Sexism in the Colorado GOP

YouTube strikes again. Ken Buck, the front-runner for the Repub nomination for Senate in Colorado against Jane Norton - and that first name, Jane, that's important here - was asked why primary voters should support him. His answer?

"Because I do not wear high heels." And that gesture? Geez.

The current RCP polling average has Buck up 7 points over Norton. His lead was a full 16 in the most recent survey, a mid-June poll from the Denver Post. Something tells me that might be about to change.

Here's his "excuse." At least he's not trying to lie his way through an apology:

Buck campaign spokesman Owen Loftus said, “Obviously, the comment was made in jest after Jane questioned Ken’s ‘manhood’ in her new ad.”

In that ad, Norton, a former lieutenant governor, criticizes an independent 527 organization for attacking her and challenges Buck to “be man enough to do it himself.”

What do you think is next for Buck after he loses this race? Maybe he'll run recall campaigns against GOP Senators Collins, Snowe, and Hutchison? More importantly, I wonder what the odds of Sarah Palin endorsing Norton are now?

Update: Dang, that didn't take long at all. Norton's ad in reply:

Jay Rockefeller brings back the Dirty Air Act

Remember the Dirty Air Act? Senator Lisa Murkowski’s attempt to stop the EPA from following the Supreme Court’s ruling that it regulate carbon pollution per the Clean Air Act? It was defeated last month, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone for good. The Murkowski resolution is child’s play compared to what alleged Democrat Jay Rockefeller has in store with S. 3702, highlighted yesterday by the NRDC’s weekly Legislative Watch. The bill is less than 400 words long.

Although “Dirty Air Act” was just a political nickname given to Murkowski’s resolution, Rockefeller’s bill actually mentions the Clean Air Act by name, and would restrict the EPA’s authority to enforce the Act for the next two years. The bill, given the technical-sounding name “Stationary Source Regulations Delay Act,” would forbid the EPA from classifying “carbon dioxide or methane a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act… for any source other than a new motor vehicle.” In a previous section, the language is even starker: “the Environmental Protection Agency may not take any action under the Clean Air Act… relating to carbon dioxide or methane.” This bill is clearly a parochial attempt to protect West Virginia's carbon-heavy coal industry.

The coal industry tries to convince Appalachian voters and lawmakers that their economy will need coal forever and always – and Rockefeller has bought it, hook line and sinker. The fact is, however, that over 50% of West Virginia coal mining jobs have disappeared in the last 30 years and nearly 90% in the last 60 – partly due to the discovery of cheaper coal in Wyoming, and partly due to technological advancements ala John Henry. This is a dying industry. Plus, the American Lung Association says that coal causes 550,000 asthma attacks and kills 24,000 Americans each year. What’s more, even when the industry does create Appalachian jobs, it prevents even more jobs from coming into the state by devastating mountains, creeks, hollows, and health rates in nearby towns. Land value plummets and education rates are low since mining is not a job demanding much in the way of higher education. Why should new industries come to a place with low land value and few educated workers? Coal is killing West Virginia, and Jay Rockefeller is its accomplice. 

This is not the only anti-climate bill Rockefeller introduced this month. From the NRDC link above,

Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) introduced a bill to promote carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. The Rockefeller-Voinovich bill would promote full-scale development and deployment of CCS technology by offering tax credits and other incentives to early adopters. It would also promote CCS research, establish a long-term legal and regulatory framework for CCS, and provide $20 billion in incentives over the next decade for early deployment. However, it includes a problematic provision that would provide post-closure liability relief for geologic sequestration projects.

Another problem is, clean coal probably doesn’t exist. Researching is it throwing good money after bad. That said, I wouldn’t mind funding clean coal research if that’s what it takes to get more Senate votes for renewables and carbon pricing – on one condition. The bill should also state that no new coal plants can be constructed until the CCS technology is perfected. That would mean either a) such plants would never be built again, which is more likely, or b) I’m wrong and they can be built clean, in which case mining issues remain but at least the climate part is solved. As far as I know, though, the Rockefeller-Voinovich bill does not contain such a provision.

