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Rep. Eric Massa, D-NY, who just resigned yesterday amidst charges of sexual harassment, and who went insane on a New York radio station over the weekend, is supposed to appear on the Glenn Beck cable television show today. Some righties think this will be the end for all Democrats!
Er, maybe not so much. The Washington Post is reporting:
Former Rep. Eric Massa has been under investigation for allegations that he groped multiple male staffers working in his office, according to three sources familiar with the probe.
The allegations surrounding the New York Democrat date back at least a year, and involve “a pattern of behavior and physical harassment,” according to one source. The new claims of alleged groping contradict statements by Massa, who resigned his office on Monday after it became public that he was the subject of a House ethics committee investigation for possible harassment.
So yes, Massa described himself as a progressive, but he is also an ex-Republican from a very conservative district, so who the hell knows what makes the guy tick? Was his supposed progressivism just an act during a period of wide-spread dismay over Republican actions and policies? Don’t know.
What we do know is that, in an era of spectacular crash and burns, this one is pretty strange, and so of course Glenn Beck would try to glom on. Beck doesn’t need to worry about his credibility, because he doesn’t have any, at least among anyone remotely serious about achieving better governance.
This sorry episode would seem to highlight, with an exclamation point, the need to make sure candidates are thoroughly vetted before progressives support them. That’s easier said than done, of course, because ordinary folks aren’t in the business of running detective agencies. But you can tell a lot about people by what they do and who their supporters are, which is at least a starting point.
Yeah, all I can say is that just when you think American politics can’t get any more disgusting, seamy and ridiculous, it somehow does. It’s small wonder that regular folks, going to school, jobs and taking care of their families, often throw their hands up in disgust. The irony, of course, is that the more regular people check out, the more power is ceded to those who stand to extract even more power and money from this completely fucked up political system, awash in money and moral corruption.
Nobody walking on this earth is perfect, and demanding purity and perfection from politicians is silly. But the sorry collection of freaks, sadists, perverts, criminals and liars that have dominated headlines for the last twenty years or more, in both major parties, is a sad testament to our inability to govern ourselves. We need to kick the damn walls down and get some more halfway normal people in office. I know there are plenty of them already in office, but they seem to need some help right about now.
Well, it’s kind of hard to say. Eli Sanders of The Stranger, Heck’s biggest fan north of Lacey, doesn’t know.
And check this out. From The Columbian via the (Longview, Wash.) Daily News:
Heck declined to say specifically what he thinks should be included in a health reform bill.
“I specifically favor those measures that will provide more people with affordable health care,” he said. “I will freely admit I have not read the 2,000-page bill.”
So he specifically didn’t say anything at all. Which isn’t unusual in politics, but it does contrast rather neatly with Craig Pridemore’s clear stance in support of the public option and clearing procedural hurdles placed in the way, including using reconciliation to do so.
Maybe those establishment folks in the Puget Sound region who felt they had to support Heck would like to ask themselves a few simple questions like: why am I supporting a guy who can’t even take a stand on the single biggest issue of the day? What if the voters who actually live in SW Washington’s 3rd Congressional District figure that out?
In a probable preview of interrupted dinners and kiddie bedtimes this year, the good folks at the NRCC have unleashed a last-ditch effort to stop health reform with that most hated of intrusive tactics, the robo-call, including down here in WA-03.
That’s the seat being vacated at the end of the term by Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash. The major Democratic candidates running to replace Baird are former state legislator and TVW executive Denny Heck and sitting state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver.
Media Matters has a script of robo-calls going out nationally, but so far I haven’t been able to obtain a recording of one here in the district. I am told by the Pridemore campaign that they received a fair number of outraged calls yesterday from recipients of the robo-calls.
I’m not sure if the same script would work against candidates, but here it is in any case. If you click through you can read Media Matters’ typical and careful deconstruction of the baloney.
Hello, I’m calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee with a code red alert about an impending health care vote in Congress. Even though a majority of the country wants them to scrap it, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama are planning to ram their dangerous, out-of-control health care spending bill through Congress anyway.
What’s worse, Congressman XXXXXX might vote for it. XXXXXX votes with Nancy Pelosi XX% of the time and may follow her orders on this bill too. XXXXXX might vote for a bill that will kill jobs, raise the costs of health care, and increase taxes. XXXXXX should be focusing on creating jobs, yet he might be the deciding vote that causes this massive new spending bill to pass.
Please call XXXXXX now at 202-225-5311 before it is too late and tell him to vote no on Nancy Pelosi’s dangerous health care scheme. Visit www.nrcc.org/codered to learn more. This call was paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. [Plum Line, 3/3/10]
When it comes to the positions of Baird and Heck in the WA-03 race, Brad Shannon at The Olympian notes that:
Baird voted against the House reform bill last year and has sounded equivocal this time around; Heck also has expressed misgivings about last year’s bill.
