Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hayes / Kissell Correction

There's nothing I dislike more than being wrong. I would love to be able to say it doesn't happen often....but it does. At my age, I've learned it is always best to admit, apologize and move on. That being said, I made a big oooops in my Kissell/Hayes article last week.

I have so many FEC files saved to my computer, I pulled up the wrong first quarter filing and used the wrong set of fundraising numbers for Robin Hayes. It doesn't really make a huge difference in the amount referenced considering Hayes already had a substantial war chest. Robin Hayes raised about $50,000 more than I gave him credit for. Important difference in totals or not, I don't like being the source of inaccurate information, so I am making a correction.

Once I realized my mistake I started looking more closely to see just how Robin Hayes had raised his money. Hayes received almost $125k in individual contributions and a little under $100k in PAC contributions for first quarter 2006. Neither number stands out as unusual for this time period in his campaign filings. The number that stood out was the $191,000 plus in a transfer from another committee. The NCGOP Executive Committee had to raise money for Robin Hayes.

I don't know about you, but I find that amazing. A multimillionaire with a war chest had to rely on the NCGOP to help him raise money. After a little more digging, I figured out why.

Larry Kissell has Robin Hayes scared for his political life. He might not have the big donors or a wad of cash in the bank or his back pocket, but it looks like he is cornering the market on those donations under $200 that don't have to be itemized. Why would this make scare Hayes? Those little donations come from the voters in the district.

Those wealthy people in Charlotte that Robin Hayes likes to court only get to vote once for their $4200 donation. Those mill workers who lost their jobs to free trade agreements get that same vote for their $20 donation. Increasingly, those small donations are going to Larry Kissell and more than likely so are those votes.

Admittedly, I'm still suffering from bronchitis and taking too much cold medicine to talk numbers, but see if you can follow along with me while I take a look at the unitemized contributions for Robin Hayes over the past few years.

First the big news. They are trending down - way down. The numbers are usually reported or combined into election cycles with one off year and one election year. To be fair I am comparing off years and elections years. The two off years we will look at are 2003 and 2005.


First.........$ 7,899.....$13,314...$ 4,365...$12,004
Second....$14.020....$10,160...$ 6,179...$ NA
Third........$17,508....$22,913...$12,395...$ NA
Fourth......$14,369....$ 9,624...$12,437...$ NA

If you compare 2003 to 2005 you see that each quarter trends down and it appears that the same is true with a first quarter comparison for 2004 and 2006. Remember, though, it isn't the dollars that matter. It's the fact that these dollars truly represent the voters in the district, not the big business PACS or the out-of-town millionaires.

Most of the money supporting the Hayes campaign is coming from business PACS, leadership PACS and wealthy people in Charlotte. All that money can buy signs, ads and polls but it can't buy the majority of voters in the 8th District. There is one voter we suspect can be bought. I'm not naming names. I'm just saying....

All this aside, getting large donations is a good thing and Larry Kissell needs to raise a lot of money to beat Robin Hayes. He just doesn't have to raise as much as Robin Hayes does to win in November. The 2004 election bears this out.

In the 2004 election Beth Troutman spent about $226,000 for 45% of the votes. Robin Hayes had to spend $1,462,000 for 55% of the votes. He has a little over a million on hand now and I'm sure he'll raise at least $1.5 million total. The problem for Hayes is, it looks like the price has gone up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Charles Taylor's Head Irretrievably Stuck up His Ass

It can't possibly get much worse than being the lone Congressman holding up the placement of a permanent monument to the crew and passenger heroes of flight 93.
For emotional wallop, there are few rivals to the windswept, grassy field outside of Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

But for three years, that field has made do with a makeshift monument while one member of Congress, Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.), has blocked a $10 million request to buy the land for a permanent memorial to the 40 passengers and crew members who overpowered hijackers bent on crashing their jet into the Capitol or the White House.
So what could possibly be the reason that Chuckie T gives for holding up the purchase of the land? He says the federal government already owns enough land and doesn't need to buy anymore. This certainly doesn't sound like the man who was going to put an end to the sale of our national forests. Nope, just the opposite. I think old Chainsaw himself would personally have ravaged every acre if his constituency and the rest of the country hadn't stood up to him.

I don't know about you, but having the reputation of being the only man in Congress holding up the purchase of a grassy field in Pennsylvania where average men and women became heroes doesn't sound like a good plan if you are heading into a touch election year. Then, I haven't heard too many people claiming that Charles Taylor is the brightest bulb in the pack.

The good news for us is that not too many people in Washington are lining up behind old Chuck.
House Republicans worry that Taylor is not doing himself any favors, standing against the memorial fund in the midst of a tough reelection campaign against former Washington Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler.

And the White House has joined the fray. This year, the request -- for the first $5 million installment -- came from President Bush and the National Park Service. Former White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. has leaned on Taylor, as has his successor, Joshua B. Bolten. On Thursday, Shuster wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter to House members to ratchet up the pressure, offering up a form letter addressed to Taylor.
Did you catch that? George Bush isn't even lining up behind Taylor. With the primary election just days away it will be interesting to see if this takes hold in the mountains of North Carolina.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Morally deficient in Montana

Are they morally deficient in Montana, or do they simply lack brains? It appears that Conrad Burns has started to gain popularity again with voters in Montana. While he still trails the closest Democratic opponent, he is not far behind. One Democrat interviewed for this WaPo article said he had voted for Burns in the past and he probably would again.
"As far as this Abramoff deal goes, don't you think all of these lobbyists expect something in return for the money they give the politicians, be it Burns or whatever?" asked Rick Hill, 62, a retired railroad conductor who said he is a Democrat, that he voted for Burns before and that he will probably do so
Oh, please! Several sitting Republican congressmen are acknowledged adulterers. Does this mean we should expect them all to start cheating on their wives or that it would be just fine if they did because, "everybody does it?"

