Wednesday, February 28, 2007

VA-Sen: Mark vs. John

It would be a campaign of biblical proportions, and not just because it would be between two guys named after Gospels. A race between Virginia's popular senior Senator, a Warner, and Virginia's popular ex-governor, another Warner, in an increasingly competitive state may be around the corner.

In the last few years, the longtime Republican stronghold has become...well...less of one. Democrats won two major statewide races in the last two years, winning the Governor's race in 2005 and defeating an incumbent GOP Senator in 2006.

If Warner, Mark decides to run for the Senate seat in 2008, it wouldn't be the first time the two Warners faced off against each other in a Senate race. Warner, Mark, then the state Democratic chairman, ran against Warner, John in 1996 and narrowly lost 53-47%, the closest race for Warner, John in his 25 year career in the Senate.

Since then, Warner, Mark has served as Governor and left office with a 75% approval rating in 2005. He was considered a strong potential candidate for US Senate in 2006 and for President, but decided against both.

The other interesting note about next year's Senate race is the possibility of Warner, John's retirement. Warner, John has been in the US Senate since 1979, when he was still married to Elizabeth Tsylor (yes, this actress.) He's 80 years old and has been mulling retirement for a while. If he retires, the Republicans have already made it known they want to nominate Congressman Tom Davis of Vienna, a moderate to liberal Republican. Davis' district in Northern Virginia is very competitive. it was Kerry's third best district in Virginia (and best among any held by a Republican in the state.) Democrats Tim Kaine and Jim Webb both won the district in 2005 and 2006 respectively. If Davis vacates his seat, expect it to be a top pickup opportunity for the Democrats (although expect a run by Davis' wife, State Senate Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis,) while the Senate race may also provide the Democrats with a pickup as conservatives like Warner, Mark more than the moderate Republican Davis.

Either way, except a Mark Warner to campaign to, at the very least, force Republicans to pour alot of money in Virginia...again.

KY Gov- Is That A Knife in Ernie Fletcher's Back?

Kentucky's Republican Lieutenant Governor Steve Pierce has NOT endorsed his boss, Governor Ernie Fletcher for reelection this year. Instead, he has decided to endorse former US Representative Anne Northup (R-Louisville) who is running in the primary against the embattled scandal-marred Governor.

Why is this so interesting? Well, Kentucky's Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected together on a ticket, like the President and Vice President. (This is how it's done here in New York.) That means the man who ran as the running mate of Ernie Fletcher in 2003 is NOT endorsing him for reelection...big deal.

A recent Public Opinion Strategies poll showed the race for the GOP nod tied 39%-39%.

Northup is considered the stronger GOP candidate, as Fletcher is unpopular and Northup represented the state's Democratic stronghold (Louisville) in the US House of Representatives until her narrow defeat to Democrat John Yarmuth in last year's GOP slaughter. Northup could run away with a general election if she received the same percentage in her old district that she won in 2006. (48%)

On the Democratic side, a recent poll done by WKYT-TV shows former Lieutenant Govenror and Attorney General Steve Beshear leading a crowded pack of Dems. His strength may also be due to the presence of his running mate; State Senator Dan Mongiardo, who very nearly ousted US Senator Jim Bunning in 2004.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

At Least They're Working

Nobody knows what to do with Iraq...even the Democrats. They don't want to stay, they don't want to go, their hands are tied and there's only so much they can do to bring this administration back to earth.

Sure they're divided, I'm happy they're divided and following the Democratic leadership blindly (as the Republicans had done.) Anyway, Congress isn't doing anything, they're working;

"We have got to finish this bill," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said as he opened the Senate session. He read parts of a letter from relatives of people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks asking the Senate to consider the legislation "without complications regarding Iraq."

Senator Reid is talking about the bill to implement the 9/11 recommendations and tighten homeland security rules. Quite frankly, with how important Iraq is, the Democrats are not going to bring the war to end two months after taking office. I'm kind of certain it is going to take much of their two year term and much of their political capital. They only enjoy a slim, fragile, majority in the Senate.

In the end, whether the Democrats are divided or not, whether the President can be forced to end this war, whether they can stop a troop surge or not, the point is, they're working. They're passing bills, they're raising the minimum wage, they're implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, they're voting to fund stem-cell research (even though the President will put the brakes on that.) They voting to end play-to-pay. They're working, which is more than the last Congress did.

You're Really Not THAT Special

Finally, a study has proven what I've been saying for years...We're making our children to self-centered and narcissistic.

"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."

This whole concept of telling kids endlessly that their special and there's no one like them has good intentions written all of it, but as a child myself in the early 1990's, even I realized it was a little bit over the top.

It's great that parents want to increase their child's self-confidence, but there's a thin line between teaching our kids self-confidence and then teaching them they're perfect, special and that people should worship them.

It is when they hit college, the truth begins to clash with that they've been taught for years. They're not so special or so perfect after all, but they fight, because they believe they deserve everything they want because they're so damn special.

It's time to tell our kids the're great, but you're not special, you are going to have to earn what you wnat and people don't have to pay attention to you.

I feel like mine was the last generation in which parents took responsibility for their children. Today, you hear parents tell teachers "my child wouldn't do that" or "Not My Son/Daughter"

It makes me worry about the next generation that takes over.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Gay Purge MUST Stop

Today, I can across an e-mail sent by the so-called American Family Association, you know, the group that fights to protect families, so long as they are white, middle/upper-class, married, male, female, two children, two cars, living in a house families.

The e-mail was sent to oppose to upcoming gay rights fight that is looming on Capitol Hill. Specifically against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and hate crimes legislation. This appeared in the e-mail:

"Employers will be forced to hire homosexuals."
"Landlords will be forced to rent to homosexuals."

It is sick and disgusting that we still live in a country where ANYONE would think this is OK. If somebody said "Employers should not be forced to hire African-Americans or women" we'd be disgusted, why is this any different.

The AFA and other social conservatives are looking to purge America of homosexuals, it's that simple. They are out to persecute LGBT Americans. Just last week in Detroit, a very BLUE city, a 72 year old man was beaten to death after being asked if he was gay. (He was.) I fear what would happen if people like the man who beat this guy to death, were elected to office.

It is not the anti-gay lobby like the American Family Association that causes people like this to exist, but they encourage bigotry, homophobia and hatred toward LGBT Americans by supporting the idea of stripping rights from them. They make it OK to hate LGBT Americans. They call themselves Children of God, but God teaches love and these people hate more than they love.

And if supporting the ENDA or the hate-crimes legislation means that I will "force" landlords to rent to homosexuals and "force" employers to hire them, then I am firmly behind it, and all of you who believe that prejudice against LGBT Americans is perfectly justifiable should be ashamed of yourselves. You are NO different that the racists who hosed down African-Americans in the South in the 1960's, no different that men in fundamentalist Islamic countries who oppress women. You are just as bad.

And that's my opinion...a harsh one, but I am not apologetic over it.

The Nassau GOP Pipe Dream

Mondello is staying put. The man who has led the once powerful Nassau Republicans right off a cliff is going to continue to drag the party down until they, I don't know, end up like the Brooklyn Republicans.

you would think after loosing;
-Control of the County Legislature
-the County Executive race...twice
-two Congressional seats
-the District Attorney's race
-two State Assembly seats
-a State Senate seat
in just the past 10 years, it's probably time for new leadership for the party, but not for the Republicans. I guess when you have full power in the place for over 50 years and then suddenly loose, you refuse to accept you actually lost it.

The loss of the 7th State Senate seat was the last straw for the Nassau GOP. They've held all the State Senate seats in Nassau County for over 30 years, to lose one, especially in a special election, is just dreadful for them.

Oh well, let's see how easy it's going to be for Mondello to fundraise and support candidates with the Nassau GOP almost broke and, as I mentioned earlier, the state GOP nearly irrelevant. He better hope Giuliani gets the GOP Presidential nod and then does as well as he is now on Long Island. It would at least save his party for the immediate future.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Oscars- Recap

The Academy Awards are about to begin, so I'm taking an evening off from political blogging to blog the Oscars.

Let's see if my picks win...they almost never do;

oh good, it started on time

I'm noticing how it took about three minutes to get the first woman into the nominee montage, what's the about?...and where's Al Gore?

