• comment on a post Open Thread and Straw Poll over 9 years ago
    Whoever we nominate, it has to be a governor.  Only two senators have ever gone directly from the Senate to the White House, and the last was John F. Kennedy  
    (all other Senators who won held a different position in between).

    Historical trends aren't the issue, however, the dynamics of Congress are.  Because of the nature of the appropriations cycle, compromises have to be thrown in to satisfy members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, many of which are projects that are relevant only to their own constituents. There is nothing wrong with this, after all, our system is designed to force compromise (something Bush & Co don't understand).

    However, appropriations cycles often drag out, and individual projects that a member of the House or Senate might never support ideologically are often thrown into "Omnibus" Bills that must pass in order to avoid a general funding mess.  This leaves members open to criticism for "voting for (insert ridiculous project here) in (insert year).

    Sure the member voted for it, as part of a bill that included everything needed to keep the government running.  Unfortunately, that can't be explained in a sound bite.

    Governors, on the other hand, don't leave voting records behind, which make them harder to criticize.  Look at recent Governor turned Presidents and their opponents:

    Bush 2nd election
      Senator Kerry
    Bush 1st election (I know, he didn't really win)
      Vice President Gore, former Senator
    Clinton 2nd election
      Senator Dole
    Clinton First Election
      President Bush
    Reagan 2nd Election:
      Vice President Mondale, former Senator
      President Ford

    My early betting is on Mark Warner.  I have a feeling that many Democrats will be saying "the last two times we won with a Southern Governor, he's popular in Virginia, which John Kerry could have carried; if he could bring us Virginia we could have a winner."

    Warner is a currently a moderate Democrat, but nominees for office will embrace the positions of their most powerful constituents want. If progressives can raise the kind of funds that they did last year and become organized enough to write the platform, a candidate like Warner might be a good messenger.

  • comment on a post Rove and the Right-Wing Power Grab over 9 years ago
    While I think we need to frame the abuses of three branches of Republican government under one umbrella, I'm not sure "Right-wing Power Grab" is the right way to go. Many Americans who consider themselves conservative will not necessarily be happy with criminal behavior that undermines national security.

    I think a more inclusive question is "Do we want an Effective Government or a Defective Government"

    With this question we can go beyond partisanship to a broader issue: the governing style of this administration and its allies in Congress and the courts.  The failed policies, ethical lapses, and outrageous corruption in the White House and on Capitol Hill should be shown as direct result of the arrogant, reckless and secret government Bush and Co. have installed and the Supreme Court has rubber-stamped.

    Sample argument:

    Effective government is conducted in the open to give voters control over their own lives and hold leaders accountable. It gives us energy policy that benefits the customers, health care that benefits the patients and foreign policy that protects us from real threats and seeks victories over real enemies.

    Defective government is carried out in secret and holds no one accountable. It puts electoral strategy over national security and encourages corruption.  It gives us and cash and carry politics: energy policy written by oil companies, health care policy written by the pharmaceutical industry, and foreign policy written without a clue resulting in unending, incompetently planned
    wars against the wrong enemy.

    This administration and its allies in Congress have told the American people that the government they pay for is none of their business.  They have closed the doors to anyone who might question their policies, and the result has been a combination of incompetence, failure and corruption.  We need an effective government that we can keep an eye one, and it will never be effective unless we keep an eye it.

  • comment on a post Local Progressive Blog Rings over 9 years ago
    The Personal Democracy Forum


    Has a list of specifically local blogs, many categorized by party.

    From their website:

    All Blogotics is Local

    Are you a blogger with an intense focus on local or state politics? Or are you a politics junkie who's noticed that your local paper or TV station isn't the only place where political news breaks anymore?

    Locally-focused political blogs are steadily coming into their own, and their unique blend of passionate engagement, wry observation, on- and off-line community and freewheeling conversation are started to affect the dynamics of local political campaigns and issues. Politicos of all stripes ignore them at their peril.

    Want to suggest a blog? Write to blogs@personaldemocracy.com and include a short description.

  • comment on a post Local Progressive Blog Rings over 9 years ago
    GrassRoots Democrats is a relatively new organization dedicated to building up the State Democratic Parties and Coordinated Campaigns through fundraising, technical & legal assistance, and the sharing of best practices.  

    They are more interested in building infrastructure than supporting any ideological branch of the Democratic Party.  We should consider them, however, for two reasons:

    Organizations tend to lean toward their strongest supporters, and

    Progressives need an infrastructure to carry our message and get voters:

    From their website www.grassrootsdemocrats.com :

    Grassroots Democrats Mission
    A New Political Organization to Assist State Party Committees

    Grassroots Democrats is a new, independent non-profit political organization dedicated to raising non-federal funds - - often called "soft money" - - for state Democratic Party committees and providing technical assistance to those committees for coordinated campaigns to elect Democrats in 2003 and 2004, especially in the 15-20 battleground states that will attract the most attention and resources. Grassroots Democrats brings together experienced political strategists and fundraisers committed to building a lasting Democratic Party infrastructure in the states, and will perform critical tasks that the new national campaign finance law prevents national political party committees from undertaking.

