Friday, February 29, 2008

The most important thing about being a Democrat: vetting our candidate.

Matt Gonzalez over at wrote a brilliant exposé on Barack Obama that must be shared. The hardest part of trying to get Democrats elected to power is vetting them, especially during election years in which people are so desperate for someone who can deliver on a promise of change that they fail to look past the campaign rhetoric to see the truth. I've explained on other blog sites that Barack Obama is a DLCer in progressive's clothing. Mr. Gonzalez hammers the point home.

It has been claimed by uncritical supporters that Obama's record in the U.S. Senate is progressive, but this is far from the truth (a fact easily verified by going to and doing some homework). It is undeniable that the senator from Illinois has consistently voted to fund the Iraq war, with the sole exception being that he was shamed by Christopher Dodd of Connecticut into voting against last Summer's appropriations bill. Matt Gonzalez writes:
Since taking office in January 2005 he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration's various false justifications for going to war in Iraq. Why would he vote to make one of the architects of "Operation Iraqi Liberation" the head of US foreign policy? Curiously, he lacked the courage of 13 of his colleagues who voted against her confirmation.

The senator from Illinois has been less than enthusiastic in advocating for a full withdrawal from Iraq. Obama has also, as Gonzalez points out, voted to re-authorize the USA PATRIOT Act -- one of the more heinous attacks on civil liberties in this decade -- in stark contrast to his prior work as a civil rights attorney. Somewhere along the way, Obama was either corrupted on the issue of civil liberties, or else he has been fooling people on where he actually stands from the beginning. Either way, his record on the occupation of Iraq and on civil liberties are not consistent with his rhetoric on the campaign trail.

On class action lawsuits, Gonzalez writes:

In 2005, Obama joined Republicans in passing a law dubiously called the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) that would shut down state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits. Long a desired objective of large corporations and President George Bush, Obama in effect voted to deny redress in many of the courts where these kinds of cases have the best chance of surviving corporate legal challenges. Instead, it forces them into the backlogged Republican-judge dominated federal courts.

And on credit interest rates:

Obama has a way of ducking hard votes or explaining away his bad votes by trying to blame poorly-written statutes. Case in point: an amendment he voted on as part of a recent bankruptcy bill before the US Senate would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Inexplicably, Obama voted against it, although it would have been the beginning of setting these predatory lending rates under federal control. Even Senator Hillary Clinton supported it.

Are you seeing anything to suggest that Obama is a progressive, yet? I'm not. I've written about this before, but it's worth repeating: health care "reform". Given Obama's record of gutting actual health care reform in the Illinois state senate, one can't help but nod in agreement when Matt Gonzalez explains:

Obama opposed single-payer bill HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers in 2006, although at least 75 members of Congress supported it. Single-payer works by trying to diminish the administrative costs that comprise somewhere around one-third of every health care dollar spent, by eliminating the duplicative nature of these services. The expected $300 billion in annual savings such a system would produce would go directly to cover the uninsured and expand coverage to those who already have insurance, according to Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Obama's own plan has been widely criticized for leaving health care industry administrative costs in place and for allowing millions of people to remain uninsured. "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore ridiculed it saying, "Obama wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan-the same companies who have created the mess in the first place."

And as Gonzalez points out, Obama went to bat for Joe LIEberman for re-election in 2006 against challenger Ned Lamont (whom blog web sites such as Daily Kos supported) and referred to the turncoat as his mentor. Yeah, real "progressive" of Obama to try to prop up a party traitor who has consistently enabled the Bush-Cheney regime at every opportunity, and who endorses Republican John McCain for president.

I realize Obama supporters don't like to read the truth about their candidate, and who can blame them? After eight years of destructive Republican policies, the desperation for some actual change -- even if it is only an illusion -- is certainly understandable. But it is because desperation can lead to making serious mistakes in an election year critical to America's future that it is important for Democrats to know exactly who it is we're prepared to hand the nomination to. Barack Obama simply is not a progressive, he's just another DINO who has somehow managed to fool a lot of people.

Hope is not lost, however. We can and should focus our efforts to get true Progressives elected to Congress, so that a (we hope) Democratic president may be pushed in the correct direction on issues such as getting out of Iraq and passing true health care reform. It's still early in the year, and we still have a chance to be the change we want to see in this country. It's not enough to simply get Democrats elected to power; the failures of the last year have proven that. We must work to get the right Democrats -- Progressive ones -- seats in the Legislature and in state offices across the country.

Only then can we expect to succeed in pushing Barack Obama, should he win the nomination and become president, to achieve actual change.

In the interests of full disclosure, reports that Gonzalez has been chosen as Ralph Nader's running mate. Which means the Nader-haters shall dismiss anything and everything he has to say, no matter that it's true. But I thought it only fair, in the interest of telling the whole truth, to let you know about this.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Obama's Lobbyist Money

"Follow the money," Hal Holbrook said in the film, All the President's Men. That line was fictitious, of course; the real 'Deepthroat' never actually said it to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Nevertheless, this phrase has become ingrained in the American political psyche. And so we must force ourselves, regarding Barack Obama, to follow the money.

Many of his followers deny this, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. It's no secret that Barack Obama is one of the top recipients of corporate campaign contributions in this election -- in fact, he's number two in the U.S. Senate behind Hillary Clinton for payoff money from the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries (which explains his successful gutting of health care reform while "serving" in the Illinois state senate).

