Thursday, October 27, 2005

A critical time for Iraq

Dear Friend,

Later today, I will deliver a major speech on the war in Iraq.

It asks a hard and essential question: how do we bring our troops home within a reasonable and responsible timeframe, while achieving what needs to be achieved in Iraq?

One thing is certain. It isn't by continuing to pursue the Bush administration's "stay for as long as it takes" rhetoric. And it isn't by blindly following their policy of cutting and running from the truth that underlies that rhetoric.

That's why my speech today will call on the Bush administration to immediately draw up -- and present to Congress and the American people -- a detailed plan with target dates for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis so the majority of our combat forces can be withdrawn.

I hope you'll take a moment to read excerpts from this critically important call to action on Iraq.

My speech today will assert that there is no reason Iraq cannot be relatively stable, no reason the majority of our combat troops can't soon be on their way home, and no reason we can't take on a new role in Iraq, as an ally not an occupier, training Iraqis to defend themselves by the end of 2006.

Today of all days, it is important to note that instead of attacking Ambassador Wilson's report, instead of attacking his wife to justify attacking Iraq, the Bush administration should have simply paid attention to what his report revealed.

As I write this, we are waiting to learn whether the administration's attacks will prove to be an indictable offense in a court of law. But for its CIA leaks, and for misleading a nation into war, the Bush administration will most certainly be indicted in the high court of history.

Sadly, there have been a legion of Bush administration miscalculations that have left us having far too few options in Iraq.

It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger. I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it to those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do.

In fact, while some say we can't ask tough questions because we are at war, I say no -- in a time of war we must ask the hardest questions of all. No matter what President Bush says, asking tough questions isn't pessimism, it's patriotism. If you agree, I urge you to join me in demanding a new course in Iraq. You can start by making sure as many people as possible see this speech.

The American people -- most importantly, the families of the brave men and women serving in Iraq -- can no longer tolerate George W. Bush's failure to spell out a reasonable and detailed plan of action on Iraq. If the President refuses to act, we must call on Congress to take the decision out of his hands.

I urge you to read the speech I plan to deliver at Georgetown University in a matter of hours -- and to forward it to as many people as possible. Most of all, I hope you will resolve to join the entire community in the weeks ahead as we work to create an undeniable groundswell of public pressure for a detailed, date-specific plan of action on Iraq.


John Kerry

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Friday, October 21, 2005

DCCC @Stake - GOP Extremists Make Their Move

@Stake Brought To You By The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

GOP Extremists Make Their Move

October 21, 2005

GOP Extremists Make Their Move

When Tom DeLay's position as undisputed Republican master was first questioned late last year, a Republican strategist told the New York Times what would ensue if he were to fall:

"'Without Tom DeLay it would be complete and total chaos,' said one Republican strategist with close ties to the White House.'The House would descend into 'Lord of the Flies.''"

Now Tom DeLay has been indicted, and has technically been removed from his leadership post - but he continues to pull the strings, and his presence continues to hold the Republican Congress steady like a deer in the headlights.

But this week we got the first signs that a GOP Conference filled to the brim with the power hungry may be splintering. A story on Monday explained how proposed draconian cuts from the most extreme conservative wing of the Republican Congress were stirring trouble...

House GOP Leaders Set to Cut Spending
Washington Post - October 17, 2005

"House Republican leaders have moved from balking at big cuts in Medicaid and other programs to embracing them, driven by pent-up anger from fiscal conservatives concerned about runaway spending and the leadership's own weakening hold on power.

"Beginning this week, the House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, as well as considering across-the-board cuts in other programs. Only last month, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and other GOP leaders quashed demands within their party for budget cuts to pay for the soaring cost of hurricane relief."

How does this relate to DeLay's shaken grip on power?

"The abrupt shift reflects a changed political dynamic in the House in which a faction of fiscal conservatives -- known as the Republican Study Committee, or RSC -- has gained the upper hand because of DeLay's criminal indictment in Texas, widespread criticism of the Republicans' handling of Hurricane Katrina, and uncertainty over the future of the leadership, according to lawmakers and aides...

"DeLay may continue to exercise power informally, as he did Oct. 7 in working the floor to help narrowly pass an energy bill. But DeLay and his leadership allies are mindful that the rank and file could demand new elections to permanently fill the majority leader's post -- temporarily being held by Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.) -- if members grow impatient with GOP policies.

"'Our real leverage has come from the fear that DeLay will not have a post to come back to,' said Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz), another RSC leader. 'They are deathly afraid of a leadership election in January.'"

Oddly enough, early signs showed slightly more moderate voices quietly moving towards the potential leadership void. After all, the only chance Republicans would have to cleanse themselves of the culture of corruption DeLay ushered in would be to find some "new blood," as one such upstart contender deemed himself. And indeed, Republicans in moderate districts knew that Democrats would not let them get away with further slashing social programs even as they lavished handouts on the oil industry and elsewhere. As a result, they appear to have made clear to Republican Leadership that the new right wing zealotry would not pass a vote on the floor. This was the headline by the end of the week...

