Saturday, July 15, 2006

If the chicken suit fits...

This was just too good to pass up. And it gives me one more chance to plug Harold Ford, who will be running against one of these wonderful candidates:

"Corker worker, man in chicken suit have run-in"

Go two posts down for the info on how you can help Congressman Ford.

The Truth about Lieberman's Voting Record

Here are a few inconvenient (at least to Lieberman's opponents) truths about Senator Lieberman's voting record.

National Journal is a non-partisan publication that puts out a vote ranking each year which looks at how each member of the Senate and Congress votes on key issues in three broad categories: economic issues, social issues, and foreign policy. The members of each House are then ranked in relation to one another from most liberal to most conservative.

The NJ rankings are generally accepted as the standard of determining where members of Congress lie on the political spectrum. If you take out Ben Nelson (more conservative than 5 Republicans) and Linc Chafee (more liberal than 2 Democrats, Nelson and Mary Landrieu), the Democrats and Republicans are perfectly divided - i.e. all Democrats are ranked more liberal than all Republicans.

I'll get all the bad news for Lieberman out of the way here. In 2005, his voting record was indeed more moderate than any other New England Democrat's. On foreign policy issues, he does indeed come out as more moderate than any Democrat except Nelson, and moderate GOPers Linc Chafee and Arlen Specter are ranked as more liberal. However, this is unsurprising considering the pre-eminence of Iraq among the foreign policy votes ranked by the National Journal.

Now here's the kicker - if you take out those strongly Iraq-tinted foreign policy votes, Lieberman comes out far more liberal than his detractors claim.

On social policy matters, Lieberman's liberal ranking was better than 14 other Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid.

On economic matters, Lieberman came out as more liberal than fully 20 other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, with a liberal score of 74 out of 100 - even better than liberal Democratic stalwarts like Maria Cantwell, Herb Kohl, Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka, and Debbie Stabenow.

Of course, Lieberman's voting record was also far to the left of every Republican in both of these areas, and if
you look at his vote ratings from key interest groups, Lieberman's record looks yet more progressive. Here are his ratings from key issue advocacy groups according to the Almanac of American Politics:
  • Americans for Democratic Action: 80
  • League of Conservation Voters: 100
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: 86
  • American Civil Liberties Union: 83

And in case you were wondering:
  • American Conservative Union: 0
  • Christian Coalition: 0

Here are most recent rankings from other prominent issue groups, as pulled from VoteSmart:
  • National Organization of Women: 75
  • NAACP: 85
  • Human Rights Campaign: 88
  • League of United Latin American Citizens: 100
  • NARAL: 75 (based in large part on his Roberts vote; in 2004, it was 100)
  • Planned Parenthood: 100
  • Alliance for Retired Americans: 100 (their big issue: protecting Social Security)
  • Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: 90
  • National Right-to-Life: 0
  • NRA: F (NRA gives grades rather than numerical scores)

The groups which make it their job to analyze and rank the votes of members of Congress show that - contrary to the hysterical claims of the Lieberhaters - the myth of Lieberman being conservative or a Republican in disguise is just that: a myth. I have no doubt that Lieberhaters will continue to spread the lie that Lieberman's voting record is somehow out of step with his fellow Senate Democrats, and advance the absurd claim that he frequently breaks with Democrats on key issues.

Fortunately, saying it doesn't make it true.

Another plug for Harold Ford

I made a post earlier this week on Harold Ford, and wanted to make one more pitch for him before I introduce a second Dem candidate who is trying to take back a GOP seat.

President Clinton just announced that he will be coming to town on August 4 to campaign for Ford, whose "moderate record and his appeal across racial boundaries" make him one of the Democrats' best chances to pick up a Senate seat in the South. In fact, this is probably the best chance for Democrats will have a shot at taking over a Senate seat in the South for the rest of the decade. Ford is eloquent, charismatic, and refreshingly candid for someone who has been serving his state in Congress for ten years. He doesn't beat around the bush (pun intended) about the serious problems facing our country, and he doesn't shy away from Republican attacks. He is precisely the kind of Senator his state and this country needs.

As I said in my initial post on Ford, no African-American has ever been elected to the Senate since Reconstruction. Helping make Ford the first popularly elected African-American Senator from the old Confederacy would further prove that Democrats are the party of inclusion, even in the face of already-active Republican attempts to smear Congressman Ford.

Let's help Ford take back the seat that was once held by Jim Sasser and Al Gore Sr.!

Friday, July 14, 2006

President Clinton Defends Lieberman

Speaking at an Aspen Institute conference last Friday, former President Bill Clinton went out of his way to defend Joe Lieberman and in the process punctured several holes in the irrational campaign to purge Lieberman from the Democratic Party.

