Doping

By the standards of International Cycling, Barry Bonds wouldn’t be playing.

The scandal is massive. Bonnie DeSimone who used to write for the Trib, is covering the Tour for the Boston Globe again and gives the full story here.

I’ve never thought I was naive about doping in cycling. While I see no evidence Lance used performancing enhancing drugs after cancer, I’ve always said I wouldn’t be surpised if he did before cancer. Some recent stories suggest this may be the case, especially since Frankie Andreu corroborated his wife’s position–and Frankie can only get hurt by saying so.

The Inspector Javitz like French pursuit of him always seemed strange to me given since cancer he has been the most tested athlete on the planet and it’s now been disclosed, he was paying for the anti-doping program.

Instead of attacking Lance (and notice so far, no current members of Discovery are listed) the French press should have been going after the other teams.

Pavich Goal

He’s shooting to hit $25,000 for his ACT Blue Donations today!

As of this minute, he’s at $20,099.99

Okay, someone donating to this campaign likes hitting odd numbers, but more to the point, no one, and I mean no one has contributed through ArchPundit so I challenge you all to help him hit that goal!

There have been donations to Duckworth, Seals and Laesch which are fantastic too. If you prefer those that’s great, and let me remind you, Bean is shooting for a similar number through tonight!

very, Very Bad for the Blagojevich Administration

The only upside to this whole deal is that it hit on a Friday before the holiday. Otherwise, this is just huge.

Lisa might refer to this as the Bill Brady can bite me letter. Notice the dates of the conversation were in May, fully a week before Brady apparently asks Madigan to break the law by disclosing Grand Jury rules.

Some early comments over at the Capitol Fax suggest this lets Blagojevich off the hook because no indictments will come down until after the election. The indictments might be that far off, but this also gives reporters license to tell their editors there is something there and they should be given the time to track it down.

I’ve argued an indictment would swing the election, I’d say this makes it very unstable and a toss-up. It also means it’ll get nasty fast.

Cook Moves IL-06 to Toss Up

CQ has it as a lean Republican

The Cook Political Report Take:
OUR TAKE FROM THE TRENCHES
House Editor Amy Walter looks at the political landscape in the House.

House Rating Changes
June 29, 2006

In today’s update, the number of competitive seats remains the same, but four Republican seats move from Lean Republican to Toss-Up (FL-22, IL-06, CT-04 and NC-11) and the open Democratic seat in OH-06 moves from Toss-Up to Lean Democratic.

On May 19, the last time we updated the Competitive House Race Chart, we expanded the number of competitive Republican-held seats from 24 to 36 and reduced the number of Democratic-held competitive seats from 11 to 10.

In our latest evaluation, the overall number of competitive races stays the same, but it has become clear that four races in Republican-held districts have become more competitive, while one open Democratic race has become less competitive.

Moved from Lean Republican to Toss Up are: Clay Shaw (FL-22), Chris Shays (CT-04), Charles Taylor (NC-11) and IL-06 (Open: Henry Hyde)

Moved from Democratic Toss-Up to Lean Democratic is OH-06 (Open: Ted Strickland)

While the numbers suggest that this district is not as vulnerable as the three other Republican-held open seats in toss up (CO-07, IA-01 and AZ-08), it is clear that the contest to replace GOP Rep. Henry Hyde in this suburban Chicago district is going to be very close.

A recent poll taken for Democratic nominee and Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth showed that she was tied with Republican state Sen. Peter Roskam at 40 percent. Roskam is a solid candidate with a hefty bank account and real base in the district. But, even Republicans admit that the political environment makes this a much more difficult race for Roskam. Duckworth will be portrayed as a carpetbagger with no real legislative experience. Yet, her profile as a war veteran who has no voting record to exploit makes her a tough target.

Full Cook Ratings here

From the Inbox: An Open Letter To David Sirota

I can’t claim credit for the following, though, I have to say, I pretty much agree with it. If you need someone to ‘sign it’, I’m fine with me being that person. And for the record, I think Schweitzer is a political stud.

OPEN LETTER TO DAVID SIROTA

Dear David:

I enjoy reading your blogs and opinions. However, as I read your recent
post about Barack Obama?s speech on faith and politics, it got me to
wondering.