But the blatant dishonesty and hypocrisy go a bit deeper than that. According to Corporate Crime Reporter, the senator has pulled a fast one.

Well, let’s take the law firm of Sidley & Austin. Sidley & Austin is a registered federal lobbyist. It cannot by law give money to federal candidates. But the lawyers who control the firm and profit from the firm’s lobbying activities can give to Obama. Some of those individual lawyers are registered lobbyists. Some are not. Guess who gives to Obama? Right. The ones who are not registered lobbyists. But they still control and profit from the lobbying activities of the firm. So, technically, Obama is not taking money from federal lobbyists. But only in the narrowest sense.

Sidley Austin, Skadden, Arps, Jenner & Block, Kirkland & Ellis, and Wilmerhale are all registered lobbyists. Lawyers at these registered lobbying firms have given Obama’s campaign $813,459 through February 1, 2008.

"Is it possible that Senator Obama does not know that corporate law firms are also frequently registered lobbyists?" asks Pam Martens, writing in the current print edition of Counterpunch. ("The Obama Money Cartel," by Pam Martens, Counterpunch). "Or is he making a distinction that because these funds are coming from the employees of these firms he's not really taking money directly from registered lobbyists? That thesis seems disingenuous when many of these individual donors own these law firms as equity partners or shareholders and share in the profits generated from lobbying."

I seriously doubt Obama is unaware that he's taking money from lobbying firms. A politician smart enough and slick enough to beat Hillary and Bill Clinton at their own game is smart enough to know where his campaign contributions are coming from. Let's take a look at how the bribe money (oops, I forget we're not supposed to actually call it that, even though that's exactly what it is) is broken down. From the link to

Top Contributors
Goldman Sachs $421,763
Ubs Ag $296,670
Lehman Brothers $250,630
National Amusements Inc $245,843
JP Morgan Chase & Co $243,848
Sidley Austin LLP $226,491
Citigroup Inc $221,578
Exelon Corp $221,517
Skadden, Arps Et Al $196,420
Jones Day $181,996
Harvard University $172,324
Citadel Investment Group $171,798
Time Warner $155,383
Morgan Stanley $155,196
Google Inc $152,802
University of California $143,029
Jenner & Block $136,565
Kirkland & Ellis $134,738
Wilmerhale Llp $119,245
Credit Suisse Group $118,250

What Obama has done is pull a sleight-of-hand trick. By avoiding direct contributions, he manages to appear as though he is keeping his promise not to accept money from federal lobbyists. But in actuality, he is still taking it from the lobbying firms. He gets away with it by claiming that he is taking individual contributions from those not registered as lobbyists. Technically true, but it's a cheat: the money is instead going through middle men, employees of lobbying firms who can operate under the proverbial radar.

My friends, we have been well and truly snookered. The corporate media has successfully shut out the real Democrats running for president, so we are now stuck with two corporate-owned candidates who will not do anything to significantly change the status quo. It is well known that Hillary Clinton is beholden to corporate interests. And her efforts to omit her ties from her "thirty-five years of experience" spiel have largely failed. Every time I do digging on Obama, who preaches about making a change from the usual business of Washington corruption, I find more and more evidence that he is just another fraud, lying to people so he can obtain political power. He's playing us all like a harp from hell.

It is now more imperative than ever that Progressives take the opportunity 2008 presents to expand our presence in Congress, and weaken the hold Big Business has on our legislature. It's not enough to just elect Democrats; we have to get the right ones elected. Otherwise the lessons from 2006 shall all have been for nothing.


LeftOfDayton at has posted his own take on this, helping to reveal that yes, Obama is just another DLC darling.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Help Dennis get his ad on the air!

From: Congressman Dennis Kucinich! UNOFFICIAL
Date: Feb 16, 2008 5:39 PM

Because of the abysmal approval ratings of Congress itself, there is a real groundswell of "throw the bums out" voting, as evidenced by the 24-point victory in the primary challenge this week by progressive Donna Edwards. But we need to very careful not to let the exceptionally good be swept out with the bad.

That is why we need everyone to see this new Dennis Kucinich ad, to protect his seat from a hostile primary challenge in his own district.

Thank You Dennis Video:

For weeks big money has been running terribly false attack ads against Dennis trying to smear him out of Congress. And Dennis needs your help to fight back by running the ad on the page above in his own district. So if you can make any kind of donation, please use the easy form on the same page above to do so.

And to thank you for your valiant support, Dennis wants you to have as his gift to you a copy of his special Kucinich commemorative edition pocket constitution, with your donation of $100 or more. And if you are one of the few who have not be blindsided by Cheney's gut-the-economy agenda, Dennis Kucinich will personally autograph your copy with your donation of $1,000 or more.

Please note that even if you had already donated the full legal limit to his brave presidential run, which had a real impact in shifting the debate, you can donate another $2,300 for his congressional seat defense.

But even if you can't make a donation right now, there is still something incredibly important you can do to help, and that is to send links to the video to anyone you can. So ask all your friends to
visit the page below too.

Thank You Dennis Video:

So please do what you can to spread the word that this is a must win, must-keep situation. It is only because of the courage of Dennis Kucinich in standing strong to protect and defend the Constitution that we are where we are now, with more and more members of Congress clamoring for meaningful impeachment hearings, and the House still holding the line against that craven telecom immunity thing.

Let us not be complacent. Let us not take anything for granted just because Dennis is so amazing on every issue. We have to make sure that we empower Dennis to remind his constituents what a magnificent job he has been doing for them and for us all. And nothing would push impeachment forward more than the most clearcut victory for Dennis in his primary.