House GOP Leaders Postpone Vote on Reductions in Spending
Washington Post - October 17, 2005

Of course, in a sense, this was all a sideshow, since the debate was about whether to cut $35 billion from programs helping those who need it most vs. cutting $50 billion. The DCCC Communications department sent out this release across the country, challenging Republicans to state their priorities plainly and asking, "What Budget Cuts Do the Republican Members Support?"...

1. Medicare Cuts - Will you support the Republican proposal to raise health care costs for the 23,380,500 children in this country who rely on Medicaid in order to pay for the $10 billion "slush fund" giveaway to insurance companies and HMOs?

  • Yes _____
  • No _____

    2. Energy Costs - Will you support Republican efforts to do nothing to relieve the price of gas and bring down the cost of home heating so that you can pay for the $14 billion in giveaways for the energy industry, an industry enjoying record profits this year?
  • Yes _____
  • No _____

    3. Veterans Benefits - Will you support cuts to veterans benefits by $600 million, which will deny health care to 100,000 veterans, and disregard the American Legion's plea to, "keep in mind the personal sacrifices and hardships endured by America's veterans" - so that you can pay for the corporate tax shelters for companies that send American jobs overseas?
  • Yes _____
  • No _____

    4. National Security - Will you continue to support a budget that does not get the 30,000 Marines in Iraq the equipment they need and the 1,000 Humvees the armor they still lack in order to pay for the $7 billion, no-bid government contract given Halliburton to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure?
  • Yes _____
  • No _____
  • Good questions. Where will your local Republicans fall in the battle against Republican extremism?

    "The Worst Hill Scandal in Our Lifetime?"

    Veteran Congressional analyst and resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute Norman Ornstein asks that question about the ever-expanding scandal surrounding Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He explains in his column for Roll Call...

    "[The Justice Department prosecutors] no doubt will also be looking at various facets of the Ney-Abramoff nexus, and the DeLay-Abramoff partnership, which extends to the DeLay family and extended staff. The rest of it, though, has to be dealt with by the ethics committee. Oops, I forgot: Thanks to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the panel's chairman, there is no functioning ethics committee to deal with the rest of it.

    "... even to a jaded veteran of the lawmaking scene, the Abramoff Chronicles is over the top. Every new story I read makes me want to take a long shower to get rid of the grime. I don't think we have had something of this scope, arrogance and sheer venality in our lifetimes. It is building to an explosion, one that could create immense collateral damage within Congress and in coming elections. If I were a Member of Congress who knew Abramoff and played footsie with him, a staffer who worked with him and then for him, or a prominent outside activist who did business with him, I would be afraid - very afraid. And if I were a Member of Congress who staunchly defended other Members of Congress who played footsie with Abramoff, I would be pretty nervous as well."

    The ethics watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has put together a site detailing the connections between Abramoff and a diverse array of House Republicans including Eric Cantor of GOP Leadership, Melissa Hart of the ethics committee, powerful Chairmen Richard Pombo and Bob Ney, and more. And indeed, there is one letter in particular showing the entire Republican leadership team bending over backwards for one of Abramoff's clients.

    But what might truly raise this scandal to the next level is the relationship between Abramoff and the White House, most notably his long-time friend Karl Rove. And yesterday we learned that the Senate hearings headed up by Republican John McCain may be inching closer that way by looking at players close to the Department of the Interior, which oversees American Indian gaming issues...

    Indian Affairs Readies More Abramoff Subpoenas
    Roll Call - October 20, 2005

    "The Senate Indian Affairs Committee was set to issue subpoenas on Wednesday to a GOP environmentalist close to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, as well as a former employee of Michael Scanlon, a one-time business associate of ex-Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

    "Indian Affairs Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 26 to review Abramoff and Scanlon's business dealings with the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.

    | "Following consultations with Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), ranking member of Indian Affairs, McCain prepared subpoenas for Italia Federici, president of the Council for Republican Environmental Advocacy, and Chris Cathcart, a former associate with Capitol Campaign Strategies, one of Scanlon's firms, according to sources close to the committee."


    "Federici worked on Norton's unsuccessful Senate campaign in Colorado in 1996, and maintained close ties to the Cabinet official. Federici served as an unofficial link between Abramoff and Interior Department officials during the long fight by the Coushattas to convince the federal government to turn down the casino application by the Jena Choctaws, according to media reports. Federico also assisted Abramoff in getting Interior to kill a casino project in Michigan opposed by another Abramoff client.