First, Clinton, who strongly backed the war in Iraq from the outset, called the efforts of some Democrats to punish other Democrats who supported the war "the nuttiest strategy I ever heard in my life." Second, he took Lieberman's side in opposing a fixed timetable for removing troops from Iraq, saying, "it’d be an error to say we’re going to leave by X date."

And third, in noting Lieberman's strong Democratic credentials, Clinton said, "you think of all the other issues – he got endorsed in Connecticut by labor, by the environmental groups, by the gay groups, by all these other groups – we’ve got a world of differences between ourselves and the Republicans. So, I think the Democrats are making a mistake to go after each other."

All of which raises some obvious questions. Does this make Bill Clinton, whose positions track pretty much across the board with Joe Lieberman, a shill for the President Bush and the Republicans? Are the angry Lieberman-haters now going to suggest Bill Clinton is a disloyal Democrat? If not, how can they justify this obvious double standard?

FYI, below is the full transcript of Clinton's comments and the question that preceded them:

SPEAKER: As you know, the area where Democrats have, for the last, say, two decades been bedeviled – and telling the story involves the whole realm of national security, international security. Of the three elements of President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ – Iraq, Iran, and North Korea – on any two of them, what would be the line the Democrats should tell, or even three?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, let’s go through them. On Iraq, first of all I think that we oughta be whipped, we Democrats, if we allow our differences over what to do now in Iraq to divide us instead of focusing on replacing Republicans in the Congress; that’s the nuttiest strategy I ever heard in my life. I mean look, there are a few Democrats, and Senator Lieberman – my friend – is one, who genuinely believed what the President believed, and Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld believed, and apparently what Senator McCain believes, and a number of other people, which was “we should just get rid of Saddam whether he’s got any weapons or not, and it doesn’t matter if we let the U.N. inspectors finish.” That was also the position of every Israeli politician I knew, by the way. There were a lot of people who believed that; most Democrats didn’t.

But the question is, once you break the eggs, you have some responsibility to make an omelet, or as General Powell used to say: “If you take it you own it.” What? If you break it you own it, so we gotta make an omelet. So, the issue is, what should we do? I like what the Levin/Biden/Reid crowd that Hillary was involved in; I like that resolution. They said, “We don’t think it’s right to have a fixed timetable for withdrawal.” Why send a signal to the people that are trying to keep Iraq divided and tear it up when we’re gonna go? Would you make any political deals if you knew you could just hang around and maybe get what you want? On the other hand, I think staying forever in what is now a political as well as a military situation is an error. So, I think we oughta say what the Levin thing is, but I don’t think we ought to demonize the people that say we should set a fixed date for withdrawal.

And in a case of a guy like Lieberman, you know, you think of all the other issues – he got endorsed in Connecticut by labor, by the environmental groups, by the gay groups, by all these other groups – we’ve got a world of differences between ourselves and the Republicans. So, I think the Democrats are making a mistake to go after each other instead of…for a situation none of them created; it’s bewildering to me – we ought to be talking about our differences. But what I favor on Iraq, basically I think it’d be nice if we could draw down, it’d be nice if we had some more special forces to send there, it’d be nice if we could, you know, we can make this work. But, the main thing is they’ve got a new government; we’ve got to give them a chance to resolve the political situation, and I think my own view is it’d be an error to say we’re going to leave by X date.

Cutting Emissions, Saving the Environment

Senator Lieberman wrote an Op-Ed in yesterday's New York Post, insisting on the need for America to break its dependence on foreign oil and take drastic measures to cut carbon emissions:

Our dependence on oil is sapping America's independence. We must diversify the fuels that power our nation, or risk ceding our nation's power to rulers separated from us by a world in geography and by centuries in values...

It's time to face facts. The era of big oil for America has to end...

With a bipartisan group of 27 other senators, representing every region of the country, I have introduced the 'Seat America Free Act.' It starts by setting a national goal -- namely, to cut America's oil consumption by 10 million barrels a day over the next 25 years...

And before anyone tries to argue that Lieberman is late coming to this party or just trying to cover himself for the Dem primary, you can see that he has been pushing similar legislation since well before this campaign got geared up, and anyone who recalls his 2004 Presidential bid will recall that his energy policy was a centerpiece of his campaign then as well.

This is the second bill he has introduced on the issue in the past year. The GOP leadership stonewalled the first bill by referring it to the Finance Committee rather than the Energy Committee due to some tax provisions in the bill, because the GOP leadership knew it would pass the Energy Committee. So Lieberman wrote a new bill in May that Frist couldn't knock down on a technicality and which subsequently referred to the Energy Committee, where it had hearings three weeks ago.

And even before that, a similar bill that Lieberman sponsored in 2003 did make it to the floor, but lost 55-43. Remember that - if Lieberman is so cozy with the Republican leaders, why did they block his biggest legislative initiative of the past year? And if he's not a real Democrat, why has he been the only Senator to have legislation going through the pipeline that would take real steps to set higher fuel standards for all vehicles? No other Senator has produced a bill that made it to the Senate floor on this issue in the past 5 years.

