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#Menendez : Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

Sweet Sue alerted me to the investigation of Senator Robert Melendez on corruption charges and asked me what I thought about it, being a former resident of NJ (I guess that qualifies me as a resident expert on this here blog).

So, here goes:

I’ve got no idea.

However, that never stops me from speculating.

As I said to Sue in the comments, I never quite understood NJ politics even when I dipped my toe into them at the local level. It seems to me that, especially at the US Congressional level, congressmen and senators are appointed, not elected. I say congressmen because for nearly 2 decades, there hasn’t been one woman elected to the US Congressional delegation from NJ- on either side. Nope, not one. You’d think that a state as dense as New Jersey, and I mean that sincerely, there would be at least one woman among the 8,938,175 residents who has the capability to be appointed, er, elected to Congress to represent the state. But try as they might, the political machines of both parties have failed to find even one in the entire state. It must be like trying to find Cinderella in a whole kingdom full of 4.5 million ugly stepsisters. But NJ is chockfull of Prince Charmings?? What are the chances?

I take that back, they found ONE in 2006. Her name was Linda Stender. She was a state assembly woman and former mayor who ran for a seat in NJ-07 and lost by a smidgen (something like 3000 votes). She ran again in 2008 and should have been a shoo-in but the state Democratic party, which had united behind Barack Obama, and promptly gave away our primary votes to him at the convention in Denver, decided not to back Stender very vigorously. In fact, I think the party kind of stabbed her in the back. So, she lost again to some Republican dude who probably spends his time in Washington golfing.

By the way, someone owes the NJ volunteers who phone banked and canvassed for Hillary and Stender an apology for wasting our time. Those are many solid weekends of our lives that we won’t get back. Why not just dispense with the silly notion that a primary vote or congressional election in New Jersey has any meaning? Think of all the money the state party will save taxpayers if they just admit up front that voting has no impact on who gets elected. Just divvy up the state districts by party, appoint some dude to be the representative and be done with it. It’s more efficient and honest. Wait, that’s the way it’s done currently. Why not be upfront about it?

But I digress.

Back to Menendez. When Chris Christie was merely a US Attorney, he badgered Menendez with a bogus investigation just before Menendez was appointed to serve out Jon Corzine’s senate term. It was something along the lines of Menendez using a personal address nefariously or writing it off on his taxes or some silly BS. In other words, it was a nuisance investigation from a blowhard political appointee US Attorney who would later become the notorious Chris Christie. It all came to nothing.

This investigation into the corrupt Senator Bob Menendez seems equally sketchy. So, a Florida doctor set Menendez up with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic? What are the chances? There’s a bit more on bribes and payments but it all seems pretty vague. It reminds me of the charges against Charlie Rangel that tied him up in knots and sidelined him when he was Chairman of the Ways and Means committee. He was probably one of the most powerful men in Washington at the time he was investigated and forced to spend time and loads of money defending himself. In the end, I think he was censured for shoddy paperwork. Gosh, we could all be censured for that.  But the whole point was to defang him at a time when he was at his political zenith.

So, I asked myself, “Self, what committees is Robert Menendez on?” And then Self toddled off and did a Google search on that question. Here is the answer:

Menendez is on the Banking, Housing and Urban AffairsFinance and Foreign Relations committees.

Hmmm, if I were to guess, one of these committees is going to have a vote or number of votes on something that is very important to someone(s). There are a number of tasty possibilities. Finance?  Health Care?  Consumer protection?  It could be any one of a number of special interest groups. We shouldn’t assume that the current justice system isn’t on their payroll. Remember how well the justice system investigated the bankers with their sternly worded letters? No? Go read that book by Neil Barofsky. This is the Obama administration going after Menendez. He must not be toeing some line. What could it be, what could it be?

Just a guess. But then, it doesn’t take much to set my tinfoil antenna twitching these days. Note that if Menendez is forced to resign, Chris Christie gets to appoint his replacement, I think. Isn’t that special?

