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With just a week left in the campaign, and almost all experts predicting huge Democratic gains in Congress, the Republicans pounced on a misstatement yesterday by Sen. John Kerry in which he told an audience of college kids to study and work hard or else they could end up “stuck in Iraq”. As it turns out, this was actually just a mangled version of one of Kerry’s favorite lines from the campaign trail: “Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.”

True to form, critics from all reaches of the desperate GOP pounced on this bit of fresh meat, blasting Kerry for this seeming insult to the mental capacities of our troops and trying to discredit the entire party by association. House Majority Leader Boehner (R-OH) applied the usual Karl Rove attack formula:

These Americans who are risking their lives in the fight against terrorism in Iraq deserve better than to have their service demeaned by a United States senator. Our soldiers need John Kerry's support, yet John Kerry offers nothing more than disparaging commentary.

As if it wasn’t easy enough to see through this last-ditch election smear, Boehner went on to call on all Democratic candidates to denounce the comment. Amid a media firestorm and myriad calls for an apology, Kerry pulled an October surprise of his own. In an uncharacteristically bold and unapologetic response, Kerry went on the offensive:

If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I'm sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I'm not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they're afraid to debate real men. And this time it won't work because we're going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.

YES!!! Where was this John Kerry in ’04?!

I was so excited I could’ve chest-bumped the junior senator from Massachusetts. While the incident will probably still do the Democrats more harm than good, Kerry’s resolute counter-attack signaled that he and the party have learned from past defeats; that the Republicans aren’t going to get away with attacking our patriotism or commitment to national security any more.

In perhaps the most impressive four-minute speech the Senator has ever given, he attacked the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican Party. Kerry showed Democrats how to fight back, even in the face of a glaring mistake, and inspired the party to stay on the offensive straight through Election Day. He also made a strong case for another run in ’08, inspiring the party faithful and going out of his way to demonstrate that he has learned his lesson from the ’04 campaign, claiming that he will not let the Republicans “swift boat” him again.

This episode will undoubtedly remind Democrats of our last presidential candidate, who, following a heartbreaking electoral defeat, similarly decided to grow a pair. Or perhaps, in the spirit of the holiday, Sen. Kerry was pretending to be someone else.

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I'd like to call your attention to The Thirteen Scariest People in America (Old Trout Magazine). The humor (and scariness) is just what we all need before Halloween.

The list includes:

* Scariest Presidential Candidate: Sam Brownback / Senator (R-Kansas)

* Scariest Judge: Edith Hollan Jones / Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

* Scariest Proselytizer: Rev. Rick Warren / Author of The Purpose Driven Life
(Tied with Brownback on my list, let me tell you -- this man penetrates even into prisons, and reading his book with my inmate tutee made my eyes pop out a number of times. Of course, I couldn't say anything apart from trying to convince him that Narcotics Anonymous really was a much better text on which to formulate a new worldview -- you know, "I am an addict and I'm responsible", as oppposed to "God made me just the way I am, and my harmful inclinations were part of His Plan.")

* Scariest Cop: Joe Arpaio / Sheriff, Maricopa County, AZ

* Scariest Drug Dealer: Billy Tauzin / CEO, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

* Scariest Academic: Kevin MacDonald / Professor of Psychology, California State University at Long Beach

* Scariest Insurer: Edward M. Liddy / CEO, Allstate

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There are still hurdles in this election - nothing is in the bag yet. There is certainly cause for optimism - a new batch of polls out over the last few days show leads in VA-Sen, TN-Sen, MD-Sen, NJ-Sen, MT-Sen, and more House races, including CT-5 (of personal interest to me and seen by many as a bellweather).

However, we still face some very basic problems:

"...He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist."

Of course Florida is having election trouble. No surprise there. But the basic ability of our states to conduct elections is in doubt, and electronic voting machines have not helped.

Electronic voting machines have some serious flaws, and they have historically helped the GOP disproportionately, which shouldn't be surprising, given the manufacturers' financial ties to the Republicans.