Maybe that's why Senator Lieberman is endorsed by the Sierra Club. He has called Bush's leadership on emissions "feeble" and said that the Bush energy policy was "mired in crude oil." Ned Lamont should remember that the next time he says Lieberman won't stand up to Bush's failed policies.

Oh, and on that energy bill that Lieberman voted for that Lamont so loved to bring up in debate:

  1. Calling it the "Bush/Cheney/Lieberman" bill is laughable, since Lieberman never attached his name to the bill in any way.
  2. Others who voted in favor of the bill include such Republican lapdogs as Barack Obama, Patty Murray, Dan Inouye, Barbara Mikulski, Carl Levin, Tom Harkin, and Debbie Stabenow. Not to mention perhaps the Senate's most passionate advocate for environmental protection and energy independence, Maria Cantwell.
  3. Lieberman had actually co-sponsored many amendments to it, including several to strip the bill of some its environmentally unsound provisions, drastically cut carbon emissions, force Bush to release the full EPA report which his administration had censored, and add language forcing the federal government to finally recognize climate change.

Yes, he was the only "New England Democrat" to vote for the bill. Then again, there are only 6 New England Democrats (Lieberman, Dodd, Leahy, Reed, Kerry, and Kennedy), 7 if you count Jeffords (and in fairness, I do), so that’s not exactly an impressive statement. More significant than the fact that he voted differently than the handful of Dems from New England is that he voted with a majority of the Democratic caucus on the bill. The bill's tax breaks for the energy industry were a mistake, as Lieberman has said repeatedly. But he voted for it because the bill would provide jobs for people in Connecticut, save Connecticut residents hundreds of millions of dollars on their electric bills, and provide record incentives for alternative and clean energy sources.

Environmental protection and energy policy are quite possibly the greatest issues that America will face in the coming decades. And Lieberman has a proven record of working to protect the environment and end our dependence on foreign oil.

Update: Major zone-out in my initial post, as I neglected to include Kerry and Kennedy in the list of NE Dems. I corrected the error. Sorry folks - I was rushing to finish it on my break.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reasoned Discourse

I just want to highlight a line from one of the replies to Mr. Gerstein's last post:
Go stick your head back up Holy Joe's a** where you usually dine, loser.

He also called Mr. Gerstein incompetent and "a D.C. pimp." Now I don't know anything about what happened with Sirota's job application with the Lieberman campaign. But I'm glad to see such high-minded rhetoric coming from Mr. Sirota's supporter.

I find it interesting that this commenter and so many others on the Lamont side resort to name-calling. Mr. Gerstein is more than capable of defending himself, as he showed with his impressive and fact-based retort to Sirota's heated, name-calling reply. So I'll move onto myself, and hope that anyone looking to attack this blog as a Lieberman campaign set-up will read this and be preemptively corrected.

My name is Matt Smith. I started this blog and am its sole administrator. I live in Philadelphia, where I'm finishing up my Master's degree in educational policy. I am and never have been connected to Joe Lieberman or his campaign in any way, shape, or form; in fact, I have never volunteered for any major Democratic candidate except Howard Dean.

I actually would encourage any Lamont supporters out there to just try and find a connection, because I would love nothing more than to see Lamont-ites waste their time like that.

This blog was started because I was tired of seeing ridiculous, hate-filled quotes (like the one above) coming from Lamont supporters - and seeing those statements go unchallenged on the web. This blog was set up to provide a voice for practical progressives who wish to debunk the myths that are so frequently told about Senator Lieberman. As Mr. Gerstein says below, we had never spoken until two days ago.

In contrast to the person quoted above and others of his ilk, I intend for the posts on this blog to be rational and fact-based rather than hateful and filled with name-calling, though I obviously can't control those (including Mr. Sirota) who choose to comment on LieberDem posts. If anyone wants to read more about Mr. Sirota's job application with the Lieberman campaign, Mr. Gerstein said that he will discuss it on his personal blog ( ).

Hotheads like Mr. Sirota are just going to have to live with the fact that a sane, rational, progressive, regular old people-powered Democrat has started a blog which is decidedly not anti-Lieberman.

Sirota's Delusion Continues

A friend forwarded me David Sirota's reply to my post from earlier today, in which I exposed the fact Sirota had interviewed to work for Lieberman's Senate office and presidential campaign not long before he began viciously attacking the Senator. I fully expected Sirota to attack me personally and rationalize his hypocritical behavior, but there is no way I could have predicted the masterstroke in self-delusion he produced.

In explaining his decision to interview with the target of his current hatred in 2003, Sirota actually goes so far as to claim he thought he of all people might be able to bring Lieberman to his senses:

"I figured Lieberman might have been considering a reform of his politics back to the old days when he was far more progressive, and that they wanted me to discuss progressive strategy with them. What other reason would Lieberman people call me and ask me to chat with them?"

