Wednesday, June 28, 2006

DeVos, the Wannabe Destroyer

According to the book, “Manufactured Crisis,” when Ronald Reagan was transitioning into his first term as President, a memo was circulated that stated: now is the time to dismantle public education. The Republicans had learned what the Democrats had not discovered: if you tell a lie often enough and long enough, people begin believing it.

So William Bennett (Mr. Ethics and Values, author of children’s books and gambling addict) was appointed Secretary of Education, thus becoming the leader off a department of government that he had long insisted should be eliminated. It was not too long before he began issuing yearly reports, pointing to the fact that SAT scores had slipped since the 1950s. While they had climbed in the 60s and 70s somewhat, and they continued to improve overall year after year, certain areas of the tests lagged behind others, etc., etc. The drum beat from the conservatives was: our schools are declining; our schools are in trouble; the teachers are incompetent; the nation is not getting its money’s worth, and on and on.

What Mr. Bennett did not say, much to the dismay of his staff, was that the SAT was originally given to a small group of pampered white boys in several prep schools in New England: that was the baseline of the scores. When the test moved to a national level, the scores, of course, went down.

But the scores continued to climb over the decades, a fact that was quite remarkable because that meant that millions of public school students, many of whom were minorities and immigrants, were being well served. The public schools were working! Bennett was deliberately spinning the statistics. In earlier days, “spinning” would have been called lying.

Which brings us to Dick DeVos. His name, and his family’s name, keeps turning up in interesting places.
*His family is one of the “18 Families” who have spent millions for the repeal of the Estate Tax. (
*Dick DeVos is a member of several far-right religious groups who have been associated with infiltrating and instigating uproars that have split several mainstream Protestant denominations, and have politicized their religious values. ( It is interesting to note that this web page (“seekgod”) is obviously a fundamentalist work, and is very succinct in laying out the connections DeVos has with the groups that are creating dissention, and it also does a good job of showing why Amway is at best a rip-off, and at worst engaging in criminal activity.
*As mentioned elsewhere in this blog, through his various spin-off groups, DeVos has pushed vouchers and tax-supported parochial and private schools.

So the Republican wanting to be the Governor of Michigan
-comes from a family that cares nothing for the common good;
-uses his connections in religious organizations to destroy Protestant churches and turn them into political weapons in support of his and other NeoCons hope of turning the country into a theocracy;
-wants to further disrupt and break down our society by eliminating the institutions that provide cohesive common experiences that are the glue of society- our public schools.

As my Southern grandmother used to say, he has a lot of gall.

Vote on offshore drilling soon

From the Natural Resources Defense Fund:

H.R. 4761 would repeal the offshore oil and gas drilling moratorium for areas more than 50 miles from our coasts and allow states to opt out of the moratorium for areas closer to shore. In exchange for opting out, states would receive a percentage of the royalties the oil and gas industry pays the federal government for the privilege of drilling. In other words, big oil and gas companies could "bribe" states to lift their drilling bans with the promise of some quick cash in the form of royalties.

This legislation would reverse 25 years of bipartisan offshore drilling protections and put our country’s billion-dollar coastal economies at risk. Contact Dave Camp: urge him to vote no.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Carl Levin: To a true gentleman on his birthday

For 28 years - longer than anyone else in Michigan history - Carl Levin has represented Michigan in the United States Senate with integrity and class. Now, as we approaach his 72nd birthday on Wednesday, I would like to take this opportunity to honor a man whom I respect more than almost any other figure in Michigan and national politics.

His work ethic has earned him praise from both sides of the aisle. His willingness to stand up and truly represent the people of Michigan and the United States earned him praise from TIME Magazine, which a couple months ago named him one of "America's Ten Best Senators." The magazine had this to say about Levin:

No one would accuse Carl Levin of looking like Hollywood’s version of a U.S. Senator. He’s pudgy, balding and occasionally rumpled, and he constantly wears his glasses at the very tip of his nose. Still, the Michigan Democrat has gained respect from both parties for his attention to detail and deep knowledge of policy, especially in his role as a vigilant monitor of businesses and federal agencies. In 2002, a subcommittee he led hauled in Enron’s board of directors to question them about the company’s shady accounting practices; in hearings a year later, he was one of the chief challengers of large accounting firms that had created illegal tax shelters. Congress passed laws in the wake of both scandals in an effort to prevent the abuses from happening again.

Levin, 71 and first elected in 1978, says he considers congressional hearings a critical part of his job, spending as much as 20 hours prepping for each one so an evasive witness won’t outwit him. The former civil-rights lawyer is known for forcing embarrassing admissions from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and other Bush Administration officials through his precise questioning. “You’ve got to be very blunt and truly listen so you know when the b.s. is flying,” Levin says.

Although admired by many Republicans for his diligence, Levin rarely sides with them. He opposed the Iraq war, and as the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, he has become one of his party’s leading voices in criticizing President Bush’s conduct of the invasion, arguing that the Administration didn’t have enough troops in the early stages and, more recently, hasn’t focused enough on training Iraqi troops. But his carefully researched, thoughtful remarks carry great weight with his colleagues. “Nobody in the Democratic Caucus says anything on national-security issues without talking to Carl Levin,” says a top Democratic Senate staff member.

Of our distinguished senior senator, the MDP's Mark Brewer declared:

“The nation is now learning what Michigan already knows: that Carl Levin is highly respected, very knowledgeable and hard-working Senator,” remarked Brewer. “He has been a tireless fighter for workers, civil rights, the environment, ensuring that America remains secure and stopping corruption. Levin has done an remarkable job for Michigan and the country, and we are very fortunate for his service.”

Both articles are very telling - and accurate. As a US Senator, it is Levin's duty to represent the interests of the Great Lakes State in our nation's capital. Since being elected nine years before I was born, Levin has done so with a high level of integrity. While I have disagreed with him on a few votes - I wish he would have joined Debbie Stabenow in opposing John Roberts's nomination, for example - I admire him more than almost anyone else in Washington (okay, besides Russ Feingold and John Conyers). His service in the halls of Congress is something of which we all of us in Michigan - and throughout the country - can be proud.

Happy Birthday, Senator... and many more.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tell Camp- Support HR952, Stop Rendition

The Bush Administration has been engaging in the practice of “rendition,” which is a word for sending people overseas to be tortured. When Duyba says “We don’t torture,” he is, as usual, telling a small truth surrounded by a lie. WE don’t torture, but we kidnap people from U.S. airports, kidnap them off the streets in Italy and other nations, kidnap them from out of their own countries, then send them to be tortured in other countries. These are not stories from various spy novels, these are things our government is doing today. And, worst of all, the Administration defends its actions as legal!

