible that anybody likes this guy.

Well, maybe I shouldn't make blanket statements like that. Some people-- even beyond his family-- like him... a lot. Big Business, for example; they LOVE him. In fact, they picked up the tab for $300,000 worth of parties he threw to impress people at the 2004 Republican National Convention Hatefest in NYC. Was that so the Chamber of Commerce goons who were there in force would get free invites? Nah. They had something else-- something far more important-- in mind. And they got it. The very next day after he got back to Sacramento from NY, he vetoed legislation that the state Assembly and state Senate had passed to raise California's minimum wage, #1 on Big Businesses priority list of what they wanted from him. See? Like I said, some people just love him.

And, you know, Arnold's veto pen has been a godsend for lots of Big Business interests. Those crazy pro-worker assemblymembers and senators in Sacramento passed a bill to keep taxpayer money from going to companies that use outsourced labor. Arnold vetoed that one too. And he vetoed a bill passed by both houses of the legislature that would have started a prescription drug importation plan, making it less expensive for poor people and seniors to buy medicine. (Did you think the big drug companies gave him lots of money? If you said "yes," give yourself a pat on the back and try to remember in November.) And he did more than just veto stuff; sometimes he's been pro-active for his pals on the far right. Like when he decided to balance the budget by slashing health care for the poor and elderly-- a way of getting around raising the taxes of his wealthy campaign contributors.

You know Arnold is unpopular and on the defensive now so he never brings this stuff up, like he used to when he thought people liked him. It was only about a year ago when he was talking about carrying another bucket for Big Business-- the Big Enchilada, their long-time (like from the day FDR proposed it) fervent dream that Social Security would be abolished. He announced plans to privitize the California state retirement system (after Big Business interests stuffed $6 million in bribes up his ass).

OK, so we all agree that Schwarzenegger's got to go, right? Now we have to decide who would be the best choice to oppose him. I haven't gotten to know either Phil Angelides or Steve Westly, but I'm going to try to express some feelings about each one. I actually did get to meet Steve Westly once. It was a thoroughly revolting experience and I'm about to re-live it for your benefit. A friend of mine from the Dean campaign invited me to meet Westly, who he thinks highly of, and hear him speak in an intimate and private setting. I knew nothing about the man. I was immediately turned off because before Westly even began to address the small gathering, someone had asked him if he would run for governor. Schwarzenegger had just gotten into office and was still enjoying a honeymoon with the public and seemed quite unassailable. Westly laughed it off and explained that Schwarzenegger was too popular to take on. He didn't say "I'm a craven, opportunistic coward who cares nothing for Californians, only for my own career trajectory," but that was what I heard coming out of his mouth. On top of that he seemed uptight to the max, like someone had shoved a broom up his butt before he came into the house and he hadn't removed it yet.

Let me set the context, or scene, to be more precise. Westly and I weren't the only two non-Armenians at this gathering. There was also an Asian-American local Glendale official on the hunt for some political love. Everyone else was a successful Armenian-American, entrepreneurs and professionals. The event was in a lovely backyard of a private home in the hills. The catering could have been for a swanky bar mitzvah. There were maybe 40-50 people but enough food for 5 times that many. The hospitality was overwhelming-- as were the good feelings. And when the highest ranking Armenian prelate in North America walked in, it was like the Pope (John, not the German we have now) had walked into the room. People seemed profoundly moved and in complete awe. Normal college guys I had been chatting with 5 minutes earlier were trembling. OK... into this interesting scene walked Steve Westly, California State Controller, candidate-for-nothing-now-but-someone-who-will-be-one-day-so-remember-me.

I was stunned by his speech. I didn't realize that Steve Westly had gotten into politics to right all the wrongs ever perpetrated against the Armenian people! I mean I've heard enough politicians to know that many of them pander-- some outrageously-- to whomever they're speaking to. But this was beyond anything I had ever experienced-- or even imagined. In my mind I wrote him off on the spot.

Before I move on to Angelides, I just want to address some silliness I've seen online about how Westly must be hip because he was an eBay executive. Sounds real high tech and groovy to you? You must not use eBay much. This company-- aside from being politically extremely right wing-- is a nitemare for many people who use it. They're probably the most fascist run company in America and you can ask almost any long-time eBay user what they think and you'll probably get lots and lots of this. I'm not claiming Westly is responsible for how bad eBay is, but don't vote for him because you think he's some way cool tech guy.

No one's gonna think Phil Angelides is a way cool anything guy, at least not from looking at him. To be honest I just assumed he was another colorless hack Democratic California politician. Until last year. Last year-- when Westly and many other Democrats were either afraid of Schwarzenegger's perceived popularity or were kissing up to him-- Angelides took him on. He's actually used his office of State Treasurer to do a lot of good for the state while Schwarzenegger was trying to do to California what Bush has done to America. He's been a bold and unabashedly liberal innovator as Treasurer. But, of course, what caught my attention was how he went to the wall, brilliantly and forthrightly against Schwarzenegger's horrible voter initiatives. And he beat him on every one. He beat him once and he'll beat him again. I'm a little wary that he's been endorsed by the state Democratic Establishment but since Westly is anything but a grassroots populist, I'll be holding my wariness at bay on June 6th and casting my vote for Phil Angelides.