Dear Rahm: F-You. Love, Pete.

Carla Axtman

There are any number of reasons to admire Peter DeFazio. This is merely one of them:

Rep. Peter DeFazio’s phone rang. On the other end was Rahm Emanuel.

The White House chief of staff last month expressed frustration with DeFazio’s resignation calls for President Barack Obama’s top two economic aides — Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House chief economist Larry Summers — and appealed for cooperation, according to DeFazio.

But Emanuel, known for his blunt manner and ability to bend members of his party to his will, did not raise his voice with the Oregon Democrat.

“Rahm does not yell at me,” DeFazio said, “because he knows that I yell back.”

Others are learning that DeFazio, who has served in the House since 1987 and describes himself as a “progressive populist,” is not easily intimidated. He has emerged in recent months as one of the most vocal liberal critics of the Obama administration, blasting the president’s team for not getting tough enough with Wall Street. He’s also taken on his own party for failing to move left-leaning legislation through the Congress.

More members of the Oregon Democratic delegation should be doing this. If DeFazio (a guy from a relatively conservative district) can push, so can the others.

Comments

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    This is something I have been saying for some time. We need leaders but we always get stuck with politicians. Good for you Pete.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    Yeah, F-you, Rahm, and "the horse (Obama) you rode in on."

  • mlw (unverified)
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    It's a bit of a stretch to call HD 4 a conservative district. It has some Southern Oregon territory, but its population center is Eugene...hardly a town known for rock ribbed conservatism.

  • Bob McNaughton (unverified)
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    Carla, you're praising DeFazio - after he voted against Cap And Trade, and against the stimulus bill? I hate Rahm too, but he's made at DeFazio because he's not voting for Democratic priorities.

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    mlw: It's not a stretch whatsoever. Look at the 2008 election results:

    http://www.blueoregon.com/2009/03/how-did-obama-do-in-oregons-five-congressional-districts.html

    Obama won both Schrader and DeFazio's district by virtually the same amount: 53.9% and 53.7%, respectively. In Wu and Blumenauer's, Obama won 61.0% to 71.3%, respectively.

    Schrader just joined the Blue Dogs in part because he thinks he needs their cover to help him in his district, because its relatively conservative. That's also Mapes' analysis:

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2009/12/schrader_a_blue_dog_but_is_he.html

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    Carla, you're praising DeFazio - after he voted against Cap And Trade, and against the stimulus bill? I hate Rahm too, but he's mad at DeFazio because he's not voting for Democratic priorities.

    That's what is so interesting. DeFazio is very hard to pigeon hole ideologically. Populists on both the left and the right support him in his district.

    Many Republicans are still mad about TARP and the stimulus bill--but DeFazio voted against both. Many Republicans are mad about cap-and-trade--but DeFazio voted against it. Many Republicans regard Tim Geithner as a tax evader--but DeFazio (and Greg Walden) think he should resign.

    But DeFazio gets credit among "progressives" for pulling Obama to the left. That's why he's so popular even in a divided district like the 4th CD.

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    "DeFaz" as we call him down here in Eugene, is certainly one of the best politicians this country has. He has been right over and over and over again on the most important issues. Iraq, deregulation, the environment etc.

    "Carla, you're praising DeFazio - after he voted against Cap And Trade, and against the stimulus bill? I hate Rahm too, but he's made at DeFazio because he's not voting for Democratic priorities."

    He didn't vote for Cap and Trade and the stimulus because they were both bad bills. I don't know exactly what you mean by "Democratic priorities" but I do know that DeFazio votes for progressive priorities.

  • Ricky (unverified)
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    More Oregon elected Democrats should be attacking the White House?

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Peter seems to just have an ultra-sensitive bullshit detector and does not hesitate to call somebody out when it goes off even if they are a Democrat or it's the White House. That's refreshing in politics and something we could use more of on both sides of the isle. (I'm not holding my breath)

    I don't think every issue fits neatly into a left-right,conservative-liberal, democratic-republican box. A good idea is a good idea no matter where it comes from and frankly, we are in dire need of good ideas these days. Peter just calls them how he sees them.

    I think he truly cares about the welfare of the people in his district of which I am proudly, one.

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    Sorry Joshua, but you are wrong on Peter's cap + trade stance. He doesn't support the system at all. The climate bill could have been stellar, but with C+T in the mix, it was DOA for Peter.