Dominican chicky-babes and political favors for Florida doctors just doesn’t seem plausible. He’d have to be the slowest Democrat on the planet after witnessing what happened to Charlie Rangel, Eliott Spitzer and the Big Dawg. That’s not to say that it didn’t happen. After all, we’re talking about New Jersey, which has a reputation to maintain. But I’d like to see solid, incontrovertible, un-doctored proof, not vague innuendos.

Or fuggedabouddit.

PostScript: Germany just approved legislation that would mandate a quota of 30% women on corporate boards. Translating this into NJ politics, at least 30% of the legislative districts should have women from both parties running for office next time. Pick any four of the 12 NJ districts, find two women, one from each party, and elect some female reps forpetessakes. This all male dominated delegation thing is embarrassing.

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Thursday: A Tale of Two Endorsements

Many of us have wondered what is really going on in this election.  Why was Hillary Clinton dumped overboard by her own party in favor of a less than one term senator with no experience, no qualifications and apparently no scruples? And where the heck is he getting all of that money? We have some clues.  Donna Brazile keeps making reference to the “old coalition” vs the “new coalition”.  The old coalition consists of the old, uneducated, working class sino-peruvian lesbians and the new coalition consists of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models with PhDs in Architecture.  The latter group is very anxious to chip the last bit of ice from the floe they have put the old coalition on.  We simply ask too much of government. We’re a burden.  We tie them down.  They want to be free to fulfill their destiny, FREE, I say!

But there’s something more unsettling lurking in the background.  Lambert identified it back in January.  It’s name is High Broderism.  It’s the belief that David Broder and his ilk in the Village are the ones who REALLY understand Main Street America.  And what you main streeters want is a kinder, gentler, more passive Democratic party.  Howard Fineman’s latest column in Newsweek is a warning to Obamaphiles who thought they were going to get real change in Washington.  It’s not going to happen, guys.  That’s not really what you want, say the Villagers.  You want a party that is less partisan and doesn’t upset the Republicans.  You want a party that is less confrontational, less wedded to its committment to the old, uneducated, working class sino-peruvian lesbians.  You want a president who is going to meet post-partisanly with Republicans in a civilized fashion, without raising his voice and put everything on the table to be negotiated away for the calm, reasoned, non-confrontational benefit of all. That is, to the benefit of all of the villagers.

Barack Obama is their man.  The media love him for many reasons.  He’s african-american.  He’s young.  Ok, he’s my age, but since I belong to the old coalition, I’m old; he’s young and full of possibilities.  He went to the right schools.  Ok, so did Hillary Clinton, but she married a Bubba.  And she doesn’t have a penis.  But mostly, Barack Obama is going to let the Broderites have their way.

How do we know this?  It’s been there all along but the recent non-endorsement of Linda Stender in the New York Times shows us exactly what the unholy Obama-Broderite alliance is really up to.  In 2006, the New York Times endorsed Stender over her opponent, Republican Mike Ferguson:

His Democratic opponent, Linda Stender, says she got into the race because she opposed the war in Iraq and says the United States looks like a “big bully” in world affairs. She says she would work to prevent further infringements on a woman’s right to get an abortion, to obtain federal funding for stem cell research, to force the administration to negotiate lower prices for the Medicare drug program with pharmaceutical companies and to get out of Iraq by the end of next year.

As to the tax cuts, she says she would support restoring the estate tax as long as some protection remained for family owners of small businesses, and would consider rolling back the reductions on the capital gains tax. On Social Security, she says the income ceiling on payroll taxes will probably have to be increased and the age of eligibility raised.

Mr. Ferguson, who is regarded as a backbencher in the House, has in the past opposed some of the administration’s efforts to backtrack on environmental protection, but he has shifted recently to a more compliant position. To his credit, he continues to support gun controls.

Over all, however, we consider Ms. Stender, a member of the New Jersey Assembly since 2002, as someone who would better stand up to the Bush administration for the district’s best interests. She wins our endorsement.

