Angelides Enters Anti-Arnold Race Early

With approval ratings in the 60s, Gov. Schwarzenegger appears to be invincible, and his ability to manipulate the national media – not to mention the international entertainment media – gives him edge over every conceivable contender, with the possible exception of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who would be pushing 80 at the end of her first term, if she chose to run. The first candidate to put his hat in the ring is state Treasurer Phil Angelides.

The resident state political expert at the LA Times , George Skelton, assesses early opposition to the Gubernator:

The [Angelides] strategy isn’t exactly to carve out the role of anti-Arnold for himself, because Angelides has been doing that practically from Day One of the Schwarzenegger administration. He’s now trying to make sure Democratic activists and ordinary voters know about it.

“I stood up and said Schwarzenegger was wrong and I didn’t care how high his poll numbers were or how big his megaphone was,” says Angelides. “And too many other Democrats laid down.”

He means [Atty. Gen. Bill ] Lockyer [Dem.], who acknowledged voting for Schwarzenegger in the recall election. “I think people ought to be judged by how they act in the crucible of critical times,” the treasurer asserts.

Angelides, 51, a rich Sacramento housing developer and former state party chairman who first was elected in 1998, says there’s another factor that distinguishes him from Lockyer: “I’m not a lifer in the public sector.” His 15 years as a developer, he contends, gave him “a keen understanding of what’s required to build a strong economy.”

Suit Would Drag NC Law into the 20th Century

AP/Durham Herald-Sun – (via Pam’s House Blend):

A former sheriff’s dispatcher who quit her job after her boss found out she lived with her boyfriend is challenging North Carolina’s law against cohabitation. Debora Hobbs said she was told to get married, move out, or find another job after her boss found out about her living situation. The legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit Monday on her behalf.

The lawsuit seeks to abolish the nearly 200-year-old — and rarely enforced — law that prohibits unmarried, unrelated adults of the opposite sex from living together. North Carolina is one of seven states with such a law.

Convicted offenders face a fine and up to 60 days in jail. “The government has no business meddling in the private relationships of consenting adults,” said Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation.

Hobbs had been living with her boyfriend for about three years when she was hired as a Pender County 911 dispatcher in February 2004. The couple decided they didn’t want to marry; Hobbs quit last May rather than be fired.

Sheriff Carson Smith said last year that Hobbs’ employment was a moral issue as well as a legal question. He said he tries to avoid hiring people who openly live together, but that he doesn’t send out deputies to enforce the law.

Just Shoot Me

From Daily Kos:

It’s been really quite interesting how the rightwingosphere has just about completely ignored Tom DeLay’s corruption and utter perversion of the very values that brought the GOP to power.

Now that the WSJ has greenlighted attacks on DeLay, that might change, but the silence over DeLay’s perversions of democracy has been deafening.

Now everyone knows that I have never been afraid to take on Democrats when I think they are doing the wrong thing. But then again, this is a different place than the mindless automatons taking their talking cues from Limbaugh and company.

But I need a favor: when Democrats take power and become the majority party, and some of them start acting like DeLay (which is inevitable — power corrupts), please make sure I’m speaking out against such corruption. And if I don’t, line me up against the metaphorical wall and shoot me.

I don’t ever want to become what they are.

It’s Only Bad If One of Us Does It

Have you noticed how these Chicken Little sanctimonious hypocrites shriek that being homosexual and showing religious tolerance are signs of the apocalypse but pedophilia and internet porn are no big deal – at least when they’re the ones with their pants down.

From CNN:

A former top official of the Boy Scouts of America [Note: he only stepped down in February, once the investigation was public knowledge] faces federal Internet child pornography charges and is expected to plead guilty Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said…

The U.S. attorney’s office in Fort Worth, Texas, filed the charges after federal investigators found images of children engaging in sex acts on Smith’s computer.

Whew. Sounds pretty bad, huh? Aw, not really. No biggie.

Smith’s lawyer, Jack Strickland, told The Associated Press that his client is “not taking this well. I’ve got to tell you, this is a good man, and I would hate to see the entirety of his life and the good things he’s done defined by one incident.”

Yeah, you know, it’s just one little part of his life and he’s a good man. Cut him a break, will ya? His real life is all about children. Scouts, that is.

And how about the national spokesman for the BSA, the guy who defended their right to kick gay butt all the way to the Supreme Court? In 1999, when the BSA was seeing one departure after another from Unitarian-sponsored troops and others (even some Mormon troops!), Gregg Shields pursed his lips and made this pronouncement :

“Since 1910 the Boy Scouts have taught basic traditional family values and continue to do so. We feel that an avowed homosexual does not fit these values and is not an appropriate person to be in a leadership position.”

No, a gay adult who maintains a stable, consenting relationship with another gay adult is beyond the pale but some mouth-breathing, child porn consuming nut case is A-OK.

