Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mark Udall's Priorities Out of Whack as Skyrocketing Energy Prices Hit Coloradans

Vince Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News, having seen the animated Left-wing attack ads on his newspaper's website, took a minute to investigate the claims behind the facile label attached to Republican candidate Bob Schaffer:
Has it really come to this: that working for an energy company is now a liability - an actual badge of shame - for a candidate for public office in Colorado?

It's hard to believe most voters are so unsophisticated - about economics and the price of gasoline, among other things. In fact, I don't believe they are. But some people do.

The left-wing activists over at ProgressNowAction recently took out an ad on the Rocky Web site trumpeting the claim that GOP Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is actually "Big Oil Bob," a fellow somehow complicit not only in escalating gas prices but also in war profiteering in Iraq. And these sleazy themes may well become a staple promoted by independent political groups as we approach Election Day.

After Schaffer left Congress in early 2003, he did indeed go to work for Denver-based Aspect Energy. But far from being a member in good standing of Big Oil (not that it would be damning anyway), Aspect Energy is a medium-sized independent. It's an aggressively entrepreneurial outfit whose current hydrocarbon production, moreover, is 80 percent in natural gas, according to its Web site.

At first, Schaffer worked mostly on Aspect's charitable efforts, which focus heavily on education. Eventually he shifted to the business side, where he ended up, he told me, as vice president for business development.

ProgressNowAction professes outrage (it's always hard to tell if a political hit squad's indignation is sincere) because Schaffer "voted for over $33 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil" in 2001, naturally neglecting to mention that the price of oil averaged $23 a barrel that year, as opposed to the stratospheric level of today.
Meanwhile, Mark Udall is a ranking member of the majority party running the "worst Congress ever," a Congress that sits idly by while gasoline and other energy prices skyrocket. No drilling in ANWR. No new oil refineries. No new nuclear energy plants.

Even a very carefully studied and limited drilling exploration of the Roan Plateau (a moderate bipartisan approach supported by Gov. Bill Ritter and Bob Schaffer) is not good enough for Udall.

So while the Big Blue Lie Machine uses "sleazy themes" to tar Bob Schaffer, it's Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall whose energy policies are actually harming the pocketbooks of average Coloradans. As Investor's Business Daily astutely points out:
Failing to allow drilling in ANWR. We have, as Bush noted, estimated capacity of a million barrels of oil a day from this source alone -- enough for 27 million gallons of gas and diesel. But Congress won't touch it, fearful of the clout of the environmental lobby. As a result, you pay at the pump so your representative can raise campaign cash.
That hits close to home. Coloradans "pay at the pump" so Mark Udall "can raise campaign cash." But then again, we already knew that Udall's - and ProgressNow's - priorities were out of whack.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another Nice Thing to Say About Mark Udall

Some complain that this blog is completely one-sided in its praise of candidates in Colorado's U.S. Senate race. Yet while we tilt heavily to one side, it is simply untrue that we never give Mark Udall credit. (Here's a recent example.) So here goes the latest:

One of Mark Udall's positive traits - his personal financial integrity - is highlighted in contrast with the exploits of his Minnesota counterpart. Yes, to the best of our knowledge, Mark Udall is NOT a Democratic candidate who owes thousands of dollars in income taxes and penalties.

Scott Johnson, one of Power Line's uberbloggers, puts it best:
Since the expiration of the Al Franken decade in 1990, the only kind of humor for which Franken has been responsible is unintentional. Assuming Franken's tax delinquencies are the result of negligence, they would run true to his post-Franken decade form.
By contrast, Mark Udall has not been responsible for much in the way of humor (outside of sponsoring the Department of Peace proposal) and for nothing in the way of tax delinquency.

Colorado at least can be thankful that Mark Udall is no Al Franken.

Colorado Voter Registration And Party Affiliation--April Update

The latest numbers from the Secretary of State's office--
SvU's voter affiliation tracker has been updated:

Previous coverage here.

As it gets closer to the election, these numbers will help to predict the final outcome as voter turnout percentages (overall), party voter support for candidates (percentage of registered party members that vote for their party's candidate), and the great unknown of the unaffiliateds. Democrats must have the unaffiliateds break their way if the parties' own voters show up in roughly the same proportion and vote in roughly the same percentage. The GOP still owns the pure registration advantage over Democrats, and a high voter turnout and a split independent vote will tilt the advantage ever so slightly in favor of the GOP (at least in general election voter terms). Even a slight advantage may do nothing more than stanch the bleeding of recent electoral losses. Coattails of each party's nominee will also likely provide further help (or hindrance) to the state's Senate candidates and other downticket elections.

Safe prediction? Turnout will be somewhere between 80 and 90% in 2008.

Mark Udall Pokes Barb at General Petraeus, Passed Up Opportunity to Ask Questions

Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall's stint on the House Armed Services Committee appears to have been more about political resume-building than any sort of real conviction on military issues. Remember that photo-op junket to Afghanistan?

As successful military commander David Petraeus was promoted to head Central Command, Mark Udall seized the opportunity to pontificate in a press release:
"Taking over Central Command may give Gen. Petraeus context and perspective to answer the question he couldn't answer last year, namely, whether the war in Iraq has made America less secure."
Yet when Petraeus came to Washington recently to report on progress in Iraq, Mark Udall let the whole hearing go by without asking a single question - tough or otherwise - of the General. (Hearing transcript available at Congressional Quarterly - registration required.)

I guess it's a lot easier to unleash cheap political barbs against a military leader from the press office than to question him directly.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"Desperate Hypocrisy" in Liberal Media Columnist's Calls to Question Jack Abramoff

Bob Agard, one of Colorado's more insightful bloggers, has highlighted the "desperate hypocrisy" of the Left in trying to make their feeble charges against Bob Schaffer stick:
Jason Salzman, in his lefty On The Media column in today's Rocky Mountain News, wants reporters to try to talk directly to [jailed lobbyist Jack] Abramoff. Yes, that's right, now the left is taking the desperate last ditch tactic of trying to get Abramoff to say that he had some ties with Schaffer! The vile, corrupt, jailed lobbyist is now going to be the left's last best hope to revive the story! They have painted him as completely corrupt, but now hope he will say that he did have ties to Schaffer! That's called trying to have it both ways, or having your cake and eating it too. The hypocrisy never ends.
On his blog, the liberal Salzman follows up by using a clever angle to try to push Rocky reporter M.E. Sprengelmeyer to follow up on the case:
Abramoff ordered a couple suits when he was making big bucks ripping off American Indians and others, but he couldn’t pay for the suits because he went bankrupt when authorities caught him.

The Rocky’s Sprengelmeyer, who was roughly the same size as Abramoff, snapped up Abramoff’s suits at a bargain rate from the fancy tailor in Washington DC.

So, situated in Washington and possibly even wearing Abramoff’s clothes, Sprengelmeyer is in a great position to find answers to troubling Abramoff-related questions that have popped up lately in Denver.

Was Schaffer or his staff doing Abramoff’s bidding in defending the immigration policies of the Marianas Islands that resulted in forced abortions and other worker abuse?