Diebold, a major manufacturer of electronic voting machines, is particularly suspect, given their propensity for employing felons, including "a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records" (emphasis mine) in management positions.

Walden O'Dell, CEO of Diebold Inc., was an active supporter of President Bush in 2004, even as his machines were counting the votes in the crucial state of Ohio. One of his fundraising letters declared he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president."

In 2000, a Diebold error nearly caused Vice President Gore to concede Florida early, due to a "faulty memory card" that erased Gore's votes.

There is a lot more to this story. The trouble with electronic voting extends beyond Diebold and outright partisan "hacks" (bad tech pun) to other criticisms, including the basically poor quality of the software used. For more information, news, and some action items, check out blackboxvoting.org.

Until every machine has a verifiable paper trail, we will never be certain that our elections are honest.

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Yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down an audacious ruling that truly changes the legal definition of marriage in New Jersey.

In a 7-0 decision, New Jersey's Supreme Court decided that gay couples "must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes." In a 4-3 decision, the Court held that "the name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other form, is a matter left to the democratic process."

So what did New Jersey decide? The legislature has 180 days to pass a law giving gay couples 100% legally fulfilled civil unions or gay marriage. And so the fight goes on. It is the job of the legislature, which is divided 49-31 in the State Assembly for the Democrats and 22-18 for the Democrats in the State Senate and Governor Corzine, a Democrat, to decide which course to take. Based on public statements, Speaker of the Assembly, Democrat Joe Roberts, and President of the Senate, Democrat Richard Codey, and Corzine have all said they support civil unions, not gay marriage.

I understand there are differences of opinion on this matter. Marriage is fundamentally a religious institution adopted by the legal realm for certain purposes. But no religious institution will ever be required by the state to marry gay couples. Marriage should be afforded to gay couples simply because people who love each other and want to share a life together should be afforded the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

Gay marriage does not degrade the institution of marriage. Find me one heterosexual couple who has gotten divorced because they couldn't stand the fact that gays can get married. Gay marriage is not detrimental to the well-being of children. Find me one child who has developmental issues that couldn't be caused by a broken heterosexual home or a foster care home or single parents.

We are a society that fundamentally believes in freedom and liberty. We believe that people may live their lives as they please, with little inference from the government except when society makes a choice to intervene to help people. Gay couples, regardless of your religious views, want to form families. They want to raise children. They want to grow old in suburban communities and get a dog and a white-picket pence (and I could make a lot of puns right now, but I'll refrain because this is a very serious subject).

The point is, we have a fundamental obligation, in fact, a constitutional charge, to "form a more perfect union." This more perfect union can only come to fruition if we extend liberty, promote tolerance, search for understanding, and command respect by loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Democratic leaders who oppose gay marriage are wrong. They're not bad people (though I suspect some of them privately support gay marriage but oppose it in public out of political necessity). Our party has always stood up for the rights of the disadvantaged and the underprivileged, the forgotten and the downtrodden. We should not stop here.

This fight will not come easily. Gay couples will not be able to marry all around this nation for decades to come. But there is hope.

As a National Pew Research Poll conducted in August 2006 found, gay marriage is opposed by 56% of Americans and favored by 35% of Americans. But when you look at the underlying numbers in the polls, you find an interesting results. Support for gay marriage is directly correlated to age, rising as the voter is younger. Those 65 and over, our grandparents, oppose gay marriage overwhelmingly, 73%-16%. Those between 50-64, most of our parents, oppose gay marriage 61%-30%. Those between 30-49, some of our parents and people who are between the Baby Boomers and their children, oppose gay marriage 55%-38%. And we, the 18-29 year olds, support gay marriage 53%-38%. As the 65+ generation passes away over the next 30 years, support for gay marriage will come to parity with its opposition, and in forty to fifty years, a strong majority of Americans will support gay marriage.

But the gay rights movement must watch itself and not move precipitously down the gay marriage path, because if it oversteps its bounds, it will risk a backlash that could make gay marriage difficult to obtain for nearly a century.

