Thursday, August 31, 2006

Paul Hodes on YouTube

Here's a short interview with Paul Hodes done at the event in Stoddard with Mark Warner a couple weeks ago. It gives a nice little thumbnail intro to what Hodes is like in person. Go watch it, and forward the link around to anyone who might want to get a sense of the guy.

Good for WMUR

After taking the anti-Bass MoveOn ads off the air for a while, WMUR is again running an ad - I'm not sure whether it's the original one or a replacement.

Charlie Bass is still a disingenuous whiner for attempting to intimidate them into removing the ads.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Red-Handed:

American Heritage College Dictionary:
In the act of committing something wrong.
Merriam-Webster:
In the act of committing a crime or misdeed.
So Charlie Bass doesn't like MoveOn's ads about his Iraq appropriations votes because of that word. According to the Concord Monitor (thanks to NH-02 Progressive for the catch)
Bass's campaign singled out the claim that Bass was caught red-handed. The campaign, using the Oxford English Dictionary, said the term means Bass has been caught in "the very act of crime."

"It is an intentional and false smear on his character and integrity," the letter said.

Anyone wonder how many dictionaries they looked at before they found the one that just said "crime" and not "crime OR misdeed/something wrong"?

Because it would be wrong to accuse Bass of an actual crime. He didn't commit one. But see, in voting for funding for the Iraq war on 13 separate occasions (PDF), he did "commit something wrong" or "commit a misdeed." Or, you know, 13 of them.

Did he know the first time he voted for money for Iraq that the things the MoveOn ad details would happen - that Halliburton would get $18 billion, much of it in no-bid contracts, that nearly $9 billion would end up "unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management"? Probably not.

Maybe Charlie Bass didn't know those things the second, or the third or even the fourth times he voted for money for Iraq. But the eleventh time? The twelfth? The thirteenth? If he didn't know by then what he was voting for, his red-handedness problem stems not from being caught in a misdeed but in stupidity that defies belief.

In any case, the facts are indisputable: Whatever you thought of it at its inception, whatever you think of the politics or morality of it, the Iraq war has been horrifically mismanaged. And Charlie Bass has been there every step of the way, helping make it go on and on and on. That is the result of his "character and integrity."

2,638 members of the American military dead. Tens of thousands of Iraqis dead. Tens of thousands of Americans wounded. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent. Growing civil war in Iraq. No end in sight.

But no, it would be wrong to use a word like "red-handed."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Cannot Believe I'm Saying This

::deep breath::

The Union Leader has a good editorial on the immigration hearing I wrote about Thursday.

Clearly, this was no hearing, it was a traveling road show, a campaign event disguised as a public hearing.
and
Next time, we hope [Sensenbrenner] will remember that the people of New Hampshire are more politically savvy than he thinks. If members of Congress are going to come here to hold a "hearing," we expect that they will be the ones doing the listening.
I'm just stunned. My best theory here is that the Union Leader's politics are trumped only by its fierce New Hampshire boosterism. In any case, good for them.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

On Deciding to Blog

Recently, the proprietors of NH-02 Progressive and The Yankee Doodler and I have been talking about how it is that we all started blogging in the space of a month or so when there hadn't been much NH blogging to that point. So this is my story.

One of the first places I saw Paul Hodes seriously discussed was in a netroots candidates nomination thread at Daily Kos, so the question of whether Hodes would be added to that list was on my mind from the beginning. In fact, it would be fair to say I thought about it quite a bit. Ok, in actual fact I made a table with the requirements for consideration and tried to fill in which requirements the proposed candidates fulfilled and how much support there was for them. And it was clear that the single major strike against Paul Hodes would be the lack of a local blogosphere.

I fretted about this, but I certainly didn't feel equipped to do anything about it. Then Hodes was put on the list and it didn't stop my fretting, because when you looked at the ActBlue netroots page, everyone else had local blogs listed and Hodes only had Swing State Project. SSP is pretty formidable, but not local. I worried that would discredit him for some people.

The thing is, I'm not generally big on taking initiative or taking the lead. I'm just not. I don't enjoy taking risks, and in cases like this, I tend to believe there's someone more qualified out there. It's not that I don't think I'm competent and smart, just that I believe someone else is bound to be more so on any given topic, and that I'm most useful providing support to them as much as I can, working hard maybe but in the background. That was certainly the case here.

And it's never been an ambition of mine to blog. I spend huge chunks of my life at Daily Kos, but I've only ever even diaried irregularly there. I'm much more comfortable as a commenter, engaging in discussion in a framework someone else sets (maybe attacking that framework as inadequate, but still taking it as a starting point). In that context I can be forceful, but I'm happiest sitting back at least that far.

So anyway, there I am, in no doubt that there needs to be a local blog covering NH-02, but sure that there's someone better to do it. But all those better people, they're not coming forward. Finally, at the end of June, DavidNYC and I had an exchange of emails in which he took my reasons for hesitating and demolished them one by one.