There is a bill before the House (HR952) that stops this practice. Contact Dave Camp (Phone: (202) 225-3561/Fax: (202) 225-9679). Ask him to be co-sponsor of the bill. This is an horrific practice by this government that is, they say, fighting to bring democracy and freedom (?) to the world.

About Camp’s numbers: I’ve called him so much recently that I’ve put his numbers on speed-dial.

Tell FCC- No More Media Consolidation

At a meeting this month (June, 2006) in Washington, the FCC issued a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” the first step in any new media ownership regulations. But FCC Chairman Kevin Martin did not outline exact rules the FCC could implement by the end of the year.

“This innocuous-looking document initiates the single most important public policy debate that the FCC will tackle this year,” said Commissioner Michael Copps. “Don’t let its slimness fool you. It means that this Commission has begun to decide on behalf of the American people the future of our media. It means deciding whether or not to accelerate media concentration, step up the loss of local news and change forever the critical role independent newspapers perform for our country.”

The commissioners voted to launch the new process with partial dissents from Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Copps.

“The manner in which the Commission is launching this critical proceeding is totally inadequate,” Adelstein said. “It is like submitting a high-school term paper for a Ph.D. thesis. The large media companies wanted, and today they get, a blank check to permit further media consolidation.”

The new rulemaking allows 120 days for public comment, and Chairman Martin pledged to hold “half a dozen” public hearings and conduct independent studies. Numerous members of the Coalition responded:
“For far too long, media policy in this country has been made behind closed doors in the public’s name but without our informed consent,” said Robert W. McChesney, president of Free Press. “Despite overwhelming public opposition to greater media consolidation from across the entire political spectrum, the FCC and industry lobbyists are trying to sneak through the same misguided rules rejected in 2003. Chairman Kevin Martin appears to have learned little from the last ownership rules debacle. But the public’s views are clear: Big Media is already big enough.”

Communities across the United States should take note of what the FCC is doing and speak out before the federal agency allows the conglomerates to “gobble up” more local media, writes Ryan Blethen of the Seattle Times.

In a Times editorial Friday, June 23, Blethen calls on Americans of every persuasion to demand that the FCC hears their concerns about big media control of local news and information:

“Write your congressmen. Write your senators. Go to the public meetings the FCC plans to hold around the country. Tell the FCC to ensure that your press stays independent. If your newspaper or TV station is not covering this issue, ask the editor or producer why not.
“It is time to panic. Our democracy will only suffer if the bland, monolithic media machine is allowed to suck up more press outlets.”

Earlier in the week, a Seattle Times editorial called upon the FCC to have hearings across the country. “Let them come here, and this community will give them an earful,” the paper wrote.
In fact, a public hearing starring at least two FCC commissioners is set for June 28 in Asheville, North Carolina. The event – the first of its kind since the FCC announced its plans to rewrite ownership rules on Wednesday – is being facilitated by coordinator Free Press, in partnership with local activists and media reform groups. (For more about the Asheville hearing visit .

“We’re going to do more studies and more hearings than have been done before,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re going to have a longer comment period, so we’re going to try to seek greater public input.”

We need to watch Martin closely and hold him to this commitment. It’s clear who he’s been listening to in the debate over concentration. He has supported eliminating the three-decade-old flat ban on television-newspaper cross-ownership and in April called on newspaper publishers to join him to help justify the repeal.

When in 2003, Martin’s predecessor Michael Powell faced broad public opposition to further media consolidation, his response was to attend no further public hearings. This time around Martin can’t pull a “Powell” and close his office to the concerns of the people he really represents.

What can you do? Go to the website:, and sign the petition to the FCC telling them to keep the current rules. And contact Levin, Stabenow, and Camp to let them know they need to pay attention to what Martin (and the Bush Adminstration) is trying to do: shut down a free and diverse press.

From JT: If you’re not sure about this, or don’t think this petition is important, go to the FCC website:, and read the Commissioner Copp and Commissioner Adelstein‘s statements. If they don’t raise your hackles, you’re not paying attention!

Constitution Under Attack June 26, With “Pledge Protection” Law

Our friends on the Right are at it again: pandering to the Christian Right" (the "Un-Christian Right" is more accurate), by proposing to strip the courts of their jurisdiction over cases involving the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Their latest attempt to restrict religious freedom, tweak the Constitution to make their religion the law of the land, and screw around with the centuries-long balance of power between the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive branch, is called the Pledge Protection Act. Officially it is HR 2389.

The major faith-based organizations (The Interfaith Alliance, Sojourners, National Council of Churches, etc.) do not take a stand on whether or not the words "under God" should be in the Pledge, but they have been against any attempt to re-write the laws that affect religious freedom (and freedom FROM religion), remove the courts from deciding cases involving religion ("court stripping"), or attempt to make the narrow-minded, sectarian views of a small but vocal minority the law of the land.

Dave Camp will be under a lot of pressure from his Republican masters to show he is a "real" Christian, particularly with elections coming up. This is the religious version of the NRA, and they are as ruthless and unethical as the NRA in getting their way. So call or fax Camp. Let him know that you vote too, and want to keep this country free for all religions. Vote no on HR 2389.

This might be on the floor of the House today, so we need to call or send faxes right away. Email is not as effective; call or write. Phone: (202) 225-3561 Fax: (202) 225-967

Friday, June 23, 2006

Your Actions Speak Louder Than Your Words, Dave

From One Campaign:
“Two weeks ago, two last-minute, bipartisan amendments providing $350 million in development assistance failed on the floor of the House of Representatives by relatively slim margins....(the) amendments... would have added life-saving funding to provide the world’s poorest people with safe drinking water (H.AMDT.979), care for whose lives have been ravaged by AIDS, and food rations for the refugees of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan (H.AMDT.980).“

Dave Camp voted against the amendments.

Time and again, his actions prove that he cares only for what Dow and his Republican masters care about, which is making the rich richer. He consistently votes against anything that will provide support for education, health care, or leads to a cleaner, healthier environment.

Camp has long been a liability to his constituents (with the exception of Dow), and he continues to demonstrate that he has become a liability to the American spirit of altruism and concern for others. With this and other recent votes, he is also showing that he has little concern for suffering and poverty in other countries that are even worse off than our poor (whose ranks he has added to during the past 6 years).