Well, not completely. Being arrested is pretty racy stuff, evidently.

Shields said the Boy Scouts are “shocked and dismayed” by Smith’s arrest, but the group has cooperated with investigators in the case.

“We surrendered his work computer to authorities,” he said.

Notice, Shields isn’t concerned about Smith’s conduct, just his arrest. But the BSA is “cooperating” so what else can they possibly do?

Climb down from the judgmental high horse and stop trying to make decent people feel ashamed while they put closet cases in charge? I don’t know, but it would be a start.

GOP Fissures in Florida?

A headline on the front page of today’s LA Times reads, “2 Issues Straining GOP Grip in Florida.” The article suggests that the confluence of unease among seniors about President Bush’s plans to phase out Social Security and the GOP’s meddling in the Schiavo matter has created a fissure among voters in Florida that may affect elections next year.

On both fronts, President Bush and his brother Gov. Jeb Bush are promoting positions that put fellow Republicans on the spot, just before important campaigns that will determine the governor’s successor and the fate of Florida’s lone Democrat holding statewide office, Sen. Bill Nelson.

Polls show the public overwhelmingly opposed to intervention by Congress and President Bush in the case of Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman whose family has been bitterly split over the decision to remove her feeding tube. But the religious conservatives who pressed hard for politicians in Tallahassee and Washington to act to have the the tube reinserted could play a pivotal role in the races for governor and Senate.

At the same time, public opposition has been mounting against the president’s plan to let younger workers divert a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts. The president’s proposal is particularly unpopular among seniors, and so candidates in the senior-rich state are especially vulnerable to the charge that such a change could endanger benefits.

“It may be that we tried to load the wagon with too many watermelons,” said Tom Slade, Florida’s former Republican Party chairman. “There’s not … a lot of good news on our side of the aisle at this minute.”

These controversies could put the seats of several Republican members of the U.S. Congress into play. The article cites representatives Clay Shaw, Ginny Brown-Waite and Katherine Harris as being particularly vulnerable to voter dissatisfaction. I would add closeted gay Rep. Mark Foley to the list.

What’s missing from the formula for GOP defeat, of course, is a plausible alternative to the Republican “values” theme from the Democrats. The upshot of the 2004 campaign from voters seems to have been, “We may not like Bush and the Republicans, or their message or their policies, but at least we know where they stand” – which is hardly a ringing endorsement.

If Martha Stewart can sell sheets in K-Mart, Democrats ought to be able to sell the precepts of liberalism – fair play and fair pay – to Wal-Mart shoppers. It shouldn’t be impossible to convince low-wage workers in Red states that voting for the party that is run by the corporations works against their own self-interests.

Schiavo Protester Is Registered Sex Offender

Charlotte Observer:

The father of the 10-year-old Kannapolis [N.C.] boy arrested Friday for trying to take a glass of water to Terri Schiavo said the religious beliefs that led him and his son to Florida took root in him more than a decade ago. Specifically, he said, they came to him when he was 19, as he spent several months in an Ohio jail while awaiting trial on rape and kidnapping charges.

Howard Scott Heldreth, now 32, was in jail for parts of 1992 and 1993, court records show; he eventually pleaded guilty to sexual battery and served time on probation. Until jail, he said from his Kannapolis home Saturday, he believed strongly in evolution, especially the idea that the strong naturally ruled over the weak…

Heldreth on Saturday declined to discuss the specifics of the incident that led to his jail time. But he has written on a Web site that it happened at a college party and involved a young woman there.

The former Naperville, Fla., resident remains listed on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sex offender registry, but he’s not registered on North Carolina’s; the N.C. equivalent applies to offenders convicted on or after Jan. 1, 1996.

Gov. Conan Girds for Battle, Ready to ‘Kick Butts’

The most peculiar thing about state politics here in California is that the local news media has abdicated any serious role it may have had in reporting on the issues. Sure, the local stations will host debates among politicians, but not if they are scheduled to interfere with the primetime line up. During the actual nightly newscasts, politics are rarely mentioned because the topic bores viewers and cuts into coverage of today’s car chase or drive-by shooting.

This works tremendously in favor of someone like Gov. Schwarzenegger who has free access – not just to the national media – but to its most popular sector: the entertainment media. If there was a moment that won the election for him last time, it was his appearance on “Oprah,” where his friend the talk show host lodged a bunch of softball questions toward Arnold and Maria. No surprise that questions about groping or call girls never came up.

That’s what we can expect in the coming debate about Schwarzenegger’s “reforms” of the state government. When the going gets tough, he’ll appear on “Entertainment Tonight” and call his opponents names. Unfortunately, this appeals to a large sector of Californians, mostly men, who rarely vote but who love “The Terminator.” This trivialization of politics would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous.