You start by saying, ?One of the most infuriating behaviors among some
Democrats these days is their willingness to create fake straw men that
undermine progressives and reinforce false narratives about the Democratic
Party.?

Leaving aside for the moment that if blogs couldn?t do this it?s likely
they would go out of business, I read a story just two days before Obama?s
speech about another Democrat whom I think you are very familiar with ?
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. You live in Montana and you?ve been
paid by Schweitzer during his past campaigns.

Governor Schweitzer told Paul Nussbaum of Knight-Ridder newspapers that
?Democratic presidential candidate with hopes of carrying Montana would
have to tap into that independence and speak frankly to the gun issue,
Schweitzer said? ?I’d tell him to tell people he respects their Second
Amendment rights?.?

While you scold Obama for allegedly setting up a straw man to falsely
display courage
saying Obama ?doesn?t offer any names to tell us who
constitutes? the ?we? who ?fails to acknowledge the power of faith in the
lives of the American people.? ?Why? Because there are none. What
Democrat of any prominence at all in America ?fails to acknowledge the
power of faith in the lives of the American people?? I can?t think of one.
It is a straw man – one that might make Obama look like a man of ?courage?
or ?principle? – but one that dishonestly reinforces right-wing
stereotypes about supposedly ?godless? liberals/Democrats.?

David, can you tell me ONE recent Democratic Presidential candidate that
didn?t respect the Second Amendment?

For that matter, can you tell me ONE Democrat of any prominence at all in
America that doesn?t ?respect their Second Amendment rights??

Or is Schweitzer setting up a straw man to portray himself as
?independent? and ?not some East Coast liberal? that dishonestly
reinforces right-wing stereotypes about Democrats as people who want to
take guns away from citizens, not respect the Second Amendment and as the
party that doesn?t even recognize the lawful rights of hunters?

You give Obama credit for the idea of reaching out to religious
constituencies as I give credit to Schweitzer for wanting to reach out to
those that own guns. But in your next sentence you say ?individual
high-profile Democrats need to stop regurgitating false right-wing
storylines just to promote their own individual ambitions.?

Did I miss your critique of Brian Schweitzer?s straw man arguments? I
hope your professional relationship with the Governor hasn?t caused you to
become intellectually dishonest.

You say ?it doesn?t help the Democratic Party?s efforts to better connect
with evangelicals when a high-profile leader like Obama gives a speech on
that very subject that implies that Democrats (again unnamed) supposedly
don?t care about religion.?

Does it help when Brian Schweitzer implies that Democrats want to
confiscate the guns of law abiding citizens?

Again, maybe I missed your critique of your former employer.

One aspect you failed to mention in your post is the section in Obama?s
speech that chastises the leaders of the Religious Right who threaten the
separation of church and state or who use faith to divide people or those
that use faith to cynically justify the political result they want. Yes,
Obama had the courage to put that in his speech even if you failed to
acknowledge it (maybe you didn?t read the entire speech?).

I noticed in the article about Schweitzer that was proud to be both a
member of the NRA and happy to have the endorsement of the NRA.
?Politicians in Montana are extremely skittish about crossing swords with
the NRA, and that’s why it’s a coveted endorsement? said Montana State
University political science professor Craig Wilson.

I wonder if Schweitzer agrees with everything the NRA says? Does he
believe that those who enforce gun law are ?jack-booted thugs? as the NRA
once called them? Even Former President George H.W. Bush disavowed that
statement. Maybe Schweitzer believes there aren?t enough guns in America
or that terrorists who bought guns at unregulated gun shows shouldn?t be
subject to a criminal background check?

Maybe Brian Schweitzer has the ?courage? to speak out against the NRA? Or
maybe I missed that courageous speech and your blog post scolding him too.

More likely, Brian Schweitzer believes that guns don?t kill people, people
kill people ? the regurgitating of the same false right-wing storylines
just to promote his own individual ambitions.
=========================

Back to me. An important point about the Obama speech that nearly everyone overlooked, he gave two examples of the problems in the Democratic Party related to faith. Both regarded his 2004 Campaign for Senate in Illinois.

Those who attend liberal to moderate and often conservative Protestant Churches recognize this as a typical way of pointing out human weakness while keeping to the admonishment that he who is without sin should cast the first stone.

My inbox is full of stuff on this subject–some will see the light of day, some will not.