Similarly, I’d be willing to support a DAA-esque law blocking the EPA and maybe even the states from fighting carbon pollution if and only if Congress simultaneously passed a tough climate law of its own. Even if it was slightly weaker than anything the EPA would do, it would at least be less susceptible to Court challenges. But as with CCS, that’s not what Rockefeller has proposed.

For the record, Rockefeller has recieved $278,300 in campaign donations from the mining industry over the course of his career. I’m not sure which ticks me off more: what he is doing to West Virginia as a proponent of Big Coal, or what he could do to the whole planet by bringing back the Dirty Air Act. It’s a shame the man never learned anything from his late West Virginia colleague Robert Byrd.

Paul Hodes to progressives: Stop Cowering!

I was thinking about writing a post about how the left never stands together when attacked the way the right does. See Jones, Van. No need for that piece now - Senate candidate Paul Hodes (D-NH) beat me to the punch with an amazing diary at Daily Kos called "Weak Knees." Hodes doesn't call out the White House specifically, but he does mention Shirley Sherrod, so take this as a thinly veiled swipe at Tom Vilsack and the Adminstration for being the ones to "buckle." Here's an excerpt, and please, read the whole thing and support Hodes at our ActBlue page.

I’m sick and tired of Democrats getting weak knees every time the right-wing media flexes their muscles.

The firing of Sherrod over what turned out to be a heavily (and deceptively) edited video of her remarks is the latest example. When the far right bulldozes, too many of us buckle...

We have no excuse for not fully understanding what the far-right is capable of in terms of hateful and deceitful rhetoric. From Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh to Andrew Breitbart – they’ve shown us time and again exactly how willing they are to distort the truth...

The bottom line is that the longer we let the right-wing media control our political rhetoric by spreading misinformation, the more we fail to deliver the change we promised and fight for our progressive ideals.

And every time we respond to their attacks with weak knees and cowering in the corner, we give them credibility. Even worse – we encourage them to keep it up.

It's also at Huffington Post.

CT-Sen: Why is Simmons getting back in?

Well now this is bizarre.

Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT) dropped of the race for Chris Dodd’s Senate in Connecticut when the state GOP convention endorsed his primary opponent, fake wrestling star Linda McMahon. But now you see me, now you don’t, and Simmons appears to be getting back into the race – in a very half-hearted way. He's not campaigning or fundraising; he’s just airing one state-wide ad after nearly two months of inactivity.

Rob Simmons, a former congressman who suspended his campaign for the United States Senate in Connecticut only a few weeks ago, is jumping back into the race for the Republican Party nomination with a statewide advertising campaign touting his candidacy. …

In an interview, Eric Janney, the campaign chairman for Mr. Simmons, that the former congressman was not reactivating his campaign. Instead, he said, Mr. Simmons simply wanted to remind Republican voters that they could vote for him if they so desired.

“As he has been going around the state the last couple of months, folks ask him about staying involved in the race,” Mr. Janney said. “Many people did not realize that Rob remained on the ballot. So he decided to do a television ad that reminds people that they have a choice and that Rob is on the ballot.”

I’m very confused as to Simmons’ motives. There’s no way he’s going to win the GOP nomination this way – McMahon is campaigning, fundraising, airing multiple ads, and has the state party’s endorsement. You don’t beat that with just one ad that doesn’t even say “You should vote for me,” just “You can vote for me.” Is this Simmons’ way of trying to punish the tea party for purging moderates like him out of the party? All he can hope to do this way is create intraparty division and weaken McMahon before the general. And while that seems highly unlikely, it wouldn’t surprise me – McMahon may well be the single most unqualified candidate for Senate this entire cycle, more so even than South Carolina’s Alvin Greene. Simmons must know it, and can’t be happy about the direction his party is moving. The National Journal gave him a conservative score of 46.8 out of 100 in 2006, behind 9 Democrats and hardly acceptable material for the 2010 Repub Party, New England or not. It's either about that or he's just got a political itch he can't scratch and little perspective on reality.

