Friday, May 27, 2005

Same DCCC Policy - Same Guaranteed Failures

I've seen a lot of posts on Democrat polictical blogs. Many of the writers comment on how much they disagree with their Republican Congressional representatives & want them out of office. Yet ALL the 2004 IL Dem challengers (except Rep. Melissa Bean (IL-08)) were completely ignored. The ENTIRE Dem IL Congressional Delegation withheld all support. The DCCC has a policy of "out to lunch" until challengers raise $300,000. If the challengers are lucky enough to raise that much but too fast, the DCCC withholds all their financial support because the challenger's doing "well enough" without them.

The DCCC argument of too little money & too many challengers no longer applies because we now know that the policy doesn't work. Congressional Dems & the country would be better off if it did work -- even if just a little. Additionally, Rep. Shimkus should've never won last year -- period. Not only did he NOT campaign (he did it all for Justice Karmaier) for himself because he knew he didn't have to, he sent his district director (very guilty of violating the Hatch Act) to Europe in October 2004. This is a pattern. Challengers & reports from 2000, 2002, & now 2004 have commented on this. I hope to see
more information in the future from the Democratic Commitment Conference PAC, Winning for the People, or any other organization actively working hard to change the DCCC status quo.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so much), I've also found out from a very reliable source that publicly the DCCC encourages & welcomes female challengers for political office. Quietly, the organization is working hard to find male challengers ONLY regardless of how well the 2004 female challengers did. Something that the Women's Campaign Fund and Emily's List have known for quite some time. Ironically, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) is the former head of the DCCC Women LEAD, a task force created to recruit successful professional women as donors and supporters; & Rep. Rahm Emanuel (IL-05) is the DCCC Chairperson.

No wonder registered Democrat voters don’t vote for Democrats any more. They're tired of the same
perpetual failures every election cycle.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The GOP's Republican Wing

Phyllis Schlafly always did give women a bad name. As one of the first combat-trained women in the U. S. Army, I would remind her that women have been fighting in wars since the beginning of time.

Once again the religious right have it’s facts not quite accurate. The Dred Scott case was argued in the St. Louis Circuit Court (now known as “The Old Courthouse”). The State Capitol’s in Jefferson City in the middle of MO.

“Republican Wing of the Republican Party”
by Nancy Shepherdson

They call themselves members of the "Republican Wing of the Republican Party.” In January, delegates to the national board meeting of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies gathered in the posh St. Louis suburb of Frontenac. For all the success Republicans have been having, the group still feels besieged.

"We're like Eisenhower in Europe," Richard Engle, president of the federation, told his audience of about 200. "We're isolated, attacked on all fronts. We need a beachhead where we can find natural allies, where we can build on our strengths and give hope to our allies, like Ike did. Unlike Ike, we can't look on a map and see where our territories are, and we don't have a unifying leader, not even George Bush. My suggestion to you is that the Normandy of the culture war is the Republican Party. The RNC is not a conservative organization. And neither are our local parties."

Engle urged on his faithful, as well as members of the Eagle Forum and a group calling itself the Constitutional Coalition. "The battle is on for control of our party-no committeeman, no chair should be a moderate," he said. "Into the night they shall go because they are not our allies, they are our enemies."

Engle is a former city councilman in Bethany, a suburb of Oklahoma City, and president of BellWest America, LLC, which produces telephone directories. "Frankly," he continued, "the GOP majority in Congress is really empty for me. You'll love this: One [Republican] Congressman told me that he voted for AIDS drugs for Africa because Bush wanted it. Good Lord. His constituents didn't!"

The federation is an offshoot of the California Republican Assembly, which was founded in 1932. That group was surprisingly successful inserting conservative Republicans into all levels of the party's infrastructure. Emboldened by their successful takeover of the state party, the Californians decided to go national in 1996. The National Federation was then led by printing salesman Stephen Frank, a former leader of the California group, who traveled the country encouraging disgruntled Republicans to set up state affiliates. Engle claims twenty-seven state affiliates, and 65,000 people are on the group's e-mail distribution list, although far fewer are active dues-paying members.