I hope Sprengelmeyer does everything he can to find out. The Rocky has some catching up to do.
Great idea, Mr. Salzman. I can almost imagine Mr. Sprengelmeyer arranging an appointment to interview Abramoff in federal prison: "Hey, Jack, let me tell you this story how I got your pants...."

Bob Agard's point is dead-on: The Left's attacks have descended into desperation and hypocrisy. Interestingly, in both his column and his blog, Salzman couldn't be bothered to even drop a mention of the questions remaining in the actual reported connection between Jack Abramoff and Mark Udall. Of the two candidates, Udall was the one to actually take Abramoff money.

Mr. Salzman is upset that his newspaper hasn't joined in the attempt to wring every last drop out of the smear story on Bob Schaffer, but he can pretend the barely touched story of Mark Udall's connections to Jack Abramoff doesn't exist.

Desperation and hypocrisy, indeed.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pueblo Chieftain Highlights Mark Udall's New, Temporary Decision to Fight Earmarks

The Pueblo Chieftain today lauds Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall:
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican seeking re-election in the 4th District, and Rep. Mark Udall, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, are joining the “no-earmark” movement. As Rep. Udall notes, Congress needs to adopt clear rules so that all budget amendments are identified by sponsor and cannot be added to House-Senate conference reports....

Note that neither of them is opposing spending targeted for local projects. Rather, they support a more open process of passing those spending proposals.
A few other relevant things to note:

1. Mark Udall is a latecomer to the no-earmark movement, and still doesn't have the clear, principled stand that his opponent Bob Schaffer has had for the past decade.
2. Mark Udall has said he doesn't plan to carry his no-earmarks pledge into the U.S. Senate, essentially admitting that it's a temporary political ploy to help him win office.
3. Mark Udall, Colorado's biggest purveyor of pork, has given seven-figure earmark contracts to a Boulder company that was a large contributor to his Congressional campaign.

So I guess it's nice that Mark Udall has decided to join the movement against earmarks, though it goes against the grain of his career and he admits it's only temporary.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Enviro-Radical Campaign to End Up Exposing Mark Udall's Harmful Policies?

The Rocky Mountain News has one of the most un-amazing "dog bites man" headlines of the year: "Five national environmental groups to target Schaffer."

No one is surprised that the out-of-state enviro-radicals like Sierra Club are throwing their political heft behind their champion Mark Udall. But what fewer people may know is that Mark Udall and the Sierra Club are working behind the scenes in Congress to kill a moderate bipartisan compromise plan that would allow clean drilling on the Roan Plateau. Killing the plan means thwarting jobs, economic growth, and higher education funding for Colorado.

In addition, some of the short-sighted policies Udall has championed for the enviro-radical lobby have exacerbated the damage to Colorado forests from fires and pine beetles.

A watcher observes:
The rules are a bit different here in Colorado. While these groups can come in and try to destroy Bob Schaffer's chances, they are quite vulnerable to being hung on their own scaffold. If industries can be punished and regulated for emitting greenhouse gases as Bill Ritter seems intent to do, then environmentalist organizations and their contributors can be held responsible and liable for the carbon dioxide put out by fires and rotting timber. It is the same gas.
A watcher points readers to a new Reuters article that highlights the massive carbon dioxide emissions from pine beetles and forest fires. Udall and the Sierra Club can't have it both ways.

Colorado needs a more moderate, balanced, reasonable approach than Mark Udall and the enviro-radical lobby have to offer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Big Blue Lie Machine Loses Even More Credibility with Pro-Life Community

It looks like the far right splinter group American Right to Life has realized they were playing the dupe to an unfounded Lefty Big Blue Lie Machine attack on Republican candidate Bob Schaffer, according to today's Denver Post:
Steve Curtis accused Schaffer on Tuesday of lying about not having an opinion on a proposed state ballot initiative that would include fertilized eggs in the definition of "person."

On Wednesday, Curtis backtracked, saying the whole thing "got off issue."

"We're just calling on all pro-lifers to support this initiative today," he said. "We need support to get this on the ballot so that we can have the discussion, we can have the debate, about abortion and about life."

That call-to-action "degenerated" when Schaffer's campaign declined to take a stance before the issue is on the ballot.

Curtis chalked it up to "political battles in the heat of the moment."

Dick Wadhams, Schaffer's campaign manager, clarified that it's not that Schaffer isn't taking a stance. Rather, he hasn't taken a stance yet.

"He's running for the U.S. Senate. That is a huge undertaking," Wadhams said. "Taking a stance on an initiative that isn't even on the ballot isn't a priority.

"Bob Schaffer has been a very consistent representative for pro-life issues in Colorado."
Sure, opponent Mark Udall and his attack dogs still are going to try to make an issue out of it. It's their job to do so. But their agenda holds very little appeal for Colorado's mainstream pro-life voters, and probably for American Right to Life, as well.

Silent Superdelegate Mark Udall Betraying Elitist Sympathies with Obama

An apparently unofficial Barack Obama supporter at a site called "Obama Blog" is urging readers to put the pressure on undecided superdelegates such as Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall.

More than a week has gone by, and Mark Udall still is avoiding the question of whether he shares Obama's elitist views about "bitter" small-town Americans who cling to guns, religion, and bigotry. By not condemning these views, it seems fair to assume that Udall either holds them personally or just doesn't feel they're a big deal.

Mark Udall grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of a United States Senator (who "ran for the Democratic nomination for President as a liberal alternative to the Southern centrist Jimmy Carter" in 1976). Maybe that lies behind any elitist sympathies.

After the stinging results of the Pennsylvania primary that look increasingly likely to push the Democratic race for President to the August convention in Denver, Mark Udall may be having second thoughts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

To Colorado's Detriment, Mark Udall Trying to Take Both Sides on Roan Plateau

Last year, Mark Udall followed his Sierra Club buddies in outright opposition to drilling on the Roan Plateau. Then Gov. Bill Ritter came up with a compromise plan that would slowly phase in drilling leases while still leaving some of the areas of the Plateau under government protection.

Some were surprised to see Bob Schaffer join Udall in support of Ritter's Roan proposal:
Schaffer's campaign points out that Udall first supported a moratorium on drilling on the Roan before getting on board Ritter's compromise plan, which allows some drilling on the environmentally sensitive plateau but calls for phased leasing over time and expands the size of protected areas.

"Boulder liberal Udall opposed any kind of activity on the Roan Plateau and reluctantly supported the Ritter proposal when Gov. Ritter announced it," said Dick Wadhams, Schaffer's campaign manager.

That may not be exactly fair, given the fact that the year-long moratorium wasn't a plan in itself but only a call to hold off on drilling until a better plan was developed. And Ritter's idea, Udall's aides say, counts as that better plan. [emphasis added]
Now, as the Rocky Mountain News points out, Mark Udall has flip-flopped back, working to stall out the clock to prevent even Ritter's modest "better plan" from going into effect:
Like it or not, the clock may run out before energy companies gain access to the massive natural gas supplies beneath federal lands on the Roan Plateau.

Unfortunately, the proposal introduced Thursday by Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar and Reps. John Salazar and Mark Udall would place new development on the Roan on hold. It would jeopardize a financial bonanza for the state that could reach $1 billion.