Craig Harris, a professor of political science at Montana State University, says the Burns campaign is in trouble, however it might not make much difference to voters.
"At some point in Montana, there is a dislike of outsiders and the national press telling us what to think," Harris said. "The thinking is he is a son of a gun, but he is our son of a gun and he can bring home the bacon."
Ahhhh, so they don't care if he plays outside the law and can be bought and paid for as long as he brings home plenty of pork to Montana. Wow.

There is some good news in these poll numbers. The poll is a Rasmussen poll and his polls favor Republican candidates. In the presidential approval polls he tends to poll 7-10 points higher than the others. I don't know which are right, but he sometimes appears to be an outlier in the polling numbers.

Myrick: Federal Government Not Above the Law

The Charlotte Observer is running a series on the illegal immigration debate. Of course they are since it is one of the GOP's issues and since it is Sue Myrick's pet issue.

In reading the article in today's issue, though something really stuck out for me and it had nothing to do with illegal immigration. It's a quote from Sue Myrick.
"There shouldn't be excuses when they know something is definitely amiss and
just keep ignoring it," Myrick said when contacted by the Observer. "We need to
get on top of what can be done. ... The federal government is not above the
Wow, that last sentence is a doozy. The federal government is not above the law. I wonder how she feels about her president's illegal wiretap scheme? I guarantee you she would find a way to excuse that one. God, how I despise hypocrites.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Now This is funny

Yes, the page loaded. Read it's funny.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Larry Kissell Will Take the NC-8 Seat from the GOP

Larry Kissell is a strong progressive candidate and he is on track to take North Carolina's 8th Congressional District away from Republican Robin Hayes. Larry has tailored his issues to the voters in the district and his stance on each reflects true progressive ideals.

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet Larry. I hadn't realized he would be at the Democratic convention in our county. I had been interested in this race from the beginning as I live on the border of his district, but not in it. I had initially thought Tim Dunn was the candidate to beat Hayes, but long before Dunn bowed out I had started to gravitate to Kissell. I wanted to meet him to see if all those qualities I felt he had - humility, integrity, compassion - were real.

First, I am far from some giddy little school girl who would be impressed by a political candidate just because he's a political candidate - far, far from it. I admit, though, meeting Larry Kissell made my day. He is tall. Not imposing tall, but Mr. Smith-goes-to-Washington tall. Oh...and humble...yes, the humility is palpable, as is the honesty. This isn't some slick talking, in-your-face, self-anointed savior of the 8th District. Nope, just the opposite. Larry is real.

Don't let Larry's down-home charm fool you though, He has an edge. He may be honest and he may not be a politico, but he isn't stupid. In other words, don't let the humility disarm you because the man is smart enough to capitalize on the situation.

If you're worried about a lack of campaign experience, you can quit worrying. Larry started his campaign early enough that he is now completely at-ease with meeting and greeting and LISTENING. I stood back and watched him for a while. He was as comfortable in the crowd as the seasoned pro, Mel Watt. (My Rep.)

For those of you who haven't committed to helping Larry win in November and to helping bring a Democratic majority to the US House, I say, it's time. If you need a little more convincing, take a cue from the Fighting Dem, Tim Dunn. After ending his bid for the seat, Tim is not only endorsing Larry, but represented him at the Democratic Party convention in Fayetteville.

It is disappointing to get excited about a candidate just to find they aren't on the
national radar. That isn't going to stop the Kissell campaign or North Carolina Democrats. However, it would be great if a few more voices would join with us to bring attention to this race.

With or without national attention, Larry Kissell and his supporters are doing what it takes to get elected. Larry has been endorsed by the NC AFL-CIO, the North Carolina Association of Educators and the (Char-Meck) Black Political Caucus. The campaign is strong on grassroots efforts and has been visible on local blog communities like
BlueNC, NCRumors, The Strategery of Life and, of course, here at The Southern Dem. The May primary is right around the corner and Larry should have no problem sailing right through.

The local press has started paying attention to the race.
The Charlotte Observer's political coverage this year has been pretty pathetic across the board, but the smaller daily and weekly papers have been ramping up the attention. That's a good thing, because those are the markets that count in this district.

A couple of days ago Jerry Meek, Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, informed a national audience at
MyDD that North Carolina Democrats would do their job to help bring a change to Washington and to take back the U.S. House of Representatives. He outlined the races in North Carolina's 8th and 11th Congressional Districts. The diary stayed on the recommended list long enough to attract some commenters and spread the word that despite what the WaPo says, NC has some districts that are in play.
This is a district with a Democratic Performance of 50.7%. That means that a Democrat can typically expect to get 50.7% of the vote against a Republican. But, as the grandson of the founder of Cannon Mills, Hayes can pretty much dump whatever cash he needs into the campaign. And he's proven that he's not averse to doing so. (By the way, Cannon Mills became Pillowtex. In 2003, Pillowtex shut down due to trade agreements that shipped jobs overseas. In the largest layoff in North Carolina history, over 4,300 hardworking people lost their jobs--most of them Hayes' constituents who worked for his old family company.)
With Robin Hayes having so much family money to pour into his campaign will it be possible for Larry to make a difference? Of course. Most candidates going up against Hayes are financial underdogs, but the last campaign showed that Hayes is vulnerable. In 2004 Beth Troutman spent $231,000 to Hayes' $1,461,000 and received 45% of the vote. It's not a wealthy district, though, and any assistance from those outside the district is welcome. Here is a link to Larry's site with ActBlue access.

