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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Monday, February 20, 2006

ah life

Okay, so the blogger shut down of a week ago really, really bummed me out.

On top of which I am just at a "creative crossroads" about my work here and whether "this blog"....ie. on a blogspot template...is even a good idea.

My bottom line is that I'm leaning towards splitting my work into two streams: one would be essays which I would do on a blog like this...but one that I owned and controlled the space it appeared on..."A blog of my own" so to speak... with carefully written essays that appear when I can do them. The other stream would involve doing expressly political writing on a larger community blog that has content people want to read every day...and to which I contribute my writing, politics and sensibilities.

If you know me from dkos or booman, you know that I already cross post many of my expressly political pieces on those blogs. To be frank, it would be foolish to publish some of that work exclusviely here. Regardless, I'm thinking something a bit different going forward...I'll keep you posted.

At any rate, the current state of affairs here is just not working...despite all I've tried...and the reasons for this are much more complex than any simple fix...(write more, different template, collaborate, content, quality etc.)...and have a deeper and more complex personal back story than I can say. (Something that's true for all of us, I'm sure.)

I am convinced that the modest numbers of readers who read and comment here are among the best readership in the blogosphere...I'm grateful for that. Our numbers here, however, are truly: small. (The readership / link drive had a negligible impact.) k/o is relatively large for a personal blog of course....but it is miniscule in terms of impact and sustainability. I just can't do what I've done for the last six months here, oftentimes daily, for free. It's not sustainable for me.

So, given that, I'd like to build something of my own, that has it's own pace. I think k/o has been a good stab in that direction but the infrastructure...and my ability to deliver content people want to read has been frustrating.

For now, aside from a slower pace, nothing will change here...I'll let you know if and when it does. I fully intend to keep writing and that you will able to find my work and enjoy it if you so choose. So, please, pardon the mess while I do some remodeling of both my infrastructure and my headspace.




Thursday, February 16, 2006

a new generation

It's so easy to get focused on the latest news story of the most recent battle or the latest defeat....so, I took a couple days off to think about the bigger picture.

I think the big picture is positive. Simply put, this is the best and most exciting time to get involved in politics in the last 25 years. This is a moment, unlike so much of the last two decades, where I think we stand a very good chance of building something new in this country...and a "new generation"...whatever our ages, ideologies or backgrounds...stands a very good chance of making real, lasting change.

When I pull back and take in the broader view and incorporate what I've seen happening on the grassroots and in the netroots...I am VERY POSITIVE. While everything we've been doing in the last 5 years seems to have amounted to very small success at this point. I don't think it will amount to "little" in the decade to come either in terms of electoral success or democratic participation.

This is a moment to get involved. For those of us who are veterans of the last 25 years, it is very hard to put aside the scars and thought patterns of the last two decades. But we've got to do just that.

I am absolutely convinced that a huge shift in politics is about to happen. All of us have a part to play.

In fact, that is the point.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

blog troubles

My computer would not display this blog for two days....and I was at work where I have no access.

Argh. I apologize. What horrible timing.

If anyone knows html and sees something I am doing that caused this...let me know. I have an old Mac and am not the most elegant template hacker. Blogger has been down for maintenance almost once a day for a week now...and maybe the changes they are making affect my ancient browser.

I don't know. The only change I've made is adding a link in the sidebar.

Things seem to be working this AM. Maybe it was temporary?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

blogging the obvious: Congress 2006

As readers of this site can tell...I've been focused on the 2006 Congressional elections lately. Obvious, huhn?

Here's something obvious about Congress and 2006.

Congress passes laws and controls the purse strings. Congress creates the budgets that run our government. Congress oversees and investigates. Congress is where we turn for long term solutions to long term problems and for redress of governmental failures (Health Care, Social Security, Katrina, the intelligence failures that led to our war in Iraq.) Congress is also, both in its lawmaking function and it its power to oversee the process of amending the Constitution itself, the most direct check the citizens of this nation have on the judiciary outside of our input into the nomination process.