    That being said, his "going rogue" moments worry me. However, overall, he is one of the best this state has in DC.

  • Josh Reynolds (unverified)
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    This is the exact kind of attitude we need in the Governor's office. I think Pete is making too many enemies in DC on both sides of the aisle. I worry his effectiveness will be challenged.

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    It's tough. When do you cut your losses and turn on a president you might have helped get elected? I mean, renewing the Patriot Act? Obama wants to reauthorize that? Huh?

  • backbeat (unverified)
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    DeFazio Rocks!!!

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    "Sorry Joshua, but you are wrong on Peter's cap + trade stance. He doesn't support the system at all. The climate bill could have been stellar, but with C+T in the mix, it was DOA for Peter."

    wrong about what? I said he didn't vote for the bill because it was a bad bill. I don't know how that's different from,"The climate bill could have been stellar, but with C+T in the mix, it was DOA for Peter."

    I've heard Peter discuss his opposition to C&T numerous times. I don't see a disagreement here.

    Peter has vision, something we desperately need more of.

  • anon (unverified)
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    I'm a Republican, but I would have voted for DeFazio if he had run against Smith. I was hoping he would. He would be a great Senator.

  • mlw (unverified)
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    Carla - Pete is routinely re-elected by large margins and he's an unrepentant liberal. That's one of the reasons I like him so much. He tacks to the center on some resource issues to keep the redneck fringe happy, but there's absolutely no danger he'll lose an election in the near future. Besides, the vote margin was 53/43 for Obama with most of the remaining 4% going to people to the left of Pete.

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    "That's what is so interesting. DeFazio is very hard to pigeon hole ideologically. Populists on both the left and the right support him in his district."

    Jack: he's not that hard to pigeon hole ideologically. He's has been consistently very progressive/liberal. He does end up voting w/ Republicans in many cases but it's for very different reasons.

    His final positions on some of these bills like the stimulus and C&T may lead to more conservative support by those who don't really understand why he's voted for or against something.

    He's also popular across part lines because he is consistent which demonstrates integrity and also because he is one of the best at communicating his position on any given issue. He does it w/ clarity and confidence, a rare combination amongst DC Dems. He's an extremely effective communicator.

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    mlw: I agree that he won't lose...but its not because his district is true blue.

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    He tacks to the center on some resource issues to keep the redneck fringe happy...

    I don't think he does that to keep rednecks happy, I think he does that because anyone who has spent any amount of time in parts of the state where the wood products industry has been a significant part of the economy knows the pain and suffering that people there have gone through over the past thirty years, and if you're in a position to mitigate it you do what you can.

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    I suppose relative is a relative term. DeFazio is listed by PVI score (+D2) as representing the 183rd most Democratic district, Schrader's district is 185th most Democratic. There's some overlap with dems in R districts and vice versa, but it's true he's in a relatively conservative district--for Democrats. There are about 250 CDs more Republican than OR-4.

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    Jack: he's not that hard to pigeon hole ideologically. He's has been consistently very progressive/liberal.

    Look up federal trade policy.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)
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    Yes indeed, look up federal trade policy. That's why he should officially change his name to "Smoot Hawley DeFazio."

  • Connor Allen (unverified)
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    On the ideological debate, I'd say if there's such thing as a left-wing conservative, DeFazio would be that. He may end up voting along with a lot of liberals on a lot of issues, but he tends to have pretty illiberal reasons.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    I met Peter DeFazio a few years ago when I attended a conference attempting to get Congress to go along with banning land mines. It happened to be a busy day for representatives in Congress that day. He had a short break and could easily have passed me off to an assistant at the time of my appointment, but he listened to my points and treated me with every courtesy. I thought then that he had a lot of class and still do.

  • LT (unverified)
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    A friend and I were talking today about issue debates among 1980s Oregon (and national) Democrats. Back then the ideological labels were not as prominent. Issue labels or label according to establishment vs. insurgent, or a follower of a major (Pres. or Gov. etc.) candidate were more common, but not used as often as now.

    Peter is the perfect example. He can be friendly or angry as the situation requires. He'll say "I believe this because..." and then give you more factual information to back up his claims than any other 2 politicians combined.

    He's the kind of person who doesn't fit a stereotype.