To which I would like to add this declaration from Pridemore, sent in an email to supporters yesterday evening:
Let me be clear: I believe that Democrats in Congress should pass the bill, include a public option, and clear the procedural hurdles (including using the reconciliation process.)
The time for debating parliamentary procedure is over. And the time for taking action on health care is now.
Shannon, the Olympian reporter, also notes that none of the Republicans have offered diddly squat (obviously I’m paraphrasing, he doesn’t write like that.)
So let’s see: there are four supposedly major candidates for Congress, two from each major party, and only one of them is championing the view of the majority of the voters in the district when it comes to health care. Yeah, that sounds like our broken politics, and it also shows how lucky we are to have Pridemore in the race.
Luckily as well, you can help. This is going to be a race watched closely at the national level, and while it may not have the sizzle of taking out a sitting corporate-Dem in Arkansas, this is also important. Please do what you can.
According to this article at HuffPo, Sen.Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., will vote for a plan that includes the public option if it gets to the floor using reconciliation. The article says she is the 35th senator to so pledge.
UPDATE 10:7 AM PST–According to Open Left, 45 senators (this includes Cantwell) say they are “open to using reconciliation to finish health reform,” while 35, also including Cantwell, have signed a letter asking that the public option be included in a reconciliation bill.
The upshot is both of our U.S. Senators are listening to regular people and doing the right thing.
Oh fer Chrissakes. Now the nation gets to endure more clap-trap from Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., from my own district right here in WA-03.
As with many narcissistic politicians, he just can’t help himself. From Salon:
“We had a series of briefings in the Democratic caucus,” he said. “At the final briefing before the vote, there were — I would guess — 30 staffers, most of them master’s or Ph.D’s, many of whom spent their entire life on healthcare; experts in the arcanery of this bill, and they would stand up one by one and answer questions as they arose from the caucus… You have to say, so what’s the average person supposed to do to make sense of this if it takes 30 Ph.D career staff members to explain it? And that’s after months of prior explanation.”
Translation: I’m smarter than you. Yeah, it may be a very good thing this guy isn’t running again.
I had a sneaking suspicion we’d be hearing from Baird once people started trying to count votes in the House again, and sure enough, the professor doesn’t miss the opportunity.
The time for this kind of self-indulgence ended a long time ago; in retrospect it ended when the House failed to act ahead of the August recess last year. The summer recess ended for people who live in D.C., but those of who us actually live here got to enjoy the smoking rubble and delectable wingnut odor for months.
The best thing to do would be to ignore Baird, as he is a lame duck, rendering him even more ineffective than he has been over his career. (You have to scroll down to number 212 in the House column!) But it doesn’t look like he’s going to go quietly.
Of course Baird is going to fuck this up if he can, it’s who he has become. Sure, he’ll pretty it up with some more “smarter than you” talk, but in the end it’s his last hoorah, and a chance to show D.C. just what a very serious person he is. There are jobs to be had in the future, you know.
In case the ad rotation changes for this video, right now it’s an ad for a certain fiber supplement you mix with water, followed by a clip of U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky, again refusing to talk to a reporter. (Note: you may have to go here to see the scintillating ad.)
At least Bunning is incredibly regular at being an asshat. He’s executed a triple play for the party of nothingness, nihilism and nuts. It would be funny, except for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who need to buy stuff like food for their kids and flood insurance for their homes.
When people talk about how “our system” is broken, nothing is as broken as the U.S. Senate, when one crazy old fool can hold the entire country hostage. It’s an absurd situation, one that curiously enough never seemed to happen when the dirty hippies were being taught lessons about codpieces and illegally invading countries and stuff. Funny how that always works.
UPDATE 3:53 PM PST–Stupid deal reached for stupid vote to end stupid temper tantrum.*
*Props to Pandagon (via Twitter) for pointing out that it’s all stupid.
Via Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, posted at Huffington Post:
In the wake of last week’s “bipartisan summit” — which proved that no Republicans in Congress will vote for health care reform — an avalanche of Democratic senators are announcing today that they will vote YES for the public health insurance option if it is brought up in “reconciliation.”
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are the latest to announce their support, raising the number of senators on record from 0 to 30 in under 2 weeks.
Here’s the quote they put up from Murray:
“I’ve been consistently supportive of a public option so that Washington’s families and businesses have choices in their health care options and so insurance companies are finally forced to compete for the business of the American people. Nothing has changed that support. I don’t know whether the votes exist in the Senate right now, but if the public option came up for a vote as we move ahead with reform, including under reconciliation, I would vote yes.”