From the Washington Post today:

Critics say the governor is avoiding the budget deficit, and even some of his allies question why he decided to take on so many fights. Schwarzenegger said he was elected “to create reform, to fix the problem, fix the broken system,” not to move slowly. “Remember the greatest things that you can accomplish, the more risks you take,” he said. “It’s directly related to risk. Everything like this — investments and everything else. If you’re willing to take risks, then the upside can be spectacular.”

Schwarzenegger has roused widespread opposition. Now when he travels the state, in addition to crowds of enthusiastic supporters, he is met with protesters: nurses, teachers, firefighters, police and correctional officers, PTA leaders. Schwarzenegger labels them all special interests and inflamed matters when he dismissed the protests of nurses at a women’s event last December. “The special interests don’t like me in Sacramento because I am always kicking their butts,” he said.

Everybody Loses

O.K., I know we’re all sick of the subject, but an excellent column by Lucy Morgan of the St. Petersburg Times talks about how hard it is to be a “moderate” Republican when the wingnuts rule.

What ever happened to that Republican “big tent” that was supposed to welcome those with differing ideas?

Some members of the Florida Senate are questioning where the tent went and why they are being made to feel like lepers by the Christian right wing.

Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, and eight others were the targets of extreme pressure over the past week…

Democrats often say the GOP is in the hands of extremists. The Schiavo case supports that notion.

Instead of winning support for a bill aimed at restoring Schiavo’s feeding tube, many protesters angered senators who were bombarded with obscene telephone calls and death threats…

Jeb only made things worse for all concerned when he impotently hinted he might have the Department of Children and Families finish the job Bo Gritz started.

[Jeb] Bush didn’t do himself a favor when he said he believes he has the authority to seize custody of Schiavo and provide her with treatment…

Finally Bush surfaced briefly Thursday afternoon to say he would not violate court orders that have denied the state access to Schiavo.

By then it was too late to silence the clamor that was rising among vociferous protesters outside the Capitol.

Loudest among them was Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, who said “there will be hell to pay” if Bush doesn’t intervene.

Somewhere in all of this the rule of law must prevail, or we are all lost. Bush’s brief flirtation with taking the law into his own hands was a serious mistake that could cost the GOP for years to come.

In the short term, a backlash is taking shape. But memories tend to be even shorter.

One by one, Republicans around the state began announcing: “Enough.”

“I am a longstanding registered, voting Republican, but after watching this disgusting display, I am gone,” wrote Ray Snyder of Crawfordville in a letter to the editor in the Tallahassee Democrat Friday. “I see the dark ages of the Inquisition being born again. Someone needs a large dose of sanity and common sense, but it may already be too late.”

Asked about the impact of the case on the GOP, Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, says he thinks there will be some temporary backlash but voters will have forgotten by the next election…

No one wins. And once again Florida looks incredibly stupid.

Grass Roots Org Counters Rightwing Pressure on the FCC

Washington Post:

A California woman has launched a Web site,, meant to counter what she calls the excessive influence of anti-indecency groups, such as the Parents Television Council (PTC), that flood the government with complaints designed to spur fines against radio and television broadcasters.

Speakspeak Website:

Fighting indecency complaints, fighting groups like the Parents Television Council, doesn’t mean you’re advocating for prime-time smut. It doesn’t mean your a pervert. It doesn’t mean you hate America.

It means you believe in free speech. It means you know how to turn your television off. It means you don’t want a group of mobilized politicos to determine what is or isn’t suitable entertainment for you and your family.

In 2004, the FCC fined broadcasters over $8 million for indecency violations. But in recent months, the FCC denied over 40 indecency complaints filed by groups like the Parents Television Council.

In order to give life to this trend of sensible action on the part of the FCC, you need to speak up.

If you don’t, who will?

It takes approximately 42 seconds.

Click here for information on sending a letter to the FCC or your senator advocating the protection of free speech on television.

GOP Schiavo Judge Agrees to Quit Church

Over the five years that Pinellas County, Fl., Circuit Judge George Greer has had the Terri Shiavo matter on his docket, he has consistently ruled in favor of ending the young woman’s suffering. It isn’t surprising that these rulings have enraged fantasists on the right who believe Terri’s liquified brain parts might be healed one day. Judge Greer is now under the protection of armed guards, and friends say his family also is protected.

What is surprising is that Judge Greer is hardly the liberal activist judge often described by corrupt conservative pundits and pols on cable news shows. In fact, Greer is a rockribbed Republican, a former county commissioner, and Southern Baptist by faith. Or rather he was a Southern Baptist until last week when antipathy toward Greer in his home church forced him to quit the congregation, reportedly with the assent of his pastor. Sounds like very un-Christlike behavior at the Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Florida.