    "Federici warned senior Interior officials that prominent Christian conservatives such as Ralph Reed and James Dobson were concerned about the spread of Indian casinos, all of which was part of a campaign by Abramoff to create political pressure on the department. Abramoff and Scanlon, though, were also secretly routing millions of dollars to companies controlled by Reed to help in the effort. Part of Wednesday's hearing will focus on Reed's involvement in the Coushatta effort, according to McCain.

    "CREA, which was founded by Norton and GOP activist Grover Norquist in the early 1990s, received at least $150,000 in contributions from the Coushattas in 2001-02, money that was directed to the organization by Abramoff, according to public statements from tribal officials. CREA itself received a subpoena earlier this year from a federal grand jury investigating Abramoff and Scanlon.

    "Abramoff, who was indicted in August on federal mail and wire fraud charges, repeatedly appealed to Federici for help in lobbying Stephen Griles, then deputy secretary of Interior, in 2002 and 2003 and e-mails obtained by The Washington Post and Denver Post showed she was successful in both cases in gaining his support for Abramoff's clients. Federal officials are reportedly looking into the propriety of the contacts between Federici and Griles, as well as Griles' intervention in casino decisions within Interior."

    Much more on Abramoff, the Department of the Interior and White House Indian gaming issues here and here, including this most staggering fact of all:

    "When top Bush adviser Karl Rove was looking for an assistant in early 2001, Abramoff suggested his own top aide, Susan Ralston. She remains one of Rove's top deputies. At the same time, Bush tapped Abramoff as member of his Presidential Transition Team, advising the administration on policy and hiring at the Interior Department, which oversees Native American issues." [emphasis added]

    Notably, the emails referred to in the Roll Call article as "obtained by the Washington Post" were apparently obtained from the Justice Department according to that Washington Post article, which you can find here.

    It would seem that in taking testimony from Federici, one would have to bend over backwards pretty far to avoid getting into the White House's role, and more specifically who was benefiting from what. We'll find out on Wednesday apparently, two days before the grand jury investigating the White House CIA leak expires...

    Cheney's Office in the Leak Investigation Spotlight?

    The White House is increasingly on edge as we near the end of the investigation into the leaking of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. It is widely expected that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will hand out indictments within the next week, and many believe that several major players within the Bush Administration are to face charges in connection to the leak.

    Perhaps most dangerously for the administration, there is increasing speculation that the investigation has grown to include the case that was made to take us to war in Iraq, in particular the claims that Saddam Hussein had a burgeoning nuclear program that might produce a weapon at any moment. Republicans have tried to discount the infamous "16 words" about "uranium from Africa" in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address as a small mistake, but this purported threat was the cornerstone of the Administration's case that Iraq had a nuclear program (along with their also debunked claim regarding aluminum tubes). With the rationale for war falling apart in the summer of 2003 when no WMDs were discovered, it would make sense that the administration would react vengefully if their Niger uranium justification were proved a fiction.

    It is in this context that Hardball's Chris Matthews discussed the case this week, and delved into its broader implications:

    "That's the heat about this. What did the vice president and his people do, faced with the hot seat that they were sitting on, that they had somehow gotten accused of taking us into war under false pretenses.

    "That's the environment in which this whole thing may have been hatched. If there was law-breaking, it came out of the vice president and his people's determination to protect themselves against the charge that they led us into a corrupt war, a war based on false pretenses.

    "That's how hot this thing is.

    "If there are indictments, they're going to be probably in the vice president's office, they're probably going to come next week and they are going to blow this White House apart.

    "It's going to be unbelievable."

    And, indeed, it appears that Scooter Libby, the man sometimes described as "Dick Cheney's Dick Cheney" is clearly on the hot seat, along with President Bush's political svengali Karl Rove. It is widely suspected that both were less than forthcoming with the Special Prosecutor, and may face obstruction charges in addition to any charges directly connected to the leak:

    Cover-Up Issue Is Seen As Focus In Leak Inquiry
    The New York Times - 10/21/05

    As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

    Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

    Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.

    With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case.

    ...The possible violations under consideration by Mr. Fitzgerald are peripheral to the issue he was appointed in December 2003 to investigate: whether anyone in the administration broke a federal law that makes it a crime, under certain circumstances, to reveal the identity of a covert intelligence officer.

    But Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby may not be the only people at risk. There may be others in the government who could be charged for violations of the disclosure law or of other statutes, like the espionage act, which makes it a crime to transmit classified information to people not authorized to receive it.

    Arch-conservative Pat Buchanan also sees the latest revelations in the case, in particular New York Times reporter Judy Miller's recent testimony, as very bad news for Libby. He commented this week on what this means for the big picture:

    "My guess is, however, this thing has metastasized from the original charge and Libby or his lawyer may have problems in that they appear to have tried to signal Miller to invoke reporters' privilege, or not to testify, which seems to be not only interference with the investigation but an encouragement to Miller to commit contempt of court rather than help out the Bulldog. Scooter's lawyer has been scrambling like a runner caught fifteen yards behind the line of scrimmage on fourth down.