The rest of the piece is so similarly and comically self-aggrandizing that I am tempted to just let it stand for itself. But because Sirota's delusions get in the way of the truth in a number of relevant places, and might cloud the impressions of casual readers, I thought it was important to clear up the worst inaccuracies in Sirota's reply.

1) I am not Joe Lieberman's "top political consultant." If Sirota had bothered to check his facts, he would know that I stopped working for Senator Lieberman in the spring of 2004, and have not been in his paid employ since. I have no formal association with his reelection campaign, though I am trying to helpful as a friend and admirer of my old boss. And no one asked me to do this post -- it was purely my idea.

2) This is not my blog. It was recently started by a Lieberman supporter named Matt Smith, who I never had any contact with until a few days ago, when I asked him if he would mind if I contributed a post here and there. (If anyone is interested, I do have my own blog:

3) Notwithstanding Sirota's overheated use of the word lie, he does not in the slightest disprove anything I said about his seeking jobs with Lieberman. I wrote that he had job interviews both with the Senate office and Lieberman's presidential campaign in 2003, and I think any reasonable person would deduce that if Sirota wasn't interested in working for the man he so despises now, he wouldn't have interviewed in one of those shops, let alone both.

4) I have never said a word about the outcome of those interview processes, on this blog or anywhere else, nor accused Sirota of sour grapes. I only noted that Sirota came in for interviews, which was more than enough to reveal his rank hypocrisy. Plus, after seeing more closely how he operates, the last word I would ever use to describe my feelings about Sirota not coming to work with me for Lieberman is "angry."

Now, others have noted to me that it is curious that Sirota only discusses his interview with the Lieberman Senate office, and says nothing about the presidential campaign. Maybe that is because Sirota did not take himself out of the running for that job, but was rejected by the campaign, something that was confirmed to me by a person with firsthand knowledge of the interview. That same person noted that when Sirota was asked why someone who seemed so liberal wanted to work for Joe Lieberman, "he specifically said that he was excited to have a Jew in the White House."

4) Speaking of Jewish, nowhere in my post did I "play the Jewish card" against Sirota in my post, as he disingenuously suggests. I simply made a general point about the views of Lieberman-haters about Israel and other issues. Here is the passage in question:

"Once you strip away these flimsy arguments and faulty claims, what you see is that Meyerson and Sirota and their comrades-in-anger are simply projecting their own views and biases, not those of Connecticut's Democrats. THEY think Lieberman is wrong on trade and Israel and other pet issues of the angry activist base, most everyone they talk to in the blogosphere thinks Lieberman is wrong on these same matters, and so of course most Democrats in Connecticut must agree -- which ipso facto makes Lieberman out-of-touch with his constituents."

Nowhere in there do I accuse anyone of anti-Semitism. And to the less self-aggrandizing reader, it would be obvious that the use of the word "they" there was meant to be general and not to single out Sirota. But if Sirota feels I mistakenly lumped him into the category of those haters who think Lieberman is wrong on Israel, then I apologize for my lack of precision, and I look forward to getting Sirota's statement of support on Lieberman's position.

5) My favorite part of Sirota's post is his accusation that I am making "a great living off Big Money's dime." As he could have seen from simply checking my website, a courtesy I gave Sirota, almost all of my consulting clients have been small, progressive advocacy groups -- such as the community coalition that is fighting the massive basketball arena development in Brooklyn, for whom I do pro-bono advising. Frankly, I would bet that between all Sirota's consulting work, his speaking appearances, and his thoughtful new book, he is making a good bit more money than I am.

In full disclosure, I did do some work to help Duke University launch a new environmental policy center, but don't think that's what Sirota had in mind. My only corporate client I have had to date is the Connecticut-based Pilot Pen Corporation, and in that case I helped them arrange an event in Washington to promote a widely-praised reading program they had funded.

As for political clients, I have had two. One was a progressive Democratic candidate for Public Advocate in New York City named Andrew Rasiej, who made it his cause to take on Time Warner, Verizon and other big telecom companies that were standing in the way of universal Wi-Fi, the centerpiece of Rasiej's agenda. The other is Tom Suozzi, the reform-minded Nassau County Executive, who is running against Eliot Spitzer in the Democratic primary for governor in New York. Suozzi dismantled the corrupt Republican machine in Nassau to become County Executive, and his gubernatorial campaign is focused on taking back New York's dysfunctional state government from the big-monied special interests Sirota detests and making it work for the people again.