She lost NJ-07 by less than 4000 votes in 2006.  So, you’d think that with Ferguson retiring from the House that Stender should be a shoe in for 2008, right?  She’s in one of those coveted “Red to Blue” races.  But this year, she’s up against State Senator and Republican Lennard Lance and the race is uncomfortably tight.  Not to worry, you say.  The New York Times liked her in 2006.  Surely they will endorse her in 2008, right?  She’s a progressive Democrat and they liked her positions in 2006.  Not. So. Fast.:

7th District: In the race for the open seat in this central state region, Republican Leonard Lance and Democrat Linda Stender are both excellent candidates.

Mr. Lance has a fine record in the State Senate, where as Republican leader he won praise from both parties for his fiscal conservatism and his thoughtful views on social issues. Ms. Stender is a progressive Democrat who would make a worthy member of Congress. But Mr. Lance’s leadership qualities and his voice of moderation are needed now in Congress and in the Republican Party. We endorse Leonard Lance.

So, let me get this straight.  She’s an excellent candidate and you endorsed her in 2006 but now she’s not endorseable?  Well, now that Bush is gone, we don’t need anyone to stand up to him, do we?  There you have it, folks.  This, I suspect, is the real agenda behind the powerful elite support of Obama in the media.  The rank and file liberal journalists like Obama because his african-american, hopey-changeyness is kinda neat!  But the establishment want Obama because he will not rock the boat.  And to make sure he has a compliant Congress, the elite are not going to endorse a progressive candidate who is a little too strong in her convictions.  Or maybe they will if the candidate has a penis:

5th District: Residents in this stretch from northeast Bergen County to rural northwestern New Jersey are represented by Scott Garrett, one of the most conservative members of Congress. Mr. Garrett supports constitutional amendments to ban abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. He backs President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy and limited aid for the poor.

We endorse Dennis Shulman, a Democrat who is a rabbi and psychologist. Mr. Shulman says he would work to mitigate global warming. He would also take an interest in psychological counseling and educational opportunities for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Personally, I like Dennis Schulman.  He is socially progressive.  But his health care positions are closer to Obama’s than Clinton’s.  The Broderites will tell you that this is exactly what YOU want.  They just know that you don’t want any more messy food fights in Congress where one side accuses the other of being obstacles to progress.  No, no, no.  What YOU want is for the Democrats you send to Congress to be passive, high school student government types who will work in peace and harmony to undermine everything you believe in because there will still be a sufficient number of Republicans and Blue Dogs to prevent any real meaningful change.

Of course, if this is the goal, one wonders what the Broderites in the Village will have to report on since nothing of interest will happen in the next two years.  But Congress will move along, working in sweet harmony, untroubled by the shrill, unpleasant voices of the liberals and progressives.  The old farty Broderites in Washington can finally have some low key, high class cocktail parties and the Village can finally have some peace and quiet.  And after all, isn’t that what you on Main Street want for them?  They know you do.

One more thing: Check out Heidi Li’s Potpourri for her latest post.  She is calling on both candidates to get their supporters in line.  The hung effigies are going too far, although, I think Obama’s got more to answer for, since he has benefitted mightily from the misogynism and race baiting.  If you have $5.44 to spare, help Heidi and The Denver Group run ads in Michigan and Miami to tell voters that Obama isn’t what he seems.

And if you have *another* $5.44, consider making a donation to PUMA Pac to help Darragh and her crew in their activities in these final days leading up to the election.

Here’s Heidi’s latest ad:

Thursday: Sit it out or mess with the DNC’s head?

I know what I choose.

Let me just say that to me, the path forward is clear: support true, progressive downticket Democrats.  You really can’t go wrong if you do that.  No matter who ends up in power, both the idiots in charge (Pelosi, Reid)) and the White House would have to deal with a more liberal, more partisan Congress.  If you think McCain/Palin are going to strip you of your right to choose, having more Linda Stenders in Congress would be a very good thing for you.  If you are onboard for universal heathcare, you will like Ed O’Reilly in the Senate.