    "My own sense, from hearing and reading about Fitzgerald is that he may be going after much larger game, that he may have what Bob Bennett calls a 'big case,' that he may be going after the White House and WHIG [the White House Iraq Group] for fabricating the case for war, that he is roaming afield, looking into who forged the Niger documents and passed them on to U.S. intelligence and whether the case for war was shot through with deceit and lies. "

    If Fitzgerald has indeed widened his investigation and has a "big case," then Dick Cheney may face the most serious scrutiny of a sitting Vice President since Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace. Cheney set the tone for the Administration's selling of the war, and there is much we still don't know about the inner workings of the White House Iraq Group, which was created by the Administration to market and sell the Iraq War. The Plame investigation could indeed rip that whole seamy backstory wide open.

    But the question remains: why would the Vice President's office react in such a reckless way to Joseph Wilson's Op-Ed? One possible explanation is Cheney's long, animosity-filled history with the CIA. An LA Times article yesterday laid out some of the background of this tension, painting a picture in which it is not surprising that the Vice President's office would react with such malice to Wilson's claims that the Niger-uranium link was false:

    Cheney, CIA Long At Odds
    Los Angeles Times - 10/20/05

    "Fitzgerald has learned about ongoing tensions between Cheney's circle and the CIA. According to a former White House official interviewed by The Times, Libby and others in the White House were incensed by Wilson's public criticism, in part because they saw it as a salvo fired by the CIA at administration officials, including Cheney, who was perhaps the most outspoken advocate of the case against Iraq.

    "Witnesses have told Fitzgerald about those tensions. New York Times reporter Judith Miller wrote recently that she told the grand jury that Libby had been angry with the CIA in the months after the invasion of Iraq, saying that President Bush might have made inaccurate statements about Iraqi weapons programs because the agency did not discuss its doubts.

    "...the tensions between the vice president's office and the CIA increased as investigators failed to find weapons of mass destruction. White House staffers feared they would be blamed by the CIA for encouraging misleading intelligence estimates, one former official said.

    "Then, Wilson's account of his CIA mission to Niger embarrassed the White House by undermining the administration's claim that Iraq had sought nuclear materials from Africa.

    "Fitzgerald has been told that Wilson's public disclosure of his findings in Niger reminded Libby and other neoconservatives in the White House of their longtime battles with the CIA, according to someone familiar with the case. And it led some to fear that the agency was trying to shift the blame to the White House for intelligence failures before the war."

    Of course, it should be noted that perhaps the Administration deserved to be blamed for making misleading and sometimes false statements in the run up to war.

    In any case, the next week should finally bring us a fuller accounting of this entire story, with more sure to come on Rove's role in the case and his ever-changing explanations of his actions. Most seem to agree on one thing, though: when Fitzgerald finally makes an announcement, it's going to hit Washington--and this administration--like a sonic boom.

    News From the Blog

    Miller to Force Vote
    Democratic Rep. George Miller uses parliamentary tactics to force a vote on President Bush's wage cut for Katrina reconstruction.

    Freedom is Just Another Word...
    Congressional Republicans propose Vice President Cheney as a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Freedom.

    Republican Scandal Roundup
    Two charter members of the Republican Double-Dealing Caucus find themselves in still more trouble.

    NRCC Goes Big Time
    Our Republican counterparts invite the scandal-plagued vice president to raise money for them.

    Forward to a Friend
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    "What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences."
    -- Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff until January 2005, speaking on Wednesday, October, 19th.

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    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    DCCC Update: Arrest Warrant Issued for Tom DeLay


    Dear Friend,

    Just want to give you an update on Tom DeLay's legal situation. Yesterday, he was issued an arrest warrant and in coming days, as hard as this is to believe, he will be booked, fingerprinted and seen in a mug shot. That's right, the former Republican Leader, now twice indicted, will face the humility of a mug shot.

    The Associated Press is reporting...

    "A Texas court issued a warrant Wednesday for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to appear for booking, where he is likely to face the fingerprinting and photo mug shot he had hoped to avoid.

    "Bail was initially set at $10,000 as a routine step before his first court appearance on conspiracy and money laundering charges. Travis County court officials said DeLay was ordered to appear at the Fort Bend County jail for booking."

    Then came this from Tom DeLay's hometown paper yesterday morning...

    DeLay's lawyer lacking evidence of DA misconduct
    Houston Chronicle -- October 19, 2005

    "U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's chief lawyer says he has no evidence that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle participated in grand jury deliberations, despite having made that allegation in motions to dismiss DeLay's indictments."

    Tom DeLay fought the law, and the law is winning.

    We'll keep you updated in days to come -- stay tuned.


