Thursday, July 07, 2005

Indymedia roundup on the Court and choice

Marcia e-mails to highlight something for the Indymedia roundup

Marcia: Tell Susan and Julia they should hum "Isn't It Disgusting" while reading it.

(I believe to the tune of "Isn't It Romantic" -- words & music by Rogers & Hart.)

From Gwen Shaffer's "Dem's the Breaks: A potential Santorum challenger says a MoveOn poll mocks democracy" (Philadelphia Weekly):

The only thing smaller than Chuck Pennacchio's name recognition is his campaign coffer. But that doesn't mean he avoids big battles. Pennacchio charges that a purportedly objective poll conducted by MoveOn tacitly encouraged members to support Bob Casey Jr., his Democratic rival in the 2006 race for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat.
Rick Santorum, No. 3 in the Senate Republican leadership and key in enforcing the GOP's hard-right message, is up for reelection in what's likely to be the most watched Senate race in the nation.
"It was a push poll, no question about it," Pennacchio says. "I don't believe the results were accurate ... That simply defies explanation."
At issue is a June 17 email the MoveOn political action committee (PAC) sent to its Pennsylvania members, asking whom they favored to challenge Santorum. It offered two alternatives: Casey, Pennsylvania's current state treasurer, or Pennacchio, a history professor at University of the Arts in Center City.
"Most political observers believe Casey has a lock on the Democratic nomination, and we tend to agree," the email read. "But we wanted to check with MoveOn's Pennsylvania members before we endorse anyone." The message included brief bios of both Democratic primary candidates and of Santorum.
The blurb about Casey neglected to mention his pro-life stance and opposition to stricter gun controls. It also quoted Howard Dean complimenting Casey, a statement Pennacchio insists was taken out of context. Worst of all, Pennacchio says, Casey's bio ignores his position that American troops need to "stay the course in Iraq."
The war is a wedge issue for progressive Democrats.
[. . .]
Locally, some political activists say MoveOn's support of Casey is causing a backlash against the group. "MoveOn is a great organization, but it flubbed this one," says David Gibson, who is active in progressive causes.
Frustration with the MoveOn poll has been a "big topic of discussion" at political gatherings during the past couple weeks, says Kathi Ember, Pennsylvania state coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. "It's ironic, considering that MoveOn is responsible for getting many of my peers involved in politics in the first place."
While Casey clearly has the official party backing, grassroots Dems and bloggers routinely characterize Casey as "Santorum light." The blogosphere is filled with criticisms that the Democratic establishment is fronting a candidate who is antichoice, anti-gun-control and has said U.S. troops must remain in Iraq until stability is established.

These sentiments dominate the posts about the race on MoveOn's own blog, the Action Forum. As of June 29, about 30 messages reamed out the organization for "playing nice" with the Democratic National Committee, for supporting a "carbon copy of Santorum," and for "throwing the poll."

Marcia also asked if The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Robert Casey Junior Doing Pop Proud" (March 6, 2005) could be highlighted (disclosure, I helped with this article):