For all these reasons, 2006 is a year we should elect a Democratic majority to the US Congress...and to state legislatures across the country.

The GOP Congress is corrupt, they are profligate in their spending, their budgets are full of pork and misplaced priorities, they have abdicated their oversight and investigatory responsibilities, they move in lock step with GOP leadership, they have failed to investigate, failed to remedy, and failed to address in a meaningful way the long term challenges that face our nation. They have nominated judges outside the mainstream.

We don't simply need a Democratic majority in Congress. We need a new breed of Democrats. Democrats who can work to make government work again. Democrats who aren't simply going to change the flavor of the impasse in DC. We need to elect Democrats who take it as their duty to move this nation forward and make Congress work for the people again.

When Congress is broken...our Democracy is broken. With no checks....there is no balance.

It's 2006....and it's time for new leadership in DC. How about it Democrats?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bloggers United

I've created a DFA Group on DFA-link called Bloggers United.

The group's main focus is allowing bloggers to keep in touch with one another in a structured way. I'm going to send out occasional "bulletins" on topics like "Blogging Tools" and "2006 Races to Watch". You are welcome to join this group.

If you are not on DFA-link, you can join up through my invitation by using this link.

(P.S. There's 16 of us now. I'm trying to send our personal email invites one at a time....so...if you haven't got one, don't be insulted...and...please feel free to join!!)

You can email me at: kidoaklandactivism"at"comcast"dot"net

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Democratic leadership: 2006 is the Bridge

I promised I would write about what I mean by "a generational change" in Democratic leadership. Here goes.

It is my firm belief that the leaders who will carry our party forward will come to prominence over the next six-ten years. Currently, there is what I will call a "bridge generation" in Democratic leadership that will help pave the way for this next generation to emerge. The Democratic Party we are building is about this nation's future over the next 25-50 years. The "bridge generation"'s role is to make this possible, to pave the way.

There is a single standard that we can apply to judge if someone represents the change we want to see....to understand if someone is a member of the "bridge generation:"

Can you help us elect Democrats in vulnerable Republican districts nationwide in 2006?

Is your message, your ethos, your character such that if you were to show up and support a candidate like Mary Jo Kilroy or Francine Busby or Coleen Rowley or Amy Klobuchar or Heath Shuler or Diane Farrell or Lois Murphy...is your character such that you would be a welcome face? Can you win voters to our side in the districts we need to win in to take back Congress? Can you convince voters that you represent something NEW in the Democratic party?

John Kerry, though I supported him, does not pass the 2006 test. Jesse Jackson, though I love him, does not pass the 2006 test. Dianne Feinstein does not pass the 2006 test. Ted Kennedy does not pass the 2006 test. Joe Biden flunks the 2006 test. Joe Lieberman does not pass the 2006 test. They are not the "bridge generation." We thank them for their service and welcome their behind-the-scenes support of our cause. It is, however, time for us as a party to move on. There are many leaders who pass the 2006 test.

John Edwards passes this test.
Wesley Clark passes this test.
Barack Obama passes this test.
Hillary Clinton passes this test.
Evan Bayh passes this test.
Mark Warner passes this test.
Bill Richardson passes this test.
Janet Napolitano passes this test.
Russ Feingold passes this test.
Jennifer Granholm passes this test.
Al Gore passes this test.
Shirley Franklin passes this test.

The test is non-ideological. Paul Wellstone, were he alive, would pass this test. I want to be clear on this. You CAN be progressive and speak a language everyone can respect and understand. I know this to my core and will try to write about this consistently down the road. But the "bridge" isn't about ideology or age. Not at all.

