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Republican Convention vs. Democratic Convention

Posted by MEC on September 6, 2012

The speakers at the Republican National Convention were politicians, business owners, various Romneys, actress Janine Turner, Paralympic gold medalist Chris Devlin-Young, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s daughter Jeanine McDonnell, and Clint Eastwood. Without exception, they’re people with money and political connections.

The speakers list for the Democratic National Convention includes plenty of politicians and other public figures. It also includes Doug Stern, firefighter from Cincinnati, Ohio; Maria Ciano, “stay-at-home mother and former Republican voter”; Stacey Lihn, mother of a child with severe medical issues; Lilly Ledbetter, namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Elaine Brye, teacher from Winona, Ohio; Johanny Adames, student and new U.S. citizen; Elizabeth Bruce, Planned Parenthood patient; Ed Meagher, Vietnam veteran who provides support services for wounded soldiers; Bill Butcher, small business owner; Benita Veliz, DREAM Act activist; Karen Eusanio, auto worker; and Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt and David Foster, former employees of companies bought by Bain Capital.

One might argue that the inclusion of ordinary people in the DNC lineup is just for show, to pander to the voters by orchestrating the message, “See? Your voice is important to us, we let some of you speak at our convention.” But by that cynical interpretation, the non-rich and non-powerful are so insignificant to the Republicans that they didn’t even bother to pander to them.

Posted in Democrats, Republican National Convention | 6 Comments »

Yet another political show trial crashes and burns

Posted by Charles II on June 1, 2012

Michael Biesecker, HuffPo:

A jury’s refusal to convict John Edwards was less a redemption of the former White House hopeful than a rejection of the Justice Department’s boldest attempt to make an example of someone in the name of enforcing campaign finance laws.

“As noted by nearly every campaign finance lawyer who considered the matter, this was a lousy case,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director for the campaign finance watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “All the salacious details prosecutors offered up to prove that Edwards is, indeed, despicable, were not enough to persuade the jury to convict him.”

Several jurors said there just wasn’t enough evidence. On network talk shows Friday, even jurors who thought Edwards was guilty on at least some counts said the prosecution wasn’t able to prove it.

Being a scoundrel is not a crime. Sometimes one wishes it were, but not enough to waste a lot of money on it.

Posted in Democrats, Department of Injustice, John Edwards | 9 Comments »

Cory Booker to GOP: Get offa my lawn

Posted by Charles II on May 21, 2012

This is one of those feeding frenzies of the irrelevant that guarantees I won’t be watching network TV for the foreseeable future–life is too short–but Cory Booker did a good enough job of defending himself on Rachel that it’s worth seeing if only to see a Democrat fighting back.

This is also one of those moments that explains, though does not justify, the attempts of Democratic operatives to beat the rank and file into line. You simply do not give the GOP the slightest room to twist, lie, and distort.

SKWIRL!

Posted in Democrats | Comments Off

ALEC is not the only “corporate bill mill”

Posted by Charles II on May 16, 2012

Sara Blaskey and Steve Horn, Truthout:

ALEC, though, is not the only “corporate bill mill” playing this game.

“Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists” have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan “trade associations” for state government officials – in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. …

Upon being sworn into office, all state-level legislators (there are about 7,500 of them total), as well as their respective legislative staffs, automatically become CSG members. The organization’s membership also includes representatives from the executive and judicial branches of state governments.

Between 2009 and 2011, CSG’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms indicate revenue between $29 and $34 million annually. … $8.4 to $9.9 million of these funds – come from what it describes as “entrepreneurial efforts” which can be loosely interpreted to mean anything from publication sales to a sizable chunk from corporate patronage.

Some perspective is warranted: 990s filed by ALEC in 2010 placed its entire budget at just under $6 million.

To date, CSG is responsible for publishing between 30-40 model bills annually, in a process called Suggested State Legislation (SSL). These bills are distributed to the states as templates of bipartisan “best practices” often promoting the agendas of multinational corporations.

Most recently, the 2013 SSL docket includes legislation written by and for the shale gas industry on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), as well as a corporate-backed, union-busting collective bargaining “reform” bill.
….
Until now, the virtual charter school agenda has been linked exclusively to ALEC, though this is far from the case. It is common to see corporations and special interests groups use both CSG and ALEC to promote their agenda – a two-pronged attack, if you will.

