Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Harry Tries to Play Poker

I found this piece in The Huffington Post. I think Jane hits the mark on this one. Two Democratic Senators that Democratic Senators won't seat. A Democratic Senator complaining about the cabinet appointments of a Democratic President after she has rubber stamped the appointments of George Bush. What is going on? I have heard two different reports. One is that it is just Democrats being Democrats. Another is that there continues to be a contaigous strain of rectal glacoma infecting the capital.

Jane HamsherFounder,
Posted January 7, 2009 | 09:25 AM (EST) I Want To Play Poker With Harry Reid

I want to play poker with Harry Reid. Really I do.

Rather than call for a special election in Illinois to fill Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, Reid sends a letter to Rod Blagojevich signed by everyone in the Democratic caucus asking him to step down. They assert that they will not seat anyone he appoints.


Blago wipes his ass with it and appoints Burris anyway.

Burris holds a press conference and announces he will be in D.C. on Tuesday to be sworn in with the rest of the Senate. Bobby Rush plays the race card. Reid does not see the handwriting on the wall.

He counters by calling Secretary of State Jesse White, who has already said he won't sign Burris's certification, and encourages him. What White is doing is most certainly outside his legal authority -- the Secretary of State doesn't have veto power. But Reid not only gives White a high five, he tells him they'll use this to keep Burris from being seated.

Then he smugly chortles about how he'll manipulate Senate procedure and punt to the Rules Committee, and assures everyone that they will drag things out for months if necessary until Blago is impeached and his successor appoints someone else. And he does it in the press.

Upon reading this, Cornyn announces that Franken won't have a signed certification either, and the GOP will use it to keep him from being seated,

Reuters: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yielded to Republican threats and agreed on Monday not to immediately seat fellow Democrat Al Franken."

Blago laughs out loud. This is amateur night in Dixieland. He leaks to the press that he spoke with Reid before the election, and that Reid didn't think any of the African American candidates vying for the seat were "electable," while Tammy Duckworth was. He stirs up the potential jury pool and makes Reid look like an idiot -- the day before Reid is set to appear on Meet the Press.

Reid looks like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs on Meet the Press. Nobody knows how much Fitz has (not even Fitz, who is still trying to transcribe his tapes) or how much he'll need to reveal to prove his case, so Reid says he "doesn't remember" his conversation with Blago, but calls Blago a liar anyway. When asked if he supported Jesse Jackson Jr. for the Senate seat, he says he would support him. And admits that there's "room to negotiate" on Burris.

Burris appears at the Senate on Tuesday. Gets turned away. Could Reid look any worse?


Obama stares down DiFi, appoints Panetta to the CIA, and the NYT breaks the story before she's told (but Ron Wyden already knows). DiFi's fuming.

Despite having been one of the 50 Senators who signed Reid's letter saying Burris would never be seated, she announces that as the outgoing head of the Rules Committee she thinks the Senate has no choice but to seat him.

(Good timing, because Charlie Rangel is already complaining about the Rules Committee dragging its feet.)

Reid can't hold his own caucus in line. Blames Rahm. Gives interview saying "I don't work for Barack Obama."


WaPo: "Burris Backs Reid Into a Corner."

A seventy-one year old dude who hasn't held office for 14 years, appointed by a crook, takes the Senate Majority Leader to the cleaners.

Reid is a red state senator, up for re-election in 2010 and under pressure from the right, who is already making noise about appeasing Republicans who aren't going to be appeased. He's a hazard to Obama's agenda, which is why leading Senate Democrats tried to ease him out as Majority Leader last year.

See: Daschle, Tom.

Burris will be seated. He's not gonna deal.

Why should he?

He's playing poker with Harry Reid.

Jane Hamsher blogs at

Monday, January 5, 2009

Two Senate Democrats Locked Out

As the new Congress begins its work it looks like 2 Democratic Senators will be locked out.