The bridge is about one core criterion: you've got to be relevant in 2006. You must be about our future, about moving forward, about positivity, about reform, about how we can do better for our nation and our kids. You must be able to stand in front of an audience in a swing district, in a swing state and be able to say with conviction: "I'm a Democrat, and I'm ready to make the change we all want to see for our nation. You may not agree with me on every issue, but you know my integrity and my convictions mean that I understand the imporance of the American value of working together. That is what we Democrats are about to do in this country, and we want your help."

If I were a party poobah...and who is, really, who is?...I would send out this "bridge generation" to pave the way for a sea change in American politics.

  • I'd have John Edwards talk about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.
  • I'd have Wesley Clark talk about building national security through true international coalitions.
  • I'd have Barack Obama talk about real bipartisan reform of Congress.
  • I'd have Hillary Clinton talk about why Health Care reform is long overdue.
  • I'd have Evan Bayh talk about the legacy of GOP corruption in our government.
  • I'd have Mark Warner talk about the "power of working together" under Democratic leadership.
  • I'd have Bill Richardson talk about the meaning of national security in the terrorist age.
  • I'd have Janet Napolitano talk about meaningful immigration reform.
  • I'd have Russ Feingold talk about how liberty, patriotism and democracy are based on our Constitution.
  • I'd have Jennifer Granholm talk about how education, for everyone, is the only answer to our changing economy.
  • I'd have Al Gore talk about why the environment matters to our economy, and about the power of big ideas.
  • I'd have Shirley Franklin talk about the power of families working together to build community with the support of local government.

  • That for me, is the "bridge generation"...that is how we have to talk. And we need those leaders, and those faces to help us cross to the promised land of a legistative majority. (Btw, I welcome your debate and suggestions on this.)

    In sum, I'd like to think that the "Generation of 2006," both those leaders who help us win and the candidates we election, will be something we talk about in years to come.

    I'd like to think that this moment in 2006 has something to do with patriotism and love of country. We are all Americans. We Democrats are willing to come together and rally around new leadership to make our country work, to make our nation strong, and to renew our committment to our core national values.

    In real ways, the generation of 2006 is about the "Spirit of 1776". It's time for us to take up that flag and make a new day for our party by making real change for Americans.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Adam Nagourney and the Democratic leadership

    I'm sick of articles like this from Adam Nagourney and, to be frank, I'm sick of the New York Times political coverage in general. Sick to the point of being done with it. These two quotes (here and here) from Josh Marshall strike me as right on. Basically, after years of reading this stuff, and hearing similar sentiments echoed on NPR, I think blog critics of mainstream media political coverage are right. There's a persistent media bias that has the genetic code of GOP spin and there's no point in giving it energy or credence. The press is no friend of the Democratic Party and has not been for years.

    Now, despite this "press reality" it's also true that the Democratic leadership has contributed to this situation. Simply put, our leaders fail us. For myself, the idea that in 2006 Durbin, Kerry, Dean, Obama, Kennedy and Edwards all supplied Adam Nagourney with quotes for this article is pretty lame. What the hell did our leaders think Nagourney was going to make out of these quotes other than another "Dems are flailing and disunited" hit piece? That line that defines insanity as "doing the same thing and expecting different results" rings really true right now. My advice to our Democratic leaders: do not give Adam Nagourney interviews. Tell the Times "No interviews for Adam." If I were Senator, I would say exactly that.

    I would like to take this moment to reiterate a point I've been making repeatedly: it's time for a generational change in the leadership of the Democratic Party. And the people we need to replace or sideline are, for the most part, long-standing liberals. I supported John Kerry in 2004. I no longer support Senator Kerry's national ambitions and would advocate that he consider retirement when his term is up. I admire and respect Senator Kennedy; but, personally, I think it's time for him to retire as well. I would support a primary challenge of my own Senator, Dianne Feinstein. I thank her for her service and her part in the history of the Bay Area in particular, but I don't think Senator Feinstein is relevant to California anymore and I have little desire for her continued leadership of my state in any way shape or form.