Help Out Your Congressional Candidates

Markos gives Dan Seals a little love, okay, a lot

I’ve been having a hard time balancing out coverage of 5 competitive House races and then the statewide races, but Dan appears to be doing far better than anyone expected.

That said, I’ve set up a page at Act Blue for you to donate to any of the five campaigns–actually Hare’s isn’t up there yet, so the four competitive races are there. Today is the last day of the quarter so help where you can.

Bean needs $5300 TODAY to meet her goal and I’m sure Duckworth and Pavich are trying to hit goals (if the campaigns send me where they are as the day progresses, I’ll keep updating throughout the day). David Loebsack of IA-02 is listed as are the other Democratic Illinois challengers and IA-01 and IA-03. Finally, you can donate to the 8th and 10th CD Democrats there, and the Lake County Party.

I’ll also have a state race page up in a bit–this is the end of the half-year reporting period and the last time until about a month out for it to show up and build momentum.

Give. Give. Give. And then volunteer. And if you can’t give at all, just volunteer.

Wow! Two Members of the Press Read the Whole Speech

To Lynn Sweet’s credit, she POSTED it yesterday and now follows it up with a far better description than most of the news stories.

She nails the thesis:

Obama has an important message about the need for Democrats to reach out to people of faith in America and not make concessions to the right-wingers who claim moral superiority. It’s similar to a campaign for faith-based voters being waged by Dean. Obama’s team also made sure there were messengers to get his message heard.

Not make concessions to the right-wingers who claim moral superiority….

That’s the key to the speech. Not that secularists need to reduce hostility to religion, but that Democrats need to not be ashamed to use language of faith in backing their ideals. That’s different than just saying because the Bible says so and Obama makes that point clear in the speech.

It is a far more positive message than most press stories and blogs have argued. It explicitly rejects that Democrats are hostile to religion, but he points out how Democrats go to great lengths to avoid religion, including two examples from his own political career.

One of the aspects of the message that struck me is that it is a confessional sermon type of Protestant speech that points out the struggle to be Christ-like. It doesn’t point fingers except when the fingers can be pointed at the speaker as well. I think many who have commented negatively on the speech miss that character of the speech–I’m guessing largely out of a lack of experience in moderate to liberal Christianity.

Second, Dana Milbank covers it in his Washington Post column as well and he was there.

Just as Bush rhetorically took on the “leave us alone” conservatives in his party, Obama said he felt a “pang of shame” because his staff had put on his campaign Web site “standard Democratic boilerplate” that disparaged abortion foes. He also complained that Democrats had “taken the bait” by banishing any hint of faith, and said they should favor faith-based addiction programs, voluntary prayer in schools and references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

But, again following the Bush model, Obama accompanied these rhetorical gestures to the right with a down-the-line liberal agenda, all bathed in the language of morality: taking on gun manufacturers, spending more money on poverty programs, providing contraception education and fighting Republicans on taxes.

“We need an injection of morality!” he proclaimed — but he was talking about the estate tax, not same-sex marriage.

Now, going back to Sweet, there has been one thing in several of the positive reviews that sticks out to me:

Obama goes a little further in making the suggestion that “voluntary student prayer groups” in school “should not be a threat.”

Certainly the ACLU has a strong position about this, but I’m still not convinced this is a progressive bugaboo. I seem to remember when Congress went back to correct the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Equal Acess Act of 1984 that there was a lot of support from liberals/progressives for Equal Access which largely would support the existence of voluntary religious groups at a school. Why after all shouldn’t a Bible Study have the same access as the Chemistry Club? Perhaps I’m projecting on this one.

No, Scheuer’s just an idiot

Sorry Jeff, anyone running a campaign who relies upon some clown who doesn’t sign a contract or pay someone money is an idiot. It’s pretty much the definition of idiocy.

The number of morons who think they’ll represent themselves as a consultant or operative in campaigning is astounding and to be that naive and then not to check up on the guy is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. It’s dumber than doing pay for play radio at the minimum price and then having the host attack you after they cash the check.

My college advisor complained about my coverage of his petition snafu, which was a far smaller number. And he’s even more pissed at himself for not monitoring the situation better. I certainly don’t owe it to Bill Scheuer to be nice to him because I support Bean.

