Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Busy Day in NH-02 - And a Good One for Hodes

It's hard to even know where to start today. First off, there's a new poll from Majority Watch (click on the NH dot to see details) that shows Hodes in the lead with 50% to Bass' 47%. This poll has a low margin of error at +/- 3.11%, and has 988 respondents - a large number obtainable because it was an automated poll. Opinions differ on automated polls, but they don't seem to be much worse than other public polling. The details of the poll look especially good for Hodes, with his support firmer than Bass' and Democratic voter motivation higher than Republican.

I'm still not 100% sold on polling in general, but seeing a Hodes lead on the poll with the largest sample and lowest margin of error I've seen yet is nice.

Second, let's talk about the fact that the Cook Report changed NH-02 from "lean Republican" to "toss up." This is huge. As he lays out informally but cogently in this comment thread at Daily Kos, Charlie Cook is a careful prognosticator, and one who
decided many years ago to have a policy that is almost iron-clad, not to put un-indicted incumbents worse than Toss Up.
So toss up is the most Hodes-favorable category possible without Charlie Bass getting indicted for something. (Thanks to Yankee Doodler for the catch.)

Third, not only has the DCCC come close to matching the NRCC's buy on WMUR, I hear they've gone into the Boston tv market. Still waiting for an FEC filing on that to be able to give details, but it sounds pretty good. Piggybacking on that, the SEIU has added $23k to their earlier radio ad buy in support of Hodes - I heard the ad, which is about healthcare, today and it sounded effective.

Finally, there's a new sign up in Concord at least. Placed strategically next to signs for Republican incumbent Charlie Bass (which say, simply "BASS"), it says "He voted for torture." Oh, and there's an arrow pointing to the Bass sign.

The sign says it's paid for by "People Against Torture." The only information I can find about a group by that name is here, but that focuses on Kenya, so I'm not sure it's the same group. Notice, though, that the sign could be put next to the sign of any incumbent who had voted for a number of measures effectively allowing torture. It's kind of brilliant, really. Has anyone else seen these elsewhere in this district, or in other districts applied to other candidates?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Paul Hodes and the Coming Ad Battle

NHPR has a story on the NRCC ad buy against Paul Hodes, noting also that today, the DCCC answered with a buy of around $300,000. NHPR previews the NRCC ad, which is pretty standard-issue fare: "Liberal Paul Hodes wants to raise taxes." Well, yes, for the very very wealthiest people - those making several hundred thousand dollars a year or more. Very few families would see their taxes go up, and he supports tax credits for things like college - things that ordinary working people, rather than the wealthiest, worry about.

But it's not just about taxes, it's about the sneering tone on the word "liberal." As it happens, Paul has a ready answer for that. Though his stump speech changes from event to event, he often quotes his hero, John F. Kennedy, from his September, 1960 speech accepting the nomination of the Liberal Party:
What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?" If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."
Paul, too, is proud of that name and those ideals. The NRCC would have us think that's shameful, but read that passage, consider what that kind of leadership would mean, and consider too what a change it would be from our current leadership. After that, the choice for Paul Hodes shouldn't be difficult.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Huge NRCC Ad Blitz Coming

The NRCC has made a $365,585 ad buy against Paul Hodes. Remember how last night I said things were going to get "not just negative but dirty"? This would represent an enormous increase in the amount of dirt, both because it's an enormous increase in the money devoted to dirt, and because frankly, I don't think Charlie Bass is as nice and clean a guy as he likes to market himself as being, but the NRCC is nastier than he is. That's what they do, and they're doing it here because they know they are on the path to losing this election.

So just remember to check what you hear, because it comes out of desperation and a lot of it is going to be anywhere from unfair to false. And start your checking here: Paul Hodes is a good man. He is a responsible, careful, knowledgeable political thinker who will do responsible, careful, knowledgeable legislation. He will represent the people of New Hampshire faithfully and well, and treat the role of member of Congress with the respect it deserves.

Bass Brings in Bigger Guns

According to the Union Leader, Bob Stevenson, the new spokesman that has just appeared for the Bass campaign (number three, after Scott Tranchemontagne and Lindsay Jackson)
has been through the political wars as a communications director for former New Hampshire Sen. Warren Rudman, Sen. Pete Domenici and most recently, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
His task?
To do opposition research and communicate the "contrast" between the two candidates.
In case you're wondering, that means "to go not just negative but dirty." So watch for it. The avalanche of dirt and slime is coming.

Meanwhile, the Union Leader gets in a howler when it claims
So far, this race has been all about Bass. He's focused on himself, stressing in campaign stops and television advertising that he is an independent voice.
Is that what he was doing in those two ads that featured Hodes more prominently than they did Bass? You really could've fooled me on that one.

Hodes and Bass Debate

I'm going to shock all of y'all and say that Paul Hodes won tonight's televised debate. (As Yankee Doodler says in his post on the debate, "Well, what did you think I would say?") But I do believe this to be whatever passes for objectively true, as measured by the number of times Charlie Bass seemed at a loss for words and the number of occasions on which he used a significant amount of his time to return to a previous question.