    I will write more at length about what I expect and hope for out of a new generation of Democratic politicians. One thing, however, is crystal clear. Our current leadership bears a strong responsibility for the results we've got, not just in the press, where its galling, but in the political arena as well.

    It's time for new leadership in the Democratic party, for a new generation to take over. While NPR and the New York Times aren't going to help us get there, it's pretty clear that some our longstanding leaders are less of a help than a hindrance in making this needed change as well.

    My message to the grass roots: it looks like we are going to have to make the change we are looking for by ourselves. If we don't demand it, it's pretty clear that no one else will.

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Coretta Scott King: in memoriam

    When I was in seventh grade I was a member of a small group of students from St. Luke's Elementary school in St. Paul Minnesota who were spirited out of class and to Minneapolis to hear a lecture by Mrs. Coretta Scott King.

    Mrs. King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke at Coffman Memorial Union Hall on the campus of the University of Minnesota. It was, the best I can guess, 1981. She filled the auditorium that day. We sat high up in the balcony.

    That did not matter. I can remember Mrs. King to this day. She said these words, very clearly, over and over again, in way of explanation and in way of proselytizing: non-violent, civil disobedience. It was the philosophy of her late husband.

    Mrs. King spoke of Gandhi. She spoke of Dr. King. She spoke of history. She spoke of how love conquers hate. She spoke of tactics in confronting injustice. It was clear, from Mrs. King's words, that there was something here larger than herself, larger than her husband, larger than their role in our nation's history. She came to talk about that larger "struggle of humankind"...about a philosophy so powerful it might lead us forward together. She talked about a political philosophy that dared to use the word love even as it confronted hatred, bigotry and injustice.

    Dr. King died for justice. You may paint him any way you wish. But Mrs. King was clear. Dr. King died for something much bigger than one cause, than one movement, than one moment in history. He was a part of something that transcended our United States, even if he was completely "of us."

    There was not a lot of the 'personal' in Mrs. King's speech. She was teaching. She was leading. She was moving forward alone. And she stood alone that day, at a podium, in the spotlight. Her address was formal. Precise. Pedagogical. She had a message to burn into our hearts and minds.

    For myself, Coretta Scott King was the first person I heard say those words so clearly: non-violent, civil disobedience.

    We waited in the hallway after Mrs. King's speech. Two of the young girls from our group were taken backstage to meet Mrs. King. We were a symbolic generation...those children born in that year of turmoil of 1968...a year she lost so much. We were, at the time twelve and thirteen years old.

    We waited after the speech because, like, I assume after all Mrs. King's speeches, she was going to meet children who'd been named for her. And even in that year when she lost her husband, there were parents all over the nation who named their daughters....Coretta....and Mrs. King had time for them, had time to meet them, to touch them, to say hello.

    I can't imagine how she felt at those moments.

    Now, a parent knew just what that name meant in 1968. Coretta. Pride. Courage. Indomitable faith in the face of enormous loss. The will go keep going come what may. A love that looked forward with strength and pride.

    Mrs. King knew this first hand. So many Corettas. So much hope. A struggle so much larger than any one life.

    Pride. In the name of love.

    Coretta Scott King: 1927-2006.

    know your strengths and weaknesses: the 'perfect storm' and CA-11

    I've been thinking about Iowa 2003 as it relates to the challenge of defeating Richard Pombo in CA-11.

    One of the lessons of the Dean moment is to "know your strengths."

    * reforming the Democratic party with people power
    * pledging to respond forthrightly to GOP attacks
    * raising money online
    * making a hard critique of Bush's foreign and domestic policy early and often

    Dean was so right on these core things, and convicitions about these core things drove his candidacy. They defined the "Dean moment" in Iowa in 2003.