    Democratic Party Fundraising Under the McCain-Feingold Law

    The "McCain-Feingold" law (formally, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, or "BCRA") has significantly impeded the ability of national, state and local party committees - - as well as federal, state and local officeholders and candidates - - to raise and spend political money. The national party committees are strictly barred from dealing with soft money in any manner. State and local party committees are subject to complicated and burdensome rules about raising and spending soft money for voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts, voter identification and even party-promotional messages - - including in states that don't themselves limit these activities. Among these rules is a flat prohibition on party committees acting jointly to raise or transfer soft money for these vital programs.

    The new law will also deepen the Democratic Party's historic hard-money deficit to the Republican Party. During the 2001-02 cycle, the three national Republican committees out-raised the three national Democratic committees in hard money by $442 million to $217 million, a 2-to-1 advantage. Through January 2004, under BCRA, those Republican committees raised another $58.7 million to the Democrats' $22.8 million, close to a 3-to-1 margin.

    Before BCRA, soft money was a critical equalizer for the three Democratic committees. During the 2001-02 cycle they raised $245 million in soft money, nearly matching the three Republican committees' $250 million. In January 2004, with soft money off the table, the RNC out-raised the DNC $39.4 million to $13.7 million, all in hard money. In this hard-money world, Republican Party "Victory Plan" resources threaten to overwhelm those available to Democratic Party coordinated campaigns.

    Democratic Party Coordinated Campaigns at Risk

    Coordinated campaigns comprise the heart of the Democratic Party's efforts to win elections from the presidency to the city council. Since the Party's coordinated campaign structure was first implemented in 1992, soft money has paid for most of it in every election cycle. The DNC has provided much of those funds, with the balance coming from private sources such as unions, corporations and individuals. Just as importantly, the DNC provided overall coordination and direction for soft-money fundraising for state coordinated campaigns, and regularly helped direct state party soft money spending - - functions that BCRA says the national party committees can't perform anymore.

    If the DNC and federal candidates are limited to hard-money fundraising and spending, then state and local parties will be on their own when they make and implement critical budgeting and strategic decisions involving soft money. State and local Democratic Party organizations must meet this challenge now.

    The Role of Grassroots Democrats

    Grassroots Democrats works with Democratic state or local party committees to fund and implement their coordinated campaigns. Grassroots Democrats direct donors to state parties and helps recruit and advise key staff for political strategy, targeting, communications, budgeting, fundraising and legal compliance. Grassroots Democrats will not engage in those functions directly, or undertake voter mobilization activities itself. But it develops standards in planning and executing coordinated campaign activities for party committees to meet so that donors can rely upon Grassroots Democrats to advise them where their contributions will be put to most effective use.

    Grassroots Democrats can also work closely with other independent political committees, unions, non-profit groups and individuals, and solicit their assistance and involvement with Democratic Party committees. These networks can help provide party structures with the expertise and resources they will need during this election cycle.

    Grassroots Democrats is organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, the provision that regulates the tax-exempt status of all political committees, and is structured and operated to comply with BCRA. Grassroots Democrats is not affiliated with, financed or controlled by the national party committees or state and local party committees, candidates or officeholders


  • comment on a post Local Progressive Blog Rings over 9 years ago
    Here's a good index with blogs listed by state:

    The Progressive Blog Alliance HQ
    Directory of Progressive American Blogs and News:


    More to come.

  • comment on a post Now I Get It over 9 years ago
    We are fighting terrorists in Iraq, they are among the non-Iraqi fighters the Bush Adminstration says are sneaking into the country to help the Iraqi insurgents.

    Some might think, at first glance, that this might actually be a good strategy.  Give terrorists a focus, draw them in, wear them down, and eventually there will be none left to threaten us at home.

    However, this only works if there are a limited number of potential terrorists in the world.  

    Al-Queada has a resilient recruiting network in that extends far beyond the Middle East.  The foundations of this network were laid in the anti -Soviet campaign in Afghanistan, and they remain in place in the most hopeless areas in the world.  

    Hopelessness is not the cause of terrorism, but it is the one single essential ingredient for terrorist recruiting.  This is the key to Al-Queada's viability.  As long as people with little or nothing to loose vastly outnumber those who do, terrorist networks will be able to replace fighters faster than they can be killed.  As long as unbelievable misery affects hundreds of millions world-wide, terrorists will be able to convince people that explosive suicide in exchange for a reward in the afterlife is a good trade.

    In Afghanistan, a country we have treated as a distraction even though our enemies were actually located there, we are abandoning the population and inviting a return of the very misery that undermine our security.

    In Iraq, we are spreading misery because we fail to see that civilians don't care if they are being killed deliberately by Saddam or accidentally by us, they just want to live.

    We are spending $one billion dollars per week fighting a fire we are fueling ourselves. With less money, less death and more leadership, we can put the fire out and preventing it from re-igniting.