Does it ultimately matter who is at the top of the ticket?  Well, I’m not going to go as far as Anglachel and tell you that the Republicans this year are evil incarnate.  No matter what you think of Republicans, this crop of them are not like the Bushies.  I don’t care what Anglachel says, McCain isn’t *that* bad.  Yes, we disagree on a lot of things and John McCain is not a moderate.  But he will bring some unexpected changes to the executive branch, of that I have no doubt.   That’s not an endorsement. But if we let it happen on purpose, we’re not all going to die, die, die!  I have no doubt that McCain can handle a crisis, calmly, cooly.

We knew that the Democrats screwed up again and Sarah Palin made us realize just how much material the Republicans have to work with.  The sarcasm and ridicule directed last night at our side was well deserved.  The progressive blogosphere 1.0 (PB 1.0) has lost all perspective.  Jeralyn Merrit at talkleft is spinning furiously to make Palin look bad.  Josh Marshall is Palin 24/7.  Kos is allowing the lunatics to run the asylum.  To them, there is nothing worse than a Republican.  (Or is that, nothing worse than a woman vying getting in the way of some man’s ambition?  Faux-feminism raises its ugly head)  PB1.0 is attempting to dehumanize these people just as the Republicans made an artform of dehumanizing them.  But who is the audience for these attacks?  Other Obamaphiles?  Such efforts would be wasted on them.  They’re already onboard.  So, one can only assume they are intended for us.  But we’ve been watching the generation of propaganda and oppo research from the other side for years now.  The reason we held out for Hillary for so long is because we are rather impervious to perception managment and manipulation.  What makes PB 1.0 think we’re going to suddenly check our brains at the door and fall for this stuff now?

I know!  How about treating us like sentient beings instead of brainless harpies with vaginas.  What a novel concept.  That way, PB 1.0 could stop writing ridiculous diatribes about Palin that only serve to discredit themselves in our eyes.  Instead, they could start writing the post-election circular firing squad diaries they’re all famous for whenever the Democrats lose.  No time like the present.

McCain gives his speech tonight and throughout this convention, we have seen a slow build up to winning us over.  The memes are clear: Palin is a “breath of fresh air”; McCain is a maverick who goes his own way.  We have a glimpse of how they are going to pull us to them in Fred Thompson’s speech.  He praised John McCain for his rebelliousness, independence.  He’s a regular James Dean.  That was aimed at US, guys.  Republicans in general don’t like rebels.  That’s why we call them conservatives and why McCain had such a devil of a time winning them over.  The only reason they’re pushing the rebellion theme is to snag us away from the Dems.

Expect to hear more mockery tonight, maybe even from McCain himself, though he will probably take more of a high road than Palin did.  Will the issue of the delegate count come up?  How Hillary was screwed by her own party?  Hypocrisy from the hypocrits?  Be on your guard because it will look very convincing and Republicans are masters at playing on your emotions.  But like I said, the Democrats have given them plenty of material to work with.

Don’t make up your mind yet.  There’s a lot of sucking up both parties have to do between now and November 4.  You’ve got a lot of power.  Put it to good use, give the Democrats fits.  Work for Ed O’Reilly and put Kerry out of our misery.  It’s a great short term goal that will have the DNC scared silly.  Bwahahahahahahahhhhhh!

Rebuilding years

Nothing On Top

N.O.T for Democrats 2008

Three nights ago, Hillary Clinton told us to “keep going” no matter what.  The ‘what’ came today in the form of Sarah Palin for Vice President, running with John McCain.  It was a masterstroke of genius from John McCain and a checkmate to Barack Obama and the DNC.  Many of our coalition members have already written emails saying they are now supporting John McCain out of protest at the way the primaries and convention were run by the DNC.  Some were planning to do so before Palin’s announcement.  Many more Democrats are planning to defect since this morning.

That’s fine.  We won’t tell you how to vote.  Just remember that as attractive as the McCain/Palin ticket is, Republicans have a fundamentally different philosophy about government than Democrats.  Although McCain and Palin may be considered reformers of the Republican party, they are wrong about many issues that Democrats find important.  For example, both McCain and Palin are adamantly anti-choice.  They also have different attitudes towards distribution of risk in areas like health care.  We must not gloss over this.