The following list of issues and positions is not complete, but the heading on each is a link to a page on Larry Kissell's web site where more information is available.

On National Security Larry says:

We staged our way into Iraq in one year, there is no reason we can't stage our way out in one year.


An obvious root cause of terrorism that warrants expansion is our nation's self-defeating addiction to oil. ...... With 95% of the oil we use being imported, serving only to increase our trade deficit while taking us to some of the least stable places on earth and covertly funding our enemies in the war on terrorism in the process, we must implement a dedicated mentality to secure our future with home grown, alternative, renewable energy sources rendering us both secure and the world leader in energy production.


There is no rationale for a fiscally irresponsible $8.2 trillion debt making us safer....... Proponents of globalization and "free" trade may point to record corporate profit and expansion, but that's little comfort to those having lost their livelihoods as we outsource our domestic manufacturing readiness in a cynical race to the bottom.


"Supporting our troops" is more than a bumper sticker to be trotted out by an administration that neither plans for their success nor provides for their needs. Our armed forces are without question the best in the world with all credit going to them for maintaining stability in the mess this administration has spread globally. As the very life blood of our national security then, it's our moral obligation to provide the best possible care for those having made the sacrifice.

On Real Family Values Larry says:

Real Family Values quite simply means we expect far more from our Congress than being told how to be a family. It means having Representatives actually demonstrating values such as honesty and integrity.


A commitment to Real Family Values means helping working families rise above the poverty line instead of pushing millions more working families down the economic ladder while giving targeted tax breaks to idle wealth.

On Less Government Larry says:

A simple accounting of our government's record deficit and a review of an administration yet to veto a single spending measure demonstrates how they have not delivered on their promise to decrease bureaucracy. It's simply bogus to state that there has effectively been any meaningful decrease in the size of government except for the reduction in some programs that actually help the working people, children, students and veterans of this nation.


A hallmark of a commitment to "less government" includes a commitment to protecting our personal freedoms and civil liberties, not the dangerous consolidation of executive power, abusive efforts to spy on our citizens, and intrusive legislation from a federal government treading in unchartered areas it has no business.

On Less Taxes Larry says:

I subscribe to the premise that any government action or inaction that leads to less money for my family is a tax on our livelihood. Therefore, what little actual tax "relief" as it was cynically named, real working families received through recent legislation has been more than taken away in rising energy bills, soaring medical costs and insurance premiums, increasing interest rates as a result of the rising national debt....and additional out-of-pocket expenses due to cuts in important programs like student loans and tracking down dead-beat parents.

The 8th District is comprised mostly of working class families. There are only a handful of precincts that reflect any level of wealth. Larry has the background and the demeanor to appeal to all the voters in the 8th, but especially the base. Larry spent 27 years in management in the textiles industry after earning a degree at Wake Forest University. He understands the concerns of the thousands in the district who lost their jobs to fair trade agreements. He's one of them.

While most manufacturing jobs in the district were lost after NAFTA, the fact that Robin Hayes promised to vote against CAFTA and then literally cast the deciding vote for it, has angered many who live in the district. Larry Kissell drives this point home everywhere he goes reminding the voters that before Hayes voted for it he said he was, "flat-out, horizontally opposed to CAFTA.".

Robin Hayes wasn't strong enough to stand up to his party even when he knew his vote was not in the best interest of his constituents. He broke a direct promise to the people of the 8th District. That doesn't sit well with the voters.

To add to the list of the issues outlined above, Larry also believes that there needs to be an increase in the minimum wage, a reduction in the "oil burden" on working families and a reversal of the programs implemented by the Bush administration that were planned to fail. He also believes:

The hard working families of the 8th District and our nation deserve a commitment to education, economic opportunity, civil rights, personal freedoms, and the safe, clean environment that we all want for our families.
Larry Kissell is the strong leader the 8th District deserves. Larry can win, but more importantly, he will work for the common good and he will do it with honesty and humility and integrity.

Update: I'm sorry to put this important infor at the end of this piece, but I just finished putting together the financial information from the first quarter filings. Larry has almost matched Robin Hayes with Larry's contributions coming in smaller amounts from fewer people. In the first quarter Hayes received $71,655 from individuals and Larry Kissell received $64, 223. Kissell had about triple the amount of small unitemized donations with his donations coming from over 250 people. Hayes expenses were twice that of Kissell. For Larry to have made such an impact while spending only $28,000 is amazing.

Hayes advantage comes from corporate PAC donations and his war chest. This is where the netroots could put Larry over the top. For those of you in districts with safe progressive candidates, please consider some financial support for a progressive Dem who needs your help.

President Bush Admits to Hearing Voices

This is simply to rich to just let go. There is absolutely no possible way this man has an Ivy League education. The "decider" in chief is caught on tape saying, "I listen to all the voices." Too bad for the rest of us he never pays close attention to them! Crooks and Liars has the video.

If he did pay attention, he might have heard Scotty saying, "
I quit!" Scott McClellen is out as press secretary. Anyone want the job?