(Paraphrasing:)

"I don't know enough."

"Yes you do. And anyway, all you need is critical thinking skills + google."

"I don't know tech stuff."

"You diary at Daily Kos. You know enough. Just go to blogger."

And so on. So I told myself, well, even if it totally sucks, it's a local blog for them to post on the ActBlue page, so mission accomplished no matter.

Ironically, after I had my name and had set up my template, but before I'd posted, Yankee Doodler got going. But having agonized for so long before making up my mind to do it, my mind was made up to do it. Then a little while later, I happen across NH-02 Progressive. But instead of feeling like I've been let off the hook, they've really spurred me to care more, to look harder for stories, to think more creatively about my take on any given story. It's become this genuinely fun and engrossing and stimulating thing in my life, one that makes me feel purposeful and potentially if not yet actually useful.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dems Call Bullshit on House Immigration Hearing

Today I went to a House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration, held in Concord, New Hampshire, really to get a first in-person look at Charlie Bass, who currently fails to represent me in Congress and who was, shockingly enough, included at the hearing despite not being on the relevant committee (nothing political here, though, move along). But Charlie turned out not to be the story for me. Instead, what struck me (repeatedly, hard) was how hard the Democrats on the committee were fighting Republican tricks-playing.

So why was there hearing on immigration in a state with as few immigrants as New Hampshire?

The Yankee Doodler has already highlighted an AP story asking those questions prior to the hearing:

Critics questioned why New Hampshire - which has few immigrants - was chosen to host a hearing. They also asked why hearings were needed since both bills already have passed.
and

"This is just a normal congressional committee hearing," [spokesman for James Sensenbrenner, R-WI] Lungren said.

He was less able to explain why New Hampshire was picked. "Basically I don't have a good reason for exactly why New Hampshire, other than we're having them all across the country."

Not only was the placement of the hearing politicized, so was its title, which referred to the "Reid-Kennedy Amnesty Bill" - the heading on the press release referred to the "staggering costs" of the bill. So as I entered the hearing a few minutes late today, I was glad to hear Marty Meehan (MA-05) hammering on both those points, insisting that the hearing was an inappropriate substitute for negotiation between the House and Senate to reconcile their two immigration bills, and detailing the bipartisan nature of the supposed "Reid-Kennedy" bill, the sponsors of which actually include Specter and McCain.

Throughout the hearing Meehan and fellow Democrats William Delahunt (MA-10) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) kept up that refrain in a way that would almost make you question all those accusations that Democrats these days lack spines or message discipline. It was actually pretty inspiring.

There were five witnesses, ranging ideologically from really, really hating illegal immigrants (many of whom are apparently murderers seeking to adopt new identities and become legal under the proposed amnesty) to thinking that it would be a good thing if children of illegal immigrants were able to get good, consistent medical care. Each had 5 minutes of testimony, followed in theory by questions from the committee members but in practice by argument from said committee members.

This is where the Democrats hit hard. Each took on specific questions relating to the testimony that had been given, but also continually brought into question the motivation for the hearing itself. Meehan questioned the decision to hold hearings around the country, arguing that it is unprecedented for the House and Senate to both pass bills and then, rather than going into conference, to hold hearings. He suggested that Republicans are making border enforcement and immigration issues appear more difficult than they are in order to build them up as election issues.

Delahunt, again noting that committee members should not be at a hearing in New Hampshire but in Washington in conference with the Senate, said that President Bush had called Mexican President Vicente Fox to say that there was no hope of legislation being passed just now. With Republicans controlling the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, he said, such delay tactics are clearly to secure political advantage. But what political advantage specifically? He dismissed the notion that the hearing might be being held in NH to pressure Senator Gregg to come over to the view of House Republicans, suggesting instead that it was probably about New Hampshire's two competitive House races, which was why the Democrats would be holding a press conference to follow the hearing.

Wasserman Schultz followed up by discussing a chart Delahunt had introduced which showed three ways in which border and immigration enforcement under Clinton had exponentially outstripped it under Bush. She argued that the Republican administration and Congress had had the opportunity to get the job done but instead were just talking about it, then pointed out that the "staggering cost" of the Senate bill - $127 billion over 10 years - was about 1/3 of what has already been spent in Iraq, questioning whether the Republicans were really saying that that amount of money was not worth spending to solve a major issue critical to national security and many other areas of concern.

In a second round of questions/statements from the committee members, the Democrats continued to just pound away at these themes, with Wasserman Schultz also introducing the question of why New Hampshire Congressmen Bass and Bradley had voted against enhanced border security 10 times.

(Bass, who I was after all there to see, gave a brief and fairly content-free statement, which I imagine is largely similar to his Union Leader op-ed. My major impression of him was that he looks like an unsuccessful accountant in a cheap suit, and appeared to be incredibly bored most of the time, except when Bradley arrived and they started whispering together. Nothing much to report about him.)