This flusteredness is put into context by the Evans-Novak Political Report, which says (passages both bolded and italicized are emphasized by me; plain bold appears in the original)
New Hampshire-2: Here's a surprise. No one expected Rep. Charlie Bass (R) to fall behind late in the game, but that's where he is. Bass appears to have been caught off his guard. He has been outraised by his repeat opponent, Paul Hodes, whom he defeated by 20 points in 2004. Republicans complain about Bass's lacksidaisical staffers and discuss the possible loss of his Northern New Hampshire seat. Bass's get-out-the-vote effort is extremely disorganized. He is also upsetting his base with ads that brought his pro-abortion stance into the race and that distance himself from the Republican Party.

It is unclear whether Bass can be saved in time. He just started a huge phone drive Tuesday to save his seat, and some Republicans remain hopeful that he can bounce back by November 7. Leaning Democratic Takeover.
Bass is running a sloppy effort, and that's being remarked on by his own partisans. Whether he's sloppy because he's been knocked off his game by Hodes' challenge, or whether he never had any game to begin with and is currently flustered because he never expected to get in trouble for that, his petulant, disorganized debate performance is clearly indicative of a broader or deeper phenomenon.

In other debate news, Yankee Doodler deserves a major hat tip for providing the material for Hodes' first question to Bass, on why Bass was so aggressive in demanding accountability for the successful military action in Kosovo, only to be a consistent yes-man for Bush's failed Iraq policy. It is simply amazing the impact a set of really very small blogs have had on this race. We all know, of course, that much of that impact wouldn't have happened without an interested, illicitly participatory Bass staff, but I think that the degree to which the Hodes campaign has been attentive and responsive, making judicious use of what we provide without playing to it overly much, has been somewhat underestimated. So huge credit to Yankee Doodler for the find, and credit also to the Hodes campaign for seeing it for what it was and using it to effect.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bass on Social Security, Review with Hodes Counterpoint

Back in August, I posted on Charles Bass' record with regard to Social Security. Short version: He's a long-time advocate of privatization. And that is still a relevant issue, with President Bush once again affirming his intention to phase out Social Security. If Charlie Bass is in Congress in the new year, he will be another vote in support of Bush and against Social Security.

Charlie Bass is, after all, someone who has signed onto letters urging privatization, someone who has voted to use Social Security money for other purposes, including tax cuts for the wealthy, someone who has sworn to work with and for George W. Bush in "reforming" (which is to say, privatizing) Social Security. This is not someone who believes in the idea of a safety net for America's elderly. Then again, this is not someone who needs a safety net: He's a multimillionaire, and apparently not one of the ones who is enough in touch with ordinary, working people to understand - or care - about the necessity of having income that doesn't evaporate if the stock market drops.

In addition to my post on Bass and social security, look at Yankee Doodler's follow-up.

Meanwhile, Paul Hodes today swore never to support privatization.

“Our seniors deserve better treatment than cuts to their guaranteed benefits and huge gaps in drug coverage,” Hodes said. “I will never support privatizing Social Security, and when I get to Congress I’ll make fixing Medicare Part D a top priority. It’s unbelievable that our Congress, and our Congressman, agreed to a bill that gives the drug companies everything they want while seniors get only partial coverage and financial headaches. It’s time we had a Congressman who will stand up to the drug lobby and put our seniors first.”

Bass Gets C+ on Veterans' Issues

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), a non-partisan group, has produced a scorecard on legislation affecting veterans.
To calculate the Ratings, IAVA reviewed all legislation voted on in the Congress since September 11, 2001. For each piece of legislation that affected troops, veterans or military families, IAVA took a position either in support of, or in opposition to its passage. The letter grades were derived, using the scales below, from the percentage of times that each legislator's vote matched the official IAVA stance.
The result? Charlie Bass, like many in his party, may talk a good game about supporting veterans, but when it comes to the actual legislation, he doesn't do such a good job, receiving a C+.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Concord Monitor Endorses Paul Hodes

The Monitor, in an endorsement focusing on the Iraq war, indicts Bass' unwillingness or inability to question the course of the war:
Indeed it doesn't matter today that Charlie Bass voted to authorize the war in Iraq, or even that he remained initially optimistic about the potential for a desirable outcome. What matters is that 3½ years after the U.S. invasion, at a time when even some of the most hawkish proponents of remaking Iraq see that events have spun out of control, Bass remains a bystander in the corridors of power.
The endorsement concludes that

Of course, Hodes cannot single-handedly change U.S. foreign policy; only the president can do that. But Hodes would bring to Washington much-needed skepticism: a quality that's been lacking from the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. A similar eagerness to ask questions will be vital when the next Congress examines the administration's tax policies and education policy, particularly the No Child Left Behind law.

Because of its mix of liberal and conservative residents, the 2nd District is not an easy one to represent. If rewarded with the voters' trust, Hodes had better make sure his skepticism extends to both parties' agendas. It's a balancing act that in years past Bass managed to pull off.

Unfortunately, when it came to Iraq, he lost his balance. Hodes deserves the chance to try to do better.

