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April 27, 2006
I wrote yesterday how Lincoln Chafee repayed the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters for their endorsement by failing to block the nomination of a polluter lobbyist to handle clean air issues at the EPA. And this polluter lobbyist is really, really bad.
I emailed the Sierra Club's national press secretary, David Willett, and asked him if the Sierra Club was still happy with the Chafee endorsement despite the vote, and the response:
Absolutely. If we only endorsed candidates who voted with us 100 percent of the time, we wouldn't support very many candidates, including many Democrats. Chafee IS an environmental champion and we support him.
Nice. Chafee enables 30-40 years of anti-environment judges and gives a rabid polluter the keys to our clean air office, and he's a "champion" of the environment.
I wish conservative issue groups were this stupid. And I wish ours were as smart as theirs.
Update: Some people in the comments, as well as the Sierra Club, defend themselves by pointing to the NRA's endorsement of Dems as a counterweight. Here's what one non-partisan political journalist in DC emailed me:
Heres one distinction between Dem and GOP interests:
The NRA endorses Dems but NEVER when doing so would incrementally hurt their overall interests.
Most of the Dems they endorse are, say, governor candidates who have nothing to say about federal policy and who control only what happens in their state.
They very rarely endorse in national races precisely to protect against the long-term hemorrhaging of their leverage.
That's a great point. I also made the following point in the comments:
The NRA mainly backs the party in power. It can afford to send crumbs to the other side. Its agenda won't suffer. And increasingly so, the Democratic Party is less and less hostile to gun ownership. The NRA won. And it didn't do so by enabling a hostile Democratic majority, but by enabling the takeover of government by its allies in the Republican Party.
The Sierra Club is enabling a hostile party to stay in power. And the GOP is becoming increasingly MORE hostile to environmental issues.
It's pretty cut and dry.
I hadn't realized the HuffPo excerpt was in fact an excerpt. Rick Perlstein writes in to point me to the best bit:
What Yglesias says. Sometimes our wonkier types just need to keep their traps shut. Plenty of bad ideas, especially when they're both relatively harmless and unlikely to pass, make for good political theater. The party out of power can't actually do policy, so relax and let them do some politics.
King Kaufman's Sports Daily: Steve Nash the MVP again? You kidding? No? Good. Plus: Tough new rule for Mavericks fans
The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns would win his second straight Most Valuable Player award, citing a league source familiar with the vote.
The league declined comment. The MVP is announced in early May. Nash declared himself stunned at the report in Thursday's Republic, saying he thinks his pal and former teammate Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas should win it.
It was only a short while ago that I dismissed the Morrison scandal in Montana as a non-issue, and given the information at the time, given the information that had come out, it really was a non-issue.
As the story went at the time, a sleazebag named David Tacke was engaged in securities fraud on behalf of his company Venue Tech. Morrison's office (he's the state auditor) investigated. It turns out that Morrison was having an affair with the sleazebag's soon-to-be wife. So Morrison referred the case to an outside counsel who negotiated a settlement. Case closed.
So sure, people were offended by the affair, but I was not. And while I am a rabid fan of Jon Tester, I was glad the "scandal" wasn't something that would damage Montana's resurgent Democrats. Montana Republicans have been desperately seeking for traction against the state's gutsy Dems, and I was afraid this might give them ammo.
However, it turns out that the first draft of the story omitted serious facts, and it turns out that the scandal really is a scandal. It's bad.
The stuff above is still accurate. It just wasn't the full story. The Missoula Independent covered the rest of the story.
Within weeks of signing the agreement, Tacke and Venue Tech violated the settlement's terms, but rather than revoke the settlement and enforce the agreed-upon penalties, the auditor's office dragged fruitless negotiations on for more than a year.
Then, in January 2005, federal prosecutors stepped in where the auditor had backed off and indicted Tacke on charges of mail and wire fraud, along with 10 counts of money laundering. He was convicted that summer and sentenced in October to 108 months in prison. Tacke, who has since appealed the decision, is currently serving out his sentence in a medium-security federal penitentiary in Sheridan, Ore.
The piece is long, and full of details that paint a devastating picture for Morrison.
Bradford says he knew there was something wrong with the settlement agreement from the beginning.
"There were too many deadlines and loopholes that Tacke could slide through," Bradford recalls.