During the so-called debate over the war in Iraq, he stood on the floor of the House and spoke grand words that retold the same “errors” that his own leaders themselves have disavowed; he praised the sacrifices of our sons and daughters, but neglected to say that they are suffering and dying because of his support of the war. He has voted in support of an administration that has deliberately lied to us, invaded our privacy, held our fellow citizens captive, tortured and participated in the torture of innocent civilians, started the first preemptive war in American history, is verging on starting the nuclear arms race again, has broken faith with our allies, voided long-standing treaties, and besmirched this nation’s reputation as a beacon of hope and freedom. He has voted to plunder our country’s treasure, cut our investments in the future, and reduced us from a nation that was the financial leader in the world into a nation that is in debt, and will be for generations to come.

Was he alone in this? Of course not. But never, not once, did he question whether this was best for the country and his constituents. Not once did he waver in following the dictates of his party. Is he responsble for all of this? Yes, because he is responsible for his vote-he controls how he uses it and what he supports.

What he supports is doctrine, schemes, agendas; he does not support the lives of his constituents and the common good. It is time to get him out of Congress.

Mike Huckleberry is ready to take his place in Congress and cast his vote for the good of all his constituents and the country. Mike Huckleberry is ready to serve. Let’s make it happen.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid

While Governor Granholm continues her efforts to get companies to invest in Michigan and help small business employees save for retirement, one has to wonder about issues facing our state that do not involve our economy and jobs - and where Dick DeVos stands on them.

For starters, there’s education. Granholm recently enacted a new set of standards in our high schools which will guarantee that our youth will be smart enough for the competitive 21st century world. DeVos, on the other hand, supports vouchers. He was a chief backer of the voucher proposal which Michigan rejected by a more than 2-to-1 margin in 2000.

And what about the environment? Granholm has opposed efforts to allow other states to take our Great Lakes water. She has also fought to protect our Lakes from invasive species. One group named Lieutenant Governor John Cherry its Conservationist of the Year. But for DeVos fans, it is inconveniently true that their candidate has no plan for helping their environment of our state - at least not one of which he speaks. We can assume that like his buddies GW Bush and Dave Tramp (no offense to tramps), he would sell our lakes, forests, and resources to the highest donor.

Of course, in the wake of Samuel Alito’s recent appointment to the Supreme Court, the right of women to control their own bodies is also being threatened. So it’s good to know that at least DeVos is honest about his opposition to women’s rights. What he won’t tell you is that under the pro-choice Granholm, our abortion rate in Michigan dropped 11% from 2003 to 2004, thanks in no small part to birth control.

Fewer abortions is great news. But how can you forget about the moral issue of health care? Here’s what Eric Baerren said a couple months ago in The Morning Sun:

During last week's visit to the Morning Sun, Dick DeVos didn't include health care on his list of the state's most pressing issues (I guess when you inherit a fortune built on suckers swindled by soap, the price of prescription drugs isn't so important). On the other hand, if you look at the Michigan Manufacturer's Association legislative agenda for 2006, health care is featured prominently. So DeVos says he wants to attract manufacturers, but hasn't read up on what issues they think are important.

So he doesn’t care about insuring Michigan citizens. (Nor does he listen to the needs of manufacturers.) But at least the incumbent cares:

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today discussed details of the Michigan First Health Care Plan, first announced in her 2006 State of the State Address. Following a conversation with medical professionals at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, the Governor said that her plan will expand affordable health care to all Michigan citizens. The plan will attack the factors that are driving health care costs up, make affordable insurance products available to individuals, and help make insurance more affordable for small businesses to provide to their employees.

“The Michigan First Health Care Plan will provide affordable health care coverage to every citizen in Michigan,” said Granholm. “This plan will provide a quality product at an affordable cost, create incentives for business, and help bring down health care costs for everyone.”

Speaking of health and safety, did I mention Michigan’s helmet law?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Call Dave Camp- support Voting Rights Act

From People for the American Way:

House leaders have indicated that they will bring the Voting Rights Act (VRA) reauthorization bill to a floor vote this week. Although the bill (H.R. 9) enjoys broad bipartisan support, a vocal handful of representatives are intent on making passage of a clean and effective version difficult.

H.R. 9 is co-sponsored by more than 150 Democrats and Republicans and passed the House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly with a 33-1 vote, but harmful amendments that would weaken the landmark civil rights legislation may be offered on the House floor. That’s why your representative needs to hear from you.

Please call your representative toll-free now at 1-866-808-0065 and tell him or her to:
1. REJECT all amendments to H.R. 9, the Voting Rights Act reauthorization
2. Vote YES on passage of the clean bill

More than 40 years after its original passage, the Voting Rights Act continues to be an essential tool in fighting discrimination and protecting democracy. Millions of Americans depend on the vital provisions that are up for reauthorization which:

• require certain states and counties to get federal approval before changing their election laws and procedures;
• guarantee that citizens who need language assistance are not denied access to voting; and
• give the federal government the power to send observers to monitor elections.
Don’t let Congress turn back the clock on voting rights by weakening the VRA. Call your representative now and urge clean passage of the Voting Rights Act reauthorization bill – that means NO on all amendments, and YES on the current version of H.R. 9.

Call 1-800-808-0065 today!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Camp Repeats Bush Lies About Iraq-Terrorism Connection

Dave Camp is at it again.

He continues to defend Bush lies about the so-called "Global War on Terrorism" and its connection with Iraq.

It doesn't matter that academics. pundits and even government insiders, including intelligence folks, have debunked the connection between 9/11 and Iraq, Bush and Camp still keep making it sound as if Iraq was a hotbed of terrorism before we invaded Iraq. But we now know the Bush administration and its rubber stamp defenders like Dave Camp keep repeating the same lies as if they will come true if said often enough.

Camp must think voters are pretty stupid or ignorant. Well, a small percentage of them probably are. Yes, we did believe that going after the folks who planned 9/11 in Afghanistan was the right thing to do, but the detour to Iraq was based on lies and then coverups once those lies became known.

The truth is, Iraq only became a magnet for terrorism because we invaded Iraq. Most of us now get it.

But Camp wraps himself in patriotism and denigrates those who seek the truth as if we somehow don't support our troops if we don't buy in to the Bush lies.

But just as Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex lies about the Cold War, we need to remind ourselves that the "Global War on Terrorism" is the new excuse for perpetual war that will lead us to moral and financial ruin.

Camp can say what he wants in eloquently manufactured prose, but it is still a pack of lies.

Friday, June 16, 2006

GOP’s war on safety comes to Michigan

First Bush &Co. invaded Iraq - which had nothing to do with 9/11 - for no known reason, and without giving our troops needed body armor.