    We need to hold our leaders to the following measurable goals:

    In the short term, we must root out our real enemies by applying our determination to methods that actually work in combating massive criminal organizations. Our model should be precise law enforcement instead of unfocused war.  We must focus on those who actually threaten us instead of just looking for good targets to bomb.

    More important, we must deprive our enemies of the misery they require.  If we our seen a providers of hope, we will isolate terrorist leaders from potential recruits, reduce the number of nations willing to give them save haven, improve our image and, last but certainly not least, fulfill our obligation as a moral and just nation by helping those who need help the most.

  • Thanks, but please note that I didn't say "Victory of Terror", I said "Victory over Terrorists"

    I like thgis kind of frame because it calls for a definable result over a definable enemy.

    I also want to find the effective ways to frame the arguments for peace, becuase it isn't enough to be against something unless you can offer an alternative. For example, I think that our response to "We should be strong enough to defeat any enemy" should be "Why stop there? Let's be strong enough to build a secure world and a lasting peace."

    In general, we need to think of ways to effectively show that achieving security, prosperity and peace takes strength and vision, but that is possible and that the return on investment is incalculable. We did it before with the Marshall plan, which gained us goodwill and allies for 50 years.  We can do it again.

  • comment on a post Conversion versus Activation over 9 years ago
    You are right on here, and the cycle you pointed out:

        * 1- Preach to the choir
        * 2- Activate the choir and generate revenue
        * 3- Use that revenue to target swingers and the unconverted
        * 4- Return to step one with an expanded choir

    Makes a lot of sense (although swing voters has less, um, indelicate connotations than swingers.  

    Beyond that, I would modify it just a little:

        * 1- Preach to the choir
        * 2- Activate the choir
                 A)generate revenue
                 B)promote volunteer activeties
        * 3- Use revenue/activeties:
                 A)to target swing voters and the unconverted    
                 B)fund party infrastructure including staffing,issue/message research, polling/focus groups, and equipment purchases

        * 4- Return to step one with an expanded choir

    I add this because, for the first time, a major portion of funds for Democrats are coming from the same people willing to volunteer.  We should continue to encourage this trend.  A volunteer strapped for cash (believe me, I've been there) won't always be, and a donor who is maxed out will often want to do more.   The key to activation is always keep people active.

    I included infrastructure here because, as Bill Bradley pointed out recently, in "A Party Inverted", the Republicans have a pyramidal infrastructure in place all the time, all they have to do each election is change the candidate on top.  The Democrates have the reverse: candiates who have to build a new pyramid each time. I've included the full article below.

    Check out Grassroots Democrtats for an organization devoted to building up our infrastructure: www.grassrootsdemocrats.com

    Here's the article:

    Published on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 by the New York Times
    A Party Inverted
    by Bill Bradley

    Five months after the presidential election Democrats are still pointing fingers at one another and trying to figure out why Republicans won. Was the problem the party's position on social issues or taxes or defense or what? Were there tactical errors made in the conduct of the campaign? Were the right advisers heard? Was the candidate flawed?

    Before deciding what Democrats should do now, it's important to see what Republicans have done right over many years. When the Goldwater Republicans lost in 1964, they didn't try to become Democrats. They tried to figure out how to make their own ideas more appealing to the voters. As part of this effort, they turned to Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and soon to become a member of the United States Supreme Court. In 1971 he wrote a landmark memo for the United States Chamber of Commerce in which he advocated a sweeping, coordinated and long-term effort to spread conservative ideas on college campuses, in academic journals and in the news media.

    To further the party's ideological and political goals, Republicans in the 1970's and 1980's built a comprehensive structure based on Powell's blueprint. Visualize that structure as a pyramid.

    You've probably heard some of this before, but let me run through it again. Big individual donors and large foundations - the Scaife family and Olin foundations, for instance - form the base of the pyramid. They finance conservative research centers like the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, entities that make up the second level of the pyramid.

    The ideas these organizations develop are then pushed up to the third level of the pyramid - the political level. There, strategists like Karl Rove or Ralph Reed or Ken Mehlman take these new ideas and, through polling, focus groups and careful attention to Democratic attacks, convert them into language that will appeal to the broadest electorate. That language is sometimes in the form of an assault on Democrats and at other times in the form of advocacy for a new policy position. The development process can take years. And then there's the fourth level of the pyramid: the partisan news media. Conservative commentators and networks spread these finely honed ideas.

    At the very top of the pyramid you'll find the president. Because the pyramid is stable, all you have to do is put a different top on it and it works fine.

    It is not quite the "right wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton described, but it is an impressive organization built consciously, carefully and single-mindedly. The Ann Coulters and Grover Norquists don't want to be candidates for anything or cabinet officers for anyone. They know their roles and execute them because they're paid well and believe, I think, in what they're saying. True, there's lots of money involved, but the money makes a difference because it goes toward reinforcing a structure that is already stable.

    To understand how the Democratic Party works, invert the pyramid. Imagine a pyramid balancing precariously on its point, which is the presidential candidate.

