Friday, May 30, 2008

How Big A Let Down Have The Democrats Been?


Well... alas, pretty big. In the new issue of Rolling Stone Tim Dickinson takes on the Democratic Senate leadership. Below I want to talk anecdotally about some Democratic Party letdowns but first take a look at what ex-Democrat/current independent candidate for Congress, Steve Porter has to say and let's look at some of Dickinson's most salient points. He points out what a shill NY reptile Chuck Schumer has been for crooked billionaire Wall Street operators, "championing one of the biggest tax breaks for billionaires in the history of the republic [as] Democrats in the House fought to close a loophole that levies a tax rate of only 15 percent... on hedge-fund managers who make as much as $3.7 billion a year. But when the debate reached the Senate, Schumer broke with his fellow Democrats and sided with Wall Street-- inspiring the hedge-fund industry to hail him as its 'guardian.'"

Another New York member of Congress, seems to be criticizing Schumer and other Insider Democrats who serve the interests of a very generous plutocracy (generous to their career aspirations that is): Rep. Charles Rangel, who led the hedge-fund tax in the House: "America's middle class have been forgotten. It seems that those with the money have the power." And Harry Reid is backing Schumer and the hedge fund crooks up. Why? They are financing the DSCC, the same way other equally corrupt corporate special interests have financed the NRSC and Bush and the GOP. With power-hungry sleazebags like Schumer (or McConnell for that matter, a kind of Schumer doppelganger in many horrifying ways) in charge do you think effective campaign finance regulations-- taking the billions of dollars pumped into our political system by special interests eager for special consideration-- will ever be enacted? There's only one answer and it has two letters and the first is "no."
According to campaign-finance records, seven of the country's 10 richest hedge-fund managers contributed an average of $24,400 to the DSCC last year. "Schumer didn't want to turn the spigot off," says Bob McIntyre, director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Tax Justice. All told, the hedge-fund and private-equity sectors have showered the Democrats with more than $14 million this year-- double what they have given Republicans.

As the hedge-fund fiasco demonstrates, Democrats have turned the Senate into the chamber where good legislation goes to die. Since regaining the majority in 2006, the Democrats have granted the Bush administration and big telephone companies immunity for illegal wiretapping, declared a branch of the Iranian military a terrorist organization and stuffed the recent Foreclosure Prevention Act with far more goodies for big lenders than for struggling homeowners [$25 billion in corporate welfare-- including, outrageously, billions in tax breaks to speculative home builders who helped create the disastrous housing bubble in the first place-- and only $9 billion for struggling homeowners]. They also confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey despite his refusal to disavow torture-- a move engineered by Schumer. "You really want to like the Democrats," says Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Then they go and do shit like this."

...The bitter truth in the Senate is that it's not Republicans who are betraying the Democratic agenda-- it's Democrats themselves. "It's not the Congress that's ineffective," says Rangel. "It's not the promises that Nancy Pelosi made. We have passed the courageous bills — but for what? To be told what's 'acceptable' by the Senate." These days, he adds bitterly, "We don't need no House of Representatives. All we need to do is go over and ask the Senate, 'What have you Democrats and Republicans agreed to?'"

But the problem with the Insider Democrats who think they know better than the grassroots isn't just about Harry Reid and the NY Reptile-- and it isn't even only about Republican-lite Blue Dogs conspiring with the GOP to thwart a progressive agenda. House Democrats are always whining that it's the Blue Dogs who hold them back and there is a modicum of truth in that. But then how do you explain the fact that the House Democrats consistently break their own rules to prevent real Democrats from being nominated by throwing DCCC support behind Blue Dogs? Oh, they stopped doing that when Emanuel moved upstairs, you say? Well, Chris Van Hollen promised they would-- but they haven't.

Just yesterday the DCCC violated it's own rules by following John Boehner, Tom Cole and the NRCC down an old Stalinist model for candidate selection, backing a clueless Insider stooge, Ann Kirkpatrick in AZ-01 over a grassroots progressive, Howard Shanker. This thoroughly anti-democratic, old Communist regime way of doing things is working out really badly, even catastrophically, for the Republicans... so why would Van Hollen blunder into it, just when everything has been going so well?

A disgruntled Democrat from Flagstaff, on the DCCC's own website wants to know too:
Why does the DCCC pick before the people of the democratic party?

First you quietly pad Ann Kirkpatrick’s coffers, and then you call her the candidate to beat and offer public support. And all this before the primary. If you @$$holes would stop trying to force a candidate down our throats then we would have turned CD1 blue years ago.

Your “anointed” candidate (which you always seem to choose before the primaries) has lost in the last four elections.

Ever thought of playing fair with your own people before? It might work. Either wait till after the primary to back someone, or give a little bit to everyone who brings in enough petition signatures when qualifying.
And personally, I would set the bar higher than the measly 2500 signatures Ann K. brought in.

In fact all the comments on the DCCC site oppose Van Hollen's decision to morph into an unpleasant combination of Rahm Emanuel, John Boehner and Stalin. Another Arizona commenter: "This is pretty simple: Kirkpatrick is not the strongest democrat in the race. I wish folks at the DCCC had seen a debate or two between Kirkpatrick and Howard Shanker-- there’s no contest here. People on the ground in CD1 know that, but people out in DC don’t. This race is Shanker’s to lose, and all the top-down pressure from the Governor and the DCCC isn’t going to change much. Except maybe increase democrats’ frustration with the party." And another: "Yet another lame election year where the party decides who we should vote for even before we vote. Rick Renzi must have enjoyed having the DCCC in his corner for all those years. He would have faced some stiff competition if you actually took the time to see what the Democrat voters of DC1 wanted. Nobody likes being told who to vote for. Ann Kirkpatrick would make a T-shirt illegal if she does not like what it says. I guess she fits well in the DCC’s 'we’ll think for you' approach to politics."