I would, of course, argue that these points are applicable to many more issues than just Iraq - as the single sentence mentioning taxes and education hints at - but the Monitor's editors clearly have come to understand, at least partially, the degree to which Bass has failed in his jobs of oversight, of questioning, of actively seeking the best policies for this country. Paul Hodes says that the job of Congressman requires being "tough and smart and fearless." Charles Bass has abdicated all of those responsibilities, and it is time that this district is represented by someone who understands and is committed to them.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Nashua Rally with John Kerry Cancelled

From the Hodes campaign:
Out of respect for the family and colleagues of Officer Briggs, and for his service to the State of New Hampshire, the rally and canvass originally scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 11:00 AM with Sen. John Kerry and Paul Hodes has been cancelled.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hodes Campaign Mailer Makes a Splash

(Re: The title - I'm really sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Anyway, this mail piece from the Hodes campaign has not struck the fancy of New Hampshire newspapers. Mike Pride at the Monitor says it was a mistake, that it will detract from the perceived seriousness of Hodes' campaign, that it looks like a cheap shot. John DiStaso in the Union Leader cites Pride's dislike of the piece as evidence that it must have "backfired."

But on what evidence do they judge the piece? By what standard of success? So far, all we've got is that Mike Pride doesn't like it and John DiStaso thinks that's evidence of something.

Anything we can say about the effectiveness of this piece will be anecdotal or speculative: I know someone who liked it - you know someone who was offended. Research suggests X about the general effectiveness of direct mail, but we can only guess about this piece.

So, where is the evidence? A piece like this won't have the direct measurability of a fundraising mailing, where you can track how much money comes in as a result. But presumably the company that put it together is one that has learned the lessons available from such fundraising direct mail. (Contrary to Pride's imagining of "the campaign people putting this ad together. They probably chortled to themselves about their cleverness," I believe this piece was in fact done by direct mail professionals.)

Pride feels that Hodes needs to appear serious - but polls suggest that Hodes is in need of greater name recognition, and a memorable mail piece might help with that.

How can a piece be memorable? The Altosa Group, a research and marketing firm, says (PDF)
Be visual.
Two-thirds of newspaper readers only look at pictures and headlines. A message buried in the text won't get read! Pictures and headlines must carry your entire message. Let the text support that message.
This piece is highly visual - indeed, that seems to be a large part of Pride's problem with it. But perhaps its visual nature can help it cut through the American consumer's well-developed ability to ignore information - especially advertising. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes that the "stickiness factor" is necessary for successful advertising:
Reaching the consumer with the message is not the hard part of direct marketing. What is difficult is getting consumers to stop, read the advertisement, remember it, and then act on it. (Page 93)
This means that maybe the point is not that Mike Pride fears that this mailer was a bad move for Hodes. Maybe the point is that he looked at it, and decided to write about it. That in itself is a measure of effectiveness. NH-02 Progressive has another measure of effectiveness: His own brother. You really have to read the whole post, which is excellent, but in brief
My brother would have got to the polls because he hated Bush, and because I would have hounded him for two years if he didn't. But he wasn't sure about this Hodes guy. Too stuffy, he thought. Maybe a little full of himself.

I told him I met Hodes a couple of times, and that was not how he was at all in person. But he pointed to the TV ads. Stiff, he said. I'll vote for him, but he's stiff.

Well, now my brother has discovered that he has something in common with Hodes: a sense of humor. Despite the draining years Bush and Bass have put us through, we can still laugh.
As I said above, the effectiveness of this particular piece at getting votes is an open question. But it sure has gotten attention, and, as Gladwell notes, in advertising, that is one of the most difficult tasks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Rally and Canvass This Saturday with John Kerry


Where: Nashua City Hall (229 Main Street)
When: 11:00, Saturday October 21
Contact: Patrick (phone 603 223 2006)

Clearly everyone should be there.

Will Bass Get Bailed Out?

As I noted on Sunday, and GraniteProf elaborated on somewhat on Monday, the last several polls released have Charlie Bass below 50%, which is considered the danger line for an incumbent.

You might expect the national party to come to his aid, bail him out by attacking Paul Hodes. And it wouldn't be surprising if they do - after all, given the way New Hampshire has been trending Democratic over the past 10-15 years, once the Republicans lose this seat, it's not too likely they'll get it back for a good long time. So it would be in their interest to try to save the seat if they possibly can, rather than focusing on ones they'll be able to get back given a slightly more Republican-friendly national environment in 2 or 4 years.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has been spending a lot of money trying to help a lot of different Republican incumbents (warning: link takes a long time to load). For instance, Swing State Project reports today that the NRCC is putting $400,000 into Idaho's first district, which in 2004 went 70% for Bush. This is part of a pattern in which Republicans are playing defense in districts that shouldn't be remotely competitive, rather than the ones that, six months ago, you would have expected them to have to work to defend, never mind the pick-up opportunities you'd have figured they'd have.

So what does it mean when the NRCC doesn't spend in a district like NH-02, which should be competitive? Despite spending $21,000 to survey the second district back on August 21, the NRCC has not yet spent any money on advertising or mailing to help bail Bass out. They may yet - and if they do, it'll get dirty in a hurry - but so far, nothing. Maybe they didn't like what that survey told them. Have they given up on winning this one? We won't know until about November 6, but right now it seems like a significant possibility.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who is Paying Lindsay Jackson's Salary?

Those who have been following the Congressional race between Paul Hodes and Charles Bass will by now be familiar with Bass' campaign spokeswoman, Lindsay Jackson. She's regularly on WMUR and in New Hampshire papers speaking for the campaign.

