Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jim Mattox's last public remarks: "In Texas we did not win the election."

Filmed by Scott Cobb -
Austin, Texas - West Caucus Advisory Committee Meeting - Nov. 2008


PART 2 - History and purpose to restrict voter participation with specific directions on how to organize to win "the election".

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Message from Tom Love

Posted by Faith for Tom Love for U.S. Congress District 24 Campaign - Nov. 4, 2008
As we enter the final stretch of this incredible race, I want to take a minute to thank you.

This nation is built on the hard work and "elbow grease" of the American people. I have traveled District 24, meeting my neighbors. I've seen the dedication of North Texans. Despite personal struggles, I've witnessed neighborhoods and communities come together to help neighbors and strangers. You solve problems, care for your families, and work for a living, while serving others - like those who had to evacuate the Texas Gulf Coast. For some this would seem heroic, but for the "extraordinary people here in North Texas, "it's normal -- it's what we do."

It is my honor to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Congress for the 24th District. I have grown as I've traveled and listened and learned from you.

I give each voter, encourager, volunteer, and donor my heartfelt thanks. If the voters decide to send me to Washington, I will continue listening to you. Our nation is especially challenged right now but I am confident that the spirit which exists here in North Texas and the ingenuity and dedication of the people will prevail.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. If you have not voted yet, PLEASE GO VOTE TODAY.

If you send me to Washington, I promise that I'll be the working man on the hill fighting for the good of the folks here in North Texas.

Thomas P. Love
Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress District 24

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Democratic fundraiser and famed lawyer Fred Baron dies of cancer

By JOE SIMNACHER - The Dallas Morning News - Thursday, October 30, 2008

Frederick M. “Fred” Baron, a plaintiff’s lawyer who amassed a fortune that he used to rejuvenate the Democratic Party in Texas, died Thursday afternoon of complications from cancer.

Mr. Baron, 61, catapulted into the national political limelight in August, when it was revealed he had paid to move a woman who had had an affair with former presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards. Mr. Baron, who had been Mr. Edwards’ top fundraiser, said at the time that he did it only to help the woman.

In his last battle with a corporation, Mr. Baron got permission to use the drug Tysabri in an experimental treatment to try to save his life. His doctors at Mayo Clinic worked with the Federal Drug Administration to find a legal basis for using Tysabri to treat his final stage multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

The drug company, Biogen Idec Inc., argued that the experimental use of the drug — approved to treat multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease — might jeopardize it future use in chemotherapy.

Mr. Baron’s son, Andrew, detailed his father’s fight to get Tysabri in letters posted on his personal blog. That lobbying effort was joined by a host of prominent backers, including Lance Armstrong, the bicyclist and cancer survivor; Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass; and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who has brain cancer.

Mr. Baron was known in legal circles as the “King of the Toxic Torts” for his success in representing thousands of people injured by toxic substances, beginning with asbestos.

Selected as one of the nation’s 100 most influential lawyers in 2000 and 2006, Mr. Baron had become more widely known as a Democratic fundraiser and donor, having given nearly $3.5 million to the party.

Mr. Baron, who was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, moved to Smithville, Texas, with his mother, when he was 15. He was educated at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received a bachelor’s degree 1968, and a doctor of law degree in 1971.

Mr. Baron said a 1970 Ralph Nader speech in Austin influenced him to use the law to regulate business conduct in ways that government could not.

In 1977, after winning his first asbestos case, Mr. Baron founded his Dallas firm, Baron & Budd, with his wife, Lisa Blue.

He was highly successful litigating for plaintiffs injured by substances including asbestos, pesticides and lead. But he was criticized for operating a legal assembly line, and his detractors charged that he coached witnesses how to testify.

In 2002, he became president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He sold his firm and moved to Washington D.C.

In 2003, Mr. Baron stopped practicing law and became the lead fundraiser for Sen. Edwards. The next year, he headed the Kerry-Edwards general election finance team.

In 2005, Mr. Baron established the Texas Democratic Trust, to booster the party on the verge of extinction as a state-wide political factor.

Mr. Baron’s political fundraising efforts are said to have been a major factor in the Democratic Party’s Dallas County sweep in the 2006 off-year election.

Mr. Baron lived in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

Read more in the Dallas Morning News

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Middle-aged white women are this year's prized voting bloc

By TREVOR TOMPSON and ALAN FRAM - The Associated Press - Sun, Oct. 19, 2008
WASHINGTON — In past presidential elections, Veronica Deveso could have told you by now who she was backing and why. Not this time.

All the former taxi dispatcher from Hamburg, N.Y., wants is a candidate "with a solid plan to do something, almost anything," to bolster the economy and end the Iraq war. Dissatisfied with the campaign rhetoric she’s heard so far, Deveso, 56, remains "right at the top of that wall and could fall either way."

The wall she’s perched on is crowded. White women age 45 to 64, like Deveso, are one of this year’s most hotly contested voting blocs. They’re evenly divided between Barack Obama and John McCain and wide open to being pulled either way, according to a recent Associated Press-GfK Poll.

There are plenty of them, too, prompting both presidential campaigns to woo them vigorously. About 1 in 6 voters in the 2004 presidential election was a white woman in that age range, exit polls showed.

These are the boomer women — middle-aged daughters of the post-World War II generation. Many have long balanced jobs with households, and often they’re acutely aware of their families’ economic pressures because they write the checks, buy the groceries and fill the gas tank.

Feisty, demanding

They’re women used to demanding answers and making choices. With a worldwide economy that’s lurching toward recession, they’re demanding that the presidential candidates show them concrete solutions to the financial crisis and other problems.

"There’s a sense of precariousness" among these women, said Frederick Lynch, a government professor at California’s Claremont McKenna College who is researching a book on baby boomers. Women of this generation "are a little more savvy: 'Hey, bad things can happen, people can get sick, people can get laid off, and it doesn’t hurt my macho to admit that.’ "

As a group, these middle-aged white women have not yet been swayed by either contender — in contrast to black and Hispanic women, who back Obama by the same heavy proportions that minority men do. The women are split between McCain and Obama, and identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans in about equal numbers, the AP-GfK poll showed.

"If they came up with something about the economy that really made me feel like they have a really good handle on it," it would help, said Rae Ann Priester, 52, of Fresno, Calif., who is leaning toward Obama but could switch. "They’re sort of dancing around the issue."

Still persuadable

Forty-four percent of them remain persuadable — that is, either completely undecided or favoring one candidate while conceding that they may change their minds. That’s bigger than the 33 percent of all voters who are still persuadable.

"If you’re aged right in the middle like me, it’s hard to decide," said Deborah Nance, 56, of Wilmington, Del. "Go with the seasoned guy who might get in there and die the next day, or go with the young guy who you really don’t know all that much about."

The evenly divided boomer women stand in contrast to voters overall, who polls show have leaned toward Obama since the financial crisis intensified in recent weeks. And while voters overall trust Obama more than McCain on the economy, boomer women in the AP-GfK poll are about equally split over which candidate they prefer on the issue. They narrowly say Obama better understands how the financial crisis affects them.

The poll was conducted late last month, before the candidates released economic plans.

Challenge for Obama

Persuadable boomer women have two characteristics that have made things tougher for Obama.

Most don’t have college degrees. Less-educated whites have long been a difficult group for Obama.

And, most persuadable white, middle-aged women who are Democrats supported Hillary Clinton during the primaries, according to AP-Yahoo News polls.

"A lot of them, like me, might be Hillary supporters and were shocked to find out she didn’t get the nomination," Deveso said of white, middle-aged women.

Still, there are signs Obama is faring relatively well with boomer women.

His neck-and-neck showing with McCain among them is better than the 2004 performance by John Kerry. White women age 45 to 64 favored President Bush that year by 12 percentage points.

In the recent AP-GfK survey, more boomer women said Obama understands people like them. On the other hand, more said McCain has the right experience to be president.

McCain targets women

With so much at stake, McCain has targeted middle-aged white women with TV ads, direct mail and phone calls, using a message that focuses on economic concerns, said Sarah Simmons, the campaign’s director of strategy. That message is reinforced by running mate Sarah Palin, who "speaks to them in a very profound way," Simmons said.

The Obama campaign has run roundtables, blogs and house parties for women, and it has broadcast ads on equal pay and other issues on television shows that attract female viewers. Campaign spokeswoman Moira Mack said women will play "a hugely important role in this year’s election."

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Sept. 27-30 and included cell and landline telephone interviews with 808 likely voters, for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Included were interviews with 135 likely white female voters age 45-64, for whom the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 8.4 points.
Read more in the
Fort Worth Star Telegram

Monday, October 06, 2008

Obama's Voting Record

By Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff - Sunday, August 31, 2008
His eloquent words alone cannot be allowed to define Barack Hussein Obama.