    What did NOT work:

    * Howard Dean's candidacy itself
    * the "Stormers" in Iowa: organizationally and on the "local/outsider" level
    * Dean's ads
    * Dean's message as it appealled past his netroots base

    My point: there's going to be a great number of races in this country where we can apply some of the lessons we learned in 2003 and 2004. At the heart of all these lessons is a failure to understand the voters in Iowa and how politics works on a nuts and bolts level. Philosophically, it comes down to the fundamental fallacy of mistaking "what drives me" with "what drives the voters whose votes I need." I think Democratic activists need to understand....deep in our bones...what about our message has broad appeal...and what is more "what drives us personally." I think about that vis a vis the race in CA-11.

    CA-11 is a real test for the lessons of the "Perfect Storm."

    Richard Pombo is wrong for California. He's wrong for CA-11. He's wrong because he's corrupt. He's wrong for families. He's wrong for making a healthy environment for our kids to grow up in. The people of CA-11 deserve better than Richard Pombo.

    My challenge to the netroots is: how do we deeply understand and convey that from the point of view of the voters in CA-11? (We can start by listening to them and addressing their issues.) How can we apply the "lessons of the Perfect Storm" here in California? How do we get beyond why "Richard Pombo is wrong for me" and get to why "Richard Pombo is wrong for the people of CA-11?"

    In a nutshell, why should the people of CA-11 kick Richard Pombo out of office and who should they replace him with. Who is right for the district? Who is right to be their representative?

    Now, there are powerful tools, ideas, activism and financial resources that activists from outside CA-11 can bring to the race to defeat Pombo. How do we maximize that? And, as we do that, how do we understand, with a laser focus, that the reason that Richard Pombo is wrong for CA-11 starts with the citizens of CA-11 themselves?

    {As a side note: I'm all for direct interactions. That's what democracy is about. I'm also for raising money to have savvy polling and research firms do polls and focus groups targeted to a district. That counts as listening, too, in a way, and, if you ask me, is something that voters from outside a district can really help with: raising money so our challengers can effectively learn what messages resonate to voters in a district. Truth is, savvy polling helped us defeat Arnold's initiatives last fall.}

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey and Joe Nation in CA-06

    Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey is a House Member with an impressive voting record. That analysis (from Joshua Grossman's website Progressive Punch) lists Woolsey as one of the most progressive members of Congress.

    Term-limited CA State Assemblyman Joe Nation is running against Congresswoman Woolsey in the Democratic primary in CA-06. The local press doesn't give him much of a chance. I honestly don't know. I'm sure, however, that this race will get some attention this year. Conventional wisdom puts this as a "more centrist" challenge (Nation) of a "progressive Dem" (Woolsey).

    Here's what Assemblyman Nation lists as his reasons for making this challenge. The phrase "a rubberstamp Democratic vote" notwithstanding (what does that mean to imply?), clearly, someone who's willing to challenge a popular incumbent is nothing if not amibitious.

    I'm curious what the community here makes of this. Democratic primaries are a two-edged sword. At their best, progressives and reformers can have an impact on the party. At their worst, they are divisive, and if not that, then at the very least they are distracting. As a matter of principle, however, no elected official is guaranteed their seat without debate and challenge; if that applies to Joe Lieberman then it has gotta apply to Lynn Woolsey too.

    Truth is, if the two candidates are both worthy Democrats on some level, I think it's important to acknowledge that. If there are real ideological or character differences...well, then that should be made clear and put to the voters in a constructive manner.

    I guess the question for Assemblyman Nation is, "Why should the voters in CA-06 send you to Washington in preference to Congresswoman Woolsey?"

    And my question to readers here is: "What do you make of this? What should term-limited Dems do when they are in Assemblyman Nation's position?"

    Your thoughts?

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Defeating Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, OH-15: the first step is listening

    Anyone who cares about politics in Columbus, Ohio....hell, anyone who cares about politics in the United States...should read this article by Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune covering an event with DCCC chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel in Columbus, Ohio last week:

    Representative Emanuel faced some tough questions from Ohio residents...exactly the kind of tough questions I'm advocating the netroots and grassroots ask of our leaders. Let's take a look. (Note: I quote more extensively than I usually do from an article because I want to emphasize the voters own words.)

    Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, found himself fielding spirited questions at a breakfast meeting late last week as he laid out his ideas on how Democrats could seize control of Congress. When the Illinois congressman didn't include national security in his top five talking points, a man raised his hand and his voice.

    "Can I give you a piece of advice?" said Ford Huffman, a Columbus attorney. "(Republicans) obviously believe it's their winning issue. Why can't we get out in front with it and say there's not an issue about security? Every American believes in securing America."

    Emanuel tried to answer the question, asserting his eagerness to challenge the White House, but said he does not believe national security should be a political issue. As Emanuel spoke, Huffman turned his head and told those sitting around him: "It sounds like we are trying to dodge the issue. People are going to say the Democrats are being wussies."

    "We can't just say Republicans are bad," said Frank Cipriano, a Columbus real estate developer. "We have to find something new to say."

    And, later, this exchange with Emanuel hammered home grassroots voter discontent with Democratic message:

    "How do we get our message out?" asked Ann Hughes, a Columbus resident..."It so easily gets portrayed that the Democratic Party is negative and the issue agenda gets controlled by the Republicans."

    After Emanuel answered her question, he ticked through a list of five key themes he said the party should push this year: health care, education, energy independence, technology and fiscal discipline. It was national security, though, that the Democrats in his audience returned to again and again.

    "We need to keep control of that conversation," Hughes said, "not be controlled by it."

    Bill Goldman, a Columbus attorney, nodded in agreement. And before Emanuel could respond, he weighed in with his own set of ideas.

    "What the Democratic Party needs today is the ability to articulate within each of those issues exactly what we are proposing to give us the changes we want, and exactly what we are proposing that will give us the security that we want," Goldman said. "We believe in everything that you've said, but I think all of us are getting tired of both parties having platitudes without road maps for success. We can't just criticize Bush because it won't work."

    So, the first step, clearly, is to actually LISTEN to what the citizens are saying. These are people who are already energized in and around Congresswoman Deborah Pryce's district, OH-15; these are the citizens looking to rally around new leadership. They are saying, quite clearly, "the same old, same old" won't cut it.

    Now, I'm sympathetic to Rep. Emanuel's dilemma. Congresswoman Deborah Pryce is the 4th-ranking Republican in the House; she is Chairman of the House Republican Conference. Her voting record on corporate subsidies, taxation, the environment and government checks on corporate power put Congresswoman Pryce squarely inside the conservative bloc in the GOP House. Congresswoman Pryce's leadership of her own caucus just narrowly survived a vote to open up her position and others in a "house cleaning" effort led by Republicans John Sweeney and Dan Lundgren. (That is a must read article, btw.) Further, Rep. Deborah Pryce recently helped oversee the passage of the House Budget Bill, saying: "American taxpayers, and anyone concerned with the nation's long-term fiscal stability, have won a great victory today" of a bill that enforces fiscal discipline by cutting programs for the poor such that Rep. Jim Gerlach, (R) of Pennsylvania said, in voting AGAINST this bill, said that he was:

    "very concerned about ... funding for mental health and education as well as important health care areas that will ultimately target our nation's most needy citizens"

    The voters in OH-15 will have a choice to make in November. Right now, Franklin County Commisioner, Mary Jo Kilroy, is prepared to challenge Deborah Pryce for these votes. Here's Mary Jo talking about student loans and the culture of corruption of the GOP.

    What grassroots and netroots Democrats need to do, I think, is twofold: a) We need to ask how we can help, and wherever we can, spread the news about Representative Pryce's record and leadership. And b) We need to echo the challenge to our leadership that the citizens of Ohio started. The Democrats need to hone our message. We can't be perceived as ducking issues or conceding ground. We need to take it strongly to the hoop without falling into the trap of "negativity." That is our task across the board in 2006.