Karl Rove is also giving up duties to concentrate on the midterm elections. Oh Joy.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Red States: Pink, Blue, Bluerer

I love what the polls are showing right now. I get giddy when I hear a red state has not only turned pink, but tends to a shade of light blue. The problem with all this good news is that our Democratic leaders have done nothing to make it happen. President Bush and the Republican leadership are tanking their numbers all on their own.

It's easy for some Republicans to take a look at what is going on, recognize the lies and corruption and respond negatively to a poll. It's a lot harder to translate those negative poll responses into crossover votes at the voting booths in November.

Richard Morin seems enthusiastic about the color palette of the country right now, but I'm going to hold off on my victory dance until November 8. Cautious or not, I'm still smiling at the most recent numbers and will toast them over a second cup of coffee.

Update: Charles Babington, also of the WaPo goes into a little more detail on the red state voters who plan to vote for Democrats. This was an interesting read, but tucked in the article was the same statistic the Republicans keep touting - that most voters are happy with their current House member, so national discontent might not translate into a regime change in the fall.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Larry Kissell Knows the Voters of the 8th District

It wasn't heavily publicized, but there was a televised debate between the three candidates running for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District. The winner in the primary will face Republican Robin Hayes.

There has been no mud-slinging that I've heard and all three candidates are decent, honorable, hard-working men. All three seem to have the integrity and intelligence it will take to clean up the mess Republicans have made of our government and all three will work for the common good.

That being said, one does stand out in the group as being more in touch with the biggest issue that will bring voters together to oust Hayes.
Larry Kissell knows what it means to lose a job to overseas interests. Larry Kissell feels the sting of the outright lie Robin Hayes told to his constituents and he made it known in the televised debate when asked about his central issue.
For Kissell, it was bad trade deals. He called the Central America Free Trade
Agreement "a slap in the face" to workers in his district. He mocked Hayes' vow
that he was "flat-out, completely, horizontally opposed" to CAFTA just before
casting the deciding vote for it last July.
Robin Hayes lied and people will lose their jobs. It's not like he didn't have past experience to learn from, though. Entire businesses were closed and shuttered in the 8th District after NAFTA was passed and the low-paying jobs that replaced the skilled manufacturing jobs have had little economic impact. After seeing the economic devastation caused by NAFTA and after promising to vote against it, Robin Hayes voted for CAFTA anyway. He allowed himself to be bullied by the Republican leadership to vote with the party. Robin Hayes was not strong enough to stand up for the people in the 8th District. He no longer deserves the job.

Larry Kissell will work to bring positive change to the 8th Congressional District and to the state of North Carolina. Larry has been endorsed by Tim Dunn, The North Carolina Association of Educators and the NC AFL-CIO. Now all he needs are the endorsements of the people who really count - the voters.

Comment: I am not affiliated with the Larry Kissell campaign. I know it sounds like it. I had a chance to meet him and speak with him in person and truly feel he has the integrity, intelligence, humility and energy to tackle the issues important to North Carolinians. This is the first time, in a long time, I've felt excited about a candidate. If you visit Larry's site please contribute to the cause. If you feel convinced from the little I've written, I've put the ActBlue contribution link to the right of this post.

Monday, April 10, 2006


You may or may not know that our government is having recess. Some Senators and Representatives will use this time to bolster sagging popularity numbers back home and others will hit the road - most on "official" trips. So, where are our North Carolina politicians going to be this week?

Republican Sen. Richard Burr is going to Eastern Europe and Russia with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. The congressional delegation will meet with leaders in Poland, the Ukraine and Georgia to learn how these countries are dealing with the threat of avian flu. Frist is a medical doctor and we all know what a great job he did diagnosing Terry Schiavo by video tape. I feel so much safer knowing that this time he will go in person. Sen. Burr is chairman of the subcommittee on bioterrorism and public health preparedness. Of course, he's already said there isn't any more money coming to state's to prepare for bioterrorism, so I don't know why he needs to go on this trip.
I wrote about that here. Anyway, I hope it's a safe, enjoyable and edifying trip.

Democrat Mel Watt is going to Berlin, Rome and Naples on official business with a delegation led by Republican Henry Hyde of Illinois. Hyde is the chair of the House International Relations Committee and Watt is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is also a member of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy.

Republican Elizabeth Dole is you know that she just has to be going somewhere really great, don't you? I mean, afterall, she's an important member of the Senate so her travels will eclipse all others, right?
You really want to know where she's going don't you? I mean if Burr is going to Eastern Europe and Watt is going to Germany and Italy, Dole must be going somewhere really bitchin' right?
Republican Elizabeth Dole is going to......................Billings, Montana to "prop up" Senator Conrad Burns who is having a really tough time after being caught red-handed and raw with Jack Abramoff. Dole is the guest speaker at a $250/person lunch fundraiser for Burns.

Hat to to Tim Funk at
The Charlotte Observer.

Republicans Disturbed By Their Own Reflections

When I first read through this article in The Washington Post I thought that maybe, just maybe the effects of the Kool-Aid were wearing off for Jim VandeHei. He started with this:
The Tom DeLay era is ending much as it began. An entrenched majority, battered by ethical scandals involving its top leaders, is running what many see as a politically polarized and profligate House of Representatives.
I realized VandeHei was still punch drunk when he followed that immediately by calling the levels of Republican corruption "remarkable". While he attributed this comment to unnamed Republicans he doesn't even call them on it. Corruption isn't remarkable. It is embarrassing, appalling, and horrifying. It is not remarkable.

