Vote For Change, Vote Coleen Rowley

Local activists blog for congressional candidate Coleen Rowley (D)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Kline Is "Especially Contemptible"!

The recent report releasing an assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Coleen Rowley has maintained this position from the very beginning. The War in Iraq has destablized the area and fueled more terrorists.

From the Strib Editorial page:

"Defeat this November is the deserved consequence for every incumbent member of Congress who has sung with gusto the bunting-draped "We'll fight them over there" chorus that was written and produced for them by the White House. Two especially deserving of that consequence in Minnesota are Rep. Mark Kennedy, who is running for the Senate, and Rep. John Kline, who is running for reelection.

"Kline's behavior has been especially contemptible because he is a retired Marine officer. It's difficult to comprehend that someone of that background would demonstrate so little regard for the troops that he would vigorously support sending them to fight and die in a war that puts their nation at risk."

"The new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq makes quite clear that Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism. It is, rather, the central recruiting office and training ground for new terrorists. The United States needs to find a way out of there. To get out, it needs a transformed Congress capable of forcing a new course on the White House. President Bush refuses to acknowledge the bloody reality he has wrought. The only way he will ever confront that reality is if he is forced, by a Congress stripped of its fall-in-line supporters of the war."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Will YOU be able to vote Nov. 7th?

While the news media and the blogosphere have been busy discussing the senate actions on the Geneva Convention and torture, Congressional Republicans have quietly gutted provisions of the Help America Vote Act and thrown up major roadblocks to voting and voter registration under the guise of "preventing voter fraud". THIS is the "October Surprise"!! Unless the Senate votes it down, we can expect major chaos during next month's elections.

The 'Federal Election Integrity Act of 2006' requires proof of citizenship when registering (or re-registering) to vote, and a photo ID at the voting booth. And, it is to take effect this November!

In case you wonder how this will affect you.... Does your driver's license state that you are a US citizen? If you have recently moved, or if your name has been struck from the voter rolls by mistake, you will need to re-register. If your wallet was stolen last week, and you only have a printed receipt for a replacement license--you will be barred from voting.

Even if your records are fine, what about your neighbors? Just think of the chaos and confusion this will cause on Election Day. Long lines. Voters angry about being turned away. Election officials unsure about how to handle particular situations. Do we really need this mess NOW?

Key features of the bill (my emphasis):

To register (or re-register):
"...the applicant [must] provide a photographic copy of any document which provides proof that the applicant is a citizen of the United States, in accordance with guidelines established by the Election Administration Commission in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State." This applies in all situations, including drivers' license and mail-in registrations, registration at the polls, and casting provisional ballots. Note that the guidelines have not yet been written!

To vote:
"...[the] election official may not provide a ballot for an election for Federal office (including a provisional ballot under section 302(a)) to an individual who desires to vote in person unless the individual presents to the official a current and valid photo identification." A photocopy of such identification is required when voting by mail.

AND:
"This Act and the amendments made by this Act shall apply with respect to the regularly scheduled general election for Federal office held in November 2006 and each succeeding election for Federal office."

You can find the complete text of the bill here.

Finally, in addition to the above:
Paragraphs 1-3 in Section 303(b) of the Help America Vote act of 2002 have been removed; these included specific permissions for a voter to use "a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter" to supplement a photo ID with an outdated or missing address. You can find the full text of that law here.

Non-partisan opinions

Here's what the League of Women Voters had to say about it:

Photo ID requirements disproportionately impact those who are least likely to have current photo ID: the elderly, young people, people of color, rural voters, individuals with disabilities and frequent movers. At the polls, acceptance of the ID would be determined by poll workers and election officials. Such tests and devices have historically resulted in discrimination and disenfranchisement of eligible voters....

The proof of citizenship required by H.R. 4844 in 2010 is like a 21st Century poll tax. Obtaining proof of citizenship can be difficult and imposes real costs in both time and money. If H.R. 4844 were enacted, many Americans would have to pay to obtain proof of their citizenship.

Other organizations that oppose the bill include AARP, the NAACP, Common Cause, and Veterans for America.

