GOP Goes Downtown on Fighting Russ Feingold

The GOP is going after Fighting Russ Feingold with their newest radio ad. They aren’t even trying to hide their involvement behind a cut-out, like the SBVFT, this time. Apparently, the tenor of political discourse in America is now such that a politician can be accused of pro-terrorist leanings for standing up for Americans’ civil … Read more

Bellum Interruptus in Iraq?

George Tuttle posted an interesting group of quotes from Gabby Giffords on the Iraq war on his blog: Stand up and be counted: Will the real Gabrielle Giffords please stand up?. His conclusion is that Gabby has been inconstant in her view of what is to be done about Iraq. I actually don’t agree. If … Read more

Frameshop: President Bush’s NSA Domestic Wiretapping Program

The Administration and Congressional Republicans are thwarting legitimate Congressional inquiry into the President’s domestic NSA program. This abuse of power should be a major issue in the 2006 season. I don’t hear candidates talking about often enough. This is potentially THE issue of 2006. When I do hear them talking about it, I very seldom recognize a genuine understanding of the issue and the values at stake. Toward improving the tone of the debate, I wrote a little memo combining accurate statements on the legal issues and an appropriate framing of the issue. I’m very interested in feedback.

The Administration’s legal justifications for the program are implausible. The complete lack of information forthcoming about the actual conduct of investigations, the identity of citizens affected by the surveillance, or scope of the program makes impossible any responsible conclusion about the legality or illegality of the program. The Congress must fully investigate the program before legislating or making any other recommendation or finding about the program. Such a constitutionally responsible investigation is being blocked by the Administration and by the Republican Party in Congress.

Talking Points:
•    “Congress has a duty to investigate violations of American citizens’ 4th Amendment Rights. But this Administration and the Republican Party in Congress are blocking the constitutional process for partisan advantage.”

•     “This Administration claims the power to violate the 4th Amend and insists that no one – not the Congress, not the Courts, not the people – can stop them.”

•    “Republicans in Congress won’t stand up to this Administration even to protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens.”

•    “The Administration created a constitutional crisis by claiming the right to ignore the law and the doing everything they could to keep it quiet.”

•    “A responsible determination of the legal issues isn’t possible until we have the facts, and the Republicans in Congress and this Administration are blocking any inquiry into the facts.”

•    “This Administration is throwing legal sand in the faces of the American people and Congress rather than explain how this program works and why it’s needed.”

•    Stopping terrorists is everyone’s interest, but it doesn’t override our Constitution and the rule of law.”

The solution to the Constitutional crisis the President has created by ignoring the law lies in:

  1. Congress using its full subpoena power to investigate thoroughly the factual issues to determine,
  2. the Administration’s genuine need to use the methods selected to obtain the information instead of using FISA to obtain the information (especially given 72 hour retroactivity),
  3. the intelligence value of the information actually obtained versus the intrusion imposed upon the public.

Interview with Jeff Latas, Democrat for Congress in Arizona’s CD8

Latas Jeff Latas is a Democratic candidate for Congress in Arizona’s CD8. What will probably catch people’s notice about Jeff is that he is a veteran, as is his son Jesse. Jeff is one of a group of about 40 veterans running for Congress this cycle, the Band of Brothers. But what Jeff would prefer to catch your attention is his bold stands on energy policy and environmental protection and his training as an aerospace engineer. Either way. Jeff is a man of parts, and he wants to be your representative in Congress.

Jeff is 48, husband to Salette for 26 years, and father of two – 6 if you count the dogs, which they are inclined to do. Salette and Jeff were an ROTC romance, having meet at boot camp. Jeff lived in Arizona while attending UofA, where he received a BS in Aerospace Engineering. He later attended University of Central Michigan while in the service and achieved a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Jeff spent 20 years in service to his country flying F-15E Strike Eagles for most of his career and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross on the 3rd night of Desert Storm, as well as 4 air medals, and 9 aerial achievement medals. Jeff retired from active military service in 2001 and took a job as an airline pilot for Jet Blue.

Medal_obverse Jeff lives in district 8, and has been a registered Democrat since he could first register to vote at age 18. This is his first attempt at government office, besides student government, and the first political campaign he’s been involved with. Jeff feels that his best qualification for office is his ability to grasp how disparate policy areas, such as defense, energy and environment, interlock. Jeff describes himself as an agnostic who endorses the Gaia hypothesis, and thinks that evolution is a scientific fact.

In his personal charitable giving, Jeff and Salette are supporters of animal welfare causes, such as Foundation for Animals In Risk (FAIR) and pit bull rescue, as well as Defenders of Wildlife and Save the Children. I think it says a lot about someone when they support causes which help protect those who can’t protect themselves. The only magazine that Jeff subscribes to in print form is ‘The Nation’, and the last book he read was ‘Running on Empty’ by Pete Peterson.

I found Jeff to be a credible and well-informed candidate with an open mind, strong principles, and can-do attitude. On the logistics of his campaign, Jeff is realistic, but optimistic. He knows that he is facing at least one, and possibly two primary challengers who likely have the ability to raise much more money that him. He points out that he getting a lot of professionals volunteering for his campaign who are providing many of the services, such as PR and video production, for free that others will have to pay for.  Jeff says he’s not really sure how much his campaign has raised so far, but I would guess it to be around 25K – one tenth of what Gabby Giffords reported for the last quarter.

Jeff has a lot of credibility and expertise on military and foreign policy issues; probably a good deal more than any other candidate in the race of either party. For this reason I dwelt on those issues in this interview. Jeff would probably accept that label, but would also be quick to point out that the centerpiece of his campaign is energy policy and environment. This a new and bold strategy for a Congressional campaign, which usually center on bread and butter domestic issues such as jobs and economic development in the district, or on headline issues which the public is focused on, such as Iraq or immigration, at the moment. It will be interesting to see if the electorate responds to a candidate whose central message is changing our energy economy. In the right hands, Jeff’s theme has the ability to become the center of a powerful narrative that touches on nearly every aspect of our society. We’ll see if Jeff is up to the challenge of getting voters to dance to his tune.

Jeff sometimes talks like a fighter jock in the locker room, so the interview has a few bits with slightly salty language. I didn’t think it right to scrub Jeff’s natural demeanor from the transcript. He is who he is.  The transcript has been edited for brevity (and it’s still really long!) so some of the back and forth and surplus has been removed, but it comes close to a verbatim transcript. This interview with Jeff Latas took place on March 9th 2006.