Dick Armey wants to blame this all on Tom DeLay. Now that Tom DeLay is gone (almost) that is convenient. If people buy that line, then the Republicans can claim a clean bill of ethical health and pronounce themselves cured and electable. Not so fast slick Dick.

VandeHei has interviewed others in the GOP who say the problems can't just be attributed to Tom DeLay.

....many others said the problem was much bigger -- and more complicated -- than the excesses of DeLay. They said it was a general sense of hubris and self-preservation that prompted GOP leaders to gradually abandon the tenets of the 1994 revolution: smaller government, accountability, and a new and cleaner way of doing business in Washington.
Admittedly, I would be much happier if VandeHei listed a slew of names for attribution. However, I do understand the desire Republians have to remain unnamed. We've witnessed enough conservative cannibalism* over the several months to sate our appetites for years to come.

The article outlines the corruption and excesses of Democrats prior to the Republican takeover of the house in 1994. It goes on to compare the two situations and repeats what many Democrats have been saying - it took the Republicans only 10 years to reach the level of corruption that it had taken the Democrats 40 years to achieve. While I'm not proud that the Democrats ever achieved any level of corruption, it is appalling that Republicans catapulted themselves so quickly to this achievement.

Republicans may have started out with a strong reform movement, but reform was very quickly forgotten as power and greed took over. the Republicans became more entrenched and accustomed to their position of power, leaders shifted their emphasis from reforming government to consolidating their power and self-preservation. "I do think for both parties -- and it has happened for Republicans now -- there is a risk of majority fatigue where you run out of new ideas," said Ari Fleischer, who worked in Congress in the 1990s before becoming White House spokesman. "The other risk is people's zest for reform yields to their desire to maintain power."

What stands out for me in this quote is that Fleischer thinks the Republicans are experiencing "majority fatigue" after only ten years. It only took them ten years to run out of new ideas. The Democrats experienced "majority fatigue" after 40 years. So, which party has more new ideas? Which party can grow and change as the needs of the American people change?

Keep in mind that this article is quoting Republicans speaking about Republicans. It is also found in a newspaper that has acted more like the PR arm of the White House over the past several years. I'm thinking many Republicans are seeing the light and want to distance themselves from a President and House leadership that have serious ethical and legal problems. I'm also thinking this particular newspaper might see a glimmer of what life could be like November 8th if they continue providing stenographers to the White House.

Update: Many thanks to commenter/blogger Drama Queen at for the phrase conservative cannibalism. I'm not sure if she created it or found it somewhere else, but it works!

President Sinks Even Lower

A Washington Post/ABC News Poll shows that the President's approval rating has sunk even
lower. The poll was conducted April 6-9, so information about the leaks coming from the Oval Office and Bush's encounter with Harry Taylor should have figured in to the responses. The Republican loyalists that I've spoken with think Bush handled his first enounter with the First Amendment reasonable well. That doesn't seem to have helped his numbers much, though.

Scott McClellen might differ with me on whether it is a leak if the President declassified the information. I have news for Scotty. Most Americans I know are tired of going along with the administration in their semantics games. When the President selectively leaks information to fool the American people or to discredit one man who speaks out against him, most Americans know that is wrong. There will always be a group of nut rubbers who will go along with anything the President does or says, but they are in the minority if poll numbers are correct.

Overall approval is down again in many of the polls that have come out over the past week. According to the WaPo:
The new survey found that 38 percent of the public approved of the job Bush is doing as president, down 3 percentage points in the past month and his worst showing in Post-ABC polling on this key measure since he became president. Sixty percent disapproved of his performance.
The numbers look even worse when you look at the Iraq war numbers.
Nearly six in 10--58 percent--currently say the war was not worth the cost while nearly half say they "strongly" feel the conflict wasn't worth fighting. The latest result marked the 13th consecutive Post-ABC survey since December 2004 in which a majority of Americans has questioned the value of U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Look for more polls to come out this week. Some will probably show even lower approval ratings. Let's hope he can keep this up. The lower he drags his party the easier our job will be to convince voters that Democrats can and will govern more effectively, honestly, openly and will conduct themselves with more dignity and show more respect for the American people.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

John Edwards Backs Feingold's Censure Motion

John Edwards has spoken out in support of Senator Russ Feingold's censure motion. With all that is coming out now about the selective leaking of classified information you just have to wonder if we will jump right into impeachment. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a Republican required to obey the law?

The story on Edwards is in
The Charlotte Observer.

George Will Outs John McCain

For those of you who have not caught on yet, John McCain is not the centrist he has always painted himself to be. Nope. Not even close. John McCain is a conservative Republican. He always has been and George Will does a beautiful job of outing him.

My favorite part:
St. John of Arizona can seem insufferably certain that he has cornered the market on incorruptibility. So, as he begins trying to assemble a presidential majority, he seems, as anyone trying to do that will, like a run-of-the-mill sinner.
It's a quick read and hopefully is just the start of the exposure for the true John McCain. Progressives, liberals and anyone else afraid of the status quo should turn and run from John McCain.

Republicans: It's Always Someone Else's Fault

We all knew this would happen. It's amazing how quickly Republicans get the spin machine going. Tom DeLay has an ex-staffer now saying that everything that happened was the fault of Scanlon, Rudy and Buckham. They are referred to as the "rogue" staffers.