The patience of the American people has limits, and it’s time to get this done. Let the Tea People and their corporate puppet masters throw their hissy fits, they aren’t anything close to a majority.
When people blithely talk about how only a “moderate” can win down here in WA-03, I feel like pulling my hair out. But then I’m reminded that the machinations of politicians often mean little compared to what the public actually thinks.
From The Columbian’s newly revived political blog, concerning a poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and done by Research 2000:
In a follow-up question, voters were asked whether they would favor or oppose “the national government offering everyone the choice of buying into a government-administered health insurance plan — something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get — that would compete with private health insurance plans.” A whopping 66 percent favored the idea; 24 percent opposed it, and 10 percent were undecided.
Presumably, using today’s commonly accepted definitions of what constitutes a “moderate,” nobody in their right mind would campaign in favor of government involvement in health care, because the Tea People hate the gubmint. It’s a scary year, at least to the easily scared, and we should just cower behind the pants leg of any sugar daddy we can find. (Note: this strategy is properly known scientifically as “The Democratic Party Formula for Failure Before Howard Dean Came Along.)
The problem with pat conventional wisdom is that, er, it’s pat conventional wisdom, passed around the tribe until it either becomes a fait accompli or is proven to be wrong. Hopefully the sillly notion that one can even define “moderate” in a multi-faceted district like WA-03 dies a swift death.
“Moderate” doesn’t even mean anything, it’s just a bit of pablum that indicates one member of the tribe prefers a certain member of the tribe. Do you know many Democratic Party politicians who, these days at least, conceive of themselves as immoderate? We’re talking about delivering a vital social service, health care, not starting a vegan commune in the woods with lots of naked people running around creating a vastly different consciousness (nothing against the latter if that’s your thing, though.)
But if a strong majority in in WA-03 likes the idea of a “Medicare for everyone” type plan, then I guess the sensible course would be to favor single payer, huh? Imagine that, the people in backwoods-y, hicksville WA-03 actually get it. I guess the Uncle Sam billboard on I-5 isn’t a majority down here after all!
Please do yourself a favor, and cast any remaining assumptions about WA-03 provided to you by certain Democratic Party illuminati and a certain Seattle alternative newspaper overboard. I try to shy away from absolute predictions, so I can only predict this: Craig Pridemore isn’t going to shy away from this race, and if more voters get to know Craig and his compassion for regular citizens, he’ll stand a great chance of winning in November.
Rep. Deb Wallace (D-Vancouver) is accusing Rep. Jaime Herrera (R-Camas) of shirking her duties by being absent from the House floor “for hours on end” during key votes over the last few weeks in order to campaign — a charge Herrera flatly denies.
Wallace, who recently announced she is dropping out of the WA-03 race to replace retiring Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., doesn’t seem to have an obvious motive in leveling this accusation against Herrera. If this would help anyone it would be the other major GOP candidate in WA-03, David Castillo.
It sounds like Wallace said something at a small gathering, which was then emailed around, and it wound up on the Inter-Tubes. If you do a Google blog search for “Jaime Herrera” you will quickly find that pro-Castillo bloggers down here were rending their garments and howling about this almost immediately, while throwing kitchen sinks, tire irons and brickbats Herrera’s way. (Sorry, I won’t link to those people.) So score one for the brickbat crowd, and remember this the next time someone pleads for civility. These people only have one speed, full on attack, at all times.
As for whether Herrera is actually absent from her Legislative duties too much, a charge she vigorously denies, the rest of the Columbian article pretty much amounts to she said, she said. There are all sorts of legitimate reasons for a member to not be sitting on the floor, of course, but with the near-death of the Olympia press corps I’d wager we’d know more if this were two or three years ago. So I’m not sure what the affect will ultimately be on the Congressional race, unless someone wants to sift through 8 million hours of TVW coverage.
For the time being I’m reserving judgment, and I’ve put out a couple of emails to other members asking for their opinion. If I hear anything back I’ll post an update.
Props to the dirty hippies spreading this on the Facebook.
State Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, has dropped out of the race to replace US House Rep. Brian Baird, D-WA-03. That leaves two other major Democratic candidates, state Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, and businessman and TVW founder Denny Heck.
The emails were flying fast and furious down here over the weekend, but I decided to hold off until Wallace herself decided to announce it, which she did in a news release this afternoon.
In that release, Wallace says she’s not endorsing any of the other Democrats, but hints at what she thinks:
Although Wallace is not making an endorsement for another candidate at this time she believes we need to elect a true moderate Democrat who has the wherewithal to win this election.
I hope Wallace means she’ll fight for moderate, mainstream American values like health care for everyone, protecting the environment, respecting the Constitution and making sure the banksters can’t wreck the economy again, because Pridemore is definitely that kind of moderate.
