Sestak has a Challenger


Joe is my congressman. I’m new to him and he to me. Introductions—I’ve been a commenter on FireDogLake for the past two and a half years or so. I went past being a commenter to being an activist having been spurred on by Jane, Christy, and Pach. I helped to do some of the Roots Project organizing when we started sorting out people into googlegroups in their states to mobilize the troops to visit, cajole, woo, and pester our senators to do the right thing. I lived in MA at the time and helped get our group actively doing things. Last summer I moved to PA for a job with a congregation of people who want to make a difference. The geographic area that my congregation serves includes parts of Gerlach’s, Pitts’, and Sestak’s districts. I intentionally looked for a house in Sestak’s district and luckily, the house I liked best was in the PA 07. In July, just before we moved I got an e-mail from the Sestak campaign and I replied telling them I was moving into the district and that I was part of the FDL activist community. I heard back from the campaign that they wanted to put me in touch with Joe’s scheduler. Even before our phone was installed, Zach called wanting to get the congressman and me to meet at some mutually convenient time.

That sounded like a good idea and then the congress voted to slap the hand of MoveOn, an organization I have been a part of from the beginning. To say I was unhappy with that vote . . . . . I don’t write those kinds of words on blogs for others to read. Of course we were all upset (%^&!?!) with his vote last May to continue to fund the war. The FDL community was really pissed. To give Joe some credit, he came back to FDL to try to answer our questions and assuage our anger. He didn’t succeed but at least he came back and owned his vote. So with the MoveOn vote I wasn’t sure I wanted to meet him and said so in my e-mail back to Zach. I told him what I wanted in my elected representatives were men and women who took their oath of office seriously and were committed to supporting the Constitution, the rule of law, and standing up for those who have no voice. If Joe didn’t want to be one of those people, then our meeting would be a waste of time. This was last Sept.

I didn’t hear back.

Friday afternoon Dec. 28 as I was on my way to a wedding rehearsal I got a call from Zach. He was trying to tie up loose ends before the new year and unearthed my last e-mail. He still wanted me to meet the congressman. Would I be willing . . sure. Could I meet him on a Sunday because he was in D.C. during the week. “Zach,” I said, “I’m a minister, remember, I work on Sundays! But if he wants to meet, he’s welcome to come to church.” He said he’d get back to me. The following thursday he confirmed that the congressman would be coming to church the next sunday. He came, introduced himself and mentioned that every weekend in addition to going to Mass he attends two or three other worship services of all faiths. He’s learned a lot by doing so. He sat near the back and took notes.

After the service we had a brief time to talk in my office. I spoke of my displeasure about the continuing war. He maintains that our withdrawal has to be a planned and orderly one and until we can make that happen, he feels he needs to fund equipping the troops. He will not abandon them without what they need. I emphasized that we elected him and the other dems to end the war, NOW. I mentioned the MoveOn vote and he said that his vote was to condemn their ad, not them. Not a helpful answer. He also said that the house had a measure to also condemn Rush. I asked what has happened to that bill . . . . . *crickets* . . . he knows and we know that a measure to slap Rush’s hand will never see the light of day. I mentioned net neutrality—he said he signed on to co-sponsor that. And then there’s the Bill of Rights. I talked of my fear of creeping fascism and that we have to restore habeas, stop the torture, etc. I showed him my disappearing Bill of Rights mug.

In our conversation he was sincere and spoke from the heart. I sensed nothing phony—something I don’t often see in the politicians I have met. He gave me his contact information and had to run.

The one thing I forgot to ask him and really wanted to was about impeachment. What would it take for the dems to finally come around to holding the crooks accountable for their crimes? I e-mailed that along with the copy of the sermon which he requested. I got a personal note back—his handwriting is atrocious. Essentially he’s in the camp of impeachment stops everything but if Waxman can uncover enough specific evidence then he’d climb aboard. Then he conceded that they couldn’t even pass SCHIP so the idea of impeachment stopping everything is kind of hollow.

So getting back to the subject at hand. The local paper last week had an
announcement about the republican challenger that plans to take on Joe. He’s a 43 year old lawyer married to another lawyer. His name is Wendell Craig Williams. He’s a former AUSA, decorated Marine vet from the Gulf war and wants to see us stay in Iraq until “the job is done.” He is not a fan of immigration and would take a harder line than Joe. There’s little information floating around yet about him other than the repub locals think they have a worthy contender. We don’t know yet if he’s from the wingnut side of the party or what’s left of the more moderate folks but we do know that Snarlin’ Arlen is supporting him out of the gate. He doesn’t have a web site up yet and OpenSecrets is not reporting any money in his box whereas Joe has $1.7 mil in his war chest.