At this point, delaying new development may be the same as denying it. Whether the next president is Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Barack Obama, domestic fossil-fuel production is likely to have a lower priority than it has under President Bush. And in the case of Clinton and Obama, probably much lower.

Regulators could impose procedural delays that make drilling financially unattractive to energy companies. Investors who have no guarantee where, whether or how soon they can drill on the Roan are likely to sink their capital in locations that are more welcoming to energy production.

In theory, the bill would enact the outline for the Roan offered by Gov. Bill Ritter in December, for which we had kind words. In fact, though, it would impose many more restrictions. It could place much of the estimated 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath federally controlled areas of the Roan out of reach.

Not only could that gas heat every home in Colorado for 20 years; leases and royalties from the wells could also secure essential funding for impacted communities and higher education. That money won't materialize if drilling isn't economically viable.
[emphases added]
To echo what one of my colleagues here wrote nearly six months ago:
...[I]s Mark Udall going to continue to represent out-of-state environmental interests, or at what point is he going to try to represent Colorado's interests?
Looking back, Mark Udall's strategy must be to give the impression of willingness to make a reasonable compromise that would benefit Colorado's interests, while working feverishly behind the scenes to tack on unreasonable restrictions that cater to out-of-state environmental interests.

If Mark Udall gets his way, Colorado will see potential new jobs and economic growth, more affordable energy, and even funding for public colleges and universities all will be headed down the drain. Will Udall later act as if there is nothing he could have done to stop it, when he and fellow Democrats Ken Salazar and John Salazar were the ones busy working to pull out the plug?

You can almost picture Mark Udall's aides last month telling reporters that Ritter's compromise was a "better plan," with their fingers crossed behind their backs. Udall's super-secret "even better plan" is to follow lock-step with the Sierra Club agenda while ignoring Colorado's balanced needs.

Big Blue Lie Machine Allies with Far Right Fringe to Take Focus Off Liberal Mark Udall

Re the fringe group that leaped into action against Republican candidate Bob Schaffer, Rocky Mountain Right diarist "Carnival Tent" adds further perspective:
In one of the most curious twists of the election, the media has been giving large amounts of coverage to fringe organizations claiming that Bob Schaffer is pro-abortion. Any sane person could tell you that Bob Schaffer has been one of the most pro-life legislators in Colorado. As genuine pro-lifers are rallying to Bob Schaffer's candidacy, what then could be the real agenda of these groups?

A cursory glance at American Right To Life's website reveals that they consider National Right To Life and other pro-life organizations to be traitors in the "legacy of Judas" for focusing on helping to end abortions instead of crusades against birth control or childhood vaccines as American Right To Life embraces. They deviate even further from their stated pro-life aims by campaigning against the theory of evolution and go so far as to blame the teaching of darwinism in public schools for everything from the Columbine Shootings to the Holocaust.

In order to force their extremist views on the Republican Party, views rejected by the pro-life movement as a whole, they are willing to align with Wendy Doromal to attempt to destory Bob Schaffer to intimidate conservative Republicans. Doromal is a left-wing activist and a darling of the NEA.
That about says it all. The Left's Big Blue Lie Machine desperately wants to portray Bob Schaffer as a far right candidate, but allies with the Far Right to attack him.

Meanwhile, by their own acknowledgment, their Democrat candidate Mark Udall is liberal or reliably left wing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Five Unanswered Jack Abramoff Questions from Vote-Switching Mark Udall

The Left wanted to make Jack Abramoff an issue, so rather than change the subject we're willing to explore it further. In light of recent revelations that Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall "accepted campaign contributions from jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff – contributions that correspond to Udall’s change in position on Internet gambling legislation," here are a few questions that should clear the public record:

1. Has Mark Udall ever met Jack Abramoff? Bob Schaffer hasn't.

2. Did Jack Abramoff ever attend a Mark Udall fundraiser to drop off checks from his PAC?

3. Did Jack Abramoff or any of his associates lobby Mark Udall to change his position on the Internet gambling legislation?

4. Knowing that Mark Udall is one of the top golfers in Congress and Jack Abramoff was a notorious golfer, did they ever hit the links together?

5. If Mark Udall is disgusted enough with Jack Abramoff finally to return $1,500 in PAC contributions made 6 or more years ago, what about the $10,000 Udall has collected from Harry Reid's Searchlight Leadership Fund PAC? Among his many connections to the imprisoned ex-lobbyist, Reid collected more than $68,000 from Abramoff and Company.

Big Blue Lie Machine Co-opts Fringe Spokesman in Lame Attack Attempt

The Left has been salivating again today with news from the Denver Post that a self-appointed spokesman for an ultraconservative social issues group publicly criticized U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer on flimsy grounds. It's not often the Left attack machine or the MSM finds camaraderie with a pro-life group, but when they're sharing the same political targets, they're glad to give Colorado Right to Life (CRTL) (which has no reference to the story) - or at least Steve Curtis - free airtime.

But it's not even a one-day story, as the Post since has updated this remark:
"At best Schaffer was negligent investigating coerced abortion in the Mariana Islands," [Steve Curtis] said. "Worse, he has voted for permanent normal trade relations with China, rewarding the regime that forces women to abort their children."
With this:
By this afternoon, Curtis' tone had softened toward Schaffer, but he still maintained that the actions of some factories in the Northern Marianas were not worthy of Schaffer's support.

"As a die-hard pro-lifer, I have a problem with supporting any government that allows those atrocities to occur," Curtis said.
Interestingly, though, the Post has kept the opening phrase "Officials with two anti-abortion groups are blasting Bob Schaffer" [emphasis added], but only quotes and mentions Curtis by name.

What's the motivation then? In a post that ironically calls out Curtis as the self-appointed spokesman for the "pro-life movement," a Rocky Mountain Right diarist - like a multitude of voices in the Post article, mostly buried - sums it up well:
If Bob Schaffer isn’t pro-life enough then nobody is.
One person gets free airtime supposedly speaking for a group that is already toward the fringes, but even he backs down before the day is over. Yet one liberal blog we saw went as far as describing Curtis as Schaffer's "own conservative base." Puh-lease.

This morning's Post article can best be characterized as a lazy hit piece. Then again, maybe the newspaper was just trying to prove how easily and quickly the Left's attack machine can jump mindlessly to action, with a calloused disregard for the truth.

Udall 45, Schaffer 42 In Latest Rasmussen Poll

Yet another poll within the margin of error, demonstrating that this continues to be a close race:
For the second straight month, Democrat Mark Udall holds a three-point edge over Republican Bob Schaffer in the race to become Colorado’s next United States Senator. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Colorado found Udall attracting 45% of the vote while Schaffer earns 42%. A month ago, Udall was up 46% to 43%. Two months ago, it was Schaffer with a statistically insignificant one point lead.

This is the fourth straight Rasmussen Reports election poll to find the two candidates within three points of each other.
Pretty much putting the nail in the coffin of the outlier McLaughlin poll. This poll was conducted on April 16, after the Post's anti-Schaffer hit job appeared. No bump in the polls is evident, at least according to Rasmussen.