Robert Casey Junior is a name you'll probably being hearing more of. Saturday it was buried on the back page of the main section of the New York Times. (Page A28.)
And the news of Junior's run has Paul Greenfield of the Jewish World Review tickled pink. A lot of the usual cranks are coming out endorsing Junior.
Everyone's all a titter over a Quinnipiac poll that finds Junior leading in a potential match up against Man-On-Dog theorist Senator Rick Santorum (46% to 41%). As memory serves, we seem to remember Junior doing well in early polls when he ran for governor not so long ago in the distant past. But he didn't pull off the race, now did he?
Those wacky Quinnipiac-ers. As late as October 28th, they were calling Pennsylvania for Bush and I think we all remember who won that state (hint, his initials are J.K.).
But Junior's got a campaign strategy down pat (didn't help with the governor's race but . . .):
The elder Casey died in 2000 and Casey often mentions his father's death during campaign stops, especially when he speaks to senior citizens and other older voters who remember his father. He invokes his father's name and accomplishments when speaking to certain audiences. The memory of the Casey name helps him connect with voters who, he hopes, will vote for him because of the connection.
Junior's apparently not his own man, just a pale copy of Daddy. So what's so wrong with that?Well Robert Casey is infamous for his attacks on Planned Parenthood (anyone remember Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- a Supreme Court case) and of course he was often greeted by the members of Act-Up (not warmly). Junior's singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and we think you might need to be concerned.
A word on polls, about this time in 2002, Junior was doing well in some polls against Ed Rendell.(Keystone placed him with 38% and Rendell with 37%.) So why couldn't he pull out (for those not in the know, Rendell defeated Junior in the Democratic primary in May of 2002)?
Didn't "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" play well? Won't it this time?No. And no.
See, when they report these polls they're saying, "Hey Rube! Believe what we tell you!"And what's not stressed. How about a margin of error? 2.8% is the margin of error for Quinnipiac's poll. 46% to 41%. Wow, five points difference! But if the 2.8% splits Santorum's way, we're looking at 43.8% for Santorum and 43.2% for Junior.
Hey guys, Junior trails Santorum by .6%!!!!And this is supposed to news to cheer over?
Same poll has Santorum sitting pretty with a 52% approval rating. That's a high that Arlen Specter (according to Quinnipiac's polling) only reached twice in 2004 (February -- 53%, and September -- 52%). So Santorum has, according to the polling, a comfortable perch not unlike Specter (and Specter was re-elected in 2004).
Rendell and Specter share one thing in common, they're pro-choice. For those not in the know, Rendell is the governor of Pennsylvania today. After trouncing Junior in the primary, he went on to win the general race.
But soft-minded Dems are just convinced that in order to win Santorum's seat, what they really, really need is an anti-choice candidate.
Let us repeat, Rendell and Specter are pro-choice. Rendell's a Democrat, Specter's a Republican.
What are soft-minded Dems not understanding?
The vicious Republican primary of 2004 demonstrated that Pennslyvania isn't going to turn against an elected senator just because some anti-choice candidate shows up. So why in the world do soft-minded Dems think that there's support for an anti-choice Democrat in what's a largely pro-choice state?
Junior and Santorum both reject public schools for their children. They both are anti-choice.
Does someone have some photos of Santorum engaging in man-on-dog sex? If not, why are they so sure that a carbon copy of Santorum can trump the original?Santorum's the incumbent. That alone means he'll have access to huge funding. Junior?
Well let's just note that Emily's List and others won't be rushing to contribute to his campaign.(Nor will we.)
This is one of the most idiotic decisions soft-minded Dems have made in recent days (a tough call, granted). "We're going to run someone just like Santorum and we'll win!" Say what you want about Santorum, but he has a superficial physical attractiveness. (Janeane Garofalo has compared his looks to those of a gay porn star.) Is Junior with his receding hairline and near uni-brow really going to be able to stand on stage opposite him and look "Senatorial?" We're puzzled that notion as well.
What was Rendell's charge against Junior in their primary race? Something about Junior"doesn't understand education, lacks experience, never created a job, cut a tax or prosecuted a criminal." It's a long list. One doubts Santorum's campaign won't be using those talking points.
The Times story tells you that Rendell's endorsing Junior. It also tells you:
"The governor has asked me to step aside and allow Treasurer Casey [Junior] to run unopposed for U.S. Senate," Ms. [Barbara] Hafter said in a statement. "After some consideration, I have decided to agree to the governor's request."
This has created the situation that MyDD warned about on February 28th:
In other words, the events of the past week demonstrated what was previously demonstrated with Ginny Schrader's campaign: grassroots and netroots Democratic activism is alive and well within Pennsylvania. We did all of this ourselves, without any help from the party leadership or elected officials. Politicians and party leaders should take notice of this, for they fail to take us seriously at their own peril. This is why the ongoing movement to stop the Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial primary before it starts is utterly unacceptable, and I promise will be met with strong resistance.
[. . .]
This article is not the entire story. Many people with connections on this issue have insisted to me that the state and party leadership are in fact trying to clear the field for Casey and preempt the primary. This must not be allowed. As Democrats who are working hard, and succeeding, in damaging Santorum's re-election hopes, we deserve to be included in the selection of the candidate who will oppose and defeat Santorum. If, after the primary, that candidate ends up being Casey, then he would immediately find me among his biggest supporters. However, if the Democratic Party wants to continue to build its extremely fragile bridge with the Pennsylvania netroots and grassroots, it cannot shut its members out of the selection process, period. Many of us here in Pennsylvania are already suspicious of the machine-like tendencies and backroom-heavy characteristics of the state party, and something like this could very easily become the straw that broke the camel's back in that relationship.
I also fail to see how a contested primary, no matter what combination of Casey, Hafer, Hoeffel, and Pennacchio it contained, would be damaging to our chances to defeat Santorum. Sure, it would cost money, but that money would also be spent on bashing Santorum, raising name ID for all candidates, and giving the party a wider profile across the state. Rendell and Specter both had hotly contested primary battles in their recent statewide campaigns, and both went on to comfortable victories (8-10%) afterward. The same can be said for many Republican Senate candidates this year. I just don't buy that tons of free media exposure for Pennsylvania Democrats will somehow hurt Pennsylvania Democrats. By contrast, I can see very clearly how pre-empting the primary would go a long way toward hurting Pennsylvania Democrats.
MyDD closed with this hope: "Let the primary run its course. It will be to the benefit of us all."
We couldn't have agreed more. Sadly, that's apparently not even an option now.
A select group has come along and declared who is viable and who isn't. Not voters or would be voters, mind you. With the path cleared for Junior, who's invested in this race? Santorum lovers and Santorum foes. Considering how easily most incumbents win re-election, soft minded Dems (who apparently fear the democratic process) better hope they have something along the lines of Man-on-Dog photos of Santorum. Otherwise, Junior's about to get spanked again.
We'd love to see Santorum out of the Senate but on election night, if Junior's standing in the corner, rubbing his heinie and bawling his eyes out, don't expect us to shed any tears. Though it's doubtful Junior will learn his lesson, maybe soft minded Dems will.