The correct path right now is to oppose constitutional amendments at the state and federal levels, fight back laws and amendments that have already passed, educate the American people about the commitment and love of gay couples, and press for domestic partnerships and civil unions in most states and gay marriage in the few liberal states where it can pass. Federally-approved gay marriage will come eventually, but progress is a slow process and it will take decades.

New Jersey is a rarity among states. A Zogby poll in February 2006 showed that New Jerseyans support gay marriage by a 56%-39%. Even 60% of New Jersey Catholics support gay marriage. With overwhelming support such as this, New Jersey can enact gay marriage with ease. But most states are not as liberal. And it will take time to move gay marriage through the legislatures of the Northeast and the West Coast, where they have the most chances of passing.

Wednesday's ruling was a massively important decision. But the fight goes on, especially for those of us in the Democratic Party who support equal rights. Our battle is to convince our leaders to support our gay brothers and sisters in their struggle for equality.

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We Democrats have a complex. Even thought the last three CNN polls of likely voters over the last three weeks have Democrats holding a generic ballot lead of 16 to 23 points and the average generic ballot test has us ahead around 15 points, I hear a whispering reverberation of dismay and horror. "How can we mess it up this time?" "What will Democrats do in the last two weeks to destroy our chances?"

I must admit that I've been prone to believe this paranoia from time to time over the last few weeks. After all, I thought John Kerry would be the 44th President after the 2004 election, and we all know how that turned out.

But the reality is that without a significant event that changes the dynamics of this entire race in favor of the GOP, Democrats can't lose the House of Representatives. And with just 15 days left till the general election, Osama bin Laden would have to be paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in chains to make Democrats lose, and even then, I'm not sure it will hurt us.

Do I think I'm being overly optimistic? No, not really. If you look at pollster.com, which is the best site for polling data around, it gives a list of every competitive congressional race and lists every poll, independent and internal available for the race. Based on the latest poll in every district, Democrats would pick up 31 seats in the House of Representatives. Based on averages of all polls listed, Democrats would pick up 27 seats. And these polls don't include a dozen other districts which have no polling, but which are viewed as extremely competitive by analysts.

So short of seismic shifts in the political climate, Democrats should win the House with ease.

But what does that mean for us?

The Six in 06 Platform that we're running on this year is nice, but largely humorous. It involves piecemeal legislation like raising the minimum wage, negotiating lower drug prices for Medicare, repealing tax breaks for big oil, passing the 9/11 commission recommendations, reversing the raid on student aid, and reinstituting PAYGO rules to balance the budget. These are what the Democratic Congress will pass in its first 100 hours in the majority.

But President Bush will probably veto most, if not all, of these measures.

We Democrats have not campaigned in a broad-based way on an agenda for change, and because of that, we will have no mandate to enact legislation when we take over.

In 1994, the GOP's Contract with America, did not win them the election. That's a historical distortion. President Clinton's unpopularity and the Democratic Congress' scandals and Southern redistricting won the elections for the GOP. But what the Contract did do was provide the GOP with a governing framework. Coupled with the enormous 52-seat pickup the Republicans had, the Contract gave the GOP a framework for a set of legislation that they enacted soon after they took power. Pushed into accepting right-wing legislation because of an assumed mandate, President Clinton signed some of the policies into law.

We have no similar mandate, and we will not. We will enact our Six in 06, but beyond that, we will not be able to pass Universal Health Care, a meaningful energy policy, or do anything about Iraq because we came into this election disorganized, dysfunctional, and disjointed. When our caucus comes to power in January, conservative, moderate, and liberal Democrats will eat each other apart, with regional forces each trying to pass their pet legislation. We will be unwieldy and we will be ineffective.

What, then, is our fate? I do not believe that we will hold a House majority into 2008 or help our chances of electing a Democratic President in 2008 if we do not unite completely in the next two years. If that means that nothing gets passed, that's fine. But Nancy Pelosi will have a very tough time as Speaker trying to quell dissenting opinions in her caucus, but she's going to have to if we're to succeed in the election that matters most, 2008.