More from the poll, further indicating the parity of the candidates:
Both men have seen their popularity slide a bit over the past month. Udall is now viewed favorably by 48%, down four percentage points from 52% a month ago. Schaffer is now viewed favorably by 47%, down six from a month ago.

Those figures include 20% with a Very Favorable opinion of Udall and 14% with a Very Unfavorable opinion of the Democrat. Schaffer earns Very Favorable reviews from 12% and Very Unfavorable ratings from 15%.

Udall leads by eight points among women but trails by three among women [sic]. Schaffer attracts 80% of Republicans while Udall is supported by 84% of Democrats. Among unaffiliated voters, the candidates are even.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Colorado voters say the economy is the most important voting issue of Election 2008. Twenty percent (20%) say it’s the War on Terror while 12% name immigration.

Voters who see the economy as the top issue are evenly divided between Udall and Schaffer. Those who see Iraq as the highest priority strongly prefer Udall. Schaffer dominates among those who see immigration as most important.
With unaffiliateds evenly split and given the GOP's healthy registered voter advantage over Democrats, Schaffer holds the edge. Unaffiliateds haven't broken for either candidate yet, but Udall needs to hold significant advantage there in order to overcome the disadvantage from pure party support.

How close are Schaffer and Udall? Take a look at their respective favorability ratings:

Schaffer has a combined 47% positive rating, Udall comes in at 48%. Unfavorable ratings for Schaffer and Udall sit at 37% each. Can't get any closer than that.

Schaffer v Udall's updated poll tracker (click to enlarge):

And poll tracker trendlines (click to enlarge):

**Update: has also updated its poll tracker, and has tossed out the outlier McLaughlin poll as well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Evidence Turns "Honest Debate" Re Bob Schaffer and Marianas Against Big Blue Lie Machine

Lefty propagandist Alan accuses me of fearing an honest debate because I have yet to respond directly to his following colorful characterization:
You're right about the money being perceptual and subjective--even though you and Wadhams hoped to use it as a shield against the real questions, which involve Schaffer's "Potemkin village" tour of the CNMI, and his subsequent official actions that were precisely aligned with the Abramoff strategy of stalling reform in the territory. This is about how Bob Schaffer, either willingly or negligently, abetted a scheme that deprived workers of basic rights (and even their unborn children) for the enrichment of Chinese nationals who wanted to manufacture their products in the same sweatshop conditions found in China while still being able to label them "Made in the USA." This is about Schaffer's unyielding and deeply troubling opposition to human rights reform in the CNMI, reforms which Udall co-sponsored repeatedly while Schaffer took parasailing trips to Saipan and declared the situation there a "model" for the rest of the country. This is about how Schaffer enabled a medieval nightmare of abuse and exploitation on American soil, a nightmare that is only now ending with a different majority party in Congress.
My question is whether Alan (not to mention absurdicus, Taylor West, or the rest of the Big Blue Lie Machine) has actually read or looked at any of the Congressional oversight hearings on the CNMI issue in which Bob Schaffer participated. If he (or they) had, he probably wouldn't be so brazen about using the term "Potemkin village tour" or stating that Bob Schaffer was opposed to reform in the territory.

Here is the key excerpt from Schaffer's testimony at the oversight hearings** (Note that this was Congressional testimony made under oath):
I went to Saipan and spent five days. Visited probably eight or nine factories in the time that we were there. And, with the exception of two or three, all were unannounced. We literally showed up based on testimony we had taken from other workers that we had heard off-premises of work sites and worked kind of backwards. Found out where the complaints were first, then went to the factories and met—showed up at the gate and asked to come in and sometimes there were exchanges between the gate and the front office, but, in all cases, we were eventually let in, never took more than five minutes at the longest.

The first factory we saw was a Chinese-owned factory, owned out of Hong Kong. It was probably the worst one we saw. My experience was not the same as those who said they had been there and found things to be wonderful. I found a number of specific factories and specific incidents that I found to be offensive and believed they need some attention, clearly. Those issues I’ve discussed with a number of people and, for my part, my five-day investigation is not over. This hearing is certainly part of it and there’s still a lot of documents that we’ve requested that we have yet to receive.

But I will say this. We spoke with lots and lots of workers, not just on work sites. We met with about 10 who had plaintiff’s attorney bringing lawsuits against the garment industry, had helped arrange for us. We met with several at a church on Sunday. And with the exception of those that were organized by the plaintiff’s attorney—obviously they had complaints of some merit or they wouldn’t have been there—almost all workers said they would come back to CNMI. The biggest complaint we had was that, because of the work slowing down, the number of contracts seemed to be dropping, that workers are not able to work as much as they want to. They like the overtime hours and they like the time and a half pay that they receive and they want to work more. And that was probably the biggest complaint....

You know, there are, in all seriousness, there are real problems in CNMI that need to be addressed. I am encouraged that there has been a new election in January and there is some new leadership that seems to be a little more forceful in bringing about some of the changes that need to occur. I’m also impressed that the industry itself seems to have gotten a little more serious in the last few months about trying to enforce some of its own internal standards. And we did see some evidence of that, not just because they told us, but because we interviewed workers and asked them about changes that they’d seen, whether they knew about the rights that they had and how they found out and how they had read them.

But question is one that does ignore the importance of maintaining and preserving and elevating the level of human dignity for any human being. That is not in dispute in my mind. What is in dispute is how to arrive at securing that goal, whether we resort to Washington, DC, and our laws here in Washington to accomplish that or whether we rely on the ingenuity of local governments.

Congress is almost a continuous investigation like this. Every day you can walk somewhere around Capitol Hill and find an investigation about some American scandal, whether it’s selling missiles to the Chinese, whether it’s letting the Chinese government steal sensitive nuclear technology out of our most sensitive areas, whether it’s a labor disputes, whether it’s sweatshops in New York City. And so the notion that somehow we are the definitive characters in deciding what laws are most appropriate is just nonsense.

The INS, for example. I would hate to see the CNMI have a record similar to the INS in the United States. When I call the INS, when we find illegal aliens in my district, they laugh at us and tell us we’ll get there in a year or two if we feel like it. Now nobody can tell me that those kinds of laws will be in the best interests of CNMI.

The Department of Interior, for example. Now I heard the gentleman from Samoa talk about the unfortunate nature of these hearings becoming political. When the Department of Interior itself fires off memos that says, ‘‘As a one-time candidate with a similar district against a Frelinghuysen in the old New Jersey fifth, I understand the utility to all hands of administrative candidate communications on such matters.’’ Now this is a communication involved directly in a political campaign about this issue at CNMI. I’m sorry the administration has decided to make this topic a political issue. It should not be and it’s unfortunate that it has become such.

Yes, the Department of Labor. I could go on about all the efforts that I’ve seen in my own district of the Department of Labor putting people out of work and reducing the number of jobs in my district.

And then, of course, you know, I don’t what I’d say about the Department of Justice, the least of which is that they themselves in the CNMI hire non-resident aliens to do jobs for them. You know, we could go on about the other investigations going on in the Senate about the new revelations that the Department of Justice down there in Texas. FBI background checks. Chinese campaign checks making their way to Democratic National Committee going uninvestigated. The independent counsel and on and on and on.