This is the district that Crazy Curt Weldon held for way too long. It has been pretty solidly republican but I keep hearing that it is trending more democratic. My understanding is that one of the issues they wanted to hammer Joe with was the image of his being a carpet-bagger. That was a big stick they tried to hit Joe with. Wendell has only lived in the district for a short time, I’ve been told so here’s the pot calling . . . well, you get it.

We’ve got a fighting dem trying to hold his seat against a newly minted Bushcon enabler—a young attractive Vet who is gung ho on “winning” the war. Even with a dem groundswell in Nov. we need to pay attention and make sure we don’t lose this seat. We may not have liked a couple of Joe’s votes, but if you look at the rest of his record, he’s been doing what we ask of him. He’s a hard worker. His constituent services I hear have been strong and well attended to. He said that his office fields an average of 352 calls a day seeking some kind of services. He’s out in the community bringing a variety of leaders together to talk—about education, about health care, about violence (the picture was taken at a forum I attended last week for religious leaders on violence.

More info will come when it is available, but in the mean time it is time to gear up the antennae and pay attention so we don’t lose any of the ground we have gained in this not very liberal district.

We're back!

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It is a new year and we have lots to do!

Last night my spouse and I had a small gathering of our blog friends to usher out the old year and welcome in the new. We talked of many things, of cabbages and kings and the fact that we choose not to live in a monarchy or an oligarchy and we are committed to working to elect more and BETTER democrats in the coming election. We all agreed that no matter who in the dem. field gets the nomination he or she would be better than anything the rethugs have to offer and for the most part we have a good field.

We talked about which races we might want to personally lend our time, talent and treasure to in oder to create the kind of government that we crave. Millinaryman will be spending time volunteering for Donna Edwards. I think I will be putting in time for Sam Bennett in the Allentown, Bethlehem PA area. The others are considering their options. What we all know is that we are doers, not just talkers and we have a lot of work to do. Good government doesn't just create itself, we can't just sit around and wait for a savior to show up. There is no knight in white shining armour, We are co-creators in this process. That's what I love about the blog world and the amazing people and friends I am finding in it. We are dedicated people who take patriotism seriously. And who, though we have not taken an oath on a bible or any other so-called holy tome, have personally affirmed our commitment to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America—while we still have the freedom to do so.

Oh, and we had a great dinner too. And plan to have many more.

A Happy and Productive and Progressive New Year to all!



This picture sort of summed it up for me. I was working at the polls for several hours and the Joe guy actually had a live jackass with him. I was pleased to send the picture to Jane at
FDL and to give the video to CTBob.

I have to say that working for Ned's campaign was one of the most exciting, inspiring and invigorating experiences I have had in a long, long time. We may not have won the race, but we changed the conversation about the war and we changed the way we covered politics. ALL of the people involved in the campaign were great and the CT bloggers were the best! As I have told everyone who asked, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Ned Lamont
is one of the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human beings I've ever known in my life. And this is not the product of any kind of brainwashing. He really is. I hope we can find another place for him to serve the people because I think that the people would benefit greatly from his service.

The Other Story


Charley from the MTA, from BlueMassGroup (diary here) and I were asked to come and meet briefly with Sen. Kerry after a campaign event on Tuesday. The meeting itself has been reported on several blogs and commented on extensively. This is the story that the newspapers didn't report. I don't know about the TV news as I was no where near a TV Tuesday night.

I arrived early and found myself in a packed auditorium. People were everywhere. Wheelchairs of all types, people with a multitude of disabilities and people with none. The faculty and staff at the Perkins School for the Blind were there. Personal Care Attendants were there. Members of SEIU were there. The crowd was electric. On stage was a trio of students playing violin, drums and accordian enthusiastically playing Stars and Stripes Forever, among other things to the great pleasure of the crowd. I watched from the front corner of the balcony where I stood as all the seats were filled.

I watched as a screen flashed in yellow letters on a blue background the words that were spoken almost as quickly as they were uttered. I saw no one typing them but I did see the laptop that was plugged into the projector. Two different women were on the stage to sign for the hearing impaired. I watched as two Personal Care Assistants in the front two rows were tactilely signed the entire program with both of their hands enfolded by the hands of their clients. I saw a myriad of devices used for communication, the kind of communication that most of us take for granted—spoken words.

This event was FOR the disability community. I felt like I was crashing someone else's party in a way. But I also felt privileged to be there. The Perkins community gave me a gift of a glimpse into their lives. They didn't know it, I was irrelevant to the event which was as it should be.