Speaking of McMahon’s general election campaign, a new Rasmussen poll out yesterday shows her trailing Democratic Attorney General Richard Blumenthal 52-40, and a recent Quinnipiac poll has her down even more, 54-37.

Finally, from the CTDems, here’s a video showcasing what kind of a Senator McMahon would be:

NH-SEN: Palin’s endorsement of Ayotte bad news for both of them

Governor Pundit Sarah Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte in the New Hampshire Repub primary for U.S. Senate yesterday. Palin is not well-loved in New Hampshire, and this endorsement is just one more that undermines her credibility as a Tea Party leader and enhances her status as a national hypocrite. (Ayotte’s Democratic opponent, sophomore Rep. Paul Hodes, is featured on MyDD’s Going on Offense page at ActBlue.)

Palin’s support might not be good news for Ayotte, for at least three reasons. One, a December poll found less than half of Republican voters in NH-01 think Palin is qualified to be President. Two, the Palin-McCain McCain-Palin ticket lost by 9% in New Hampshire in 2008 despite McCain’s previous popularity in the state. And three, she was booed during a high-profile ’08 rally in Laconia for referring to NH as part of “the great northwest.” In fact, as far back as last July the DSCC thought it would be a good idea to link Ayotte to Palin. Remember also that a national NBC/WSJ poll found that general election voters are overwhelmingly leery of Palin-backed candidates, at a margin of 52-25. Is this a case of Palin doing the DSCC’s work for them?

But then again, that’s probably exactly why Palin is wading into the race. This endorsement isn’t about Ayotte and it’s not about Hodes – it’s about Palin. Ayotte is closer to the Repub establishment than she is the Tea Party, and she’s currently the front-runner for the party’s nomination. Or in other words, she’s currently the front-runner to play queen-maker during the 2012 primaries. An endorsement of, say, Ovide Lamontagne might have made more Tea Party sense, but Palin cares more about 2012 than she does 2010. She pulled this same kind of stunt with establishment figures Terry Branstad in IA-Gov, Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen, and John McCain in AZ-Sen. Indeed, this pro-establishment behavior is starting to cost her with the Tea Party.

The endorsement comes at the same time that Hodes is going on the air with a second ad focused on Ayotte’s shoddy record as state Attorney General:

Kill three birds with one stone by donating to Hodes: capture an important Senate seat, embarrass Palin, and help boost a progressive stalwart.

Glenn Beck continues his attacks on people of faith

Something I’ve noticed about Glenn Beck is that most of his attacks are motivated not by ideology or patriotism, but by revenge and personal petulance. First, it was Van Jones, President Obama’s green jobs czar. Beck began his successful smear campaign against Jones about the same time a group co-founded by Jones called for advertisers to boycott Beck for calling the President racist. Then in March, Beck began his screeds against the Bible’s call for social justice, comparing the Catholic Church and others who call for justice to Nazis and Communists. When evangelical leader Jim Wallis politely disagreed with Beck on his blog and called for a public debate between the two, Beck turned his ire on Wallis.

Beck’s latest target is another liberal faith-based group, Faithful America. They are an ecumenical organization focused on such issues as violence in the public discourse, distortion of Scripture, torture, health care, and climate change. (I have often cited their Faith in Public Life news round-up here at MyDD.) However, Beck's anger seems to come not from his belief that only the right-wing is allowed to think about religion but from his recurring desire for revenge. The group recently launched a radio ad to counter Beck’s distortion of the Bible, quoting Scripture and encouraging “a spirit of love and truth” when disagreeing with one another. They also printed and offered free bumper stickers declaring “Driven by Faith, Not by Fear.” (Mine arrived last week.)

