Archive for June 15th, 2006

How to approach the topic of DC insider, Chuck Schumer and his Republican friend, Joe Lieberman? How can I express my antipathy towards the DSCC chair for vowing to support Lieberman’s run as an independent should he lose the primary to upstart Ned Lamont?

Easy. I’ll let someone else do it. Digby.

First, the background. In recent poll, Lamont placed four points behind Lieberman. That’s an astounding result for an out-of-nowhere candidate against a well-funded high-profile incumbent. In recent interviews, Lieberman said he’d run as an independent if he didn’t win his party’s nomination, threatening to split the vote and hand Connecticut to the GOP. (Although an argument could be made that his seat already belongs to the GOP.) DSCC chair Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently said (in the same breath that he congratulated himself for Tester’s win) that he and the DSCC would back Lieberman as an independent.

Digby on Lieberman:

You don't have to look any further than Joe Lieberman to understand why the entire world thinks Democrats are a bunch of chickensh[*]t losers. We're tired of being associated with someone who can't even stand a fair fight in the Connecticut Democratic party without whining like sniveling school kid and threatening to take his ball and go home. Why should anyone trust such a gutless tool with the reins of government?

Digby quoting Josh Marshall on Lieberman:

I think the most generous read on Lieberman is that he's just out of step with the parliamentary turn of recent American politics….But I think that's too generous. The whining in Washington that it's somehow an affront that Lieberman's hold on his senate is being threatened is entirely misplaced, a good example of what's wrong with DC's permanent class.

Digby on Schumer’s decision to back Lieberman, no matter what:

You don't get to leave the party to avoid losing in a Democratic primary and then expect Democratic party financial support to run against the Democratic candidate. That's just nuts. And it's so disrespectful to the Democratic voters of Connecticut I can't honestly believe he has thought this through.If they do this, it will cause a full on backlash against the Democratic Party by the rank and file and the party elders like Schumer have no one to blame but themselves. Frankly, this arrogant dictatorial attitude would be a little bit easier to take if the party hadn't given away the f[*]cking store for the last quarter century and gotten exactly nothing in return. The last time I checked these people haven't won anything in a long, long time. Why we are supposed to keep putting our faith in their greater capacity to win is beyond me. Certainly, the unmitigated gall of these g[*]dd[*]mned losers lording over the voters like this is going to kill this party. A little humility is called for here.

Lamont is, of course, the prime beneficiary of netroots activism, if anybody is. He was basically created, touted, and elevated through the power of the blogosphere. Yes, he’s run a decent campaign. Yes, he’s an excellent candidate. But the bottom line is that he’s a populist running against a terrible lawmaker and is now within striking distance.

Schumer is an establishment DC insider, chair of a powerful re-election group.

Is it “narcissistic” to believe in light of this story that there’s a battle between the Democratic insiders and the netroots, grassroots base of the party? Between fat cats and the people?

Trust me, the fat cats wanted John Morrison to win the Democratic primary, which should be all the more reason why we should support Tester.

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Now I know why “Snidely Whiplash” Rehberg is against the estate tax. Here’s a clue: he’s richer than dirt. According to the report, Rehberg is valued between $12 to $57 million!

In a pointed swipe at Burns over touting an estate tax repeal, the Missoula Independent has this to say:

As for the content of Burns’ opening missive, it’s interesting—though not surprising—that he and his Republican strike force would invoke the estate tax in hopes of painting Tester as an out-of-touch liberal while branding Burns as a populist. The fact is that, according to tax analyst Judy Xanthopoulos, Ph.D., of Quantria Strategies, a complete repeal of the estate tax, like the one Burns and his Democratic colleague Sen. Max Baucus voted in support of last week, would benefit about 25 Montana families each year—the richest 25, with estates valued at an average of $12.4 million.

One of those 25 families is Rehberg’s.

Rehberg has voted for just about every tax cut that’s come his way – most of them benefiting exclusively…well…people just like him. What that means is the tax burden falls more heavily on us, the regular folks who struggle to make car payments and mortgages and are dealing with increasing health care costs.

Meanwhile, at the same time Rehberg is putting money in his own pocket, he’s voting for increased federal expenditures. He voted for giving subsidies for big oil companies, and he’s an avid supporter of the war in Iraq, voting for every emergency appropriation that’s crossed his desk.

Got that? Rehberg is racking up costs and dodging his civic duty to pay for those costs. Does he believe in the war? If so, then why is he wriggling out of doing his patriotic duty and helping pay for it? He supports sending US troops in harm’s way – men and women risking their very lives for this country, over 2,500 dead so far – but he won’t put his money behind his “principles.”

And you wonder why the country is a mess.

I found two letters attacking Conrad Burns in today’s Missoulian I’d like to share. The first responds to Burns’ recent attacks on Tester, labeling the Big Sandy farmer an “unabashed liberal”:

Here is the dictionary's interpretation of this name. 1. unabashed: Not disconcerted or embarrassed; poised; not concealed or disguised; obvious. 2. liberal: Not limited to or by tradition, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes or dogmas; free from bigotry; favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broadminded.Whew.