    John Lapp
    Executive Director, DCCC

    P.S. -- Even mired in disgrace and supposedly stripped of his leadership role, we hear that DeLay is still taking part in Republican Leadership meetings, making crucial decisions that affect us all. No Republican in Congress has challenged this outrage, and to this day only three out of more than 200 Republicans have given back the money they took from him. The DCCC is committed to installing a Congress that provides more for America than blind obedience to Tom DeLay.

    Spread the Word -- Send this to 5 friends

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    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    America is waiting for us

    Dear automat,

    Republicans have become so incompetent, so out of control and so unbelievably corrupt that no amount of spin can cover it up. The fact is, we're witnessing a dramatic reversal in national politics. If we seize this opportunity, we can change history.

    Everyone can see what Republican Leader Tom Delay did when he wanted more Republicans in Congress. He's been indicted for laundering more than $170,000 in corporate money to gerrymander six Congressional seats away from Democrats.

    That's what the Republican money-for-influence machine is about -- special interest money to fund Republican officials who will make sure that contributors get a return on their investment.

    We do things differently. So let's prove it. Tom DeLay is set to be arraigned in a Texas court on Friday -- let's raise twice the amount he's accused of laundering, and let's do it in grassroots donations.

    Show America that ordinary people have the power to raise $2 for every $1 Tom Delay can launder. Make a contribution and fight Republican corruption:

    The corruption in Washington has gotten so bad that even Republicans can't stomach Republicans any longer. One GOP Congressman told Howard Fineman of Newsweek that the Republican leadership "has become ossified and hopelessly out of touch ... They only care about one thing, hanging onto their own power. I'm not ready to take them on, at least not yet, not unless I have to!"

    He may not be ready to take on the corrupt Republican leadership -- but we are.

    Wishing won't drive them out of office -- but strong Democratic candidates and a ground operation in every single state will. It's up to each of us to be a part of the alternative to failed Republican leadership. That's why the Democratic Party needs your financial support right now for our all-out candidate recruitment and organizing drive:

    There is a wave of change coming, and Republicans are battling against frustration from average voters and disappointment from their fringe extremist base.

    The only limits on our potential are the number of strong Democratic candidates who step forward to run in key contests, and our ability to turn out the vote in every single precinct in America. Your dollars build something that hasn't existed in decades -- a Democratic organizing and communications infrastructure in every state.

    Part of my job is to make sure that we have those candidates and that truly national organization in place. Our strength -- to potential candidates and to voters -- is that our promise of change is backed up by millions of committed people like you who will do whatever it takes to carry Democrats to victory.

    Please make a contribution now to show that ordinary people have the power to drive Democratic victory:

    Republicans are having serious problems convincing people to run for office defending the GOP's incompetence, corruption and cronyism. The Washington Post reports serious worries in the Republican establishment over their recruitment failures.

    Meanwhile, the Democratic Party is growing -- our slate of solid candidates continues to expand, and our 50-state strategy of putting organizers in every state continues to attract top talent everywhere.

    With a serious push now -- in enough time to build a powerful party structure that will last beyond a single election cycle -- we can reshape the electoral landscape in 2006 and beyond.

    Let's hit $340,000 by Friday:

    The future begins today -- America can do better, and the Democratic Party is the vehicle for change.

    Here at Democratic Headquarters, everyone knows that you -- not special interests -- are in the driver's seat.

    Thank you,

    Tom McMahon
    Executive Director
    Democratic National Committee

    P.S. -- A group of donors committed to a broad fundraising base has committed to matching every dollar raised between now and October 21. Every dollar contributed today will be matched -- so, doubling Tom DeLay's dirty money actually means quadrupling it to more than half a million dollars. This is a fantastic time to make a donation -- be part of the action by clicking here:

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    The DeLay Dead-Enders


    Congressional Republicans took $2,452,959 from Tom DeLay.

    Forward Our Message to Your Friends.

    Dear Friend,

    Two weeks ago, we offered the Republicans in Congress an opportunity. The American people were watching, and we gave them a chance to show that middle-class families are more important than their twice indicted and three-times admonished Republican House Leader. Thank you for adding your voice to our call.

    At the beginning, only three out of more than 200 Republicans who accepted DeLay's influence peddling money took this opportunity to return the money and declare their independence. That number still stands at... three.

    So now more than ever, we have to keep up the pressure. More calls, more e-mails, more petition signatures. Let's reach a critical mass! Make them walk the line -- they can either choose to return the money and stand with the American people, or keep the money and stand with Tom DeLay -- the former Republican Leader who has been admonished three times by the Ethics Committee and indicted multiple times by a grand jury.

    Republicans got themselves into a bad spot through years of blind loyalty to DeLay and his culture of corruption. Time and time again, they've taken DeLay's dirty money thereby accepting the corrupting influence of the DeLay, Inc. money machine and marking themselves as DeLay dead-enders. But we are exposing them. Through the dozens of local and national press stories we generated, hard working families are beginning to know the truth.