Sirota is right about one thing. I am technically a political loser -- Rasiej got his head handed to him, Suozzi is way behind in the polls to Spitzer, and we all know what happened to Senator Lieberman's presidential bid. I'd like to think I added some value to those campaigns, which were all longshots from the start for varying reasons, but there is no denying the results. I'm not sure, though, how that distinguished me from other Democrats, I'm sad to say. Nor, more importantly, do I have any idea how that is relevant to the question at hand, which is whether Sirota and other out-of-state Lieberman-haters have any legitimacy in speaking for most Connecticut Democrats or judging what's mainstream.

I thought my original blog post fairly effectively discredited Sirota's credibility on this count -- notice in his post that he does not contest the fact that he has attacked Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for being bad Democrats. But if there were any doubts after reading my post, Sirota's fantastical reply should eliminate them once and for all.

Bringing Down Lieberman Could Hurt Progressives' Own Cause

So says E.J. Kessler of The Forward:

Some Democrats are nervous that if Senator Joseph Lieberman loses his primary to an antiwar challenger, thousands of hawkish Jewish Democrats who see the Connecticut lawmaker as their standard-bearer will either abandon the party or sit out the November election.

That, say several political observers, could make the difference in some hard-fought Senate races — including contests in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — that Democrats must win in order to have any hope of taking back the Senate this year.

I don't agree with John Droney's ill-begotten sentiments that Jews should vote for Lieberman just for the sake of supporting home cooking. But from a purely strategic standpoint, it's difficult to deny that a prolonged, vitriolic assault on Lieberman would disaffect some Jewish voters who traditionally vote Democrat.

Of course, a Lieberman defeat in August would have negative repercussions for Democrats reaching far beyond Jewish voters. Some Republicans (like at have already begun to use the vehement assault on Lieberman as evidence that the Democratic Party has been taken over by the most extreme partisan elements within their ranks, and gleefully predict that this will lead to Democratic defeats nationwide.

Think of the damage such charges could do in other Senate races. Conrad Burns has already been hitting Jon Tester for being a liberal in centrist clothing. If Lieberman loses in August, Burns could then add "And so what if he is a moderate? You can see what Democrats do with their moderates." The argument is obviously flimsy (Montana Democrats and Connecticut Democrats are not exactly cut from the same cloth), but history has shown that Republicans have a remarkable ability to get voters to believe flimsy arguments.

And charging the Democrats of not tolerating dissent takes away from what should be one of the Democrats' best arguments against the GOP - just look at what almost happened to Arlen Specter in '04, and what may happen to Linc Chafee this year. The Democrats have always had the high ground on being the "bigger tent" party from 2002 on, and moderate and independent voters have been breaking for the Democrats in nearly every poll since the '04 election.

The persistent attacks on Sen. Lieberman could easily turn off those key swing voters, and cut the gains that Dems otherwise stand to make in November.

Out of State, Out of Minds

Of all the absurdities about the misguided campaign to purge Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party, the most striking of the moment is how many bloggers and activists from outside Connecticut authoratatively proclaim to know just what Democrats in the state believe.

For example, over the July 4th weekend, the Hartford Courant published an op-ed from a young operative and blogger named David Sirota, who told Connecticut Democrats like me that Lieberman didn't represent us. In fact, Sirota went a step further, and ludicrously argued that Lieberman was not just outside the mainstream of the Democratic Party, but of the American people.

Now what standing and credibility does Sirota have to make either claim? Well, he spent most of his limited adult life working in Washington -- including a stint with the lone socialist in Congress -- before moving to Montana. To my knowledge, the closest he's come to spending any meaningful time in Connecticut is interviewing for a job in Joe Lieberman's Senate office (with yours truly) and in his Presidential campaign in 2003.

Yes, that's right: the same guy who is viciously attacking Joe Lieberman as the great Satan of the Democratic Party actually sought not one but two jobs from the target of his hatred, and did so at time when all of the supposed sins that Sirota is attacking Lieberman for now were well known. The polite term for that would be chutzpah. Some one less charitable might call Sirota a fraud.

But in fairness to Sirota, he isn't just attacking Lieberman. He has accused Bill Clinton and Barack Obama of being bad Democrats as well. That alone should resolve any question about Sirota's qualifications for discerning what a mainstream Democrat is, be it in Connecticut or anywhere else.

Then there's the Harold Meyerson column in yesterday's Washington Post, which similarly argues that Lieberman is out of touch with his constituents, and not just on Iraq. As best I can tell from his online biography, Meyerson, an editor at the liberal American Prospect magazine, has never spent any meaningful time in Connecticut either -- he grew up in Los Angeles, and now splits his time between L.A. and D.C. So on what basis is he reaching his judgment about my fellow Nutmeggers?

Well, as best I can tell, his evidence consists of:
1) Lieberman has consistently supported the war in Iraq;
2) Lieberman doesn't have as liberal a voting record as other Northeastern Democrats;
3) beyond not reflecting the majority views of his constituents 100 percent of the time, Lieberman "leads causes many of them find repugnant"

Let's dispense with Iraq, and stipulate up front that the majority of Democrats in the state now think the war was wrong.