    Democrats who run for president have to build their own pyramids all by themselves. There is no coherent, larger structure that they can rely on. Unlike Republicans, they don't simply have to assemble a campaign apparatus - they have to formulate ideas and a vision, too. Many Democratic fundraisers join a campaign only after assessing how well it has done in assembling its pyramid of political, media and idea people.

    There is no clearly identifiable funding base for Democratic policy organizations, and in the frantic campaign rush there is no time for patient, long-term development of new ideas or of new ways to sell old ideas. Campaigns don't start thinking about a Democratic brand until halfway through the election year, by which time winning the daily news cycle takes precedence over building a consistent message. The closest that Democrats get to a brand is a catchy slogan.

    Democrats choose this approach, I believe, because we are still hypnotized by Jack Kennedy, and the promise of a charismatic leader who can change America by the strength and style of his personality. The trouble is that every four years the party splits and rallies around several different individuals at once. Opponents in the primaries then exaggerate their differences and leave the public confused about what Democrats believe.

    In such a system tactics trump strategy. Candidates don't risk talking about big ideas because the ideas have never been sufficiently tested. Instead they usually wind up arguing about minor issues and express few deep convictions. In the worst case, they embrace "Republican lite" platforms - never realizing that in doing so they're allowing the Republicans to define the terms of the debate.

    A party based on charisma has no long-term impact. Think of our last charismatic leader, Bill Clinton. He was president for eight years. He was the first Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt. He was smart, skilled and possessed great energy. But what happened? At the end of his tenure in the most powerful office in the world, there were fewer Democratic governors, fewer Democratic senators, members of Congress and state legislators and a national party that was deep in debt. The president did well. The party did not. Charisma didn't translate into structure.

    If Democrats are serious about preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade's commitment, and it won't come cheap. But there really is no other choice.

    Bill Bradley, a former Democratic senator from New Jersey, is a managing director of Allen & Company.

    © 2005 New York Times, Co.


  • Sorry if I wasn't clear on this.  I suggested that reframing "war on Terror" into "Victory over Terrorists" is a better way to hold our leaders accountable for their actions, because "Victory" is measurable while "war" is not and "Terrorists" are genuine enemies while "Terror" is an emotion.

    However, I should have gone on to say that the "Victory over Terrorists" frame also leaves open the methods of attaining victory, including economic, diplomatic and international law enforcement methods.  The "War on Terror" frame only leaves open one method: war.  

    A "Victory over Terrorists" frame leads us toward a clear goal: ending terrorist activity.  

    We know that an endless war against the wrong target will not achieve that goal.  

    However, spending the $1 billion per week that we currently do in Iraq on:

    1. Effective response, such as international law-enforcement methods of pursuing the real enemies and freezing their financial resources, and more importantly,

    2. Effective prevention, including efforts that  simltaneously improve the US image abroad, reduce the number of potential terrorist recruits and increase the number of potential US allies, such as disaster relief and anti-poverty initiatives,

    will get us security and earn us the admiration necessary to maintain it.
  • I appreciate that, thanks.  However, I'm can't take credit for emphasizing the importance importance of reframing debate.  I got that from George Lakoff's book "Don't Think of an Elephant" ($10 and worth ten times that).  Lakoff is a cognitive scientist and political activist who has has written extensively on the metaphors or frames, that shape our thoughts.

    You can find a lot of his writing  Rockridge Institue http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/.
    It helps answer James Carville's compaint that the Democrats have a Litany insteqad of a narrarative.

    Here's an excerpt from "Framing the Dems"

    ...On the day that george w. bush took office, the
    words "tax relief" started appearing in White House communiqués.

    Think for a minute about the word relief. In order for there to be relief, there has to be a  blameless, afflicted person with whom we identify and whose affliction has been imposed by some external cause. Relief is the taking away of the
    pain or harm, thanks to some reliever.

    This is an example of what cognitive linguists call a "frame." It is a mental structure that we use in thinking. All words are defined relative to frames. The relief frame is an instance of a more general rescue scenario in which there is
    a hero (the reliever), a victim (the afflicted), a crime (the affliction), a villain (the cause of affliction) and a rescue (the relief). The hero is inherently good, the villain is evil andthe victim after the rescue owes gratitude to the hero.

    The term tax relief evokes all of this and more. It presupposes a conceptual metaphor: Taxes are an affliction, proponents of taxes are the causes of affliction (the villains), the taxpayer is the afflicted (the victim) and the proponents of
    tax relief are the heroes who deserve the taxpayers' gratitude.

    Those who oppose tax relief are bad guys who want to keep relief from the victim of the affliction, the taxpayer. Every time the phrase tax relief is used, and heard or read by millions of people, this view of taxation as an affliction and
    conservatives as heroes gets reinforced.

    The phrase has become so ubiquitous that I've even found it in speeches and press releases by Democratic officials--unconsciously reinforcing a view of the economy that is anathema to everything progressives believe. The Republicans understand framing; Democrats don't.