What I saw in the two politicians, Sen. Kerry, and soon-to-be Gov. Patrick was a connection, a deep connection with the people in this community. They both have been involved in one way or another with the Americans With Disabilities Act. They showed a compassionate understanding of the issues, the multiple issues, faced by the people they were surrounded by. They spoke briefly from the stage with no script, Deval only minimally referring to a list of issues on the podium next to him.

Then they went onto the floor and took questions. They engaged with people face to face, wherever that face happened to be, in a chair or standing. They listened. They answered what they could. They heard what they were there to hear. It was obvious to me that this was no ordinary campaign event. I heard Deval say some of the same things I have heard him say before, but it was different here.

This was not about the donors, the debate "issues" the commercials, the necessary part of politics that wear away at candidates day after day. This was about listening, about paying attention to a community that needs the state and the government to be on their "team." This was about politics in its truest sense as the "work of the people." It was about hope. My estimation of both men kicked up a notch. I am glad I was given the gift of a glimpse of this world.

There is a reason that the motto of the Perkins School is "All We See is Possibility."


Met with Sen. Kerry today

Sen. Kerry was in Watertown, MA today with Deval Patrick at the Perkins School for the Blind. I had been asked to meet with him for a short (10 minutes) face to face along with Charley from the MTA from BlueMassGroup. I will post more about it tomorrow, but meanwhile, go to BlueMassGroup where you can listen to the "interview." Someone also typed up a full transcript. One comment on that—the "John" referred to towards the end was actually "Jon," not the Senator.

I'm at a ministers' retreat and don't have my usual tools with me, but there will be more on it when I get home tomorrow night.

Information on Republican Candidates

Chris Bowers from MyDD thought you might be interested in the following:

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert


No Macaca Moment for Me


I had an unenviable task today.

KathrynMA and I got up really early and drove down to Newtown, CT today to join with Ned Lamont and cheer him on in the Newtown Parade. *xyz and scarecrow from FDL joined up with us. CTBob, Eric, Maura, Keith and Ed were there too. Ned, Annie and the kids were also there in great spirits. It was quite a day. Thanks to Joe there were press releases about how he had been invited and then uninvited to march in the parade. For nine years he had been invited but didn't bother to show up. Why should he? He had already been installed in his permanent seat in the US Senate. Since LOSING the DEMOCRATIC primary on August 8 to Ned Lamont and then most UNgraciously deciding that he would run anyway, he decided to show up for the parade. He had at most around 30 followers with him.

Ned, on the other hand had well over a hundred.

IMG_7762 IMG_7757

As I was standing in the crowd with my new video camera, Fletcher came up to me and said that Swannie had a favor to ask. Would I be willing to stick with Joe and take videos of him throughout the parade? Deep breath. "Anything for the team" said I.

So I spent the whole parade walking along side of Joe and Hadassa, bobbing and weaving capturing many of his moves with the crowd. I left my friends with Ned and ventured into the enemy camp.

Sad to say that Holy Joe got a welcome reception. It had me worried. A lot. Then at the end of the parade I learned a few things. 1. Ned won Newtown in the Primary. 2. Newtown is republican territory.

AHA, that explained a lot. The folks coming up to Joe and cheering him on were the REPUBLICANS!


After the parade, I gave my tape to Fletcher after extracting a promise that he would send it to me after downloading it. He apologized for ruining my day. In the mean time I had used up the end of the roll on Ned in Danbury at the Dem. HQ where he gave the crowd something to cheer about. His public speaking is getting better by the day!.

Then, Kathryn, scarecrow and I went to a diner for lunch before returning home.

Spending that much time dogging Joe, I needed a shower when I got home.
Read More . . .

The New Edward R. Murrow?


AMAZING! The new Edward R. Murrow? I hope so.
Read More . . .

We Get the Government We Deserve (?)

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I went to a fund raiser tonight.Read More . . .

Homeland Security?


A week ago I was in L.A. spending time with my mother. I flew there 5 days after they changed the rules about what you could take on an airplane.Read More . . .

Seventh Inning Stretch Part 1

There were three "The Kiss" buttons that were made up.

The first said, "Too Close for Comfort" The second, "Bush's Favorite Democrat."

This one, yeah, the word "Democrat" no longer applies

After the first full night's sleep in days it is time for the 7th Inning stretch. We're closing in on the last push of the campaign and taking a look at the path ahead. But first some reflections on where we've come from.