Then they try to let other countries own our ports.

Then they said yes to foreign ownership of our airlines.

Now, even in the wake of NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle accident, Bush’s buddy Dick DeVos says he is still okay with the ridiculous - and dangerous - idea of allowing people to ride their bikes sans helmet. Says his campaign: "People are free to do what they want to do. Dick still believes this is a choice that people should make themselves."

I too believe in freedom - freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from government spying, etc., but Dick, as your buddy George W. once declared, “There ought to be limits to freedom.”

Why do I say this idea is dangerous? Consider these statistics reported by The Grand Rapids Press on Thursday:

Louisiana returned to mandatory helmets two years ago after seeing fatalities double over a four-year period. Florida's motorcycle deaths jumped 81 percent in the first three years after it repealed its law in 2000.

Maybe that’s why even the conservative Press warned against repealing the law:

The state House took a detour around common sense Wednesday when it approved legislation that weakens Michigan's mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists. The governor should erect a stop sign in front of this ill-conceived measure when it reaches her desk. Helmets do save lives. Making the headgear optional is the wrong route to take.

The bill passed in the House on a 66-37 vote. It lets riders age 21 and older go without helmets if they have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years or have taken a safety course. The legislation also requires riders to have $10,000 in insurance. The Senate, in its own bypass around reason, passed the legislation last year.

So what does our Governor think about all this? Says The Detroit News:

"The crash involving the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback simply echoes what the governor has said on this issue. She's concerned about safety and to date, no one had made a convincing argument why the law should be repealed," said Granholm's spokeswoman Liz Boyd. "And it's not just about individuals; there are societal costs as well."

Societal costs? Yes. Specifically, higher insurance premiums if this is repealed, warns one insurance industry executive:

"The decision to ride a motorcycle without a helmet is not a personal one - it impacts every taxpayer. Injured motorcyclists are cared for by state and local emergency responders, municipal doctors and hospitals, and - quite often - state funds for unemployment and disability compensation if their injuries are permanent. Motorcyclists do not pay insurance premiums for Michigan's unlimited personal injury protection (PIP) system, but when they're involved in an accident with an auto, they receive full benefits from that system. It is the taxpayers of Michigan who will bear the brunt of the financial costs associated with the repeal of this law and this is not the time to increase the costs of insurance for Michigan's hardworking families."

And then there's Mark Brewer, who enlightens us with his wisdom:

“DeVos’ support for repealing the helmet law is a part of his long history of being anti-safety. He often is shown in TV ads and his video blogs not wearing a seat belt and not looking at the road while he is driving. In one ad he does both; he stares into the camera without wearing a seatbelt. Is there a clearer example of reckless driving?” asked Brewer. “Posing for the camera while driving may be good for his campaign, but it is terrible for the safety of other drivers and sends a bad message to the children of Michigan.”

“Helmet laws and seat belt laws save lives and prevent injuries. An important part of being a good governor is ensuring the safety of the state’s citizens. If DeVos was governor, a nightmare scenario could occur with hundreds more Roethlisberger-like tragedies, while Michigan citizens are financially strapped because insurance rates going through the roof all because of his disregard for safety” said Brewer.

Right on, Mr. Chairman.

Flag Amendment moving to the Senate-Stabenow set to limit free speech

The Flag Desecration Amendment was approved by the Senate Sub-committee yesterday and moved to the full Senate. In case you’ve missed earlier blogs, this is a Constitutional Amendment that would declare that burning the flag and other acts of desecration (whatever that means) breaks the law. It sets aside the revered First Amendment that guarantees freedom of speech, even (as the Supreme Court has stated) if society finds such speech offensive.

Debbie Stabenow has publicly stated that she plans to vote for the Amendment (as has Hillary Clinton and other Democrats). By all accounts, the Senate is one vote shy of passing this restriction of free speech.

If you agree that loss of our right of free speech is okay, then do nothing. But if you think that the best way to honor the flag is to protect free speech, contact Stabenow and urge her to vote “no.”

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lakoff on Language, or How We Need to Take Back the ”Good Words”

George Lakoff, the author of “Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate--The Essential Guide for Progressives“ has as new DVD out about taking back our language from the Conservatives.

In case you don’t know the name, Lakoff has studied the use of metaphors for several decades. After the 2004 election, he wrote “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” the book that (according to Debbie Stabenow) became the Bible of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. He has a new, inexpensive DVD out “How Democrats and Progressives Can Win:Solutions from George Lakoff. In it, he describes how the Conservatives spent 30 years laying the groundwork to take over the government, and how they studied ways to use language (metaphors) to do it.

As we approach the November elections, I understand how crucial it is for us to counter the Republican cant that we will be hearing. But, as Lakoff demonstrates, we can’t do it by using the Republican “frames,” we need to create our own.

Lakoff is correct: we have to take back the language if we are ever going to win the swing voters and moderate Republicans. This is an important DVD. Don’t miss it!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Dave Camp’s Spin on Why He Voted to Destroy Internet Freedoms

Dave Camp, along with most other Republicans and a few Democrats, voted against net neutrality and non-discrimination amendments, and for giving AT&T, Verizon, and other big corporations control of the Internet. Here is how is justified his votes, along with translations of what he really means.
Legislation increases cable TV choices, lower prices

Washington, DC – Responding to overwhelming public demand for more choices among cable television providers, U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Midland) last night voted with a majority of the House to update the nation’s telecommunications laws. Among other reforms, the legislation creates a single, national approval process to speed the entry of competitors into the cable television market.
“Overwhelming public demand...” Yes, the big telcoms spent more than $5 million dollars buying, excuse me, lobbying Congress. That’s a lot of money, but I’m not sure that is the same as “public demand.” Also, having only one national office (run by a Bush appointee) for the “approval process” makes it so much easier for the big telcoms to get into the cable television market. [This is off the subject, but wasn’t it AT&T and Verizon who gave the government our private phone records? Does anybody smell a little “I’ll scratch your back, and you scratch mine” here?]

“Technology has given rise to a vast array of companies able to provide cable services,” said Camp. “The old system of obtaining a franchise locality by locality, however, was keeping millions of Americans from having a choice as to who would provide that service. Instead of having companies apply for a franchise in 34,000 different jurisdictions, this bill creates a one-stop shopping center – one national franchising system which will bring choice to consumers, competition to the cable market and lower prices for everyone.”
Translation: if you’re not a multi-billion dollar cable company able to contribute significant funds to campaign chests, forget about starting you own local company–you’ll never make it past the receptionist. Forget about communities like Mt. Pleasant providing a wireless “bubble” that would allow low-income citizens access to the Internet. Forget about local or national programming that might in any way be critical of the big telcoms, programming, for example, that might question who controls the news.