    And a word about "populism". It can mean "sticking up for the little guy", whether that be small farmers, small towns hit hard by economics or policy, it could mean laid off blue collar workers. But there is a dark side to populism which some people forget.

    It can also mean that Buchanan "pitchfork brigade" which supports native workers against immigrants, whites against people of color, etc.

    I've long believed that labels short circuit thought. Peter is a perfect example of that concept. No label really fits him.

  • Bill R. (unverified)
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    DeFazio's grandstanding amounts to nothing. What are his grand legislative accomplishments? Being a rock thrower is easy. Governing is hard. And frankly DeFazio can't govern. And showing contempt for the president or his staff may shine it on for this crowd of rock throwers, but frankly nobody here is really up to governance either. The slow hard work of getting the votes from prima donnas like DeFazio in the Senate or House won't win ideological purity contests, but it may actually make policy into reality.

  • Susan Shawn (unverified)
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    I say it again: I would love to be able to vote for DeFazio for Governor of Oregon. This time around. We need him here. It's satisfying to have his voice in DC as well, so either way, I'm grateful for his voice and his courage.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "DeFazio's grandstanding amounts to nothing."

    People pronounced similar judgments about the suffragists seeking votes for women, early labor leaders seeking decent working conditions for workers in factories and fields, and civil rights leaders pursuing equal rights for black Americans. "Grandstanding" is the form standing up for principle takes until people wake up and rise up in support of someone who offers himself or herself as a leader to follow.

  • Jack Radey (unverified)
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    Telling Rahm and Barack to go fuck themselves, when they are doing the bidding of Wall Street, is perfectly appropriate. I wish more of our so-called representatives would do this. Obama gave a great speech here in Eugene, I remember, "Wall Street is not going to run the White House when I am president." Yeah. Right. Thank you Pete for trying to get Geithner and Summers fired. Wish you had backed Conyers and Kucinich on Universal Single Payer, wish you were less enthusiastic about funding highways, but on the whole, Pete does a lot we can be proud of.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    So, why, whey De Fazio yells at the entrenched hacks in Washington, is that great, but when progressives do the same yelling at the similar hackery here, it's being a troll?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    As the blurb at the top of the page says, this is a web site for progressives. It's the people, including Democrats, who criticize them who are the trolls.

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    Jack: he's not that hard to pigeon hole ideologically. He's has been consistently very progressive/liberal. He does end up voting w/ Republicans in many cases but it's for very different reasons.

    I guess you're right. I forgot that the balanced budget amendment was a progressive bill and that it was progressive to vote against the assault weapons ban.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden, your comment on how DeFazio treated you on a busy day says more about Peter than lots of the other commentary here.

    Peter is a worthy successor to Wayne Morse in this regard--he is not a stubborn ideologue but looks at the evidence of each issue and uses his best judgement. What a concept!

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Defazio could noly come out of a state like ours. He is difficult to label and abit iconoclastic. Certainly he does remain consistent.

    It will be interesting to watch how other democrats do as this national legislative session continues to contradict the wishes of progressives and others believing that change was possible. Rather than bring in change, the party in control has played special interest politics up the hilt and little good has been accomplished.

    Debacles so far include: Health Care Reform, Card Check, Cap & Trade, Climate Change, Iraq/Afghanistan and Gitmo. With unfinished business, incomplete governing and extreme compromise masquerading as political accomplishment and leadership, next fall could be quite interesting. Will those who voted for change return angry, complacent or at all?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Kurt, you left out one question:

    Did everyone who voted for change believe they were voting for the changes you wish to see in these areas:

    "Health Care Reform, Card Check, Cap & Trade, Climate Change, Iraq/Afghanistan and Gitmo"

    Or with such a large electorate (some of it made up by new voters), could it be some of those who voted for change were voting for a new direction, away from the nastiness of the Bush years, towards a president who speaks to audiences about serious issues, even if what he says is not always what some people like to hear?

    There was a cartoon in 2008 which showed Rosa Parks on a bus in the 1950s and Obama on a bus in 2008. In that regard, change has come. And anyone who posts that cartoon on a bulletin board or other place (I know a high school student who had it enlarged to fit the front of a binder) is making a statement that there was more to Obama's election than specific issues.

    There is a big wide world out there. I understand some people have not been pleased by all they have seen in 2009. But that doesn't mean there aren't Obama voters who have seen what they consider mistakes in the past year to have been honest mistakes, misjudgements, rookie mistakes, etc.