Oh Please. On the one hand we are supposed to believe that DeLay was a brilliant legislator and on the other hand we are supposed to believe he was oblivious to the workings of three of his top staffers? Not going to happen - at least not for those of us with functioning brains. You can't be brilliant and a moron at the same time. You are either one or the other.

Tom DeLay not only knew that these staffers were doing things they shouldn't - even if he didn't know every little detail - he approved of the results. At some point Republicans must grasp this concept of taking responsibility. Tom DeLay is ultimately responsible for what his staffers were doing in his name. Case closed.

Update: Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo does advise reading the article. I do agree with him there. He seems to think that Feehery is a little more clear about Tom DeLay gravitating toward the corrupt staffers than I do. I think DeLay not only gravitated to them, he intentionally used them as a buffer. He could always claim they were working on their own and that their corruption is not his own. It is a typical Republican stunt that has been used to the point that it is getting stale, very stale.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Dem Caucus May Bring Change in NC House

At some point in the next two weeks the Democrats in Raleigh will hold a caucus to discuss the issues surrounding Speaker Jim Black. Four Democrats have called for Black to either resign his post or step down from his leadership position.

The caucus is not out of the ordinary. Julie Robinson, Black's Communications Director, said it is commonly held before every session. However, this caucus will probably be a little more heated than those held in the past.

The Charlotte Observer has an article this morning and it's hard to tell which way the House Dems will go on this issue. First there's this quote:

"A lot of people are asking the question, `What will happen?' but almost nobody with a plan," said Rep. Bill Faison, an Orange County Democrat who said Black should stay in office. Faison said, though, that the controversies surrounding Black's office make it "improbable" that Black can win another term as speaker.
Nobody has a plan? That's encouraging. That was followed by a quote from another Representative.
"I've heard a variety of scenarios," said Rep. Lucy Allen of Franklin County, "but I feel like in the end, the caucus is going to come behind him."
Are you hearing a little uncertainty in the words of these two Representatives? Only four have called for Black to step down and that's not a huge number. There has to be something behind the lack of a groundswell in the numbers calling for Black's resignation. Do they know something we don't? I had expected a pile-on and for a few days that's what it looked like would happen. So far, it has not.

Don't expect miracles from this caucus. The article also goes on to say that some members fear a power void if Black steps down. For details on what that might entail just take a quick look at the complete disarray of the Republican Party in Washington since Tom DeLay stepped down.

EJ Dionne of
The Washington Post has more on this. Read the article. It's a good one. Then step back and look at the men and women in Raleigh. Who would make a good speaker? Which of those serving now has shown a commitment to putting the citizens of North Carolina first? Who has already shown leadership qualities that make them stand out - not just in Raleigh, but in their personal lives. Who can fill that void and rally the other House Democrats to follow their lead? It isn't a question of who wants to lead in Raleigh, but who is best prepared for the job. Maybe that should be our focus before we oust Jim Black.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hundreds Protest Bush in Charlotte

Apparently, the free speech zone in Charlotte was close enough for protestors to be heard. They shouted, "Do your job," at the motorcade as it passed. There were 300-400 people in the middle of a work day standing on Elizabeth Avenue in front of the community college where Bush was to speak. "Worst President Ever," was shouted by many in the group. The Charlotte Observer has this story.

As a contrast, there were 1000 tickets available and organizers were calling local dignataries multiple times trying to give away the tickets.

For an even better First Amendment moment read
this story in the Observer.

Update: Ahhh, yesss - according to the WaPo the White House wants the President to get told off by polite liberals.

Tom DeLay and all Those Uppity Blacks in Congress

I won't offer one word of excuse for what Cynthia McKinney did. She was wrong. She should never have hit a police officer. I don't care if he called her every vile racist name in the book. She put herself in the position of going from victim to offender in one swift punch. I have no sympathy for her at all. Not one little bit. I hold her to that same high standard that I would hold any other elected member of congress. No exceptions.

All that aside. I will also say that I believe racism is rampant in the halls of the capitol. I'm just not so certain it is the Capitol Hill police that are the racists. Take this quote from Tom DeLay found in just about every media source printing the story. I found it in
USA Today. It can also be found in The Washington Post.
"Cynthia McKinney is a racist," Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said on Fox News Channel's Fox and Friends, a day after abandoning his re-election bid under a cloud of ethics charges. "She has a long history of racism. Everything is racism with her. This is incredible arrogance that sometimes hits these members of Congress, but especially Cynthia McKinney."
Did you catch that? Read it again - especially the part that starts with, "This is incredible arrogance that sometimes hits these members of Congress...". What members would these members be, Tom? Would these be the women members, the white male contingency, the under 40 crowd or maybe, just maybe these arrogant members of congress are the blacks? What do you say, Tom? Is that what you meant by these members?

What about the white members, Tom? I mean sheesh, can you imagine a white man being arrogant? Can you Tom? I know it's difficult to imagine anyone being arrogant about something they are entitled to in the first place. I guess once these blacks make it to congress it just goes to their heads, isn't that right, Tom? The only "big house" they belong in is one with bars, isn't that right Tom?

Come on Tom. You know you want to say it. The truth really does set you free, Tom. Go ahead. Let it all out. Black's don't belong in congress and when they get there with their nappy hair in corn rows and their arrogant attitudes it just serves them right when they get into trouble. I mean, afterall, we can't expect much from them since they are inferior to the great white race, isn't that right Tom?