I like Ellen's velvet-looking suit. Seriously, she's the only person who can kill a joke and make it's death so funny

"Jennifer Hudson is here, America didn't vote for her, Al Gore is here, America DID vote for him"- excellent!

Ellen said no dancing...oh well, guess she couldn't resist.

Best Art Direction- Pan's Labyrinth

Random shadow dancers after Maggie Gyllenhaal left the stage...what the hell was that about?

Love the Will Ferrell, Jack Black, John C. Reilly's about time they added some fun to this otherwise snore of a broadcast...although I think Eddie Murphy, Will Smith and Robin Williams should also be mentioned here

Best Achievement in Makeup: Pan's Labryinth

Abigail Breslin and Jaden Smith are so cute together...won't it be funny if they're together at the Oscars again, say in 2030.

Best Animated Short Film: The Danish Poet

Best Live Action Short Film: The West Bank Story
I randomly saw The West Bank was great, a funny story about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that shows just how absurd the whole situation really is...if we can laugh at our stupidity more, we would be a better place, I've always believed that, it's a must see, well deserved Oscar.
Sound Effects chorus? um, random

Best Sound Editing: Letters From Iwo Jima

Best Sound Mixing: Dreamgirls
About time a non-violent movie won a sound award


Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin: "Little Miss Sunshine"
Surprise upset here, but Little Miss Sunshine did have the momentum going in. Arkin did win the BAFTA. I'd say this is the only surprise in the acting awards tonight. Expect Little Miss Sunshine to win Best Picture.

Ok, the theme of these Oscars are random...what's with the random shadow dancers again?

What's an Academy Awards ceremony without Randy Newman performing a song?

I love that Melissa Etheridge managed to rhyme "An Inconvenient Truth."

Al Gore takes the stage with Leonardo DiCaprio...who do you think is the bigger star here? Poor Al, he can never catch a break.

I like Cameron Diaz better as a blonde.

Best Animated Feature Film: Happy Feet

Oye, a bald Jack Nicholson is scary!

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Departed

Actually Ellen's Oscar carrying thingy isn't such a bad idea. I just don't think it would go with Alan Arkin's suit.

Best Costume Design: Marie Antoinette
Didn't see that coming

The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award:
What does Tom Cruise look so constipated?

The Liberal Lion from Paramount Sherry Lansing, roaring in her fire red and black dress.

Gwyneth Paltrow is aging well.

Best Costume Design: Pan's Labyrinth

ugh, random shadow dancers again

HAHAHA, Robert Downey Jr. made a drug addict joke...good for him, laughing at your troubled past.

Best Visual Effects: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Catherine Deneuve never ages does she?

I can't believe all the Best Foreign Language Film winners I've actually seen

Best Foreign Language Film: The Lives of Others- Germany

Ah, George Clooney, my favorite Kentucky liberal

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson- Dreamgirls

Like nobody saw that coming. I guess it is better to loose American Idol after all.

Best Documentary Short Subject: The Blood of Yingzhou District

wha? Jerry Seinfeld is at the Oscars? More randomness at the Oscars...oh, Documentary Feature, it would be interesting to see Jerry Seinfeld give an Oscar to the former Vice President. Like this show isn't random enough.

How political are these nominees, you got two alone concerning Iraq, Al Gore, and a Religious Roight

Best Documentary Feature: An Inconvienent Truth

Enter Clint Eastwood...I was kinda hoping for the dead people montage. I love the dead people montage. Ugh, I'm so morbid.

Ok, now Celine Dion is randomly singing...what the hell is happening? This has segued from the Oscars to a disorganized benefit show. Oh, and why does she always look so confused when she sings...I miss Ellen.

ooooh, this is the Italian music dude from all the Clint Eastwood movies, I get it now, it makes, he's speaking Italian, you think somebody can translate?...Thank you Clint, btw, since when does he speak Italian?

Totally didn't recognize Hugh Jackman

Best Original Score: Babel

Yay, Ellen's back!

Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire don't look that happy Spidey senses sense trouble.

Best Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine

Enough with the shadow dancers, geez!

Jennifer Hudson looks more at home singing, and who would've thought Beyonce would sing at the Oscars? Quick trivia, who was the last Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner to perform at the same ceremony...give up? Well, I'll give you a hint, Jennifer Hudson is from Chicago, this actress was from Chicago.

Hairspray, that's the secret musical turned movie Queen Latifah and John Travolta are starring in together coming up. No, John Travolta wasn't kidding when he said he's a "full figured woman singing," he's playing Edna Turnblad, a role made famous by Divine.

Best Original Song- "I Need To Wake Up"- Melissa Etheridge from "An Inconveinent Truth"

Melissa Etheridge is right, global warming is not a Red or Blue issue, and that's beginning to show itself. Funny how the most political statement of the night wasn't attacking anyone.

11:30, already this show is running over


Best Acheivement in Film Editing: The Departed

That's where I saw Thelma Schoonmaker before, she won for The Aviator

Um, Jodie Foster is getting old...oh, the dead actor montage, I love this part...I'm so bad

Yeah Ellen, sorry, you're running 21 minutes's Philip Seymour Hoffman with Best Actress

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Helen Mirren- "The Queen"

I love Helen Mirren, but when I see her, all I see is Mrs. Tingle


Ellen is holding her own...and a vacuum lol

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Forest Whitaker- "The Last King of Scotland"

Haha, poor George Lucas, poor guy, dwarfed by Francis Ford and Steven

Best Director: Martin Scorsese- "The Departed"

About time Martin, Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg on the stage together, there's the absolute best in American cinema right there.

Helen Mirren is holding on to her Oscar for dear life

Sweet, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. I find Diane Keaton to be absolutely fabulous, but I can't get used to a bald Jack Nicholson

Best Picture: "The Departed"

Wow, I really thought it was gonna be Little Miss Sunshine, but I guess this is much deserved. There was a lot of bitter feelings among Scorsese fans when Eastwood beat him out two years ago with "Million Dollar Baby"

Ok so overall. Ellen rocked as a host in my opinion. No more random shadow dancers. Jennifer Hudson makes us all believe in fate. Martin Scorsese finally got what he deserved. Al Gore is probably better off talking to us through a movie than through a State of the Union, and playing a real life world political leader, whether evil or beloved, will win you an Oscar.

Back to politics tomorrow

Children Should Not Be Kept Ignorant

A federal judge in Boston has dismissed a suit by two families who wanted to stop a Massachusetts town and its public school system from teaching their children about gay marriage, court documents show.

Oh God forbid we teach our children about gay relationships, God forbid they should become accepting of homosexuality, God forbid we don't keep reality from them so we can teach them the hatred and bigotry that we believe.

I am so sick of people saying if we teach our children to accept homosexuality, then they will try it and become gay. Can we be anymore ignorant. Oh, and don't argue with me that to teach our children about homosexuality violates your religious beliefs. Religion doesn't teach ignorance, if you disagree with what the schools are teaching your kids, you have every right to teach them your ideas in the comfort of your own home. If they don't side with you, that's their prerogative, not the school's fault and not society's fault.

Our government (through which our schools are funded) does not endorse religious beliefs, and that includes the Christian belief that homosexuality is wrong. If you believe otherwise, teach your children in your home...or send them to Christian schools.

Religious freedom does not mean we can legislate religion to MAKE YOU happy

R.I.P. Bigotry and Homophobia

Can't say I'll shed a tear over it.

Bigotry and Homophobia, all that gay-bashing that makes me sick to my stomach, is probably the unnoticed casualty of the 2006 elections.

For years under Republican rule, Gay and Lesbian Americans fell victim to Christian fundamentalist pandering and social conservative that ran rampant among the elected officials who needed the ignorant to vote for them. With Democrats in power, LGBT Americans can finally live without fear and live openly among everyone else.

Sure bigotry and homophobia still exist, but if you've noticed the brouhaha that erupted over the recent anti-gay remarks made by Isaiah Washington and Tim Hardaway, the rejection of the gay marriage ban in Arizona (and near rejections in Colorado and South Dakota), and the recent legalization of civil unions in New Jersey (which was popularly supported), LGBT rights are beginning to seem perfectly normal and accepted.