For the campaign.

So it's an interesting thing that Ms. Jackson, whose regular job is as Bass' press secretary in his Congressional office in Washington, DC, is apparently not being paid by the campaign. The latest FEC filings show her receiving two disbursements from the campaign: One on 9/15 in the amount of $852.08 for airfare/car rental/gas, and one on 9/29 in the amount of $119.80 for gas/parking/photo development. But there is no salary listed for her in the campaign filing, although she is clearly working hard for Bass, spinning away.

This lack of salary for someone whose role has shifted from DC office to campaign staff is particularly interesting in light of a Mother Jones story detailing how NH-01's Jeb Bradley apparently kept his chief of staff on full, or nearly full, pay from his House office while she ran his 2004 campaign. Add this behavior from New Hampshire's other Congressman to the fact that we know that someone in Bass' House office was engaging in campaign activities when he shouldn't have been and, well, you have to wonder. I'm not accusing Bass of having his House press secretary working on his campaign while on the government payroll, I'm just saying that, based on appearances, this arrangement is open to question and I'm curious to hear more about it.

Is Lindsay Jackson continuing to collect a government paycheck? If so, is it her usual full pay, or a reduction? If a reduction, how much? Why is the campaign not paying her when she is clearly doing campaign work?

I think we as taxpayers and voters deserve an explanation.

Bass the Backbencher

The last appearance Tad Furtado, aka IndyNH, made here at Blue Granite was not to respond to polling numbers. It was to respond to a post arguing that Charlie Bass is not a leader in Washington. I pointed to the fact that Bass does not chair any subcommittees, while others who have served the same number of terms or even fewer do hold subcommittee chairs. IndyTad replied with an essay-length comment beginning
People are going to read this blog from me and think that I am a Bass supporter, but I am really not.
He went on to spend over 350 words laying out the exact line of Bass' first tv ad of this campaign - Bass is just too principled for things like that. You think maybe I struck a nerve?

Over at NH-02 Progressive, Keener has a post about his recent conversation with Bass' 1996 opponent Arnie Arnesen, in which she makes a point similar to the one I made about Bass' lack of leadership. Keener's "rough approximation" of Arnesen's characterization of Bass is
Back-bencher, Charlie the back bencher? Let me tell you something. There aren't enough benches for Charlie to hide under. First sign of trouble and that wimp curls up like a baby and hides under his chair...he never take risks without permission from leadership; he calls it courage, I call it calculating and disingenuous.


Sadly, this guy is so two-faced even the REPUBLICANS don't trust him -- tolerate is as far as the emotion goes.
This view of Bass is echoed, albeit slightly more diplomatically, in a Valley News report of Bass' "Sandernistas" comment:
Sanders' campaign spokesman, Jeff Weaver, yesterday said Bass may have been “upset” by losing a recent skirmish with Sanders over a wilderness bill and said of the New Hampshire Republican, “the truth is he's kind of a backbencher down in Washington who doesn't get a lot of attention or play a leadership role.”
That's who he is. That's who's representing this district. A backbencher who gets petulant and insulting when he loses a skirmish, and insults not just the person he lost to but all of his supporters, working people, and the people of an entire borough of New York City. Does it make you proud? Contrast when Paul Hodes was asked the other night in Hanover what difference he could make as a freshman Congressman. He said
I'm not a shy person - I'll speak up. I will be tough and smart and fearless in relation to my party and anyone else.

What the Heck are They Building?

I'm looking at the Bass campaign's most recent FEC filing and the campaign seems to be buying an inordinate amount of lumber. Between August 24 and September 30, there are four disbursements for lumber. It's unclear how much money was actually spent on it, because the lumber charges are lumped in with mileage and hardware, but those four charges in which lumber is included come to $1587.06.

So what are they building? My thinking is, it's probably a boat for Charlie to sail away in after he loses. Rather than sails, it will be drawn by balloons filled with $200 worth of helium.

That said, I'm on the lookout for any suspiciously hollow-sounding wooden horses.

Charlie Bass Re-Mix

Keener has done a nice little re-mix of some of the high points of Charles Bass' fabulous YouTube moment.

Taxi drivers, Mark Foley, Iraq, the economy, all there, plus a zippy soundtrack and a few explanatory titles.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bass Makes Stuff Up, part I(a)

On Thursday, I noted the ridiculousness of Charlie Bass' YouTubed claim that
If the Dems had control of the budget of this country, they’d raise it by a trillion dollars in two years!
Sunday's Valley News has an editorial making much the same point, and doing so in such a frankly caustic way that I feel a little shamed - I've clearly been being much too nice.

Noting that Bass didn't have "the courage to stand by his slurs," the editorial asks
And what about the predictions from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that the decline in the size of the deficit is temporary -- that it will begin growing again next year, and that the national debt will expand by about $1.8 trillion over the next decade? A fair amount, but not all, of that borrowed money has been sucked up by the ill-advised war in Iraq and the ineffectual rebuilding effort along the Gulf Coast. A significant amount of the gap between spending and revenue also can be attributed to the Bush administration's tax cuts, which flowed overwhelmingly to those who least needed the help. Bass, perhaps to erase any doubts that he can be counted on to be a loyal supporter of this fiscal folly, also warned that Democratic victories would mean reversing the tax cuts.
Wow. That sure puts the "Republicans are the party of fiscal restraint; Democrats will bankrupt the country" line into context, doesn't it? But that's the line Bass was enthusiastically trying to sell on that video. Maybe it's what he believes. Maybe he knows better but also knows that it's in his self-interest to pretend - not just because he's a Republican in Congress and that's one of the claims on which Republicans campaign, but because he's actually the 81st richest person in Congress, with a personal net worth of well over $2 million. But we can't know what he believes, because what he says varies so radically according to who he's talking to.