    I doubt everyone who voted for Obama is angry, esp. given the alternative and how cranky McCain often is on the Senate floor.

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    but when progressives do the same yelling at the similar hackery here, it's being a troll?

    It's got to be tough to type with that chip weighing so heavily on your shoulder.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    LT, some certainly voted for ABB (anything but bush) I understand and appreciate that. But in my un-scientific poll of 20 somethings, many voted for health reform, and end to the war(s) and other progressive ideals. Many have said that they will disengage, or already have and will not participate in 2010.

  • mathematician (unverified)
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    American fascism: by political definition the US is now fascist, not a constitutional republic

    What is the evidence for American fascism in the present? The US brazenly violates our laws of war, both demanded by the Constitution and the UN Charter, with open invasion of Afghanistan in abject violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and their government’s agreement to help extradite Osama bin Laden upon US presentment of evidence that he was involved in any crime of UN and/or international law. The US refused both the Afghan standard legal requirement of extradition and the UN resolution for cooperation under law and attacked. The new administration of Obama does not acknowledge this illegal history, but expands the invasion and attacks Pakistan. This policy is fascist, not limited by US law.

    The US openly lied about reasons to justify an attack upon Iraq, destroying any semblance of argument of “self-defense.” The Obama administration won’t acknowledge the disclosed history from our own House and Senate investigations, and violates his oath of office to prosecute clear crimes. This policy is authoritarian, fascist, and does not hold equality under just laws. It is an un-American policy by definition.

    The US tortured, with Obama refusing to prosecute and giving empty rhetoric to end it. The destruction of civil liberties to enforce authoritarian government is fascist, not American.

    The US lies for more war with Iran, rejecting inalienable and legal rights for Iranians. Obama continues this policy of unlawful aggression, including official policy for first-strike nuclear weapons upon conclusion that Iran poses a possible future threat to the US and/or our allies. Political leaders and corporate media ignore the ignoble history of US vicious domination of Iranian government through coup and backed invasion. Fascist policy; un-American.

    The US violates numerous treaty law with WMD, and hypocritically asserts our war targets' alleged violations justify US armed attack. This rejection of limited government under the law is a fascist empire on the loose, not a law-abiding neighbor. Added hypocrisy is the psychopathic front of American political leaders as Christians.

    American corporatocracy is dominated by Enron-like cartels, headed by banks receiving the transfer of TRILLIONS of our tax dollars to pay-off their gambling debts in exotic derivative markets the federal government regulates only in more empty rhetoric. This socialization of corporate-insiders’ losses is fascist, and fundamentally in opposition of the American ideal of cooperative competition on a level playing field. Obvious financial solutions for the public good are ignored in their corporate and not public policy commitment.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    American corporatocracy is dominated by Enron-like cartels, headed by banks receiving the transfer of TRILLIONS of our tax dollars to pay-off their gambling debts in exotic derivative markets the federal government regulates only in more empty rhetoric.

    Actually, I would take that a step further and say that may have been speculation on the bankers' level, but the Fed policy that allowed it was calculated to cause the effect. Fascists have always thought their best shot at a coup in the US is to create a financial emergency.

    If you accept Mussolini's definition of fascism, you don't have to add the corporatocracy bit. That was part of his definition of fascism.

    Posted by: Carla Axtman | Dec 19, 2009 12:31:21 PM

    but when progressives do the same yelling at the similar hackery here, it's being a troll?

    It's got to be tough to type with that chip weighing so heavily on your shoulder.

    I plead to being a might sensitive.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "Many have said that they will disengage, or already have and will not participate in 2010."

    We will see what happens next year. There are always people who disengage for any number of reasons. They may be unhappy with people they helped elect (in some cases, people don't disengage, they engage in "unelecting" their former candidate by backing someone else) . OR their life may change. Someone with a new baby (or other change in family life), someone with a new challenging job (or the challenge of handling multiple jobs, or a health concern, or whatever) may just decide there is not the spare time in their life in 2010 that existed in 2008.

    Happens all the time. Happened to our Dem. county chair who got a more challenging job and then she and her husband both got jobs in another part of the state.

    It may well be that people are burned out but if they see a candidate who inspires them (or a really rotten candidate runs a nasty campaign and they want to counter that) things may change.