Having said that, I'm not a big fan of Hate Crime legislation. If someone kills someone because they're black or Mexican or gay, how does that change anything? You're going to prison for life or getting a needle in the arm anyway, what difference does it make if you're guilty of a hate crime or not? I do understand their existence. Murder aside, a person should be treated and sentenced differently if they purposely do harm to somebody because of their sexual identity (or race, religion, gender, etc.) than if say they beat someone up for kissing their boyfriend. The person who would physically harm another human being for a reason like them being gay is not a mentally-well person and should not be re released into society after the same amount of time as someone who committed a crime for another reason. That I understand.

I've been a strong supporter of gay rights since the Matthew Shepard incident in 1998. As a high school sophomore, I was appalled about the fact someone would kill him because he's gay and even more appalled at what appeared to be the lack of conscience by our government and the government of the state of Wyoming to do something about it. Even more so, I was appalled by the response of my Catholic school teachers who preceded to use Shepard's brutal murder to "scare any sodomites in this school straight." I distinctly remember a certain nun informing us that if any of us thought we were gay we'd better "find favor with the Lord or risk being tied to a fence and beaten to death."

Today, eight and a half years later, LGBT rights is one of the main reasons why I support Democrats (or socially liberal Republicans, as they exist in New York.) It is welcome news to me that the new Democratic Congress is looking into reviving the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The ENDA nearly passed in 1996, but fell one vote short in the Senate (Damn you Harris Wofford to losing that Senate race in 1994.) It is my sense that this time, it will pass. The question is, what does President Bush do?

I find it unlikely our born-again, preaching, bible-thumping, talks-to-Jesus, Texan President is going to allow such a law to pass. To a fundementalist Christian, firing somebody because they're gay is like firing somebody because they slept with the boss' 15-year-old daughter. To somebody like President Bush, this is essentially legalizing something he probably believes should be illegal. After all, it was in Texas until 2003 and despite six years as Governor and with a Democratic state legislature, he never did a damn thing to decriminilize homosexuality there. If the President vetoes this bill (as it won't pass the House and Senate by veto-proof margins), it will expose him for what he is, a bigot...or a politician pandering to the bigots.

Some may argue that hate crimes laws or laws like the ENDA seek to criminilize criticism of homosexualiy. You can still say what you want, you're just going to have to deal with the consequences of what you say. We would find it offensive today to call a black co-worker to "n" word that I refuse to use, and we would find it offensive today to call a female co-worker "tootz" or say something derogatory about her body, so why is it such a surprise that homosexual people find it offensive if you call them vulgar names too? Whatever happened to "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything?"

Some may argue passing these laws indicate that we don't trust each other to NOT be prejudiced. News flash: Americans have not historically been the most accepting people. When European Catholics began arriving, the blue blood Anglicans began accusing Catholic nuns and priests of having sex, getting the nuns pregnant and then eating the babies as the host at Communion, when the Jews began showing up in droves in the early 20th Century, they were accused of bringing Communism to America and seen a threat to the Christian monopoly over America. Anti-semitism existed all over the United States, take for instance the lynching of Leo Frank in Georgia in 1915. Speaking of lynching, I think we all know how the African-Americans were treated down south for about 100 years. Also, let's not forget how in this shining beacon of democracy, we didn't even let women vote until 1920. Are we surprised today's victim of American unacceptance are the LGBT community? Yes, Americans have not been the most accepting of people over time.

Therefore, in my opinion, if we are going to act like children, then our government should treat us like children, and that's why we need hate crime laws and the ENDA.

Thanks to the new Democratic majority, LGBT Americans will finally have a chance to come out fo the closet they've been forced back into over the last decade and live amongst the rest of the loyal American population.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

NY-13: Cusick For Congress?

Even with last year's Democratic landslide, there was still one Republican standing in Congress from New York City.

Rep. Vito Fossella, a Republican who represents New York's 13th district, including Staten Island and a small piece of Southwestern Brooklyn won reelection against a low-profile Democrat 57%-43%. Fossella represents a seat that is politically equally divided, and has been represented by a Republican for more than two decades, but Democrats have the district on their radar.

Rep. Anthony Weiner from Brooklyn and Queens, a front runner to be the next Mayor of New York City, recently pointed out a potential opponent for Fossella in 2008 while speaking to a Democratic club in Staten Island;

"It would be great to have Mike fighting for us in Congress instead of Vito Fossella," Weiner told the crowd

He is speaking of New York State Assemblyman Mike Cusick (D-Staten Island), who represents a huge swath of the middle of the island, including some of the island's (and New York City's) fastest growing neighborhoods. Politically, Cusick's State Assembly district the political swing areas of Fossella's Congressional district. Bush won them in 2004, but Gore did in 2000. Fossella has won Cusick's district in every one of this races.

Fossella is far more conservative than the moderate Susan Molinari, who represented the district until 1997. Fossella received the second highest lifetime rating in New York State from the American Conservative Union; higher than well-known conservatives Tom Reynolds and Peter King, only Republican Randy Kuhl of Steuben County got a higher score.

The New York 13th district can be politically fickle. The Brooklyn portion of the district is heavily Democratic, the Northern Staten Island portion leans Democratic, while the Southern Staten Island portion is heavily Republican. It is Cusick's district where the seat is won. Cusick, geographically, is an excellent candidate for the district. The 2006 candidate, Steve Harrison, was from Brooklyn. A Staten Island candidate would create more appeal among swing voters in Staten Island, where a vast majority the district's voters are located.

Cusick is on top of the list, along with State Senator Diane Savino, who's district is pretty much the same as the northern half of the 13th. (Northern Staten Island and Southwest Brooklyn). Savino also lives on Staten Island.

Cusick has said he has not yet thought about a Congressional run in 2008, but expect the DCCC to push for him to run (and if not him, Savino), and pouring a hell of a lot of money into the race. The Democrats can't be too pleased to hold a majority in Congress and still have a Republican from New York City.

Do They Even Need Lieberman Anymore?

To be honest, I never really like Joe Lieberman, even back in 2000. There was something about this guy that bugged me. Now I know what it is, the hypocrisy. Lieberman loves to call himself "the great independent" and he loves to argue how we should work in a "bipartisan" way. Meanwhile when a bipartisan resolution to oppose the troops escalation came to the floor, he voted against it. Lieberman says he "won't switch to the GOP" and will continue to caucus with the Democrats. Of course, cause if he doesn't, all the other Democrats will be united and half the Senate will vote the way the people want.

Lieberman attacks the Democrats for wanting to "score partisan points" by opposing the President's plan, yet he caucuses with them. Now, yes, the Democrats do score partisan points initially and possibly long-term thanks to popular opinion, but remember why the Democrats won in 2006. They won because they were opposed to Bush, they won because the voters wanted someone to put pressure on the President and because they want a Congress that will keep him in line. Perhaps letting Lieberman loose isn't a bad idea after all.

As Keith Olbermann says in his blog;

It's a high stakes gamble, but the American people didn't vote the Dems in in '06 so that they could compromise to keep the tiniest sliver of political power... did they?

Republicans like to argue that Lieberman's victory in 2006 shows the American people don't support withdrawing troops. Well, first of all, the victories of Sheldon Whitehouse, Bob Casey Jr, Sherrod Brown, Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb should all say otherwise. Second of all, Lieberman won 70% of the Republican vote in Connecticut, thanks to the weakness of Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger, who won only 21%. If Schlesinger would have won even just half of the Republican vote, it would've been just enough to throw the election to Ned Lamont. Lamont won 65% of Democrats, 35% of Independents and even 8% of Republicans.

Therefore, essentially, Lieberman WAS the Republican candidate, and he WAS the independent candidate and to 48% of the Democrats, he WAS the Democratic candidate, so pretty much the fact that only 50% of Connecticut voters voted for him isn't that spectacular and doesn't really equal mandate.

Perhaps it's time for Connecticut voters to recall Lieberman. If he gets recalled, then we'll know the truth, if he survives, then we live with him.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Amazing Disappearing New York State GOP

Is the New York Republican Party even relevant anymore?