In fact, the Valley News ran an editorial back on June 4 that concluded exactly this. The editorial is no longer online, but I excerpted it in a diary at Daily Kos:
Over the years, Bass has taken enough contradictory positions to give virtually everyone a reason to both like and dislike him. It's hard to pin a label on someone who won't stand still. Maybe the more persuasive case to make against his continued service in the 2nd District is not that he's this or that but rather that he's whatever is politically expedient at the moment.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Two Independent Polls - One Up, One Down

The Nashua Telegraph mentions two polls of NH-02. In one by the Becker Institute, Paul Hodes is up by 9, 48%-39%. In one by the American Research Group, Bass is up by 6, 48%-42%.

It's hard to know what to make of all these different numbers, especially without access to any of the internals. A few limited conclusions can be drawn.

It's great to see an independent poll showing Hodes in the lead, if only because no matter how carefully done and how much in the candidate's interest it is to have internal polls be as accurate as possible, any internal poll will always be reported with caveats, hower undeserved. So, for the doubters of the Hodes poll and the DCCC poll that showed the race within a point and tied, respectively, here you go.

According to the Telegraph's report on the Becker Institute poll
“This is by far the worst image recorded for Charlie Bass through 12 Becker Institute readings over the past seven years,’’ the poll summary said.
Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of their methodology, if it is at least consistent, that's a telling finding.

I do think it's significant that no poll in the past month, and only one since July, has shown Bass over 50%. That's been one of the few consistent things in recent polls, and being under 50% is a major sign of weakness in an incumbent, particularly one in a district trending away from his party.

My take on the big picture of all these polls - from the Hodes poll to the UNH poll to this Becker Institute poll - aggregated is that the race is close, and the momentum is with Hodes, who needs to continue to work as hard as he has been doing on name recognition, because these numbers are coming after a relatively short time of television advertising, and as some people are only starting to pay attention to the race.

In other words:

We have to keep fighting. All of us. Not just Paul. Not just the people paid to work for him. All of us, every Democrat or fed-up Independent or fed-up Republican in the district.

But, looking good.

Friday, October 13, 2006

So I'm on the Phone with John Kerry, and...

Ok, that's really my whole story, that and the fact that as a result I'm sitting here thinking "my life is so weird." I mean, I'm not such a crack interviewer that anything very unusual was said, but the point is, John Kerry's people are reaching out to New Hampshire bloggers, even those of us who never planned to be bloggers, and he called me this morning and we talked for a while.

He'll be speaking at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Manchester this evening; he said that at that speech he would continue his focus of several years on "the sequence of lies and deceptions of this administration with respect to Iraq, and the disaster that Iraq is today." He also mentioned the administration's "irresponsibility with regard to North Korea and Iran," identifying all of this as "Setting us back in war on terror and relationships with other countries" and "blocking our ability to move forward in critical areas like global warming."

I asked specifically for his take on the New Hampshire congressional races, and he echoed some of the things he said in today's excellent Monitor story on his support for Paul Hodes (the story is mislabeled as being about the first district). Specifically, he told me that

Charlie Bass and Jeb Bradley have helped to rubber-stamp these policies [mentioned above] - they have not done their job of acting as independent voices. The New Hampshire ethic has been broken by both as they've walked in lockstep with Bush.

In contrast, he said,

Both Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter offer independent voices to move the country in the right direction. New Hampshire should embrace them boldly and strongly.

He mentioned a number of other New Hampshire candidates he has supported in various ways, including Molly Kelly, Sylvia Larsen, Betsi DeVries, Iris Estabrook, and Elizabeth Roth (all strong state senate candidates - we have Molly Kelly on our Blue Hampshire ActBlue page, but all are worthy), in addition to his support of the state party.

Kerry particularly emphasized the need to focus on and fight for next month’s elections, saying

November 7 is all about that and we’ve got to get people geared up to stand up and fight. You can’t sit in a coffee shop and complain and you can’t go out for a foliage walk without standing up for New Hampshire and fighting for it.

He concluded that

If New Hampshire fights as hard as in 2004, we can win seats, and that’s what’s important. New Hampshire has proven we can do it.

And he’s right. We need to be out, working hard for this election. Don’t sit and wait for the campaign staff to do the work – go out and do it yourself, as much as you can. This should be an effort of every Democrat in the state, because it will be to the benefit of the whole state and the whole country.

Bass "Nobody Would Have Been [Offended], But..."

Technology has taken Charlie Bass by surprise once again. After years of dirty, anti-semitic campaigning when he thought nobody was paying attention who would call him to account, as detailed by his 1996 opponent Arnie Arnesen in a 1999 Globe story excerpted at NH-02 Progressive:
Smith was shocked. Didn't I know the story out there was that I was Jewish? Smith bubbled on: "Why didn't you tell people . . . it would have made a difference in your campaign." Out of the mouths of conservative babes.