Beck, in typical fashion, was outraged that anyone would suggest the Bible is about love, and tore into Faithful America on his radio show last Friday. As usual, he tried to debunk the group mostly by mocking them, not by being serious. His only substantive critiques were that it partners with other people he dislikes, deletes vulgar comments from its webpage, and doesn’t include the word “Jesus” on its homepage and thus isn’t religious. Because of course, the only proof that someone is religious is their use of the word Jesus – we all know there’s not a single religious Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or Hindu in the entire world. But seriously, as the name suggests, Faithful America is ecumenical, not Christian. And while Beck is right about their homepage's use of the word “Jesus,” they do in fact have over two dozen mentions of the word “faith” (not even counting their name), as well as seven mentions of “Christian” and numerous links to explicitly Christian organizations (among others).

Faithful America’s response? The same as Wallis’s: they’re asking Beck to participate in an open public debate. They’re not stooping to his level of distortion and dishonesty, but if his reaction to Wallis is any indication, he won’t rise to their level of equality and civil discourse either.

Democrats won’t win by running against Bush

Even though he wasn’t on the ballot, Democrats ran against George W. Bush in 2008 and won. This isn’t 2008, and that strategy won’t work again. It’s a historical lesson: we can’t fight the current war with the strategy and technology of the last one. I pound my head against the wall every time I see something like this:

Watching yesterday's forum on "Meet the Press" -- which featuring NRCC Chair Pete Sessions, NRSC Chair John Cornyn, DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen and DSCC Chair Bob Menendez -- it appeared to be a Bush vs. Obama debate by proxy… Van Hollen: "During the whole eight years of the Bush administration, we actually lost over 600,000 private sector jobs." And Menendez: "It's not just talking about President Bush; it's the policies that they espouse that are in essence Bush's policies. Those led us to a 72% percent increase in the debt from $5.7 trillion to $9.8 trillion when Bush left."

I’m reminded of a discussion between two pundits I heard on public radio last week, though unfortunately I don’t remember which show so there's no link or transcript. One pundit mentioned that Obama has been president for 2 ½ years. A couple minutes later, the other said basically "Wait a minute; you said two and a half when it’s actually one and a half. I don’t blame you for the slip because neither I nor the interviewer caught it, which speaks to the fact that Obama is now an entrenched reality in voters’ minds and that he owns all the problems he faces."

Politicians have to find a way to play to the voters’ mindset rather than patronizing them by trying to change it, and this year it is, “Talk to me about today’s problems, not yesterday’s. You’re in charge now so I will blame you.” It doesn’t matter if there are too many problems to solve in just two years, and it doesn’t matter when the problems started or why. Many voters feel too busy living their lives to educate themselves about the details, or feel that “common sense” means the problem is what it looks like at first blush and don’t tell me otherwise. Hence the new Pew poll that finds most voters think Obama started the bailouts, and hence Republican Senator Bob Bennett’s comment that voters “confused TARP and the stimulus plan. They confused TARP and the omnibus bill. They confused TARP and the president’s budget.”

Unfortunately, Democrats aren’t going to get the chance to correct voters about the Bush policies. A candidate gets just 30 seconds to be quoted in a news story and 30 seconds to shoot an ad, and just three points voters will remember from a fair booth or local speech. Don’t give them a ten minute economic lecture or timeline – find something concise that shares their focus on the now. They won’t even listen if you start with a focus on the yesterday. They’ll walk away muttering, “Typical politician, pointing fingers and making excuses.”

So unless your opponent was a prominent member of Bush’s economic team, a better campaign line than blaming Bush would be, “Thanks to Democratic policies, the private sector has created jobs for six straight months after losing them for every month since 2007. Tea party opponents, however, want to get rid of those policies, as well as Social Security and the Civil Rights Act.” You could add “We could have done even more if the Senate opposition was focused on policy rather than politics,” but that’s starting to get into the procedural weeds about which non-junkies don’t want to spend time learning. When it's time to talk about your opponent, talk about the current opponents - John Boehner's pro-BP and pro-Wall Street comments, the aforementioned Rand Paul and Sharron Angle - not about the past.

The moment you say the magic word Bush, voters will think you’re shirking responsibility and ducking blame. It doesn’t matter if it is indeed Bush’s fault and it doesn’t matter if you’re not to blame – we’re talking about perception and about November, not about policy or truth. So again, Democrats have to share the voters’ focus on today, not waste time trying to get them to think about yesterday. Don’t rerun the 2008 campaign when it’s not 2008.