Please take action NOW, so we can win all victories that are supposed to be ours, and forward this alert as widely as possible.

Hitchens vs. Hillary

Hitchens vs. Hillary

A couple of weeks ago, I was on a website containing articles by and interviews with Christopher Hitchens. I consider myself a fan of Hitchens and I share his antitheism and commitment to Enlightenment values of reason, secularism, and Humanism. However, I noticed recently on this website that Hitchens has written an article against Hillary Clinton. This is not the first time that he has aimed his polemical gun at the family. His book No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family is a critique of much greater length. I agree with Hitchens that Hillary ought not to be president and if I was left with choosing between Clinton and Obama, I would definitely go with the latter. But there is a problem with Hitchens’ critique: he doesn’t seem to have a better vision, in my opinion, for a better society.

Hitchens was once a liberal. He was a radical progressive years ago and was a Marxist in the Trotsky tradition (as opposed to the Lenin-Stalinist branch of Marxism). I can understand his disappointment with the Clinton presidency and the excuse-making of Clinton’s ethical failures by some of the New Democrats on the Left. These are concerns that I share and this is a chief reason that I no longer consider myself a Democrat. I consider myself an independent liberal and my own views are a mixture of traditional New Deal liberalism and New Left economic liberalism. I consider myself something of an anarchist and I tend to favor the “Participatory Economics” of Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel. I retain, however, a commitment to the Second Bill of Rights argued for by Franklin D. Roosevelt. This second bill should be the foundation of any liberalism whether it’s New Deal or New Left liberalism. If I should become convinced that any form of socialism, libertarian or otherwise, was flawed, I would consider myself somewhat of a modern New Deal liberal and any political economy would have to start with the Second Bill.

This brings me to the issue of Hitchens’ own platform. I once read that Hitchens was a “single-issue voter”. In an article in Slate, he writes the following:

“I'm a single-issue person at present, and the single issue in case you are wondering is the tenacious and unapologetic defense of civilized societies against the intensifying menace of clerical barbarism. If in the smallest doubt about this, I would suggest a vote for the re-election of George Bush, precisely because he himself isn't prey to any doubt on the point. There are worse things than simple mindedness—pseudo-intellectuality, for example. Civil unions for homosexuals, or prescription-drug programs, are not even going to be in second or third place if we get this wrong. And presidents can't make much difference to the stock market or the employment rate or to income distribution. But they can and must uphold their oath to defend the country.” (
This, after having praised Dennis Kucinich? (I.e. “Dennis Kucinich is the sort of guy who we need in politics. He thinks long-term, and he doesn't think that in the short or long term it pays to trade principles for compromises. That's the attitude one wants in a president, of any party”)? Kucinich, though, is not a “single-issue voter”. The Ohio Congressman strikes me as being a principled liberal and I can agree with Hitchens that he is the sort of guy we not only need in politics but in the Oval Office itself. Yet Hitchens decided to go “slightly” in favor of Bush, because in his opinion Bush has done more for the secular cause than the secular community itself!

This strikes me as being silly! Bush hasn’t gone into Iraq to promote any secular democracy. I am not sure what his ultimate reasons are for having gone into Iraq short of avenging Hussein’s attempts to murder his father. I am not sure with what serious consistency Hitchens can pen a polemical critique of religion in god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and yet only “slightly” support a president who uses the White House to promote “faith-based” initiatives? Am I the only one who sees an inconsistency here? Well, ask Hitchens fans, what about Hussein? Was it not a good idea that we removed him when we did?

This question is not so easy for me to answer as it might seem at first glance. I think the criticisms against invading a sovereign nation like Iraq have some serious legitimacy to them. If Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” then it should’ve been a united effort by all of Europe to force him to disarm. Granted, some of the left is wrong, in my opinion, to accuse us of having gone at it alone but we were the main leader in a coalition against Hussein. We basically snubbed the United Nations when some countries were against us, wanting to give weapons inspectors more time to investigate. I have mixed feelings about the Iraq “war”, for the most part having been more against it than for it. I think that people like Hussein do not need to be in power and I do not miss his regime one bit, but questions of whose right it is to dispose of such regimes still lurk about.

The bigger problem, though, is what do people like Hitchens support though? He wants a secular democracy, as I do. But what does such a democracy include? Is it a “free-market” capitalist society? Is it a radical democracy free of hierarchies as some radical progressives would like it to be? What about abortion, affirmative action, and GLBT rights? I’m afraid that a “single issue” voting stance is far too simplistic to tackle such questions. I read that Hitchens no longer feels like part of the Left in America. But where does he stand, though? Where does he stand on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? This document, I believe, should be the foundation of any decent liberalism worthy of the name! Does Hitchens oppose all totalitarian and oppressive regimes like I do?

Here is a bigger question and what I deem the most important question for Hitchens: what political economy is best consistent with Secular Humanism? If it is Secular Humanist, then he should be able to answer that! Is Hitchens' ideal political economy capitalist or socialist? If it falls into the latter category, does it involve market socialism or participatory socialism? A “single issue” platform doesn’t answer this. Does Hitchens favor the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or not? I favor the Universal Declaration although I can think of a particular place or instance where I think it might be in need of very slight modification. I would ask Hitchens a very good question: if you, Christopher, were elected president, what would your platform be? If you oppose more years of the Clinton family, good and fine--I agree. But what would your alternative be?