Thanks, Conrad, for clearing up any confusion we might have had about Jon Tester's character.

Zing!

The second comments on Burns’ involvement with INSA:

It was with interest (but no great surprise) that I read that once again Conrad Burns and his former staffers are linked to possible ethical irregularities (“Firm with Burns ties landed no-bid contract,” Missoulian, May 27).What the blue blazes is going on in Burns' D.C. office? Who's running the show there? Burns? Or the sharpies he hires to assist him in taking care of “business??”

Let's assume that Burns is pure as the driven snow when it comes to his personal finances. Unlike some on Capitol Hill, I have yet to see the slightest hint that he is lining his pockets through his seat in the Senate. Let's assume that the money Burns is paid by influence peddlers has no influence on his actions in the Senate. Let's assume that he has met an influence peddler or two that he didn't like. But holy cow – what are we to assume about the company he keeps and the people he hires?

Burns tells us he's “The Man” to look out after the interests of Montana and the nation. Well this might be a tad more believable if he demonstrated sound judgment in the people that he hires to work for him (and us).

Is Burns asleep at the wheel? If these are the people he trusts to do what's right – can we really trust Conrad to do what's right by us?

Hear, hear! It’s true. Is Burns a crook or just a really, really inept lawmaker? Either way we should give him the boot, and will.

I should note there are no letters praising Burns in the Missoulian and haven’t been for some time. Don’t accuse the paper of being biased; that should be obvious to anyone who’s recently read the paper’s near-incoherent stances on the estate tax and immigration. What’s more likely is that no one’s writing letters in support of Burns. (The one guy in the Burns campaign who can write is probably busy penning poems on gas-station bathroom stalls.)

That was the situation with the Morrison-Tester race before the primary. Editors had too many pro-Tester letters, many of which they sat on, because they were waiting for pro-Morrison letters to “balance” Tester’s. Only no one was writing them.

The Gazette, however, found a letter, if not from the Burns campaign, then definitely from one of his followers. However, the author pretended at first that he was a fan of Tester. Why do I think it’s a Burns supporter pretending to be otherwise? For starters, it’s riddled with GOP talking points. For another thing, it seems to meld nicely with Burns’ campaign strategy already in play:

John Tester may give Conrad Burns a good run in November. I believe Tester to be an honest, sincere and forthright man. As his ads conveyed, he doesn't look like an average politician. Now the money and counsel will begin to pour in from Washington in an attempt to alter the balance in Congress. If successful, time will tell if his resonance stays true when all of the shadowy campaign contributors want their payback.

I also hope Tester can immediately filter out the rantings of Nancy Pelosi, the lost parallel universe of Ted Kennedy and other entitlement liberals who will come calling, Pelosi, Kennedy and their ilk wouldn't break bread with Tester if they didn't need him, and I hope he doesn't invite them to the ranch.

See? First the “voter” says he likes Tester – he’s an honest guy! But then he introduces the specter of out-of-state funding…it might corrupt this honest guy! And what, says the scribe, is corruption? Why, support for “entitlement” programs and from national Democrats!

Of course, Tester can’t pass these perverted benchmarks. Tester’s in favor of cheap, affordable health care (“entitlement programs” to corporate-dollar swilling conservative politicians). Tester’s popular with national Democrats – Howard Dean is already planning a visit. (Why not support Jon? Tester’s an excellent lawmaker, competent and honest, who just might represent the future of the party.)

If the author is concerned by big-spending politicians who waste our tax dollars because they’re on the take, why isn’t he writing letters about Conrad Burns? We know Burns is a crook.

Links…

Lieberman plummets in the polls. Then he threatens to run as an independent if he loses the primary. Then Chuck Schumer says the DSCC might support him anyway. Then Digby drills Schumer and Lieberman. Then Jane at Firedoglake drills the pair and finds humor in Schumer taking credit for Tester’s win: “I myself am rather happy that the Mavericks are doing well against the Heat , but I’m also aware that I had about as much to do with that as Schumer had to do with Tester’s victory.”

The failure of conservatism.” (Speaking of which, while the Democratic party lays out a coherent platform, we get nothing but ad hominem attacks and fear-mongering from the GOP. Don’t they have any ideas?)

Matt thinks the anti-blog rant at The Last Best Place is a little…weird…too.

Speaking of the Webb victory, Dave “Mudcat” Saunders thinks netroots was key: “"No question about it, the bloggers were driving this.” Voter turnout was extremely low; but highest in the areas where blog activity was the greatest. Populism in motion…

Bloggers: not to state the obvious, but watch out for propaganda disguised as comments on your sites.

Bush protecting cult leader, Sun Myung Moon? And why don’t you ever hear the term, “Moonies” anymore?

“Maverick” Mark Cuban to take on stock fraud! Good for him. Too bad the government regulatory agencies aren’t doing this.

WTF? A GOP bill that won’t allow credit card holders to freeze their accounts unless they can prove identify theft? Um…time to destroy your credit cards, people.

Election season is great, isn’t it? Ask for some info, and wham! It’s in your inbox! The other day I mentioned that Snidely Rehberg opposes Net Neutrality. I also wondered where Monica Lindeen stood on the issue and queried her office for a stance.