At the end of the hearing, I was just looking around at the crowd, trying to see if there were visible contingents of people concerned with the issue (for instance, I saw one SEIU t-shirt, and one in a Legalize the Irish t-shirt), when Dana Houle, Paul Hodes' campaign manager, beckoned me over to where the Democrats were holding a press conference in the next room.

Well, that was fun. They'd been pretty forceful in the hearing, but in the press conference were even more so.

They again raised the question of why "our friends in New Hampshire" talk about support for border enforcement while the record of their votes belies such support, presenting a chart detailing Bass and Bradley's votes against enforcement and suggesting that either Bass and Bradley had to explain a rationale for those votes or answer the question of whether they were marching in lockstep with Republican leadership.

Asked about the politics of the hearings, Meehan said they were a "dumb idea." The Republicans have control of the government and yet have failed to pass legislation, and are now engaging in hearings which are dumb politically, having drawn negative editorials in several places, and dumb procedurally, costing taxpayer money to put on. A rather argumentative questioner followed up, asking if the Democrats were not playing politics by holding this press conference and using it to question the records of Bass and Bradley. Meehan and Wasserman Schultz answered forcefully, pointing out that they would not have been there if the Republicans had not set up the hearing, that they were doing their jobs as committee members in attending but also that as Democrats they would not allow the political ploy to go unanswered.

As Wasserman Schultz said, "we don't believe in unilateral disarmament if that's what you're asking."

And that's what was inspiring about today: sometimes it seems like Democratic officials do believe in unilateral disarmament. Today, they didn't, and they kicked ass at it. They kicked ass on the specifics of immigration, they kicked ass on the political game-playing of the fact that this hearing was held at all, and they kicked ass on the specific races that were clearly being targeted by holding Bass and Bradley's records up to the light.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

MoveOn Running Ads Against Bass

In yet another suggestion that national progressive and/or Democratic organizations see this as a promising race and that Paul Hodes is on the right track, MoveOn is running tv ads against Charlie Bass, focusing on Iraq appropriations. The Boston Globe website is covering this, and you can see the ad at MoveOn's site (link to ad in upper right corner). MoveOn also has a PDF file of the text of the ad, with factual basis given for each claim made.

The ad shows a dump truck dumping bags of money in the desert, with a voiceover saying
What happened to the 300 billion dollars we sent to Iraq?

Halliburton got 18 billion.

9 billion is just plain missing.

And our Congressman Charlie Bass has been caught Red Handed voting for all of it. [here showing black and white image of Charlie with a red hand]

That's money we need for jobs and healthcare here in New Hampshire.

Now Charlie Bass is ready to dump billions more in Iraq.

Charlie Bass: Another Republican caught redhanded.
I'm curious to know where and how often the ad will be showing, so if you see them, let me know. (In the mean time, I guess that's an excuse to watch more tv for a while.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hodes Breaks In-State Fundraising Record

Back when the second-quarter fundraising totals were announced, I and others noted that Paul Hodes had raised more money from people in New Hampshire than any other candidate in NH-02, Charlie Bass included, had ever done.

Well, he's gone one better. Tonight at a meet the candidates event held by the Rumney Democrats, Hodes announced that he has now broken the all-time record for in-state fundraising for any Congressional candidate in any party for an entire cycle.

And there's time yet before the election for that record to be not just broken but ground to dust. (If you're out of state, don't think you don't count - do feel free to contribute.) Reminder number 50,268: Tomorrow is the pre-primary filing deadline. It's a good time to contribute, so that he can turn in strong numbers. Not that that sounds like it's going to be a problem.

Pardon Me While I Get Cheesy and Touchy-Feely for a Sec

This is going in a direction I don't usually go here, so bear with me or not as you choose. I spent the last few days out of the state, and driving back home today, up I-91, I looked, as I usually do, to New Hampshire on my right. And, as I usually am, I was overwhelmed by how beautiful it is. I've been to many beautiful places, but I don't think any of them felt as right as this one. Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, in California, is breathtaking. The vastness of the mountains and canyons and sky makes you realize how very very tiny we all are, how insignificant. Western Ireland is glowing-green and soft and gorgeous in a way that makes you feel cupped and held gently. In the canyons of the San Juan river, you see the river rushing in front of you and the layered walls and the sky, a strip of vision that is always thrilling but ultimately, well, narrow.

New Hampshire has beauty in common with all of these places, but here, for me, the scale is perfect. The mountains and valleys are big enough to put me in my place, reminding me that I am small and that I should be most concerned with things bigger than myself, but they don't dwarf me, making me feel so insignificant that to try to change anything would be hopeless. The landscape is broad enough, the horizon far enough away, that I can see many things, but the mountains and trees are there for perspective, so again things don't recede into an incomprehensible vastness. I feel in place in New Hampshire, able to see where I want to go and some of how I want to get there.