This is an important question here. The best way to affecting any change is to start with a positive vision and then explain the need for it. The critiques of the Clintons and the modern Democratic Party should be part of the need for it but the negative should only serve to reinforce the need of the positive. When Martin Luther King, Jr. made the case for radical social change, he began with a positive vision. He began with “I Have a Dream”. It was a dream, a positive vision of social change, and he didn’t began his famous speech with “I Had a Nightmare”, beginning with a critique.

I have an idea for Hitchens. He has several titles to his name for his literary output. Fine and good. Hitchens can easily make another name for himself with a future book on liberalism in America. He can start the first chapter by outlining a platform for the kind of ideal society he envisions as well as how to get there. He can have subsequent chapters on modern liberalism, whether it’s moderate or radical, ranging from the Clintons to Noam Chomsky, arguing what’s wrong, but only after he has explained his new dream. I hope he has one to share. He can start with a positive new dream, explain why the Left is wrong, and what are his hopes for a new dream and how to get there. He can then let history judge whether he’s made his case and whether he has a positive contribution to the future.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dennis Kucinich needs your help!

As you're probably aware, Ohio's 10th Congressional is in the midst of a fierce primary battle. Motivated to seize the House seat for its preferred corporate candidate, and driven by hatred stretching back to Muny Light, the Cleveland Plain Dealer -- a very conservative newspaper and the town's only daily -- is trying to push Dennis Kucinich out after more than ten years of loyal and able service to his constituency.

Cleveland's movers and shakers have thrown their support by sitting Ward 13 councilman Joe Cimperman, a corporate-owned politician. His argument for running is based in part on the most ludicrous of claims: that a sitting elected official ought not to spend taxpayer time and money running for another elected office. But that is precisely what Cimperman is doing. Furthermore, he is running on a patently false claim that Kucinich has missed more votes than almost any other member of Congress.

The truth, however, is not on Cimperman's side. According to

Dennis Kucinich missed 346 of 7054 votes (5%) since Jan 7, 1997.

Compare this to campaigning Republican Ron Paul, who according to has missed twice as many votes as Kucinich.

Ronald Paul missed 687 of 7054 votes (10%) since Jan 7, 1997.

And what of the sitting U.S. senators running for president?

John McCain has missed sixteen percent of his votes.

John McCain missed 592 of 3720 votes (16%) since Jan 22, 1997.

Barack Obama has missed seventeen percent.

Barack Obama missed 185 of 1098 votes (17%) since Jan 6, 2005.

And Hillary Clinton has missed six percent of votes, just one percent below Kucinich's attendance record.

Hillary Clinton missed 152 of 2406 votes (6%) since Jan 23, 2001.

So what may we conclude from this? That Cimperman is either lying his fool ass off, or else he is too lazy or too stupid to get his facts straight -- or a combination thereof. My money, if I had any, would be on the combo theory. And whatever the case may be, is this really the kind of person Ohio's 10th Congressional District really wants or needs representing it?

Here's another case against Cimperman and his backers at the Plain Dealer.

The Pee Dee used the entire space of the Sunday editorial slot to bless Cimperman. Actually, it was not so much to anoint Cimperman as to throw slaps at his opponent, Dennis Kucinich.


What struck me as really odd was how little space the paper spent on telling us of any accomplishments of Cimperman. His major accomplishment, as I can see, is giving away city money to developers.

While we're on that note, let's ask ourselves, of the two main candidates for Ohio-10, who has accomplished more? Kucinich, hands down.

Kucinich -

Cosponsored HR 676, which is Medicare for all Americans.

H.R. 4060: Universal Prekindergarten Act

H.R. 3400: Rebuilding America's Infrastructure

H.R. 1234: To end the United States occupation of Iraq immediately

H. Con. Res. 23: Expressing the sense of Congress that the President should not order an escalation in the total number of members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Iraq.

H.R. 2707: To reauthorize the Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program

H.R. 3875: To permit the Secretary of Labor to make an administrative determination of the amount of unpaid wages owed for certain violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the New Orleans region after Hurricane Katrina.

And then, of course, there are his articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney. Pretty busy for a "part-time" member of the House of Representatives, huh? And what, by the way, has Cimperman done for his constituents? According to (bear with me, this one's a long quote but it is absolutely necessary):

Just to remind people of what the donation-gobbling Cimperman has become as the downtown councilman, I’ve listed below what the city and others, with Cimperman’s strong backing, gave to the Wolstein project in the Flats. The project is in Cimperman’s ward.

Of course, the city also helped with eminent domain to shift properties to Wolstein from others.

There’s an interesting battle now going on for downtown real estate development with several major corporations and law firms reportedly interested in new office space. Looking for new digs: Baker & Hostetler, Eaton Corp., Ernst & Young, Huntington Bank and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. So there’s demand.

It will be interesting in the climate of demand to observe how city officials – Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council – react to this renewed interest in new office space.

Since there’s high demand should the city avoid offering all kinds of subsidy incentives to developers to do what they must do – meet the demand by building? (It’s also unclear whether the new space will be added space or simply newer space to shift tenants from older buildings, in other words, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic/Cleveland.)

The Pee Dee could do a service to the citizens by researching and telling us which downtown property owners got what part of the $100 million in taxable property that came off the tax rolls in recent years. Likely suspects: Forest City Enterprises, Dick Jacobs and John Carney interests.