    The first step in taking back OH-15 is to listen to the voters. It's something we all should pay heed to, from Mary Jo Kilroy to Rep. Rahm Emannuel, to all of us in the netroots.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    DFA-link: Bloggers United

    I had a great discussion with Matt Lockshin this afternoon re: blogging and politics. He convinced me to sign up at DFA-link.

    I did. It's a "bridge software" between organizing and the social side.

    I am convinced we need to do something more than "blogging" in 2006...and at the same time we need to make blogs relevant in ways they haven't been before. This will only happen if bloggers like me get off line and more active and relevant to grassroots politics while continuing to hone my online work. So....

    I've created a new email address: kidoaklandactivism"at"comcast.net

    And a group at DFA-link called: Bloggers United

    Write me if you'd like to link up with my group on DFA-link...or if you have any desire to work with folks like Matt and me on California political activism, or story ideas.

    I'm all ears.

    the California Five

    These are the five districts that we should be looking at in 2006.

  • Richard Pombo in CA-11
  • David Dreier in CA-26
  • Elton Gallegly in CA-24
  • Mary Bono is CA-45
  • And Duke Cunningham's now vacant CA-50

  • Pombo, Dreier, Gallegly and Bono ALL voted for House Budget Bill on Wednesday...any one of them could have held out their vote.

    Remember that, because just like Frank LoBiondo of NJ-02, the final votes are the folks who have that "extra say"...they are the ones who can demand a change or an amendment. In a normal Congress, one that didn't vote in lockstep with the will of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, that would happen. None of these four helped out in the least, and we got the bill we got. A budget with draconian cuts for poor, for the least powerful, for students.

    Ask yourself, are those Californian values?

    Now take a look at the issues page for Russ Warner, this guy is putting together a challenge to Dreier that deserves a look, especially as Dreier is dragging his feet on lobbying reform. Dreier is House Rules Committee Chairman, and was happy to carry water for the corrupt Tom DeLay. (This Rolling Stone article will give you the picture.)

    It's also worth noting the scuttlebutt that Dreier was one of the strong supporters of new House Majority Leader, John Boehner.

    We Californians will have our work cut out for us to take back more than one or two of these seats in 2006. I'd love to think we could snag three. Mary Bono would be the hardest to win. Pombo is the one we are all focused on. So, how about this, let's put our shoulders to the wheel...

    Arnold + Three in 2006... let's trim the California Five.

    (Please support Calitics....it's a worthy platform, and a great place to post anything related to our State..you'll find JaninSanFran there...and me from time to time.)

    Congressman Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, NJ-02

    Yesterday the GOP House of Representatives crafted a razor-thin victory that will shape all of our lives for decades. I wasn't alone in decrying the lack of attention this measure got. Ihlin at dailyKos had a diary up lamenting how so little attention was paid to this vote, which basically served to ram Republican budget priorities down the throats of every American for years to come. This was a bill for the folks who've been seeking to brand "entitlements" as a code word for government hand outs that people don't deserve.

    Social Security and Medicare aren't hand outs. They represent YOUR money. You paid in. Everybody does. In fact, every penny the government spends is your money. Branding government dollars as undeserved "entitlements" sure is a convenient way to bash senior citizens, the disabled and the poor; it's also a great way to reward the wealthy friends of the GOP. (If you make less than $200,000 and vote GOP, you are voting against your own economic interests.) The only way to stop this BS is to defeat a few of the Congressional Republicans who keep this convenient "lie" going.

    Let me tell you something, yesterday's vote was an important vote for Frank LoBiondo, the Congressman representing New Jersey's 2nd District. Frank LoBiondo was the tie-breaking vote:

    Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) gave Blunt the margin he needed, breaking a 214-214 tie. The final tally was 216-214, with all of the Democrats who voted and 13 Republicans voting no.