So what about the other two pieces of supporting evidence Meyerson cites?

On the comparison of voting records, let's first consider the source -- the liberal advocacy group Americans for Democratic Action. Since when did this once great but now obscure national interest group become the benchmark for the views of Connecticut Democrats?

More importantly, most independent long-term voting comparisons -- which are much more valid than any one-year, one-interest group measure -- show that Joe Lieberman's voting record is pretty close to that of his Connecticut colleague Chris Dodd. In fact, they have voted the same way about 90 percent of the time, and that would be even closer without Iraq as an issue. Is Meyerson now saying that Dodd is out of touch with his constituents?

(For more myth-busting evidence about Lieberman's voting record, check out this article from last year in the Manchester Journal Inquirer, in which American Prospect writer and progressive pundit Matthew Iglesias affirmed my point by concluding that Joe Lieberman is "a pretty orthodox Democrat.")

What's left, then, is Meyerson's contention that Lieberman leads causes "many" Connecticut Democrats find repugnant. And what examples does Meyerson cite? "Trade, Social Security, and other key issues."

Setting aside the loose use of the term "many," Meyerson presents no evidence to suggest that the majority of state Democrats, or even a large minority, are opposed to Lieberman's position for free trade -- which happens to be the same as Bill Clinton's, that other bad Democrat -- let alone that they find it repugnant. The reason for that just might be that Connecticut's economy is heavily driven by exports -- in fact, one out of every four jobs in the state is dependent on trade.

Then there's Social Security. Contrary to the lies that the Lieberman-haters continue to spread about his record on this issue, Joe Lieberman has voted against Social Security privatization every chance he could. So I would respectfully ask Meyerson to explain exactly what repugnant cause Lieberman has led there.

Once you strip away these flimsy arguments and faulty claims, what you see is that Meyerson and Sirota and their comrades-in-anger are simply projecting their own views and biases, not those of Connecticut's Democrats. THEY think Lieberman is wrong on trade and Israel and other pet issues of the angry activist base, most everyone they talk to in the blogosphere thinks Lieberman is wrong on these same matters, and so of course most Democrats in Connecticut must agree -- which ipso facto makes Lieberman out-of-touch with his constituents.

But here's the best evidence to debunk that flawed conclusion. The non-Iraq positions that the Lieberman-haters object to, when they are not distorting his record, are not new. Lieberman's independent streak was quite evident to his Democratic constituents in 1994 and in 2000, and on both occasions they chose to renominate him unanimously. And even into the first few years of the Bush Administration, Lieberman maintained the highest approval rating of any politician in the state, with strong support from Democrats. (His numbers only started to slide after the war, and in particular, after the Lieberman haters launched their vicious purge campaign.)

That just goes to show that, contrary to the desperate assertions by Meyerson and Sirota that this isn't about Iraq, it really is about Iraq. That's the new variable here. That's the only the issue that is really agitating Connecticut Democrats who don't subscribe to the extreme Sirota agenda in this primary. And that's the only reason that Ned Lamont's candidacy even exists.

Now, if the Lieberman-haters want to have an honest debate about Iraq and the other issues they are upset about, that's great. I'd happily put up Joe Lieberman's principled, consistent stand on the war -- along with his exceptional record of integrity, experience, and results for the state on other issues -- up against Ned Lamont's confused and confusing six positions on Iraq, his record of opportunism and inexperience, and his idea-less campaign.

But for that to happen, the out-of-state Lieberman-haters need to stop pretending they speak for the broad range of Connecticut Democrats, and even more importantly, they need to stop lying about Lieberman's record.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Schlesinger and Gambling

A story from the Hartford Courant appeared on the National Journal's Hotline Blog that presumptive GOP Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger could be facing some serious questions in the next couple weeks about his gambling habits. Schlesinger apparently held a casino loyalty card under an assumed name, although Schlesinger claims he has not used the card "in this decade."

The chair of the CT GOP doesn't sound too convinced by Schlesinger's explanations:
Gallo, who is close to Republican Governor M. Jodi Rell, said, “Our mistake is that we only vetted candidates using their real names...”

...The party chair would be unlikely to have been so critical of the Republican nominee without a signal from Rell’s office...

Republicans are rumored to have some moguls of their own interested in jumping into the fray. Forcing Schlesinger off the ballot would be the first step. He won’t go quietly, you can bet on that.

This appears to be more good news for Lieberman from a strategic standpoint. A weakened or late-entrant GOP nominee is not likely to pick up the support of many unaffiliated voters, which would boost Lieberman's chances in a 3- or 4-way race where unaffiliated voters form the "swing" vote.

I'll say it again - more candidates in the race means that less attention goes to Lamont, and the closer this campaign comes to being a circus, the less likely each individual challenger is to be taken seriously.