Pay As You Go budget Policy

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Just when you think the election can't get any stranger.

In 1964, LBJ's re-election campaign ran the most famous political ad of all time: Peace Little Girl. More commonly known today as Daisy, the ad not-so-subtly implied that a Barry Goldwater victory would lead America to nuclear war. (If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend that you take a look. There hasn't been anything scarier on political TV since.) After the nuclear explosion engulfs the screen in all its horror, the ad goes black, and the narrator intones, "These are the stakes."

After one showing, the controversial ad was pulled off the air amid intense criticism from, among others, the RNC. Said the RNC chair of the time, "This horror-type commercial is designed to arouse basic emotions and has no place in the campaign." Fair enough-- I'm as devoted a Democrat as they come, and even I will agree that Daisy was a pretty dirty trick on the part of the LBJ campaign.

Which is why I could not believe my eyes when I saw the ad currently playing on the RNC's front page. Take a look; it's the kind of blatant plagiarism that would get you failed at even the easiest class at Georgetown. They didn't even bother changing the tag line.

Well, let me denounce the ad with some original words of my own. I'd like Ken Mehlman to know that this horror-type commercial is designed to arouse basic emotions and has no place in the campaign. That's one for Familiar Quotations, straight from Or Skolnik.

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I was watching the Lamont - Lieberman - Schlesinger debate today (they were, respectively, nervous, whiny, and theatrical) and I noticed that Lieberman referenced the "lame duck session." This piqued my interest. Sure enough, Congress has scheduled a session for after the November elections.

This isn't an uncommon practice, but it nevertheless concerns me. Congressional Quarterly, via CQPolitics.com, expects the Democrats to take the House and the Senate is clearly in play. What happens when the Republican Congress reconvenes after what, hopefully, will have been a Democratic landslide? They will plan ahead.

My prediction - watch for unrealistic, unsustainable "tax cuts" to be passed. The Democrats will be forced to repeal these or face a lack of revenue. The now-ousted Republicans would then be able to accuse Democrats of "raising your taxes," setting the stage for the 2008 congressional elections and a bogeyman for Republican presidential aspirants.

Any thoughts?

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In addition to the good news below (American voters are more interested this year than they have been for more than a decade), a Gallup poll that came out today indicates that religious whites are abandoning the GOP.

The Democrats made gains across all groups in the October poll compared to the averages in previous months. But the Democratic gain (or Republican loss depending on how one looks at it) is more significant among religious whites than among the other two groups. Religious whites went from an average Democratic disadvantage of 23 points across the June through September months, to dead even in October. ...

The comparison between religious whites and less religious whites is particularly revealing. The gap between these two groups averaged 42 points in the June through September period, and is now down to 26 points.

According to this poll, religious whites are just as likely to vote Democratic as Republican.

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According to this article, American voters are more interested this year than they have been for more than a decade, exceding even the voter interest of the fabled 1994 tragedy. People feel more involved with the process, saying that they have been contacted by the candidates or campaigns and, as a result, have done more in response: petitions, donations, etc.

The good news is the article's sub-section headline:

"Interest driven mainly by Democratic anger"

The full article is a good read. It also includes some interesting statistics on voter confidence. Although nearly 60% of respondents say they believe their votes are counted accurately, only 45% of Democrats and 30% of blacks feel this way.

The Republicans were mentioned to have said: "Vote D for Diebold!"

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According to Fox News (I know, since when do we get news from the ones who called Mark Foley a Democrat), an internal GOP poll predicts that midterm elections will go badly for Republican House candidates unless Speaker Hastert resigns. This Fox report says that if Hastert stays, the GOP could 50 lose seats! That's as opposed to 20 if he resigns (notice either way the number is over 15).