To find out how your congressman voted, you can start here,or you can go here and select your state for a more limited list of names.

Once you find your congressperson, scroll down the page and look for these two votes on 9/20/06: Vote 459: H R 4844 and Vote 458: H R 4844. Vote 458 was to send the bill back to committee with instructions to make changes; vote 459 was to accept the bill as written.

Take action now!
We're OK if the Senate rejects this. But if it passes, we've got a mess on our hands in November.

Yes, courts have overturned state laws like this. But do we really trust this US Supreme Court? Do we want our local election officials to be unsure of what they should do on November 7th?

Folks, this is the October Surprise. We've got to get busy!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Murtha campaigns for Rowley

Constitution Day Rally
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9433
Rosemount, MN 55068

With Congressman John Murtha, Congressman Jim Oberstar, and Candidate Coleen Rowley

I was late getting there. I'd stayed after church to attend an adult class, and cut my travel time a bit close.

It wasn't hard to find the right place. The protesters were all over the place, as were the Rowley campaign signs. At least one protester waved a sign that said "Support the troops". I grinned, and called out to her, "Support the troops---and bring them home!" She tossed me a sour look.

As I walked in the door of the VFW, a lady in flag-decorated shirt, jacket, and hat(!) took one look at my Rowley T-shirt, scowled, and sent me upstairs.

Jim Oberstar had been talking; but the room was pretty full, and I couldn't see who was at the podium. It was pretty clear that John Murtha would be up next, so I sat down to wait and got out my knitting.

In retrospect, I probably should have gotten out a notebook. Because I wish I could remember more details for this story.

John Murtha shouldn't need much introduction. He served in the US Marines for 37 years, and has a reputation for fighting in congress to get our troops the best support and supplies possible.

So the VFW was a poetically appropriate location.

Murtha began by describing his introduction to Coleen. She had asked him not to call her a hero, he said, but she is one. Then he moved on to discuss his real passion--our troops. His frustration with the level of REAL support for the troops by the Bush administration and its Republican congress hovered in the air with the pungency of gunsmoke.

The troops needed body armor. They needed helmets. They needed armor for their Humvees. Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld sat around on their "backsides" while the troops hauled 90 pound packs around the desert in hundred-degree heat.

These days, Murtha spends much of his spare time at VA hospitals, talking with the recovering soldiers. At first, he told us, most of the vets would tell him how they wanted to go back to Iraq and help their friends. Now they tell him, "Bring my buddies home!"

The speech was short--definitely shorter than the morning's sermon. But it was heartfelt and clear. America needs new leadership in Congress--and Coleen Rowley should be part of it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Kline Record: National Association of Manufacturers gives him 100%

I first learned about the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) from a diary at Daily Kos last week.

The author was sufficiently incensed at his congressperson that I thought it might be interesting to look for a relationship between NAM and John Kline.

NAM likes Kline a lot. I'm not so sure that I like NAM.

NAM describes itself this way:

The NAM’s mission is to enhance the competitiveness of manufacturers by shaping a legislative and regulatory environment conducive to U.S. economic growth and to increase understanding among policymakers, the media and the general public about the vital role of manufacturing to America’s economic future and living standards.

The NAM is the nation’s largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NAM has 10 additional offices across the country.

Sourcewatch adds this: "The group has a long roster of lobbyists in Washington lobbying on dozens of issues. They also have a special lobby called National Association of Manufacturers - Asbestos Alliance, working on tort reform concerning asbestos exposure." [In other words, they want to get manufacturers of products which contained asbestos off the legal liability hook.]

NAM doesn't have a PAC that donates money in the usual way, directly to congressional campaigns or leadership PACs. Here's how it donates cash:

  • Total Contributions: $46,207
  • hard money contributions to Bush since 2000: $3,000
  • soft money contributions to RNC since 2000: $43,207
  • PAC contributions to Republicans since 2000: $0

Looks pretty clean, doesn't it?

But NAM has found a way to donate lots of money directly to candidates--and to keep itself entirely off the FEC radar. It offers its members a set of special tools that effectively coordinates the PACs of all of the NAM member organizations. If you go to the NAM website, and choose Take Action> Prosperity Project, you can see how they do this with BIPAC.