I guess the final conclusion is that there are acknowledged problems in CNMI but Washington, DC, is the absolute last place anyone should look to fix them because this government has proven time and time and time again that, in the end, at the end of the day, people around here in DC tend to make matters worse, not better. [emphases added]
To say therefore that Bob Schaffer "abetted a scheme that deprived workers of basic rights (and even their unborn children)" is more than a gross exaggeration - it is an intentional mischaracterization of a substantive, philosophical policy disagreement, taken out of the context of its time as fodder for a scandal du jour. Whether it's been perpetrated out of ignorance or willful malice, participants in an "honest debate" would look at such evidence and reassess their characterizations.

I suggest that if Alan and the Big Blue Lie Machine wanted an "honest debate" about the issue, they wouldn't ignore actual evidence and leap to a conclusion that smears someone's character, and then browbeat anyone who disagrees with that evidence-free conclusion. Because Bob Schaffer did not work to support a particular kind of heavy-handed federal reform does not mean he "enabled a medieval nightmare of abuse and exploitation on American soil...."

Those on the Left may disagree with Bob Schaffer's view (whether past or present) of how to reform CNMI, but they have not been approaching the issue in that way - they have been approaching it as an opportunity to engage in political mud-throwing. Too bad. Perhaps they could explain why workers trapped in alleged "sweatshops" that were enduring "a medieval nightmare of abuse and exploitation" did not see the situation as dire as cadres of Lefty bloggers sitting in comfortable Colorado homes and offices apparently do.

Besides building their attacks on a distorted characterization of events and conditions at CNMI, the Big Blue Lie Machine's impeachment of Bob Schaffer's character and integrity has yet to prove that any of the arrangements or indirect connections with Jack Abramoff led to a change in Schaffer's votes. They have just concluded that the votes were immoral based on a preconceived notion that has been challenged here.

I submit that Alan, absurdicus, and company have greatly distorted their disagreements with Schaffer both on description of the island's working conditions and on policy prescription to address the problem. They also have taken the leap and falsely aligned Schaffer's views and interests as aligned with a class of Chinese manufacturers, when they are in fact distinct and separate.

Because Bob Schaffer's personal visit to CNMI, which included numerous unannounced visits to factories and other sites to interview real workers spontaneously, did not come to the same conclusion cited by Alan and his friends, perhaps we should look more closely at where the observations differ in terms of time, place, context, source, and methodology, etc.

However, I think all that gets at a deeper point than the Big Blue Lie Machine is interested in dealing with. They want to drive a 30-second soundbite attack TV campaign commercial based on loose points, drawn from a Denver Post news story written to win some sort of investigative journalism award.

In case some point in this post was missed or didn't come across clearly enough, please feel free to follow up. I hope the Left will not ignore the evidence but is willing to continue the "honest debate."

**Due to temporary FTP troubles, I'm not currently able to upload the large PDF. Please feel free to remind me, and I will upload and link a copy of the Congressional oversight hearing for further examination**

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Guest Commentary Advice to Bob Schaffer Misses Point on Campaign Finance

Today, the Denver Post runs a guest column from a lobbyist calling on Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer to repent from his indirect associations with a more infamous lobbyist. The lobbyist is David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch - a group that lobbies for public financing of federal elections.

Donnelly writes purportedly with advice to help Schaffer free himself from public perceptions of conflicted associations with a less reputable lobbyist:
He ought to unabashedly repent, first for his actions, and then for defending a campaign finance system that puts the interests of lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and political donors like factory owners in the Northern Marianas ahead of those, like exploited workers, who need government to listen to them. [emphasis added]
But there is no reason for Bob Schaffer to take advice on the issue from someone who lobbies full-time for a failed vision of campaign finance reform which he thoroughly disagrees.

Let's be clear: Schaffer is not a defender of the current campaign-finance system, and has been a critic of policies that purport to "take the money out of politics," while placing limits on political free speech. This has been a consistent principle of Schaffer's throughout his career in public office.

Donnelly says Schaffer should "repent" of his views on campaign finance. But the evidence calls for Donnelly to repent of his faith in the public-financing system: a system that promotes incumbent protection, while bringing NO improvements to candidate participation, voter turnout, lawmaker behavior, or public confidence in government. It's a system for which only 6 percent of American taxpayers have demonstrated support.

Neither Donnelly nor the candidate he seeks to admonish support the status quo, which protects incumbents and shifts money from the control of parties and candidates to unaccountable, third-party 527 groups. But Donnelly wants to replace it with an ineffective and unpopular public campaign-finance system that keeps in place incumbent protection and adds further limits to political free speech. On the other hand, Schaffer supports a system of campaign finance more in line with the Founders' vision, removing limits on political free speech, that preserves public accountability through full and immediate transparency.

It's an issue of liberty. Donnelly may have noble intentions, but his agenda is failed and outdated. There is no reason for Bob Schaffer to pay him heed.

But what about Mark Udall, the only candidate in the race to take money from Jack Abramoff-associated firms?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mark Udall: The Candidate Who Took Money from Jack Abramoff Firms

The Left in Colorado must be bitterly upset to learn that only one candidate in Colorado's U.S. Senate race has ever taken money from Jack Abramoff-associated firms, and that's Mark Udall:
U.S. Senate candidate Mark Udall took $1,500 in contributions from two firms that once employed disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Udall's campaign spokeswoman Taylor West said the donations from the companies' political-action committees to the Eldorado Springs Democrat's congressional campaigns were legal.

But, she said, Udall plans to donate the $1,500 to an organization in the Marianas Islands that assists victims of human trafficking.
Though we have reason to be skeptical about anything Taylor West says, if this is indeed true, it is the right thing for Mark Udall to do. It took him a long time to come around to it, though, seeing as the contributions were made in 2000 and 2002.

Better late than never. At least perhaps this story will begin to shut up the Big Blue Lie Machine's attempted slime job on Republican opponent Bob Schaffer. Maybe, just maybe, they'll stop trying to manipulate connecting the Abramoff dots and look for some other bit of gotcha politics to play. Mark Udall will want them to stop, lest it brings up this bit of unfortunate news again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mark Udall's Policies Continue to Undermine Health of Colorado Forests

Writing at The Colorado Index, a watcher makes a keen point about the damaging effects of Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall's environmental policies to Colorado forests. It's worth a look.

Does Superdelegate Mark Udall Share Barack Obama's Views on Small-Town America?

About 10 days ago I noted that Mark Udall's dilemma as a Democratic superdelegate was "looking as sticky as ever." Now, with the revelations of Barack Obama's true elitist feelings about "bitter" middle America, it seems the choice would be easier.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) wants to know where Udall stands:

My only quibble with the NRSC ad comes insofar as I agree with Charles Krauthammer's analysis:
The word that is killing him here is not "bitterness," it is "cling," because it drips of condescension. They cling to guns and religion because they are too stupid to understand their own class interests. And that is his message.
Maybe this statement by Barack Obama isn't enough to persuade Mark Udall to endorse primary opponent Hillary Clinton. But Udall could at least come out and give a clear and strong condemnation of these liberal elitist views.