So, now, the man who is under indictment for arrogantly assuming that rules and laws were not meant for him, who has been admonished by the ethics committee three times for arrogantly acting outside the rules of congress and who was arrogant enough to run a primary race just to raise money for his campaign so he can use it for his legal defense - this man is calling people of a different race arrogant. There's no denying that Tom DeLay is a racist. It's all right there in black and white.

Isn't that right, Tom?

The Slow Painful Death of the Neocon Ideology

As much as I would like to wax poetic about the death of Neocon ideology and possibly the slow painful torture of a few neocons, I am tied up today with preparations for houseguests. I did find this Newsweek article by Michael Hirsh an interesting read. It's only a two pager and worth your time. My favorite quote:
Until then, unfortunately, the debate over the neocon agenda—whether it becomes a mere historical footnote or perhaps, tragically, a watershed for the decline of U.S. power—will not be completely resolved in anyone's mind. What is clear, at the very least, is that the cavalier neocon attitude toward military power is over. It will be another generation before any American president after Bush will have an appetite for going to war. The danger now is that, despite these
realities on the ground, regime-change fever continues to affect some at the upper levels of the Bush administration who cannot admit the titanic errors made with Iraq.
After 10 years of having to endure torture at the hands of the Repubicans and 6 years of sheer hell at the hands of the neocons, I enjoyed reading this passage. I'll be checking back in and catching up at

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bush and the Sound of Silence

On Thursday of this week President George W. Bush is coming to Charlotte to sound the drum beat for his war on terror. What are we hearing in Charlotte from Republicans who typically line up to rub nuts with Bushie? Pleasantly enough, not a damned thing. If you visit the web site for the Mecklenburg County Republican Party, you will see their rundown of judges but NOTHING (until they get a ping from this link) on the President's pending visit.

While it required a huge dose of antacid, I even braved a visit to the
North Carolina Republican Party Web site. Not.A.Word. Shhhh! Let's not tell them. Maybe nobody will show. Then again, maybe that's the plan. Maybe even North Carolina Republicans have figured out Bush is toxic.

In The Charlotte Observer, there is
this paragraph which followed the first announcement of the speech on Friday. It's Tuesday and there is still no further announcement about the details of where the President will speak. How will loyal wingnuts find their beloved leader? I doubt they'll be invited to.

This sounds like maybe the Pres has decided to opt out of the tougher open-mike-night type speeches he's been having of late and will speak to a staged audience. Maybe he won't really travel into Charlotte and will simply land and speak from the Air National Guard facility near the airport. Who knows? Who cares?

Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention News

Saturday I had the chance to attend the Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention. It was the second time in twenty years I have attended, though when I was younger I used to attend each year. I attended as a non-voting delegate. I'm glad I went. While I don't enjoy the politicking by the people who want to run the local party, I do enjoy meeting candidates for public office. The atmosphere was filled with the noise of enthusiastic candidates and Democrats excited about our chances in November.

First, thank you to those board members and volunteers who organized the meeting. It ran smoothly from an outsiders perspective. After meeting some candidates in the atrium of the Government Center the meeting began with an invocation (yes, we Democrats do seek council from a higher being), the singing of our national anthem and the recitation of the pledge of allegiance (yes, we Democrats did say "under God") Michael Evans, the current chair of the party, started with a pep talk. He gave a brief power point presentation and consistently drove home the theme of voting for Democrats in November. I would have been shocked if he had said otherwise.

While the crowd was smaller than I anticipated it was very spirited. One thing that stood out to me was the absence of so many of our candidates who either didn't have an opponent in November or who were elected this past November. I would think that attending the county convention would be required for these people who rely on the party and the core of volunteers gathered on Saturday. I understand busy schedules. I have one. The City Council members not in attendance were Warren Turner, Michael Barnes and James Mitchell - though he had a table and supporters there and he bought an ad in the program. From what I remember the only NC House candidates not in attendance were Becky Carney and Jim Black. I'll give Jim a pass since he has so much going on.

As I mentioned above, I don't get into the little party leadership type politics. It is kinda funny to sit back and watch them running around trying to line up votes as if the whole of the free world depended on it. I'm not making fun...I'm just saying...let's keep some perspective people. OK...maybe I am making just a little bit of fun.

Speaking of local party, I heard quite often people expressing surprise and dismay that other Democrats were calling for Jim Black to resign either his leadership as Speaker or his seat in the N.C. House. It was almost as if nothing existed outside Mecklenburg County politics. I'm surprised that so few have an understanding of state politics as a whole or a feeling for just how critical this election is going to be. Democrats have a very tenuous hold on our majority in the N.C. House and most areas of our state are very conservative. If you go east or west of Mecklenburg County you immediately see red and those people running for a House seat are getting hammered by their opponents to take a stand on this issue. Sometimes, you have to look at the health of the party as a whole to decide what is best, instead of keeping a local view. I believe in offering support for Speaker Black as a family of Democrats, but I see maintaining our majority in Raleigh as a little more critical than keeping power in Mecklenburg County.

All in all, I'm proud that my local party voted to support Speaker Jim Black, support our troops in Iraq and bring them home within the year, to appeal for climate protection, the need for a living wage and to support a woman's reproductive freedom. Most importantly, our local party voted to support Senator Russ Feingold's resolution to censure President Bush. That is nothing to laugh about and I commend the voting delegates for taking the step that so many wait-and-see Democrats in the Senate have failed to take.