A little-known fact is that the NRA also played a role in promoting a slightly tamer – and much less controversial – pro-gun model through CSG.

CSG and ALEC have also broken bread over the so-called “tort reform” agenda.

The most damning evidence of [another organization, The National Council of State Legislatures] NCSL’s shenanigans comes from an October 2010 report from ABC News’ “Nightline” on the July 2010 NCSL Legislative Summit, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky.

NCSL – due to ABC’s reporting – was the inspiration for a broader US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation on corruption in state politics. “Nightline” went so far as to describe state governments as the new “ground zero of influence peddling” for corporate lobbyists, using NCSL as a case in point. [Golfing, groping, dancing, drimking, and horse races]

Though not directly responsible for any policy positions, per se, the [And yet anotherorganization] State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF), with an annual budget in the $2.5 to $3 million range, can best be described as a corporate-funded tutelage academy for majority and minority state-level legislative leaders nationwide.
(emphasis added)

I really don’t think that “FFFFFF” is too strong a statement about people who claim to be for private enterprise while using the US Treasury to bribe and indoctrinate public officials into the task of busting up the bedrock of civil society to create a one-party corporate state,

Posted in corporatists, cronies, Democrats, Republicans, The Plunderbund | 1 Comment »

Jay Rockefeller is not entirely useless; CREW request FOX licenses be revoked

Posted by Charles II on May 3, 2012

Added: In the realm of the ridiculous but unrelated, Romney is attacking Cameron for being nice to Obama (a “love-in”!). “Cameron’s performance smacked of a ‘lack of experience” says the tyro from Bain.
______________________
Ed Pilkington and Lisa O’Carroll:

Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation, has written to Lord Justice Leveson, who leads the British judicial inquiry into media ethics, asking if he has uncovered any evidence relating questionable practices in the US [by the Murdoch gang].

“I would like to know whether any of the evidence you are reviewing suggests that these unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved US citizens,” Rockefeller writes in a letter released on Wednesday.

This is the first time in years Jay Rockefeller has done something to convince me that he is still alive.

Murdoch, meanwhile, is not exactly repentant. Roy Greenslade, quoting Murdoch’s e-mail to his employees:

I would also like to inform you today that the autonomous Management and Standards Committee, which was established by the company to ensure full cooperation with all investigations, has completed its review of The Times and The Sunday Times, assisted by outside counsel, Linklaters.

We found no evidence of illegal conduct other than a single incident reported months ago, which led to the discipline of the relevant employee.

Further, the Management and Standards Committee has also completed its internal review into The Sun.

Meanwhile, CREW is seeking to get FOX broadcasting licenses lifted. Ed Pilkington and Dominic Rushe:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) has written to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, calling on the regulator to pull the plug on Rupert Murdoch’s lucrative television licences on grounds of character.

Melanie Sloan, Crew’s director, said that the Murdochs had clearly failed the character test that is embedded within US media law as it is within British. “If they are not passing the character standard under British law, it seems to me that they are not going to meet the character standard in America.”

Posted in Democrats, Rupert Murdoch | 2 Comments »

The Courage of their Convictions

Posted by Charles II on December 17, 2011

One of the grimly ironic activities of observing politics is separating out what the parties fundraise over vs. what they actually do. Here’s an advertisement from the Guardian of 12/17 and the link to which it leads.

Ad placed by the Democratic Governors' Association in The Guardian

What you get if you follow the link:

And this is what you get if you look through their press releases, news, and so on on voter suppression:

Yes, this is the sum total of what the Democratic governors are doing to end voter suppression: using it as a wedge issue and fundraising tool. And even this is narrowcast to readers of a left-wing British newspaper. They don’t even have the courage of their convictions to stand up and say what needs to be said publicly–that denying the vote to significant numbers of people destabilizes a country, leaving those who are disenfranchised with no stake in the nation. They aren’t taking steps in states where they have control to extend the franchise as widely as possible. Nothing forbids California, for example, from automatically registering every US citizen who pays taxes; buys a license from the state; has a child enrolled in the schools; or otherwise interacts with the state.