Ben Nelson and Judd Gregg ignore their constituents

Senator Ben Nelson doesn’t understand climate change, and is going to harm the very industries he seeks to protect. But at least he’s not Senator Judd Gregg, who refuses to think for himself - and that should drive even tea partiers nuts. From Politico:

“A carbon tax or trade piece would significantly increase the utility rates in Nebraska for businesses, agriculture and individuals,” the Nebraska Democrat told POLITICO. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate way to go. And while I’d usually vote for a motion to proceed, this is so extraordinary, that I just can’t bring myself to do that.”

Either Nelson’s quote is bogus and he has nothing but contempt for Nebraska agriculture, or he doesn’t understand a thing about climate change. Yes, Nebraska does have incredibly cheap electricity from Wyoming coal and that will probably change at least somewhat under if carbon is priced, but if carbon isn’t priced, there won’t BE much Nebraska agriculture left to care!

A panel of ecologists, biologists and professors told an audience of 50 on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus that as the world grows warmer in the next 50 years, so will Nebraska.

It wasn't a comforting message.

Declines in Rocky Mountain snowpack could devastate flows in the Platte River.

More precipitation could fall, but the chances of catastrophic flooding will increase.

Nebraska will get a longer growing season, but it also will get weeds and insect pests that have never been able to survive the region's harsh winters.

Add to that a Nature Conservancy report that shows Nebraska will see one of the two or three sharpest increases in temperature of any state under any scenario.

New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg is even worse. The same Politico article quotes him saying, “I’ll wait to see what the leadership position is before I make a decision on what I’d do” regarding a possible filibuster.

What’s that, Judd? Can’t think for yourself about these things? Listen, you weren’t elected to represent the citizens of leadership’s Arizona and Kentucky, you were elected to represent the citizens of New Hampshire – and a new UNH poll out just this week shows that they understand that climate change is real and that it is caused by humans. So do the right thing, not the Mitch McConnell puppet thing.

Gregg's retiring this year. Let's replace him with someone who will actually try, and help Paul Hodes get to the Senate.

For the record, both men voted for cloture on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. So Nelson's just plain flip-flopping, and Gregg doesn't want us to know yet if he's a decent guy or not.

Wall Street reform passes, Boehner's Republicans immediately call for repeal

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill just passed the Senate, 60-39. It now goes to the President for his signature. The new law won’t do nearly enough to prevent another Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns – for instance, there’s no practical way to break up too-big-to-fail – but it improves the status quo at least somewhat and was worth passage.

And yet, the man who would be Speaker if voters choose Republican this fall is already calling for the bill’s repeal. That’s right; John Boehner thinks the government should leave Wall Street in exactly the same regulatory position that allowed it to double unemployment and seize up credit.

I understand the politics of demanding repeal of the health insurance bill. The thing’s unpopular. But voters actually care about the economy; they don’t want to lose their jobs, and they understand that the financial industry is to blame for the economic collapse. What the hell is Boehner thinking?  

“I think it ought to be repealed,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “There are commonsense things that you should do to plug the holes in the regulatory system that were there, and to bring more transparency to financial transactions, because transparency is like sunlight. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Boehner doesn’t get it. Transparency works when we’re talking about politicians. If we don’t like what we see, we can vote them out. That’s not true of private corporations. If setting up the economy to fail isn’t illegal, it doesn’t matter how transparent it is; there’s nothing the public can do other than yell louder and louder about completely legal activities. If ever there was an industry that screamed for regulation, it’s the financial sector. Under no circumstances can John Boehner be permitted to become Speaker of the House.

And yet, he’s not alone. Senators Thune, Shelby, and LeMieux:

“If we were in a position to do something, maybe [Boehner] is right," said GOP Policy Chairman Sen. John Thune (S.D.). "We'll see if we can do something about it after the next election."

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the top Republican on the Banking Committee, said he “absolutely” agreed.