This isn’t a mistake someone who just fell off the turnip truck makes, it’s the sort of mistake someone still on the turnip truck makes. Maybe someone did pull one over on him and if there is some evidence great. Right now, it’s Bill Scheuer and a conspiracy theory. Given the Constantine guy doesn’t appear to be the guy who actually showed from the articles.

But how could you possibly trust your entire campaign to some clown you don’t know anything about, you haven’t signed a contract with and you haven’t paid? What was the other plan? If he has union support, he should have been able to get some troops and some suggestions for a reputable consultant. Or at least done a google search for Anthony Constantine Illinois which before this story broke turns up the only guy who fits any sort of political description is an employee in Lipinski’s office. Or I go to the Board of Elections database and see the only donations/expenditures to this company are related to the 23rd Ward.

You might be able to convince me someone committed fraud, but so do people who send out the Nigerian e-mails. The people who fall for those are idiots too.

If you take the Progressive Punch ratings, Lipinski comes in at 79, Bean comes in at 75 out of 100. Bean is in a 56% Bush District. Lipinski is in a 59% Kerry District. Bean’s vote on bankruptcy reform was inexcusable, but I also can see that any of the Republicans who ran would have done the same thing.

Further, Lipinski’s environmental commitment is especially questionable given he has a good friend in one of the worst polluters in the nation, Holcim.

Finally, trade issues count less to me than social issues. CAFTA was a bad bill, but I’m rather agnostic on it similar to Brad DeLong. Where Bean deviates from Democratic positions the most are less obnoxious to me than where Lipinski deviates.

A Truly Radical Speech in America Today

It shouldn’t be as it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary at my church, but hey, the public debate has been skewed.

Eric makes a point here that really misses the substance of the speech:

The idea that this demand is hostile to religion is a common and popular strawman — I understand why Obama is espousing it as he sidles toward the political middle — but it’s also completely wrong.

The speech is in no way a feint to the middle. The reason I and some others have reacted so positively–including Austin-Mayor, is that it is very radical in current discourse. Obama not only sets out that faith is a part of political action for many, but makes clear, concise, coherent arguments concerning how one can be a Christian and support liberal positions.

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten point plan. They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness ? in the imperfections of man.

Solving these problems will require changes in government policy; it will also require changes in hearts and minds. I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturer?s lobby ? but I also believe that when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we have a problem of morality; there?s a hole in that young man?s heart ? a hole that government programs alone cannot fix.

I believe in vigorous enforcement of our non-discrimination laws; but I also believe that a transformation of conscience and a genuine commitment to diversity on the part of the nation?s CEOs can bring quicker results than a battalion of lawyers.

I think we should put more of our tax dollars into educating poor girls and boys, and give them the information about contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies, lower abortion rates, and help assure that that every child is loved and cherished. But my bible tells me that if we train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it. I think faith and guidance can help fortify a young woman?s sense of self, a young man?s sense of responsibility, and a sense of reverence all young people for the act of sexual intimacy.

He doesn’t discuss the above in shame of justification of how can he disagree with the ‘obviously more religious conservatives’, he does it from a position of simple faith that is unapologetic. It challenges ever assumption the media holds about faith, and the media didn’t get it. Unfortunately neither did many progressives from the reaction on the blogs.

I Found One Eric!

Eric challenges Obama to identify one person who thinks the faith of an individual should be left at the door before entering the public sphere.

It’s one of the clearer examples

As a committed secular leftist, I agree with Michael Lerner that we on the left should not be embarrassed to “acknowledge and articulate” our values. I am quite happy to acknowledge that my political views are grounded in a belief in the moral equality and dignity of human beings. But I don’t agree that I need to bring God into it–bringing God into it might even be dangerous. Secularism is based on rational standards that are by definition open to criticism and revision in light of new situations or facts. Religion, on the other hand, rests on the unassailable authority of the word of God, an authority that, unlike secular authority, does not admit rational criticism. For this reason, notwithstanding prominent examples to the contrary, religion has mostly been and can be counted on to continue being a force of reaction, not of progress.

JAMSHEED SIYAR

I think many people who are religious in the Democratic activist circles hear this a lot or very similar things. PZ Myers says things similar quite frequently. I still like PZ and find him hysterical, but he says just such things. And being around liberal/Democratic activist circles it isn’t that uncommon of a complaint to hear when someone mentions their faith how that is insulting to listen to.