The market is supposed to rule. And, to some degree, it does. The best example is the empty space on the west side of Public Square. The city in 1989 awarded Dick Jacobs the same sweet subsidy deal to build on that site as the developer received for the north side of Public Square (Key Center & Marriott Hotel).

Yet, 19 years later, the site remains fallow, a parking lot.

That’s because there has been no market for new office space and thus no development.

Now, since there is said to be demand, why don’t the developers meet the demand – but without seeking to wring out abatements and other subsidies from the depressed City of Cleveland? The answer is simple: greed.

They don’t because our political leaders are too eager (Cimperman) to serve their benefactors at the expense of their constituents.

Below are the incredible "incentives" given to the Wolstein partnership for the Flats East Side project. Here is the list:

- BDOHS (port authority) will provide $11 million in loans.

- City of Cleveland will provide $6 million in Core City loans.

- Cleveland Public Power will provide $3.4 million in services.

- Cleveland Water Division will provide $740,000 in infrastructure costs.

- Cleveland will provide another $1 million from its general obligation bonds.

- The County, City and Cleveland schools will forgo $11,140,000 in property taxes under a TIF (tax abatement) program to help the project.

- Cuyahoga County will provide $1 million in subsidies.

- The State of Ohio will provide a grant of $3 million for "environmental remediation," matched by a loan from Cuyahoga County of $1 million, both committed from the 2005 Clean Ohio program.

- Tax exempt Parking Revenue Bonds estimated at $8,540,000 will be repaid from Public parking facility revenues.

- Tax-exempt infrastructure bonds estimated to be $9 million are secured by annual payments by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

- The sum of approximately $4,550,000 will be made available through the Federal Highway Administration.

- The federal government has appropriated and the city shall obtain and make available when required for eligible project costs a grant of $1,464,735 from the U. S. Department of Commerce National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA grant).

- All rental and condominium units (some 300 units) will be tax abated at 100% for 15 years. No cost estimate given by the city, port authority or county.

- The city agrees to enact legislation as necessary to amend and extend the CRA residential tax abatement program to assure that all residential improvements are eligible for the full 15-year, 100% abatement of real estate taxes. No cost given.

- The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will construct a transit station on the RTA Waterfront Rail Line for the project "...all at no cost or expense" to the developer. No total or estimated cost mentioned.

- The City of Cleveland "shall take all necessary action to vacate all existing streets within the project site to the extent no longer require as public improvements for the project, and any easements which impair or adversely affect the development, construction or occupancy of the project, or which lie within the project site and are no longer required for use as public improvements for the Project." No cost estimate given.

- The City of Cleveland "shall convey to the developer all the land owned by it (the city) within the residential site not necessary for public improvements by official quit-claim deed..." No cost estimate given.

- Under a section called "public improvements", it states: "Public improvements necessary to support the Residential project will include but may not be limited to the following....

- Abatement, demolition and environmental remediation (including all necessary earthwork and soil clean-up) of the Project properties as they exist as of the execution date of this Agreement so as to allow for construction of the Residential Project.

- On-site paving and landscaping for all areas from the building lines of the Residential Project to the street curb as well as the public spaces of the Riverfront Park described below.

- A Riverfront Park extending from the southern boundary of the Project along the Cuyahoga River ’s edge north to the Norfolk & Southern rail line with an eastern edge defined by a realigned Old River Road and a new street network described below. The Park may include but not be limited to the following elements: a riverfront boardwalk, gather places; pavilions; project signage, retail kiosks; and a marina for transient boater use. The Riverfront Park shall be planned in such a manner so as to receive the proposed extension of the Towpath Trail...

- Utility improvements, replacements and/or upgrades sufficient to provide necessary storm and sanitary sewer, water, electrical, gas and thermal heating and cooling services for the Residential Project and the permanent improvements in the public right of way (e. g. street lighting) and property (e.g. Riverfront Park fixtures and appurtenances) for ongoing and seasonal needs.

- Street improvements, realignments and additions to serve the Residential Project and its associated parking facilities, including all necessary traffic control equipment and signage...

- Bulkhead repair, replacement and improvements sufficient to maintain the long-term integrity of the eastern edge of the Project site bordered by the Cuyahoga River.

- The Public Parking Facilities and Private Parking Facilities estimated to consist of a minimum of 1,600 spaces in total and sufficient to serve the retail and residential uses of the Project by way of four structured facilities and no fewer than two surface lots, including all necessary equipment, landscaping and appurtenances.

- An allocable share of land acquisition costs associated with the square footage occupied by the Public Improvement as a percentage of the entire Project square footage (Residential Project plus Public Improvements.)

- Any and all soft costs which may be attributable to construction of the Public improvements including but not limited to architectural and engineering services, lighting, traffic and parking consultants, permits/fees, testing and inspection, temporary utilities, financing fees and costs and capitalized interest on bonds or loans.

With Joe in Congress just think of how much booty can be delivered to our developers.

Rosemary Palmer and Barbara Anne Ferris, the latter of whom comes from a family-owned steakhouse and was endorsed by the Plain Dealer in 2006, are also on the ballot for Ohio-10. But with Cimperman getting corporate money thrown at him like water splashed on a kid at the local pool, neither of them stands as big a chance against the far worthier incumbent. Furthermore, Ferris has received help from Cleveland-area Republicans[1] in order to seize the seat the only way they can -- through a bought off "Democrat". In 2004 she ran against Dennis Kucinich as an independent before switching her party affiliation over to Democrat so she would fare better in the heavily-Democratic town.