Online PAC Services

BIPAC doesn’t just provide grassroots tools for all your employees or members; we can also develop a PAC section for your Prosperity Project website that is password protected (either by traditional means or through Federated Identity Management – linked). Our members use their PAC websites in a variety of ways, but they are best used in tandem with a dynamic Prosperity Project site that provides information about issues that affect the organization, tools to write to elected officials, and voting information.

What can I do on the PAC portion of the website that I can’t do on my regular Prosperity Project website?

Communicate frequently and specifically about the PAC to set it context. The Prosperity Project tools provide flexibility in message delivery, from email messages to PAC newsletters and streaming video featuring an appeal by your CEO.

Tell managers, executives and shareholders who you support and why. Encourage personal contributions to candidates. Recruit volunteers.

Use secure online PAC contribution modules that protect all personally identifiable information and make online PAC solicitation easy.

In addition, the BIPAC Member Portal is your one stop shop for Political Analysis, PAC and Grassroots Resources, where you can access primers, research, candidate information, political analysis, PAC assessment, benchmark surveys and more with the click of a mouse.

NAM is pretty upfront about its agenda. A couple of clicks in from its main website, I found this: "The NAM’s 2006 Pro-Growth, Pro-Manufacturing Agenda"

Reduce Production Costs in the United States:

  • Immediately address the critical shortage of reliable domestic oil and natural gas supply to include legislation permitting deep water exploration.
  • Build a plentiful, flexible, diverse and affordable energy supply through a broad range of options to address our nation’s energy supply crisis, including policies that open the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for development of natural resources.
  • End lawsuit abuses including asbestos and medical litigation.
  • Reduce health care costs by focusing on chronic disease prevention and management, transforming health care from paper records to electronic medical records and encouraging the growth of consumer-oriented options such as Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Health Reimbursement
    Arrangements (HRAs).
  • Reduce excessive regulatory costs by ensuring that scientific and economic analysis is applied to regulations.
  • Enact sensible, cost-effective multiple emissions policy, such as the President’s Clear Skies initiative, and avoid inefficient and anti-growth command and control mandates on emissions such as carbon dioxide (CO2).

Level the International [corporate!] Playing Field:

  • Successfully conclude the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations by the end of 2006.
  • Secure open access to foreign markets by approving the recently-concluded free trade agreement (FTA) with Peru, concluding negotiations underway with others, and initiating negotiations with additional countries.
  • Approve legislation to address nuisance tariffs that burden U.S. manufacturing.
  • Ensure compliance with existing trade and economic agreements, including enforcement of all provisions in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), as well as WTO and International Monetary Fund (IMF) commitments. Also seek congressional support for eliminating technical barriers arising from conflicting U.S. and foreign standards and regulatory practices.
  • Make improvements in trade with China by addressing China’s undervalued currency, counterfeiting of products, subsidized production and exports, and extensive market access barriers.

Develop the 21st Century Workforce:

  • Continue to implement No Child Left Behind with its emphasis on standards and accountability.
  • Reform the current visa system to allow for greater global mobility of skilled employees, with special consideration for foreign-born graduate students who come to U.S. universities for study.
  • Insist on a national emphasis on math, science and engineering in secondary and post-secondary education.

Promote Innovation, Investment and Productivity:

  • Make permanent the tax relief enacted since 2001 including marginal rate cuts and reduced rates for dividends and capital gains, death tax repeal and depreciation reforms.
  • Enact a permanent and strengthened R&D tax credit and repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax.
  • Provide increased funding for federal science programs and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program.
  • Accelerate technology and innovation by encouraging more rapid domestic deployment of broadband by deregulatory policies.
  • Make the exercise of patent rights more effective worldwide with a better integrated international system and reverse the global rise in trade of illicit goods that has marked a decline in exercise of trademark rights.
  • Enact rational legislation that replaces the interest rate used to determine current funding liabilities for defined benefit plans. Build on and make permanent provisions that encourage participation in defined contribution plans.

