Wednesday, May 28, 2003

My good friend Tom Sagehorn sent me an essay by Eric C. Bauman that expresses pretty close to what I feel about the Republicans these days. I'm not a big fan of Gray Davis, but I give him a lot credit for hiring this guy.

By Eric C. Bauman, Chair, Los Angeles County Democratic Party

Newt Gingrich taught the Republican Party one thing: there's no need to play by the rules when it comes to political warfare, and they learned that lesson well.

-Can't beat Bill Clinton: Impeach him!

-Can't beat Al Gore: Steal the election!

-Can't win a majority in the House: Redraw the districts - after the fact!

-Can't confirm right-wing judges: Rewrite the rules of the Senate!

-Want to hold a war: Make up the facts to get popular support!

-Can't beat Gray Davis: Recall him!

Republican guerrilla warfare - the list of examples goes on-and-on. The Party of virtue, morals and family values has absolutely none when it comes to getting their way. Nothing is too mean, nor too twisted, nor too out-of-bounds. If it leads to victory, they'll do it. To hell with the rules and to hell with the truth, they believe they are so superior morally that the American people will forgive or ignore their antics: legal or otherwise.

I, for one, am sick and tired of their nonsense; and I'm mad as hell. The recent scheme in Texas really frosted me. Unable to pass a redistricting plan that complied with the law, the Texas Supreme Court (a real group of lefties, don't you know) drew districts based on fair and legitimate criteria. The net result: Texas Democrats hold more seats than the Republicans.

But House Majority Leader Tom Delay, the ultimate paragon of virtue, doesn't approve. He knows that next year's Congressional elections will be close. Nothing the tripartite Republican leadership in Washington has done has enhanced House Republicans chances of expanding their control in the next election. In fact, they've worsened their chances.

So Delay, a former pest exterminator who delights in abusing power, decided to do the next best thing: steal enough seats in Texas and Colorado to ensure Republican control of the house- without a single vote being cast. Elections be damned.

But Texas Democrats know how to play hardball, too. Rather than allow a vote on Delay's vote-stealing plan, they absconded in the middle of the night, heading for Oklahoma and New Mexico, thereby depriving the Republicans of a quorum.

Despite Delay and his deranged gang's illegal use of the US Department of Homeland Security to track the wayward Democrats, and the Texas Rangers' pursuit of them to their motel hideout , local officials in both states declined to play Delay's game. They refused to permit the Texas rangers to arrest them and they refused to extradite them.

New Mexico's Democratic Attorney General said, "I have put out an all-points bulletin for law enforcement to be on the lookout for politicians in favor of health care for the needy and against tax cuts for the wealthy- when you find them, tell them they're welcome to stay."

On Friday, the Texas Democrats returned home to cheers. The deadline to pass Delay's sneaky plan had expired with no further action possible.

If the Texas plan had been only an anomaly, one might forgive it as an isolated act by a greedy, power-hungry politician. But the Texas plan is part of a clear pattern of electoral and political abuse regularly orchestrated by the Republican Party.

It is less than three years since the Bush campaign team stole the election in Florida. It should come as no surprise that the state governed by Bush's brother systematically stripped African American voters from the rolls. Once the recount began, the Bush minions physically intimidated the re-counters and the media.

When the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Gore's favor on the recount, the conservative dominated US Supreme Court stepped in. After wasting many days, they said there was not enough time left to conduct a recount and therefore declared the count final, in Bush's favor- on a five-to-four vote.


Now they're at it here. One thing the Republicans have learned is that they can't win elections fairly or squarely in the Golden State - Californians oppose virtually every tenet of what conservative Republicans stand for. Even in a year that trended Republican all across the country, California Democrats still won every statewide office.

Governor Davis, battered by the fallout from the Wilson-enacted energy crisis, won re-election in a narrow victory& and nothing galled the right wing more. They were certain that their gray-out 2002 campaign would work and they would take back the Governor's office. But Californians saw through their shenanigans and mega-millionaire Bill Simon was consigned to the trash heap of self-funded conservative losers who have tried to buy elections in this state.