It now appears that Al Franken has prevailed over Norm Coleman in Minnesota. At least that is the ruling of the Board of Canvassers after they did a recount. Coleman, playing the role of sore loser, seems to have settled on a plan of tying up the procress with legal appeals. This could take months. Apparently the philosophy is if he can't be The Man, then nobody will be for the time being. Nothing much can be done about this. Republicans can deny the seat to the duly elected Democrat at a critical stage in the legislative process. It continues a Republican philosophy that believes if you can't win at the ballot box then you win in the courtroom.

The second Democratic Senator to be locked out, at least for awhile, will be Roland Burris. He was legally appointed by the Governor of Illinois to fill the seat left vacant by Barack Obama. The problem is that the Gov. is a crook. For years people in Illinois knew that. Now everyone in the world knows. However, "knowing" the Gov. is a crook is not a valid reason for rejecting his appointment. You actually have to follow the law. That means you have to convict him and remove him as Gov. That has not happened and will not anytime in the near future. The US Senate appears ready to lock Burris out on a technicality. His certification was not signed by the Illinois Sec. of State, Jesse White. This way White takes the heat for the lock out and not Harry Reid.

This is a scary process. The reality is that the Democratic leadership in the Senate is ready to give the Illinois Sec. of State veto power over seating US Senators without any kind of due process. And they are willing to block appointments they don't like. This is foolishness. It is also a scary, scary precedent. If a Republican Sec. of St. or a Republican Senate Leadership were blocking a Democratic Senator from being seated we Democrats would be up it arms. Maybe it is time to fire Harry Reid.

We need every Democratic vote we can get in the Senate. We can't stop Coleman from being a sore loser. We can expect our own Democratic Leadership to follow the law and seat Roland Burris as the Senator from Illinois. We've had enough political foolishness. It is time to work on the real problems we have in this country.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Presidential Primary Misconceptions

It is pretty clear that the Obama campaign just doesn't understand how the presidential primary works. They are under the misconception that just because Obama has the largest popular vote and the most delegates that he is winning. That is so silly.

Let me go down the line and list all of the mistakes the Obama camp has made.
  1. Obama folks claimed they won Iowa. Of course we know that Iowa didn't really count. At that time it wasn't about one state. It was about how many delegates you send to the convention. Hillary tried to explain this to him.
  2. Later in the primaries Obama talked about how many delegates he won, but in that phase of the primary season it wasn't about delegates, but which states you win. Obama just doesn't understand.
  3. Obama's next mistake was claiming that winning South Carolina was important, but African-American support really isn't that important for Democrats.
  4. Then Obama won white, rural states like Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska, but they don't really count because they won't be competitive in the general election. And white voters really aren't that important to Democrats. Why is this so hard for Obama to understand?
  5. Obama thought that winning Washington State, Wisconsin, and Missouri was a big deal because they are general election battleground states where polls show Barack is a stronger candidate against John McCain. Obama is so silly. Those voters were latte-sipping elitists. Latte-sippers don't count either.
  6. Obama is happily pointing out that he won the most delegates in Texas. But who cares about that. He didn't win the most pimary ballot votes so winning the most delegates in Texas doesn't matter. Obama is so dense.

Obama thinks that just because he has more popular votes than Hillary and more delegates than Hillary that he is ahead in this primary race. Obviously he doesn't have the experience to understand how presidential candidates get nominated. Hillary is ready for this nomination NOW. I wish she would explain to him how the process works.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Denny Hastert's seat won by Democrats

Democrats are celebrating the election of a Democrat to replace Denny Hastert, former Speaker of the House. A win is a win, but Democrats should not get too cocky.

I just returned from a long weekend in the 14th Congressional District. I talked to a lot of voters, including many Republicans. I can tell you that Democrat Bill Foster didn't win. What really happened was that Jim Oberweis lost.