However thin the Democratic presidential nominee's resume, his record is worth exploring. It's the best way to know what he's likely to do if elected.

The conclusion of those who have researched his record: He's vastly more liberal than his image.

How liberal? He's ranked as the most liberal U.S. senator -- to the left, even, of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a socialist.

In Citizens Against Government Waste's 100-point rating of senators and congressman on fiscal responsibility, Obama got a mere 10.

And a Washington Times investigation of Obama's eight-year record in the Illinois state Senate finds that Obama was so far to the left on many votes that he made his liberal Democratic colleagues look like Rush Limbaugh.

Some examples of Obama's extremism in the Illinois Senate, as provided by The Washington Times :

- Obama was the only senator not to support a bill "to report suspected child abuse while protecting the identity of the facility or person providing the information." The bill passed 54-0-1 -- the one being Obama, who voted "present." It passed the Illinois House 117-0.

- Obama voted present "on a bill in committee requiring criminals to serve consecutive sentences for separate crimes involving convictions for severe bodily harm or sexual assault, but didn't vote at all when the measure came to the floor." The bill passed the Senate 54-0 and the House 118-0.

- Obama voted present on a bill "making it harder for abusive and neglectful parents to regain custody of their children." The Senate vote was 57-0-1, with the lone wolf being Obama.

- Obama skipped a vote on a bill "to prohibit convicted sex offenders from serving on school boards." It passed without him, 58-0 in the Senate and 106-0 in the House.

Adds the Times : "The records also show Mr. Obama voted 'no' on a bill allowing police officers to execute warrants and enter buildings without knocking if there was a reasonable belief a weapon would be used against them;

voted "present" on legislation requiring that minors who commit gun crimes on or near a school be prosecuted as adults; and did not vote on a bill requiring fingerprint background checks on school bus drivers.

"Mr. Obama was the only member of the state Senate to vote against a bill to prohibit the early release of convicted criminal sexual abusers; and was among only four who voted against bills to toughen criminal sentences, increase penalties for criminals whose offenses were committed in the furtherance of gang activities, and increase penalties for the delivery of Ecstasy and other designer drugs."

Obama also voted "present" in 2001 on three bills that required medical help for babies accidentally born in botched abortions. In 2002 he had another chance -- and actually voted against helping the survivors of failed abortions.

In 2003, as chairman he helped kill a similar bill in committee.

Meanwhile, as stories come out about his having learned at the feet of socialists and even a communist, Obama has tried to downplay his connections to admitted domestic terrorist William Ayers ('a guy who lives in my neighborhood,' Obama said in a primary debate). But in papers from Ayers' "Chicago Annenberg Challenge" released just this past week after a long battle, it appears the association between Obama and Ayers was much deeper. Obama served on the organization's board for years, for a time as chairman. And Ayers hosted Obama's first campaign fund-raiser.

"They in fact were partners in various entities and regularly exchanged ideas," writes Investor's Business Daily , "including on how to turn Chicago schools into re-education camps to create a generation of social revolutionaries."

Obama isn't just ignoring or running from his past. He's actively trying to cover over it: His campaign has threatened TV stations with their broadcast licenses for running ads noting Obama's link to Ayers.

Obama's record and his associations, past and present, define him, much more so than his lofty rhetoric. And he is the definition of an extremist far out of step with mainstream American values.

By every expert's assessment, this presidential election was the Democrats' to lose. And they very well may do that. In their zeal for change, and in succumbing to the cult of celebrity without asking questions first, they have chosen a nominee who is extreme in the extreme. His record, and his views, are only now coming out.

The Democrats may have fallen in love with someone they barely knew.

That hardly ever ends well.
Read more in the
Augusta Chronicle

Friday, September 19, 2008

Campaign cash cows are put out to pasture

By DENNIS CONRAD - Associated Press Writer - Sept. 19, 2008

WASHINGTON - This fall, many members of Congress will see a major source of campaign contributions disappear, possibly never to return.

Political action committees affiliated with mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are now banned from engaging in lobbying activities, including making donations. They were ordered to cease when the Bush administration engineered a government takeover of the quasi-governmental companies and put them under a conservatorship in an effort to help reverse a housing and credit crisis.

Whether the PACS come back in some form is likely to depend on the next Congress, says Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who, as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, says he will be open minded about it.

PACS, committees formed by business, labor, or other special-interest groups, raise money from their members or employees and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support.

Both men seeking the presidency, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., agree on the need to monitor the federal takeover of the two mortgage concerns, but hold different views on what the PACS' ultimate fate should be.

Obama would make it more difficult for Freddie and Fannie to have PACS, saying he wants to reduce the influence of money over the political process. Obama's presidential campaign has raised more private money than any in history, but he doesn't accept PAC dollars. He opposes allowing Fannie and Freddie to be returned as profit-making enterprises whose possible losses are guaranteed by the government.

McCain favors taking both companies fully private and letting them determine whether they want PACS.

Ultimately, it may not matter what the next president thinks about the PACS. Neither McCain nor Obama is likely to veto a bill over whether it allows for PACS. And Congress will likely be under pressure to keep the campaign contribution spigot from those PACS turned off.

That pressure is likely to come from other parts of the finance industry, says Jonathan Koppell, a professor of political science at Yale University's School of Management. He noted that Fannie and Freddie's competitors have long believed the two had an unfair advantage that stemmed from cozy relations with Capitol Hill.

A spokesman for the American Bankers Association declined comment.

Since 2003, Democrats and Republicans have collected $2.3 million from the two PACs. That could sway some lawmakers to insist that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be reshaped as purely private businesses, which would allow them to revive their PACs.

The contributions are part of a lobbying arsenal that has invested $80 million over the past five years to win hearts and minds in the capital. Fannie and Freddie have spent big on hiring former White House officials and lawmakers. Some members of Congress have received tens of thousands of dollars from the PACS, especially those on committees with jurisdiction over the companies, including Frank.

"They had huge armies of lobbyists that were tripping over each other, so they developed friends on both sides of the aisle over the years," said Peter Fitzgerald, a Virginia banker and former Republican senator from Illinois. "Republicans got very tight with them over the years and they got very powerful."

Stephen Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group, said the PACs' campaign cash to Congress has helped insulate Fannie and Freddie from oversight.

"The fundamental lack of rigorous accounting and adult supervision is one of the major reasons that taxpayers have had to take over these companies that are drowning in red ink," Ellis said.

The companies hold or guarantee some $5 trillion in outstanding mortgages, more than half the nation's total. It is unclear, experts say, what the taxpayers' responsibility will become. The future of the PACs may depend on how Fannie and Freddie are changed and whether they continue the affordable housing component that Congress has been required.

"If taxpayers continue to have any degree of involvement with these companies they should not be allowed to lavish campaign cash on their elected representatives," Ellis said. "Fannie and Freddie benefited from their close association with the federal government. They can't have it both ways again."

Fully privatized, the companies could have PACS, because corporations have the right to have them as a matter of free speech. On the other hand, the creation of fully governmental replacements would eliminate the possibility of PACS, as government agencies cannot lobby.

"I hope next year we will have a long and serious set of very inclusive discussions" on the issue," said Frank. "I don't want to prejudge that."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

DFW area receives Gustav Evacuees


The Volunteer Center of North Texas is working in collaboration with the American Red Cross, the North Texas Food Bank and The Salvation Army to prepare for a possible mass evacuation as a result of Hurricane Gustav.

As of Saturday, August 30, it has been announced that 4,100 individuals will be evacuated to our area. However, depending on where the hurricane makes landfall, it has been projected that 45,000 people, or more, could evacuate to the DFW Metroplex. Here's how the four organizations will coordinate the response:

• The American Red Cross will manage and oversee shelter operations.

• The Salvation Army will provide meals at all mass shelter locations.

• North Texas Food Bank will provide food for meal preparation.

If you wish to sign up to volunteer as needs arise, please download and fill out an application and email to You will be contacted and scheduled, as needed. For more information, call 1-866-797-8268.


The Volunteer Center is in immediate need of volunteers to help serve meals at shelters that are already open for Hurricane Gustav evacuees. As the evacuation continues, volunteers will be needed for other roles as well. All volunteers must complete a volunteer application form. Volunteers SHOULD NOT go to a shelter expecting to volunteer without prior approval, as every volunteer must pass a criminal background check in order to serve. If you have any questions, please contact the Volunteer Center at 866-797-8268.

The Volunteers of North Texas web site for updates as they become available.

NOTE: The American Red Cross will hold volunteer training this weekend in Dallas and Fort Worth. The trainings will be offered 9:00 am - 5:00 pm at chapter headquarters in both cities. For more information, please visit or call (214.678.4800) OR or call (817) 336-8718).