    When I teach framing in Cognitive Science 101, I start with an exercise. I give my students a directive: "Don't think of an elephant." It can't be done, of course, and that's the point. In
    order not to think of an elephant, you have to think of an elephant.The word elephant evokes an image and a frame. If you negate the frame, you still activate the frame. Richard Nixon never took Cognitive Science 101. When he said, "I am not a crook," he made everybody think of him as a crook.

    If you have been framed, the only response is to reframe. But you can't do it in a sound bite unless an appropriate progressive language has been built up in advance. Conservatives have worked for decades and spent billions on their think tanks to establish their frames, create the right language, and get the language and the frames they evoke accepted. It has taken them awhile to establish the metaphors of taxation as a burden, an affliction and an unfair punishment--all of which require "relief." They have also, over decades, built up the frame in which the wealthy create jobs,and giving them more wealth creates more jobs.

    Taxes look very different when framed from a progressive point of view. As Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, taxes are the price of civilization. They are what you pay to
    live in America--your dues--to have democracy, opportunity and access to all the infrastructure that previous taxpayers have built up and made available to you: highways, the Internet, weather reports, parks, the stock market, scienti.c
    research, Social Security, rural electri.cation, communications satellites, and on and on. If you belong to America, you pay a membership fee and you get all that infrastructure plus government services: food control, air-traffic control, the
    Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and so on.

    Interestingly, the wealthy benefit disproportionately from the American infrastructure. The Securities and Exchange
    Commission creates honest stock markets. Most of the judicial system is used for corporate law. Drugs developed with National Institutes of Health funding can be patented for private profit. Chemical companies hire scientists trained
    under National Science Foundation grants. Airlines hire pilots trained by the Air Force. The beef industry grazes its cattle cheaply on public lands. The more wealth you accumulate using what the dues payers have provided, the greater
    the debt you owe to those who have made your wealth possible. That is the logic of progressive taxation.

    No entrepreneur makes it on his own in America. The American infrastructure makes entrepreneurship possible, and others have put it in place. If you've made a bundle, you owe a bundle. The least painful way to repay your debt to the nation is posthumously, through the inheritance tax.

    Those who don't pay their dues are turning their backs on our country. American corporations registering abroad to avoid taxes are deserting our nation when their estimated $70 billion in dues and service payments are badly needed,
    for schools and for rescuing our state and local governments.

    Reframing takes awhile, but it won't happen if we
    don't start. The place to begin is by understanding how progressives and conservatives think...

  • comment on a post The Daily Pulse: The London Bombings over 9 years ago
    This is going to go one of two ways, depanding who frames the debate.

    Bush and Co. continue to call for, and make their  end goal a "War on Terror". Think about the terms: "War" implies no end, only a continuing struggle. "Terror" promotes such a primal emotional response that anyone who questions Bush's policies is seen as an idiot or worse before the facts are even argued.  

    Reframe.  We want a "Victory Over the Terroists".  Demanding "Victory" holds policymakers accountable in a way the pushing "war" doesn't, because victory is a result while war is an ongoing state. Steps toward victory are measurable by decreasing violence and troops coming home. Steps backward are measure by new terrorist training grounds and increasing attackes.

    Using "Terrorists" istead of "Terror" also hold leaders accountable, because the have to actually find and defeat an enemy instead of a an abstraction.  It also forces leaders to name the enemy.  Fighting "terror" is so ambiguous that you can use it as an excuse to attack anyone, as we have done.  Fighting "terrorists" imples that you are going after the people actually responsible.

    Make us really safe.  Defeat the real enemy.

  • Showing poll numbers that go against Bush's preferences gives us a great set of factual arguemnts, particularly if the isuues are not confined to abortion and gay marriage.  

    However, to win this fight we will have to reframe the arguementand show a set of values as well as a set of facts.

    As long as the arguement is over the "President's Nominee" and his or her "right to an up-or-down vote",  the Republicans have held an edge becuase the terms of the argument imply a Presidential right to out anyone on the court.  "Advice and Consent" always sounds weaker by comparison.

    However,  making the fight over one of "America's Judges" implies a much broader set of criteria for a nominee.  If we include the entire nation in the arguemnt, then the 49 plus% of voters who oppose Bush have to be taken into account, as well as all the poll numbers on issues.

    Make the terms, as well as the facts work in our favor.

  • on a comment on The Six in the House over 9 years ago
    One way to grab this one is to reframe the argument from one specifically about ethics to one more broadly about effective vs. defective government.  This includes and goes beyond ethical issues to the difference in how Republicans and Democrats govern.

    Effective government gives voters control over their own lives and is conducted in the open. It gives us energy poilicy that benefits the customers, health care that benefits the patients and foriegn policy that seeks protects us from real threat and seeks victories over real enemies

    Defective government is carried out in secret, encourages corruption, and gives us cash and carry politics: energy policy written by oil companies, health care policy written by the pharmaceutical industry, and foriegn policy written without a clue.