Karen Powell, deputy auditor and deputy securities commissioner, expressed her frustration with Tacke and Venue Tech's failure to comply just months after the agreement was signed. In a letter to Tacke and Venue Tech attorneys dated Oct. 8, 2003, Powell wrote that the securities department was committed to the settlement agreement, but that "the actions to date have not demonstrated that Venue Tech and Mr. Tacke have the same commitment."
Still, the auditor's office agreed to give Tacke and Venue Tech an eight-week extension to fulfill the department's request for the financial audits required by the settlement agreement.
According to Powell's letter, Morrison had a direct role in that decision. Her letter states that she "met yesterday with Commissioner Morrison and Beth Baker" and discussed the "failure of Venue Tech and David Tacke to meet the time lines...We agreed at that time to grant the eight week extension..."
By May 2004, Tacke and Venue Tech had received two deadline extensions and still hadn't appointed an independent board, delivered required audits or so much as provided the auditor's office with assurances that a rescission/repurchase offer was in the works.
Powell went back and forth with Tacke and Venue Tech for more than a year regarding their violations of the settlement agreement, but no enforcement action was ever taken.
Investors Bradford and Freeman aren't the only ones dumbfounded by the auditor's office's apparent unwillingness to enforce its own agreement.
It took the feds to hold Tacke accountable for his actions, which calls into question why Morrison was so unwilling to enforce the settlement. The obvious answer given the circumstances is that Tacke had that big ace up his sleeve -- if Morrison aggressively enforced the agreement, Tacke could reveal Morrison's affair with his wife and damage or end the auditor's promising political career.
Montana's election will be based in large part on ethics, given that Republican incumbent Conrad Burns was Abramoff's BFF in the Senate. Morrison is tainted in this scandal not just by the affair stuff, but by evidence that the affair affected his ability to carry out his official duties.
It shouldn't take federal investigators to protect Montana investors from sleazy con artists. That was Morrison's job, and he failed dramatically, all because he apparently wanted to protect his political career.
Oh, and one more thing, courtesy of Montana blogger Wulfgar:
All you brave and desperate Democrats out there should keep this in mind; only one of the current crop of Democratic Senate candidates was vociferously in favor of the defense of marriage amendment. That would be adulterer John Morrison.
Suddenly, that affair seems more relevant to me. Hypocrisy is fucking obnoxious.
* * * *
Oh, and Burns has lawyered up.
CQ has been adding Republican seats to its "no clear favorite" list at a surprisingly fast clip. By CQ's count, there are now nine "no clear favorite" races, eight being seats held by Republicans.
Ohio 6 -- Strickland*
(And this one is listed only because the Democrat idiotically messed up his ballot access filing.)
Colo. 7 -- Beauprez*
(*) indicates an open seat.
On Ney, the most recent change from "lean Republican" to "no clear favorite", CQ writes:
A close past association with now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has put long-popular Republican Rep. Bob Ney at risk as he seeks a seventh term in Ohio's 18th District.
The Democrats' intent to aim squarely at Ney's Achilles' heel was inherent in a TV ad released Monday by Chillicothe Mayor Joe Sulzer -- which says "a culture of corruption in Washington" has rendered the government incapable of curbing rising gas prices and the outsourcing of Americans' jobs to other countries, issues troubling many voters in the mainly working-class 18th.
Of course, we don't win back the House with eight wins, but it's a sign that the GOP is playing far more defense than we are. I still think we'll make incremental gains, but retaking the House in a wave election will take strong leadership and clear and inspiring rhetoric from the Democratic leadership. We're thankfully seeing signs of that starting to happen.
Apparently the Frist-backed Senate gas gouging bill exempts wholesale gouging and only applies to retail gouging. I have no idea if the big oil companies are engaged in wholesale price gouging, but that's the only type of gouging which will have any actual impact on people. Otherwise we're just talking about preventing the occasional and isolated jacking up of the price by a local gas station. Big whoop.
The language includes this bit:
The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn talks about desperate efforts of hatemongers in Illinois to get a gay marriage amendment on the ballot. Why push for an amendment when state law already bans same-sex marriages? Zorn posits a good reason: they are fearful of people's growing tolerance.
From Pew's research:
Man, this has been a jam-packed week, but I have a little time this morning for some pent-up blogging which feels nice. But before I get to that, let me briefly recap the week so far and preview what's coming up.