By WFAA - Aug. 31, 2008
FORT WORTH — The City of Fort Worth is preparing to open three more shelters for guests leaving the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Gustav approaches, bringing the total to eight.

Ten buses with evacuees from the New Orleans area were expected to arrive at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, 5201 C.A. Roberson Boulevard, by 7:30 p.m. From there, they will be dispatched to the following shelter sites:

• Worth Heights, 3551 New York Ave.
• Highland Hills, 1600 Glasgow Road
• Greenbriar, 5200 Hemphill St.
• Handley/Meadowbrook, 6201 Beaty St.
• Eugene McCray, 4932 Wilbarger St.
• Martin Luther King Community Center, 5565 Truman Drive
• North Tri-Ethnic Community Center, 2950 Roosevelt Ave.
• Fire Station Community Center, 1501 Lipscomb.

Pets will be housed at the Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Division, 4900 Martin St. Guests can call 817-392-3737 to make sheltering arrangements for their pets. All pets will be microchipped to ensure they are returned to their owners.

Want to help? Contact the Volunteer Center of North Texas at 817-335-9137.

The American Red Cross is welcoming cash donations at this time.

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - Aug. 31, 2008
In Arlington Davis Street Church of Christ and the Salvation Army expected the arrival of several hundred evacuees Sunday night. A few had arrived at the Salvation Army shelter in Arlington by mid day Sunday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Obama Needs More Than Change
By Philip Klein - The American Spectator - Aug. 27, 2008

DENVER -- Tuesday was a great night -- for Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the evening didn't do much to advance the candidacy of the man who will actually be their party's nominee.

It's true that Clinton helped to unify the party after a protracted primary by declaring herself "a proud supporter of Barack Obama" and saying, in as many ways as she could, that "he must be our President." But her speech was weak in explaining why Obama must be elected.

This was not an isolated example. Throughout the night, one after the other, Democratic speakers came on stage and made a case for Obama that could have been made for any generic Democrat

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer ... fired up the crowd with a rousing call for change, but when it came to pitching the man who will be the party's nominee, he couldn't do much better than, "Can we afford four more years? Is it time for a change? When do we need it? And who do we need as the next President of the United States of America? That's right. Barack Obama is the change we need!"

Mark Warner, former Virginia governor ....
His meandering speech talked about "the race to future" and declared that, "we need a president who understands the world today, the future we seek and the change we need. We need Barack Obama as the next President of the United States." The argument for why we specifically need Obama never got more substantive than that.

It's true that this is a change election and that an overwhelming majority of Americans disapprove of President Bush -- which is why Democrats went into this year as the favorites to win the White House.

Obama's challenge is not to convince Americans that they need change, but to overcome the public's reservations about whether he is the man to deliver it. The Democratic National Convention could have been a four-day infomercial to convince skeptics why Barack Obama is ready to be president. So far, other than a successful speech by Michelle Obama, the convention has largely failed to present a case that will sway undecided voters

The fact that Democrats are having such a difficult time making the case for Obama without attacking President Bush cuts to the underlying problem facing Obama's candidacy -- that he's a freshman Senator who hasn't accomplished anything of significance.

In the Democratic primaries, the tale of how Obama gave up a high-paying Wall Street job to become a community organizer in Chicago made liberal audiences swoon, but it doesn't resonate as deeply among the general electorate.

Next week, by contrast, Republicans in Minneapolis will have four days to highlight McCain's character, heroic war record, and decades of experience.

Read more in the American Spectator
Philip Klein is a reporter for The American Spectator.

Credentialing process amok. So what else is new?

Chaos on the Convention Floor
By Paul Kane - Washington Post - Aug. 26, 2008
DENVER -- The convention floor has turned into an overstuffed pinata, as staff have told delegates the floor is essentially shut down.

Staff are informing delegates no one else is allowed on the floor, meaning no one will leave the floor and risk losing their place.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) had to beg to be allowed to cut across the floor to find the Maryland delegation. "Jesus Christ," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) just yelled, denied access to finding the delegates from the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Police yelled at delegates behind the New York section to move in one direction, only to have security on the other end send them back the way they came.

Hundreds of delegates are cordoned off under the stands, denied entry into the hall.

The confusion comes on the heels of a day's worth of complaints from delegates and party insiders about a credentialing process run amok.
Read more in the Washington Post

Monday, August 25, 2008

Democratic Convention Monday Night Links

Democraitc Convention - LOGISTICS - SET AND PODIUM

CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE by Eliseo Roqaues=Arroyo, Co Chiar Credentials Committee, Former Executive Director, Democratic Party of Puerto Rico

CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE by James Roosevelt Jr. Co Chair Credentials Committee Announces full voting status for MI and FL delegates.

CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE by the Hon. Alexis Hermann, Credentials Committee Co-Chair and Former Secretary of Labor

RULES COMMITTEE by Sunita Leeds Announces appointment of Democratic Change Commission to address role of unpledged delegates in future nomination process.

RULES COMMITTEE by Mary Rose Oakar Salute to Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and nomination of permanent officers of convention.

RULES COMMITTEE by David Walters

Today in Denver from Carol Alvarado

Posted by Carl Whitmarsh for Carol Alvarado - Sun Aug 24, 2008 1:32 pm (PDT)
Convention Report from Carol Alvarado from the Democratic National Convention, a member of the Convention's Rules Committee:

Today the Rules Committee (one of one only 3 standing committees of the convention), approved a resolution establishing The Democratic Change Commission. In no later than 60 days after the November election, the DNC will establish the commission to review:

1. Timing of the Primaries and Caucuses (for 2012 presidential election)- possibly requiring that all caucuses/ primaries will be held prior to first Tuesday in March of the election year and that no caucus /primary will be held before Feb 1st of the calendar year. The commission will also review the sequence and scheduling of primaries/ caucuses. This year we had 22 primaries on the same day!

2. Delegates- possibly reducing the number of unpledged party leader and elected official delegates in order to enlarge the role and influence of primary and caucus voters in the presidential nominating process.

3. Caucuses- the use of caucus/convention system for any stage of the delegate selection process by any State Democratic Party shall be approved by the DNC Rules & Bylaws Cmte. The goal is to ensure that at each stage, any caucus or convention will be adequately planned, organized and staffed!

The commission will consist of 35 members and 2 co-chairs, Membership will be divided equally between men and women and shall be geographically and demographically diverse. Members will be appointed by the Chair of the DNC.

We approved the permanent officers of the convention:

Permanent Chair: Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Governor Kathleen Sebelius
State Senator Leticia Van de Putte (a Tejana!)
Mayor Shirley Franklin

Vice Co-Chairs;
Governor Christine Gregoire
Congressman Robert Wexler
Mayor Michael Coleman
Maria Elena Durazo

Alice Travis Germond

We also approved the rules for the convention. No controversy, just a lot of unity.

Carol Alvarado, a former Houston City Council Member, the Democratic nominee for State Representative, District 145 in Harris County, and a National Delegate is one of 25 members that are appointed to the Rules Committee by the Chairman, Governor Dean. Each standing committee of the convention consists of 186 members. (25 appt by chair and the remainder come from states and Dems Abroad).

Monday, August 18, 2008

One of the most despicable alliances this election cycle: Obama defends Swift Boat financier

Obama on Sunday met with and defended a primary financier of the group that helped sink Kerry’s 2004 bid.
Photo: AP

Update in a slightly related news - Obama met and praised an actual swiftboater

By KENNETH P. VOGEL Politico - 8/17/08
RENO, Nev. — Barack Obama on Sunday met with — and defended — one of the primary financers of the group that was perhaps most responsible for sinking Sen. John F. Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid.

Obama huddled privately with T. Boone Pickens in a small conference room in the bowels of a casino hotel to discuss the legendary Texas energy trader’s much-publicized energy policy proposal.

But while the two men posed for pictures before the meeting, Obama was asked how it felt to be meeting with the man “who tore down” Kerry’s campaign.

Pickens, who gave $3 million to the anti-Kerry 527 group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, smiled awkwardly as Obama fielded the question.

Obama was asked how it felt to be meeting with the man “who tore down” Kerry’s campaign.:

“Ah, you know, he’s got a lot longer track record than that,” Obama said. “He’s been doing, ah, he’s a legendary entrepreneur and you know, one of the things that I think we have to unify the country around is having an intelligent energy policy.”

But Pickens is more than just a Republican activist. He was among the most generous donors to the outside groups colloquially known as 527s that both Obama and McCain have decried as exploiting a major loophole in campaign finance laws.