It's a big task, defeating an incumbent Congressman. But we deserve better than Charlie Bass. This beautiful state deserves better than someone who gives lip service to protecting the environment but in the final analysis bends to his party leaders who see nature as something to be exploited. It is a big task, but in this landscape, in the view it gives me, I see how we can get there.

Paul Hodes Pulls Even

A poll done by Anzalone Liszt Research for the Hodes campaign shows Bass at 43%, just one point ahead of Hodes' 42% - when people who are only leaning toward one candidate or the other are removed, Hodes and Bass are dead even at 40%.

At Swing State Project, DavidNYC highlights some key points, one in particular:

The absolutely amazing thing is that Bass has full name recognition - 94%. Hodes, meanwhile, is at just 27%. The only thing which can explain this is extreme voter dissastisfaction with incumbents and Republicans. Charlie Bass, of course, is both.

He also returns to the issue of sampling and partisan breakdown:

Turns out that registration in the 2nd CD is 30R-26D-44I - a four-point net GOP advantage. And these numbers are a couple of years old - if anything, I'd believe the GOP edge is a bit smaller now.

So remember that UNH poll we disected a while back? It had a partisan breakdown of 32R-23D-38I, a nine-point Republican edge. Clearly, that just doesn't reflect reality.

Anzalone Liszt's memo on the poll, available below Hodes' press release on it, notes that

Historically, this is a 50.3% Democratic performance district (John Kerry won here) and Republicans only have a four-point registration advantage over Democrats. The polling sample used in this survey also reflects a Republican registration advantage.

That and the other discussion of methodology in their memo suggest that this is a solid poll, one in which they did their best to find out the real lay of the land. As far as I can see, every single finding they came up with is positive for Hodes - in addition to the head-to-head matchup numbers, a majority of respondents said they wanted someone new elected, a majority gave negative job ratings to Congress and to Bush, a majority said the country is headed in the wrong direction, and confronted with a generic Democrat vs. Republican choice, they chose the Democrat by 50% to 29%. So this is definitely reason for us to celebrate, happy dance (or, as Yankee Doodler suggests, weeping with joy) and all.

Of course, we get this good news courtesy of a well-run, well-funded campaign. You can help them continue to be well-funded (that they may have the resources to continue to be well-run) by contributing to the campaign. And, as a reminder, tomorrow is the filing deadline, so it's especially good if you can give before then.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Because You Can Never Meet the Candidates Too Many Times

I can think of nothing better to do with a Tuesday evening than go to a meet the candidates event, can you?

According to the Hodes website

Join Democrats from Orford, Rumney, Ellsworth, Worth, Campton, Holderness and Plymouth for a Meet the Candidates event.

Short presentations will be made by Democratic candidates including Paul. Possible other presentations made by John Lynch, Deborah Reynolds, Jim Aguiar, Carol Friedrich, George Morris, Bill Sharp and Martha Richards.

The event will be held at the Russel Elementary School on School Street in Rumney from 7-8:30pm Tuesday August 22nd.


Although Hanover to Rumney is a “you can’t get there from here” deal, I believe I shall go. (I’ll be the one who’s neither a dominatrix nor a fluttery girly-girl, just to narrow it down.)

Oh, and lest you forget, Wednesday is the campaign's filing deadline, so see if you can't give them a little by then.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Tell Me Again How the Media is Liberal?

I'm out of town for a couple days (and in a hotter, moister part of the country - blech) so I couldn't make it to any of the many political events this weekend. But it sounds like it was quite a weekend. NH-02 Progressive is enthusiastic about Paul Hodes' performance at the event with Mark Warner - sounds like Keener's falling in love with Hodes in much the same way I am.

But that event dueled with a similar Republican event, and news coverage is instructive. The Union Leader, of course, offers a primer on how to slant your coverage to the right. It's not a surprise that they'd do so, but it's worth looking at how, and at how that contrasts with coverage from the Concord Monitor.

Keener estimated the crowd at the Democratic event at 200+; the Monitor at "several hundred." The Union Leader's estimate? "About 100 people." Even by downplaying Democratic attendance, though, they couldn't erase a significant size difference - they estimated attendance at the Republican event at "about 40 GOP faithful." I guess that, lacking quantity, they decided to give the appearance of quality - people at a Democratic event are...people, who have congregated in a place for some reason, we're not sure just what; people at a Republican event are faithful. (The Monitor gives a similar estimated attendance: "dozens.")

The Union Leader's coverage of the Democrats focuses most on former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, to the exclusion of Paul Hodes and Governor Lynch, neither of whom are mentioned until the story's final two paragraphs. This provides the illusion of balance - "look, we focused on Democrats as much as on Republicans!" - without deigning to give more than a sentence of coverage to anyone who's actually, you know, running for office this year.