Those who are include old warhorses like Phyllis Schlafly, perennial president of the anti-feminist Eagle Forum, and conservative lightning rod Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. That's the same Grover Norquist who has likened having moderates in the Republican Party to selling "rat-head cola." In other words, if you noticed a rat head bobbing around in your soda, you'd never buy that brand again.

On its website, the group advertises for a "RINO Hunters Club," which will "root out and hunt down" what it calls Republicans In Name Only. (There is even a picture of a weathered rhinoceros head as the club's emblem.)

One of the core beliefs listed on its site is "that all human rights are granted by God, not government, and that government exists primarily to protect the God-given rights of its citizens.” It also says that "the Constitution was written to govern a moral and religious people, and it is being destroyed by those who are neither." Other beliefs include protection of the unborn, upholding the traditional family, and supporting free market capitalism.

The federation's goal is nothing less than a complete takeover of the Republican Party by "pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-Pledge of Allegiance" forces who believe that "God is good, that Washington should be weak, but that America should be strong," said Eastern Region Vice President Rod D. Martin, former staffer for Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and founder of Vanguard PAC, which is designed to create "a farm team of activists and candidates ready and able to take leadership."

Nevertheless, the federation is not all about wacky ideas. Past resolutions adopted by the national board include encouraging school boards to opt out of No Child Left Behind, limiting the USA Patriot Act, and opposing the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is "very aware" of the federation, says Joe Conn, a spokesperson for the group. Unlike other far right organizations, it is "more successful in controlling party apparatus" at the state level, says Conn. "It's easy to do that. You can control many local party meetings where just a handful of people show up.” The federation, he says, "is an organized movement to move the Republican Party as far to the right as they can in as many states as they can.” He adds that it may gain power as the Christian Coalition continues to ebb.

According to federation calculations, no more than 30 percent of the Republican Party's leaders are as conservative as they should be, "measured by their views on the issues.” So the group does what it can to promote conservative candidates.

At their national board meeting, delegates heard about one particular assembly success story which they were urged to emulate: the U.S. Senate victory of Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn, who wants to execute doctors who provide abortions. Key to victory in that tight race? We are told in conspiratorial tones that the Oklahoma chapter's 501(c)(3) Education Fund was used to purchase cable airtime for the anti-Kerry video Stolen Honor three days before the November election. Head of the Oklahoma delegation, Tim Pope, a former state legislator from Mustang, helped provide twenty minutes of on-air commentary about values after the film concluded.

They did not explicitly recommend votes for any candidate, though, in order to skirt IRS rules against the involvement of educational foundations in the political campaigns of individuals. "We talked about Kerry's war record in Vietnam, instead of saying that John Kerry was a piece of trash," Pope said to a laughing crowd. "You can become agents of the assembly and set up your own education fund-and I urge you to do so."

It is Pope's belief that enough Oklahoma voters were motivated to come out against Kerry by the movie that Coburn was able to win the Senate seat. Coburn has a testimonial to the federation on its homepage: "You are truly a force for renewal in the Republican Party."

Engle recognizes the thin line the group needs to walk. "It's amazing what you can do with an education fund-as long as you tell the truth," he said. "You can put out voter guides, sponsor debates, and so forth.

And you can raise corporate donations in unlimited amounts.” Later he added a cautionary note, "We need to spend all the money on appropriate projects . . . otherwise we could go to jail.” Engle reported that there were no legal challenges to the use of the federation's money in the Oklahoma Senate race "although there were complaints filed with the television station that were not followed through on."

Others who spoke at the conference also expressed deep frustration at the hesitancy of George W. Bush to forge full speed ahead in the culture war. "We are not a subset of the Bush Administration," said Schlafly, dressed in pink tweed Chanel, with her still-blonde hair piled high on her seventy-five-year-old head. "I'm glad Bush won, but the issues that drove people to support him seem to be the issues he's not talking much about. These need to be the issues we push in the next four years.” Schlafly predicted, "the Bush Administration plans to put women into combat because there aren't enough men [to fight the war] in Iraq.” Here she was standing on one of the planks of the federation. "Only men, not women, will serve in combat," it states. "Women shall not be drafted into the armed forces."