In addition to his contributions to Swift Boat Veterans, Pickens gave $2.5 million to the Karl Rove-linked 527 group Progress for America and also has been a major bundler for Republican candidates.

Read AP Story story on Politico

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

All Votes Aren’t Equal: Texas Credentials Report Cites Evidence of Procedural Irregularities

This is part of a multi-part series. See Daily Kos and Texas Campaign 2008 for the first part of the series.Crossposted on DAILY KOS
By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - August 12, 2008
I just received a copy of the 2008 Texas Democratic Convention Credentials Committee's report from TDP Staffer Jim Boyton. The summary is below:

The Committee heard heart-felt, dispiriting testimony from witnesses representing hundreds of challengers about improprieties at many county/senatorial district conventions. Even though the Committee could not always ascertain the factual predicate necessary to divine a remedy that would deny the fruits of the wrongdoing to the violators without harming the effort of welcoming participation by tens of thousands of new Democrats and beginning the healing process, the Committee implores the Party to take stringent steps to prevent recurrence of the following types of infractions:
• Abandoning the convention leadership’s responsibility to ensure credentials go only to those properly elected at the precinct conventions below as properly reflected on the precinct convention minutes returned in a timely manner;

• Allowing participation by alternates or visitors in the voting in precinct caucuses or the voting on the floor of the convention;

• Not recognizing delegates on the floor to challenge the approval of the nominating committee’s nominees for4 delegate-at-large without allowing individual challenges;

• Having one person serving in multiple positions, e.g. Chair of the Tabulations Committee, Rules Committee and Credentials Committee simultaneously as well as adopting and enforcing special rules;

• Claiming to suspend the rules or adopting special rules under the rubric of Robert’s Rules of Order in order to operate in direct violation of the Rules of the Texas Democratic Party;

• Holding joint conventions of different senatorial districts within a county, including joint Nominations or other committees;

• Not appointing members of the Credentials or other committees at the time and in the manner prescribed in the rules, including not in open meetings or not properly balanced;

• Ordering precinct conventions to be ignored and to be reheld without proper factual basis found by the appropriate authorities and without opportunity for sufficient notice to all potential precinct voters;

• Not having the precinct convention minutes and all exhibits made available in a timely manner to anyone wanting to use those materials for supporting any Democratic candidates;

• Not addressing the time frame for the credential verification and challenge processes so that those matters can be resolved sufficiently in advance of the opening of the conventions to avoid long delays in the convention before conducting their other business.

The Preamble of the 2008 Credentials Committee Report to the SDEC and Texas Democratic State Convention addresses the expectations of the 2.8 million Texas primary voters:

On March 4, 2008, some 2.8 million Texans exuberantly turned out to select the leaders that they wanted to carry forward the Democratic banner in the fall election. These people cast their votes to restore the levers of government in our county and state to those dedicated to implementing policies and democratic values in the best interest of all Americans.

An unprecedented million or so of those voters also participated in their precinct conventions in hopes of helping the presidential candidate of their choice obtain the Democratic nomination to lead that campaign in the fall. Those Democrats rightfully expected the convention process at both the precinct and the county/senatorial district convention levels to be conducted fairly and openly in accordance with the rules and laws applicable to the most important of all rights – the right to vote.

Acknowleding that many of the conventions were conducted fairly, they stated:

For the most part, the conventions were able to conduct their important business with due respect for the rules and the rights for all involved. The conventions did so in spite of the unprecedented numbers of participants, the vast majority of whom had never participated in their conventions beforehand, and cumbersome or arcane rules and procedures. The amazing success of the conventions is due to the dedication, patience and good faith of the scores of thousands involved.

They attributed some of the problems to:

However, constraints of time or facilities, misunderstanding of the rules, miscommunication between the people involved, or occasionally excess zeal in trying to advance the cause of a particular presidential candidate, caused improprieties or mistakes to be made in the process.

The Preamble explains the importance of the Challenge Process:

The Democratic Party devised the rules after decades of experience where those in positions of power often overrode the rights of others, sometimes even of the majority. The rules are designed to give everyone a fair opportunity to participate and any transgression of those rights, regardless of how well intentioned or innocent the cause of the transgression, is a serious matter. For that reason the Party has established the challenge process over which this Committee has been deliberating these past three weeks.

The committee acknowledged that they did not remedy all the challenges they affirmed and they did not enforce the rules to the fullest extent:
This report contains the recommendations of the committee to the SDEC as how to resolve all of the challenges that came before the Committee. The Committee recognizes that these recommendations do not always enforce the letter of the rules to the fullest. This is done consciously and advisedly.

Apportioning presidential delegates at the convention creates disunity:
In the heat of the convention process, where those supporting competing candidates vie for delegates, passions run high and feelings are often injured.

This year the high turn-out of convention attendees further exacerbated the divisions among Texas Democrats:
The unique obstacles created by trying to accommodate such unprecedented participation in inadequate facilities in such a short time for planning often exacerbated the sense of injury.

The Challenge Process is designed to facilitate healing among Democratic Convention participants:
The Committee strongly believes that it is crucial to our common pursuit of success in the fall elections to use the resolution of these challenges to commence the healing of those bruised feelings and the coming-back together of the factions. For that reason, the Committee suggested that the local participants involved always try to reach a mutual accommodation amongst themselves before forcing the Committee to rule on certain challenges. The Committee appreciates and commends those challengers and respondents in many senate districts that did so. The Committee has recommended approval of those agreements.

The Committee stated that they decided in some instances not to require full compliance with the rules, attempting "to balance" opposing sides and hopefully create ways for participants to work together in the future:
In other instances, the Committee has recommended resolution of challenges that balance the competing interests of not discouraging participation by those new to the process and insisting on full compliance with rules. In these instances, the Committee chose not apply the harshest relief available for these violations. These decisions are not made lightly and do not reflect in any regard a derogation of the good faith and hard effort of those bringing those challenges, often in the face of powerful interests or community pressures not to do so. The balanced resolutions are recommended not only because the available data is sometimes insufficient to tie a particular remedy to the appropriate person or the remedy may harm the potential participation in the state convention of those not involved in the violation of the rules; but also because the Committee feels these resolutions are appropriate to encourage those involved to look beyond their arguments for or against the particular challenge to see how they can begin working in harmony again for our common purpose in the fall.

The Committee urges the Party to Reform and Modernize the Infrastructure of the Convention Process:
That said, the Committee .. encourages the Party as a whole to reform and modernize the infrastructure for the convention process at all levels. The specifics of those reforms are beyond the purview of this Committee but we have heard the testimony of so many people that believe the processes to be inadequate that we feel compelled to express that on their behalf.

The report contains summaries of challenges they reviewed. They did not accept for review all the challenges presented to them.

The Committee makes specific comment on certain egregious violations

In the Credentials Committee Report Summary of Challenges they frequently affirm the challenge and state that they have no appropriate remedy.

This report is released long after the deadline for filing National Challenges. Ironically, the report acknowledges the failure of precinct, county and senatorial district officials to provide records and minutes for review and utilization by those wishing to file challenges, yet the Credentials Committee of the 2008 Democratic State Convention missed the deadline themselves. The report was not "written" when presented to the Convention. Mr. Boyton had to compile the report from sources which included video tape and other convention/committee records. I am aware of several people who have been requesting this report repeatedly since the close of the 2008 Convention. I am thankful that it is now available. It is a tool for use in refining the process to ensure that future conventions are not as divisive and detrimental to the purposes most Democrats hold in common.

Friday, August 08, 2008

PUMAs want delegates to back Hillary

By Lee McGuire - 11 News - Thursday, August 7, 2008HOUSTON -- Democratic Party delegate Roger Harris has heard the cheers for presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama. He has also heard the silent message coming in his e-mail box.

“The first round I got 99 (e-mails). The second round I got 50 and the next round I got 60. All in the same day,” said Harris, who will be an Obama delegate to the party's national convention.

The messages are from the PUMA political action committee. A PAC that is urging delegates to stick by Hillary Clinton and cast their votes for her at the party's nominating convention.

“I think it would ratchet up the intensity of people who feel passionately about their particular candidate to see that one or the other makes the final cut,” said Harris.

The PUMA PAC is an independent group and is not associated with Hillary Clinton. In fact, on Thursday she said she hopes the party will be fully unified at the convention in Denver later this month.

Still, she has yet to resolve whether she is going to put her name in for a vote during the convention.

The PUMA PAC hopes she does. The group told 11 News that it's also urging Clinton to challenge Obama to a vote at the convention.

A vote the political group said would heal the party, not divide it.

“You can't achieve unity by telling one side to shut up,” the PAC said in a statement to 11 News. “You have to let the delegates vote for their candidate on the first ballot.

“The fact is, (the party is) extremely split.”