Biden's Missed Train

Lots of speculation has been kicked around about Sen. Joe Biden's (D-DE) scheduled campaign appearance with Sen. Lieberman which was cancelled when Biden missed his train. Kos and others in the blogosphere - none of whom seem to be fans of either Senator - mocked Biden's alibi, saying that trains run from DE to CT every half-hour or so.

But Erin13 writes that the scheduling of the event made it impossible for Biden to catch a later train and make the campaign event:
"I called the CT office of Sen Lieberman, and they said there were other speakers scheduled and they had one opening for Joe, and he missed it. They could not reschedule him for another time in the event."

Ahhhh, facts over speculation. How refreshing.

Four-Way Race in November?

So it looks like the Connecticut GOPers might be facing an indy candidate from within their ranks in this November's Senate race. State Rep. Diana Urban (R) filed papers yesterday at the CT Secretary of State's office; she can start collecting signatures for an indy run immediately. Urban represents North Stonington, and says she is "a Republican in the Lincoln/Teddy Roosevelt ilk."

She is running as a peace candidate, and could not resist the opportunity to take a jab at Lamont as she stepped into the ring:

“All I can tell people is "examine the record" - I am not a one-issue person, and I have proven it.”

I see no way in which this hurts Lieberman, and it certainly doesn't help Lamont. Here are a few reasons why:
  1. As more candidates jump into the race, attention becomes more divided between Lieberman's challengers, and it becomes harder for any one of them to get too much oxygen. A four-way race would likely be framed as Lieberman versus three challengers, unless Lamont or Schlesinger takes the lead in polls early on.
  2. She is anti-war. And a Republican. She's an anti-war Republican. How many people do you know who fit that description that were ever going to vote for Lieberman? In November, these people would almost certainly have gone to Schlesinger in a 2-way race (better the pro-war Republican than the pro-war Democrat), or would have split themselves between Lamont and Schlesinger in a 3-way race. She siphons money and votes away from both Lamont and Schesinger, which helps Lieberman in turn.
  3. Some anti-war voters may decide that since there is going to be an anti-war candidate on the ballot in November anyway, there's no need for them to vote in the Dem primary now. I'm not saying this will apply to a large group of voters, but I have a feeling it's going to be very close on August 8, and even a few hundred anti-war voters deciding to stay home could make a difference.

Of course, the ballgame is already over if Lieberman wins the Dem primary. Now, Urban's entry gives Lieberman some insurance runs for November in case low turnout costs him the primary in August.

"Other" Race News: Harold Ford and TN Senate

One of the many mind-boggling aspects of the anti-Lieberman campaign is how the Lieberhaters are draining critical progressive resources away from races where Democrats actually have a chance to pick up a seat from the Republicans rather than consuming one of their own. So every once in awhile, we'll take a break from the CT Senate race to talk about one of those races, and give our readers the chance to help end Republican control of Capitol Hill.

Our first profile will be on Congressman Harold Ford and the Tennessee Senate race. Ford is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (my own alma mater) and University of Michigan's Law School who was elected to the House at age 26. After a decade serving in the lower chamber, he's now vying to take the seat being vacated by Bill Frist. Ford is a practical progressive, and one of the true stars of the House Democratic Caucus.

He will be facing off against one of three GOPers - who are currently forming a circular firing squad in the GOP primary. With another practical progressive (Gov. Phil Bredesen) at the top of the ticket in November, this is a seat that Dems have a real chance to take - and it's one we MUST take if we want to take back the Senate in November.

The GOP nominee is certain to have a war chest the size of Lookout Mountain that they'll use to attack Ford and distort his record. You can help him out by contributing to his campaign so that he can set the record straight, and help bring this Senate into the Democratic column.

Ford would also be the first African-American to win a Senate seat in the south since Reconstruction. So by helping his campaign, you would be helping to make history.

Click here to contribute to Congressman Ford's campaign

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Feed should be working

I just created a new feed for LieberDem through FeedBurner. You can subscribe to LieberDem by clicking on the (orange) icon under "Links."

Let me know if it's not working.

John Lewis endorses/campaigns for Joe

John Lewis (D-GA), the greatest living leader of the civil rights movement - and my Congressman when I was growing up - endorsed Sen. Lieberman today, even as the Senator filed papers to collect signatures for a possible run in November as an independent Democrat.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, said Lieberman has his support no matter what happens in the primary. Lewis was in Hartford Monday with Lieberman and U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., discussing faith-based initiatives to fight youth violence.

"I stick with my friends," Lewis said. "He's going to win. You heard it from John Lewis. He's going to win."

Click here for the article.

Please, Lieberhaters, I'm begging you - try and tell me that John Lewis is only endorsing Lieberman becuase he is part of a "Washington insider" effort to cling to power. Try and tell me that John Lewis is "out of touch" with progressives because he backs Joe Lieberman. Just try and tell me that John Lewis is abandoning his principles by campaigning for a pro-war Democrat, or that he is a Democrat In Name Only.