Nor are Democrats safeguarding the vote. In one of the most notorious cases of suppression of minority votes, a Democratic Secretary of State (later indicted, though not convicted as of this date) acting under a Democratic Governor had to be sued to get the state to address ballot spoilage rates vastly higher than those in Anglo-majority areas. Why should citizens have to spend the enormous amounts of money required to sue a state just to get voting machines that work? Is it really controversial that votes should be counted?

Maybe the Democratic Governor’s Association will do something to make me believe that they take the issue of the franchise seriously. But so far, the courage of their convictions extends only as far as their strong belief that they need more money.

Posted in Democrats, voting machines, voting rights | 1 Comment »

An open letter to a congressional candidate

Posted by Charles II on September 26, 2011

Dear Mr. _______

I am writing in response to your solicitation for campaign funds. I receive dozens of such solicitations every year, and am more than generous. Because I believe that having contested elections in all districts is vital to democracy, I devote approximately 4% of my income per year to political donations. I support even very unlikely candidacies when those candidates are serious and capable.

So, why should I support you?

Your campaign so far is largely based on airy, feel-good generalities. It shows little grasp of complex issues. Where it is specific, it often gets lost in details. Even to get an understanding of where you stand on issues takes way too much effort, requiring one to scroll through many Facebook pages. So, while I’m delighted that you promise to defend Social Security and Medicare—would that more Democrats would make the promise—the job you’re applying for is a lot more than “being progressive” or “standing for real Democratic values.” When he was a Democrat, Joe Lieberman ran on similar slogans.

I don’t expect you to agree with me on all my pet issues. If a candidate came out with an idea for controlling health care costs through faith healing—and had credible data to back it up—I’d drop my attachment to the public option. If a candidate were serious about paying for all of America’s wars, it would make me less critical of his belligerent propensities. I’m persuadable, but I’m not a fool. I know that once a candidate gets to Washington, he’ll face 434 people with other opinions. He’ll have to deal. I need to know who and what he’ll sacrifice. I need to know what he won’t sacrifice. And I need to know how far he’ll go to defend those beliefs.

Let’s get down to basics. So far, you’re not just a lousy candidate. You’re a lousy campaigner. I sent you early money so you could reach out beyond the small circle of progressive donors. Instead, you’ve spent 20% of that money just on direct mail to me! We don’t have millions of dollars to waste on electronic campaigns. For that matter, we hate sending money to you just so that you can give it to FOX and CNN. You need to be using that money a lot more wisely than you are. Think like an entrepreneur. You might get a chance to talk to an investor on an elevator going from the first to the third floor. You have 25 words or less in which to tell him about your business and give him a card. What words do you choose?

Here are some specific ideas.

First, you have to know who you are. I love the warm and fuzzy family pictures, but they don’t open my wallet. I have to know exactly what in your life gives you insight into the problems of the district. For example, “I was a school teacher. A family came to me because they were running out of food at the end of the month. I worked with a local food pantry and a church near their home to help them. I will support Food Stamps and school lunches no matter what.” Sincerity is really, really important. An honest-seeming idiot beats a clever hypocrite any day.

In that regard, let me add that most voters believe that Washington is corrupt, that votes are outright bought. This perception will only change when there is no connection whatsoever between legislation and campaign funding. Just sayin’: you want to be thought of as honest, tell people what you’ll do to end the corruption.

Second, I’d like to believe that once you go to Washington, you will listen to me rather than the big donors. You could start that process by calling people, not asking for funds, but for ideas and concerns. Don’t just call progressives or the people who show up at your $100-a-plate fundraisers. Call conservative Democrats, corporate Republicans, Tea Party people, John Birchers, anti-abortion zealots. You want to represent the district. They live in the district. Talk to them. If nothing else, you’ll learn not to panic when faced by ignorant, rude, selfish, hateful people, so maybe you won’t sell out your base when the phone starts ringing off the hook over President Obama’s birth certificate. And just by politely listening to the opposition, you’ll make it harder for the troglodyte you will inevitably face to demonize you.

Third, you don’t need clever slogans. You need thematic unity. Clever slogans come from understanding issues in depth, and seeing how they intertwine. My personal clever slogan is “America needs a raise.” This plays off of a series of issues: stagnant family incomes, the Depression (with the accompanying depression) that permeates our country, and the Christian theme that serving justice requires sacrifice. But you don’t have to like my slogan. If you understand the issues you care about, and think deeply about why they’re important, slogans will occur to you. They form the 25 words of your elevator speech.