So, despite bowing out of the race and throwing her support behind Obama, does this mean the race is not over?

“I wouldn't call it mischief. I'd call it good intentions. Hillary Clinton not only ran a good race, but also like Barack Obama, was a first,” said 11 News political expert Bob Stein.

A competition many thought was over is now being waged one delegate at a time.

“There are people who would say, ‘well it's mudslinging,'” said Harris. “But you know competition is part of what this country is all about.”
Read more on KNOU HOUSTON

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

E-Mail Hacking Case Could Redefine Online Privacy

By Ellen Nakashima - Washington Post Staff Writer - Wednesday, August 6, 2008
A federal appeals court in California is reviewing a lower court's definition of "interception" in the digital age, in a case that some legal experts say could weaken consumer privacy protections online.

The case, Bunnell v. Motion Picture Association of America, involves a hacker who in 2005 broke into a file-sharing company's server and obtained copies of company e-mails as they were being transmitted. He then e-mailed 34 pages of the documents to an MPAA executive, who paid the hacker $15,000 for the job, according to court documents.

The issue boils down to the judicial definition of an intercept in the electronic age, in which packets of data move from server to server, alighting for milliseconds before speeding onward. The ruling applies only to the 9th District, which includes California and other Western states, but could influence other courts around the country.

In August 2007, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, in the Central District of California, ruled that the alleged hacker, Rob Anderson, had not intercepted the e-mails in violation of the 1968 Wiretap Act because they were technically in storage, if only for a few instants, instead of in transmission.

"Anderson did not stop or seize any of the messages that were forwarded to him," Cooper said in her decision, which was appealed by Valence Media, a company incorporated in the Caribbean island of Nevis but whose officers live in California. "Anderson's actions did not halt the transmission of the messages to their intended recipients. As such, under well-settled case law, as well as a reading of the statute and the ordinary meaning of the word 'intercept,' Anderson's acquisitions of the e-mails did not violate the Wiretap Act."

Anderson was a former business associate of an officer for Valence Media, which developed TorrentSpy, a search engine that helped users find "torrents," or special data files on the Internet that can be used to help download free audio, software, video and text. According to court documents, Anderson configured the "copy and forward" function of Valence Media's server so that he could receive copies of company e-mail in his Google mail account. He then forwarded a subset to an MPAA executive.

The documents sent to the MPAA included financial statements and spreadsheets, according to court papers. "The information was obtained in a legal manner from a confidential informant who we believe obtained the information legally," MPAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaltman said.

Valence Media alleged that the MPAA wanted those documents to gain an advantage in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the company and its officers.

"The case is alarming because its implications will reach far beyond a single civil case," wrote Kevin Bankston, a senior attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a friend-of-the-court brief filed Friday. If upheld, the foundation argued, "law enforcement officers could engage in the contemporaneous acquisition of e-mails just as Anderson did, without having to comply with the Wiretap Act's requirements."
Those requirements are strict, including a warrant based on probable cause as well as high-level government approvals and proof alternatives would not work.

Cooper's ruling also has implications for non-government access to e-mail, wrote Bankston and University of Colorado law professor Paul Ohm in EFF's brief. "Without the threat of liability under the Wiretap Act," they wrote, "Internet service providers could intercept and use the private communications of their customers, with no concern about liability" under the Stored Communications Act, which grants blanket immunity to communications service providers where they authorize the access.

Individuals could monitor others' e-mail for criminal or corporate espionage "without running afoul of the Wiretap Act," they wrote.

"It could really gut the wiretapping laws," said Orin S. Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and expert on surveillance law. "The government could go to your Internet service provider and say, 'Copy all of your e-mail, but make the copy a millisecond after the email arrives,' and it would not be a wiretap."

In August, 2007, Valence Media shut down TorrentSpy access to the United States due in part to concern that U.S. law was not sufficiently protective of people's privacy, according to its attorney, Ira Rothken.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center also filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday, arguing that Congress intended to cover the sort of e-mail acquisition Anderson engaged in.
Read more in the Washington Post

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stevens Steps Down From Commerce Committee Post

TeBy Radio Ink - July 30, 2008
WASHINGTON -- July 30, 2008: A day after he was indicted on federal corruption charges, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) has stepped down from his leadership posts, including the Vice Chairmanship of the powerful Commerce Committee.

Stevens released a statement declaring his innocence, saying, "In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will take over Stevens' position as Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee. Under a special waiver, she'll continue serving as Ranking Republican Member of the Aviation Committee.

Stevens, 84, is the first sitting member of the Senate to face criminal charges in 15 years. The indictment was related to Stevens' disclosure statements on gifts from a now-defunct oil company, including construction work on his house. His statement said, "I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that."

The Commerce Committee oversees the FCC, and Stevens has been outspoken on broadcast issues, particularly recently on broadcast decency. He pushed unsuccessfully late last year to bring the Protecting Children From Indecent Programming Act, passed by the Commerce Committee in July, to a vote in the full Senate.

That bill would specifically allow the FCC to set a policy that single words or images can violate indecency regulations. If the Supreme Court decides against the FCC in the Fox TV case on fleeting indecency, that bill may be back in debate.

Read more in Radio Ink

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Internal Justice Dept. Report Cites Illegal Hiring Practices

By Carrie Johnson - Washington Post Staff Writer - Tuesday, July 29, 2008
For nearly two years, a young political aide sought to cultivate a "farm system" for Republicans at the Justice Department, hiring scores of prosecutors and immigration judges who espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices.

That aide, Monica M. Goodling, exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department's second-in-command.

An extensive report by the department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility concluded yesterday that Goodling and others had broken civil service laws, run afoul of department policy and engaged in "misconduct," a finding that could expose them to further scrutiny and sanctions. The report depicted Goodling as a central figure in politicizing employment decisions at Justice during the Bush administration.

Goodling declined to cooperate with investigators, who instead interviewed 85 witnesses and scoured documents and computer hard drives to prepare their report. Last year, she trembled as she told the House Judiciary Committee that she "crossed the line" by asking improper questions of job seekers to gauge their political leanings.

But the report and accounts from lawyers who worked alongside Goodling, 34, at Justice provide a far more extensive examination of her dominance during her time as the department's White House liaison and counselor to the attorney general. One source said staff members called her "she who must be obeyed."

Thirty-four candidates told investigators that Goodling or one of her deputies raised the topic of abortion in job interviews and 21 said they discussed same-sex marriage, the report said. Another job applicant said he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, only to watch Goodling "frown" and respond, "But she's pro-choice."

She and her aides regularly gave candidates for career civil service jobs a form designed for political appointees that sought information on party affiliation and financial contributions. When job seekers sometimes raised objections, Goodling replied that the form was a mistake, showing that she was "aware that it was improper," the report said.

John M. Dowd, an attorney for Goodling, said yesterday that she deserved praise, not scorn, for her "exceptional candor" with Congress last year. "Each and every one of the core conclusions of the OIG/OPR report . . . is consistent with and indeed derived from Ms. Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee," he said.

The 140-page report appeared to confirm the suspicions of congressional Democrats and raised fresh questions about the reputation of the Justice Department, which has been roiled since the resignations of more than a dozen top officials last year, including Goodling, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and Gonzales chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson. The report also found that Sampson had engaged in misconduct by systematically involving politics in the hiring of immigration judges.

Investigators cited discrepancies in information provided by Goodling, Sampson and former press aide John Nowacki, who, like Goodling, received his law degree from Regent University, founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson. But they stopped short of concluding that the conduct rose to the level of a criminal violation.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said yesterday he had directed his staff to consider whether there are grounds to refer allegedly inconsistent statements for possible criminal prosecution. Attorneys for the former Justice Department officials scoffed at the idea, and independent lawyers following the case said it is likely that officials who had left the department will face only ethics inquiries in connection with breaking civil service laws.

Current and former department lawyers said they were appalled by the deep reach of the political hiring, which affected hundreds of rejected job seekers and as many as 40 immigration judges who were recruited under the political criteria. Those judges may remain on the bench because their career civil service jobs carry significant employment protections.

In several instances, candidates for immigration posts were solicited directly from the White House political affairs and personnel offices, as well as Republican congressmen, without ever being formally posted to the public, according to the report.

Then-White House adviser Karl Rove once recommended a childhood friend for a judgeship in Chicago, to which the lawyer was named in October 2005 after a months-long delay. "The finger was on the scale," a career lawyer in the immigration office wrote in an e-mail at the time, which was later cited by investigators.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called on current Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to review hiring and remove workers who were recruited based on the illegal criteria. "The taxpayers are entitled to have the best, most qualified candidates dealing with the most important federal responsibilities, including enforcing our immigration laws, protecting national security, and enforcing criminal and civil rights statutes," Nadler said.