Another major plank is banning abortion for any reason, even to save the life of the mother. "The unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the group says in its statement of principles. Support for banning abortions came up in surprising ways at the board meeting. When I complained about the lousy food during dinner, Cassandra, a matronly federation delegate from Tennessee, set me straight about the cause of the gastronomic failure. "There's a worker shortage," she said. "Forty-two percent of the U.S. population isn't here-they were aborted. When you look at NASA photos of the Earth [at night] from space, most of it is dark!"

Activist judges also came in for repeated drubbings. Early in the weekend, at the National Education Conference supported by the federation, U.S. Representative Todd Akin, Republican from the Second District of Missouri, gave a speech in which he stated his case against judges who would preserve the separation of church and state. The Constitution, he said, "never mentions the word separation. This is the religious and political founding document of the United States. Can our liberties be secure if we remove the context that these gifts are from God?"

Akin went on to blame the judicially ordered removal of the Ten Commandments from public schools for the Columbine massacre and similar tragedies. Later, as he was leaving, he talked with a group of delegates near the elevators, who asked him how other members of Congress could be persuaded to think as he does. He told of a black Congressman who had accused him of not treating the Supreme Court with respect. "I told him that I come from Missouri where the Dred Scott case came down and said blacks aren't people. Therefore, I believe that you can't always respect the Supreme Court. The Congressman didn't know what to say," he told the admiring group. "I kicked ass."

Also at the education conference, self-proclaimed "reformed commie" David Horowitz riled up the crowd with his case for why God-fearing Republicans have a moral duty to take over government. Bearded and rumpled, he seemed the antithesis of the buttoned-up conservatives in the audience, except for his zeal in condemning the "other side.” He points to his latest book, Unholy Alliance, for evidence that hate is rising in America-that is, the hatred of movement conservatives by progressives and moderates.

"Why do they hate us? They believe they can redeem the world so there will be no poverty, no bigotry," he says with a dismissive wave of both hands. "If there is no afterlife for them, this is all they have to give their lives meaning. That's why they hate you."

After the conclusion of Horowitz's talk, and the standing ovation that followed, a teacher from St. Eouis, fingering her flag scarf and crucifix, stood with tears in her eyes. Finally, she shook her head and whispered to me, "That really helps me understand why the administration made me take down my Twin Towers poster with the psalm 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of death' from my classroom. Isn't that awful?"

We also heard about sneaky ways to get "intelligent design" (creation-ism) into textbooks from Neal Frey, who helped get the job done in Texas, aided by a state school board packed with conservatives. "Those five religious members on the board are saints," he said.

Delegates attended Sunday chapel services led by the pastor pro-tern, former Missouri congressional candidate and former state legislator Bill Federer, who ran for Richard Gephardt's seat. The sermon was by Ted Baehr, founder of Movieguide, "a ministry dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles," its website says. Baehr said he wants to bring back the Hays Office, which enforced "voluntary" censorship in Hollywood for decades.

On the way out, a white-haired lady sidled over to me and whispered: "Not much of a church service, was it?” But Engle appreciated it. "Ted Baehr was a blessing in our Sunday chapel service," said Engle later. "Some of our board members who had heard Ted before commented to me that they now have some hope that Hollywood's output of movies can be cleaned up because of efforts like his."

After church, several federation leaders --including Engle -- took a trolley ride to the St. Louis Arch, and the talk became franker. A delegate from Oregon disagreed with the contention that all doctors, like her husband, were in favor of damage caps in malpractice cases. "When I was at Johns Hopkins, a lot of them believed in abortions and all that," she said softly, "and a lot of them were Jewish."

A little later, we passed the Missouri State Capitol building. "That's where the Dred Scott case was decided," announced a white-haired veteran of the group to no one in particular. "You know, there was only one Senator who didn't know who Dred Scott was-Carol Moseley Braun. It's sure amazing to me that she became a Senator. She was more like an ape."

Cheril Clifford, who moved to Oregon five years ago, complained that "it's hard to know who to trust" before you reveal your politics, especially in "the People's Republic of Oregon."

