The GOP Has Not Even Cleaned Out Offices…

…and the power is starting to already slip away.

Today in the newspaper it was reported that Democratic Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has been receiving campaign contributions from  pro-business groups.  Frank is a liberal, and the business groups are more prone to give to the Republicans.  But like animals who flee their slower dying members, lobbyists also act in their own interests.  Frank will be the new Chairman of the Financial Services Committee in January as a result of the November elections.

It is amazing to read of lobbyists who were more than eager to support every sleazy Republican now switching  sides BEFORE the election, trying to start to smooth over the damage they have done to the Democrats since 1994.  The enthusiasm they are showing is akin to the boy who shunned the girl until she developed breasts.  Unseemly!  (Though I full well know this is how politics works….I was there to see it.)

Poll Of The Day: GOP Leads in FL Govenor Race

The many spirited Statehouse battles will be a main focus on Election Day, and one of the big prizes to be won is in Florida.  The battle to replace Jeb Bush is pitting Charlie Crist, the Republican nominee, against Democratic candidate Jim Davis. 

The lastest St. Petersburg poll finds that Crist is leading 48%-42%,  with 10% of the voters still undecided.  I have never understood undecided voters, but according to this poll that means 1 of every 10 voters still needs to pick a candidate.  When one considers that fact, the race is still then up in the air.

The Political Landscape Tonight

As the week winds down I want to give a few thoughts on where we are regarding the midterm elections.  It has been an interesting week, and a troubling one as well.  Rush Limbaugh saw to that.   I have a few comments about him in this post as well. Please understand that these are my thoughts today concerning the midterms and since events could change tomorrow, that would then impact my analysis.

I have felt for many months that the House of Representatives would switch to the Democrats come November.  That will happen of course, the only question is how many seats are turned on Election Day.  After this week I think we can say with some degree of certainty that one of the first two states to close polls on Election Night, Indiana, will provide two Democratic pickups.  Though I am not releasing my predictions until Sunday, November 5th at 6:00 P.M., I think two of the targeted races in this Republican state will go blue.  The third one will remain in GOP hands.  Details on the 5th. 

The way independents are breaking in favor of the Democrats has been the key over the past weeks in thinking about how large the ‘wind’ will be on Election Day, and how many GOP officials are fired. 

I have been highly suspect throughout this year about the likelihood the Senate would switch to the Democrats.  Earlier this week I wrote on this blog that much would be told by the events that unfolded the past five days.  Tonight, I am not at all optimistic that the Democrats will take the Senate.   In fact, I think they will do no better than to pick up four seats.  Tonight, I do not see without a miracle how the Democrats win 6 seats.

New Jersey Senator Menendez was up in the polls early in the week, but finds he is just breaking even as of this writing.  The latest NYT’s poll finds that the voters in the Garden State have problems with him that just are not going away.  The Democratic Party knew Menendez was a weak candidate months ago, and chose to do nothing about it.  This is still a close race but I am not pleased with the trend lines here for the Democrats.

The racist advertisement by the GOP against Harold Ford, Jr., in Tennessee was horrible.  Though it was pulled within a very short period of time, it has wounded Ford.  The fact that Republicans use racism to win votes is not surprising.  The fact Ford has not rebounded with a counter punch to the rednecks is unsettling.  Ford is one of my favorite candidates this year, and while he has many political skills I fear when this race is analyzed this will be seen as the week that lost him the election.  Still Ford has run a remarkable campaign to get to this position, given that he has had to contend with racism, both overt and covert.

This week New Jersey’s Supreme Court made a clear ruling that gay couples must be afforded equal rights and benefits as those enjoyed by married couples.   It was a major ruling for justice and to what degree it impacts the right wing conservatives is hard to gauge.  I suspect given the short period of time left in the campaign season, and the fact the Court did not mandate marriage for gay people, the conservatives will still in large part sit these races out on Election Day.

Finally, I thought I had witnessed just about everything that could ever happen in a campaign season.  In years past I have been lifted by the thoughtful tone and reasoning of Paul Tsongas, and be truly hopeful about our country after hearing the words of Senator Paul Simon.  But what I heard this week from conservative wing nut Rush Limbaugh in regards to Michael Fox made me sad.  Rush was cruel, harmful, and very insensitive to another person afflicted with an illness.  After seeing Rush on the news I am left wondering what is happening to our culture.    Why Rush felt he needed to ridicule a person’s illness to make a point baffles me.  As I watched Rush do his theatrics I realized that there was a new bottom to which the GOP will slink to win elections. 

