Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Trouble Brewing for Pearce and Wilson?

In this off-election year, many spend a lot of time reading the polls to try to figure out which party enters the upcoming election year with an advantage.

New Mexico Reps Heather Wilson and Stevan Pearce are probably already a little concerned that the President, to whom they successfully connected themselves during their reelections in in 2004, is facing serious trouble in his approval ratings with voters.

But even more worrisome for Pearce and Wilson are the polling numbers that show that voters around the nation are more likely to vote for a Democrat for Congress than a Republican. It's not unusual for Democrats and Republicans to trade-off or fare equally in the question, "if the election for Congress were held today would you vote for a Republican or a Democrat?" as they did in 1998 or 2004. In 2002, the GOP led in this question by a couple of points and in 2000 , the dems led by a couple of points on election day. Either way, this question is indicative of how much voters want to "throw 'da bums out" of Congress.

But recently, dems have broken away with 5-7 point leads over Republicans on the question over whether voters would support a democrat or a republican for Congress next year. Even more interesting, an ABC News/Washington Post poll shows, over time, that a majority of voters want to vote for someone besides their current representative.

It's hard to trust one or two individual polls, but when a bunch of them are all trending in the same direction, there tends to be some merit to their results.

For Pearce and Wilson, being an incumbent Repubican running in a competitive swing district is not not the best place to be when voters are looking for a change in Congress and are unhappy with the Republican President.

You can find a lot of this information on the Polling Report website that gathers polling information from around the nation. (link)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

White House Pushes Domenici Around

Senator Pete Domenici switched his position on an important amendment to the Energy Bill on climate change this week. After indicating he would support Senator Jeff Bingaman's amendment he suddenly switched his position at the last minute after meeting with Vice president Dick Cheney. (link)

Either Pete Domenici is pushover or the White House has absolute control over Domenici and Republicans in the Congress.

You be the judge.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cummings Joins Other Republican Officials Lacking Moral Values

I noted the other day the hypocrisy of the Republican Mayor of Spokane, Washington who allegedly tried to hand out jobs to potential gay suitors and at the same time supported an anti-gay agenda.

With all the talk of morality and such coming from the President and in the aftermath of the 2004 elections, it is always entertaining to reflect on the morality of the GOP's elected officials. Albuquerque City Councilor Tina Cummings was exposed for lying on candidate questionnaires about her past DWI. Not only did she lie, but she committed a crime and tried to hide it from voters. Not very moral. . .

Republicans who preach morality and run on moral issues often forget to bring themselves in line with the values they claim to promote. They've tried to tar democrats as immoral, when looking at the record, you see that modern-day Repubicans are morally challenged and are often the liars, cheaters and stealers. A list of prominent Republican national politicians who have shown themselves as morally challenged follows:

REP HENRY HYDE (D-Illinois):Hyde chaired the House Judiciary Committee which impeached President Clinton, and served as the chief prosecutor of President Clinton in the Senate trial. Hyde claims to be the "conscience" of the House, but concealed his own affair and called for an FBI investigation of the source when it was revealed. He claims to champion "family values", but his five-year affair with a married woman named Cherie Snodgrass broke up her marriage. Meanwhile, Fred Snodgrass, the jilted husband, told Salon: "These politicians were going on about how he should have been on the Supreme Court, what a great man he is, how we're lucky to have him in Congress in charge of the impeachment case. And all I can think of is here is this man, this hypocrite who broke up my family." Hyde called the affair a "youthful indiscretion," (although he was just about as old as Clinton). He supports the political "death penalty" for President Clinton's affair, but claims a "statute of limitations" for his own.

REP NEWT GINGRICH (R-Georgia):Gingrich just finished another divorce on charges of adultery and has remarried a former aide in Congress. This is nothing new. Although opposed to President Clinton on most issues, he does agree that "oral sex is not sex." According to Newt campaign worker Anne Manning, in 1977 she gave Newt oral sex while he was still married to his first wife. She told Vanity Fair, "we had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" In another example of "family values" he presented his first wife (his high school math teacher) with divorce papers in her hospital bed while she recovered from cancer surgery.

REP BILL THOMAS (R-California):This 11-term Republican is chair of the Ways and Means subcommittee on Health, and she is a powerful lobbyist for health-care companies. In June, the Bakersfield Californian reported that Thomas, who is married, was having an affair with healthcare lobbyist Deborah Steelman. In an "open letter to friends and neighbors" (voters), Thomas did not deny the relationship, but said during his legislative career, "I have never let my public decisions be influenced by any factor other than what I thought was best and right on your behalf ... Any personal failures of commitment or responsibility to my wife, family, or friends are just that, personal. I have never traded a public responsibility for a personal one and I never will."