Charlie Bass, meanwhile, gets to speak for himself:

"We as Republicans have a lot to celebrate with 13 or 14 straight quarters of economic growth, low unemployment and an economy that is going well," Bass said.

He noted there have not been any terrorists attacks since Sept. 11. "That is real leadership," Bass noted. "Democracy is not a natural thing. We have to nurture and maintain it."

(Ok, quick break from media critique here. That's the best he can do? "Sure, 9/11 happened on our watch but nothing just exactly like that has happened since. Iraq? Something's happening in Iraq? Well, it's not terrorism, so it doesn't matter how many people die because we just said we were stopping terrorism." And "We have to nurture and maintain [democracy]"??? How exactly are you doing that, Charlie? Wiretapping? Gitmo? Abu Ghraib? The Plame leak? I hope nobody's thinking of putting you in charge of nurturing any puppies, because nobody likes to see a starved puppy. And let's not even get started on the economy.)

The Monitor, by contrast, treats the better-attended event as genuine news and gives Hodes a spot at the table:

Hodes started his speech jovially, asking his wife, Peggo, to help the guests sing "Happy Birthday" to former President Bill Clinton, who turned 60 yesterday. Then he grew serious, criticizing Bass's support for President Bush, whom Hodes called an "emperor" and "imperial." He called for developing frugal ways to provide better social services and withdrawing from Iraq.

"We've got to get our people out of that civil war now," he said.

Democrats, he said, must do a better job of challenging Bush.

"A spine is a terrible thing to waste," he said. "And I'm bringing my backbone with me."

Yet, and this is the crucial thing, they don't blow Bass off. I see no reason to give any more coverage to his BS claims just now, but the Monitor does what the Union Leader barely even pretends to: It actually covers both events, both candidates, both speeches. And they could, you know? They could say "well, there were well over twice as many people at the Democratic event; it's clear that one is a bigger story than the other."

Just a little note on the "liberal media."

One-Month Anniversary

It's now been a month since I noticed that Charlie Bass's website was "coming soon."

It still is.

I'm just wondering - when election day is like 3 1/2 months away, do you really get to define one of those months as an amount of time insignificant enough to count as "soon"?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Vote for Paul Hodes Now

You can't vote for Paul Hodes in New Hampshire until November 7, but right now the DCCC has up a "Candidate for Change" vote. Hodes is not one of the candidates named, but there is a write-in option, and I'd encourage you to go vote by August 23.

Coincidentally, August 23 is also the pre-primary FEC filing deadline in NH, so now is a good time to contribute. You can do so through our new Blue Hampshire ActBlue page.

Court Rules GOP Ballot Primacy Unconstitutional

Well, this could be interesting.

The Concord Monitor:
The state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the organization of the state's election ballots violates the New Hampshire Constitution. In a unanimous decision, the judges struck down a law that rewards the winning party in one election by listing the party's candidates first on the next ballot - a provision that has kept the Republicans atop the ticket for 40 years.
The new form the ballots will take is to be decided by superior court.

Responses to this decision vary from downplaying its significance (that would be Republicans, as spoken for by Wayne Semprini, state party chair), to freaking out (Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who will have to implement the new system once it's decided on), to, well...
"Oh, glory hallelujah," said state Sen. Peter Burling, a Cornish Democrat and former House minority leader. "We finally have justice; we finally have fairness."
It's not at all clear what this means for 2006. Not only have new rules not been established, but despite downplaying the effect a change will have in the long run, the Nashua Telegraph reports that some Republicans are arguing it shouldn't be implemented until 2007:

Senate President Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, predicted the ruling would cause major voter confusion and should not be applied to the 2006 election. Putting it off would give lawmakers time during the 2007 session to create a ballot that complies with the ruling, Gatsas said.

“Turmoil for the primary and general election ballot will result otherwise,” Gatsas said. “I predict it’s going to take a massive bunch of money to do this the way the court wants it.”
However, no one else was quoted arguing for this and it does appear likely that something will be changed by November's elections, if not by the primaries in three and a half weeks.

So why and how could this be significant? Well, it turns out that being at the top of the ballot produces a "primacy effect," meaning it can garner some extra votes, as a political scientist from Stanford University hired by the Democrats found and as even the state admits:

The state did not contest that effect. Secretary of State Bill Gardner has said that the candidates at the top of the ballot can gain as much as a 6-to-10-point edge in certain races, such as House campaigns with a dozen candidates.

Instead, the state argued that placing the winning party first -and listing candidates in alphabetical order - was a practical way to produce a logical and easily understood ballot. In essence, the state contended that the system might not have been perfect, but it wasn't unconstitutional.

That's genius. No, it's not fair, yes, it could perpetuate essential one-party rule, but hey, it's easy for us to implement. And Bill Gardner is going on about the difficulties of implementing a new system as if it's the end of the world, as if no one ever before had to make a ballot that didn't always have the exact same party on top. (In fact, some are making such a big fuss over the implementation difficulties that the Keene Sentinel, running the article that the Nashua Telegraph titled "GOP's top ballot spot ruled unfair," retitled it "Ballot ruling may cost N.H. taxpayers." Yes, that's exactly the biggest news associated with this decision.)