As of now, Republicans seem to be standing by Hastert (as is good old W). While many are calling for an investigation of the scandal, calls for the Speaker's resignation seem to be coming only from Democrats. Could this poll change that? This from Fox:

The same pollster who provided the gloomy news on Hastert's effect on GOP candidates nationwide did send out an advisory on Tuesday to rank-and-file Republicans that they might consider canceling appearances with Hastert in their districts. Hours later, Rep. Ron Lewis of Kentucky announced he was canceling a fundraiser scheduled for next week where Hastert was supposed to be the headliner.
Democratic challengers across the country are rushing to take advantage of the Foley scandal. CNN reported today that the first campaign ad featuring Foley just hit the wires. Challenger, and former Representative Baron Hill aired an ad in Indiana's 9th district demanding that the Republican incumbent, Rep. Mike Sodrel, return almost $80,000 in campaign contributions from the GOP House leadership who knew about Foley's actions.
Also, in New York's 19th district, challenger John Hall is criticizing Rep. Sue Kelly for either not knowing, or helping to cover up the Foley scandal. Kelly was on the page board from 1999-2001, according to one staffer, though she (conveniently) "can't remember the exact dates." See Hall campaign's press release for more info.

So the moral of the story is, Democrats are well on their way to gaining more seats than just the Florida 16th.

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All politics is local.

Dr. Jane Fernandes was chosen last semester by the Gallaudet University Board of Trustees to replace their outgoing president, who was the first deaf president that this Deaf (deaf? oh, issues of identity...) university has had. Debates have been rampant, as myriad students and staff do not think that she was the right choice (others, of course, are willing to give her a chance).

Student began protesting last spring, were interrupted by the summer, and began again last week, building a tent city on the lawn and even locking themselves into a classroom building on Thursday. It's an impressive sign of student involvement, and when the anti-Fernandes stance was explained to me in sign language, I found myself agreeing (I waver back and forth). It doesn't translate well, cross-linguistically or cross-culturally, and the coverage in the hearing press is bound to create only a sort of "whoa, look at those crazy disabled folk, protesting because their president isn't disabled enough!" reaction. It's not nearly as simple as it sounds.

It is as if Brigham Young University decided upon a President who was culturally Jewish and spoke Polish as a native language, only had his/her first real interactions with Mormonism and English in his/her twenties, now speaks English (though with a rather strong accent), still thinks like a Jew in some ways, and is both still a Jew and a practicing Mormon. This person also is not liked by a large number of the students or faculty for reasons beside cultural heritage -- but are these reasons enough to stop the best-qualified (an over-qualified) woman who is very strong on fundraising and on the importance of education, and who can help Jewish-Mormon relations?

Yet Gallaudet is the symbol for the Deaf community in a way BYU could never aspire to be for Mormons, and Georgetown could never aspire to be for liberal Catholics -- or for our preppy contingent. Theirs is a fight over cultural identity and the future of their community, in the single place where young Deaf adults form a majority, in a place where many, in an era of mainstreaming into hearing schools, are able for the first time to embrace a culture that embraces them back. The issues are real, and the debate over strong education (Gallaudet as higher education) vs. strong community (Gallaudet as cultural center and heritage), embodied most often in a debate over English vs. ASL, is alive ... and troubling.

I wish only that students did not feel the need to force the administration to their point of view. This happened in our own Living Wage hunger strike a year and a half ago, and I decried it then; I decry it here once more. It is inherently unfair and incredibly disrespectful to people who spend many days weighing and making these decisions, especially as student protests stink of whim and a childish desire to test limits. Forcing those in charge through bad publicity to change these labored decisions through such nonintellectual means is incredibly unwise.

Moral of the week: When arguing, do not refuse to recognize that the other side has good points and strong reasoning (if they didn't, they wouldn't hold that opinion). And do not force them to join yours by leaving them no other recourse. Debate, yes; presentation of arguments, yes; coercion, no. That's just not kosher, whether in student protests or in general politics.