Former REP BOB LIVINGSTON (R-La.):Livingston was chosen to replace Gingrich as Speaker of the House. But to the horror of fellow Republicans, Livingston turned out to be an even bigger public relations nightmare than Newt. While Congress plowed ahead in their investigation of President Clinton's infidelities and Livingston prepared to take over the Speakership, Bob suddenly admitted that he had committed adultery "on occasion." Then the press discovered there had been quite a few occasions. A day later he dramatically announced he would resign, saying he wanted to set an example for President Clinton to follow.

REP DICK ARMEY (R-Texas):Dick was the second most-powerful man in the House of Representatives, the Majority Leader. A former college professor, Dick has been accused by The Dallas Observer of sexually harassing female students.

FORMER REP BOB BARR (R-Georgia):House Judiciary Committee member Barr was the first Representative to call for President Clinton's impeachment - even before the Monica Lewinsky story broke. In 1992, Barr was seen licking whipped cream off the chests of two women in bustiers at a benefit for the Leukemia Society. [Source: The Washington Post - May 29, 1996 and May 30, 1996] As for his "family values," this sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act has been married three times -- his second divorce involved a trial in which he lied about his long-term adulterous relationship with a woman named Jerri Dobbin, whom Barr eventually made his third wife. After the divorce, Barr's child support failings led his ex-wife Gail to provide details of her abortion to Larry Flynt. Gail reported that Barr, one of the most militant abortion opponents in Congress who would outlaw all abortions, actually paid for her abortion.

REP DAN BURTON (R-Indiana):The Chairman of the House Government Reform & Oversight Committee. He hates President Clinton so much that he publicly called him a "scumbag". Following an expose, Burton was forced to admit that he fathered an out-of-wedlock child, a fact he denied for years. Still, he has yet to admit that during 38 years of marriage he has committed adultery with dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of women, sexually assaulted others (including a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood), and kept mistresses on his campaign and public payrolls - to the tune of at least a half-million dollars.

REP CHARLES CANADY (R-Florida):Judiciary Committee member. A leading opponent of abortion, Canady lied to his constituents about his adulterous affair with Sharon Becker, which caused her divorce from Florida businessman Robert Becker.

REP HELEN CHENOWETH (R-Id.):In her 1998 campaign, Chenoweth admitted to a six-year adulterous affair with a married associate. In 1995, Chenoweth had denied the affair when asked about it by The Spokane Spokesman-Review, but now she claims a pardon from a higher authority: "I've asked for God's forgiveness, and I've received it," she revealed.

REP SUE MYRICK (R-NC):Myrick describes herself as a "devout Christian." In 1989, Myrick was running for a second term as Charlotte mayor when news reports revealed that she committed adultery with a married man in 1973. Myrick admitted the adultery and won reelection.

REP KEN CALVERT (R-Ca):Calvert is a champion of the Christian Coalition and its "family values." But he was sued as an alimony deadbeat by his ex-wife. He also said "We can't forgive what occurred between the President and Lewinsky." But in 1993 he was caught by police receiving oral sex from a prostitute and attempted to flee the scene.

REP JOHN PETERSON (R-Pa):Peterson has been accused of sexual harassment and creation of a hostile work environment by six women. Peterson has refused to admit a crime, saying only "I may have been an excessive hugger."

SEN. BOB PACKWOOD (R-Ore.):Less than three weeks after Packwood narrowly won a fifth term, the Washington Post on Nov. 22, 1992, reported allegations from 10 female ex-staffers that Packwood had sexually harassed them. The Post had the story before the election, but didn't run it as Packwood had denied the charges. With the story now out in the open, Packwood said that if any of his actions were "unwelcome," he was "sincerely sorry." He then sought alcohol counseling. But his longtime feminist allies were outraged, and with more women coming forward with horror stories, there were calls for his resignation. It wasn't until September of 1995 when, faced with the prospect of public Senate hearings and a vote to expel, Packwood announced his resignation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Spokane Mayor Scandal Sheds Light on GOP hypocrisy

Spokane Mayor Scandal Sheds Light on GOP Hypocrisy

Here is a great editorial on the recent troubles of the Republican Mayor of Spokane, Washington who allegedly offered jobs and other perks to lure gay men.


Not surprisingly, as a State Legislator, he offered a law to ban gays from working in schools or day care centers. Not only is this guy unethical, but appears to bash his own.

Wonder if we have any of these self-hating Republicans in New Mexico?

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Wilson Continues Social Security Charade With Taxpayer-Funded Mailer

Its not written about enough. The Journal, the New Mexican don't report it. For some reason it's accepted practice to the media but for taxpayers, it's outrageous.

You may have received Congresswoman Heather Wilson's mailer "A Report on Strengthening and Protecting Social security" in your mailbox today. Maybe, in the past, you've received one of Wilson's 4-fold, full color mailers that look like a campaign brochure. What you probably didn't realize is that you're paying for it. Heather Wilson has asked you to pay for tens of thousands of dollars for these mailers.