  • comment on a post The Six in the House over 9 years ago
    1) Don Sherwood
    For having a mistress while standing up for family values (now being sued by said mistriss for allegedly tring to beat and choke her):

    From the Times leader (PA) June 22

    Exclusive: Democrat eyes Sherwood post
    Political novice Christopher P. Carney sees the incumbent weakened by a lawsuit.

    HARRISBURG - A Susquehanna County Democrat says U.S. Rep. Don Sherwood is vulnerable enough to beat, and he believes he could be the candidate to do it.

    Christopher P. Carney, 46, of Dimock, says he intends to run for the 10th Congressional District seat in 2006, but has not yet formally announced his candidacy.

    He has never before run for political office, but Carney said he believes he can win against Sherwood now that the four-term congressman is embroiled in a $5.5 million lawsuit brought by 29-year-old Cynthia Ore, who alleges Sherwood repeatedly beat her during a five-year relationship.

    "There seem to be some cracks in Mr. Sherwood's armor now," Carney said, adding that he would not make Ore's allegations a central theme in his campaign. "This is about judgment. What kind of judgment does this man really have?

    "But that is not the focus of this campaign. This campaign is about issues."

    An associate professor of political science at Penn State University's Worthington-Scranton campus for 13 years, Carney is more than just an academic. He is also an expert in terrorism and intelligence issues, working as a special consultant for the Department of Defense. He also remains active in the Naval Reserves.

    Social Security, veterans' affairs, the military and homeland security are among Carney's top priorities. He opposes President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, and he said more needs to be done to support military veterans when they return from their tours of duty.

    But it's homeland security that really gnaws at Carney, he said.

    "Truth be known, homeland security is getting mostly lip service, rather than the kind of support it needs," he said. "That really is a factor in my decision" to run for Congress.

    Carney played a controversial role in the gathering of intelligence that led to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

    According to published reports, Carney was part of a small team of intelligence analysts that claimed to have found evidence linking the al Qaeda terrorist network and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

    Critics of the Iraq war have criticized Carney's conclusions, saying much of the information was outdated and inconclusive. They claim President Bush used Carney's research to help bolster his case for war.

    Carney stands by his work.

    "On this issue with the president, I agree," he said. "I firmly believe there were links between Iraq and al- Qaida. There's no question in my mind. I'm comfortable with that. What I'm uncomfortable with is the problems within the intelligence community at large . . . Until you change the intelligence culture in Washington, we're going to be just as vulnerable as we've ever been."

    A Democrat since he could vote, Carney said political party affiliation means nothing when he's doing his intelligence work for the Pentagon. He said, "When I put on my uniform, I'm an American - period," he said.

    Carney said he believes Sherwood no longer reflects the values of the 10th Congressional District - both in regard to his relationship with Ore and in his views on national issues.

    Sherwood's spokesman, Jake O'Donnell, said the congressman is not thinking about next year's election.

    "It's still premature," O'Donnell said. "Right now, the congressman is focusing on doing his job in the 10th district. He has had spirited campaigns before, and he is fully prepared to run a strong campaign in 2006."

    The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the fund-raising arm of the House Republicans, said Carney doesn't stand a chance.

    "We'll take him seriously when he shows up with a report showing that he's got $800,000 in the bank," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the NRCC. "Campaigns are expensive. People have to know who you are, and you've got to raise a lot of money. That's not easy for a political novice."

    Despite the fact that Republicans hold a 13-point voter registration advantage in the district, Carney said Sherwood is not invincible. That's not to say that it won't be difficult to unseat him, he said.

    "I might be a novice as far as campaigning goes, but as a political scientist I certainly understand the task I have at hand," he said. "But I think it's worth a shot."

    He said he has received positive feedback from the Susquehanna County Democrats and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Joey Franks, chairman of the Susquehanna County Democrats, said Carney is the real deal.

    "I think Chris Carney has a very legitimate shot at Don Sherwood," Franks said. "I think the man is as truthful as the day is long . . . He reminds me a lot of Bob Casey. I think he's a family man, and he takes his job seriously."

    Carney also has spoken with officials at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who told him that they are waiting to see if any other Democrats plan to mount a challenge to Sherwood before committing their full support.

    Although the Ore lawsuit may be advantageous for Carney, he said he had been planning to run against Sherwood since early April - nearly a month before Ore's allegations first surfaced.

    The Democrats haven't run anyone against Sherwood since before the 10th District was redrawn in 2001 to give Sherwood a heavy voter registration advantage.

    "That just rankles me," Carney said. "To not even try, to let democracy go by the wayside is abhorrent to me.

    "Democracy is not a spectator sport," he said. "You've gotta get in the game."

    2) Doc Hastings, Ethics Chairman
    For being the fox guarding the henhouse:

    From the Seattle Times, June 25 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002347954_hastings25m.html

    Ethics claims target Doc Hastings

    By Alicia Mundy
    Seattle Times Washington bureau

    WASHINGTON -- Rep. Doc Hastings, already under fire as chairman of the stalled House ethics committee, accepted a $7,800 trip to England in 2000 from a company he championed for a multibillion-dollar contract at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, records released by an advocacy group yesterday show.