    Now, we need to give them one final push before we deliver your names to their campaigns. If you haven't forwarded this to your friends and family, please ask them to join us now:

    Forward Our Call to Tell House Republicans to Return DeLay's Dirty Money.

    In the disgraceful energy bill vote two weeks ago, you could see the gears of Tom DeLay's machine in action, fueled by the millions of dollars he's pumped into the Republican Congress.

    Just days after Katrina struck, DeLay announced 1 he and "Smoky" Joe Barton would put together an energy package in the name of the disaster. Ears perked up from the oil industry lobbyists 2, and they came running to get a seat at the table with the two Republicans known as "The Toxic Texans."

    Surprise, surprise, out comes a bill that allows more pollution, gives more handouts to one of the most profitable industries in the world, and does nothing to lower the obscene gas prices that fuel those profits.

    No Republican in their right mind could think this was good policy. They all had seen a letter from a fellow Republican pointing out that "The new energy bill will do nothing for consumers and will hurt taxpayers, but it sure will help the bottom line of oil companies." 3

    So why did 212 of them vote for it? Because that's just how things work when Tom DeLay is in charge. All he asked for from the Republicans he supported was that they vote as he told them to on the bills that showered giveaways on his donors. That's exactly what they've done for years, and even after he had been indicted, they did it again.

    If you have a friend or family member angry about gas prices, forward this on so they know what the Republican Congress in Washington is "doing about it" -- and how they can fight back:

    Forward Our Call to Tell House Republicans to Return DeLay's Dirty Money.

    We can't let up for a minute -- Republicans in Congress need to start working for the American people and not Tom DeLay.


    John Lapp
    Executive Director, DCCC

    1 The Hill, October 8

    2 The Hill, October 14

    3 Mercury News, October 6

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    Friday, October 14, 2005

    DCCC @Stake - Winds of Change, the Stench of Scandal

    @Stake Brought To You By The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

    Winds of Change, the Stench of Scandal

    October 14, 2005

    Winds of Change

    With the wholesale meltdown of Republican Leadership in Washington, it should be no surprise that serious discussion of a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006 is starting to take place in the media. Yesterday's New York Times had a front-page article describing the growing momentum for a changing of the guard in next year's mid-term elections:

    Democrats See Dream of '06 Victory Taking Form
    New York Times - 10/13/05

    Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority.

    That sense of political opportunity has Democratic operatives scrambling to recruit more candidates in Congressional districts that look newly favorable for Democratic gains, to overcome internal divisions and produce an agenda they can carry into 2006, and to raise the money to compete across a broader field. In short, the Democrats are trying to be ready if, in fact, an anti-incumbent, 1994-style political wave hits.

    Reflecting that shift in assessments, Democrats are preparing for a midterm with broad, national themes and possibilities - like 1982, 1986 and 1994. Democratic leaders from the House, the Senate, the national party and representatives of mayors and governors have met periodically to try to produce their own campaign agenda for 2006, which they hope to unveil early next year, strategists and senators said.


    On another front, Democratic campaign officials are racing to recruit more House candidates in places like Ohio and Kentucky. Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the Democratic whip and a leader in the recruitment effort, said he spent part of last week in Ohio with potential candidates, and his message is simple: "My basic premise is, I think this is the best context for Democrats to be running in for the House of Representatives since 1994."

    Mr. Bush's approval ratings are, perhaps, the most closely watched political indicator at the moment. Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, said, "In every midterm election season, a president with approval ratings as low as President Bush's has had his party taking it on the chin."

    Recent polling data confirms this downward trend for Republicans in Washington. Yesterday morning saw the release of the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, which had several eye-catching findings: an all-time-low 39% approval rating for President Bush, and more than twice as many Americans feeling we are on the wrong track as on the right one (59% to 28%). But perhaps most worrisome for Congressional Republicans is the current preference for control of Congress: only 39% of poll respondents said they wanted the Republicans to retain control of Congress, whereas 48% want a change to a Democraticall controlled legislature.

    NBC's Tim Russert summed up the general sentiment when interviewed by Matt Lauer on the Today Show yesterday morning:

    LAUER: Let's go right to the poll numbers. Approval rating for the president now 39 percent of the American people, the people polled at least, say he's doing a good job; 54 percent say he's doing a bad job. What's driving these numbers?

    Mr. RUSSERT: Well, Matt, that 39 percent is the lowest number we have had for George Bush during his presidency. Independent swing voters now solidly disapprove of the president's job performance. And, Matt, the most astounding number in this, 2 percent, just 2 percent, of African Americans give George Bush a positive rating for his performance as president. The memories of Katrina very much in their minds.

    LAUER: Is that--is that what this is all about? I mean, obviously, that is a--just a startling number, 2 percent of African Americans. Is this all about the aftermath of Katrina?