You really have to wonder if The Plain Dealer thinks it can fool all the people all the time.

That’s my thought when I see a rather long editorial "un-endorsing" Congressman Dennis Kucinich and telling readers to vote for a woman who ran as an independent in 2004 and who appears to be a Republican now.

No matter to the Plain Dealer. She is not Kucinich. That is what seems to matter to this Republican newspaper. On the other hand, maybe they believe by electing Ferris, the Republican candidate will win District 10 in November.

I gather her Republican leanings from a ringing endorsement on her website from Republican Robert Brown. He heads up "Republicans for Ferris" though she’s running in a Democratic primary.

Ohio-10 voters weren't fooled by Ferris in 2004 or 2006, and they certainly shan't be fooled by her again. And while her financial resources aren't bad, they're not enough to compete with the million or so dollars Cimperman has been handed for his run. So she's a non-entity in a race the Plain Dealer wants won by a moneyed candidate with an actual chance against their hated nemesis.

The bottom line is this: Progressives must keep Ohio-10 safe. If Cimperman manages to buy his way into Congress, with help from Cleveland's conservative movers and shakers, we can say goodbye to that seat for years to come. Because once Dennis is out, and a weak, corporate Democrat is in, you can be damned sure that the Ohio Republican Party will be emboldened to make a serious grab for that seat. Please go to and donate your money, time, and energy to helping keep this vital Congressional seat solidly in Progressive hands.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vetting the Prima Donnas Before Convention

If you haven't read cmkay's excellent exposé about Barack Obama over at Daily Kos, you might want to do so now. Now before you start in with accusations of hit pieces or candidate trolling, let me remind you that this being the primary season we are supposed to vet the candidates before we go to convention. It's our duty as Democrats to make sure we come out with a candidate who can not only survive the general election but win by a large margin. We can't do that if we don't know our candidates. Sun Tzu wrote:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy or yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

We must know ourselves as well as the enemy. If we know the Republicans' candidate, but not our own, we cannot expect to be given any sympathy when we start whining to ourselves, "how did we manage to blow another opportunity?"

A bit more about the nomination battle.

Allison Kilkenny muses about how Hillary Clinton might just turn off enough voters in the general election to have them stay home, which is kind of the argument Barack Obama, his wife, and their supporters have been encouraging.

There is a deep divide in the Democratic party between Progressives and the traditionalists, like Hillary Clinton, that helped sell the rest of us down the river. I've heard from many people that they would loathe seeing another Clinton in the White House, and so I wonder what will happen come election time if Hillary is indeed our presidential candidate. Perhaps this is all talk, and once the cold feet set in, liberals will sprint to the voting booth, and vote Hillary in, nonetheless.

The anxiety is palpable in the Democratic party, which is why Howard Dean, as usual, gave the game away with his complete ineptitude of maintaining a serious poker face. What was once considered an easy Democratic victory now seems up for grabs, so he's eager to work something out quickly. Maybe he plans to cajole one of the front-runners into taking a V.P. nomination, though I can't see Barack or Hillary taking second place at this point.

Mitt Romney's resignation from the campaign trail is indicative of the Republican strategy for victory: unite at any cost, even if you hate the bastard representing your party. Though everyone from Coulter to Limbaugh are busily chastising professional old bastard, McCain, they'll surely vote for him at election time. However, Democrats have a hard time voting against the consciences like that. If voters hate Hillary, they may simply stay home come November.

Brian Rothenberg also has serious misgivings about the implosion and fracturing of the Democratic Party this year. But his column isn't about animosity toward Clinton, it's about what's going on in Ohio as state secretary Jennifer Brunner tries to fix our state's broken electoral system.

Matt Damschroder is a likeable guy, a Republican who somehow remained as Director of the Franklin County Board of Elections even though the position usually changes over and mirrors the party of the Ohio Secretary of State, who is now a Democrat.

He has done so, in part, because Denny White, former Ohio Democratic Party Chair and Deputy Director, is phasing out his long, successful career and inching toward rumored retirement. But there are loud grumblings that White remaining in the junior deputy position signals that Democrats may be sleeping while Rome is burning. Our election system calls for balance to keep Ohio elections immune from party politics, and emails reveal that Democrats aren’t offering the needed counter-balance to Damschroder.

The emails of Mr. Damschroder demonstrate the ease and familiarity he has with people of both political parties and the media. And it is that genial behavior that masks what the emails reveal: An agenda to preserve Ohio’s now scientifically proven flawed election machinery.

There are some heavy partisan scars inflicted by Mr. Damschroder’s role in Franklin County, the most obvious being the well-documented voting machine shortages resulting in long lines for Franklin County’s minority precincts in 2004.

This is yet another reason why having two massive egos slugging it out until convention for the Democratic nomination is so utterly bad for both our political party and the nation. No matter who wins come August, that candidate must face serious threats to electoral integrity coming from the GOP. Remember that it was election-rigging in Ohio under then-state secretary Ken Blackwell, a Republican, that helped keep the shrub and his gargoyle in office another four years despite voters clearly preferring Democrat John Kerry for president.

So what happens when the Democratic nominee must wait until August to be crowned, badly bloodied from an extended primary fight and strapped for cash having spent the bulk of it throughout, while John McCain gets to spend the time between now and then building support, finances and strategy? In a word: Disaster. The nominee, no matter who it is, shall be focused on trying to win the general in a mere two and a half months (give or take) against a foe who has had plenty of time to rest and prepare. Helping to make sure states like Ohio aren't compromised by Republican electoral fraud won't even be on our candidate's mind.