This is very much a developing situation. It looks as though something will be changed for 2006 - but what, and what kind of effect it could have, remains in question. Should be interesting, could be good.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Policy and Politics

I think that The Yankee Doodler is right that, beyond the point we all noted yesterday - Rahm Emanuel did a press conference and a fundraiser with Paul Hodes - today's story is in Charlie Bass's response.

Charlie likes to act so, so above it all, resignedly accepting the dirty, dirty fact of his opponents bringing up nasty political issues. In the Nashua Telegraph, he talks about "the difference between policy and politics" and says

“I’m going to run for re-election the way I have the previous six terms. I’m going to run a positive campaign and I’ll work harder than anyone else,’’ Bass said.

“I’ll win re-election the old fashioned way.’’

This sounds familiar. It sounds, in fact, like his derisive dismissal of issues Katrina Swett raised in 2002 as "silly season issues." And yet, color me confused, because our Charlie hasn't proven immune to "silly season issues" raised by his own party.

Let's review. How many times in the space of a month did Charlie vote against raising the minimum wage?

Seven.

When he finally did vote to raise the minimum wage, what else was he voting for?

Tax breaks for the wealthy.

Preempting state laws for tipped workers, thereby cutting wages for waiters and others in several states.

And was this bill a matter of politics, done with the November elections in mind?

Yes.

Or, regardless of season, let's think about the fact that this is the guy who showed up in the middle of the night to strip courts of their jurisdiction and Michael Schiavo of his right to allow his wife to die in peace. That was policy not politics?

For that matter, what about the press conference Bass held yesterday
to announce that all satellite-dish owners in New Hampshire can receive WMUR, the state's only network-affiliated television station.
I'm sure that'll be great for the population of people affected by his measure, that being people with satellite tv in the North Country, but as Yankee Doodler observes

It boils down to this: While Hodes wants to help you get an education, Bass gets you more TV. Bread and circuses, anyone?
(And never mind that even on the subject of tv, while Bass giveth with one hand, he taketh away with the other.)

Charlie Bass's game is to pretend to be above politics, above partisanship, while he sneaks in in the middle of the night to vote to interfere in people's personal lives. Paul Hodes, on the other hand, may be doing politics (and I'd hope so, given that this is a political campaign), but he can do so openly, without shame or sneering about it, because he is doing an honorable politics.

Rahm Emanuel! and Paul Hodes!

I've just been so excited about Rahm Emanuel coming out and supporting Paul Hodes in some very public ways that I haven't been able to post on it. The Yankee Doodler has posted - and covered the substance of the college tax credit being proposed very well. Swing State Project has posted - and hat-tipped me while I sat here tongue-tied with pleasure.

Well, it's simple, really. Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the man in charge of winning the House of Representatives for the Democrats, did a fundraiser for Paul Hodes. Rahm Emanuel did a press conference with Paul Hodes, talking about the kind of bill we'd get from a Democratic Congress - one that would make it easier for middle-class families to afford to send their kids to college without crushing debt.

Rahm Emanuel knows a thing or two about Democratic candidates for Congress, and he believes in Paul Hodes. As do I. As should you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Hampshire's Second Resurfaces on Hotline House Rankings

After Paul Hodes was dropped from Chuck Todd's last House rankings, I pouted, folded my arms, drummed my fingers, thought disapproving thoughts.

My strategy apparently worked. That, or Hodes is running a great campaign and Bass is in trouble.

Currently, New Hampshire's second district is number 46. (And Hodes is joined in the top 50 by four other netroots candidates. You can give to Hodes and the rest of the netroots candidates at ActBlue.)

And that's just in time for a last push toward the August 23 pre-primary fundraising report deadline. If you're looking for a good political investment, Paul Hodes could be your guy. He'll make a wonderful member of Congress, the kind that his constituents and the country at large can be proud of.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Charles Bass's Sorry Record on Social Security

One of the things that Bush and members of the Republican leadership have made known will happen if they retain a majority after November is that they will again go after Social Security. For instance, Majority Leader John Boehner says "If I’m around in a leadership role come January, we’re going to get serious about this." Josh Marshall has been all over this - see here, here, and here for starters. This was not, you may recall, a winning strategy in 2005, with polling finding that 64% of Americans disapproved of Bush on Social Security in June of that year, but apparently they are eager for another go-around.

I've read various references to Charlie Bass being in favor of privatizing Social Security. But that can mean a variety of things. Some politicians will go along with Bush if that's what he wants. Some aren't sure what they think is right, or aren't willing to say so if they are sure. And then there are those who really, really believe in privatizing Social Security. Turns out, Bass is and has been a full-on, no flip-flopping privatizer for some time now.