Sure I had known. Charles Bass kept telling radio interviewers all through the congressional campaign that I wasn't like him, a native of New Hampshire. He had continually stressed the fact that I was from New York and had "New York values." We all knew that "New York values" was code for "Jew."
Well, this time around Charlie's little anti-semitism habit is on view for all of us to see, not just the people it's going to help him with (whoever they are). Because let's face it, that's what his Bronx-taxi-driver remarks about Bernie Sanders and his supporters were: veiled anti-semitism, coming from someone who we know to have previously campaigned against Arnesen, a Methodist, by implying or outright saying that she was a Jew. This was not an innocent remark.

So what does Charlie Bass have to say about it now that nearly 1200 people have gone to YouTube and watched his little display?

According to the Valley News
Said Bass: “I meant in no way to offend anybody under any circumstances, and nobody would have been, but some fellow snuck into the party with a video camera meaning to do anything he possibly could to create an issue.”
That's right. The Honorable Charles Foster Bass' position when he's caught out being insulting and anti-semitic is to blame the person with the camera, to say that what he said was ok as long as he was only using it to incite hatred in people who agreed with him rather than to insult people to their faces. By this standard, Senator George Allen's "macaca" remark was only offensive because the person he was describing was in the room.

This explanation from Bass shows yet again how deeply dishonest his public nice-guy-moderate persona is. This is a man who has no problem insulting a fellow Congressman (soon to be Senator) and all of the voters who have returned him to Congress election after election on ethnic and class lines - as long as he doesn't think he's going to be caught. But we have it on video to see now, so next time someone tells you what a nice guy he is, let them watch the first minute or two of that video, and then ask again about how nice he really is.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Charlie Bass Makes Stuff Up, part I

Let's refresh our memories. Charles Foster Bass was caught on video, which was subsequently YouTubed, saying that

"It’s going to be nice not to have Hugo Chavez across the Connecticut River representing Vermont at-large. Bernie Sanders and his Sander-nistas should go back to taxi-driving in the Bronx of New York City, where they came from to begin with."

The Hill has covered these comments, and Bass tries to play them off as joking. Nice jokes there.

Moments later, he sneeringly downplayed the Mark Foley scandal, focusing on Foley's individual actions and brushing off the longstanding Republican cover-up of those actions in a brief phrase.

Throughout this, his tone is the key. Charlie the moderate Bass is a sneering, hectoring, mud-flinging Republican.

And, like a Republican, he makes stuff up. For instance,

If the Dems had control of the budget of this country, they’d raise it by a trillion dollars in two years!

Oh, really?

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, noted in 2003 that

The Bush administration's newly released budget projections reveal an anticipated budget deficit of $450 billion for the current fiscal year, up another $151 billion since February. Supporters and critics of the administration are tripping over themselves to blame the deficit on tax cuts, the war, and a slow economy. But the fact is we have mounting deficits because George W. Bush is the most gratuitous big spender to occupy the White House since Jimmy Carter. One could say that he has become the "Mother of All Big Spenders."

Meanwhile, Media Matters for America says

In fact, Clinton's presidency was marked by a gradual reduction in budget deficits leading to four years of large surpluses, while Bush's presidency has seen record budget deficits.

This is cleanly illustrated in this table.

So, tell us again about that extra trillion dollars in the next two years if the Democrats are in control? Tell us about how Republicans are more fiscally responsible, Charlie.

Only he can’t. He said it where he thought he wouldn’t get caught. And now he’ll try to brazen his way out of it, if the media takes it job seriously enough to even question him on that and other distortions, manipulations, and lies he tells in this 8 minute 51 second clip.

Drinking Liberally(s)

I won't be able to make it to Hanover Drinking Liberally tonight, but as always it's at Murphy's at 7:00.

Meanwhile, tomorrow night is a special Keene Drinking Liberally. In addition to not being the first Friday of the month, the location will be changed. It will be held at Tony Clamato's (the address for which appears to be 15 Court Street) at 7:00. The hope is that the acoustics will be more conducive to conversation, and GOTV will be one focus of said conversation, although I'm sure that as usual it will be wide-ranging and, if I'm involved, occasionally clothing-focused.

I'll be there for sure, although I am a little grief-stricken over the loss of the chocolate martinis at 21, where Keene DL has been held to this point (they have a Hershey Kiss at the bottom!). The good company will just have to make up for that.

Although 21 also has really good steak fries, so I'll have to think of something else to make up for their loss. Oh, right! It's not just, like, a couple hours of good company, it's the matter of good company and fun that builds the Democratic party in New Hampshire and promotes great candidates like Paul Hodes and Molly Kelly.

Paul Hodes in Action

On Tuesday night I went to "All for Paul," an evening of performances at the New London Inn. For me, the highlight was hearing Peggo Hodes sing Gershwin's "The Man I Love" with newly-written, race-specific lyrics. I hadn't gotten to hear her sing before and she has a lovely voice. As well, I can guarantee you that if there is not already some sort of award for "most adorable couple in Congress," there will be soon after Paul's election, because they verge on ridiculous, so adorable are they.