The highlight of the day was a rousing speech by my Representative in the U.S. House, Mel Watt. I'll be writing more about that later today. If you would like to see pictures from the convention, please go to the MCDP web site. If you do not live in Mecklenburg County, please consider attending the county convention in your area even if you aren't a voting delegate. You will get a chance to meet candidates for office and find some inspiration among the hard-working volunteers that run your local party. You will find a convention schedule at the NCDP web site.

Tom DeLay Quits

Tom DeLay has decided to resign his seat rather than face the voters in November. He easily beat other Republicans in the Texas primary election earlier in March, but he doesn't believe he can beat his Democratic opponent in November. He appears to have come to the conclusion that he is so toxic that even a less well-known Republican getting a late start campaigning would have a better chance at the polls.

For more on this story: The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, The Houston Chronicle, USA Today.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Larry Kissell is Ready to Win in November

First, let me set you straight. I'm not some giddy little school girl - far from it. Meeting Larry Kissell made my day, yesterday. When I planned to go to the Mecklenburg County Democratic Convention I hadn't thought about the candidates who might be there. Once I saw a few shaking hands, I made a beeline for the Larry Kissell table.

He is tall. Not imposing tall, but Mr. Smith-goes-to-Washington tall. Oh...and humble...yes, the humility is palpable, as is the honesty. This isn't some slick talking, in-your-face, self-annointed savior of the 8th District. Nope, just the opposite. Larry is real.

Don't let Larry's down-home charm fool you though, He has an edge. He may be honest and he may not be a politico, but he isn't stupid. In other words, don't let the humility disarm you because the man is smart enough to capitalize on the situation.

If you're worried about a lack of campaign experience, you can quit worrying. Larry started his campaign early enough that he is now completely at-ease with meeting and greeting and LISTENING. I stood back and watched him for a while. He was as comfortable in the crowd as the seasoned pro, Mel Watt. (My Rep.)

For those of you who haven't committed to helping Larry win in November and to helping bring a Democratic majority to the US House, I say, it's time. Don't take my word for it. He's out there. He's going to be attending the other conventions. Go meet him.

If you need a little more convincing, take a cue from the fighting Dem, Tim Dunn. After ending his bid for the seat, Tim is not only endorsing Larry, but represented him at the Democratic Party convention in Fayetteville.

I also had the great pleasure to meet Steve Hudson, Larry's campaign manager. I've been in his shoes - granted for a NC House seat - but I know what he's up against. It's a hard job. He has the same open, friendly demeanor that Larry has. He doesn't come across as a "handler", which I think is good in this district and I got the impression that not much gets by him.

I have a lot of stories about yesterday. This is my favorite. Larry can win, but more importantly, he can represent all the people of the 8th District and he can do it with honesty and humility and integrity.

Larry Kissell and campaign manager, Steve Hudson.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Another Former DeLay Aide Guilty

Tony Rudy, one of the key players in the Abramoff-Republican Congress lobbying scandal pleaded guilty yesterday to charges that he worked with Abramoff to bribe members of Congress and defraud clients of millions of dollars. Like Michael Scanlon, Rudy is a former staffer of Tom DeLay.

According to
The Washington Post, Rudy is the first to admit to illegal activities while working for Congressman DeLay.

Rudy's plea follows guilty pleas from DeLay's former press secretary, Michael Scanlon, and from Abramoff himself. But, for the first time, an actor in the scandal has admitted to committing illegal acts while working in the Republican leadership suites of the House.
There's also this first reported by the WaPo.

The court papers for the first time formally refer to DeLay as one of those involved in the activities under scrutiny, listing him as "Representative #2." But though the papers show that Rudy traded on DeLay's name, they do not indicate that Rudy has evidence to implicate his former boss.
I had lost track of Rudy and wasn't expecting a plea deal to be announced, so was caught off guard a bit. I imagine that part of the motivation was securing immunity for his wife. For someone so caught up in buying and selling influence in Washington it looks like Rudy will get a very sweet deal.

Rudy's conspiracy charge carries a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but in exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of 24 to 30 months and $100,000 in restitution. They also agreed not to pursue charges against his wife, Lisa, who set up a consulting company that received payments originating from Abramoff's clients.
There was one statement made by Tony Rudy that has to have some members of Congress literally shaking in their boots.

Rudy's plea makes it clear that the federal investigation has far to go. The confession "does not include all of the facts known to me concerning criminal activity in which I or others engaged," he stated.
The Washington Post also has an article outlining Tony Rudy's influence as a member of Tom DeLay's team. I kept looking to see if the WaPo was doing its usual stellar job of circling the wagons for the GOP, but both articles appear to leave the issue out there wide open. Both articles are worth reading if you are following the Abramoff and DeLay scandals.

It's probably obvious that my personal opinion is that DeLay is guilty of massive corruption, bullying and buying of votes. I think he's misused the charity, U.S. Family Network and I believe he illegally laundered money to help candidates in Texas financially. If he isn't guilty of any of these things, then he takes the award away from President Bush as being the single worst judge of character in the world. Scanlon, Rudy and Buckham were all top aides to DeLay and have either pleaded guilty or are still under investigation. If DeLay didn't have anything to do with their illegal activity and he wasn't aware of it, then he simply isn't competent enough to hold public office.

I, for one, think DeLay is going to eventually have himself a bunk in the pokey.

Update: The most extensive Abramoff timeline on the web can be found here. (I am SO modest.) The New York Times article can be found here and they were kind enough to link to the Findlaw posting of the charges and plea agreement. These are always interesting reads.