Monday Jerome and I were in Menlo Park, California, where a huge crowd (maybe 150?) came out to Kepler's to hear us speak and get books signed. I also took the opportunity to buy two books I'd been dying to read -- The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Green and Small Giants: Companies that Choose to be Great Instead of Big by Bob Burlingham. Green's The 48 Laws of Power is one of my all-time favorite books, so I was thrilled to see his sequel was finally out. Burlingham's book is an inspiration to me as I strive to keep Daily Kos at the top of the game despite pressures for me to grow and extend the brand.
We also had dinner with the great folks at the San Mateo County for Democracy, talking shop. Activists have a great deal of work to do even in the heart of Blue California.
But man, if you want about the most drastic culture change ever, fly from the SF Bay Area to Utah. From the deepest Blue to the deepest Red. Sans Jerome, (who owes Utah a visit) I went straight from Salt Lake City airport (admiring the glorious scenery) to hang with the crew over at the Salt Lake City Weekly. I had lunch at a great little vegan joint with the lovely Jamie Gadette who penned this great profile of Senate Democratic candidate Pete Ashdown. I was hoping to talk to her more about Pete's race, but I was rushed for time. Alas, that seems to be the norm on this tour.
After some additional media work, including an interview with the motivated counterculture warriors at Slug Magazine, I headed out to an event sponsored by SLC's Drinking Liberally crew. Democracy for Utah had a strong contingent present, and several bloggers from Utah's growing ranks in the local progressive blogosphere were present. OneUtah.org had a recap of the event with several flattering pictures. All Kossack readers from Utah should really start participating in your local blog scene. And that goes for everyone everwhere -- support your local bloggers. All change needs to start at the local level.
I had an early flight out of SLC Wednesday, but was able to squeeze in a really early (for me) breakfast with Pete Ashdown, who is running the most technologically savvy race in the country today. He's not getting a lot of respect, given the uphill nature of taking on Orin Hatch in this reddest of Red states (55% percent still approve of Bush in SUSA's latest 50-state poll). But he's committed to the long term rebuilding of the state's Democratic Party, and is a fervent believer in the power of technology to transform politics.
Today I'm doing some media and hanging out with the Music Row Democrats -- country music industry people who are Democrats. Tonight I have a public event sponsored by the local Drinking Liberally chapter:
Tomorrow morning I head home for two days, before hitting a lunch event in SF with Working Assets, Minnesota on Tuesday and Wednesday, Madison on Wednesday and Thursday, and Asheville on Friday. In a bit of a surprise, it turns out Jerome will be joining me in Madison and Asheville which is cool.
We have a big event in Madison Wednesday evening sponsored by Democracy for Wisconsin, moderated by local radio personality John Nichols, and featuring an intro by Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton. That event requires RSVPing, which can be done here. The Monday lunch with Working Assets also requires an RSVP:
The program includes a free lunch available starting at 11:30 a.m. Please plan to arrive early as all guests go through the security procedures of the building, which require picture ID. Due to heightened security procedures, only people who have responded by name in advance will be able to attend. 101 Market Street, First Floor, San Francisco. To RSVP, call 415/369-2150 and leave your name, the names (spelled out) of anyone coming with you, and a phone number we can use to contact you if necessary.
More upcoming tour information at the Crashing the Gate website.
Meanwhile, Republicans desperately trying to distract from the message of the book and the disaster that is the Republican regime in DC still hope to tank the book. A new wave of them has hit the CTG page on Amazon with very stupid "reviews". If you've read the book, please head on over and give it an honest review.
(And yeah, this post wasn't so "brief" after all.)
The Fix: Jolie reveals due date. Copperfield magically thwarts robbers. Plus: Did Tom really bug Nicole's phones?
Due date for Angelina? In a long interview with NBC's Ann Curry, Angelina Jolie finally came clean about her due date, saying that at this point she's not quite eight months pregnant. In the first part of the interview, which aired on Thursday's "Today" show, Jolie also said she and Brad Pitt know the baby's gender, but they ain't telling just yet. (The rest of the interview will appear on Sunday's edition of "Dateline.") Curry, the only reporter who has been allowed to get close to the star couple in Africa, also asked Jolie about her relationship with Pitt and was met mostly with giggles. It's "just kind of funny," said Jolie. "If [Brad] saw this, he would probably understand why I was laughing. Because I just don't know how to address that kind of thing." (E! Online, the Post Chronicle)
Help Needy Monterey Families and Children
Children's Services International is a unique and wonderful local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income families and children throughout Monterey County. csichildcare.org
Call to participate 3-6pm PT:
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