The truth is that John Lewis is one of the most respected and distinguished members of the Democratic caucus, and a committed progressive who spoke as strongly and eloquently against the war as anyone. And he is backing Joe Lieberman all the way.

How 'bout them apples?

Ad Hulabaloo

The recent spurt of new ads from the Lamont and Lieberman campaigns has gained quite a bit of attention both in the blogosphere and the local media. The latest salvo is a fake 'negative ad' by the Lamont campaign criticizing...Lamont. The ad shows three images saying that Lamont makes bad coffee, is a bad singer, and has a messy desk, then concludes with Lamont saying "Aren't you sick of political attack ads that insult your intelligence? Sen. Lieberman, let's stick to issues and pledge to support whoever wins the Democratic primary."

Even I have to admit the ad is clever. But what's the saying about people living in glass houses? It's more than a bit disingenuous for the Lamont campaign to call out Joe on negative ads. The presumed target of Lamont's parody ad is a recent Lieberman ad where the Senator put up a fake bumper sticker 'from' the Lamont campaign which reads "No More Joe." Lieberhaters cried foul, saying it was a "lie" since the Lamont campaign had never issued any such bumper sticker. The point, of course, was not that it was a real Lamont bumper sticker, but rather that the message on the bumper sticker was representative of the tone of Lamont's campaign.

People also seem to forget that real paraphernalia from an opponent's campaign is subject to copy protection just like all other official company publications. So if you want to parody the other side, you have to change at least some part of your opponent's paraphernalia.

True, "fair use" rules would probably protect Lieberman in this case, but then that would mean directing people who see the ad to Lamont's actual campaign sight, which anyone would have to admit would be a really stupid move for Lieberman's campaign. This is all something these Lieberhaters obviously did not consider when using their criticism; if they did know it, they chose to ignore it.

Above and beyond that, any fair-minded person would have to agree with the Lieberman campaign's response that the bumper sticker ad was "hardly more outrageous" than the "doctored video in a Lamont ad of Lieberman's voice coming from President Bush's mouth." Really, the only difference is that the Lieberman campaign doctored a photo while the Lamont campaign doctored a video. Is one really more acceptable than the other?

I'm certainly not saying that Lieberman's ad was a good one. If I were him, I would have certainly found another way to convey the message. But I would send this warning to the makers of Lamont's most recent ad:

Careful, Mr. Lamont. Your house is looking particularly transparent on this one.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Will of the People

One thing that has perpetually bugged me about the Lieberhaters' arguments is the idea that If Lieberman chooses to run as an independent, he is refusing to "play by the rules" or abide by the "will of the people."

The first complaint is just plain bogus. It is perfectly legal for Lieberman to run in the Dem primary while collecting signatures for an indy run. It is also perfectly legal for him to refer to himself as a Democrat thereafter, since his voter registration would remain so, and since he says he will caucus with the Democrats even if he wins as an indy - not to mention that he won the endorsement of the CT Dem party. Lieberman would be breaking no rules by running as an independent and calling himself a Democrat, unless the Dem Party and/or the CT legislature change their existing rules.

The second complaint is not as blatantly dishonest, but it is still disingenuous, and hints at a broader problem I've noticed with many in the so-called 'netroots' movement. Many of them tend to think the only people who really matter are those who agree with them. They excuse this obvious display of political snobbery by saying that the 'netroots' movement is "people-powered," implying that only those who share its values and support its candidates can truly have the people's best interest at heart.

They don't come out and say it, but that is the obvious implication of saying that Lieberman would be disrespecting the people by running as an independent, and that candidates who would support a Lieberman indy run are disrespecting "the will of the voters." Sorry to say it, but there are voters in CT besides those who vote in the Democratic primary.

In fact, according to the National Journal's Almanac of American Politics, the voter registration for breakdown in CT is:
671,656 Democrats (34.2%)
449,727 Republicans (22.9%)
844,433 unaffiliated and minor parties (43.0%)

It is hardly dispespecting the will of the voters for Lieberman to give the 66% of voters who aren't registered Democrats a chance to vote for him. It's not even disrespecting CT Democrats, although such an argument would be much stronger if turnout in the CT Dem primary cracks 50%, which I very much doubt it will.

By running in the general election, Lieberman would actually give more voters a choice in the electoral process, while also giving more choices to those voters. The real reason that the Lieberhaters on Kos, MyDD, and elsewhere react so vehemently to the idea of a Lieberman indy run is not that they think a Lieberman indy run would be "breaking the rules" or disrespecting the will of the voters; it's that they know he is likely to win any election where the entire CT electorate is able to vote.

Of course, this would all be a moot point if Joe wins the 8/8 primary, which I'd still say is better than a 1:1 bet.