A question that needs to be asked. We all know that the New York GOP is reeling. The party last all four major statewide races in landslides in 2006 (even won where the Democrat was sinking in scandal). They lost three House seats and nearly lost three more. They lost three State Assembly seats, where they were already a super minority, and lost a State Senate seat in Westchester. They narrowly kept a Queen State Senate seat where Republican Serphin Maltese, in office since 1986, won by a mere 783 votes (and that with the Democratic party in the area endorsing him.) The icing on the cake of death was this month's special election on Long Island for a State Senate seat where a Democrat won a Republican's seat.

Can it get any worse for the New York GOP? Well, they still control the State Senate, by a narrow margin. Two more seats will tie the chamber 31-31 with Democratic Lieutennant Governor David Paterson breaking the tie, effectively giving control to the Democrats. The Republicans don't hold much else, and they hold New York City's Mayoral Seat pretty much in name only.

Why is the New York GOP in such disrepair? Well, I can trace the downfall back about 17 years. Through the Reagan years, Rockefeller Republicans (the socially liberal, fiscally conservative former Democrats who kept Nelson Rockefeller in the Governor's chair for 14 years) dominated the New York landscape. In the 1970's, they kept Jacob Javitz in power, and later Al D'Amato. They elected Malcolm Wilson and kept 1982 GOP candidate Lewis Lehrman within striking distance of being Governor. They kept New York's House seats on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley in GOP control through the 1980's. Then came 1990.

The 1990 New York Gubernatorial Race was the beginning of the downfall. Democrat Mario Cuomo was up for reelection. He was still fairly popular, but after eight years, his popularity was beginning to fade. With crime at it's peak in New York City and with white flight bringing down Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, law and order issues became prevalent. Cuomo, an opponent of the death penalty, was considered soft on crime to many New Yorkers, however his stance on social issues and on economic issues were favorable with New Yorkers. Seeing a chance to defeat him, the GOP nominated a candidate who can win over New York's liberal voters, but also satisfy their desire for tough leadership on crime and drugs. They nominated Pierre Rinfret (almost at random after 19 other people said no), and made him the "crime and punishment" candidate.

Only one and economic conservatives HATED him. Rinfret (pronounced rin-FRAY). The Montreal-born, Queens raised economist had been an advisor to Democratic presidents Kennedy and Johnson, was pro-choice and supported gay rights. In New York politics, the minor parties (such as the Conservative, Right-to-Life, Liberal, Independence and Working Families parties) can choose to either nominate on their line a major party candidate, which is usually the case, or nominate someone on their own. Democrats usually vie for the left-leaning Liberal and Working Families party nods to increase their vote numbers (and in 1990 Cuomo received those nominations), while the Republicans usually chase after the Conservative and Right-to-Life party nominations, while the Independence party can sometimes be the nomination that throws the election one way or the other (specifically in close elections).

Well Rinfret did not get the Conservative or Right-t0-Life nominations. The Conservative Party in New York had been strong before, having elected a US Senator, James Buckley, on their ticket in 1970. (Buckley lost in 1976 when he ran as a Republican.) The Conservatives nominated Brooklyn-bred Herbert London on their line, while the Right-to-Life party nominated Louis Wein. This led to a three way race among voters on the right (who weren't the majority as is ).

Cuomo won 53% of the vote, which clinched him the election either way, but Rinfret, the Republican, won 21%, while London took 20%. London's Conservatives nearly overtook the Republican candidate. This essentially and legally would've reduced the Republican party to a third party in New York, with the Conservatives being the main opposition. The Republican party had been damaged.

Over the next few years, in an effort to prevent a split like 1990, the GOP began nominating candidates favorable to the Conservatives. This didnt play well in liberal-leaning New York. Although it was successful with George Pataki (who probably would've lost reelection in 2002 if not for Tom Golisano btw), it cost them numerous state legislature seats, Congressional seats, nearly ousted Al D'amato in 1992 and finally did oust him in 1998.

Today, 17 years after the 1990 Republican Civil War, the New York GOP has been reduced to essentially the 1990 New York Conservative party (with a few GOP holdovers). What was the New York GOP has seemingly become Democratic-leaning independents, willing to vote for only certain Republicans (aka Pataki and Giuliani.) The rightward shift of the Republican party in social issues and economic both out of necessity and to fit in nationally, has reduced the number of staunch Republicans in the state. While Republicans still hold a dominating force in name only, especially in the suburbs, these Republicans are really swing voters who have been leaning Democratic over the years. The four Democratic statewide victories of 69%, 67%, 60% and 58% in 2006 show that these Republican voters are no longer 100% loyal to their party.

New York Republicans are disappearing...and fast.

They Don't Deserve This!

This is how we treat our returning heroes.

Shame on the Pentagon, Shame on the government, Shame on all of us. This story has been bothering me for days and I've been waiting to read more about it before I say it...shame, and all Secretary Gates can say is that it's "unacceptable?"

This is WALTER REED! This is the top of the notch place where our heroes are supposed to come home and recooperate...worse yet, these are our heroes who were injured, how lost limbs and nearly lost lives for their country, and we send them to THIS place?

Our heroes deserve better. They do not deserve second best, they do not deserve shoddy conditions or bueaucratic red tape. This happens under an administration who believes it is "supporting the troops"

Like it isn't bad enough already that we've sent them into a war for false reasons and are keeping them there "as long as it takes" to acheive some sort of "victory." It's not bad enough that we sent them there with half-assed equiptment and not well protected. Now we are sending them to a military hospital that's falling apart?

We have thousands of Vietnam Vets living on the streets, homeless. We never cared to protect them. I will NOT allow us to have thousands of Iraq vets living on the streets too. The Republicans claim they are the "party of the military" and that Democrats "hate the military," but it was under six years of total Republican rule that military veterans benefits were cut, troops were sent to a war on lies, they were sent unprepared and they were brought back to Walter Reed Building 18.

This administration won you over with their tough "Let's kick everyone's ass" attitude, but the truth is, they don't care about the safety and health of troops and veterans, they just care about showing off how "brave" and tough they can be with the world. I'm not calling for Secretary Gates' head, because he's still new on the job and should be given a chance to clean this up; the same with General Casey. The Democratic Congress should work with, and if not, force the administration to change the way Veterans are treated.

An absolute disgrace.

We Want To Win

The long-term impact of the Tinseltown tussle between the Clinton and Obama campaigns is no big deal, but it showcases a big issue in the primary campaign.
At issue: Can Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, or Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, be elected president?

Ah, there's that 800 pound gorilla in the room. It isn't bad enough that we're talking about the first woman and the first African-American (not, as I said earlier, should that be an issue), but also we have Hillary's waffling and baggage, Obama's inexperience and the fact that both of them are U.S. Senators and the Senate isn't necessarily the best springboard to the Presidency.

Democrats like both Clinton and Obama, but the question is "can they win?" Democrats want a winner. They're tired of loosing. They're on an adrenaline rush after the 2006 elections and they want to take back all levels of the government. Democrats don't want another Scalia or Alito on the Supreme Court, they don't want anymore of the failing neocon foreign policy, they don't want anymore abuses of executive power. Democrats want to win and they need a sure thing to do it.

While Hillary and Obama both represent a perfect balance of issues needed for a Democrat to win his or her base, they are after all, the former First Lady everyone loves to hate, and the two-year Senator from Illinois.

Perhaps it is time to look at other candidates as well...most notably, Former Congressman, Secretary of Energy, UN Ambassador and current Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson.

Not an official least not yet.

Back In New York

Home Sweet Home.

I'm back in New York after my 7 1/2 hour overnight drive from Pittsburgh.

Blogging to continue today; More on the Clinton/Obama battle, a commentary on the Walter Reed debacle, and other stuff as it arises.

But first...a nap

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Taking Back The Wheel

Now I understand the powers of a Commander-in-Chief and I respect them. However, when it becomes increasingly clear the Commander-in-Chief is commanding our military right off a cliff, then it's time for someone to do something about it.

I do not think our founding fathers believed in allowing our President complete unrestricted control of the military to use it whenever he wants, wherever he wants, without a check from one of the other two branches of government. That's why I am really happy to see that the Democrats are planning to revoke the vague authority given to the President in 2002, which he used to invade Iraq and replace it with a more specific mission.