Local telephone companies now have the ability to offer a pay TV service that is similar to, and will compete with, cable TV. But, in order to do so, competitors to cable must reach time-consuming “franchise agreements” with 34,000 unique jurisdictions. One company official testified that if AT&T signed a franchise agreement every day, it would take more than seven years to complete its deployment plan.
Anyone see a bit of a contradiction here? If you have a “local” telephone company, why would you have to apply to 34,000 unique jurisdictions? On the other hand, apparently AT&T wants to feel like a “local” company...don’t you feel better knowing that?

Study after study has shown that increased video competition will lead to lower cable prices. According to the Government Accountability Office, where there is true cable competition, cable rates are typically 15 percent lower. Experience shows that the savings and choice could be even greater. In Keller, Texas, where Verizon deployed its FiOS TV in September, more than 33 percent of eligible homes signed up for the service. Facing new competition, incumbent cable provider Charter has lowered prices 25 percent.
Dave: that’s a good statistic. So, how many other instances can you find where that has happened? Oh, and how many smaller companies did Charter put out of business when it rolled into town?

Camp noted that the bill preserves municipalities’ right to collect up to a six percent fee from pay-TV providers. Part of this fee will go towards ensuring local communities can continue to offer public, educational and governmental (PEG) stations. The act also allows localities to retain control of their rights-of-way. Additionally, to protect consumer choice, the FCC is authorized under the legislation to step in if a locality tries to unfairly use its rights-of-way authority to block new competitors from entering a local market.
About this fee... Hmmm. In Mt. Pleasant, for instance, the local cable company offers public, educational and governmental (PEG) stations as part of their contract with the community and because (we often overlook this) WE own the airways and are allowing the communications companies to use them (the federal government collects the fees). So Dave is telling us that under this new legislation, we have the right (?) to collect a fee. We already had that right. He further tells us that the pay-TV providers will (apparently) hold back part of the fee as a charge for offering the same programs we used to receive as part of our contracts with pay-TV providers. So we are now actually paying for the formerly contractualized programming, is this what Dave is saying?

This press release shows how Camp continually tries to pull the wool over our eyes as he sides with business in screwing his constituents. This is another reason why we need to replace him with Mike Huckleberry this November.

Bush okay’s foreign operations of our airlines

In case you missed it, the Bush Gang (White House, State Dept., DOD, FEMA, FAA) have all agreed to allow foreign companies to operate our airlines. This was reported by Lou Dobbs on CNN last week.

It wasn't enough to try to give away our ports, now they see no problem with turning over "operational ownership" of our airlines to foreign companies (just like the rationale that our ports were not being sold, but only operated by Dubai). This means that while foreigners will not own the airlines, they would decide what routes we will fly, what fares we'll pay, what cities will be served (or eliminated), who will fly the planes, and a myriad of other things that we passengers never think about. This could happen by next month (July)!

All of the above organizations have given their approval (although the DOD has only given it aurally-they are shy about putting it in writing after the last fiasco with the ports). The Airline Pilots and other organizations have spoken out against it, as have other groups. But that matters little to Republicans: it's money and business that talks; to hell with the workers. Bush and his cronies have made it perfectly clear that this country is up for sale.

Rep. James Oberstar, Democrat from Minnesota, is trying to delay the government's plans. Contact him at (202) 225-6211, and let him know you support his efforts. Unless Dow has concerns, Dave Camp will go along with the Bush Gang, but it never hurts to contact him and ask him to help in stopping this takeover.

Amen, John B. for finally asking the question: why NOT impeach Bush?

I am frustrated and disgusted with the Democratic leadership’s “hands-off” attitude about impeachment. John B. has asked the question that we really need to have a response to about impeachment. My sense is that the leadership is afraid of alienating the Bush supporters who might possibly vote for Democrats who are running for Congress, but who would hesitate to “jump ship” is they thought that Bush might actually be held accountable for his misdeeds.

It might be true: some hard-core, head-in-the-sand Republicans might not vote for a Democrat, but chances are that they would rather vote for the anti-Christ than a Democrat anyway, so what is there to lose?

If this is what the Democratic leaders in D.C. have decided, I think it is wrong-headed because it assumes that Republicans are not very...well...very bright, and that they are more concerned with protecting their party than being Americans. This is akin to how pro-life people characterize pro-choice people.

In their broadsides against pro-choice, pro-lifers tell other pro-lifers that we pro-choice folk consider abortion to be the preferred choice of birth control. They pretend to be blind to the main thrust of such organizations as Planned Parenthood, which is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, to give council and support to women (particularly low-income women) who want to have safe, healthy pregancies, and provide abortions only as a last resort.

To assume that Republicans are blind, deaf, and stupid puts Democrats in the same black-or-while, “you’re either with or against me,” sort of mentality that we witness in the White House on a daily basis.

As John B. suggests: it is time for us and our leadership to state the obvious: Bush must answer for his lies, his deceit of the American people, and his responsibility for the deaths of innocents in an unnecessary war.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

How Many More Cases for Impeachment Do There Have To Be?

It is hard to understand why some Democratic Party leaders are still insisting that if we win control of Congress in November, there will be no immediate push to impeach Bush and Cheney.

Just how many cases does a person have to make for high crimes and misdemeanors? Here is one more case. The Bush administration is covering up the misspending or outright theft of billions of dollars allocated for the Iraq war. Let’s take that a step further.

The Bush administration, even the president, himself, decided that an investigation ordered by Congress was not going to happen and that one Bush administration official even lied to Congress about the matter. You can simply go here to ponder the details.

Each and every transgression of the Bush administration is part of a pattern that continually subverts the will of the people and yet, somehow, our party leaders think we are working hard to elect Democrats because we don’t want to put an end to what is going on?  Get real Nancy Pelosi. A lame duck president wherever he comes from couldn’t be any worse.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Internet Wars, Part 5 AT&T wins-so far

In case you haven’t been following the debate over “net neutrality,” it is a concept that has been an integral part of the Internet since its birth. Simply stated, the Internet should be available to anyone who can gain access to it, free of taxation by any government, and free of any control over the ideas and information that flow through it.