Oberweis is a nasty, dishonest millionaire who tries to buy an election every two years and hasn't succeeded yet. Oberweis ran for US Senator in 2002. He had never held any other elected office, but when you are really rich, why not just start at the top. He started a pattern of being aggressive, vicious, dishonest, and doing it with the force of his personal fortune. And that was against his fellow Republicans in the primary. And then losing.

Oberweis refused to give up. He ran for US Senator in 2004 also. He lost to a wife abuser with some twisted sexual ideas in the primary. When his story came out the Republicans imported Alan Keyes from another state to represent them rather than turning to Jim Oberweis.

In 2006 Oberweis ran in the Republican primary for Gov. Illinois had an incumbent Gov. that is considered stupid, corrupt, and ineffective by most of the Democratic voters. And the Gov. is a Democrat! He was so hated it would have been an automatic win except for the fact that the Republicans spent so much time cutting each others throats that the Dem Gov. was re-elected. Oberweis couldn't even win that primary.

After the Republicans lost the House in the 2006 election Hastert couldn't get out fast enough. The 14th has been a Republican district for decades. It is slowly softening, but is still a strong Republican district. It was an automatic win for the Republicans. Except, Oberweis had enough money to run the table. He savaged the Republican opposition. He finally won a primary. He had also been so hateful that many Republican voters just stayed home. Republican voters numbers where at suprising lows. On the other hand Democrats had a real candidate running a real race and that just doesn't normally happen in the 14th. They came out and voted.

Jim Oberweis spent 9 million dollars of his own money in the four races and still couldn't buy an election. He now joins that elite club of Republican millionaires that includes Mitt Romney and Dick DeVos.

Democrat Bill Foster will fill the seat of former Republican Speaker of the House, Denny Hastert, until Jan. of 2009. Many Republicans sent Jim Oberweis a message that they think he is a jerk.

This election was not an indication of how the nation is leaning. It is an indication of the total disarry of the Republican party in Illinois and the ilk that can buy a place on the ballot. If you read anything more into it than that you don't know Jack.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nominating a President - Post March 4 Analysis

The last few numbers are still coming in from the March 4 primaries and caucus. The are a number of things that seem clear.
  • Neither candidate has the enough delegates to win at the convention.
  • Obama has earned more delegates over the course of the campaign. It looks like it is about 130 delegates.
  • Obama is well positioned to win Wyoming and Mississippi. That may increase the spread slightly, but the numbers will not be decisive.
  • The delegate spread will hardly be changed at all after March 4.

Based on the facts we know I have some opinions.

  • Clinton is claiming a victory with 3 states to Obama's one state victory. I am declaring a tie based a delegate count was essentially a tie. Our system is silly because we don't use popular vote, but that is the way we do it.
  • Hillary is in trouble. She is behind in delegate count. Her claim to victory is that she didn't fall farther behind. I would suggest that actually a victory would require pulling ahead or even showing good progress moving into the lead.
  • Hillary out campaigned Barack in the last few weeks. Period.
  • Barack is the delegate leader. He has the potential to win. Hillary can only win if Obama has a complete melt down. Her real hope is not losing yet. That will throw the contest into overtime where the Super Delegates will make the decision.
  • Both of the candidates are becoming stronger campaigners. This has been good practice for the general election. It is ok for the contest to continue.
  • Hillary should stay in through Pennsylvania. There is still a race. There is no reason for her to drop out. It looks impossible for her to win, but it should be her decision based on the voters, not pundits and back room politicians.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Are Politicians Working For You?

Sometimes we look at how our representatives vote and we just scratch our heads. What were they thinking? Or maybe a better question is, "Who are they working for?" Sometimes looking at who funds their campaigns clears up all your questions.

In the presidential arena Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain have a similar approach. They go after big money people and big money special interest PACs. Then they sprinkle in some small contributors, just for giggles.

Sen. Obama has taken a different approach. No money from federal lobbyists or special interest PACs. He takes money from thousands of small contributors. Obama has broken all records. He has received over 1 million individual contributions.