That is why it is so important to make sure that Congress remains in the hands of Democrats.  This year, we have the opportunity to increase our numbers in both the House and Senate.  A number of these downticket Dems are true Democrats in the liberal and FDR style.  For example, Linda Stender in NJ-07 is very much a progressive like Hillary Clinton: pro-choice, against the war, for rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.  Now is the time to work for these downticket Dems to guarantee that we have divided government in the wake of what will be almost certain defeat for Barack Obama.

To that end, there are some new efforts that I would like to call your attention to:

  • PUMAPac is about to launch The New Democratic Party.  This party is in the model of Alice Paul’s National Women’s Party.  The party will have a platform and goals and will endorse candidates that meet our criteria.  We are still working on the website but we welcome your input on platform and goals tonight on a Lion’s Share edition of NO WE WON’T at 9:00PM EST tonight.
  • The Denver Group, co-founded by Heidi Li Feldman and Marc Rubin, is going to be starting an ad initiative to inform voters about how they were betrayed by the DNC.  The intent is to make the powers that be, the powers that were.  The DNC can not be rewarded for their behavior.  Now is the time to purge the party of the authorirarian elements that shut Hillary Clinton and faithful Democrats like ourselves out of the party.  Please see their page describing their initiative.

Remember, we are strong and powerful because we represent millions of votes that *both* parties want to get their sweaty little hands on.  Now is the time that we call the tunes and make them dance.  But we can only do it if we’re all using the same music.  Find your buddies, stick together, hold hands, watch out for one another and we *will* “keep going” and fighting back.

Here’s an ad for Linda Stender to remind you of the kind of Democrat we need in Congress:

Oh, man, this is going to be one LONG campaign season

So, I get to Linda’s campaign office late.  I have another throbbing headache and it took me longer to get there than I anticipated.  There’s only one person in the office, everyone else is canvassing.  He sets me to work phone banking.  Conflucians, I’ll do just about anything for a candidate but I absolutely LOATHE phone banking.  Yes, I’ve done it.  Called hundreds of people in PA and NJ.  Done the scripts, multiple scripts, winged it, left messages.  But for every person I reach, the next name on the list gets that much harder to deal with.  I get relatively few negative results.  I don’t know what it is about a phone that makes me want to hide under a desk but the tension builds the longer I have to do it.  Usually, I manage to quell my anxiety with a bit of downtime every 5 calls or so. There’s something about a phone that just feels wrong.  I’ve never been a phone person.  Text and face to face are fine but phones drive me crazy.  But anyway, I’m rambling.  It’s just my least favorite activity.  It’s a necessary evil.

The phone banking was an endless series of message machines this afternoon.  I guess I should be grateful but the longer I got used to leaving messages, the more rattling to the nerves that first voice contact.  So, I asked Jorge if there was something else I could do.  He asked me to bundle door hangars.  Calming, menial, went well with headache.  That’s when I spotted my first Obama sign.  It was inevitable.  Linda shares her office with the state Democratic campaign.  Of *course* there were going to be Obama signs.

My reaction was visceral. I can’t help it.  It’s a physical reaction.  I want to sink my teeth into it and rip it to tiny bits. I can’t stand the coca-cola Obama symbol.  I made some comment to Jorge about the sign like, are Linda and Obama campaigning together?  He said the office was joint and anyway, he was the nominee.  Ooo, did that set me off.  He is NOT the nominee.  The convention hasn’t been held yet.  Jorge said something like, it’s going to happen, get used to it.  I replied, not if *I* can do anything about it.  (More on viscera and the like from Heidi Li who gave a talk this morning at the 160th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Conference on Women’s Rights.  In 160 years, all we’ve earned is the right to vote for whoever the men pick.  Makes me want to take down an antelope.)