[Emphasis mine.]

NAM has a long history.

The first president of NAM was Samuel Bush, father of Prescott and grandfather of George H. W. Bush [great grandfather of George W. Bush] (link). Robert Welch was on the NAM board of directors for seven years before founding the John Birch Society in 1958 (link).

From "NAM Historical Highlights":

NAM lobbying achievements in the 1990s included:

  • Passage of NAFTA and MFN for China.
  • Successful lawsuits reining in rulemaking abuses at OSHA and EPA.
  • A five-year extension of the essential R&D tax credit.
  • Defeat of President Clinton's job-crushing BTU tax and nationalized health care schemes.
  • Reform of the misnamed alternative minimum tax and reduction in capital gains and estate taxes.
  • Moratorium on Internet taxation.
  • Major improvements in food and drug laws, reducing approval times for life-enhancing pharmaceuticals.
  • Crackdown on meritless securities suits, which averaged $692,000 in legal fees and 1,055 hours of management time apiece and discouraged entrepreneurial activity.
  • Passed the Y2K liability law, allowing companies to focus on preventing Y2K problems.
  • National leadership in encouraging low interest rates and stronger growth.
  • Truck back-billing relief and an integral role in passing the bill to improve highways, 60 percent of which were in need of repair.
  • Greater access to highly skilled H-1B workers.
  • Preventing terrorist access to sensitive risk assessment data via the Internet.

[And later, under GW Bush:]

  • Repeal of Ergonomics Rule. The NAM was the first business group to file suit challenging OSHA's ergonomics rule and helped led the successful effort to overturn the rule through the Congressional Review Act.
Many people consider NAM to be a right wing organization with a history of anti-labor and anti-union activism. Some even link it to fascism.

Here is the NAM profile for John Kline:

Biography:

Born in Allentown, Pa., on September 6, 1947; BA., Rice University, Houston, Tex., 1969; M.P.A., Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, Shippensburg, Pa., 1988; United States Marine Corps, 1969-1994; leadership consultant; unsuccessful candidate for the One Hundred Fifth Congress in 1998; unsuccessful candidate for the One Hundred Seventh Congress in 2000; elected as a Republican to the One Hundred Eighth Congress (January 3, 2003-present).