Barbara Blewster, president of the Arizona chapter, showed Clifford a pocket card she hands out when recruiting door-to-door that helps reassure people of the reasonableness of their goals. Support for the Constitution. Religious freedom. States' rights. Education in “enduring truths.” Chimed in another delegate: "And we're not going to quit until the Lord comes back."

The board was excited about its next big event: the federation's convention in September in Scottsdale. Norquist is scheduled to be one of the speakers. The topic of the convention: "Turning Up the Heat on the Left."

Nancy Shepherdson is a freelance writer in Barrington, Illinois, who writes and speaks frequently on the religious right.


Source: Shepherdson, Nancy (2005, May) Republican Wing of the Republican Party. The Progressive, 65, 30-33.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Report on the 2004 Congressional Races

On May 18, 2005, Tim Bagwell (IL-19 2004 Challenger) announced the new Democratic Committment Conference PAC. I hope the print media published this information somewhere. I haven't seen it.

Several weeks ago I posted a message on the SIDemocrat Disscussion Group. I provided a little information from the FEC & simply asked what's wrong with this picture. It was a preview to this very detailed & enlightening report. Dr. Bagwell kept his findings strictly factual. This is no "sour grapes" from a "whining loser." This is a pattern the Democrat Party has following for a more than 10 years. If it worked, the Party & the country would be much better. The policy's a complete failure. We're worse as a direct result.

I also recommend Winning for the People.

Dr. Bagwell saw a need for the DCCPAC. In the months following the 2004 general election, the nine losing Democratic challenger candidates from Illinois have been meeting to discuss and report on their experiences. The ad hoc group included state representative candidates and a number of our supporters. In April a report titled, “Locked Out: Why Democrats keep losing Congress” was issued and circulated to the members, to the Democratic National Committee, and a number of interest groups. The report was released to the press on May 18, 2005.
The main points Dr. Bagwell's speech address are below:

1. Democratic candidate fund raising in Illinois and in other key states.

2. The old collegial rules among state delegation members short-circuit the people’s power over the political process

3. There are ways of addressing these two problems.

While Democratic Party leaders make deals under old rules that lose Congressional seats, we have a Republican controlled Congress who wants to amend discrimination and hate into our Constitution; get more and more seniors on the poverty rolls.

The crisis facing America and the world is real. The threat must not also come from the Democratic Party. Faced with the choice between the status quo and a progressive vision of tomorrow, we must be the party of the people, by the people and for people and all their tomorrows.

The Party has lost that focus.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A "Good" Political Candidate

The State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL, stated that Sen. Richard Durbin isn't ready to give his endorsement for re-election to Gov. Blogojevich because ' "Anyone can run for any office," Durbin said at an unrelated news conference in Chicago. "I'm not going to say what's good or bad for the party. I want to make sure that the voters in Illinois have good candidates to vote for." '

So -- what is Sen. Durbin's definition of a "good" candidate? I don't know that he endorsed any
of the IL Congressional candidates in the 2004 Election Cycle. If he at least endorsed Melissa Bean (IL-08), his campaign committee made no financial contributions to her or any of the others. So far, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has received $3,000 from him for her 2006 re-election. That doesn't say many positive things about the quality of Democratic candidates from his home state.

It's bad enough for the DCCC to ignore Congressional candidates unless they can accumulate thousands in campaign contributions -- first -- to prove their "worth." It's even worse when your Party's local incumbents & the state's Party leadership do the same thing. It misleads the voters into thinking that the incumbents they want out of office are running unopposed. The practice effectively allows a few people a way to control who a lot of people vote for & ultimately manipulate the end results. It failed miserably in 2004 because the Party sacrificed FL, OH, & IL. It's also the exact opposite of everything Howard Dean has been saying for the past 4 months.

From these facts, it seems that the definition of a good candidate is one that can amass the largest amount of money in the shortest amount of time regardless of the economic status of the district & it's constituents. I say the definition of a great candidate is anyone that bothers to show up at all for one of the hardest jobs on the planet & volunteers to work in the best interests of the public trust.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Violate Federal Law, Visit a European Country

DownLeft has a comment on the Tristano indictment & reminds everyone that Rep. Shimkus (IL-19) is connected. Without being held accountable – yet. He should be. After he had Secretary of State employees helping him on state time during his 1996 victory in the Republican Primary, Deb Detmers Fansler, his district director returned the favor only 4 years later. Maybe it’s not a campaign issue if the employee gets a free trip to Europe to “observe Ukraine Elections."