Pridemore is one of only three US House candidates endorsed by Blue America so far this cycle. The others are Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, who has earned national renown for his blunt criticism of conservative lunacy, and CA-36 candidate Marcy Winograd, who is waging a spirited primary against Rep. Jane Harman, D-War Machine.
Blue America’s official endorsement page describes the group this way:
On this page are the candidates for office– the challengers and a tiny handful of incumbents– who we are recommending that our readers donate to. Each candidate has been interviewed and questioned about a handful of specific items: women’s choice, equality under the law for all Americans, campaign finance reform, issues of war and peace, and the bread and butter issues that seek to re-establish an equitable balance between ordinary working families and powerful Big Business interests. The Blue America PAC is especially looking for strong and independent-minded progressive leaders and critical thinkers, something at least as important as any single position.
So what does this mean? In a nutshell it means that regular people get to play, too, not just the wealthy and not just the insider elite. The netroots can be a great equalizer.
This is, in essence, bundling for the little people, and the fact that Pridemore is being mentioned in the same breath as Winograd and Grayson means he’s on the national radar big-time. It couldn’t happen to a better candidate.
So unfortunately Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, decided to vote “no” when it came to suspending I-960, the noxious Tim Eyman measure that requires an absurd super-majority to raise taxes. Long story short, in order to balance the budget through a combination of cuts and tax increases, Democrats will have to suspend the measure because Republicans won’t agree to anything but cuts.
But you already knew that last part; they’re the Republicans, the party of nothingness, nihilism and nuts.
Ah well, politics is a tough game. I’m sure Wallace’s “no” vote had nothing to do with her candidacy for the WA-03 seat being vacated by Rep. Brian Baird.
Voters in the third district do have other choices on the Democratic side, including my personal pick, Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, who doesn’t shy away from the tough votes. Pridemore voted to suspend 960 in the Senate, because these things impact real people. The GOP will attack any Democrat no matter what they do anyhow, so you might as well do the right thing. I think Craig gets that.
Here’s a web video from the Pridemore campaign. I kind of like it, but I’m biased, because I’ve been supporting him since he first ran for county commissioner in 1998, when he beat a well-financed, pro-developer incumbent. Judge for yourself.
There’s a still photo in the above video that shows Craig walking at sunrise near Yacolt, in northern Clark County, during that first run for commissioner in 1998. He was on a walking tour of the county where he walked all over the damn place to meet people, and he really seemed to thrive on it. The idea of the walking tour had been suggested by someone who threw it out there almost as a joke, and next thing we knew Craig had sent out a news release and was off and um, walking. Obviously the third Congressional district is too big to walk, but please don’t give him any ideas.
Pridemore’s willingness to take a stand is not going unnoticed at the national level. The web site Crooks and Liars is hosting a live chat with Pridemore on Saturday (two days from now, Feb. 20th) at 11 AM Pacific time.
What’s at stake in this race is whether authentic progressives get to offer real solutions to real problems, or if we get a conserva-crat nominated with the aid of the governor (or the incumbent) and the rest of the power elite. I know, that’s often how politics works, and it’s really no great surprise. But I hope what will be a surprise is when Pridemore not only competes effectively, but manages to defeat the establishment forces that desperately want to cling to the status quo.
Howard Dean was on Morning Joe yesterday talking about how voters want solutions, and most of all they want strength. Strength comes from conviction, not sticking a finger up in the air or seeing how many inside-Olympia names one can list. You can view Dean’s segment at Down With Tyranny.
If you’re a progressive in this state, or this country, here in the person of Craig Pridemore is the chance to support someone authentic, even in a winter of some (or more) discontent. Yes, the Obama administration has been a disappointment, and yes, there are certain Democrats in the US Senate who vex us endlessly, but the only path forward is, well, forward. The third district is widely considered to a pure toss-up district, and it’s still anyone’s ballgame at this point, prognostications by careerist Republican hacks aside.
Some Democratic leaders still haven’t seemed to learn the simple lesson that when given the choice between two Republicans, voters will choose the Republican, with apologies to Harry S. Truman (who gave them hell, not heck.) I’m not entirely certain why this is so, but it must change for this country to ever move forward.
If you can, please consider an early donation through Craig’s Act Blue page, every bit helps. If you’re on Facebook, I’ve started a group of supporters that also contains a link to Craig’s official fan page. Come join us as we campaign for an authentic representative of the people.
The Christianist nutball who killed Dr. George Tiller has been found guilty of first degree murder murder by a jury of his peers. The jury supposedly took only about 15 minutes to reach its decision.
I don’t see why we can’t try terrorists in the court system, it seems to work just fine.
Correction 10:53 AM–According to The Los Angeles Times, the jury took 37 minutes to convict Scott Roeder, and Roeder faces life in prison.