</moralizing>

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This is something that hasn't gotten a lot of direct coverage but I feel is worth mentioning. I was browsing through some Democratic quotes tonight and I noticed this one:

"We need to go everywhere. There is not one county in this state...that doesn't have Democrats. We have to be proud of who we are." - Howard Dean

As head of the DNC, Howard Dean's "50 State Strategy" hasn't made him any friends in the DCCC or the DSCC. Rahm Emmanuel and Harry Reid, justifiably, want to put money into close races. They think it's a waste that Dean is spending time and money in places like Mississippi and Utah, in districts and states that aren't competitive.

But Florida's 16th wasn't competitive this time last week. Now? As an earlier post said, "One down." I would actually argue that it's the second one, after TX-22 and the Sekula-Gibbs write-in candidacy, but that's besides the point.

Howard Dean is building a national party infrastructure because national parties win elections. They recruit candidates for long-shot bids because you never know when the next sex scandal will strike. The "battleground" strategy is shortsighted in comparison.

So let me say to Howard Dean:

Thank you.

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I don't think it does. Think about it. Right now, Democrats are definitely going to win in ten House races. In the open seats of IA-01, CO-07, AZ-08, TX-22, OH-18, and now, with FoleyGate, FL-16, Democrats are basically guaranteed to win. Incumbents Don Sherwood of PA-10, John Hostettler of IN-08, Mike Sodrel of IN-09, and Chris Chocola of IN-02, are all down by significant margins in private and public polling, from campaign internals and from independent firms. Additionally, there are at least another 20-40 Republican seats that are vulnerable this year, with at least fifteen of those showing GOP incumbents or GOP candidates running within the margin of error with their Dem challengers. Therefore, with the ten seats Republicans have basically conceded to us at this point, we only need five more seats out of the 15 vulnerable to take back the House. In a year like this, with scandals popping up all over the place, and the war in Iraq destroying the already imploding Republican party, this is not difficult to imagine.

So, if Dems have an 80% chance of taking back the House at this point, why do we need to take back the Senate. Don't get me wrong. I would love to take back the Senate, and I think we definitely have a shot. But why do we need to?

A Democratic House of Representative with Speaker Nancy Pelosi could prevent Republicans and President Bush from passing any meaningful and dangerous legislation. And even if we took back the Senate, a Democratic Congress could not accomplish anything without impeaching both President Bush and Vice President Cheney to avoid Presidential vetoes (I do not actually think that either Bush or Cheney have really committed impeachable offenses, though I think they're very close).

So, if we can't do very much anyway, and we can check GOP abuses without it, why spend tens of millions of dollars on Senate races. Let's spend it instead on dozens of more House races so we can build a large and sustainable majority in the House.

A million dollars in a Senate race maybe shifts two points to our side. A million dollars in a House race ends the election and picks us up a seat.

The DNC and the DSCC have about $100,000,000 cash on hand now. The DCCC has about $40 million. Instead of the DNC and DSCC spending $60,000,000 on Senate races, take $30 million of that and dump it into House races and we've just picked up dozens of seats and forced Republicans to spend money where they never thought they'd have to before.

If we only have 220 seats in the House after this election, it will be hard to hold onto our majority two years from now, especially since TX-22, AZ-08, FL-16, PA-10, and many other GOP-leaning seats with Democratic congressman will be easy targets with better
candidates and without the extraordinary circumstances over the last two years. We need to have at least 230 seats coming into 2008 if we are to hold our majority.

And the Senate picture will look much better for us in 2008. 21 Republican seats will be up that year, with about five GOP Senators looking to retire. Many of the GOP Senators are vulnerable one-termers who are not extremely popular in their states, and if Democrats challenge every seat, they could pick up almost a dozen. The Democratic side looks great, with only 12 Dem seats up, and with no retirements looking likely. Beyond that, only two incumbent Dems look at all vulnerable that year, and even they look in a strong position to win reelection.

So in 2008, Dems could net 10 seats in the US Senate. If we pick up three or four seats this year, as we look likely to do, even without major funding, we would have nearly 60 seats in the Senate after 2008. And if we pick up the Presidency too that year, Dems will have strong majorities in both Houses of Congress and control of the White House, enabling us to enact a progressive agenda.