In a statement, Mukasey said that he was "disturbed" by the findings and that he is reviewing the report to determine whether further action should be taken.

A report last month by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility chief H. Marshall Jarrett found that politics had permeated hiring for the elite honors and summer law intern programs. That revelation already has prompted unsuccessful candidates to bring lawsuits seeking monetary damages and access to internal department correspondence. Lawyers who scrutinized yesterday's report predicted fresh claims would flow from people who maintain that their employment prospects have been hindered.

Leslie Hagen, an assistant U.S. attorney who according to yesterday's report was denied at least two positions at the Justice Department because Goodling suspected she was a lesbian, is petitioning current leaders for a "mutually agreeable permanent position," according to Lisa J. Banks, Hagen's employment attorney.

In another instance that investigators called "particularly damaging," Goodling refused to hire an award-winning career prosecutor with nearly two decades of experience for a temporary counterterrorism job in Washington because his wife served as vice chairman of the local Democratic Party and ran local congressional campaigns.

The prosecutor is not named in the report, but sources identified him as William J. Hochul Jr., an assistant U.S. attorney in Buffalo. He won guilty pleas from a New York collective known as the Lackawanna Six, which was accused of providing support to terrorists. Hochul, who started his career as a prosecutor in the District, did not return calls seeking comment.

Instead, a registered Republican with three years of experience as a federal prosecutor and no background in counterterrorism was selected for the position, according to the report.

Gonzales told investigators he was unaware of the illegal hiring practices his aides were using. "It's simply not possible for any Cabinet officer to be completely aware of and micromanage the activities of staffers, particularly where they don't inform him of what's going on," said George J. Terwilliger III, Gonzales's attorney.

Gonzales's statements to Congress last year about the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and other subjects remain under investigation by the inspector general.

Investigators said the most widespread politicization occurred in the hiring of immigration judges, where vacancies and case backlogs mounted while officials sought to find politically appealing candidates. Hiring policies there changed after Texas lawyer Guadalupe Gonzalez filed a discrimination lawsuit: That suit was settled last year, and now such jobs are awarded on merit. "It was very apparent the department was going off in a different direction and it was also very clandestine," Gonzalez said in an interview yesterday.

Bradford A. Berenson, an attorney for Sampson, who oversaw the hiring of immigration judges, said the trouble stemmed from a misunderstanding. "With respect to immigration judges, he believed in complete good faith that they were not career civil service positions and that political criteria could be taken into account," Berenson said.

Investigators said they could not find evidence to support an account by Sampson, now in private law practice in the District, that Justice lawyers agreed with his interpretation.

Read more in the Washington Post

Friday, July 11, 2008

Democratic Congresswomen Push Focus on Global Maternal Mortality

By Feministe Wire Newsbriefs - June 27, 2008

Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) and 35 other Democratic Congresswomen sent a letter to President Bush this week, urging him to address the global maternal mortality epidemic at the G-8 Summit in July. This letter follows the recent passing of H.Res.1022, which was sponsored by Capps in May and requires a greater US commitment to reducing maternal mortality globally. Capps chairs the Democratic Women’s Working Group.

The letter asks Bush to work to make "pregnancy and childbirth safe for women no matter where they happen to live." It also highlights the widely disparate maternal mortality rates worldwide. According to the letter, one in 7300 births in industrialized nations and one in 26 births in Sub-Saharan Africa result in maternal death.

The letter reminds Bush that "the G8 meeting next month will be a prime opportunity to remind the other members of the G8 of this pressing issue and to rededicate all members of the group to working towards this critical goal". For their part, the Congresswomen pledge to "stand ready to offer the assistance and support from the legislative branch in order to carry out this effort."

Media Resources: Congresswomen Lois Capps Press Release; H. Res. 1022; Feminist Daily Newswire; Democratic Women's Working Group
Read more in Feminist Wire Daily

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nice Spot to Eat After Golf, but Women Are Barred

By JENNIFER STEINHAUER - Phoenix Journal - New York Times - June 28, 2008
PHOENIX — When the men of the Phoenix Country Club saw their feeding ways in peril, they did not tarry. Some sent nasty e-mail messages, hectored players on the fairway and, for good measure, urinated on a fellow club member’s pecan tree.

The targets of their ire were the women, and some men, who have dared to speak up against the club’s policy of forbidding women in the men’s grill room, a center of power dining in Phoenix.

Barbara Van Sittert, one of those women, said her husband, Logan, 73, has been heckled while playing golf and once found his locker defaced.

“They hooted and hollered at him and called his wife a whore,” said Mrs. Van Sittert, 72, a petite, quiet woman with an elegant white bob. “It was not warm and fuzzy.”

Charges of sexism against private golf clubs are not uncommon; the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, where the Masters is held each year, does not permit women to be members.

But here in Arizona, where the governor, secretary of state, chief justice and Senate minority leader are women, it has rankled more than a few women that nonmember men have more rights than paying female members at the Phoenix Country Club, a century-old fixture in the city’s social and business life where it costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to belong.

Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, is not a member of the club, but Dennis Burke, her chief of staff, is. Mr. Burke has publicly opposed the separated dining rooms, and in an interview called them “indefensible.” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, does not belong to the club but has spoken there. (The McCain presidential campaign declined to comment on the separate dining rooms.) According to a 2007 club directory, Mr. McCain’s son, Andrew, is a member, along with scores of other notable Phoenix residents, including the rocker Alice Cooper. Women at the club are not permitted to have lunch in the men’s grill room with their husbands after a round of golf; they have been barred from trophy ceremonies after tournaments, even ones they have sponsored, and may not participate in one of the most sacred rituals of the men’s grill room — sealing a deal over a beer with a client.

“If at three in the afternoon I wanted to have a business cocktail, there wasn’t any place to go,” said Vicki King, whose husband recently resigned from the club. Ms. King had privileges at the club as the spouse of a member

As teenage boys saunter into the sumptuously appointed men’s grill room, their mothers are relegated to the ladies’ grill, down the hall with a hot plate, some card tables and no bar. The club also has a formal dining room, where men and women are welcome, but it is closed between meals and is not a spot to get a drink.

“The ladies’ grill is a very small room where a bunch of little old ladies gather to play cards,” said Wanda Diethelm, a health care executive. “And if you make any noise, they shush you.”

Grumbling about the disparity has gone on for years. But the casus belli was when the Van Sitterts, club members for 30 years, decided two years ago that they wanted to partake in some eggs together in the morning. They appealed to the board of the club to change its policies so they could eat together in the men’s grill room, but were rebuffed.

The couple filed a complaint with the civil rights division of the Arizona attorney general’s office, arguing that although the club is private and not inherently subject to the state’s antidiscrimination laws, it is the equivalent of a public accommodation because it receives much of its revenue from nonmembers, in speeches, tournaments, Rotary Club meetings and the like.

Earlier this month, the attorney general’s office agreed with the couple, issuing an advisory legal opinion that the club needed to comply with the state’s antidiscrimination laws.

The office’s investigation, according to a copy of its findings, noted the inadequacy of the women’s facility, while listing the lopsided benefits of the men’s: three high-definition televisions, a buffet and a bar, and gorgeous views of the course. (The office would not comment; parties in a civil rights determination have 30 days to work out their differences privately.)

Lawyers for the country club did not return calls. A reporter stopped by the club, which is under renovation and partially closed, and found the general manager, Pasquale J. LaRocca, riding around the property on a golf cart.

Mr. LaRocca said that the attorney general’s findings were “not binding” and that he hoped “it would not come” to a lawsuit. The renovated club will have the same formal dining room now used by men and women, and separate male and female grill rooms but with “equivalent accommodations,” he added.

The club’s board has not found the attention or legal proceedings enchanting. First, it amended its bylaws to state that any member who makes “derogatory or otherwise injurious comments in the media” is subject to suspension and legal fees, and ditto for those who sue. It also warned that spouses of dead members would no longer automatically maintain their privileges.

“You get into very difficult family issues,” said one woman who wanted to speak about the policy, but feared expulsion. “It becomes, ‘Mommy got Daddy kicked out of the club.’ “

Russell Brown, a member, said in remarks at the Arizona Women Lawyers Association luncheon this past winter that he thought the men’s grill “disadvantaged women professionals.” Mr. Brown said in an interview that he was subsequently called before the club’s governing board to “explain my actions.”

Next came anonymous e-mail messages, sent to some female members of the club, deriding Mr. Brown and the Van Sitterts, and suggesting, among other things, “you and your type needs to go,” and a Web site was set up with some members’ names and phone numbers under the title “Femi Nazis here in Phoenix,” according to a complaint filed by Mr. Brown in the matter.