Is it any wonder that citizens are turned off by politics?  If I feel this way (having been involved in politics for the past 24 years) how might the average voter feel?  It is a sad commentary on our time.  Rush is not how politics should be conducted!  We must do better.  Let us start anew on November 7th.

Poll Of The Day: Negative Ads Hurting

There is a truth, sad as it is, that negative ads work.  They drive up the negative numbers about the one the ads are aimed at.  But in one case this year, it has backfired,

The self funded millionaire, and GOP nominee for Governor in Massachusetts, has dug herself a hole with the voters over the ads she has run against her opponent.  Kerry Healey has spent millions on ads targeting her rival Deval Patrick.  The latest Globe-CBS4 poll has Patrick ahead by 25%.  The poll shows Patrick at 54%, to Healey’s 29%.  Those polled said by a majority, 54%, that the GOP nominee had  crossed the line with her ads.

American Soldiers Are Dying in Vain

A friend sent me a political cartoon today showing how many American troops have been killed in our efforts to avenge the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in New York and Washington, D.C.  In a simple drawing the madness of our foreign policy was most visible.  The fact that we invaded a country in the Middle East that was not involved with 9/11, and have suffered thousands of deaths as a result, while Afghanistan, a true player in the terrorist attacks, is being lost militarily due to a lack of manpower or a well thought out strategy, should enrage everyone.

But worse still is the fact that not only do American soldiers die in Iraq, but they die in vain.  As a nation we do not want to talk in such a way, as there are too many families and communities hurting over the death of loved ones killed in Iraq.  But a harsh dose of reality is required to understand the gravity of the foreign policy mistake, and what must be done to remedy it, end this fiasco, and stop our troops from being killed.  As I write tonight, over 93 American troops have been killed this month in Iraq, and it made no difference at all, as the Bush policy is so fatally flawed.

The problem is not that our troops are not brave and sincere.  Instead, the Bush White House sent our troops to Iraq for base political purposes.  In addition, the troops were let down by their fellow citizens that were too lazy and feeble minded to recognize the lack of logic when war in Iraq was being proposed, and then doing something to prevent it.

The President and the top White House advisors do not want to admit that Iraq is in a civil war.  The bloodshed between the Sunnis and Shiites has claimed well over 30,000 lives in Iraq.  While the Bush Administration can’t say this is a civil war, since that would clearly name their war policy a failure, everyone else in the world using a standard definition for a civil war knows our troops are caught in the middle of one.

The refugees fleeing their homes in Iraq are estimated at near 250,000 people.  The sectarian violence continues to grow and releases itself in a daily toll of human misery that pains any person with a soul.  Since February 69 mosques have been attacked.  Any social bonds between various groups have been shredded.

Internally the political landscape of Iraq is in complete meltdown.  Power is not being wielded by the government, but instead by local powerful clerics and their armed followers.  Cleric al-Sadr is perhaps the best known, and is I fear, more connected with the average Iraqi than anyone in the current elected government.

Power sharing in Iraq, through a confederation of sorts between the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites seems like the only route left to choose.  But putting the madness back in the bottle that has been unleashed with the civil war may prove impossible, which then makes the power sharing idea almost impossible to envision. 

Though I have always been a strong opponent to the war, I have held to the idea that we must not allow a power vacuum to exist in Iraq.  To accomplish that I have felt it wrong to pull our troops out before the Iraqi’s had established a government that could protect itself.  This past month I have had a harder time reconciling my hopes with the facts on the ground in Iraq. The daily listing of the number killed this month has been most unsettling.

Too many American soldiers have died in vain, and are still dying, and we should not continue on the path that we are on.  Unless there is a real, dramatic, and cogent plan that has the backing of a broad spectrum of America, including folks such as myself, then we need to bring our troops home.  Unless the President can lose his worn out rhetoric, and address with realism the future of Iraq, and the way the world can work this out, then he must admit defeat and call our troops home.