By his continuing silence in failing to respond to the outrageous remarks by a leader in his own party, Mark Udall is leaving small-town Coloradans (who may happen to own guns, go to church, and/or have differing viewpoints on immigration) to wonder what he thinks of them, too.

Schaffer, Udall Tied In Latest Poll At 45% All; McCain Beats Clinton 52-40%, And Obama 51-39%

Proving that the McLaughlin poll was a true outlier, the most recent poll conducted from March 31-April 7 by TargetPoint Consulting for New Leadership USA reveals a race that is truly up-in-the-air, tied at 45% with a MOE of +/- 4% (for the opposition--yes, this poll came before the Denver Post's alleged "scandal"):
New Leadership USA recently commissioned a statewide poll that shows a dead heat in the U.S. Senate race between Former Congressman Bob Schaffer and Congressman Mark Udall.

“This is going to be a highly competitive race between two candidates with real ideological differences,” stated New Leadership USA Communications Director, Kathy Redmond. “According to the poll, Colorado voters have serious concerns about higher taxes and a slowing economy, rejecting candidates perceived to be driving an agenda at the expense of economic growth.”

The recent poll, conducted by TargetPoint Consulting, shows that if they had to choose today, Coloradans would be divided evenly at 45% each for Schaffer and Udall.
. . .
New Leadership USA is an unincorporated nonprofit association devoted to educating citizens and communities about important issues involving education, economic growth, and jobs.
. . .
TargetPoint Consulting
n=604 Likely General Election Voters (moe +/- 4%)
March 31 – April 7, 2008

United States Senate Ballot
As you may know, this November, Coloradans will elect a new person to represent the state in the US Senate. Thinking about this race…if you had to choose today, would you vote for Republican candidate, Bob Schaffer or the Democrat Candidate Mark Udall?

Bob Schaffer 45%
Mark Udall 45
DK/Ref/Other 10
Updating the SvU tracking polls we have the current poll situation (click to enlarge):

and the polls with trendlines (click to enlarge):

If you are looking for a refutation of the non-scandal scandal from a perspective other than here at SvU, "GOPpundit" over at ColoradoPols does an admirable job.

The previous polls showing a tight race will provide a benchmark for any poll that appears both in the near future and over time. It remains to be seen how much the story will affect the polls, and if the effect is temporary or longer-lasting.

The New Leadership USA poll also waded into the Presidential race, and addressed both of the potential matchup scenarios--with John McCain winning against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in Colorado:
United States Presidential Ballot (McCain vs. Clinton)
If the election for President was being held today and you could choose between Republican John McCain or Democrat Hillary Clinton, would you vote for John McCain or Hillary Clinton? (Half Sample n=302)

John McCain 52%
Hillary Clinton 40
DK/Ref/Other 8

United States Presidential Ballot (McCain vs. Obama)
If the election for President was being held today and you could choose between Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama, would you vote for John McCain or Barack Obama? (Half Sample n=302)

John McCain 51%
Barack Obama 39
DK/Ref/Other 10
Exit question: with the opposition's accusations of spin aside, will the Post's "April surprise" have the legs to stick around until November or will it prove to be a tempest in a teapot of accusations built on circumstantial evidence and guilt by tenuous extrapolation, forgotten by summer?

Schaffer Scheduled To Attend Official State Arrival Ceremony For Pope Benedict XVI

From a Schaffer press release:
U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer has been invited, and is scheduled to attend, the Official State Arrival Ceremony of Pope Benedict XVI at the White House in Washington, DC tomorrow April 16, 2008.

The state arrival is an official welcome ceremony reserved for heads of state. This is the first papal visit to the White House since 1979 and it is Pope Benedict’s first visit to the United States as Pontiff.

“It is a great honor to be invited to participate in this historic visit,” said Schaffer. “I look forward to hearing his words of encouragement and exhortation.”

Schaffer received the Benemerenti Medal in 2003 from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput on behalf of Pope John Paul II. The Benemerenti Medal was instituted in 1832 by Pope Gregory XVI. It is conferred on those who have exhibited exceptional public service to their community.

Mark Udall Campaign Bleeding Cash

Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall raised $1.45 million in the last quarter. We all know that. But it's kind of surprising that the Dead Governors fell asleep at the wheel on the real story: Udall spent $831,000 from October through December.

If the Mark Udall camp is performing a media buy, we haven't seen it. So where is all that money going? Patent leather office chairs or golden bathroom fixtures at campaign headquarters? Solar-powered Blackberries? Or maybe it's being wasted on high-paid online staffers? Udall's friend Governor Bill Ritter probably wishes some of that money could be shared to cover his outstanding campaign debts.

Meanwhile, Republican Bob Schaffer raised $1.02 million but spent only $366,000 during the same period. As a result, he actually gained against Udall in cash on hand. In a press release sent out from the Schaffer campaign, Dick Wadhams said, "We are well on our way to bringing in the resources necessary to beat Boulder Liberal Mark Udall and his out-of-state liberal elitist donors this fall."

Fundraising is only part of the equation - how wisely and efficiently money is spent in support of an effective campaign plan also matters greatly.

And Mark Udall spends his campaign money almost as extravagantly as he spends taxpayer money on favors to campaign contributors.

Bob Schaffer Campaigning on Tax Cuts, Contrasts with Tax-and-Spend Mark Udall

On a trip to the Western slope yesterday, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer highlighted one of his major campaign themes:
Schaffer pinned his race on the economy and called for tax cuts to revive it, including cutting the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 25 percent.

“We have the second-highest corporate tax rate on the planet,” Schaffer said. Cutting it would help to preserve American jobs and encourage companies to maintain headquarters in the country, he said.

Schaffer also proposed an optional flat tax and the elimination of the alternative minimum tax.

Schaffer also called for the restoration of the research-and-development tax credit and slashing the repatriation tax on profits earned overseas from 40 percent to 5 percent.

A member of Congress from 1997 to 2003, Schaffer said he was part of the Republican movement that “raised taxes dramatically in the United States” by lowering tax rates, thereby stimulating economic activity.
There's a reason why this should make for such a consistent and successful campaign theme for Bob Schaffer, because its contrasts him significantly with his tax-and-spend liberal opponent Mark Udall (who incidentally has hidden from taking a stance on fellow Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter's property tax hike).

It also explains why Udall and the Big Blue Lie Machine are so intent on changing the subject, especially by conjuring up phony scandals. It furthermore gives an idea why Udall seems so reluctant to join the debate with Schaffer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

One More Reason to be Skeptical of Self-Appointed "Gurus"

A blatantly partisan site that occasionally makes mention of the Schaffer-Udall Senate race, a site to which I seldom pay attention, actually made me laugh out loud today. Not surprisingly, the site, titled "Senate Guru," regurgitates the latest Big Blue Lie Machine slime job.


What got my attention and made me laugh was this statement from the "Senate Guru":
No question that Congressman Mark Udall will obliterate Schaffer in debates.
I knew the site was blatantly partisan; now I know it's completely disconnected from reality. Living in the Left-liberal echo chamber has a tendency to do that to people.

Ask any reasonably neutral and knowledgeable political observer in this state which candidate - Bob Schaffer or Mark Udall - will find debates to be a greater strength. Apparently, "Senate Guru" hasn't done so.