Please think about that the next time the DCCC send you an e-mail begging for money to elect more Democrats-- never BETTER Democrats, always more Democrats, more Democrats to vote exactly how their Republican opponents would have voted on the issues that matter most.

And it isn't only the Inside the Beltway insiders who are systematically betraying the grassroots. A couple weeks ago former grassroots hero-- though never someone him trusted for 2 seconds-- Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia endorsed a corrupt reactionary, Gerry Connolly, for Congress, over Leslie Byrne, the grassroots progressive. Only 18% of Kaine's own base, Raising Kaine, agreed with his decision; 65% disapproved. (Fortunately, Jim Webb endorsed Leslie-- as did Blue America.

But I'm not just complaining because Leslie is a Blue America candidate. Out in southern New Mexico's sprawling second CD, Blue America hasn't endorsed any candidate, although we have noted that nearly 800 people have gone to ActBlue to donate to the progressive grassroots candidate, Bill McCamley, while only 2 people have donated to Harry Teague. It doesn't matter to Teague, a multimillionaire oilman, who is self-funding. Teague was just endorsed by Governor Bill Richardson, who everyone loves because he endorsed Obama. Predictably Teague is a huge Hillary supporter and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to politicians-- from both parties-- and immense amounts to... Bill Richardson. In fact, Richardson for President, Inc. owes Harry Teague's company-- Lea King LLC-- $203,850.70 for the use of Harry's private jet during the campaign. This currently comprises 64% of his campaign debt. Since the end of February Governor Richardson's Campaign has paid off $103,354.41 or 24.5% of his debt. Not a single penny had been paid to Lea King. (Under FEC regulations a vendor like Lea King may forgive debts owed by a committee if the debt was incurred in the normal course of business, the committee “undertook all reasonable efforts” to raise the funds, and the vendor made “the same efforts to collect the debt as those made to a non-political debtor." It doesn't mention endorsements.) On top of that, Teague's company, Teaco Energy, and its employees have bundled over $30,000 in campaign contributions for Richardson and some of that money may have been provided to the "donors" from Teague himself like a $4,600 contribution from an office assistant; that's illegal.

Democrats want our political leaders to act like Democrats, not like Republicans-- whether it's Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Chris Van Hollen, Rahm Emanuel, Bill Richardson or Tim Kaine. Grassroots Democrats should stop funding the DSCC and DCCC and donate directly to the candidates who they know they can trust. You can count on the Blue America candidates to support the people's interests, not the special interests and party bosses. Should you decide to donate to Leslie Byrne or Howard Shanker or any other of our progressive, grassroots canddiates today, please remember to add one cent to your donation so it counts as a vote in the Air America contest, which ends Monday morning at 6am, PT.

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At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as southern NM residents, my husband and I were appalled by Richardson and LT. Gov. Denish's support of Teague. We voted for McCamley in early voting. When we found out about the push from the top State Dems for Teague, we got mad and voted against that kind of "top-down" edict. That is not the way we believe Democrats should behave! Last year in a City Council race, Lt. Gov. Denish made public her support and donation to a candidate. That candidate she supported lost BIG TIME. Our hope is the same will happen to Teague. We are progressives, active on issues, and not trying to make a career out of County or State Democratic politics.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger pygalgia said...

Thanks for the coverage of AZ-01 (my district). I'm a Shanker volunteer who's been really annoyed by the DCCC's actions, but we're fighting back. It's going to be tough between now and the Sept. primary.

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget the DCCC and DSCC. If more of us give directly to candidates, rather than to Dem institutions, we will eventually send a message. I learned in the run up to the 2006 election that I could not longer support the established system because it doesn't search out and donate to the best candidates. Let's keep going!

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want to say thank you to you folks at Down With Tyranny. There's a growing number of people who recognize that Shanker is the candidate for CD1, and your help is crucial in getting the word out. No one likes having something stuffed down their throat, especially when it's a Republican Lite candidate like Kirkpatrick.

At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Renzi won three times because the DCCC and AZ Dem Party either backed a horrid candidate or did not back a good candidate. Should we trust this kind of endorsement once again? I think not. Howard is the only candidate worthy of our vote. Kirkpatrick is as conservative as Andy Tobin. We deserve better.
Thank you DownWithTtranny for getting the word out. As of today, Howard Shanker has the endorsement of a chapter of Progressive Democrats of America in AZ CD1. He well deserves all the support we can generate for him.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kirkpatrick gets more angry at every forum or event. She leans forward and starts lecturing the audience like we are her subjects. Then she goes back to her tight little smile. She is a phony as Bush. She keeps bragging that she is born and bred in AZ and is a native. Big deal. She is trying to act like a wanna-be-Indian to garner the Native American vote? Give me a break. She is just your average WASP who doesn't give a rat's behind about anyone but her big donors. If you look at her donors it reads like a playbook for developers and real estate folks.

She loves to send people to jail who disagree with her ideas of lawbreaking. Guilty until proven innocent is her mindset. Send more people to jail. Out of sight, out of mind. Sounds like her version of the Patriot Act.

She argues that Shanker sues people and she attended some training on remediation in Colorado. Big deal. Howard has acted on the behalf of the people. We need leaders like Howard Shaker who follows his passion in life to make a difference for the people. Don't vote for Kirkpatrick unless you want the zombie candidate to win. Vote for Howard, the real deal.


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