This by no means is an endorsement of Barack Obama, who is as unfit and unlikely to win in November as Hillary Clinton. But the animosity toward the Clinton clan for helping to weaken the Democratic Party for nearly fifteen years is real, and it may result in a larger electoral loss in November than the one that would occur with an Obama candidacy. The GOP knows this, which is exactly why has been counting on a Clinton or Obama candidacy, but clearly preferring Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

The continuing battle for the Democratic nomination couldn't have been a bigger or better gift to movement conservatives, who began this year having resigned themselves to a four-to-eight year Democratic presidency. Whether we can take that away from them before August -- perhaps, as Howard Dean foolishly hopes, during the Spring -- is anyone's guess.

Friday, February 08, 2008

What Romney's departure means for the general election.

With Mitt Romney now out of the Republican race for president, John McCain is much, much closer to locking up his political party's nomination. What does this mean for Democrats? Bad news, and here's why:

McCain now has less to worry about going into November. Mike Huckabee might yet pose a serious challenge, since he has the backing of the religious far right. But this assumes that Huckabee manages to win most states in the remaining primaries and caucuses. And there's no reason to think this shall be the case. The most likely scenario is that McCain continues to do well, and there will be no brokered Republican National Convention.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied for delegates, both are likely to go to the Democratic National Convention to settle who shall be the party's nominee for president. Obama has a slight advantage of money; Clinton has had to lend her campaign money from out of pocket, and have her paid staff go without their salaries for a while. But since Super Tuesday, both Clinton and Obama have managed to raise roughly equal amounts of campaign money.

As reported by DHinMI, Howard Dean is trying to get the two prima donna candidates to make some sort of deal to avoid a brokered convention. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee knows why a brokered convention would be bad for the party; while McCain uses the time between now and his party's convention to shore up support, raise money, and form a general election campaign strategy against the Democratic nominee, we'll still be fighting the nominating process out until August. That means whoever the nominee is shall go into the general election exhausted from a drawn out primary fight, and having expended much of his or her financial resources.

So the advantage clearly goes to McCain, if Clinton and Obama insist on staying in competition for the Democratic nomination until convention. And this is where Dean's attempt to make the two prima donnas reach some sort of deal shall fail. Because their egos are so huge, neither Clinton or Obama is willing to accept second fiddle status as vice president. And the fierceness of the campaign so far has taken a publicly visible toll; at the shrub's last SotU liefest, Obama gave Clinton the cold shoulder as she moved to shake hands with Senator Edward Kennedy -- who endorsed her rival. Obama's latest 'Harry and Louise'-style attacks on Clinton's health care plan (which is pissing off a lot of progressives, including economist Paul Krugman), strengthens the likelihood that there will be no Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket.

So while many are cheering Romney's departure from the Republican race, it also presents a serious problem for Democrats. The opposition now has less of a reason to worry about its chances in November, while we have plenty to worry about. Howard Dean's attempts to get the prima donnas to shelve their differences and reach some kind of deal are a public acknowledgment of this problem.

Which makes it all the more sad that John Edwards and not Clinton or Obama was the one to call it quits. Had he won enough early states to be the likely nominee, all this would have been settled and we would be able to stand a chance in November. But now, with Obama and Clinton duking it out until convention, we have once again shot ourselves in the foot by sticking our party with a fundamentally weak candidate going into the general election. The Democratic Party, as usual, has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. And that is bad for all of America.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

February 17, 2008 -- Join Sean Penn and Dennis Kucinich at Cleveland IX Center!

Pass this along!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Congressman Dennis Kucinich! UNOFFICIAL
Date: Feb 7, 2008 11:19 AM

Hi there,

We're holding a great fun raiser at the IX Center in Cleveland on Sunday February 17, with Sean Penn. I hope we will see you there and I would really appreciate it if you could forward this email to your lists, family and friends.

We really need your support in this election. There are 5 candidates in the 10th District Congressional race, one of whom it is rumored has been promised upwards of $2 million from special interests in an attempt to buy the seat. They have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on slanderous television advertisements which blatantly lie about Dennis' record. We are being outspent 5 to 1 and need all the help you are willing to give in order to defend the truth and uphold the public interest.

Dennis is standard-bearer for progressive core principles. We cannot lose the strongest, most consistent voice in Congress for peace, animal rights, the environment, not-for-profit health care, civil liberties, human rights, workers' rights and fair trade.

Dennis has demonstrated courage and integrity, fearlessly standing for the people in challenging corporate interests. The latest FEC report shows Dennis being outspent by a margin of 5 to 1. The election is March 4th ! Please make a contribution now at or buy a ticket to our "WE LOVE DENNIS" Valentine's Fun Raiser .

Thank you for your support,
Elizabeth K.


Valentine's Fun Raiser


Sunday, February 17, 2008 3:00pm - 6:00pm

I-X Center (East Entrance)
One I-X Center Drive
Cleveland, OH 44135

"We Love Dennis" Valentine's Fun Raiser with Sean Penn
Great Food, refreshments, music, magicians and much more included!