Furthermore, if Mark Udall "will obliterate" Bob Schaffer, why in the world is Udall refusing to join a bipartisan online debate?

I'd like to think for the sake of some sliver of credibility that "Senate Guru" would be willing to retract the off-the-wall statement. I may be asking for too much.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bob Schaffer Works to Shine the Light on State Education Board Business

U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer is currently vice chair of the Colorado State Board of Education. In that capacity, he is working to leave a legacy of open and transparent government. Two stories by Berny Morson in today's Rocky Mountain News highlight Schaffer's work, but they also point to the fact that he fights an uphill battle against Democrats as well as members of his own Republican Party.

First, Bob Schaffer pushed to get the State Board to hold a public, recorded vote on litigation surrounding the governor's property tax hike.

To no avail, says the Rocky, but Schaffer has another idea that the Board could follow to bring needed open government:
State Board of Education members would post their expense accounts online under a resolution that could come up for a vote next month.

Apparently no other Colorado board posts its members' individual expenditures.

Board member Bob Schaffer offered the motion after criticism from legislators that the seven-member panel spends too much on travel and meals.

Schaffer, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, said posting the expenditures might put the criticism to rest.

The resolution could come up for a vote at the board's May meeting at the earliest.
Part of Bob Schaffer's broader bipartisan appeal is his consistent devotion to the principle of open and transparent government.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Analogy for Absurdicus: A Chance to See the Big Blue Lie Machine from the Other Side

The silly little troll working on Mark Udall's behalf has returned, coming by with a snappy riposte. In response to my observations on the the Denver Post's slime job on Bob Schaffer, absurdicus writes two comments. First:
Wait I don't get it. If there's nothing wrong with being associated with Abramoff, then why is it bad that Reid got donations from some of his clients? You can't have it both ways Ben. As to your defense, there's nothing to see here, move along please, it's interesting that you can't separate paying for a trip and arranging one.
First off, ironically, absurdicus is the one who can't separate paying for a trip and arranging it (actually, some part of the trip). But that's a minor point. And I'll forgive him the mistake.

I say, let's take a serious look at the files at Colorado State University, where the records of Bob Schaffer's trip are kept. Let's examine them openly and honestly. But that's clearly not what absurdicus, Taylor West, and Mark Udall's other surrogates are after. They want to throw together a bomb made of political mud and slime, hoping that on detonation the name "Jack Abramoff" might stick next to Bob Schaffer. They don't care if there's any real evidence.

If we do open up the files, look at the facts, have an honest discussion, then find that no real connection exists, I'm afraid then it will be absurdicus who has to excuse himself from this discussion and say: "there's nothing to see here, move along please." Show me the evidence.

Here's the primary problem for absurdicus (and others following Mark Udall's lead): He conflates vastly different kinds of association, which leads to all sorts of faulty assumptions. To clear up the confusion that is driving the slanderous story, readers need to look for the difference between a direct association where two people know each other on the one hand (Harry Reid & Jack Abramoff), and an indirect association contrived by deceitful political opponents and a sloppy reporter without any evidence on the other hand (Bob Schaffer & Jack Abramoff).

So what motivated absurdicus' comment: Sophistry? Or mere confusion? To be kind to absurdicus, I'll presume it's the latter - at least for the sake of argument.

To bring the point home to absurdicus, because he worked so hard coming up with that not-so-clever dig, let's try a fictional analogy. Something more concrete and personal that he might be able to understand.

Let's pretend that there's a very bad man named Mr. Doe who stole money from victims of natural disasters (like hurricanes) and used that money to bribe politicians into voting for unfair laws that helped some of his clients at the expense of many victims. Let's also pretend that absurdicus is a politician, who went on a trip long before anyone knew that Mr. Doe would become a very bad man. The trip was paid for by The Hurricane Study Group. The purpose of the trip was for absurdicus to go inspect the rebuilding of a hurricane disaster area. Generic Law Firm, for which Mr. Doe worked, played a role in arranging a few meetings on the trip.

Maybe absurdicus knew that Mr. Doe happened to be affiliated with Generic Law Firm. Maybe he didn't. But regardless, the name Mr. Doe didn't mean anything. Almost nobody knew that Mr. Doe was a very bad man. Absurdicus never met Mr. Doe, never talked to Mr. Doe, and never took money from Mr. Doe. When absurdicus went on his trip, The Local Times found nothing wrong with what he did, noting that the trip was paid for and sponsored by The Hurricane Study Group.

Mr. Doe later did his bad deeds, and years later was found guilty and put in jail for doing them. Other politicians - we'll call them Joe Schmo, Bob Slob, and Harry Smith - were found guilty of taking Mr. Doe's bribes, then going out of their way to help his clients, and various other corrupt deeds related to his taking of money from victims of natural disasters. It just so happens that Schmo, Slob, Smith, and absurdicus all happened to belong to the same political party. (Mr. Doe also worked with members of the opposite party, even repaying favors to one of them by rewarding his top aide with a cozy job.)

Then one day, absurdicus wakes up and reads The Local Times and sees the headline: "Ties to Doe cloud absurdicus' '99 fact-finding trip." Readers have to get way down in the story to see that there is no direct connection between absurdicus and Doe, and that they never met. But the Times reporter has "associated" absurdicus with Doe.

One of absurdicus' political enemies - Terry East - is quoted in the same story saying: "Given that many Democrat members, including Joe Schmo, Bob Slob, and Harry Smith, have lost their seat or gone to prison based on their association with this criminal, it's pretty remarkable that absurdicus seems to be proud of his association with these sleazy Doe-sponsored junkets."

Meanwhile, upset by the insinuation of the Times reporter looking to gin up controversy, one of absurdicus' friends - we'll call him Don Wilson - points out that absurdicus had never met, talked to, or taken money from Mr. Doe. Wilson wants to be sure the public doesn't believe the falsehood spread by Terry East.

Now to absurdicus' second comment:
Furthermore, if Abramoff really had nothing to do with it, why would Wadhams have to defend the relationship by trying to spin that Schaffer's never met him?
To answer this question, let's go back to our imaginary story: Somebody working for absurdicus' political opponent writes: "Furthermore, if Doe really had nothing to do with it, why would Wilson have to defend the relationship by trying to spin that absurdicus never met him?"

How would absurdicus respond? By answering his own question, he either will have cured his confusion, or perhaps be forced to face his own sophistry.

What's that, absurdicus? Damned if you do, and damned if you don't? Hmmm.... It's not so much fun to be a victim of the Big Blue Lie Machine, is it?

Big Blue Lie Machine Spits out Unsubstantiated Abramoff Slime Job

The memo apparently has gone out from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and the Mark Udall campaign: When all other attacks fail, conjure up the Jack Abramoff bogeyman to attack Republican opponent Bob Schaffer.

You've probably already read it, but go back and peruse today's slime job dumped through the Denver Post, and find out what actual connection there is between Abramoff and Schaffer. No, go ahead and read - I'm waiting.

You saw a lot of innuendo and insinuation and character assassination, but no connection. We're used to seeing this kind of political mudslinging and guilt by third-degree association from many of the Lefty blogs, but it's a little more striking when one of Denver's major newspapers would write a headline and a lead that creates an unsubstantiated smear on a public official's character.