I'd have to dig into my dust covered files to find when I first sent some money Ned's way. It was a while ago. Haven't given much directly to him dollar wise, but I did trek down a few weeks ago and went door to door with "scarecrow"on a really hot sunday. Then came in and did phonebanking with him and Kathryn and other new folks we met in Willimantic. Then, right after returning from vacation in Quebec, got in the car again for the closing weekend to help with whatever was needed. All at my own expense—as did all of the Lamont volunteers—not like the Lieberdroids who demanded and got higher and higher per diems just for showing up.

The first thing I learned about myself is that I will eat nails rather than phone bank. The inner introvert that lives in my gut froze up with each number dialed. Door to door, much less of a problem. I can handle the face to face OK, but not the cold calling on the phone.

So I went out with John and selise and Kathryn and Lisa and Diane, and Jerry (all at various times) got into the car, and went to meet the voters. It was hot. We had mapquest printouts in our laps with a pile of other papers, contrast sheets, voter registration forms and lists of registered dems.

Lots of folks were not home on Sat. Four of us were in the car and we kind of piggybacked in pairs. We stopped at Friendly's for lunch and got the waitress to register to vote—her tip depended on it! Then we went out again and finished our route. Again, not many people home and in a large apartment complex, our sheets did not have many of the apartment numbers which made it very difficult.

Then there was GospelFest in New Haven on sat. night. It was great. The feeling, the mood, the general acceptance of everyone there. There weren't too many white faces there, but we were treated well and had a blast. Ned was announced, did his thing and then worked the crowd. And he was great. He talked with kids, he talked with moms and grand moms, and he talked with bikers, all with ease.

Ned & bikers 1

Taping the Gwen Ifill interview was cool, but watching Ned work the crowd was really where it was at. So after all of that, we went to Sullivan's in New Haven and finally saw the Kiss Float up close.


We had a wild and wonderful time talking with Jane, CTBob, CTBlogger, Gina, TRex and all of the other bloggers and hangers on, like me, who came to be with one another as we worked our way up to election day.


Sunday was much better. We started with breakfast in the hotel and had lots of time as the folks in the inner circle of planning had a strategy meeting and we weren't due in until 1. So we spread out in the restaurant and read the blogs, what else? Only problem was that we couldn't post any comments to FDL in that hotel. The damn server they used, just sucked our brilliant observations and witticisms into the ether.


Time to hit the streets again. John and I pulled the U district—Wesleyan. The bulk of the people that we did find at home were Ned supporters, many of them enthusiastically so. We also had a few un-decideds which I would hope we managed to turn towards Ned.

And then there was Mr. X. He claimed to be a former journalist who was appalled at the job the press was doing, or more precisely NOT doing. He really wanted to talk and proceeded to do so. He was leaning toward Ned but wouldn't let us close the deal. He didn't like the fact that Ned was not an opponent of, of all things, gay marriage! That thread went on for a while and I bit my tongue pretty hard so as not to say what I was thinking.

He asked us what we disagreed with Ned over. He asked about whether elected officials should base their decisions on the views of their constituents or his/her conscience. I told him that I didn't want one religious view written into legislation over the views of others. We got into the Catholic hospital/federal funds dilemma over EC. He strongly felt that the institution's principals should not have to be compromised. I countered that if so, the ambulance protocols then need to be re-wrtten so that the patient gets to choose which hospital they are taken to. Joe's idea that if a rape victim winds up in a Catholic hospital ER and wants emergency contraception, it is "just a short ride" to another hospital where they can get it. BS! Mr. X had to concede my point.

The war came into the discourse too and then he tried to play the "I served in 'Nam, so I know better" card, except that Mr. X had been a corpsman and John had served in combat. Point to John.

This conversation must have gone on for at least 20 minutes with him trying and thinking he could stump us. It didn't happen. Nothing like being an avid blog reader to really be up on what is going on in the world. That was hard work and we don't know if we even got his vote.

But the lady down the street was golden, with us 100+%. We drove back to HQ feeling great. Then we delivered a couple of lawn signs to folks who had requested them.

It was a roller coaster in terms of energy, physical and psychic. Those were the first two days.

A HOT time in CT

The heat wave is over. It was only 92 when we went out door to door.Read More . . .

"Each occasion is worse than the last . . . but only a little worse"

"Milton Mayer went back to Germany after the war to interview the citizens who were once his friends, to ask how it could have happened. His friend the baker explained, "One had no time to think. There was so much going on."
People reported that they had become separated from their government with every new crisis or reform. Gradually they accepted decisions made in secret because they trusted Hitler and others who they felt knew more than they did."

Read More . . .