It doesn’t mean all secularists, but it does happen. And sometimes it happens in ways that aren’t direct challenges, but issues such as the abortion example in Obama’s speech. But even better is this paragraph from the speech:

Democrats, for the most part, have taken the bait. At best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religious values altogether, fearful of offending anyone and claiming that ? regardless of our personal beliefs ? constitutional principles tie our hands. At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word ?Christian? describes one?s political opponents, not people of faith.

That happens a lot and that is a denial of the importance of faith. It may not seem like it to those saying it, but it dismisses not just the thought, but the very being of the person it is said around.

If you think stealing is wrong because it says so in your scripture or because common sense tells you it’s wrong or because the Ouija board tells you “no” when you ask it if you should swipe something, it’s all the same to us as long as you don’t steal.

But when all of us come together in the public square to debate laws about theft, we ask that your proposals and your proofs not rely on or require the authority of God.

Why? Because it works better that way. Because it’s very hard to settle a debate between people who hear contradictory messages in the voices of their Gods.

The idea that this demand is hostile to religion is a common and popular strawman — I understand why Obama is espousing it as he sidles toward the political middle — but it’s also completely wrong.

Think about the language here: “If you think stealing is wrong because it says so in your scripture or because common sense tells you it’s wrong or because the Ouija board tells you “no” when you ask it if you should swipe something, it’s all the same to us as long as you don’t steal. ”

Comparing a Ouija board to Scripture? This is part of the problem.

And secondly, Obama explicitly agrees there needs to be universal values behind the law:

This brings me to my second point. Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God?s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

In the messages criticizing Obama, there’s a common them of looking at a couple lines and analyzing them in the context of only the experience of somewhat more secular people. Those with an organized faith often have very different experiences. In one sense it is a positive thing because some secularists are projecting their beliefs onto all secularists meaning the most benign and positive view of pluralism. I’d like that to be true, but it isn’t. While most liberal secularists I know are committed to pluralism, some are committed to pluralism as in everyone should play by their narrow rules excluding religious comments altogether.

More on the entire speech in a moment.

Newman Again

I cited Nathan Newman yesterday and I’m doing it again–he’s one of the most underlinked bloggers on the net.

What’s remarkable about some of the blog and other reactions is that folks seem to be talking about every policy other than the one Obama himself seemed to emphasize for change, which is progressive opposition to allowing prayer in public institutions. Opposition to prayer and other expressions of faith in public institutions is hardly a fringe position on the left– it was decided by Supreme Court Justices and supported by liberal opinion editors for most of the last four decades.

Obama did not suggest changing progressive positions on abortion.
Obama did not suggest changing progressive positions on gay rights.

He suggested changing progressive positions on expressions of faith within public institutions such as schools.

I slightly disagree on the prayer issue–voluntary prayer has been pretty consistently backed by a pretty wide array of progressives especially with the passing of equal access to public facilities laws regardless of faith. That’s a small quibble though.

Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting ?preachy? may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems.

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten point plan. They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness ? in the imperfections of man.

Solving these problems will require changes in government policy, but it will also require changes in hearts and a change in minds. I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturers? lobby ? but I also believe that when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we?ve got a moral problem. There?s a hole in that young man?s heart ? a hole that the government alone cannot fix.

I believe in vigorous enforcement of our non-discrimination laws. But I also believe that a transformation of conscience and a genuine commitment to diversity on the part of the nation?s CEOs could bring about quicker results than a battalion of lawyers. They have more lawyers than us anyway.

I think that we should put more of our tax dollars into educating poor girls and boys. I think that the work that Marian Wright Edelman has done all her life is absolutely how we should prioritize our resources in the wealthiest nation on earth. I also think that we should give them the information about contraception that can prevent unwanted pregnancies, lower abortion rates, and help assure that that every child is loved and cherished.

But, you know, my Bible tells me that if we train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it. So I think faith and guidance can help fortify a young woman?s sense of self, a young man?s sense of responsibility, and a sense of reverence that all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy.

It seems to me the media coverage missed his point that the stereotype is wrong and he can support his positions based on his Christianity. Go figure, the Washington Post cannot cover a religious story or a politicsl story well, they can’t cover a combined story any better.