This is what the 2002 resolution stated;

That measure authorized the president to use the armed forces "as he
determines to be necessary and appropriate ... to defend the defend the national
security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq"

So pretty much the President can keep us in this war until HE deems the "threat" no longer exists.

The President had the right to take the wheel, but when he is veering into other lanes and driving us toward a cliff, it is time for someone else to take back the wheel, if for just a little while until we straighten the car out. That's where the United States Senate comes in.

The question is can the US Senate, as divided as divided can be right now, be able to pass this with enough Republican support to avoid a filibuster. The Democrats can only count on 50 votes from their caucus (with Lieberman essentially gone on the issue), but they can count Hagel on their side.

If and when this hits the Senate floor, I'm looking at those GOP Senators up for reelection in 2008 in states where this war is not popular at all, AND our friends who are running for President in 2008

I'm looking at you John Sununu, Susan Collins, John Warner, Gordon Smith, Norm Coleman, Elizabeth Dole, Pete Domenici, John McCain and Sam Brownback. (oh, and you too Mitch McConnell)

The 2008 Free-For-All Begins

Hollywood Vs. Hillary

Which Side is John McCain on?

Oh, the next 20 months are going to be a whole lot of fun. This week alone, jabs were taken at Presidential candidates on both sides.

The race for the Hollywood endorsement is never really between the Democrats or the Republicans. Democrats have a monopoly over Hollywood. Now, however, it's a race between Hillary and Obama. Big money comes from Hollywood and big money means easier nationwide campaigning. The race for celebrity endorsements between the Illinois Senator and the New York Senator got a little interesting this week, courtesy of record producer David Geffen.

Geffen says;

"Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don't think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is -- and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? -- can bring the country together."

I love it. I like Hillary, but I love this.

Furthermore, I'm personally getting sick of hearing Hillary dance around her vote for the war. You voted for it, you were wrong, the end! Why does she have to dance around a yes or no answer like that. This makes me think of Chuck Hagel, my favorite Republican. Hagel said he would stand by his opposition to the war even if it means he'd have no political future. Hillary seems to be trying to compromise her positions to win everyone over. You can't do that, it's just not possible. Stand behind something Hill darling, stop pandering, it makes you look weak and you've never been a weak Senator.

Meanwhile, Hillary lashes out at Obama, whom Geffen is endorsing and donating over a million dollars to.

"If Sen. Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of
our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen
from his campaign and return his money"

Really Hillary, if we decide to peak into your donors and see what they say about Obama, you might chance your tune. If we forced candidates to remove the names of EVERY donor who has criticised, publicly or privately, an opponent, this would not be a billion dollar race. Geffen's remarks have nothing to do with Obama. LET IT GO!

The Republicans aren't doing any better. John McCain, who apparently has become the Republican Hillary, now thinks Rumsfeld is the worst defense secretary ever. Last month he also criticized Dick Cheney on the management of the war...then he apparently apologized. Oh, gee, Mr. Vice President, I'm so sorry I said you sucked so I can win over voters. Gee Whiz, I'm not going to win unless I stop supporting you, I'm sorry. How weak is that? If John McCain is going to stand by the President, then stand by the President and go down with him. If you're not going to stand by the President, then don't. Make up your mind.

Something tells me neither of these windsocks will be in the Senate past their current terms.

The fact that Hillary and McCain are the flip-flop pandering front runners (for now) is just, just sad.

I'm still withholding my endorsement by the way, but this brings me closer to a decision

UPDATE: John McCain now says Iraq is a "train wreck." A righteous train wreck though, right Johnny boy?

New Rule: Senators should NOT run for President while still in the Senate.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Special Election Results and News

Since I'm out of town, I wasn't following yesterday's special elections for the two NYC Council seats...I just remembered about them. So here they are...

In Brooklyn's 40th City Council District, centered around Flatbush, Democrat Mathieu Eugene defeated nine other candidates to win the seat with a plurality win of 34%. Eugene is the first Haitian-American ever elected to the City Council. He replaces Democrat Yvette Clarke who was elected to the US House of Representatives in November.

In Staten Island's 51st City Council District, which includes most of Central and Southern Staten Island, Republican State Assemblyman Vincent Ignizio defeated his opponent with 71% of the vote. Ignizio replaces Andrew Lanza, another Republican, who was elected to the State Senate in November.

More Specific results will be posted here when the Board of Elections publicly releases them.

Ignizio's State Assembly seat is vacant, meaning three (possibly four) State Assembly seats are currently vacant, two alone on Staten Island. A Special Election for the 61st State Assembly district, vacated by the passing of Democrat John Lavelle last month, has been scheduled for March 27th. The special election for DiNapoli's State Assembly seat in Nassau County is also scheduled for March 27th. A Special Election date for Ignizio's now vacant seat in Staten Island have not been set yet.

The British Are Leaving, The British Are Leaving!

Yes, the British are leaving.

A sure sign the President's Iraq debacle has completely fallen apart, our greatest allies in the war, Britain, has decided to stop chasing Bush's castle in the sky.

Denmark is also on their way out. Lithuania too. The "Coalition of the Willing" is suddenly becoming not so willing to follow Bush anymore.

Who's left? South Korea has the third largest number of troops in Iraq, but they plan on cutting their force in half this year, then Poland, Georgia, and Australia, who all have under 1,000. Romania and Bulgaria still has a bunch of troops lying around somewhere too. Other than that, it's pretty much the Americans here on out.

In hindsight, even the most hardcore Bush supporters I speak to now say this whole thing was a mistake. They've been admitting it for a while, but defend the war with such arguments as "Well, we're there now, so we have to win" or "We can't go Monday morning quarterbacking"

This is true. However, we are in a war where the "mission" or what defines "victory" keeps changing constantly. First it was the get rid of WMD's...Finished, never found. Then to rid the country of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime...check. Then it was to set up a foundation for a new Iraqi government...check. Now what? The British and the Danish finally came to their senses...the war is over, we did what we could, we've been success full, now it's up to the Iraqis.

And you can't argue the British are surrender takes a lot to break the British, just ask Hitler.

The Democrats take on...the Democrats?

Now that the Democrats have come back from the dead, it appears the left wing of the party is ready to not only take on the Republicans, but the moderate wing of the Democratic Party too.

Case in point...Representative Ellen Tauscher of California. Tauscher is a prominent moderate Democrat, a member of the New Democratic Coalition and a Blue Dog.

What is the liberal wing's problem with Tauscher? Well, it's a mix of where she's from and what she stands for. Tauscher represents the 10th district of California, just beyond the mountains from San Francisco and Oakland. It includes the San Francisco/Oakland suburbs of Walnut Creek, Livermore and Pleasant Hill, as well as Antioch and Fairfield. Her district voted 58% for John Kerry in 2004.

Tauscher has not been to most prominent opponent of the Bush Administration and has backed them numerous times over the years. Tauscher supported the war in Iraq (although she opposes the troop surge) and has been accused of not being hard enough when it comes to questioning the administration over failures in Iraq. Tauscher even backed a more moderate Democrat in the neighboring 11th district of California in last year's election. The more liberal Jerry McNerney won the Democratic primary and took on seven-term incumbent Republican Richard Pombo, defeating him 53%-47%

Tauscher's moderate stance comes from her 1996 race against conservative Republican Bill Baker, who represented what at the time was the most Republican district in Northern California. Tauscher defeated Baker and took office in a Republican district. Redistricting in 2001 made Tauscher safer, turning her district into a Democratic one. Tauscher's district, however, sits among other prominent California Democrats, such as Doris Matsui, George Miller, Barbara Lee, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all notorious for being on the left of the Democratic Party. Her district sits in a region known for it's political liberalism. To many liberal voters in the Bay Area, she's a Tom DeLay-type.

The strong Democratic lean of Tauscher's district does not make her vulnerable to any Republican, but rather vulnerable in a primary. Tauscher's district is about as Democratic as the state of Connecticut, where Joe Lieberman was defeated in the Democratic primary by a more liberal Democrat. The idea of ousting Tauscher in favor of a Democrat who sits with Miller, Matsui, Lee or Pelosi is entirely possible, and Tauscher knows that.