    In addition, other records released yesterday by a political Web site show that Hastings, a Republican from Pasco, did not file a required travel report for a 2004 trip to a resort on Stuart Island, B.C. That was paid for by another company also working at Hanford.

    Hastings has been under fire for not scheduling hearings on ethics allegations against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay is accused of accepting a trip paid for by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under investigation over allegations that he defrauded clients of millions of dollars.

    For the past two weeks, Democrats have been trying to link Hastings to Abramoff and the lobbyist's former employer, Preston Gates & Ellis, an influential law and lobbying firm based in Seattle.

    "This raises problems for Hastings as chairman of the ethics committee because one of the main issues he will face -- if the committee ever gets its act together -- will be privately paid congressional travel," said Larry Noble, director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign-contribution watchdog group.

    "If Hastings has the same problems as DeLay, there's a perception of a conflict of interest," Noble said. "He may say that everybody does it, but in his role as ethics chairman, he isn't everybody."

    Hastings declined to comment. His spokeswoman Jessica Gleason said the 2004 travel report had been completed, but apparently never reached the congressional records office. He will refile the report on Monday.

    Gleason called the 2000 trip "absolutely appropriate and permissible. Chairman Hastings' visit provided a firsthand look at nuclear technology that was going to be used at the Hanford site in Washington state."

    She added that Hastings has been chairman of the Nuclear Cleanup Caucus for 10 years.

    House rules allow members to accept privately paid travel as long it is for "fact-finding" trips.

    Campaign for a Cleaner Congress, an advocacy group that says it is nonpartisan, released records yesterday from Hastings' personal disclosure statements that show he went to Edinburgh, Scotland, and Manchester, England, in 2000 as a guest of the firm BNFL.

    He also received campaign contributions from BNFL and one of its employees.

    BNFL won a $6.9 billion federal contract in 1998 to convert 54 million gallons of nuclear waste into glass for permanent storage. The contract was promoted by Hastings, who offered amendments to the Defense Authorization Act to pay for Hanford projects, including BNFL work.

    But in October 1998, the General Accounting Office began questioning the contract as too lucrative for the company. Hastings continued to defend the contract.

    The trip to the U.K. took place in January 2000. Four months later, the Department of Energy abruptly terminated the BNFL deal when it learned the cost could soar to $15.2 billion.

    The 2004 trip to Stuart Island was paid for by the Washington Group International, according to the Web site PoliticalMoneyLine. Washington Group International, based in Idaho, is a major contractor with the U.S. government in Iraq and also is involved in the Hanford cleanup. The company was Hastings' top contributor to his 2004 re-election, giving $10,200.

    Hastings, accompanied by a family member, spoke at an energy symposium during the $3,170 trip.

    The ethics committee has been stalled for six weeks. Democrats, led by ranking member Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, declined to meet after Hastings proposed making his longtime chief of staff, Ed Cassidy, staff director for the committee.

    Mollohan said that violates rules that say professional staffers who take part in investigations of House members must be nonpartisan and elected by committee members.

    "I don't think it's possible to make the rule clearer," he said. "It is very simple."

    Because the committee isn't meeting, "issues are piling up," said longtime political writer Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. "You have the DeLay issue and several others involving lobbyists' payments and gifts to other Republicans."

    There's also the long-standing issue involving Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, who leaked an illegal recording of a cellphone call by another congressman.

    Hastings was named chairman of the ethics committee in February, after Republicans ousted their colleague Rep. Joel Hefley of Colorado. Hefley had led several investigations of previous allegations involving DeLay, resulting in three admonitions from the committee.

    Published reports this week said Hastings is fed up with continuing unfavorable publicity and calls for him to step aside as chairman.

    "It's time he stepped down and appointed an independent counsel to clear up these investigations," Common Cause press secretary Mary Boyle said.

    But Mollohan disagrees. "We need to be able to show that Congress can investigate itself and demand appropriate behavior. If we can't make our own committee work, what does it say about our commitment to ethics?"

    Meanwhile, Ornstein said the pressure on Hastings will increase with yesterday's disclosures. "The Preston Gates stuff was not a smoking gun. But this is different. In ethics, appearances count."

    Alicia Mundy: 202-662-7457 or amundy@seattletimes.com

  • on a comment on Supreme Court Action over 9 years ago
    To win this fight we have to do three things:

    1)Show what we are for in terms of values not issues. We must find an effective narrative to tie the most popular traditional Democratic priorities together.

    2)Effectively frame what we are against. We need to put the Republican abuses most feared by the voting public under the umbrella of betrayal.

    3)Show, using these arguements, that a conservative-packed Supreme Court will complete the betrayal of American citizens that gets worse with each of the Administration's broken promises and each Republican scandal in Congress.  

    These themes should be carried out in the nomination fight and in the 2006 midterm elections.  Remember, the Republicans came from much farther behind in 1994 to capture a majority.