109th Congress AF&PA Voting Record

  • Class Action Fairness Act. On S.5. RC 38. AF&PA supported. Passed: 279-149. Legislation aimed at curbing the explosion of frivolous class-action lawsuits, which would curb trial lawyer "forum shopping" by shifting most major class actions to federal courts, without altering plaintiffs' right to sue. 2/17/05 Y
  • Comprehensive Energy Bill. H.R. 6. RC 132. AF&PA supported. Passed: 249-183. Legislation aimed at creating a comprehensive, balanced, long-term energy policy that provides adequate energy supplies at affordable prices. Enacting this bill will also stimulate additional supplies of both conventional and alternative renewable fuels, while strengthening natural gas and electricity infrastructure to incentivize conservation. 4/21/05 Y
  • Postal Reform Legisltation. On H.R. 22. RC 430. AF&PA supported. Passed: 410-20. The purpose of this bill is to modernize the U.S. Postal Service to reduce internal costs, improve service, and make future postal rate increases more predictable and affordable. U.S. mail-related businesses comprise a $900 billion industry that employs more than nine million people and is inextricably linked to the paper industry. Paper industry products make up more than 70 percent of mail volume. 7/26/05 Y
  • U.S. Trade Rights Enforcement Act. On H.R. 3283. RC 437. AF&PA supported. Passed: 255-168. Provides U.S. companies with additional trade remedies to use against unfair Chinese trade practices and establishes monitoring of China’s recent trade commitment on intellectual property rights and providing greater market access for U.S. goods and services. In addition, the bill requires the Treasury Department to report to Congress every six months on China’s new exchange rate mechanism, which de-links the yuan and the dollar. 7/27/05. Y
  • U.S. Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) On H.R. 3045. RC 443. AF&PA supported. Passed 217-215. This bill liberalizes trade between the U.S. and Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. The trade pact immediately eliminates tariffs and duties on 80 percent of our exports to those countries, and phases out tariffs on the remaining 20 percent over the next ten years. The U.S. exported approximately $600 million worth of paper, paperboard and wood products to the CAFTA/DR nations in 2004 and the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that another $141 million could be added with the implementation of the agreement. 7/28/05. Y
  • Interior Appropriations. On H.R.2361. RC 450. AF&PA Supported. Passed 410-10. On Agreeing to the Conference Report. AF&PA has succeeded in getting increased spending for the timber sales program, hazardous fuels reduction and forest inventory assessment. 7/28/05. Y
  • Substitute Amdmt. on the Threatened and Endangered Species Reform Act by Rep. Miller (CA-07). On H.R.3824. RC 505. 206-216. An attempt to derail the effort to improve the Endangered Species Act. 9/29/05 N
  • Threatened and Endangered Species Reform Act. On H.R. 3824. RC 506. AF&PA supported. Passed: 229-193. Would amend the Endangered Species Act in a variety of ways. It would 1) incorporate the No Surprises rule into the statute, 2) eliminates all critical habitat provisions from the ESA and puts increased focus on the recovery process, and directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish criteria to identify the "best available scientific data" and requires that data be consistent with government-wide guidlines [sic], etc. 9/29/05 Y
  • Forest Emergency Recovery and Research Act. H.R.4200. RC 151. AF&PA supported. Passed: 243-181. FERRA would provide federal forestland managers the tools and expedited processes to conduct a timely and thorough evaluation of forest conditions following a catastrophic event – such as wildfire, hurricane, ice storm insect infestation, or disease outbreak – and allow for prompt recovery of those lands where appropriate. 5/17/06 Y
  • Putnam-Capps Amdmt. on Interior Approps bill (H.R.5386) R.C. 170. AF&PA opposed. Passed: 217-203. This amendment would would reinstate the 25 year old restriction on DOI's ability to spend money on pre-leasing or leasing activities for energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf. 5/18/06 N

This official's percentage on this voting record: 100%

108th Congress AF&PA Voting Record

  • Comprehensive Energy Bill. H.R. 6. RC 145. AF&PA supported. Passed: 247-175. Legislation aimed at creating a comprehensive, balanced, long-term energy policy that provides adequate energy supplies at affordable prices. Enacting this bill will also stimulate additional supplies of both conventional and alternative renewable fuels, while strengthening natural gas and electricity infrastructure to incentivize conservation. 4/11/04 Y
  • Healthy Forests Restoration Act. H.R. 1904. RC 200. AF&PA supported. Passed: 256-170. To improve the capacity of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior to plan and conduct hazardous fuels reduction projects on National Forest System lands and Bureau of Land Management lands aimed at protecting communities, watersheds, and certain other at-risk lands from catastrophic wildfire, to enhance efforts to protect watersheds and address threats to forest and rangeland health, including catastrophic wildfire, across the landscape, and for other purposes. 5/20/03 Y
  • Jobs & Growth Reconcilitation Act. H.R. 2. RC 225. AF&PA supported. Passed: 231-200. Approved 51-50 on May 23, 2003. AF&PA supported the pro-growth package, which reduces taxes on dividends and capital gains, expands expensing and increased bonus depreciation for businesses and reduces taxes for individuals and many small businesses. 5/23/03 Y
  • Class Action Reform. H.R. 1115. RC 272. AF&PA supported. Passed: 253-170. Legislation aimed at curbing the explosion of frivolous class-action lawsuits. AF&PA supported the bill, which would curb trial lawyer "forum shopping" by shifting most major class actions to federal courts, without altering plaintiffs' right to sue. 6/12/03 Y
  • Udall (NM-03) Amendment on Interior Approps. H.R. 2691. RC 384. AF&PA opposed. Failed: 198-222. Attempt to derail practical forest planning rules, preventing much needed on the ground work from being accomplished. 7/17/03 N
  • Inslee (WA-01) Amendment on Interior Approps. H.R. 2691. RC 386. AF&PA opposed. Failed: 185-234. Misguided attempt to codify the misguided Clinton rule. 7/17/03 N US-Chile Free Trade Agreement. H.R. 2738. RC 436. AF&PA supported. Passed: 270-146. Eliminates nearly all tariffs on U.S. manufactured exports upon implementation and provides the framework for a successful FTAA accord. 7/24/03 Y
  • Pension Funding Equity Act of 2003. H.R.3108. RC 535. AF&PA supported. Passed: 397-2. 30-year Treasury Bonds. Failure to enact a workable alternative to the 30-yr Treasury Bond Rate would force forest products companies with defined benefit plans to contribute unnecessarily large amounts to those plans, diverting capital from other productive uses, risking the continuation of the voluntary plans these companies currently have. 10/08/03 Y
  • Chabot Amendment on Interior Appropriations.(Tongass) H.R. 4568. RC 253. AF&PA opposed. Passed: 222-205 Eliminates funds for forest management road building in the Tongass National Forest. 6/16/04 N
  • Udall Amendment on Interior Appropriations. H.R. 4568. RC 254. AF&PA opposed. Failed: 195-230. De-funds the application of the newly revised forest planning regulations on National Forests. 6/16/04 N
  • Australia Free Trade Agreement. H.R.4759. RC 375. AF&PA supported. Passed: 314-109. To eliminate tariffs on U.S. exports to Australia, making U.S. suppliers more competitive against domestic producers. 7/14/04 Y
  • JOBS Bill. H.R.4520. RC 509. On Agreeging to [sic] the Conference Report. AF&PA Supported. Passed: 280-141. The bill repeals the WTO-illegal FSC/ETI export tax incentive regime and replaces it with, among other things, an effective 3 percentage point corporate rate reduction for manufacturing income, including timber. Repeal of FSC/ETI must occur before the EU will remove tariffs on US products including $200 million worth of wood/paper products. 10/7/04. Y