$1000 - Special reception with Sean Penn
$100 - Admission and photo with Sean Penn
$25 - General adult admission
$15 - Young people, 10 - 17 years
Children under 10 years free

Purchase tickets online at - click here

or call



Paid for by Kucinich for Congress

PO Box 110475
Cleveland, OH 44111

Monday, February 04, 2008

Here's an idea worth debating on health care.

I was reading through Paul Krugman's blog entry from earlier today about Dean Baker being wrong, when I came across the following comment. I don't know how feasible such a solution might be, but I do think it is very much worth discussing in this argument about the merits of mandates (or lack thereof).

I offer a suggestion that I think gets around at least some of this...though there may be other ideas at least as good:

Require employers to make a one time cost of living raise...about a dollar and a half an hour, or $3,000 per year. This money goes to the employee and [...] is immediately subject to a payroll tax dedicated to health insurance. Employers already paying for health care can simply redirect the money. Employers not currently paying health care would have to stop being free riders (paying a below subsistence wage) but they would, as they keep telling us, pass the costs on to their customers, or restructure their payrolls and suffer no harm.

The government would assign people without regard to prior condition to blocks of insurees and then auction the contracts for detailed management of these blocks to insurance companies, and would oversee the performance of those contracts in a manner analogous to the way highway contracts are monitored by the state.

I think this should solve both the political problem and the actuarial one...but it might take some serious discussion to settle that.

Like I said, I don't know how feasible this idea is. But I think it is at least worth debating it on its merits. What do you, dear readers, have to say?

My Vote In Ohio's Primary

I post this the day before Super Tuesday, which is tomorrow, February 5th, 2008. My state, Ohio, holds its primary on March 4th. As you may already know, I was backing Kucinich for president. Of all the candidates running for president at the time, his were the positions that most closely match my own on the issues important to America. On health care, I favor a single-payer not for profit system. Kucinich has introduced HR 676, which if passed would bring about such a health care revolution.

Kucinich's positions on the environment, on jobs, on ending NAFTA and U.S. participation in the World trade Organization, are also positions I hold. So my choice, given the options before me, was clear from the beginning. On ending the occupation of Iraq, Dennis's was the better way -- an immediate start to bringing the troops home and getting the United Nations in to help us repair what we have broken even as we begin the inevitable and ultimately necessary withdraw.

I would vote for Dennis Kucinich.

But he, along with former Alaskan senator Mike Gravel, was shut out of the Democratic race for president by a mainstream, corporate media that absolutely will not abide a true Progressive getting anywhere near the White House. After being shut out from debates, after being excluded from the Texas ballot for refusing to sign a fascistic loyalty oath, and after Cleveland's corporate interests decided to put up well funded primary opponents for his Congressional re-election campaign, Dennis had to withdraw.

With Chris Dodd -- the only other leader on standing up to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and standing up for the Constitution and rule of law -- having dropped out of the presidential race, my options were pretty limited. Of the Big Three media darlings, only John Edwards had positions on the issues that were anywhere near mine. But now that he has dropped out, having been shut out of the media spotlight to the point where he could not gain enough votes to remain in contention, what else is left?

What are my options, now? I can vote for one of two corporate Democrats, neither of whom gives any more than mere lip service to addressing the issues important to Americans; I can vote third party, but that would leave me unable to cast my vote for Kucinich in his primary battle; I can simply refuse to vote for president at all; or I can vote for Dennis as a write-in candidate, thus sending a message that the two prima donnas in this race have not earned my vote and must do and say certain things in order to earn it by November.

Given this rather limited range of options, there is only one I can make and still be able to look at myself in the mirror. So I shall cast my primary ballot for president for Dennis Kucinich. And before anyone starts in on me about how that is a waste of my vote, I ask you: why? Is this or is it not the primary season? Am I or am I not supposed to vote my beliefs? Are or are you not supposed to vote yours?

I am, and you are. To hell with what conventional "wisdom" dictates. Conventional "wisdom" dictated that we vote for anybody but Bush last time around, and we listened, and look what that got us: another four years of an outlaw regime destroying not only Iraq, not only Afghanistan, but America. Grinding three countries into the ground -- all for the profit of a relative handful of greedy, old, overgrown, dishonest, and bestial children with delusions of empire. THAT is what we got for listening to conventional "wisdom".

If you, dear reader, are not sold on Obama or Clinton tomorrow; if you supported Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, or John Edwards; don't you owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your country, to vote your beliefs? Whoever the nominee ultimately is, don't you know with all your soul that the candidate can, should and must earn your vote in the general election? What incentive does that candidate have, if you surrender that vote to him or her without making that person do everything reasonable and honest to assure you that your vote shall not be wasted, that the Democratic nominee will run the necessary campaign and on the necessary platform to not only win the White House but actually get sworn in as president?

And that is what it all boils down to, dear reader. Tomorrow, for better or worse, we shall have perhaps the biggest chance to stand up and make our voices heard. Instead of throwing away your vote on Obama or Clinton, neither of whom is fit to be president, why not stand up and say to them both with one loud, clear voice, "you want my vote? You'd better fucking earn it. And this is how."

So in my state's primary, probably the general election, my vote is decided. I'm voting my beliefs. I'm voting Democrat. I'm voting for Dennis Kucinich. And I am making my voice heard. If you want to condemn me for that, so be it. But I'll be able to look at myself in the mirror. Come Wednesday, come November -- come this time next year -- shall you be able to boast that?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Progressive Logo

I did up a logo depicting the Progressive bull moose. Let me know what you think.

I did up a logo depicting the Progressive bull moose. Let me know what you think.