So why waste money on the Senate this year when we really could only have 51 seats in a best-case scenario and when it will add nothing to our agenda? That money is better spent building a durable House majority for years to come.

So come on, Chuck Schumer, cough up the loads you're raking in for Senate races and dump millions into our effort to take back the House. We'll see the fruits of this strategy when we get universal health care enacted in 2010.

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Republicans this week have not only failed to protect 16 year-old pages, but also 4 have died and 9 were wounded in the three schools shootings in the United States of America. This is despicable and unnecessary.

Because so many right-wingnuts get huge contributions from the NRA, any true form of gun control is difficult to come by. A government run by an organization whose leadership says thing like: "America’s problem with gun violence is due to its “mixed ethnicity.”" and "Gun control is using both hands", is not a government that is good for the people. In 2000, more than 9 people a day, under age 19, were killed by a gun [http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/factsheets/].

These school shootings should be further proof that the NRA must be curbed and we, as a country, not blue vs. red, must consider gun control to be a top priority. I am not saying that we need to outlaw hunting or anything else extreme, but it is necessary that ban assault weapons and work to keep guns out of hands in which they do not belong.

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Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned Friday after an ABC news report revealed that he had engaged in inappropriate internet conversations with several male pages, dating back at least as far as 2001. Foley, a 6-term Congressman who considered a bid for the Senate in 2004, at first vehemently denied allegations of wrongdoing when the creepy yet relatively ambiguous emails were first published on Friday. A spokesman for the Congressman initially argued that the emails were merely taken out of context by his Democratic opponent, Tim Mahoney, and were part of a “political smear campaign of the worst sort…to smear a good man”.
Though the initial emails were relatively tame, the disturbing instant message conversations published a short time later left no doubt as to Foley’s intentions. Following are a few excerpts of conversations between Foley, writing under the screen name Maf54 (note the birthday – making him 52 years old) and a page whose identity is being protected:

Xxxxxxxxx (7:41:57 PM): ugh tomorrow i have the first day of lacrosse practice
Maf54 (7:42:27 PM): love to watch that
Maf54 (7:42:33 PM): those great legs running

Maf54 (8:03:47 PM): what you wearing
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:04 PM): normal clothes
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:09 PM): tshirt and shorts
Maf54 (8:04:17 PM): um so a big buldge
Maf54 (8:04:58 PM): love to slip them off of you

Maf54 (8:08:31 PM): get a ruler and measure it for me
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:38 PM): ive already told you that
Maf54 (8:08:47 PM): tell me again

Absolutely disgusting. But the fun doesn’t end there. As it turns out, Foley’s not only a pervert but also a hypocrite, having built a record in Congress around protecting children from sexual predators. He served as Co-chair of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, sponsored the Internet Stopping Adults Facilitating the Exploitation of Today’s Youth (SAFETY) Act, and wrote the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. Perhaps it was his in-depth research that allowed him to confidently warn, on Internet Safety Day in 2004, that the internet had become “a new medium for pedophiles to reach out to our most vulnerable citizens --America's children”. In a stroke of poetic justice, these same laws will likely now be used to put this internet predator in jail.
As if Foley hasn’t already done enough damage to the Republican Party by tarnishing its self-touted ‘family values’ image, his seat—which was considered a safe bet for Republicans—is now up for grabs. Since Election Day is only 5 weeks away, it is too late for Republicans to replace his name on the ballot. Sure, they can run another candidate, but in order to win that candidate will have to get 51% of his district to mark a spot with Foley’s name on it—an unlikely scenario. Furthermore, over the weekend reports surfaced that Republican leadership, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Jim Boehner, and RCCC Chairman Thomas Reynolds have known about a recent inappropriate relationship with a page since last spring.
It is too early to tell just how much damage this pervert is going to cause the Republican Party, but if you’ll allow me to conclude cynically, one thing is almost certain:

14 seats to go.

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