This official's percentage on this voting record: 100%

Cosponsorship of Key Legislation

  • 109 H.R.3883 AF&PA supports the Timber Tax Act of 2005 to improve competitiveness of U.S. corporate timber and forest products industry. Related Senate bill: S. 1791 Support
  • 109 H.R.4318 H.R. 4318: To terminate the effect of all provisions of Federal law that prohibit the expenditure of appropriated funds to conduct natural gas leasing and preleasing activities for any area of the Outer Continental Shelf, to terminate all withdrawals of Federal submerged lands of the Outer Continental Shelf from leasing for exploration for, and development and production of, natural gas, and for other purposes. Introduced 11/15/05. This legislator cosponsored this legislation on 12/16/2005 Support
  • 108 H.R.1310 H.R. 1310 "Reforestation Tax Act": AF&PA-supported. The Reforestation Tax Act provides an incentive for landowners of all sizes to continue to hold and manage their forests in a manner that will maintain a long-term sustainable supply of fiber for future economic needs. Related Senate bill: S. 1381. Support
  • 108 H.R.3716 H.R. 3716, Provisions related to Countervailing Duties applied to nonmarket economy countries. AF&PA Supports. The Chinese government currently uses subsidies and other economic incentives to give their forest products producers an unfair trade advantage over American-made products in the industry. AF&PA supports legislation both chambers that would amend U.S. anti-subsidy law to apply the same countervailing duty measures to imports from non-market economies, such as China, that are applied to products from all other trading nations. Please contact your Representative to have them cosponsor H.R. 3716. (related Senate bill: S.2212) Support

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bi-Partisan or Bully Politics

On John Kline's official website (still unchanged since July), he likes to tout his so-called "bi-partisanship" in getting his handful of bills passed. Was it really?

The Republican version of being bi-partisan has included an outright rejection of anything offered by Democrats. This includes multiple votes against properly funding our most vulnerable areas - more security on our borders, our ports, our railways, our airways, our nuclear facilities, our factories, etc. Yet they have the audacity to say it is the Democrats who don't want to protect America. They lied.