However, with the Democratic majority still young and fragile, a civil war within the party is probably not a good idea at the moment. The Republicans tried pulling this in the last few years, when their majority was just about as big as the current Democratic one. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter was nearly ousted by the more conservative Pat Toomey in the 2004 GOP Primary, which nearly cost them that seat. In 2006, Michigan Republican Congressman Joe Schwartz was defeated by the more conservative Tim Walhberg, who only won the heavily Republican district 51%-47% against an unknown Democrat. In Rhode Island, the primary challenge of Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey probably cost liberal Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee his seat.

The liberal wing of the Democratic party has the right to protest against the centrist Democrats, but must be careful who it is they target. The Democratic majority was not won only by the liberal base, it was won by independent moderates and conservatives who came back. The Democratic majority would not exist if not for the victories of Heath Shuler of North Carolina, Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Chris Carney of Pennsylvania, Tim Mahoney of Florida, Nancy Boyda of Kansas or Charlie Wilson of Ohio. These moderate to conservative Democrats make up the "big tent" that allows for a Democratic majority. We've seen GOP primary challenges backfire or nearly backfire on them. The Democrats cannot allow that to happen to least not until the Democratic majority solidifies.

I'm sure we will see a primary challenge against Tauscher out in California next year, and I'm sure it will make political headlines, but without the moderates like Tauscher, whom I may disagree with often, the Democrats would not have the majority they had today, and would not have the voice that led them to raise the minimum wage, implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, or stand up to the President's troop surge.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Running A City At 27: Pittsburgh's Twentysomething Mayor

Pittsburgh isn't necessarily one of more exciting cities in the country, unless the Steelers are playing. Being from New York, Pittsburgh is more like a tiny suburb to me than an American metropolis. It does have am interesting claim to political fame; the youngest mayor of a major city ever.

Luke Ravenstahl is only 27 years old and he is the Mayor of Pennsylvania's second largest city. His path to the head of the Steel City was a strange and unique one.
Ravenstahl, a Democrat, was elected to the City Council in November 2003, only months after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh. He took office in January, 2004 at the age of 23 years, 11 months. (by comparison that means he was exactly my age when elected...weird).

Ravenstahl became president of the city council in December, 2005. His elected as President was not without controversy as many wondered if, at age 25, he was old enough and experienced enough to take on that challenge. Nobody had even considered the possibility of what would happen nine months later.

On September 1, 2006, the unthinkable happened. Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Conner, who had only been serving since January, died of brain cancer. Pittsburgh's city charter mandated the President of the City Council would succeed to become Mayor in the event of death or vacancy. That propelled the 26 year old Pittsburgh native right into one of the most powerful jobs in the Commonwealth.
Mayor Ravenstahl reassured Pittsburgh citizens that despite his age, he was ready to lead. After he took office and with the support and encouragement of his predecessor's widow, he appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and became the subject of a New York Times feature story. He vowed to become a cheerleader for his city and dedicate his term in memory of O'Conner.
In October 2006, the Allegheny County Board of Elections decided to hold a special mayor's race in November 6, 2007 following a primary on May 15. (the next elections were scheduled for 2009). Ravenstahl is running, but he has opponents in both the primary and general election.
The mayor's term has been a rather quiet one, and he remains fairly popular, but as the chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee has said, Ravenstahl does not necessarily have "a lock" on the 2007 election.
Still, if Ravenstahl can convince the citizens of Pittsburgh to elect him this year, their twenty something mayor may very well be positioned to become one of Pennsylvania's rising star Democrats. At 27, he has a good half century left in his political career.

Need A Comeback, Go To Rehab

Let's just all check into Rehab. It seems to be the hip thing to do today. Did something stupid? Go to rehab! Screwed up? Go to Rehab! It cheapens the whole reason it exists.

Britney Spears checked back into rehab today...perhaps she needs to, but I've noticed the endless parade of celebrities and other newsworthy individuals entering rehab. Lindsay Lohan goes to rehab at the ripe old age of 20, as does Miss USA Tara Conner for just doing what girls normally do anyway.

Former Congressman Mark Foley who went from chasing teenage boys to suddenly becoming an alcoholic. Mel Gibson, who tried to use liquor to disguise his anti-Semitism, then go to rehab.

Rehab is there to help people with real problems, not for celebrities who screwed up and want to make themselves look better in the public eye. It cheapens rehab, makes it look like a waiting room for comebacks.

This is the only Britney Spears post, I swear.

This Is How We Get Idiot Presidents

I am so sick and tired of these issues being considered in Presidential Races. Why can't we focus on the issues concerning American citizens and this nation rather than judge these people based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.

I'm not a fan of Mitt Romney, but I will defend his right to NOT be judge based on the fact that he is a Mormon. His religion does not make him less of a better choice for President. Clearly, he is not Warren Jeffs and Massachusetts did not turn into an isolated LDS cult. We are doing a disservice to our country by ruling out potentially great leaders because of something stupid like their religious choices, their race, their gender, etc. Perhaps our best leaders may be women, Mormon, Jewish, African-American, Latino, Atheist, Homosexual...but we'll never know if we are willing to eliminate them for that reason.

This is how idiots become Presidents...we limit our choices to Alpha Male White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. We should have learned by now that a Male WASP doesn't necessarily make the best leaders. If we are willing to limit our choices, we are limiting our chances of having an exceptional leader. We never would've have JFK if we were not willing to vote for a Catholic.

Quite frankly, those who are not willing to elect Romney because he is Mormon or any of the others I've mentioned because of religion, ethnicity, sexuality, race or gender, then they deserve to get stuck with half-assed leaders.

Even They Have Blogs...Kudos!

Just how important have blogs become in the political media world? Even the people they cover have their own blogs now.

Here in Pittsburgh, the city's top newspaper, the Post-Gazette is hosting a blog by Freshman Congressman Jason Altmire. Altmire, a Democrat, defeated Republican incumbent Melissa Hart 52%-48% in an upset win last November in a district that includes the Northern and Western suburbs of Pittsburgh. Altmire took office in January and has been keeping his constituents updated on his progress through The Freshman Class, the Congressman's blog on the Post-Gazette website.

Now, about 10 days ago I praised two other Freshman Democrats on Capital Hill; Montana Senator Jon Tester and New York Representative Kirsten Gillibrand, for posting their schedules online so their constituents can see what the people they elected to represent them in this democratic government were doing to improve and protect their lives. Congressman Altmire's blog strikes me as another example of a Representative reaching out to his or her people who have lost faith in their government. Altmire's victory is no doubt due in part of that loss of faith. The people of Pennsylvania's Fourth District gave Altmire a 10,000 vote margin victory for a reason; to change things. This is a welcome change and it is good to see a member of Congress keeping the people informed. In reading the blog, I see both a policy setter and a man from Pennsylvania. He gives a small piece of his schedule to his constituents, and talks about his family life (i.e. walking his daughter's to the bus stop, spending time with family before heading to Washington).

Congressman Jason Altmire (D-Pennsylvania) gets the nod as Political Hero of the Week....even though it's Monday. I'm just that impressed at the new Gentleman from Pennsylvania and the way the new Democratic majority is reaching out to the people who have given up on their government.

More from Pittsburgh in the morning.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thanks Taegan

Although I've only been blogging for the better part of the last month, I've been analyzing politics since I was a Sophomore in College. I would spend much of my free time between classes on a computer on campus checking political news sites to see what was going so I can talk to professors about it and so I can be the first to know.

One of the sites I found in those exhaustive searches was Taegan Goddard's Political Wire. I don't remember when exactly I started checking Political Wire, but I know I've been on that site at least three times a day ever since.

In the fast, time consuming world of a twenty something, many times you don't have much time to search the news sites to see what's going on in your area of interest (in my case, the political world). Thanks to Taegan, the latest in political news is right in my favorites bar.

Since I've started my blog, much of the news I read and later analyze, I first find on Political Wire. I read the headline, then the blurb, if it interests me, I follow the links provided, read more about it, put together my thoughts on it and then, voila!, I post. The great thing to is that Taegan posts almost everyday (including weekends), which satisfies my addiction to political news. During the campaign season, Taegan posts links to polls. In the last election, 91.1% of my election predictions were correct, thanks mainly to polls I studied thanks in part to links to them provided on Political Wire.