    To start,  here are two good ten word summaries* of conservative and progresive philosophies:

    Cons: Strong Defence
    Prop: Stronger America

    Cons: Free markets
    Prog: Broad Prosperity

    Cons: Lower Taxes
    Prog: Better Future

    Cons: Smaller Government
    Prog: Effective Government

    Cons: Family Values
    Prog: Mutual Responsibility

    Once we outline these core beliefs, we can
    work our values into a narrarative.  

    Cons: Strong Defence
    Prop: Stronger America

    A Stronger America protects its citizens from threats abroad by seeking real victory instead wasting lives and money on incompetently fought endless war against the wrong target. It uses every tool, including economic and diplomatic, to defang our real enemies rather than providing them with gigantic training ground.  At home,  it protects us from violence in the streets, poison in our food,  water and air and, and the  corrupt deals between govenment offical and drug, energy and financial companies which threaten our lives, savings and economic stability.

    Cons: Free markets
    Prog: Broad Prosperity

    A focus on Broad Prosperity fits right in from Chris' post "Republicans Love It: The Money Line For Democrats in 2006" on the latest Democracy Corps poll:  

        "One statement stood out as the money quote,  
         polling significantly higher than the

         59 (SPLIT B) The Republicans think this is  
         the best economy in our lifetime. The  
         Democrats say we need to make our economy
         work for everyone, not just the few.

         Forty-four percent of those polled said that  
         this statement made them much more likely to
         vote for a Democratic candidate, and eighteen
         percent said it made them somewhat more  
         likely to vote for a Democratic candidate.
         None of the other statements even reached 40  
         in the "much more likely" column. None of the
         other statements reached sixty in the
         combined "much more likely" and "somewhat    
         more likely" columns."

    Broad proseperity has alway been a key American value, and is reflected in the Democratic commitment to the idea  millions working honest, low-paying jobs that are essential to our economy deserve to receive their part of the American social contract. The American Dream has always promised rewards for hard work.

    The Republicans have turned this upside down, providing the greatest rewards for those who make the least effort, even encouraging them to refuse to pay their share for supporting and protecting the society with the best business climate in the world.  Further, they are encouraging this during a war, allowing those who benefit most from the protection of our armed forces to get a free ride.

    Cons: Lower Taxes
    Prog: Better Future

    Again, referring to Chris' post (emphasis mine):

        "I think there are three reasons why this  
         statement resonates so well: First, because
         they control the trifecta in Washington
         Republicans are consistently forced to claim
         that things are moving in the right
         direction. Second, polling data consistently  
         shows that Republicans actually believe that
         the country is moving in the right direction.
         Combine the first and second reasons, and    
         people really believe that Republicans think          
         things are moving in the right direction
         This statement resonates as true to people's
         personal take on the country.

         The third reason why this statement works  
         well is because it articulates a positive  
         Democratic frame instead of a tired        
         political cliché
    . Rather than simply stating  
         "Republicans are for more of the same in
         Washington. Democrats are for change," or
         "Republicans have polarized and divided the
         country. Democrats will unite it," which were
         the two lowest resonating questions of the
         bunch, question 59 actually articulates the  
         cornerstones of progressivism: we can do
         better. We can make this work for everyone.

    A Better Future is the center of the American dream, and 200 years of progess have been an American reality. We have an amazing society because 200 years of Americans paid their dues to build our institutions, roads, electrical grid, telecommunications network,  safegurds for food, air and water, and our armed forces.  

    The Republicans want those who benefit the most from 200 years of work to use all these things for free while the rest of us pay their dues for them and the country still goes into debt.

    Cons: Smaller Government
    Prog: Effective Government

    A push for Effective Government puts the emphasis on goals, not knee jerk budget increases or decreases.  We want a victory over and end to terrosism, not an endless incompetently fought war.  We want to reduce the number of abortions, as we did under Clinton by improving economic conditions, instead of restricting the freedom of women by simply outlawing a practice without having any real effect or supporting any alternatives. We want a reduction in poverty and an_impovement in education_ not boken promises to the churches and schools, where efforts on faith-based initiatives** and No Child Left Behind have recieved nothing but lip service.

    Cons: Family Values
    Prog: Mutual Responsibility

    From the first settlements in the Colonies, Americans watched out for each other.  They worked together to build communities that served the greater good and participated in making the rules.  Children were brought up to value their communities  and to be responsible citizens; Americans took care of each other, a moral responsibility that started at the family but extended to the neighbor and the community, and was carried out though the participation in government at the town, state and federal level.

    The conservatives stop at the family and conduct goverment in secret, discouraging and even preventing American from participating in the most important moral tradition we have ever had.
    Again, in a time of war , this is even more reprehesable, because secret Republican government prevents us from exercising our reponsibility toward our armed forced and allows the wealthiest to ignore them.

    **from Geroge Lakoff, author of "Don't think of and Elephant (www.rockrigdeinstitute.com)"

    **see "God's Politics, Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It" by Jim Wallis www.sojo.net



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