    Mr. RUSSERT: Well, the imagery of that, along with the economy and fuel prices and Iraq, but that event, Matt, really did have a searing effect. George Bush and the Republican Party has tried very hard to reach out to African-American voters but this is a very dramatic setback. I cannot find a pollster who can remember any president ever getting just 2 percent approval from African Americans.

    Today, another poll, this one from the Pew Research Center, found that in addition to dismal ratings for President Bush, Republican ethics problems are catching up with them...

    By 40%-30%, more Americans see the Democratic Party, rather than the Republican Party, as governing in an honest and ethical way. This represents the largest Democratic advantage on this measure since the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994. The Democratic Party held a 37%-34% edge on honesty in July 2004.

    The mid-term elections are still a year away, but the Republicans are already starting to get nervous. The events of the past few weeks have shown the American people the inability of the Republicans to truly lead our country in the right direction, and there is no reason to think that this trend will change anytime soon.

    Business As Usual For House Republicans

    If anyone thought that Republican abuse of power would abate with the indictment of Tom DeLay and his removal from Leadership, they were quickly proven wrong. Last Friday, the Republican Leadership added another chapter to their sorry history of holding open House votes until they could strong-arm a majority, leaving the vote on the cynically titled "Gasoline for America's Security Act" vote open for nearly fifty minutes, three quarters of an hour longer than the announced five minute voting period.

    Of course, this bill will do nothing to lower gas prices, but rather will only serve to give more handouts from the American taxpayer to the profitable oil industry, while at the same time allowing for increased pollution. Of course, that should be expected given that the bill was written by DeLay and his fellow Texan Joe Barton.

    Suffice it to say, it was just another day at the office for DeLay, Inc. and the Republican Congress:

    In Raucous House Vote, G.O.P. Oil Refinery Bill Squeaks By
    New York Times - 10/8/05

    It took more than 40 raucous minutes of pleading and cajoling, bargaining and begging on Friday. But House Republican leaders managed to squeeze through an oil refinery bill in a tumultuous floor vote that severely tested a leadership team rocked by the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas.

    After teetering on the verge of an embarrassing defeat, desperate party leaders managed to persuade enough of their members to switch positions to win narrow 212-to-210 approval of a measure that its backers said would expedite refinery construction and crack down on price gouging.

    "House Republicans have taken the lead in providing America with price stability and a bold plan for this nation's energy future," said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who along with Mr. DeLay and other senior lawmakers buttonholed and browbeat resistant Republicans as the clock ticked on the vote.

    Democrats attacked the substance of the bill and the process that the Republicans employed to force it through. The Democrats accused the majority of abusing House rules by stretching what should have been a five-minute vote to deliver a bill that Democrats said would benefit profitable oil companies but do little for American drivers.

    "It took that long for the indicted leader of the House of Representatives to twist the arms necessary to get a vote against the American people, against the consumer, against the taxpayer and against the environment - in favor of the energy companies," said the minority leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California.

    Despite his nominal demotion from the House Leadership, guess who was on the floor leading the attempt to force weak-willed Republicans to change their votes? That's right, "backbencher" Tom DeLay:

    GOP Leaders Win on Energy Bill: DeLay Twists Arms Over Measure to Increase Refining Capacity
    Washington Post - 10/8/05

    And if rank-and-file Republicans wondered what role DeLay (R-Tex.) would play after his indictments last month on money-laundering and conspiracy charges, Friday's theatrics provided the answer. Even without a leadership title, DeLay made it clear that he will still wield power. Just as he did when he was part of the leadership, he was present for the whole vote, pressing dissenting Republicans, especially Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-Md.), who fidgeted with his voting card as DeLay pressed for his assent.

    "It was a heck of a performance to turn this around," said Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.), one of 13 Republicans who joined 196 Democrats and one independent to nearly defeat the Gasoline for America's Security -- or GAS -- Act. "The lesson was that nothing's changed."

    "I saw DeLay come out of retirement," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) "I saw him twisting the arms of at least three of my colleagues. . . . I saw a lot of unhappy Republicans."

    Nothing's changed, and the Republicans in Congress have nobody to blame but themselves.

    Update: Republican Power Trio Investigations

    Reams of newsprint continue to get eaten up reporting on the continuing legal problems of three of the most powerful Republicans in Washington: White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, Senate Leader Bill Frist, and "former" House Leader (but still clearly in charge) Tom DeLay.

    Let's begin with Rove, who went back before the grand jury for a fourth time today as part of the Valerie Plame leak investigation. According to reporting from several sources, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wanted to ask him about previous discrepancies in his testimony:

    Rove Failed to Tell Grand Jury Information
    UPI - 10/9/05

    A discrepancy between the grand jury testimony of Karl Rove and Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper is the reason Rove will testify again.

    Newsweek reports investigators have found an e-mail confirming a meeting between Cooper and Rove, President Bush's top political adviser.