A few minutes later, Travis came in.  Jorge went to him and they had a conversation that I heard bits of.  Sounded like, “Hillary supporter”, “nominee”, “that makes no sense”.  Basically, I am a batshit crazy Hillary deadender who won’t get with the program.  Guys, I might be an ancient, uneducated, woman, but if you’re going to talk about me, make sure you’re out of range of my hearing aid.  Whoops!  That wasn’t my hearing aid, it was my Bluetooth.

Jorge, Travis, if you’re reading this, pay attention:  Obama is NOT the nominee.  He is just a candidate.  He doesn’t have enough pledged delegates to win.  He needs superdelegates just like Hillary would.  The pledged delegate count is essentially even and the only reason Obama is ahead is because he got awarded unearned delegates in MI and more delegates in caucus states that is warranted by their sparse populations.

Now, you can keep saying that we should get used to it and that it’s over but if Hillary’s name is not entered in nomination at the convention in Denver as it should for someone who has as many pledged delegates as she has, then Obama is not a legitimate nominee, as far as I and millions like me are concerned.  You can follow Obama to defeat in November for all we care.  That’s what’s going to happen.  Get used to it.

In the meantime, I’m campaigning for Linda only.  I will not lift a finger or read a script that has anything Obama in it. The minute anyone suggests that I do, I’m outta there.

BTW, what kind of sick thing has this election season turned into when I actually WANT Sean Hannity to take on Barack Obama?  Sean Hannity would be stupid to make such an offer to Hillary.  We’ve seen what she did to Bill O’Reilly.  But Obama?  That’s something I would pay HBO premium prices to see.

One more thing:  I don’t know of any other term for a black hole.  It is both an astronomical term and a phrase that is used so frequently that most of us don’t give it a second thought.  Colloquially, it just means a place where things disappear and that are never seen again.  The gravitational pull for important things that are lost forever is a black hole.  I’ve used that phrase before and never knew I was a racist.  But until someone can come up with a better name for a black hole, I’m going to have to stop using the term unless I am refering very specifically to the astronomical event and nothing else.  Oddly enough, I have also found myself editing words like Oreo and zebra.  I’m not kidding.  In the sentence above, the first animal I wanted to take down was a zebra.  It’s all of those damn MUtual of OMaha footages with Marlin Perkins that come to mind when a lion stalks its prey.  I just keep seeing zebras but now I realize that it is a no-no.  Someone is sure to cut and paste it into a “Riverdaughter is a racist” page of examples.  This is ridiculous and is making true racism meaningless.  Obama needs to stop it or he’s doing African-Americans real harm.

Linda Stender: A woman who belongs in Congress

In 2006, Linda Stender came within a heartbreaking 4000 votes to beat Mike Ferguson (R) in my district, NJ-07. Linda is a wonderful progressive Democrat that any of us would be proud to see in the House of Representatives. This year, Mike Ferguson is quitting his seat and Linda has a better chance of succeeding him. She is doing her best to maintain neutrality between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and I respect her for that. But I would like to give you a small sample of what makes this candidate so impressive. This clip from her closing remarks from her 2006 debate against Mike Ferguson goes out to WigWag and hlr and everyone who wants desperately to vote for a true Democrat this year:

If you feel so inclined, please visit her page and make a donation: Linda Stender for Congress

A Message from Linda, my soon-to-be Congresswoman in NJ-07

Friends, here is a message from one of my favorite Democrats, Linda Stender, who is running for Congress for my district NJ-07. This woman understands what we’re up against and the importance of solidarity. Here’s the money quote:

I will be proud to see my name on the ballot in November alongside either Clinton or Obama. I know with either one of them in the White House, I will have a powerful ally as I take on the key issues of our time. Getting our troops out of Iraq, making sure that all Americans have access to healthcare, confronting the perils of global warming, and investing in stem cell research.

This woman will make us proud in the Congress. Linda is truly a better Democrat.  In 2006, she came within less than 4000 votes of beating Santorum-Wannabe, Mike Ferguson.  She has the intelligence and fire to win this district in November.  Let’s hear it for Linda, who knows there is power in a union.

Linda Stender for NJ-07