U.S. House rules allow members of congress to send mail to constituents printed and paid for by taxpayers as long as it appears to be important information for constituents on what's going on in Congress. When you think of it that way, its pretty benign--we send someone to Congress, they report back to us on what's going on in DC and we let them pay for that practice because it's a constituent service.

Back in the day, many of you will remember that former Congressman Steve Schiff sent mail from Washington to constituents informing them on goings-on in Congress. But that was nothing like Wilson's mailer. Schiff, ever the policy-wonk, printed his messages, single spaced on 8 1/2 x 14 letterhead--not on glossy, campaign-like mailers.

In the last few years, some congresspeople, like Wilson have decided to push, um, let's say, the edge of the enveope with these mailers by pushing an agenda instead of just informing constituents. Is there any reason Wilson can't try to save us some money and mail this information on a regular sheet of letterhead? Steve Schiff did it.

Today's mailer is a good example of a political mailer masquerading as an official government mailer. Heather's mailer is quite obviously an attempt to insulate herself from attacks on her Social Security position. Heather has flip-flopped on the privatisation issue and has, in the last few months, directly avoided answering the privatisation question--are you for or against the president's proposal? (See my earlier post on Wilson's Social Security position)

You'll notice in Heather's mailer that there is no mention of the word "privatization." Amazing that she can devote a whole mailer on the issue of social security and what congress is doing about it and not mention privatisation. . .

That's because she wants to avoid the issue, and the mailer is meant to persuade people that she really, really cares about social security and is really interested in the issue. But she says precious little about the current proposals before Congress. How is that informing constituents and how is this a worthwhile expense of taxpayer money? It's incredible that she can devote a whole mailer to Social Security and not mention her position or current proposals or what's she's going to do about it.

The real story on this is that Wilson has found a way, through the House rules, to send campaign mailers (that serve the same purpose of a campaign mailer--persuading voters) at no expense to her campaign and with the appearance of an official mailer from Congress.

It's deceptive, it's a waste of taxpayer funds and the mainstream media should do its job and report on this unethical practice.

For those of you who flow this blog or follow Wilson's terrible position on privatisation, you'll notice that she mentions in this mailer her same old line that "the Government should not invest Social security funds in the stock market." As you all know, this is smoke and mirrors--no one is talking about allowing the government to invest the funds in the market. The discussion in DC is about allowing individuals to invest their Social Security funds in the market. Its a big difference and the essentce of Wilson's deceptive position on the issue.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

BRAC politics gets worse with Wilson

Heather Wilson represents the 1st Congressional District, consisting of Albuquerque and a couple of its surrounding areas. Last time I checked she didn't represent Clovis, NM. Congressman Tom Udall represents Clovis.

But in the warm up to the battle to fill Pete Domenici's Senate seat in 2008 (when he presumably retires) Wilson is making frequent forays into Congressional districts that aren't her own to try to raise her state-wide profile.

She took it upon herself last Friday to head out to Clovis and let people know how she feels about the closure of Cannon Air Force Base and offer, basically, nothing new to the discussion on how to keep Cannon but to get her mug in front of Clovis community leaders. Read the article in the Clovis News (link).

Wilson almost looked disappointed the other day when the Defense Department announced that Kirtland Air Force Base wasn't on the list for closure: disappointed that she wouldn't have an issue in the upcoming congressional race that would profile her military background. So, she heads for Clovis. Somehow, I think there's enough for her to do in Albuquerque.

2nd District Congressman Stevan Pearce must be waiting for the inevitable Wilson trip to Alamogordo and Holloman Air Force Base where they will be the beneficiary of her, ahem, tremendous knowledge. Pearce, who has run for the U.S. Senate and is undoubtedly looking at the Domenici seat, is already stewing from a recent Wilson trip to Southern New Mexico and Las Cruces conveniently scheduled while Pearce was out of the state on vacation.

I can't think of another state where members of Congress travel regularly to other members' districts on Congressional business. But, I guess things are different in New Mexico.

If good taste and tact were issues in the 2008 Senate race, Wilson would already be at a disadvantage.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

City of Santa Fe Elected officials' travel--is it really that big of a deal?

The Santa Fe New Mexican ran a story on Saturday (link) regarding the travel budgets of Santa Fe's elected officials. It was a front page, above the fold type of story that the New Mexican played as some sort of miracle of investigative reporting on our horribly unethical elected officials.

Apparently Santa Fe's City councilor, Mayor and municipal judge traveled on City business to a variety of locales to promote the city, attend conferences, etc.. .

This might be a real story if the officials had spend $100,000 of taxpayer money and gone to Aruba or played Pebble Beach golf Course several times -- which is what you expect when you hear that there might be some intrigue behind the Mayor's travel.