He has consistently refused to sign the pledge to protect Social Security. In 2001, (PDF)

Bass joined more than 100 Members of Congress in writing a letter to President Bush's Social Security Commission strongly endorsing the Commission's work and urging privatization.

In the same year (and from the same PDF)

Bass voted for a federal budget that uses the Social Security Trust Fund for other purposes, including the Bush tax cut package that largely benefits the wealthiest.

In 2002, Bass said (PDF)

I am an advocate of the President's call for Social Security reform and will work with him in the next two years to save and protect this important program. I will also work to meet our shared goal of implementing these policies while practicing sound fiscal restraint and slowing the growth of government.

The Campaign for America's Future (yet another PDF) considers Bass to be a "privatization ideologue." Also according to the Campaign for America's Future (this time not a PDF) :

215,453 people from New Hampshire receive Social Security checks each month

152,109 receive retirement benefits

39,603 receive disability benefits

23,741 widows, widowers and children receive survivors benefits
(Social Security Administration)

71,000 New Hampshire seniors rely on Social Security for at least half of their total income today. (Economic Policy Institute)

35,000 New Hampshire seniors rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income today. (Economic Policy Institute)

63,000 New Hampshire seniors would live in poverty without Social Security benefits. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

More than $2,336,676,000 flowed into the New Hampshire economy from Social Security checks in 2004 - more than $194,723,000 per month. (Social Security Administration)

Typical New Hampshirites would see their Social Security benefits cut by $210,283 over their lifetime with the president's plan.

The average Social Security check for retired New Hampshirites is $944 per month. (Social Security Administration)

According to the Left Coaster, there are nearly 75,000 Social Security retirees in NH-02. Bass believes in taking away the safety net of his elderly constituents, and even more so the safety net for his younger constituents as they age. If there is a Republican Congress in 2007, we can expect to see him voting enthusiastically to dismantle Social Security, replacing it with mandatory private accounts that will be vulnerable to the fluctuations of the stock market. The stock market drops, elderly people are left with nothing. That's Charlie Bass policy for you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Go Read Yankee Doodler NOW!

The Yankee Doodler has a new post that's too important to miss.

A challenge: Read it, and then come talk to me about Charles Bass's commitment to the environment.

Read it, and come tell me about his commitment to the health and well-being of the people of New Hampshire.

Read it, and come talk to me about his independence.

Just read it.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Back Soon

I'm going to be out of town until Monday, which will of course produce a massive change from my otherwise-heavy posting this week.

In the mean time, The Yankee Doodler is back from vacation and NH-02 Progressive will continue to be on a normal schedule, whatever that means.

Any bets on whether Bass's website will return before I do?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Paul Hodes in Alstead

I'll be honest with you.

When I first looked at the candidates for House of Representatives in NH-02, I was most immediately struck by the falsehood of Charles Bass's claims to being a moderate. Votes with the Republicans 89% of the time? Not a moderate. End of story.

Paul Hodes is a Democrat. That was all I knew, and given his opponent, that was about good enough. Short of certain kinds of craziness, I was supporting him. When I saw the various Swing State Project posts on him, I thought "oh, good, it's actually a race." And I figured that if the guy was actually nuts, it wouldn't be a race anyway, or at least one of the SSP posts would have some kind of caveat about that. So I figured Hodes was reasonably solid, and I started doing a little research and I liked what I found.

Focused a little more on Bass's record and continued not to like what I found. But I understand why name recognition is a challenge for people like Paul Hodes, because I wanted to learn about him and it was difficult.

So I went and met him. And I was impressed, based on a very brief conversation. But this sunday I got a more complete view at a Meet the Candidates event put on by the Alstead Democrats. And now I'm more impressed.

I was a little late getting there and he was already speaking, so I missed however he began, and I was exhausted so my processing speed was poor, but he never hit an off note. He talked about how the US is faced with "great challenges and great opportunities," and needs a government that can do something other than "talking tough and acting dumb," how the technical and entrepreneurial skills exist to meet a whole range of problems but we lack the leadership to do it. He noted that it might take sacrifice and hard work to do so, but that can and must. Call me silly, but I like to hear the word "sacrifice" coming from a politician, rather than just sweeping promises with no recognition that there may be tradeoffs down the road.

The thing I like best in what he said is that he's so clearly committed to reaching out beyond the core of the Democratic party. It's not that he seems to want to participate in the current horse-trading notion of bipartisanship in which people cut cheap deals with each other to be able to brag that they can work with the other party; rather, he seems open to considering a range of opinions and consulting with a range of people. He said "As Democrats in New Hampshire, we must talk with independents and thoughtful Republicans." As he talked, it was clear how genuine a sentiment this was; it was also clear that he would be willing and able to talk to different wings of the Democratic party, as for instance when he called for universal healthcare but rather than laying out one plan as the only way to go, referred respectfully and knowledgeably to both a single-payer system and to other plans that might perhaps go over a little better in the current American political atmosphere.