    Think the citizens Frank LoBiondo represents will be happy with his sell-out to Grover Norquist logic?

    Not really. Try this exchange recently reported by a citizen from LoBiondo's district:

    ....I got to ask about where the money was coming from that would pay for the Medicare drug plan. And I asked how LoBiondo could just have voted to cut Medicare funding by some $12 billion. The question was never answered as LoBiondo's aide rushed over and yanked the microphone out of my hands, and declared that this was not the place to ask that kind of question.

    Or try this local reporting how Congressman LoBiondo actually apologizes for the Medicare Drug Plan he voted for:

    Frank Dolson on Monday attended his fourth information session about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. The Millville resident still left confused and frustrated.

    "I feel competent that I can understand the different plans," Dolson said, shaking his head. "But I come out of these meetings with more confusion and less answers."

    More than 100 senior citizens filled City Hall council chambers on Monday to attend an information session organized by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-Ventnor.

    "The plans are confusing and I deeply apologize," LoBiondo told the crowd. "I'm going to continue to do what I can to alleviate some of the confusion and get some answers."

    Congressman LoBiondo, apologies are nice, but maybe you shouldn't have voted for this plan...or become the deciding vote in gutting Medicare yesterday. Maybe, if the Democrats get our act together, the DCCC will list an opponent for you in New Jersey's second. Politics1 lists three challengers: Robin Weinstein, Jeff Van Drew, and Jim Whelan. Filing deadline is April 10th, 2006. This is a race we need to keep our eyes on.

    Certainly Congressman LoBiondo's links to the Abramoff Scandal and New Jersey's increasing trend towards electing Democrats should make this race one to watch. On top of that, he's broken his term limit promise too. Congressman LoBiondo's tie-breaking vote yesterday should make all of us pay attention.

    For more New Jersey politics, Democrat-style, try Blue Jersey and definitely visit the local blog dedicated to New Jersey's Second District: Second Thoughts.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    call me a contrarian

    I just think the Democratic grassroots needs to be:

    a) more critical of our liberal Democratic leadership than eviscerating moderates right now

    b) much more focused on vulnerable Republicans than anyone

    On A: Constructive, persistent criticism of folks like Kerry, Pelosi, Dean, Edwards, Hillary and Obama is the due of leadership. It comes with the territory and makes them better leaders. How can we expect anyone to "fight to win" if we aren't critical of how our leaders lead the battles we find important? It's not just about fighting...leadership is also about winning.

    On B: The netroots virtually ignores vulnerable Republicans. We are idiots in this regard....churning our anger against media personalities, media outlets, the "scandal du jour" and "sell out Dems". There are a ton of Republican incumbents who are worthy of a little netroots attention. It would be great to see some blogger focus given to Republicans like Ohio Congresswoman Deborah Pryce. She represents Ohio's 15th district and her race did not receive near enough attention in 2004, despite the fact that her district includes some very Democratic precincts in Columbus, Ohio.

    Simply put:

    We won't make progress if we don't hold our leaders accountable for actually winning.

    We won't make progress if we let GOP incumbents off the hook.

    PS. We lost the battle on the Budget Bill today 216-214. That article spells it out. Here's what Congresswoman Deborah Pryce had to say:

    "American taxpayers, and anyone concerned with the nation's long-term fiscal stability, have won a great victory today," said House Republican Conference Chairman Deborah Pryce (Ohio).

    I may be a contrarian, but I think I'm right.

    state of the union

    President Bush glossed over Katrina and Dick Cheney
    Like they didn't really exist.
    Hard to do.

    He promised to fix
    Social Security, Health Care, and Energy Policy
    And no one believed him.

    They kicked Cindy Sheehan out for wearing a t-shirt
    Which is stupid
    on so many levels.

    Justice Samuel Alito looked
    Really, really happy
    And so did Mrs. Alito.

    I wonder how many people
    who called about the filibuster
    will call about this?