Not satisfied losing a fair fight, the right wing launched a recall against the Governor a mere thirty days after the election. Their logic was clear: if they can't win in a regularly scheduled election, one where Democrats are the majority of voters, then create a special-election scenario, where conservative Republicans typically make up a far greater percentage of voters.

Although the recall has seemed like a loser from the beginning, with most newspapers editorializing against it and even most Republican leaders opposing it, it has begun to gather some steam. Recently Darryl Issa, an ultra-conservative Republican member of Congress from the San Diego County area, reinvigorated the movement by investing $500,000 of his own money into the effort.

Issa has committed to raising at least $2 million and has also formed a gubernatorial campaign committee. Consistent with the Republican philosophy of creating the election results they want, Issa, who spent $10 million of his own money, hoping to challenge Barbara Boxer a few years ago, figures he becomes the default hero to conservatives if he finances and funds the recall effort, and then wins the special election. This guy knows he can never win statewide under normal circumstances, but he figures he can become the Governor by winning the loyalty of conservatives as the giant-slayer who takes out Gray Davis.

Now that this effort has begun to sprout wings, with money flooding into the pro-recall coffers, out-of-state signature gatherers have been hired to try and qualify the recall. No in-state petition firm was willing to participate in this electoral sham, so they found a retired Republican signature-gatherer who lives out-of-state and brought him to California to lead their efforts.

It should come as no shock to anyone that the Governor is not very popular these days. California is suffering from the national economic downturn and facing a huge budget shortfall, just like 47 other states, and when taken along with the remnants of the energy crisis, the Governor's popularity has really suffered. Thus, getting 1.2 million signatures is not such a difficult task, if the Republicans have the money to pay for the signature-gathering effort.

With the Recall Gray Davis movement taking on new life, talk is emerging among conservative Republicans about attempting to recall at least one other Democrat holding statewide office- most likely the Democrat who won with the narrowest margin, or one who can be blamed for all the debt the state has run up over the last few years.

Word on the street is that a recall filing against one or more other Democrats will materialize in the next month, or so. Gee, what a surprise.

Clearly, these guys have figured out the obvious: whether it is here in California, in Texas or Florida, they can't win by playing fairly, but mere fairness isn't going to stop them!


I've spent more than twenty years of my life fighting for Democratic principles and ideals. From universal healthcare to equal rights for all Americans to fairness for working families, I have chosen to invest my life's capital in the Democratic Party and all that it stands for. I have generally played by the rules (though occasionally I've played rough).

I've lived through many political ups-and-downs, as we all have, but now I'm really pissed off, and I've decided to do something about it. Rather than sit around whining or smoldering, as these guys attempt to steal power from California Democrats, I've decided to put all my energies into protecting what we've worked so hard for, for so many years, in our great state.

I have taken a leave of absence from my job in the Governor's office to help lead an independent effort to protect what is rightly ours. The people of this state have invested their faith and confidence in the Democratic Party and its ideals at the ballot box, and there is nothing more important than preserving that franchise.

We will battle to the finish to block the right-wing extremists' attempts to recall the Governor and other Democrats holding statewide office. I refuse to surrender without a fight- and a fight it will be!

We cannot let the Bush, Cheney, Rove, Issa, Simon, Wilson and Gingrich crowd steal our government. It's enough they stole the presidency, they will not take California- the last remaining bastion of Democratic power and ideas.

I'm going to ask for your help over the next few months - to rally 'round our Party and everything it stands for. This is not about me; this is not about Al Gore or Gray Davis. This is about each and every one of us, and especially those most dependent on us and on what our Party stands for.

The Republicans are on a rampage, no doubt, but if we stand together and say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" we will prevail- just like those Texas Democrats.

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E.P. Wednesday, May 28, 2003