    Generalizing doesn't work. If there are 10 people rethinking their political involvement in 2010, there could be 10 different reasons why.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    LT, you are far to experienced to come off on this forum as a modern day Pollyanna. face it, so far the dems have failed miserably in delivering anything of value to the idealistic, bright eyed 20 somethings that helped sweep them to power over the past two election cycles.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I'm writing from the point of view of that great W E Deming quote, "in God we trust, all others must provide data".

    I don't buy into generalizations. I have worked on too many campaigns where all the "conventional wisdom" proved wrong.

    Keep track of all those folks you have talked to who are disengaged. Let us know 6 months from now if all of them are still burned out on politics.

    I am experienced in politics to the point of having been burned out multiple times myself. The first was before I worked on a presidential campaign and became a national convention delegate.

    Years later I worked on a hotly contested primary and old friends asked how I could support the candidate I had chosen. "Simple, he un-burned me out on politics".

    I also know people who left politics for good--or for decades.

    I just believe individuals make up their own minds and no amount of generalizing will change that.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Tell you what LT, we will let the turnout post election polls tell the tale.

    Again, my non-scientific data gathering indicates that the 20 somethings will stay away in droves in 2010. The angry conservatives and even angrier NAV's will turn out in droves.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "Again, my non-scientific data gathering indicates that the 20 somethings will stay away in droves in 2010."

    Could be, but it would be unfortunate if they do. 20-Somethings have the most at stake if the follies of the past couple of generations are allowed to be replicated by the present.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)
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    There must be something in the water in Lane County that develops astute analytical minds in politicians and also grows them big enough cajones to speak their minds: Wayne Morse, Jim Weaver, Peter DeFazio, Vicki Walker and hell, even our friend Jack Roberts.

  • Buckman Res (unverified)
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    Again, my non-scientific data gathering indicates that the 20 somethings will stay away in droves in 2010. The angry conservatives and even angrier NAV's will turn out in droves.

    When Congress finally passes a health insurance “reform” bill that, among other things, mandates the purchase of health insurance I predict 20 somethings will become just as soured on the current administration as the rest of us.

    There will be plenty for all segments of the voting public to be angry about come 11/10.

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    There must be something in the water in Lane County that develops astute analytical minds in politicians and also grows them big enough cajones to speak their minds...

    I do believe Cottage Grove-raised Steve Novick falls into the "grown in Lane County" category.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    As much as I agree with LT, there's obviously a common denomitator that is true of all, in that few answer a straight question. Found the Beeb's analysis of that interesting.

  • Joshua Welch (unverified)
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    "Jack: he's not that hard to pigeon hole ideologically. He's has been consistently very progressive/liberal. He does end up voting w/ Republicans in many cases but it's for very different reasons.

    I guess you're right. I forgot that the balanced budget amendment was a progressive bill and that it was progressive to vote against the assault weapons ban."

    Jack: "consistent" doesn't mean every single vote/issue. The vast majority of the time he votes progressive. So, I guess I am right.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I'll trust the election results better than polls unless I know the sample size, demographics, and wording / order of questions in any poll.

    I agree with the statement Gil made about Lane County.

    Time has come to use this quote as a yardstick rather than guesses about what "the base" thinks or some other assumptions. Give me someone who has cast a gutsy vote and explains it well ( like "you can vote me out of office and I will still believe that....) over someone who goes along with the flow of what bloggers want, what "the base" wants, or any other vague grouping.

    The Lane County people mentioned (incl. Jack and Steve) fit this definition of courage IMO.

    Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men...have lived. The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of a final moment;
    but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. JFK, Profiles in Courage, 1956

    There was another JFK quote I was looking for but did not find--about the quality of voters and how elected officials should do what is right --freedom of conscience--and trust the voters will understand rather than letting public opinion be their conscience.

    Wayne Morse famously said that he cast his vote "free of political pressure and unmoved by threats of loss of political support".

  • JJ Ferguson (unverified)
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    Dear Pete,

    It's in your butt NOW!

    Love, Rahm

    At least he's kept his virtue intact.

  • website templates (unverified)
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    DeFazio was elected as a Lane County commissioner in 1983 and served as chairman from 1985 to 1986.

  • penis enlargement exercises (unverified)
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    DeFazio was elected as a Lane County commissioner in 1983 and served as chairman from 1985 to 1986.

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