In addition to what he said, though, there's something else that really, really impresses me about Paul Hodes. When I talked to him, he was incredibly nice. I've also now spoken, at least briefly, with maybe six of his staffers and with his wife, and they were also all incredibly nice. I don't like the kind of politics where you vote for the person you imagine you'd most like to have a beer with, but there's something to be said for nice. Nice is a cheesy word, one that doesn't say much necessarily, but in this case I think its simplicity and generality are appropriate, because I don't mean solely that they are good at being schmoozy and affable. I mean that I'm a judgmental bitch who dislikes plenty of people basically on sight, and even I think they're good people.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bass Following Bush's Example Yet Again

From a letter to the editor in Sunday's Nashua Telegraph:

I had to work nearly 20 years before I earned four weeks of vacation. It seems that two, four or even six weeks of vacation is not enough for Congressmen Charles Bass and Jeb Bradley, and Sens. John Sununu and Judd Gregg.

As an example, Charlie Bass has already taken seven weeks of vacation already in 2006. No wonder nothing gets done in Washington......

Wouldn't want to make Bush look bad by actually doing your job, I guess.

Actually, there's more substance to the letter, but anyway.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Paul Hodes on Homeland Security

Paul Hodes does a masterful job addressing homeland security in an AP article, to be found at the Boston Globe site. I say masterful because he hits the stuff one needs to say to questions like these--again and again the article presents him "agreeing" or "sharing concerns" with the Republicans in the race (incumbent Charles Bass and his primary opponent Berlin Mayor Bob Danderson)--and then he goes a solid step beyond.

For instance, Hodes and Bass both told the AP they were concerned about the strain imposed on the National Guard by overseas duty.

BUT
Hodes is more forceful than Bass in expressing that view.

"We should adhere to the Guard's traditional role as stewards of domestic security, not as a standard military option for deployment in extended wars like Iraq," he said. He blames some of the shortcomings in the nation's response to Hurricane Katrina on a shortage of specially trained Guard members due to deployments in Iraq.

Or, on the relationship between national security and civil liberties, it becomes clear that though Bass gives lip service to the importance of civil liberties, Hodes really means it:

But Hodes said he is uncomfortable about the administration's commitment to civil liberties.

"I find it disconcerting that President Bush talks about an unending war on terrorism. I do not advocate any permanent suspension of civil liberties," he said.

Hodes also continues to see the interconnections between seemingly unconnected issues. For instance, he is quoted saying that
The problem with homeland security grants is that President Bush and Congress have cut homeland security to pay for tax breaks for the super-rich.
That kind of understanding of the trade-offs involved in government funding, and willingness to speak to it clearly and directly, distinguish Hodes from the mush of a Bass too scared to participate in serious discussion of policies he won't know if he supports or opposes until he gets the word from his masters in the Republican leadership.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Breaking News

Charlie Bass's campaign website is still "coming soon!"

As it has been since at least July 20.

It just amuses me to keep track.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Poll Ungoodness.

At Swing State Project, DavidNYC looks at a new Granite State Poll, which is not as good for Hodes as their April poll was. In April, they put the race at Bass 42% - Hodes 35%. This time, they have it at Bass 53% - Hodes 25%. So what would account for a 10 point swing?

David suggests that it's much more about the poll, specifically the sample, than about the race:
The current sample has 10% more Republicans than the prior poll. While I'm aware that party ID among independents tends to shift with the political winds, there's been nothing to suggest that even so much as a gentle zephyr has been blowing in the GOP's direction in New Hampshire over the last twelve weeks. What's more, if Bush's favorability shows an increase comparable to Bass's, that would make him more popular in blue New Hampshire than in the nation as a whole - and more popular than he's been in the state since January.
I would add one or two other things supporting this critique. This poll puts Bass's favorable ratings higher than they've been since October 2003, and his net favorability hasn't been this high since July 2004. Where would that be coming from? I could see a rebound of a few points, but a 2 or nearly-3-year high, depending on the measure you look at? Not so much, especially given that he doesn't seem to be campaigning actively or be in other ways visible in the district. This poll also has the first district's Jeb Bradley at an all-time high net favorability. Given that polls of the rest of the northeast seem to be coming out distinctly negative for Republicans, I'm just not buying this result without an argument as to why New Hampshire would be so distinctive at this moment in time.

(A possibly interesting side point echoes the pattern cited by Keener and SSP: While Bass's favorables are lowest among people who have been NH residents for 5 years or less, in the head-to-head match-up, Hodes does best among people who have been in NH for 11-20 years. There's no significant difference in Hodes' numbers for the other three length of residency categories, but Bass's next-worst group is the 20+ years.)

Update: In comments at SSP, bosdcla14 notes
Also bizarre: All of Bass's new support in this poll came from former Hodes supporters. The number of undecideds stayed the same.