There are many websites I look at, but almost all of them I've found thanks to Political Wire. This blog, like it or not, exists thanks in part to Taegan Goddard.

Greeting from Steel City

Greetings from Pittsburgh, where I'm visiting a friend for a few days

Blogging will continue since I don't travel without my laptop anymore

While I'm here expect some local Pennsylvania political news and of course analysis of what's going on nationally.

Stay tuned for more.

The Tale Of Two Democrats

The Popular Governor vs. The Unpopular Legislator...both from the same party, but both on opposite sides of public opinion

Respondents to an online poll by Crain's New York Business overwhelmingly agree
with Gov. Eliot Spitzer that Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a
roadblock to reform in Albany and ought to be removed.

A little about Sheldon Silver; He has been Speaker of the State Assembly since 1994, when he replaced Saul Weprin (D-Queens) who passed away. He led the State Assembly through three Governors; Cuomo, Pataki and now Spitzer. Basically, he has led the State Assembly through it's entire history of being notoriously discombobulated. When a man has been in power for 17 years and has not made an already messed up body any better (perhaps worse), maybe it is time for him to go.

Then this;

Only 7% of respondents to the Crain's poll were unconditionally supportive of
Mr. Silver, while a full 73% said Mr. Silver should be removed, and 20% said the
matter should be settled by the Assembly, not the governor.

Shelly's on the wrong side of an overwhelmingly popular governor with an overwhelmingly popular agenda (Reform in Albany).

The election of Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli (D-Great Neck) as State Comptroller over the more qualified Martha Stark just shows how notoriously screwy the state legislature is. Martha Stark was quite a qualified individual, but she lost the election in the State House because she was effectively chosen by the Governor...and the State Assembly hates to agree with the Governor.

News Flash: Governor Spitzer won his electipn with 69% of the vote...the second largest landslide in the state history...I would call that a mandate, and with that percentage of New York's population behind you, it's no surprise Silver is not very popular. Voters wanted reform, they want Albany to work, and that's hard to do when you have the same old people running the place.

For years Silver's right hand man had been Majority Leader Paul Tokaz (D-Cheektowaga) from way up near Buffalo. Tokaz retired last year and was replaced by Democrat Dennis Gabryszak. The new Majority Leader is Ronald Canestrari (D-Cohoes), who is perhaps not ready to become Speaker. If Tokaz was still in the Assembly, this would be an easy clinch for him, but without him, a new Speaker may be hard to choose. It has been tradition, however, for the Speaker to come from New York City...but maybe it is time to give Upstate a chance to govern.

Nevertheless, Pataki is gone, so is Hevesi, and maybe it is time for Shelly Silver to step down too and for a new Speaker to take his place...and maybe take Joe Bruno with you.

Good Times in Albany for the next four years

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Who's Home State Is This?

Just how Democratic has New York State become?

So Democratic that it is willing to vote for a Democrat who adopted the Empire State as her home state vs. a home grown New Yorker.

50%-40% is only a 10-point margin though, and if Hillary only beats Rudy by 10%, that's not good. (by contrast, Al Gore carried New York by 21% in 2000 and Kerry won by 18% in 2004). A 10% margin pretty much means Hillary wins the city, Westchester, Albany, Buffalo, and maybe Rochester. She looses Long Island, the Hudson Valley and probably Syracuse (and the rest of the state).

Still, the GOP's hopes that a New York Republican on the ticket would win them the Empire State for the first time since 1984 are probably dashed. You could imagine how Romney does here...and McCain is, as I have said, dead in the water at this point.

The GOP Better Pray

So the Senate has decided NOT to debate the Iraq Resolution passed by the House of Representatives on Friday.

That's ok, because there was a vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to reach cloture and begin the debate

The vote was 56-34, 10 Senators never showed up the vote, INCLUDING JOHN MCCAIN! Yes, McCain decided campaigning in Iowa was more important than going to, you know, do this job. Tim Johnson of South Dakota was the only Democrat to not show up to vote...but he's still recovering frm brain surgery, so it's cool.

Anyway, 17 Republicans supported the Resolution in the House...7 GOP Senators supported it (while Lieberman of course opposed it).

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
Sen. John Warner (R-Virginia)
Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota)
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Oregon)

Collins, Warner, Hagel, Coleman and Smith are all up for reelection in 2008 and all, except Hagel, in competitive or Democratic states. An interesting note was the vote of Sen. John Sununu (R-New Hampshire), considered the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in 2008. He voted AGAINST the resolution and the resolution was quite popular with the people of New Hampshire. Look for the Democrats to make an issue of this come next year. Sununu should pray for some miracle in Iraq, otherwise he's toast next November.

In the House, there are a whole slew of Republicans who better hope yesterday's vote doesn't come back to haunt them. I named the 17 Republicans who voted with the Democrats in a previous post, but some of those who did not intrigue me.

Christopher Shays of Connecticut first of all; He barely held onto his seat last year (and largely thanks to Lieberman's independent candidacy). Shays is the only Republican left in New England, look for him to be targeted.

Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, Dave Reichert of Washington, Heather Wilson of New Mexico, Jim Saxton and Mike Ferguson of New Jersey, Peter King of New York, Bill Young of Florida, and Jon Porter of Nevada all sit in seats which lean Democratic. Also, Tom Latham of Iowa, Pete Roskam of Illinois, Deborah Pryce and Steve Chabot of Ohio, John McHugh of New York, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Frank Wolf of Virginia, Robin Hayes of North Carolina, Vern Buchanan of Florida, Thad McCotter, Mike Rogers and Joe Knollenberg of Michigan, and Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia all sit in seats that are VERY competitive.

There is a risk to the Democrats however. If they prove to be wrong here, prominent Democrats such as Jerry McNerney of California, Harry Mitchell of Arizona, Nancy Boyda of Kansas, Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota, Nick Lampson and Chet Edwards of Texas, Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Charlie Melacon of Louisiana, Tim Mahoney of Florida, John Spratt of South Carolina, Zack Space of Ohio, Baron Hill and Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire could all be at risk of loosing their seats.

Still, the gamble seems to be worth it with the Democrats. An unpopular war, unpopular president and a public itching to see Congress show some teeth. The GOP better pray the tide turns too, or a Democratic majority of 240-245 seats in the House and 55-60 seats in the Senate may not be far on the horizon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Music Memory Jar: February 17, 2003

President's Day Weekend, 2003

A Blizzard strikes the Eastern Seaboard

Protestors take on an impending war it now appears they were right about

A college sophomore forces himself up the corporate ladder at his college radio station.

The End of an Era?

Good Riddance I say

Religion has no place in American politics...Despite what Katherine Harris says, Seperation of Church and State is NOT a lie. It is explained thoroughly by our founding fathers.

Just listen to the quotes of Thomas Jefferson, a huge critic of theocracy, and James Madison and George Washington. None of them believed Christianity had any specific place in the government of this land.

The truth is, the Religious Right whom Jim Wallis says is dead was an ignorant, bigoted, hateful bunch which made Christianity look bad (sort of like how terrorists mar Islam, but to a lesser extent.)

With the defeat of the Republican majority in 2006, some elected figures of the Religious Right went into retirement; such as Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Representatives Jim Ryun of Kansas, John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel of Indiana, Melissa Hart and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota and the notorious Katherine Harris in Florida, whose joke of a Senate campaign went down in flames. Representatives Jim Nussle in Iowa and Bob Beapurez in Colorado both lost gubernatorial campaigns they should've done better in. Ohio Gubernatorial candidate and the state's leading preacher Ken Blackwell lost his election by over 20%. In referendums, the Religious Right were surprisingly defeated in some areas; Missouri voted to fund stem-cell research, South Dakota rejected an all out ban on abortion, and Arizona became the first state to reject a ban on gay marriage.

The days of endless debate in Congress over banning gay marriage, restricting abortion, and forcing the Bible into public schools are over. What is the future? Wallis says this;

Evangelicals — especially the new generation of pastors and young people — are deserting the Religious Right in droves. The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper, engaging issues like poverty and economic justice, global warming, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur and the ethics of the war in Iraq. Catholics are returning to their social teaching; mainline Protestants are asserting their faith more aggressively; a new generation of young black and Latino pastors are putting the focus on social justice; a Jewish renewal movement and more moderate Islam are also growing; and a whole new denomination has emerged, which might be called the "spiritual but not religious."