I also got to hear Paul speak for the first time in a month or so, and while I've always been impressed with the content of his positions, I was really blown away by how comfortable he has become, the degree to which he is loose and free-flowing and thoughtful while remaining organized and well-paced. He is so warm and personable, and that now comes through fully as he speaks.

The video quality isn't fabulous, but you can see something of those traits on this video of him speaking recently in Milford, New Hampshire.

New Paul Hodes Ad

Paul Hodes' second TV ad is up and running.

You can watch it on YouTube.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Charlie Bass on YouTube

Keener has already posted on this at NH-02 Progressive, but it's worth spreading as widely as possible. In short, Charles Bass? Not so much going with the "moderate" line he tries to follow before a general audience.

Responses to this vary from "wow" to "you have to see this, now."

Monday, October 09, 2006

Moi, Predictable?

The Valley News has an editorial linking Bass' and Martha Rainville's little staff ethics problems of late. (Rainville, the Republican House candidate in Vermont, lost a staffer to plagiarism of the issues statements of other politicians - notably Democratic ones.) Of Bass' Furtado, it says

Furtado's actions were wrong primarily because they were dishonest, but also because he used a government computer in Bass' office to promote his boss' candidacy. Democratic partisans predictably said that Furtado’s misbehavior reflected poorly on Bass himself -- that it revealed an atmosphere of ethical permissiveness or anxiety about Bass' prospects.

That's what they're supposed to say. For most people, though, the real question raised by this incident is: What was Furtado thinking? Didn't he know that urging Hodes supporters to deploy their resources outside of New Hampshire might tip off others that a dirty trickster was at work? And what did he think he might accomplish -- that bad-mouthing Hodes' chances would scare off supporters? (Since when do New Hampshire Democrats become faint of heart at the prospect of being involved in a losing cause?) And why send these messages from a government computer in Bass' office -- making the act not only easily traceable but also in possible violation of House ethics rules and federal campaign law?

I can't imagine who said ethical permissiveness and anxiety about Bass' prospects. Possibly the same person who's going to go on to quote the editorial's conclusion
While these small-potatoes incidents are more entertaining than they are scandalous, we can't help but be concerned about what apparently is a talent shortage in the political trenches. These were the best aides that congressmen and candidates could find?
Perhaps in a predictably partisan way, I'll point out that these were not the best aides that just any congressmen and candidates could find. These were the best aides that Republican congressmen and candidates could find. Or they had grown so accustomed to functioning in an atmosphere of, yes, ethical permissiveness that they didn't think they'd get caught no matter how incredibly, mind-blowingly stupidly they acted.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Is Bass' Website in Denial?

When Charlie Bass ran his first negative ad against Paul Hodes just over a week ago, I noted that this meant that Bass could no longer stress his positivity in every interview he gave. When he ran his second negative ad against Hodes, I figured the matter was effectively closed.

Turns out, Charlie counts on the voters of New Hampshire not to be bright enough to have noticed or remembered those ads. His website, in fact, does not include his ads attacking Hodes on Iraq and on taxes (both misleadingly, ignorantly in the case of the Iraq ad). You can see his ads portraying him as a folksy, independent guy, but not the ones with the threatening voiceover and the Paul Hodes quotes taken out of context.

Now that is one hell of a positive campaign Bass is running! He must be so proud! Not only can he not voice his own ads, he can't even have them associated with his campaign more than is legally required.

Does it strike anyone else that if you're that ashamed of your campaign, maybe you should be running it differently?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Final Ballot Design

On a couple of occasions I've written about the order to change the order in which candidates are listed on New Hampshire ballots. A solution has finally been reached, to the voluble distress of Secretary of State Bill Gardner:

"This decision is illogical, nonsensical and defies common sense," Gardner said in a statement he distributed, adding he would have appealed Thursday's decision if time had allowed.

"This is not a ballot I would have designed on my own, but it is a ballot we will print and distribute," Gardner said.

The "illogical, nonsensical" ballot, of course, is one that runs candidates' names KLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZABCDEFGHIJ rather than KABCDEFGHIJLMNOPQRSTUVWXY.

So it's taken me a while to write this post because I'll be honest, my first response was "is this the stupidest guy in the state of New Hampshire?" (Actually, there was another word in between "stupidest" and "guy" when I first thought it.) His sense of what's confusing is just so bizarre it defies comprehension.

Then someone told me

He's old. Just think Grandpa Simpson. He doesn't like change and tries to pare change down to the absolute minimum.

Ok, I guess. I still don't see how it looks like less change to take one letter completely out of context than to cut the alphabet in half but keep it from jumping around unless you throw a healthy dose of stupid into the mix, and I'm not really sure I think Grandpa Simpson belongs in a position of importance, but that makes it slightly more comprehensible.

And the important thing is, we now have a ballot that makes some sense.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Bass' Evolving Position on Hastert

Friday, September 29: Florida Representative Mark Foley resigns due to revelations of sexually explicit emails and IMs sent to teenage Congressional pages. Information quickly begins emerging that House Republican leadership, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner, and National Republican Congressional Committee head Tom Reynolds have all known of Foley's inappropriate behavior for months or even years and have covered it up for political benefit.