"If you vote against it, you know it should be repealed. It's the wrong bill. It's not reform. It ignores Fannie and Freddie. It's not going to create any jobs. It's going to create a huge bureaucracy,” Shelby said.

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) said he would look to repeal parts of the legislation.

Also Senators Graham, McCain, and Corker:

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham called the bill a "missed opportunity" to control spending and set priorities. And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was similarly underwhelmed, calling it "business as usual."

"No one can make a convincing argument that this legislation indeed prevents any institution from being too big to fail. You can't make that argument," he told reporters at the Captiol today. McCain's amendment, which would have mandated an end to government support of the failed companies within two years failed, 43 to 56.

Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a top Republican player in the financial reform debate, slammed the Democrat-backed bill... One reporter noted that Corker had helped to craft the legislation, negotiating several provisions with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, and Corker acknowledged his role but quickly pivoted back to his talking points.

(McCain is right that the bill doesn't end TBTF, but mandating that the government ignore rather than break up such institutions wouldn't solve the problem either.)

Senator Alexander and possible presidential candidate Rep. Mike Pence:

TPMDC asked Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the third ranking Republican in the Senate, whether Republicans would make a concerted push to repeal the financial reform bill.

"Well, that's a good -- that's a good, that's a good question," Alexander said. "We're very disappointed with this...If we have a Congress with a majority of Republicans, and there are ways to improve it or fix it, I imagine there'll be an effort to do that."

Pence suggested much the same... What elements of the law would need to be dismantled?

"There's several aspects of that, but I can break that down for you. Let's jump off that bridge when we come to it," Pence said.

What a message. I think Democratic chances this fall just got a lot better.

TX-Gov: Democrat stands up for immigration and education

You may not like where they come down on the subject, but it can’t be argued that Texans at least take the issue of primary education seriously. The electoral success of George W. Bush’s 1994 gubernatorial and 2000 presidential platforms proves that, as does the enormous public interest in the Texas School Board textbook shenanigans.

It’s no surprise, then, that Democratic candidate for governor Bill White has been focusing on education this week. Today his staff hammered incumbent Repub Gov. Rick Perry for his record on education, but not before White himself went positive with his own plan, outlining five points at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference yesterday. It’s heartening see a border state Democrat standing up to vicious right-wing lies about Latinos and La Raza, especially with so many running the other way after the administration’s Arizona lawsuit. Thank you, Bill “Backbone” White. This from White’s campaign:

White hammered incumbent career politician Rick Perry on recent revelations of the Texas Education Agency's Enron-style accounting on school accountability measures.

"They decided to cheat, and then once caught cheating they failed to acknowledge responsibility and accept accountability. They counted failing scores as passing," White said. "How can you teach individual responsibility to students, or emphasize the importance of parental responsibility, if the state's CEO and his appointees don't accept responsibility? How can you hold teachers, principals and school boards accountable if accountability does not start at the top?"

"Pretending that schools are improving, rather than actually improving them, has been a pattern in Texas during the last decade under this governor," White said, citing Perry's failure to account for the actual dropout rate and his veto of a bipartisan bill that would have expanded early childhood education.

"The choices confronting Texas are very stark and very plain. Will the state with one out of every ten Americans in public schools set a goal, tell the truth about where we are and where we want to be, and act to educate its younger population that is largely Hispanic? Will we, as did generations before us, act on the fact that young Texans are our greatest resource, or will we simply pretend they are? Will we plant for a future with great abundance, or will we forgo that hard work and live off our harvest?" White asked.

Perry spoke at an education event today, and White’s spokesperson Katy Bacon fired back in a press release: "Does Rick Perry think it's acceptable that Texas ranks 49th out of 50 states in the percentage of adults with a high school diploma? That SAT and ACT scores are lagging while college tuition rates have skyrocketed 93 percent. Only a career politician would try to brand this as success, accountability and preparing the workforce for the future."

La Raza? Education? A tie in the polls? The chance to bump up of secessionist Rick Perry ahead of redistricting? Support Bill White now at our ActBlue page.

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