Mitt Romney had a different approach. Write yourself checks. Personally, if I want a new camera or bike or whatever, I just buy myself one. However, it seems to be increasingly popular for politicians to try to buy themselves an office. In my book, that is going too far.

Our state representative race for Manistee and the 101st district has these same approaches to campaign financing. Our current representative was an ex-lobbyist. His campaigns were funded mostly by out of district rich people and special interest PACs. All contributions can be seen online through the Sec. of State. Look for yourself. Our rep is from Manistee. See how many local people were willing to even give him a buck. They are as rare as hens teeth.

There are 3 Republicans vying for the open state rep. seat. Look at their contributions records. Mike McManus can't find money anywhere. He might as well drop out now. Ray Franz and Janice McCraner have the same approach. About 75% of their campaign funds come from writing themselves a check. The local people willing to support them financially - put together - would fit in my living room.

Dan Scripps is the top fund raiser in our state rep. campaign. And like Obama he is setting new records for contributions from local people he will actually represent. It is not big money, 10 bucks here and 20 bucks there, but it adds up. Scripps had almost 400 contributors by Dec. 31. Nobody in this district has seen anything like it. And it does add up. Dan Scripps raised more money than all three Republicans combined!

For me, where campaigns get their money is important. I don't have much time for people who try to buy themselves a position, or who are willing to sell themselves to special interest PACs. I want to see lots of local voters chipping in whatever they can afford to give. That is a real measure of the support and respect a candidate enjoys.

This is just one reason why I like Scripps and Obama.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley is Dead

William F. Buckley, a key conservative voice in America for the last half century, has passed away, persumably to the fiery pits of hell.

Ann Coulter emailed me this morning to share some of her thoughts on the passing of this great man. As many of you know, I have a thing for Ann Coulter. I love her skankiness. Where else but in American could you find a woman who dresses like a hooker and uses the language of a sailor on shore leave to speak so articulately about the conservative cause.

Ann wrote me this morning to reflect on the life of William F. Buckley. (OK, for the sake of full disclosure she wrote me and thousands of others who are signed up for a listserv email blast.) I am providing the link to the entire artice. I hope you have a chance to read the whole thing.

Just in case you don't have time for the whole article I am going to quote and summarize some pieces. It is easy to see why Buckley was revered among conservatives. Highlights from Ann Coulter's article.

Ann reminds us that Buckley was a defender of Joe McCarthy. However he didn't like Eisenhower. Too liberal. "National Review did not endorse a candidate for president in 1956, correctly concluding that Dwight Eisenhower was not a conservative, however great a military leader he had been. "

Buckley did support Joe Lieberman when he ran and defeated incumbent Senator Lowel Weicker. In fact he set up a PAC for Lieberman.

"In a famous exchange with Gore Vidal in 1968, Vidal said to Buckley: "As far as I am concerned, the only crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself."
Buckley replied: "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I'll sock you in your goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."
Years later, in 1985, Buckley said of the incident: "We both acted irresponsibly. I'm not a Nazi, but he is, I suppose, a fag."

"When asked if he had "referred to Jesse Jackson as an ignoramus," Buckley said, "If I didn't, I should have."

I hope you will take time to read Ann's entire article.

Conservatives all agree that Buckley was a great American, a role model for our children. And many thanks to Ann Coulter for her reflections on William F. Buckley. She shows us clearly why conservatives liked him so much.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Money Matters

We are coming to crunch time in the Democratic presidential nomination process. The delegates are pretty evenly split between the two candidates, but Clinton hasn't won any of the last 10 states. Obama is on a roll.

Texas and Ohio may well be the final battle. That means one thing. Money. Big money. And probably money spent to be nasty.

It really does matter to me where that money is coming from. Clinton has put out a call for 100 contributors. They would each kick in $100,000. They can avoid the normal campaign limit of $2300 by working through a Section 527 "Swift Boat" group. This is the Clinton plan. And it may get ugly.