    Rove failed to disclose the meeting both during a 2003 FBI interview and during his first appearance before a federal grand jury investigating the leak to the press of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

    With the contempt order on New York Times reporter Judy Miller having been lifted on Wednesday, the newspaper is due to publish a full account of Miller's role in the investigation, which could spell more bad publicity for the administration. With Miller's testimony complete, Rove is reportedly the last individual still due to come before the grand jury. The current grand jury's term ends next Friday, so by the time of the next @Stake we should finally have some answers as to what will come out of this investigation.

    As for our good friend Tom DeLay, his legal trevails continue to bump along. When faced with several indictments, DeLay decided to follow the suggestions of the modern Republican playbook and spend his efforts attacking the prosecutor, rather than actually trying to win the case on the merits. This week, his lawyer issued a subpoena to District Attorney Ronnie Earle's office and accused the proseuctor of partisan conduct - despite the fact that Earle has indicted four times as many Democrats as Republicans in his career.

    DeLay went further still. After the foreman of the grand jury told reporters that not only did he stand behind the indictments, but that he believed there was enough evidence to convict, DeLay accused Earle of improperly urging the foreman to talk.

    And what does the second grand jury foreman, 76-year-old retired Sheriff's deputy William Gibson, have to say about that?

    The foreman, William Gibson, gave media interviews after the grand jury finished its work but told The Associated Press that Earle did not ask him to discuss the case.

    "That's a bunch of (expletive) there," Gibson said. "That man did not talk to me."

    He said Earle advised him and other grand jurors to keep an open mind as they considered evidence and cautioned them, "What goes on behind closed doors is secret."

    While this appears to be just an attempt to muddy the waters and discredit Earle, it should be noted that this attempt to attack the messenger is the modus operandi of the Bush admistration over the past five years. Remember Richard Clarke?

    Newsview: Cross Bush, Face Payback
    AP - 3/27/04

    President Bush is playing supercharged hardball in going after his own former anti-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke. It's a risky strategy that shows the single-mindedness of Bush and his re-election team in trying to deflect politically damaging criticism.

    Loyalty is a hallmark of Bush's administration, with the president and his top lieutenants quick to turn on those who stray from the fold.

    A week after a broadside that questioned Democratic rival John Kerry's commitment to U.S. troops and fitness to be president - standard operating procedure for the general election campaign - Bush's re-election machine unleashed a shock and awe campaign designed to discredit Clarke.

    ...But Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, are essentially following the same game plan that the late Lee Atwater - an early political mentor of Rove's - used to get the first President Bush elected in 1988: define and undercut an opponent early with a fusillade of negative attacks.

    "This team is tough. You cross them and they go after you and raise questions about you and your credibility rather than what you have to say," said Thomas Mann, a scholar with the Brookings Institution.

    Others who have fallen out of favor over Iraq include former economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki. All voiced concerns about either the expense or number of troops needed to occupy Iraq. All were treated dismissively by the White House. All are gone, but their estimates proved accurate.

    Note especially that last sentence; this is a tactic that Republicans like Tom DeLay and Karl Rove typically turn to when they can't win the argument on the merits. There is still a long way to go in this case, but given DeLay's reaction thus far, he appears to be very worried indeed and has not had many substantial reactions to the charges. For Tom DeLay loyalists in the House, that can't be a good sign. Nor can the fact that on Thursday, he had his home and office phone records subpoenaed.

    And then there's Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist, who had a rather rough week himself, but we'll save him for another day...

    News From the Blog

    NY-19: Game On
    Republican Sue Kelly gets a new opponent ready to hold her accountable.

    NC-10: The Future of the Republican Party?
    A profile of Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry, and the loyalty he has shown to the likes of Rove and DeLay in his hopes of a rapid ascent to power.

    CA-11, CT-02: Return of the Double Dealing Caucus
    Republicans Richard Pombo and Rob Simmons show us once again what made them part of the "Double Dealing Caucus" in the first place.

    CT-04: Shays Under Fire on FEMA
    Once again, faux-moderate Chris Shays shows us how to speak out of both sides of one's mouth.

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    Large Text Version

    A Conversation During the Much-Extended Vote on the Republican Energy Bill:

    Mr. Dingell (D-MI): Parliamentary inquiry. I have a plane to catch in about one hour. Am i going to be able to do it?

    The Speaker Pro Tempore: That is not a proper parliamentary inquiry.

    Mr. Dingell: Will my colleagues be able to do it? Will the vote end in time?

    The Speaker Pro Tempore: not a proper parliamentary inquiry.

    -- Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) trying desperately to get the Republican Speaker Pro Tempore to announce when the vote on the GAS act will finally come to a close. The vote was held open until Republicans had forced enough of their colleagues to switch sides as to pass the bill, which took 45 minutes longer than the announced 5 minute vote was expected to take.

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