Yesterday, the House passed the Communications, Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006. As the act now reads, the mega-communication corporations now have carte blanche to:
*build their towers anywhere they want (local officials will no longer be able to restrict them),
*“redline” entire neighborhoods (translation: blacks and other minorities) by refusing to provide access to the Internet via cable or wireless simply because...,
*charge for various levels of bandwidth, which pretty much guarantees that low income users–and small businesses– will have to pay high fees for greater bandwidth or be held to speeds approaching basic dialup,
*make arrangements with, for example, certain search engines to steer business to them and away from other search engines,
*black out ISPs that contain sites that the corporations and/or their political friends do not want people to see (it has already happened in Canada)

There is still a sliver of hope: the bill now goes to the Senate. So the onus falls to them to uphold or change the provisions. But even if the Senate adds net neutrality, the two bills will then go to a Conference Committee that will reconcile them, so the concept would still not be safe.

So contact Stabenow and Levin: tell them to support net neutrality.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Congress Cuts Funding for PBS and NPR- sign the petition and contact Dave Camp

From June 8, 2006

Everyone expected House Republicans to give up efforts to kill NPR and
PBS after a massive public outcry stopped them last year. But they've
just voted to eliminate funding for NPR and PBS -- unbelievably,
starting with programs like "Sesame Street."

Public broadcasting would lose nearly a quarter of its federal funding
this year. Even worse, all funding would be eliminated in two
years--threatening one of the last remaining sources of watchdog

Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS again this year:

Last year, millions of us took action to save NPR and PBS, and Congress
listened. We can do it again if enough of us sign the petition in time.

This would be the most severe cut in the history of public
broadcasting. The Boston Globe reports the cuts "could force the
elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs." NPR's president
expects rural public radio stations may be forced to shut down.

The House and Senate are deciding if public broadcasting will survive,
and they need to hear from viewers like you. Sign the petition at:


P.S. Read the Boston Globe story on the threat to NPR and PBS at:

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Contact Stabenow: she is about to desecrate the First Amendment

Dear Senator Stabenow;

I have written you before about your support of the proposed Constitutional amendment that would prohibit desecration of the flag. In your response to my urging you to vote “no” on the amendment, you wrote of your love of the flag, your respect for the men and women who have given their lives to protect the country the flag symbolizes, and how it pains you to see the flag being burned or otherwise desecrated. Writing as a Viet Nam veteran, my feelings are the same.

Being a good Democrat, however, I will once again ask you to change your mind. Why, since previous congresses have voted down such Constitutional changes? Well, this time it appears that it might pass. According to various news sources, the Senate is within one vote of approving the amendment (the House, never known for having much foresight in such matters, has already approved the amendment). Since the legislatures of all 50 states have already passed resolutions in favor of the amendment, the Senate is the only body that can stop passage of the amendment. Your vote might be the one that decides between possible desecration of the flag or definitely desecrating the First Amendment.

Over the decades, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the “bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment…(is) that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive and disagreeable.” Your vote could change that principle. Consider it this way, if you vote for the amendment, the next Supreme Court ruling could state it this way: “bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment…(is) that the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea UNLESS DEBBIE STABENOW finds the idea itself offensive and disagreeable.”

Please think hard, very hard, about your vote. As ludicrous as it may sound, are you willing to consider your feelings about the flag to be more important than the unique American concept of free speech?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Internet Wars, Part 4

As early as this Friday (June 9), the issue of network neutrality will once again be on the chopping block. H.R. 5252, the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006 (COPE Act) could be voted upon. According to Common Cause, the act contains a flawed approach to net neutrality, and would “allow telephone and cable companies to turn the free and open Internet into a toll road where their own economic interests take priority over citizen discourse.“ Review Internet Wars 1-3 for greater detail on what this means.

But I can’t resist giving one example. Suppose AT&T is your cable and ISP company. Suppose AT&T had made an arrangement with search engine X where, for example, the company might give AT&T a percentage of income earned from traffic on their sites. Now, suppose you decide to use Google for some Internet research. AT&T could, and probably would, reduce the bandwidth or otherwise find a way to slow your access to Google. So, after repeatedly having long waits for Google to respond to your queries, you give up an try to find another search engine that might be faster. Voilá, Engine X is very fast. Which search engine would you probably use from then on?

AT&T scoffs at such examples, saying in their press releases that the people who oppose them “can only point to two examples where that has happened, and they’re both in Canada.” Notice AT&T didn’t say, “we would never do something like that.” Also, they hoped we would overlook the obvious: the examples are from Canada because the Canadians have allowed their version of AT&T to control the Internet, something we are fighting against on this side of the border.

Fortunately, two Representatives have introduced amendments that would protect net neutrality. James Sensenbrenner’s Internet Freedom and Non-Discrimination Act (HR 5417) and Rep. Edward Markey’s Network Neutrality Act (HR 5273). Common Cause says, “Both these bills would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking, impairing or discriminating against any lawful content, applications or services on the Internet.“ This sounds good.

Now here’s the fly in the ointment. The House of Representatives will be voting on this important issue. And You Know Who is our Representative (that is his title, but he only represents Dow*). We don’t know how the Republican leadership has told him to vote yet, since business executives have come out against the changes. So it is worth a shot to call or fax him to let him know that we want to keep the Internet free of control, and net neutrality to be safeguarded.

Phone: (202) 225-3561
Fax: (202) 225-9679
* In case you are new to this blog, our Representative is Dave Camp, aka, Rubberstamp Camp, and a few other nicknames not suitable for print.

Urge Dave Camp to Support H.R. 9, the Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act

From the ACLU:

This bill (H.R. 9) would renew and restore the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The VRA has guaranteed millions of minority voters a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted by eliminating literacy tests, language hurdles and other discriminatory barriers to voting.

Although we have come a long way over the years, discrimination in voting remains a significant issue in the United States. State and local governments continue to submit plans, laws and regulations specifically designed to prevent minorities from fully participating in the political process. In fact, since the VRA was last renewed in 1982, the Department of Justice has made more than 1,000 objections to proposed voting changes under Section 5 of the act.

Yet despite this ongoing discrimination, a handful of lawmakers are trying to delay consideration of H.R. 9 in an attempt to weaken or eliminate two key provisions of the VRA Section 5 and Section 203. Not surprisingly, these lawmakers come from states that have the most pervasive records of continued voter disfranchisement. (Georgia and Texas are at the top of the list-JT.)

Section 5 requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval of any new voting practices or procedures. Obtaining federal approval is critical because it prevents discrimination before it happens, ensuring that minorities are able to exercise their right to vote.

Section 203 was enacted because Congress found that language minorities face discriminatory voting practices that exclude them from participating in the political process. It prevents discrimination by ensuring that American tax-paying citizens with limited English proficiency get the help they need at the polls. According to the 2000 Census, three-quarters of all voters covered by Section 203 are native-born citizens.