Poll Of The Day: Indiana Reflects National Mood

There are three Congressional seats up for play in the Hoosier State, and the idea that two of the three are very possibly going to switch to the Democrats in November is truly newsworthy.  Indiana is GOP land, but with the war in Iraq, rough economic times for many, and the national mood for change, it is not a good time to be asking voters to “send me back to Washington.”

In the 8th CD Democrat Brad Ellsworth is taking charge over incumbent Representative John Hostettler in the latest WISH-TV Indiana Poll.  Ellsworth leads 50% -43% in the highly contentious campaign. 

One of the reasons many of these races are moving to the Democrats is that independents are breaking in favor of changing things in Washington.  In poll after poll, and I go through many every day, the big factor that is showing up now is how the independents are starting to move to the Democrats.  In the 8th CD both nominees have 80% of their party support, but independents support Ellsworth 58%-31%.  

It is the same in many Congressional races around the nation and why President Bush plans to in Crawford, Texas on Election Night.  It is not going to be pretty, and he does not want not to be seen.  I wonder if Laura is hiding the key to the liquor cabinet?

Step Forward For Gay Americans..But Miles To Go

The New Jersey Supreme Court handed down their gay marriage ruling that has prompted various reactions from around the country.  Some gay activists were harsh in their analysis, since the Court did not authorize gay marriage as Massachusetts has done.  My readers will note that The Bay State has not imploded as a result of that action.  Others with a narrower perspective greeted the ruling with applause as it now forces the New Jersey Legislature to adopt within six months legislation that will grant gay couples all the rights and benefits that come with marriage.  In essence, the Court has opted for a Vermont style solution.  In the end state politicians must decide if civil unions or marriage is the best route to secure for gay couples what the Court has now ordered.

I was heartened by the overall tone of the ruling, and have read much of it prior to this posting.  I was pleased that all the Justices were in agreement that equal rights had to apply to whatever happens, be it civil unions or marriage.  It was sad however, that except for one more vote, the ruling would have called for marriage for gay Americans.  (The ruling was far better than the insulting one handed down in New York this past July.  If you want to feel your blood pressure go up, read the New York ruling on line.)

I understand what the Court saw as their role, and what role they see for the legislators as this issue advances.  But I think the Court should have fulfilled their larger role as Jurists and made a complete ruling on the matter. 

I am not comforted with this matter being resolved with a half-a-loaf solution.  All the rights and benefits are fine and deserved, but the title of marriage is absolutely essential for total equality.  To have all the rights and then have a term for the union separate and unequal to that of marriage is offensive. Writer Andrew Sullivan penned a line recently that sums it up best.  He wrote “Marriage is more than a private contract; it is the highest public recognition of our integrity.”

I know there is a fair amount of debate about this issue, and as I discuss it there is an undercurrent that “this is not the right time” type argument.  As I read my history books I know social movements and demands for advancement do not come at a time convenient for everyone.  But in the end our nation has always been enriched by our strides towards a more equitable society.

I have no fear that the New Jersey Legislature will act in a timely fashion to create something that will fulfill the Court’s order.  But I urge the voters in New Jersey to contact their legislators and demand they take the next step and do the honorable and just thing by legislating marriage for gay people. 

Poll Of The Day: Bush Supports Congressman’s Affair

The latest Keystone Poll conducted by Franklin and Marshall College finds Republican incumbent Don Sherwood 12 points behind in his quest for another term in Congress.  Sherwood is being challenged by Chris Carney who has 50% in the poll, as opposed to Sherwood’s 38%.

One of the main reasons for the lackluster performance by Sherwood is due to his extramarital performance that he hoped would never see the light of day.  This PA 10th CD is solid Republican, but the zipper problem will most likely force the four-term Congressman to give up his seat.  Inquiring minds want to know if he also gives up his sweetie?

Sherwood is 65, and his squeeze toy is 35 years younger….need I say more?  The lady…err…lets just call her female, claims the Congressman choked her during an altercation in his Capital Hill apartment.   Or was it just rough sex?  (Note to other Congressman in need of a little excitement in their life…get a roadster instead.)

Now if you think you have heard enough, hang on.  President Bush travled to Sherwood’s district to campaign for him, and to plead with voters to send Sherwood back to Washington.  The family values rhetoric of the Bush White House ,and conservatives in general, could gag a maggot.

Talk about desperation in the ranks of the Republicans!