What Wallis is noticing is correct. There is less of a social conservative attitude among young people. The younger generation, my age and younger, are more supportive of gay rights and do not believe in the literal explanation of the Bible. However, most of all, I've noticed the younger crowd does not believe in the rigid structure of religion that our parents and grandparents believed in. The younger crowd is more in touch with the spritual, personal relationship with God, rather than a communial relationship.

The younger crowd focuses more on helping others rather than excluding others. It is true that Darfur is a big issue among the young crowd. Less than a year ago, I was still in college and Darfur was something everyone was talking about and everyone knew about it. If our politicians today don't solve the problems in Darfur, we will...unfortunately it would be too late by then. HIV/AIDS is a huge issue for us, because unlike the preceeding generations, we dont see it as a "gay disease" or a "sinful disease," rather an epidemic that has been ignored by our parents.

When considering American politics...the "dead Religious Right" obviously was closely tied to the Republican conservative and elite. Now, the younger crowd's religion is probably more liberal than conservative...economic fairness has always been a Democratic strength, as has the environment, helping the poor, and pacificism. Could this mean the new religious younger crowd will strengthen the Democratic Party?

If the Republican Party isn't careful, they're going to find themselves on the wrong side of the populace once my generations enters ours 30's.

Friday, February 16, 2007


The House of Representatives passed H-CON RES 63 at 3:22pm on Friday, February 16, 2006.

The vote was 246-182.

17 Republicans voted with the Democrats (Take note of the some of the names);

Rep. Mike Castle (R-Delaware)
Rep. Howard Coble (R-North Carolina)
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Virginia)
Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tennessee)
Rep. Phil English (R-Pennsylvania)
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Maryland)
Rep. Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina)
Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Illinois)
Rep. Walter Jones (R-North Carolina)
Rep. Ric Keller (R-Florida)
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois)
Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio)
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)
Rep. Thomas Petri (R-Wisconsin)
Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minnesota)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan)
Rep. Jim Walsh (R-New York)

Two Democrats voted with the Republicans;
Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Georgia)
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Mississippi)

Iraq Debate-Open Thread

As the House of Representatives prepares to vote on a resolution condemning the President's plan to add more troops to the never-ending Iraq war. I thought it would be good to check out some of what members of Congress said today...and noticeably different tone that we've seen before.

“How many more street-corner memorials are we going to have for this war? This is what the President’s proposal does – it sends more of our best and bravest to die refereeing a civil war.”

-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pennsylvania)

“Our soldiers are trained to fulfill their mission without question. We as civilian leaders have a duty to question it on their behalf.”

-Rep.Tim Walz (D-Minnesota)

“There is a better way to show support for our troops than sending more of them to be killed, and there is a better way than continuing to give this President a blank check for war funding. Unless we move forward to place firm limitations on the appropriations, we will leave this war-making President constrained only by Dick Cheney’s imagination.”

-Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas)

“There is a growing consensus that only a political solution, not a military one, will address the sectarian conflict in Iraq. Yet President Bush has rejected the wisdom of military commanders, the Iraq Study Group, and the voters by choosing to send more troops into the crossfire of a sectarian civil war. If the President won't provide an exit strategy, Congress must take the lead in ending the war.”

Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine)

"The continuing use of our national treasure in what is an inconclusive, open-ended involvement within a country where the long term benefits do no match what we need to reap is why I am opposed to a troop surge that doubles down on a bad military bet that has been tried already."

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pennsylvania)

“[The opposition’s] disagreement is not with my caucus or even the forty of fifty Republicans who will side with us. It is with the 60% of the American people who think this war has gone on too long, and who no longer think that a blood feud between Sh’ia and Sunni is worth American blood. It is with the very patriotic people in my state who love democracy and who wish it for people all around the globe but who know that a culture must be shaped by the people who live in it.”

-Rep. Artur Davis (D-Alabama)

“I remain unconvinced that this large new deployment of troops to Baghdad will further that goal at this point, particularly because the plan does not differ substantially enough from previous efforts to secure the Iraqi capital. The President’s plan further narrows rather than expands our strategic options.”

-Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-South Dakota)

"We now find ourselves locked in the middle of an Iraqi civil war. The Iraq of today is vastly different from the Iraq we entered nearly four years ago, yet our strategy remains the same. We need to succeed in Iraq, but we need to redefine what success is."

Rep. Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma)

“My concern about another surge is that it will only delay the day that Iraqis make the political decisions necessary to quell the sectarian violence. They’ve got to divide up the oil fairly, let the banned Baathists back into positions of public trust and come up with a working model of pluralism. I want all Iraqi factions to know that they don’t have forever to make these decisions. We’re providing their protection; we have a right to tell them to hurry. We have an obligation to our service men and women to tell the Iraqi factions to hurry.”

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-South Carolina)

“Our country needs a policy to secure and stabilize Iraq, one that constructively engages in diplomacy and partners with neighboring countries and the region to create a stable and peaceful nation, not a blank check to send more men and women into harm’s way.”

-Rep. Hilda Solis (D-California)

“The administration’s stubborn arrogance and incompetence have magnified the chaos in Iraq. Our brave troops have done everything asked of them, but the administration’s failures in planning post-conflict reconstruction and their shocking incompetence in management have opened the Pandora’s Box in sectarian violence and civil war.”

-Rep. Paul Hodes (D-New Hampshire)

"We take care of our soldiers over there when we as a Congress make certain the mission they have been sent to perform has a reasonable chance of success. In a war where so many tragic mistakes have been, this Congress must not sit quietly by while additional plans are cooked up in Washington whose only certainty is to accelerate the loss of American lives, compound the already severe strain on military capability and accelerate the burn rack of taxpayer dollars spent in Iraq."

Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-North Dakota)

"Despite our difference, I believe the President is sincere in his desire to being a successful end to the war in Iraq, but he has failed to convince me that sending these 21,000 troops represents a new and successful strategy. We went into Iraq under a failed plan in 2003 and we can't afford to take the same failed path"

-Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Indiana)

"Most of what we have spent has been purely foreign aid in nature: rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, giving free medical care, training police, giving jobs to several hundred thousand Iraqis and on and on. Our Constitution does not give us the authority to run another country as we have in reality been doing in Iraq."

-Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. (R-Tennessee)

"The administration contends that sending more combat troops in Iraq is somehow a silver bullet that is going to quell the violence....I couldn't disagree more"

-Rep. Michael Arcuri (D-New York)

"I find it funny that the pro-life-- the self-proclaimed pro-life party is the party that wants to keep extending the war; I find it ironic that all of the great budget hawks of the Republican Party want to throw 8 billion dollars a month to keep going and going and going as we borrow the money from China; But I also found the debate at times disappointing; where members of the other side have questioned our side; when they've said 'Whose side are we on?' and 'How can we say that we support the troops?' and that we're somehow unpatriotic. And I would just like to say that, you know, when the Republican Party and this President didn't send enough troops, we didn't call you unpatriotic; and when you sent our young soldiers over there without the body armor, we never called you unpatriotic."

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)

"This resolution is an opportunity to thank our brave men and women in uniform who have performed magnificently in Iraq, and to show the American people that Congress wants to help the President develop a policy for victory.”

-Rep. Walter Jones (R-North Carolina)

"What kind of nation are we, when a President takes us to war based on lies and deceptions, when our energy policy is decided behind closed doors and when in free elections, not every vote is counted."

-Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wisconsin)

"As we debate the future of Iraq this week, one thing is certain. You cannot edit or airbrush history. We know today that there were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no enriched uranium from Niger. There was no connection to al-Qaeda. We were not welcomed as liberators. Freedom is not on the march, and more than four years later, the mission has not been accomplished."

-Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts)

"The catch-all phrase, “War on Terrorism”, in all honesty, has no more meaning than if one wants to wage a war against criminal gangsterism. It’s deliberately vague and non definable to justify and permit perpetual war anywhere, and under any circumstances."

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)

"It is time for Congress to stand on its hind legs and take away the keys of the man who has driven our foreign policy into a ditch"

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Washington)