Language assistance promotes the integration and political participation of citizens who had previously been excluded from the political process due to their limited English proficiency. And according to two separate Government Accountability Office studies, as well as private university studies, when implemented properly language assistance accounts for only a small fraction of total election costs. A minor price to pay for electoral fairness.

Let's be clear: The progress we have made to end discrimination in voting is largely the result of Section 5 and Section 203. If these provisions are weakened or allowed to expire, it is likely that many of the covered jurisdictions will backslide and implement discriminatory voting practices.

This will possibly be voted on as early as next week, so we need to contact Camp to urge him to support it. Whether or not he actually supports it depends, of course, on what his party tells him to do. But it is worth a shot.

Support Our Troops?

Since George Bush led this nation into a war in Iraq and Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan? Our troops are fighting there, too), signs and bumper stickers admonishing us to “Support Our Troops” appear everywhere. But what does the slogan mean? When we say we “support” something or “believe” something, what does that mean? Almost always such slogans are words without action. Words that do not result in actions are hollow, noisy puffs of air with no more meaning than a passing breeze.

I am a Viet Nam veteran, and when I see or hear slogans like “Support Our Troops,“ I bristle. 58,000 Americans died, and 153,000 were wounded in Viet Nam, that damned, needless war; another war based on lies. Two to four million Vietnamese civilians and soldiers died, two to four million–a staggering loss of life. Why? Why all this suffering and death? Because our elected officials needed to show they were guardians of freedom and enemies of tyrants; they wanted to spread freedom to other countries and stop Godless Communism even though our own career diplomats insisted that the Vietnamese only wanted their country back after centuries of foreign domination. Those diplomats were fired or hounded out of the profession; they were branded disloyal because they didn’t support the war. Is this beginning to sound familiar?

There were battles fought in the streets of America between those who supported the war and those who protested against it. To all of those who supported the war then, I ask, “What did you do to support the troops, other than hate the protesters?” Then, as now, people proclaimed that they supported our troops, but what, exactly, did that mean?

What does the slogan mean now? Placing a bumper sticker on a car, hanging a sign in a window: is that all it takes to support our troops? Declaring people to be “unpatriotic” because they challenge the motivations and actions of men who put our sons and daughters in harm’s way: is that what it means? Deriding a soldier’s mother who waits outside a president’s compound wanting to know if the reasons her son died were just: is that what it means?

Is the refusal to question the motivations and actions of our elected officials patriotic? Is it patriotic to ignore the costs of war in lives and national treasure? Is it patriotic to be relieved when the government refuses to even allow pictures of coffins being returned for burial because it makes the toll of war too graphic? Is that what patriotism means? Is that what is meant by “Support Our Troops”?

The original meaning of “patriotic” was “love of country.” But “countries“ are not merely intellectual concepts; countries are made of people, of commonalities of experiences, of generations who live their lives in the presence of others, sharing hopes, fears, aspriations, disappointments, trials, sufferings, sorrows. Countries are shared ideas and ideals; shared actions that are deemed necessary for survival, or good, or bad, or kind, or loving, or destructive, or constructive. Countries are people; our country, these United States, are us.

It is our sons, our daughters, who are in danger in Iraq, in Afghanistan. Their families and friends (our families, our friends) live in fear for their safety or, all too often, grieve for their loss. Our leaders have sent them in harm’s way and, for all intents and purposes, abandoned them to their fate. Our leaders publicaly wring their hands as they praise the courage of those who are wounded or make the “ultimate sacrifice.” Our leaders label all who criticize them as unpatriotic, as aiding the enemy. We allow our leaders to make these claims, to slander our fellow citizens, to wage wars, to hold themselves as unaccountable. We allow our leaders to goad us into fighting among ourselves over whether they are right or wrong, or whether we are patriotic or not.

We can choose to continue to be distracted and to ignore what is happening to our sons and daughters in those distant lands. We can choose to convince ourselves that putting up signs, or praying for them, or either defending or criticizing our leaders’ actions is all we can do. Or we can do everything in our power, in our love, in the name of justice, in the name of God, to support our troops. Bring them home.

How the 2004 Presidential Election Was Stolen

It’s hard to blame the skeptics in Isabella County when I first began to notice information raising questions about what happened in Ohio in 2004. So many of us worked really hard to keep George Bush from being re-elected, spending countless hours on the phones, going door to door and all of the other old-fashioned things to get more votes than the other guy.

So it was with a great sigh of relief when we saw our local figures come in that November, 2004, Election Night and John Kerry actually got more votes than Bush by several hundred in this allegedly Republican County.

But joy turned to sorrow and disbelief when Ohio came in. How could that happen? In a stunningly detailed Rolling Stone article with more than 200 footnotes, Robert Kennedy, Jr. tells us exactly what happened and how, but much of the who is still missing. Just like on CSI, we know a crime was committed and there are some fingerprints and tell-tale clues, but this wasn’t just one crime, but a series of well-orchestrated efforts, some illegal and others unethical, to minimize Kerry votes and maximize Bush votes.

Although one could argue that is what Election Day strategy is all about, under Kenneth Blackwell, the Republican who both oversaw the counting of the votes in Ohio and chaired the re-election campaign of George W. Bush in that very same state, new meaning was given to suppressing the vote of opponents by changing rules and even rigging a recount.

Many of us had seen the questions raised about the discrepancies between the exit polls and the final tally. We heard “statistically impossible” being dismissed as sour grapes. We watched with further disbelief, as the media didn’t even bother to cover John Conyers heroic efforts to investigate and bring more information forward about the Ohio count. Many leading Democrats still dismiss concerns about election integrity, especially here in Michigan, because who wants to believe that a Presidential election could be stolen.

A week after the election, I met a young CMU student, who said he was heading to Europe, “ before it is too late.” He was convinced that the United States was hopelessly locked into a death spiral and nothing ordinary people could do could stop it. I tried to convince him that the pendulum would swing back because it always has in America.

If you haven’t read it yet, take a little time to ponder what happened in Ohio. See if the son of our greatest progressive martyr is on to something in this Rolling Stone article. Then tell me I’m wrong to be concerned about election day integrity – please.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

RNC Memo to Dave Camp: Speaking Points

Dave, we’re thrilled that you are running again and we’re sure you’ll be returning to represent Dow. . . that is, returning to represent your many constituents with the same. . . well, you know what we mean. You’re a great team player, Dave, and while we do have a few errant Representatives who sometimes stray from the party discipline, we always know we can count on you to say what we tell you to say, and vote as we tell you to vote.