Their tactics have also included literally shutting out Democratic members from their own committees, meeting in secret, and going against the rules of the House by holding votes open until they forced even their own side to vote the way they wanted them to. They have refused to allow Democrats to offer amendments to bills, or even have the chance for debate. Not one Republican stood up to say this practice was wrong, including John Kline. They bullied.

If that isn't bad enough, they've also forced votes on bills without giving lawmakers on both sides enough time to actually read the text they would be voting on. At times they've literally changed the wording in the middle of the night, so what our legislators thought they were voting on, could actually be something completely different.

Their non bi-partisanship has resulted in a lawsuit filed against legislation the President signed into law that was a version not agreed to by both the House and Senate, as is required. As it is, Bush has written 800 signing statements anyway, essentially putting in writing his self-appointed "right" to interpret or ignore these laws as he sees fit - at least while we are in this endless "War on Terror". It's no wonder his mantra on Iraq is to stay the course. Without this "war on terra" Bush becomes just a mere mortal. They cheated.

The rampant use of earmarks and special interest legislation has also run amok with this Republican ruled Congress. The Party who used to be able to claim fiscal responsibility has been the most successful in pork production, resulting in huge deficits. They've also voted repeatedly to raise the debt ceiling, now quickly approaching $9 TRILLION. They talk of a the estate tax as a "death" tax for the most wealthy, yet have no problems putting an instant $30,000 on the heads of every child born in America today.

Under the guise of helping their constituents, they have personally benefitted from their unethical acts, literally lining their own pockets. While they help themselves to riches out of our reach, the dollar earned from most working Americans continues to shrink in the slowest recovery we've seen in American history. They are greedy.

They've hired relatives as campaign workers - a common practice, but the salaries paid are much greater than any paid before. They have personal ties to lobbyists, and let's not forget the K-Street Project, allowing only former Republican staff and legislators to become lobbyists in the most powerful firms in Washington. They are self-serving.

They sit on corporate boards they also draft legislation for, essentially shielding them from wrongdoing, and allowing loopholes so taxes owed do not get paid. They turn a blind eye to companies with P.O. box addresses in other countries as another way to avoid tax liability, and they offer incentives to companies to move factories and American jobs overseas. They do not legislate fairly.

Fighting until the other side gives in to your demands is NOT being bi-partisan, it is unethical, unfair, and lying bully politics.

When the Republicans took control of both the House and the Senate, they swore in front of our nation and every person in it to be different - they would clean up Congress, but have done nothing but corrupt it even further than it was before. They lied to us. The Contract For America in reality became the Contract On America.

Kline has voted with this group of neo-cons under the Republican banner. They already went back on one promise to be ethical in government, why should we trust them now?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

John Kline's health care

John Kline has done so much to help seniors pay for their medications, right? And he's so concerned about keeping down the deficit that he voted to hold down some badly-needed funding for the VA.

Well, had he taken the time to look a bit further into the consequences of his votes, he could have predicted stories like this:

"workingmom OH" writes about her father:

My father has been taken to the E.R.... [he] takes no fewer than sixteen medications each day in an attempt to regulate his high blood pressure and to manage his Type II diabetes.

He is overweight and, for some reason, his blood pressure has been very difficult to get under control despite an aggressive drug regimen and his dedication to an exercise program. He underwent major surgery in July... for the placement of a stent to bypass a very large aortic aneurysm.

...[W]hile Medicare Part D did help with his drug expenses earlier in the year he hit the "donut hole" in June....
I have, of course, offered financial assistance. It's that pride thing, though. ...Dad elected to muddle along on his own... and save some money buying most of his medications from Canada. This worked pretty well until a few weeks ago.

He received a letter from US Customs stating that his medications had been seized. He would not be receiving his drugs and he is certainly out the money spent purchasing them in the first place.

So now taxpayers via Medicare can pay his ER expenses instead. What a great plan, Mr. Bush, senators and congressman. Is this what you intended to happen?

workingmom OH's complete diary is here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/9/2/111448/7376

BTW, here's a good link about how to get through the donut hole: http://web.mac.com/leslieturek/iWeb/Site/Medicare%20Part%20D%20Information_files/Donut%20Hole.pdf