Where the money comes from matters to me. That is one reason I favor Obama. He doesn't take money from special interest PACs. He takes nickels and dimes from regular people. That makes it real hard to compete with $100,000 from an individual. Yet Obama is the top money raiser. As I write this he is closing in on ONE MILLION contributions. Incredible.

We live in a time when it seems like our government is bought and sold by organizations with money. What happened to the little guy? Apparently he is alive and well, and contributing to Barack Obama.

Two good candidates. But one has a new philosophy on how to finance campaigns. One is showing that business as usual in Washington might come to an end. This looks to me like the real deal. This is hope that I can believe in.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wisconsin Numbers Should Scare Republicans

The Wisconsin primary numbers are in and Obama has won decisively over Hillary Clinton. He cut into several of her core constituency areas. She appears to be in real trouble in her attempt to caputure the nomination. Ohio and Texas could bring her campaign to an end.

There are other numbers to compare in Wisconsin that seem more telling to me. If you take votes for John McCain, and Mike Huckabee, and Ron Paul and roll them all together in one package they still come up short compared to Hillary Clinton. That's right. The entire Republican party can't combine to beat Hillary and she was the big loser in the vote count tonight.

Wisconsin isn't unique. Republicans are uninspired and Democrats are turning out in droves. The difference in numbers between the two parties are incredible.

I think the scent of change is in the air.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Michigan Presidential Delegates

It is hard to imagine a bigger mess that we have with two states not having delegates for the Democratic Presidential Convention. With the delegate count so even between Clinton and Obama there is growing disucssion about how we dig ourselves out of this mess.

Yes, the Republicans had the same issue and were way smarter than Democrats in how they handled this. Republicans used a measured response and have easily worked through this. Democrats used the nuclear option on Michigan and Florida and now they have that fallout to deal with. No, it doesn't help to resolve the problem by pointing out that Republicans were smarter than we were.

There seems to be three options being considered.

Use the January Primary results - Hillary broke the rules and stayed on the ballot. With only one viable candidate on the ballot and the word from DNC that NO delegates would be seated the Michigan voters stayed home in droves. It wasn't a real election. Now Hillary supporters want to break the rules again and seat these delegates. That will give her delegates she desperately needs to win the nomination. Gov. Granholm appears to be supporting this option.

Stick with the DNC Rules - According to the DNC we were electing zero delegates in January. January was not a valid or representative election. Michigan sends no delegates to the convention. This option leaves Michiganders voiceless in a hotly contested race.

The "Do Over" Option - Local leaders and activists seem to want a chance to have a real vote. Many are calling for a traditional Michigan caucus which would select delegates for the convention. This is the same process that has been used in Michigan for many years. This will let Michiganders have a say in choosing our next president. It also opens the doors to the idea that if you don't like some election results you just keep redoing the election until it turns out the way you want.

Three Choices. They are all losers.

The first option rewards a rule breaker, asks the DNC to do a flip flop on its own rules, and allocates delegates based on an election that wasn't a real election.

The last option is the fairest in my mind, but will also damage the party the most. Some people predict Obama would win in a do-over. Clinton supporters may argue that to change the rules would cause the election to be stolen from them. This is sometimes know as the "Splitting the Party" option. Our do-over election will also face criticism from all over the country. If you don't like the results of one election just keeping elections until you get the results you want. This sounds more like a third world country than Michigan. Florida had hanging chads in 2000. Michigan can have the "Do-Over" in 2008. It make take a terrible situation and make it worse.

The second option is probably the best. I hate it. It leaves Michiganders voiceless. However, in the name of party unity it may be the best. Everyone plays by the same rules all the way along from the January primary until the July convention. The rules don't get changed in the middle of the game resulting in an advantage to one candidate or the other. This option sucks. It is also the best option as far as I can tell.

2008 is the year of the Democrats. Our nation is ready to put the Republicans behind us. January 2009 should reveal a Democrat being sworn in as President of the United States. The only thing that can stop our success is our ability as Democrats to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Ready... Aim...