Finally, let’s talk about reaching voters. Here are some ideas.

Your website sucking—that can be fixed, and fast. Add pages on issues, bio, etc. to bring it up to standard. Supporters need a central place to go to know where you stand. Facebook is great, but is not organized enough to be that place.

Second, there are a lot of unemployed people. You can offer them work, even if it only pays carfare, lunch, and a chance to network. Since you’ll have lots of volunteers, consider making a video that each of them can watch (since it will inevitably leak, make sure that even short snippets won’t embarrass you). That way you minimize training time by permanent staff.

Third, there are public places where volunteers can talk to the public. Some supermarkets or malls will still let you put up a table. It’s not illegal to walk the streets with a sandwich sign. They can’t run you out of a park, and during some seasons those are packed.

Fourth, refuse to run ads or appear on hostile media—and demand that fellow Democrats do the same. Media are incredibly dependent on revenues from campaigns. And you rob them of credibility by refusing to play their game. Our goal is not just to win a congressional seat. We want to fundamentally change the game so that all voices are heard, not just those with money—and not just even our own. We want democracy.

Fifth, the Republicans are making a concerted effort to deny people the right to vote. You need to call them out for wanting to re-establish an aristocracy where only some people have a say. You also need practical methods to counter voter suppression. You might even have to sue the state to knock down a requirement that people buy their birth certificate just to vote, a poll tax if there ever was one. Think ahead.

Well, this is a start. It took me an hour of stream-of-consciousness to come up with these recommendations. If you and your staff can’t do better, you should quit now before you waste money that could be going to serious candidates. And if you can, well, my wallet is open.

Will be crossposted at DK.

Posted in Congress, Democrats, election theft | Comments Off

“A reasonable Republican would run the other direction. Try and find one.” –KO

Posted by Charles II on September 3, 2011

I found one. Mike Lofgren, writing on Truthout:

To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill.

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth.

The reader may think that I am attributing Svengali-like powers to GOP operatives able to manipulate a zombie base to do their bidding. It is more complicated than that. Historical circumstances produced the raw material: the deindustrialization and financialization of America since about 1970 has spawned an increasingly downscale white middle class – without job security (or even without jobs), with pensions and health benefits evaporating and with their principal asset deflating in the collapse of the housing bubble. Their fears are not imaginary; their standard of living is shrinking.

What do the Democrats offer these people? Essentially nothing.

The article is a bit long, but it’s worth reading. It gives greater insight into why the Democrats are dysfunctional than most other political writing.

Posted in Democrats, Good Things, government, Republicans | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Gabby Giffords!

Posted by MEC on June 12, 2011

On the Hon. Gabrielle Giffords’ birthday, her staff has released a recent photo, showing her thin but smiling, with only small outward signs that she was seriously wounded.

She still has a long, hard road ahead of her, but it’s a gift for us to see her smile and the intelligence in her bright eyes.

Posted in Democrats, Gabrielle Giffords | 3 Comments »

Try talking to me

Posted by Charles II on March 31, 2011

Amy Klobuchar’s recent fundraising letter:

And though our nation has experienced turbulent times, no matter where I go, no matter who I talk to, Minnesotans overwhelmingly ask for one thing from their elected officials:

Put partisan politics aside, unite rather than divide, and JUST GET THINGS DONE.

My response to her:

I don’t want you to put partisan politics aside. I want you to be a Democrat. The only one-party states in this world are dictatorships.

Doesn’t anyone get this very basic point? This is what James Madison said in Federalist 10:

There are two methods of curing the mischiefs of faction: the one, by removing its causes; the other, by controlling its effects.

There are again two methods of removing the causes of faction: the one, by destroying the liberty which is essential to its existence; the other, by giving to every citizen the same opinions, the same passions, and the same interests.

It could never be more truly said than of the first remedy, that it was worse than the disease. Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

The second expedient is as impracticable as the first would be unwise. As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties….

We’re supposed to fight! If we don’t, we are not free!

Posted in Democrats | 2 Comments »

 
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