Last night I received a press release-type answer I’ll print in full:

Monica Lindeen, Democratic candidate for United States Congress, said she believes that Net Neutrality legislation pending in the Senate needs to insure protections not included in the House measure.

“The internet is a resource that was created by public dollars,” Lindeen said. “Any neutrality legislation needs to insure that citizens can continue to access all the resources it provides, and small businesses and non-profits should not be priced out of using the net to get their message and products out.”

Lindeen says the House legislation does not provide adequate protections, and she is disturbed that Congressman Rehberg voted against an amendment that would have strengthened that protection. “This is just another example of Dennis Rehberg’s commitment to big business and not to the people of Montana who deserve access to all the resources the internet provides.”

Amen.

Even Net Neutrality opponents admit that allowing telecomm companies to solicit fees for bandwidth will adversely affect sites that don't pay up. In effect, striking down Net Neutrality would commercialize the 'Net at best or, at worst, turn it into a vending machine for porn and advertising.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not a moral crusader looking to eliminate porn from the Net. I've got nothing against porn. It's just that I think the Net should be a place for other things, too. Like snappy partisan political blogs, for example.

Ultimately what Lindeen said about public dollars creating the industry is key. We paid for the thing. We own it. We shouldn't give it away to corporate interests, even if Rehberg gets some nice golf trips out of the deal.

Mike over at The Last Best Place found that Jim Webb — victor in Virginia’s Senator primary — put out some literature with an anti-Semitic caricature of his opponent, Harris Miller, who is Jewish. (Here’s the source link.)

Ugh.

There’s not much I can say about this. I could argue that a candidate probably doesn’t know about everything done in his name. I could argue that the intent wasn’t there. I could argue a lot, only, really, it shows at the very least insensitivity.

Like Mike, I’ll be keeping an eye on Webb.

That said, Mike also included a lot of criticism of my post on Webb. Most of it unfair, of course. Some ideological. To wit:

First, the netroot cretins are again providing rim jobs to each other following the victory of James Webb (former Navy Secretary in the Reagan administration) over Harris Miller in yesterdays Democratic primary in Virginia. They view Webb's victory over Miller, as they did with Tester versus Morrison, in some narcissistically pathological state of "us" (the netroots) versus "them"(the D.C. insiders).

Ignoring for a moment the fact that Mike, as a member of the netroots, just called himself a “cretin” — a favorite word of his, apparently — Mike is apparently referring to my glee over the role of the blogosphere in Webb’s victory. First, there is little controversy in this case that the netroots activists were key in Webb’s campaign. The Washington Post’s Cillizza:

It's always hard to gauge just how much influence the blog world has on an election, but there is little question that Internet activists helped propel Webb in this race. Lowell Feld, who runs the "Raising Kaine" blog, was one of the originators of the "Draft Webb" movement. At a rally for Webb on Monday, Feld said the race was essential to the future of the Democratic Party, as a Webb win "would bring back a lot of Reagan Democrats."

In other words the blogosphere created Webb’s candidacy.

Miller outspent Webb 2-to-1 and by all accounts ran a brilliant campaign. Miller also had the support of most of the state’s Democratic leaders (reverse of what happened in Montana). If Mike can coolly claim that the net had no impact in this race, I believe the burden of proof is on him.

As far as Tester’s win goes, here is what I actually said (two days before the Pragmatic Revolt post):

The blogosphere helped with money and activism but without a good candidate, all the spinning and spending in the world won’t help. (See Morrison, Burns.)…But again, without a candidate like Jon Tester, who earns our respect and trust because of his record and his integrity, all the blogging in the world won’t accomplish a thing.

In the end, I think Mike would benefit from doing a little research of the subjects he blogs about, besides dutifully regurgitating the mass emails and newsletters he’s receiving from his particular interest groups. From his statements it’s obvious he feels attachment to the status quo, which makes sense considering he’s apparently invested in some lobbying groups and desires a little predictability in return. (More investment = victory = candidate sympathetic to your cause.)

I believe, though, that Democratic and Republican Congressional representatives sat on their hands as the Bush administration roundly attacked our rights, the Geneva convention, and the rule of law, tortured, launched a pre-emptive invasion, and politicized federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies — our Congressional representatives largely sat on their hands because they were afraid of losing their money and seats.

Again, this makes sense. Since 1975 our country had settled into a long period of generally crisis-free existence. Some minor economic downturns, and an occasional military intervention and sex scandal mixed in. Congress got fat and happy and sedate. They never had to worry that their decisions would have truly lasting negative consequences because everything would be hunky dory just as it always was. Only along came the Bush administration who made a mad power grab after 9/11 and really f*cked sh*t up. The fat cats didn’t know what hit ‘em. They still lack the courage to do the right thing.

It’s time for the fat cats to go. It’s time to start electing representatives who will actually stand up for our interests and in the name of democracy and our Constitution. Money should mean less than principle to this new breed. That’s why I support Jon Tester. And that’s why I applaud Jim Webb’s victory Tuesday.




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