Kellie e-mails to note "The Future Is Now" by Brian Morton from Baltimore City Papers:

This one is for all the marbles. If Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist had decided to retire, nothing would change--the court would still retain an unsteady 5-4 balance, with the swing middle retaining the option to go in either direction. But this game is for real, with Sandra Day O'Connor’s surprise holiday weekend announcement.
The chances that George W. Bush nominates another centrist like O'Connor are none and none--and let us remember, when Ronald Reagan appointed O'Connor back in 1981, she was considered a hard-right conservative (even so, she was confirmed 99-0). With all his recent appointments, Bush has signaled that he fully plans on being a divider, not a uniter, and this is his best chance to put his stamp on history--more so than four tax cuts for the rich or the Iraq War.
Look at some of the ideologues that Bush has appointed or attempted to name to appeals court slots: crypto-racist Charles Pickering, anti-abortion zealot William Pryor, and corporate tool Priscilla Owen, for example. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker in May 2003:
It became clear right from the start that [Bush] was changing the ways judges are nominated, by picking people who are almost all far to the right. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 the most liberal, Clinton chose a lot of sixes and sevens--lots of partners in law firms and former prosecutors. Bush said during the campaign that he was going to pick judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, but I thought it was just campaign talk. Then it became clear that that was exactly what he meant.
Look at the swing votes and hot-button issues on which O'Connor has been the deciding vote. Affirmative action on college campuses. Campaign finance reform. Nativity scenes in courthouses. And, of course, the biggie--O’Connor wrote in a concurring opinion in 1992, "Our obligation is to define the liberty of all. We reaffirm the constitutionally protected liberty of women to obtain an abortion."

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