Saturday, September 30: Republican Congressmen Peter King and Chris Shays call for any leader who knew about Foley's behavior and didn't take action to step down.

Wednesday, October 4: Charlie Bass finally makes a public statement:
"I have to take the speaker's word (that he had no knowledge of the conversations)," Bass said in an interview. "Why would they cover it up?" he asked.
Thursday, October 5: Bass' position develops a small wiggle:
“I’m watching . . . this situation very closely,” Bass said. “If the speaker said he didn’t know about it, he probably didn’t.

“But he had people working for him, and he has a responsibility, as I obviously know, for the behavior of his staff.”
Friday, October 6: Bass' finger in the political wind tells him to change course:

"For the good of the House of Representatives and our nation, the questions about who had what knowledge about Mark Foley's behavior must be resolved quickly and thoroughly."


"If the Speaker or his staff had information that any House page was at risk and failed to take appropriate steps, the Speaker should resign.

Let's be clear. This is not Bass taking a principled stand. This is Bass having held out as long as he possibly could before saying anything that might offend Hastert, in case Hastert remained in a leadership position. Only when it became absolutely clear that not only did Hastert know, but that the American public cared that Hastert knew and was demanding accountability, only then did Bass venture farther than "if he says it it must be true."

If Bass was the independent he'd like us to believe he is, he'd have called firmly and unequivocally for an investigation immediately after Foley's resignation. He'd have acknowledged that, given the number of fingers pointed in Hastert's direction, Hastert's conduct in possibly covering up Foley's behavior was one of the things that needed to be investigated. He did not do those things. Instead, his positions were not only politically expedient, they were politically expedient from the point of view of someone cravenly beholden to the Republican leadership.

It is enablers like Charlie Bass that have made the Republican culture of corruption viable these last several years. The only path to accountability - accountability for Iraq, accountability for torture, accountability for sexual predation - is to change control of Congress. In New Hampshire's second district, that means electing Paul Hodes.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Bass Comments on Foley Cover-up

In Wednesday's Union Leader, Charles Bass takes a brave, brave stand. For a six-term Congressman to make online sexual advances toward teenagers working under him, he says, is a bad thing.
"The decisions and actions of Mark Foley that have been brought to light over the past couple days are disgusting and inexcusable," Bass said in a statement.
Wow. There is some backbone. Five or six days later, Charlie issues a statement saying something completely noncontroversial.

But, wait. What's that you say? The real question here is not whether he thinks sexual predation is bad? It's what he says about the fact that the Republican leadership knew about Foley's "disgusting and inexcusable" behaviors years ago?

So, what does Bass have to say about that?
"I have to take the speaker's word (that he had no knowledge of the conversations)," Bass said in an interview. "Why would they cover it up?" he asked.
Consider that by taking Dennis Hastert's word on this, Bass is calling National Republican Congressional Committee head Tom Reynolds and majority leader John Boehner liars, because they both said Hastert knew. Has Bass been asked why he believes Hastert over Reynolds and Boehner? (I'm sure Reynolds, the man in charge of choosing how much financial support to give Bass' campaign, must be wondering the same thing.) So it's a fascinating answer. Bass can't think why this kind of scandal would be covered up. And he's been in Congress for how long?*

Why would they? Paul Hodes has an answer
"Whether it's knowledge of intolerable conduct within the House or warnings about the war in Iraq, this Congress just doesn't want to face reality, much less hold anyone accountable. They'll say and do anything to hold onto power," said Paul Hodes, a Democrat challenging GOP Rep. Charlie Bass in New Hampshire.

*Twelve years.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why is Charles Bass Silent?

On Friday afternoon, news emerged that Florida Congressman Mark Foley had been sending sexually predatory emails and IMs to former Congressional pages. Further, much of the Republican leadership in the House had been either actively covering this up or, at a minimum, putting their hands over their eyes and refusing to investigate when they knew that there was something worthy of investigation. This cover-up extends to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner, and head of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Reynolds.

This should not be a controversial issue. A six-term Congressman sending sexually explicit messages to teenagers over whom he has or has had authority is simply wrong. Yet since this became public, the Republican leadership that has covered this up for nearly a year, and the White House, have sought to to minimize it, referring to it as a matter of "naughty emails" (even as IMs emerge that suggest that Foley sought and may have gotten private meetings with at least one former page), calling for investigations in carefully-worded terms that would leave themselves out of the investigation, and otherwise responding to this as a political crisis rather than a serious issue to be addressed in human, moral, and ethical terms.

Some Republicans, including Chris Shays of Connecticut and Peter King of New York, have called for the resignation of anyone who knew about Foley's sexually predatory actions and did not take action. So far, Charlie Bass has been silent. He has condemned neither Foley's actions nor the Republican leadership's attempt to cover them up. If Bass is the independent man of integrity he would have us believe, this should be a no-brainer. It should not be a decision influenced by political concerns. Fear of offending Denny Hastert or John Boehner or Tom Reynolds should not matter.

So I'm waiting to hear from Charlie Bass on this one. He's already late out of the gate - the principled thing would have been to be, with Shays and King, one of the first voices calling for a full investigation. Every minute it takes before we hear from him on this is another piece of evidence for cravenly beholden to the Republican leadership he is.