At one point, Ms. Diethelm, who lives with her husband near the 18th tee, was surprised by a rash of men whom she recognized from the club hopping off their carts to “urinate on my pecan tree,” she said. When her complaints to the club went unheeded, she bought a security camera. (Mr. LaRocca acknowledged the bathroom breaks, but said the culprits could not be identified.)

“Most men are indifferent to the policy or are against it,” Mr. Brown said. “But you become a leader of the club by being visible and you become visible by being seen in the men’s grill and the way the men’s grill is set up suits those men.”

Mrs. Van Sittert said she still treasured her country club.

“We welcome the attorney general’s decision,” she said, “and look at it as a wonderful opportunity for the club we love to move forward.”

Read more in the New York Times

Monday, June 23, 2008

On the Hill: Disturbing votes by 105 Democrats on Domestic Wiretapping Bill

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - June 23, 2008
Despite oaths of office which charge Congressmen and Congresswomen to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, examination of this past week's Congressional Record of Roll Call votes shows that most fail to keep that pledge.

In consideration of renewal of the Domestic Wiretapping Bill and extending immunity to GWB and the telecoms who violated the law prior to 911, 293 members of Congress voted to protect GWB and the telecoms rather than the Constitutional rights of the American people. See who voted to "Shred the 4th Amendment" and give immunity to GWB and telecoms for domestic wiretapping.

105 House Democrats and 188 Republicans voted in favor of Domestic Wiretapping.
See how each Congress person voted on Roll Call 437 June 20, 2008.

On June 9, 2008, Dennis Kucinich read 35 Artlicles of Impeachment on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Read Dennis Kucinich's 35 Articles of Impeachment against President George W. Bush

Initially the first three co-sponsors were Robert Wexler (FL19), Lynn Woolsey (CA06), and Barbara Lee (CA09). Tammy Baldwin (WI02) and Maurice Hinchey (NY22) joined as co-sponsors.

By a vote of 251-166, the U.S. House of Representatives sent Dennis Kucinich's 35 Articles of Impeachment to the Judiciary Committee.

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has the power to decide whether to hold impeachment hearings - or not.

24 Republicans voted with 227 Democrats; 166 no votes came exclusively from Republicans.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama infuriates the Left - Obama Supports FISA Legislation, Angering Left

By Paul Kane - The Washington Post -
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) today announced his support for a sweeping intelligence surveillance law that has been heavily denounced by the liberal activists who have fueled the financial engines of his presidential campaign.

In his most substantive break with the Democratic Party's base since becoming the presumptive nominee, Obama declared he will support the bill when it comes to a Senate vote, likely next week, despite misgivings about legal provisions for telecommunications corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program of suspected terrorists.

In so doing, Obama sought to walk the fine political line between GOP accusations that he is weak on foreign policy — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called passing the legislation a "vital national security matter" — and alienating his base.

"Given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as president, I will carefully monitor the program," Obama said in a statement hours after the House approved the legislation 293-129.

This marks something of a reversal of Obama's position from an earlier version of the bill, which was approved by the Senate Feb. 12, when Obama was locked in a fight for the Democratic nomination with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
Obama missed the February vote on that FISA bill as he campaigned in the "Potomac Primaries," but issued a statement that day declaring "I am proud to stand with Senator Dodd, Senator Feingold and a grassroots movement of Americans who are refusing to let President Bush put protections for special interests ahead of our security and our liberty."

Sens. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) continue to oppose the new legislation, as does Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). All Obama backers in the primary, those senior lawmakers contend that the new version of the FISA law — crafted after four months of intense negotiations between White House aides and congressional leaders — provides insufficient court review of the pending 40 lawsuits against the telecommunications companies alleging privacy invasion for their participation in a warrantless wiretapping program after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The immunity outcome is predetermined," Feingold wrote in a memo today.
Obama came down on the side of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who argued that a provision in the new law reaffirmed that FISA, and that act's courts, gives the final say over government spying. President Bush has argued that a war-time chief executive has powers that trump FISA.

"It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance — making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law," Obama said today.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the most prominent Republican opponent of the compromise bill, issued a statement today calling that exclusivity provision "meaningless because that specific provision is now in [the] 1978 act." Specter said Bush just ignored existing law in starting the warrantless surveillance program.
Read more in the Washington Post

Heal now, candidate tells CBC

By Mike Soraghan - The Hil - June 6, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) conciliatory tone turned sharp on Thursday when Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) pressed him on how there needs to be healing in the Democratic Party.

"Look, Diane," Obama said, according to a participant who attended the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) meeting. "John McCain, if he's elected, is going to pick a Supreme Court that will roll back every gain women have made in the last 50 years."

Seeming frustrated, Obama started talking more bluntly about why women should be supporting him over Sen. McCain (R-Ariz.), whatever their feelings about the divisive Democratic primary campaign.

"He can be pretty direct," said the CBC source. "It was a pretty lively meeting."

The direct approach has its risks. As a woman and a former supporter of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Watson is one of the CBC members whom Obama needs to win over.

And her protests that the party still needs healing are a reminder of the lingering bitterness left over from a campaign that some say had sexist and racial overtones.

During the primary, Watson said she had received political threats for her support of the former first lady. And Watson had publicly criticized Obama for opposing the CBC's effort to cut off federal funds to the Cherokee Nation. The CBC is upset with the Cherokee for excluding Freedmen — descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members — from tribal membership.

Obama's meeting with the CBC represented an early test of his leadership as the Democratic nominee, especially because some in the Black Caucus were ardent backers of Clinton and want her to be Obama's running mate.

Obama started the meeting on an inclusive note, telling members who had supported Clinton "that was then, and this is now," according to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

"He said he understands how those of us in politics get involved in supporting people, through friendships or geography or relationships," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a former John Edwards supporter who campaigned for Obama in the North Carolina primary. "He said he'd been involved in that himself."

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a Clinton supporter who predicted Obama's victory long before he claimed it, said he felt the olive branch was appreciated.

"Several members expressed appreciation to him for saying that," Cleaver said. "There's still emotions connected to that campaign. He took a major step in being a magnet to these people."

What impressed Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was when Obama told them, "If Hillary had won, the first thing he would have told his supporters is that [they] should support her."

Some participants also reportedly pressed him on whether the campaign would provide "street money," or "walking-around money" — the campaign cash dispensed to people to drive voters to the polls on Election Day. Obama said the campaign wouldn't provide it, because he's relying on his large network of volunteers to handle Election Day turnout.

Fence-mending was the point of Obama's stops in and around Capitol Hill this week. His campaign scheduled meetings with members of the Hispanic, Black and women's caucuses. Each represents a community with longstanding ties to the Clintons. Hispanic members have pointedly said that Obama needs to reach out more to their community.

It didn't always work. Some female members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus reportedly stayed away from the photo opportunity after the event.

The women's caucus meeting was canceled Thursday because it conflicted with House votes.

More than one-third of the 42 members of the CBC supported Clinton for president, even though black voters overwhelmingly supported Obama in the primaries. A few members, including Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Donald Payne (D-N.J.), initially backed Clinton and then switched to Obama.

Some members have reportedly feared that they might face primary challenges or other political retribution for not having supported their only Senate member.

The Illinois senator will need the CBC's full support as he faces McCain in the fall. Black voters are a key element of Obama's voter base, and he enjoys strong support among them. But he needs them to turn out at the polls, and that's where black elected officials, whether they were for Clinton or Obama, can help.

Republicans have cited getting 16 percent of the black vote in Ohio as a key factor in President Bush winning his second term.
Read more on the hill

Clinton's Ghost: Tense Moment in Obama's Meeting With Black Caucus

Just What Was Said Between the Presumptive Democratic Nominee and Clinton-Supporting Congresswoman?
By JAKE TAPPER and KATE SNOW - - June 20, 2008
A Thursday afternoon meeting between Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus grew tense and emotional for a moment -- perhaps illustrating that weeks after Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., suspended her presidential campaign, some nerves remain frayed.

Most of the meeting was cordial, and after a presentation by Obama's pollster, many members of the CBC had nothing but pleasant exchanges with the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

But not everyone.
Sources at the meeting said that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a Clinton supporter, expressed the desire that Obama and his campaign would reach out the millions of women still aggrieved about what happened in the campaign and still disappointed that Clinton lost.

Obama agreed that a lot of work needs to be done to heal the Democratic Party, and that he hoped the Clinton supporters in the room would help as much as possible.
According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, "However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I'm running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it."

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., a longtime Clinton supporter, did not like those last three words -- "Get over it." She found them dismissive, off-putting.

"Don't use that terminology," Watson told Obama.

Clarke did not react the same way.
"I, personally, as a Hillary supporter, did not take that as something distasteful," Clarke said. "Nothing like that."