From January 27, 2003, the Mike Ramsey Copley News Service reported from Chicago (HEADLINE: Shimkus aide describes role in Ryan scandal):

An aide to U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, on Monday described her role in raising political funds for former Gov. George Ryan during the 1990s, a process that federal prosecutors say was rife with corruption.

Deb Detmers was campaign finance director of Citizens for George Ryan (CFR) from 1991 to 1995 as the organization amassed money for the Kankakee Republican's election to a second term as Illinois secretary of state.

Detmers said she helped determine quotas for department heads and their employees, who were expected to sell tickets to Ryan fund-raisers. The tickets cost $100 apiece for an annual Chicago event and $50 for a downstate version, she told jurors in the federal racketeering trial of CFR and a top Ryan aide of that era, Scott Fawell.

"If there were departments that weren't meeting their goals, (Fawell) had offered to make calls to directors," Detmers said of Fawell's interest in a 1991 downstate event.

The two fund-raisers typically brought in about $500,000 annually, she said, but election-year pressure in 1994 meant employees had to shoulder an additional $35-a-ticket affair in Chicago.


Detmers is currently district director for Congressman Shimkus. The Delavan native told jurors she has been granted immunity for her testimony at Chicago's federal courthouse, where the high-profile trial entered its third week.

Detmers acknowledged she was paid by Ryan's state office for four months in 1991 while spending half of her time doing campaign work illegally.

More recently, working in support of Shimkus' re-election bid last year, Detmers said she used sick days with permission from her boss, chief of staff Craig Roberts. Because of redistricting, Shimkus squared off against incumbent U.S. Rep. David Phelps, D-Eldorado, who lost in the November election.

Voters continue to re-elect Rep. Shimkus. He doesn’t deserve re-election.

Deb plead innocent yet she obviously violated the Hatch Act. She remained on the federal payroll instead of taking Leave Without Pay.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Announcing the DCC PAC

In a press conference today at the Capitol, Dr. Tim Bagwell announced the formation of the Democratic Commitment Conference Political Action Committee. The primary goal of our committee is to instill commitment to Democratic challengers, commitment from the Democrat Party, and commitment to a core set of Democratic values.

Deal making and obstructionism cannot, and must not, be allowed to be the new criteria in which we choose our public officials. If we are to be a democratic nation, the people should have nothing less than meaningful, thoughtful and worthy options to represent their needs and wants. Party bureaucracies, entrenched elected officials should not be the ones deciding who our elected officials are.

While Democratic Party leaders make deals under old rules that lose Congressional seats, we have a Republican controlled Congress who wants to amend discrimination and hate into our Constitution; get more and more seniors on the poverty rolls.

The crisis facing America and the world is real. The threat must not also come from the Democratic Party. Faced with the choice between the status quo and a progressive vision of tomorrow, we must be the party of the people, by the people and for people and all their tomorrows.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Venue for a Reasonable Colloquium

Welcome to the Philosophe Forum. Inspired by the 18th Century's Age of Enlightenment, I have launched it for reasonable discourse in the 21st Century's online environment. Mary Wollstonecraft, Abigail Adams, Catherine the Great, Frederick the Great, Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, & all the framers of the U.S. Constitution contributed to the foundation of the Republic in which we live. I hope to maintain that legacy.

While the majority of the posts will concern Central & Southern Illinois, other posts of national & international interest will appear. My blog is open to everyone to post or comment on social issues, human interest, news, etc.

The views expressed on this site belong to the Philosophe Forum without responsibility for false speculation, erroneous comments, the inability to comprehend written English, complete confusion, or the views & opinions of any website linked to & from this page (contact them, leave me out of it). Please send your messages to this address. All email addresses are confidential, published with permission. The Fair Use Statement is at the bottom of the sidebar.