You know that such loyalty pays off: look at how we kept India from extraditing your good friend, Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow, over that old accident that killed a few people in Bhopal all those years ago. Such a mess, that. Were you pleased that we had Rudy G. award him that vision-thing a few days ago? Rudy is such a stitch. When we asked him to trek all the way out to Montana, sorry, Michigan, to give the award to the CEO of Dow, he said, “Is that the company that brings good things to life?”

Well, we could go on, but we know you have important things to do, people to see, and golf to play. Are you actually going to campaign this year? You know, walk in parades, press the flesh and all that? We are assuming you are because the Democrats are running Mike Huckleberry against you and he is already on the road making some pretty strong remarks about economic issues and environmental quality. But we assume you’ll do as you’ve done for so many years: let the good folks at Dow know that you’re their boy, and don’t comment about anything Huckleberry has to say. He sounds like he’s done his homework, so we think it’s best that you don’t do or say anything that sounds like he struck a nerve.

We thought we would pass on some speaking points for you to use, as well as how to deal with some issues that Huckleberry might bring up. You know how pesky he can get about caring for the environment, the poor, health care, jobs, etc.

Before we get to the speaking points, you might not be aware that outside of Midland and Dow, there are a number of people are unhappy with you. They say you are something of a toady (some even call you “Rubber Stamp Camp,” which, while it has a certain catchy rhythm, is, well, disrespectful). If some hostile reporter asks you about this (although there don’t seem to be any of those in your region), it might be best if you don’t respond to that characterization; even a cursory look at your voting record shows that you have never strayed from the party line. Just say that you are in the House, working for your district, and you just happen to agree with everything the party says. Well, maybe not. Just say you won’t dignify those comments with an answer.

Now, on to the speaking points.
• You’ve reduced taxes. True, most of the reductions benefit the rich, but the middle class has saved tens of dollars. DO NOT talk about all the cuts to social services for families, the elderly, veterans (we got 600,000 of those slackers off their benefits while talking about seeing to the needs of the brave men and women who have fought, and are fighting, for us. Neat trick.).
• You tried to clean up Congressional ethics. Be sure to talk about the compromise you worked out so the Ethics Committee could never function (don’t say that last part; just stop at the compromise). DO NOT mention that the public outcry embarrassed the leadership into dumping your plan and reverting back to the old one.
• You’re very concerned about every young person having the opportunity to attend college. “College tuitions are out of control and need to be investigated.” That always gets applause. DO NOT mention that you voted to reduce aid to college students.
• You helped reform Medicare. Don’t talk too much about this because you probably don’t understand the various plans people have to choose from. Just say that there are bugs in any great program; they’ll eventually be worked out; you and Congress are working hard to correct the problems, or something along those lines. DO NOT mention that you’ll never have to worry about health insurance because you’ll have what all congressmen have: a great plan paid for by the taxpayers who might not be able to afford health insurance of any kind. Also, don’t talk about how the “reform” mostly benefited drug companies.
• You are concerned about the environment. And so is Dow. After all, Liveris said so when he got that award. DO NOT talk about your efforts to reduce the number of pollutants that Dow has to report to the EPA, or that you are in favor of drilling in the Artic so the U.S. can pull out six months worth of oil and screw up the environment there for the next few centuries. By the way, you’re a hunter, aren’t you? Be careful not to eat anything you shoot or fish you catch in the rivers and lakes in your area; Dow has polluted everything there, and we want you to come back to D.C. healthy. No glowing at your desk in the House as you sleep though sessions, please. Ha, ha.
• The economy. The economy is going through a rough patch. Rough patch, that’s good. Find some way to blame it on What’s Her Name, the Governor of Michigan . . . Granholm. It won’t hurt to infer that in addition to being at Democrat, she’s the first FEMALE governor of Michigan, and that things might be better if a man were at the helm. Women have trouble making the tough decisions, and being a Democrat on top of that, means she’s all soft and gooey about caring for the poor, social services for mothers and children, families out of work, stuff like that. DO NOT talk about how the tax cuts have led to the biggest deficits in history, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, and led to deep cuts in social services that the poor and elderly depend on.
• The war in Iraq. You’ll probably get a lot of questions about the war. Here’s how you respond: national security; 9/11; the War on Terror. That’s all. This has worked for President Bush for six years, and no one has caught on to the fact that he doesn’t have any other answers.
• Spying by the government. Big privacy issue. Response: national security; 9/11, the War on Terror. You might add: criticizing the government, and particularly the President, aids the enemy.
• More on the war. Key words: patriotism, sacrifice, love of country, support our troops–don’t criticize the President, Rumsfeld, or the war. If you are pushed: national security, 9/11, the War on Terror. You might throw in “If we don’t fight them there, we’ll be fighting them in our streets.”
• Why you’re not going to impeach the President? So he told a few. . . no, try again. So he misled the public about a couple of things like why he went to war, and why he’s spying on us, and a few other minor details. But Clinton lied about having sex! Don’t let people forget that! If people ask about all the other investigations that the Democrats want to hold, remind your constituents that people make mistakes, except Clinton, who lied about having sex (you can’t repeat that too many times).
• Family values. It’s okay to use the terms “family values,” “traditional family values,” or “American values,” but don’t go into any details about what they mean. We’ve tried to boil them down to outrage over homosexuality and abortion, and that has sold pretty well with the Jesus folk. It has also let us keep their attention off some other issues that Democrats get all weepy about, like the homeless, loss of jobs, health care, and the damn environment.
• Jack Abramoff. If any of your constituents read the newspapers, they might know about the $35,000 you received from Abramoff. Tell them that you didn’t know about the Abramoff connection, and that you thought the Tribes were giving you money because they liked you, even though you sat on the House committee that dealt with Indian affairs. Let them know you’re considering returning the money if it looks like there was some impropriety, which there wasn’t, of course. Don’t tell them you’ve been “thinking” about it for almost a year now.

We’ll stop there. This covers a lot of territory, and we don’t want to overload you. If you have any questions, or if Huckleberry gets to be a problem, remember that Karl Rove is working with us, and he always has terrific ideas. Did you hear about what he did when Bush was running for governor of Texas? Ann Richards was governor, and doing a pretty good job, so Karl had to find a way to turn things around. So he “discovered” that his office had been bugged! Big headlines all over Texas about how the Democrats had bugged his office. Got a bunch of people mad enough to elect Bush. It also sparked an FBI investigation; turned out that Karl had bugged his own office! Isn’t that a hoot? So just remember that we’re here for you.