But, Clarke said, Watson "latched on to those three words."

In Clarke's view, Watson thought Obama had just told her to "get over it." She didn't appreciate that, and she told him so and emphasized that it was a heated campaign and lot of healing remains to be done.

"I agree," Obama said. "There's healing on both sides."

Obama then said two sources at the meeting said that he'd held his tongue many times during the campaign against Clinton in the interest of party unity and sensitivity. Clinton and her allies had suggested he was a Muslim, had said he wasn't qualified to be president.

According to the sources, Obama suggested he bit his tongue every time. He could be asking for an apology, he could be asking for the Clintons to reconcile with him, but he chose to rise above it.

Everyone involved agreed that most of the meeting was cordial, and that there is unanimity on the need to work hard to elect Obama.

But clearly tensions remain.

Clinton and Obama are scheduled to put on a good public show for the cameras next week, regardless of any beneath-the-surface Sturm and Drang. The former competitors will campaign together and appear at a fundraiser in Washington at the end of next week.
Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Read more on ABC NEWS

Monday, June 09, 2008

Beyond a Presidential Campaign, "Rise Hillary Rise" becomes embedded in the American Culture

By Faith Chatham - DFWRCC - June 6, 2008The race wasn't about a black man and a woman running for president. Yet, in the process, people watched and noted more than just the "same old same old" campaign dance between political candidates. Now that she has written her supporters and told us that she will officially congratulate Senator Obama Saturday night in Washington, D.C., many of us realize that the real battle is truly just beginning.
It is no longer a struggle against Senator Barak Obama and those who support him. The black v.s. white thing recedes into the background where it should have remained anyway. The struggle is bigger than the Democratic Party or one race for political office, no matter how highly esteemed. As Dr. Martin Luther King led generations beyond the realities of prior generations, Hillary Clinton is leading generations beyond the boxes this nation continues to erect around girls and women.

It will be fought along side of the campaign between Senator McCain and Senator Obama for President. It will be fought in our homes, schools, and communities. It will be fought in the marketplace as women demand more from those we patronize and those who carry their advertising messages.
It was never about supporting her because she was a woman. I was a John Edwards supporter who switched to Hillary when he bit the dust. It wasn't a racial thing. I was a Jesse Jackson delegate years ago. This year, before delegates have actually signed into state conventions and elected those national delegates which have been reported as "done deals" long before they truly 'jelled', the race for nomination of this nation's Democratic candidate for President becomes a whimper.

Somewhere when I was too busy to notice, I aged and became a senior citizen. Like many of my generation, it doesn't fit the stereotype I have of myself. Yet because of that reality, I have a memory. I remember black and white water fountains and I remember words which were commonly used which with time and re-education had fallen out of this nation's vocabulary until the current generation resurrected them in rap and among themselves on the street. They use them because they know they really should not have a place in our society.

That is my point. With time, Americans came to realize that some things should not have voice in our society. Many think this presidential race was about achievements for a segment of our society who have never occupied the White House. Others of us know that it reaches much deeper than the office, the milestone, or the icon. It has drawn to the surface realities which are embedded within our culture.

When this nation was founded, neither people of color nor women were considered candidates for citizenship. Long after the emancipation of the slaves, women were restricted from owning property. In the 1800s in many parts of this nation, widows lost legal control of their minor children because only men were recognized by the courts as legal guardians! Black men got began to vote in the 1860ise. Women waited until 1926!

There have been some advances in the workplace, yet within the culture, the 2008 Presidential Race brings realities rising out of the pores of our culture like puss reaching for the air, rising from an internal, deep-seated infection. Support for Hillary wasn't about gender. In the process, problems with how many in our culture treat women, impacted the race for the White House. As the nomination process winds down, the realities behind the rhetoric and spinmasters, shifts.

If Hillary Clinton had been less competent, less articulate,less wise, the electoral math would put things to rest and this campaign would blurr in our nation's memory. Like Dr. Martin King, she ia incredibly compassionate. Running for President, for Hillary Clinton, wasn't ever about herself. In her run for President has emerged a movement which is greater than all of us.

It is not just about how women are treated in the media or by the Democratic or Republican Party. It is not about getting a woman elected president or bust! It is about everyone being allowed to rise as high and soar as surely as each of us is created to soar. I think feminism will have to be reincarnated in America for us to get to the next plateau in our national development.

Senator Obama said some things about race which needed to be said. We haven't said much in the last 3/4th of my lifetime about gender. Oh, we discuss how the number one cause of death among pregnant women is murder by her baby's father. We discuss domestic violence now. We discuss scandals, especially those involving politicans, priests and other ministers. Yet we rarely truly focus on the inherent inequities we impose on people who aren't male!

The feminist movement got hi-jacked by the gay/leisban movement. They made advances, and I do not fault them for the rest of us being left behind. This spring, for the first time in decades, I've actually regularly heard people (men and women) speak out against the distortation of facts and attempts to marginalize a woman of earned stature.

Hillary Clinton tee-shirts, especially those which read "We will not fall in line" and "Rise Hillary Rise!" are no longer about Barak Obama or the race for the White House. We'll wear them until they become rags because we know there is an infection of injustice deeply embedded within the soul of this nation which must be extracted. It has only begun to rise to the surface. It will take all of us to defeat the Republicans in November. It will take all of us to change the vernacular, to re-educate ourselves and those around us to recognize what really truly should not be given voice among us. Some of it will occur in the financial marketplace. Some in the classroom. Much at the kitchen table (and maybe even in the bedroom). The women of this nation, like Rosa Parks, are refusing to remain in the back of the bus!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sexism might sell but we aren't buying it.

This U-Tube video highlights some of the reasons women are outraged right now.
It is more than which candidate wins the nomination for President.
It is about the culture in which women are trivialized and marginalized.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Guest Opinion: Clinton strongest candidate in contest against McCain

By TOM TOWE - The Billings Gazette - Sunday, June 01, 2008

Why vote for Hillary Clinton? Because she is a stronger candidate in November.

I really like Barack Obama. I am impressed with some of his stands and his forthright talk. I think he has a great future. But, because I want the Democrats to win this November, I support Hillary. We can't take a chance that the Democrats would lose.

Let's review the facts. First, Hillary has received more of the popular vote than Obama. Since March 1, she has received over half a million more votes than Obama. Obama has won caucus states where not all the people vote. In November it is the people that vote, not the caucuses. More people have voted for Hillary than for any other Democratic primary candidate in the history of the Democratic Party. She is the people's choice.

Second, Hillary has won all the big states important to the Democrats this fall. She has won states that have 308 electoral votes, enough to win in the fall. Obama's wins are largely in Republican and small states that are simply not as important as the large swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Florida and Michigan. Four years ago, we lost Ohio and Florida; a change in either would have changed the presidency. Let's send our strongest candidate for the November contest.

Third, Hillary won West Virginia by 41 percentage points and Kentucky by 35 percentage points. In April she raised $22 million, her second-highest fundraising month in the campaign. She is getting stronger every day.

Fourth, Hillary has proven she can get the working-class votes from Middle America that Democrats must have to win. The Reagan Democrats will vote for Hillary. She has proven that in West Virginia and Kentucky. I doubt if the Reagan Democrats will vote for Obama. Obama may earn the respect of Democrats and intellectual independents, but the huge number of ordinary independents, the Reagan Democrats, and the Republicans simply won't vote for him.

Fifth, Obama has not yet been subject to the huge barrage of criticism that will come when he finally becomes the nominee. Criticism he has received so far in a polite Democratic primary will be nothing compared to what he will receive from the right-wing "stop Obama" people and "Swift Boat" Republicans. Hillary has been tested with all the criticism that Republicans and right-wing politicos can throw at her. And she has survived. She is a fighter. She can handle it. John Kerry couldn't. Can Obama? Why take a chance?

Finally, Hillary won states even when she was outspent. She was outspent 3-1 in Pennsylvania, 2-1 in Texas, and even in West Virginia where she won by 41 points. This is the kind of candidate we need for the fall campaign.

Hillary Clinton can win in the fall. Maybe Obama can too. But why take a chance?

In addition, I think Hillary has shown more substance. Her health care plan, her commitment to rebuild the middle class and her plans to create millions of new, good jobs are indeed impressive. As her husband before her, she can be a great president. And we can all be proud to have the first woman president.

This has been the most exciting primary ever. It has been great for the Democratic Party. It has attracted more voters than ever in the history of this country. Look how it has invigorated our party and focused attention on Democrats. Montana, the last state to vote, really has a voice this time. It matters. Vote for Hillary Clinton on June 3.

Democrat Tom Towe is a Billings attorney and former state senator.

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

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