But in this case, it's almost a laughable story. The Mayor, who was the big spender, has spend a little over $8,000 in travel since July, 2003. The highest spending councilor came in at about $7,500!

If there is any story here, it is how little these people are traveling. Isn't Santa Fe's economy based on tourism? Doesn't Travel and Leisure Magazine rank it year after year as one of the top 5 travel destinations in the U.S? I would imagine that the Mayor and Representatives of the City should be traveling around the nation promoting Santa Fe and all it has to offer.

The New Mexican also seems to dislike the fact that they are traveling to trainings and traveling to Washington to lobby for Santa Fe projects. What's so bad about that?

The New Mexican should be able to find better investigative stories than this.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mayoral Candidate Brad Winter--or the art of talking without saying anything

Is Winter the GOP’s Phil Maloof?

There’s nothing quite as distressing as listening to a candidate who’s dragged into a race trying to convince himself it is the right thing to do. But that’s what I did when I tuned into today’s 4:00pm KAGM (106.3 FM) interview of Brad Winter shortly after City Councilor Winter announced his candidacy for the Albuquerque Mayors race today.

Listening to Brad, who I earlier wrote lacks substance, brought back visions of Phil Maloof -- the former State Senator who ran against Heather Wilson for Congress in 1998. Phil was a nice guy, good looking, personable, but had a difficult time with articulating his position on issues. The same could be said for Brad. All hair, no substance.

You see, Brad is the GOP’s last ditch effort to run a candidate against Mayor Marty Chavez. From accounts on this and other Albuquerque blogs, Winter was coaxed into the race by prominent Republicans. It’s obvious they chose this guy for his profile, not for his views (or lack thereof).

Right off the bat, early on in the interview, Winter was asked why he’s running. Winter said, because “I’m an option” for voters and “I’m viable.”.

An option? Is that all you have to say? What happened to coming out of the gate with a platform, a new vision for the city, an issue?

This is Winter/GOP speak for “I’m not Marty”

Listen, you can’t win a major race on the concept of “I’m not the other guy.”

Most candidates will rattle off a couple of issues they care about or talk about their big plans for the city. Not Brad, he doesn’t seem to have any.

Winter goes on in the interview to discuss the problems with the recently passed City budget that the mayor pushed through council. As many know, the Council allegedly failed to meet a deadline for activity on the budget which automatically made the Mayor’s budget law, in a sense.

Winter then went into detail about how he was disappointed in the process didn’t like the Mayor’s budget, etc. . . . Even after being baited by the talk show’s hosts to complain about the current administrations behavior during the budget, when asked if Marty’s Administration mislead the Councilman, Winter said, “no”

C’mon Brad! Show us some spine, some passion, some actual emotion to show that you really care about this stuff!

Nobody wants a pushover for their Mayor. Complaining that the current mayor doesn’t talk to you enough, doesn’t involve you enough and doesn’t kiss your ring enough, doesn’t fly. Winter seems to forget that he’s President of the Council and needs to show some backbone and stand up for something. Also, is the budget entirely the Mayor’s responsibility? What does it say about a Council President that appeared to be asleep at the wheel when the budget sat on his desk? Mayors are, by their nature, hands-on. They deal with water, sewer projects, paving roads, neighborhood issues. They aren’t US Senators or diplomats. People like their Mayors to be proactive and aggressive.

Not to mention about the last thing that wins you votes is the discussion about something that bores voters like the budget.

Winter complained about funding the Balloon Museum and the Chinese Pandas at the zoo. Winter clearly doesn’t grasp the concept that maybe people want these things and that’s why Marty asked for them to be funded. Think about it, Winter, what’s more interesting to voters: the City Hal intricacies of the budget process or getting a new museum or a couple of cute pandas in town?

Winter and the NM GOP don’t seem to understand that they are running a guy with vague positions and good looks against Mayor Chavez who is going to rattle off every improvement project he’s helped with during eight years as Mayor and talk about some concrete plans for the next four. How do we know that, because he’s already doing it, and Brad isn’t.

Some other great winter vague, non-positions:

“I think we need good water program” You don’t say, Brad. Think you might have one?

“I’m not sure where I stand” on Councilor Mayer’s voter id bill. Isn’t this the Republicans' giant, big-time pet issue and you don’t have a position!!

Finally at the end of the torturous interview, Winter was asked why he was running and why he announced for mayor and given one last chance by the show’s hosts to put out his message.

Winter said he had three reasons:

1. Because I have relationships with people and I can work with people.
2. I’m a Neighborhood Guy.
3. I’m honest

That’s it, I swear.

Pretty light stuff, Brad.

Finally, to demonstrate even more that Winter’s campaign is not what it is cracked up to be, winter’s announcement didn’t even make the KKOB-AM news at 4 or 5pm. Not a good sign.