First, there's the mundane fact that we don't find until the 30th paragraph in the Post story: The trip was sponsored and paid for by the Traditional Values Coalition. Not Jack Abramoff. Sorry, Lefty conspiracists.

Then there's the revelation that Schaffer has never met, talked with, or taken money from Abramoff - none of which comes out until the 16th paragraph. Thus the Post facilitates Schaffer's sliming.

For contrast, how about a real example of a member of Congress tainted by Jack Abramoff corruption? Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid took Abramoff donations, met regularly with the criminal lobbyist, and wrote letters for Abramoff's clients, while Abramoff hired a high-ranking Reid staff member.

In the article, Mark Udall's spokesperson uses a vile form of sophistry:
"Given that many Republican members, including Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and Conrad Burns, have lost their seat or gone to prison based on their association with this criminal, it's pretty remarkable that Schaffer seems to be proud of his association with these sleazy Abramoff-sponsored junkets," said Taylor West, a spokeswoman for Schaffer's Democratic opponent, Mark Udall.
Nothing new there from West. It's time for the Big Blue Lie Machine and its surrogate the Denver Post to put away the Abramoff card, and start dealing with the facts.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Asking Again: Will Mark Udall Join The Debate?

The clock continues ticking for the Mark Udall campaign. It's been more than 3 weeks since the Bob Schaffer campaign agreed to participate in an online debate jointly sponsored and moderated by liberal blogger David Thielen and Schaffer v Udall here on the right. And it's been more than 8 weeks since the request first went out to both sides.

Mark Udall's team is still not sure what to do. Is it because they realize how much we know about Udall's record on the issues? Or maybe they just lack confidence in their candidate's ability to go toe-to-toe on important issues that Coloradans want to know about?

We hope not, and continue to await a favorable response to this bipartisan proposal. We want to give Mark Udall plenty of opportunity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mark Udall: Consistent Taxpayer's Enemy vs. Bob Schaffer: Loyal Taxpayer's Friend

When it comes to his Congressional voting record on behalf of taxpayers, Mark Udall displays near perfect consistency: near-perfect consistent failure, that is. The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) released its 2007 rankings today, updating Udall's record. Here's the year-by-year breakdown for the Boulder liberal:
1999 - 22% (F)
2000 - 30% (F)
2001 - 14% (F)
2002 - 23% (F)
2003 - 33% (D)
2004 - 13% (F)
2005 - 16% (F)
2006 - 16% (F)
2007 - 5% (F)

A report card like this would be very bad news for most students. One D in 2003 hardly atones for the slate of Fs, the worst of which comes in 2007. Only voting with taxpayers 5% of the time? If Udall continues this trend, it's bad news for hard-working families and small businesses who pay taxes.

Mark Udall, the taxer-and-spender, has been in Washington too long. He needs some remediation, some time out of office back in Colorado.

The contrast with his Republican opponent Bob Schaffer could hardly be more stark:
1997 - 69% (A)
1998 - 82% (A)
1999 - 77% (A)
2000 - 81% (A)
2001 - 85% (A)
2002 - 63% (B+)

Clearly, NTU grades on a curve, because too often Congress does not vote in the best interests of taxpayers. But Bob Schaffer was one of the top 10 taxpayer-friendly members of Congress during four of his six years in Congress.

Kristina Rasmussen at the NTU blog has the skinny on which members of Congress distinguished themselves in 2007 - both in a good light and a not-so-good light.

Hollywood Democrat Supporting Bob Schaffer Because of DSCC Anti-Ukraine Bias

Five days ago we highlighted why a new attack ad from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) against Republican U.S. Senate candidate was pure folly: it ended up contrasting Schaffer's integrity and fiscal conservatism with his Democratic opponent Mark Udall, a tax-and-spend liberal career politician.

Now its folly is exposed for another reason. A Hollywood Democrat who blogs at Cyber Cossack is angry with the DSCC for using the ad to exploit anti-Ukrainian prejudice in a low political attack:
The video ridicules Bob Schaffer, a former Congressman who is now running for Senate from Colorado on the Republican ticket. Mr. Schaffer is part Ukrainian and has been very supportive of Ukraine’s struggle against communism and for democracy and a free market economy – both supposedly laudable goals on both sides of the aisle in the United States Senate.

This commercial is blatantly both anti-Ukrainian and anti-American in its racist bias. To rub in the point, the commercial “just happens” to accompany the video image with Mexican mariachi music, thus extending the insult to an even larger important American minority community.

I find it appalling that in 2008, in the United States of America, such cheap racism would be posted by a major political party’s official senatorial campaign committee. There are myriad nations that have received hundreds, if not thousands of times as much aid from the United States as does Ukraine. Why has the DSCC not campaigned against support for any other nation? Why has the DSCC singled out Ukraine for ridicule?

Either the Democratic Party is in fact anti-Ukrainian racist or it believes that Ukrainian-Americans are so inept and impotent that they can be abused at will without consequence.
I don't necessarily accept all the writer's assumptions (the national Democratic party does not generally favor free market economic principles) or his conclusions (I think the DSCC is likely more motivated by narrow political ambition and blind to the consequence of its rhetoric than it is anti-Ukrainian or racist).

But his anger and frustration does an excellent job in further highlighting the folly and the unintended consequences of Mark Udall's supporters in trying to bring down their political opponent. This is the Cyber Cossack's best idea:
I call on the Democratic candidate Mark Udall to personally refute this racist characterization of Ukraine, immediately withdraw this commercial and to replace it with an apology to all Americans and Ukrainian-Americans together with a strong statement of support for Ukraine’s struggle for democracy and a free market economy.

Contact candidate Mark Udall at 1100 Bannock Street, Denver CO 80208, tel. 303-820-2008, fax 303-893-4078, e-mail via his web site
If it seems like good advice to you, too, feel free to take it.

Finally, the Cyber Cossack's endorsement:
Mr. Schaffer deserves only our admiration – and, Yes – THE THANKS OF ALL AMERICANS – for his hard work in defense of democracy.
His words, not mine. But I can give them a hearty "Amen."

Mark Udall's Cynical Sponsorship of Anti-Secret Ballot Bill Out of Step

A new national poll from American Solutions finds:
We discovered that 79% of the American people support a worker’s right to a federally supervised secret ballot election when deciding whether or not to join a union.

The tri-partisan agreement to defend this right is overwhelming, as 77% of Republicans, 82% of Democrats, and 79% of independents believe in protecting private ballots. Support for private ballots was so broad it also spanned every subgroup examined, including majorities of every age, race, geographic group and both genders.
The so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" (EFCA) before the Congress last year, and figures to be again this year, would deprive workers of the secret ballot. Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall's cynical sponsorship of the EFCA (he took big union contributions to put his name on the legislation, even though he claimed he had "serious reservations") already has him "out of step with Western values."

Now we have confirmation that Mark Udall is out of step with 8 out of 10 voting Americans, including 8 out of 10 members of his own Democratic Party. Currying favor with Big Labor bosses may have added money to Udall's campaign coffers, but it threatens to alienate him from many members of the electorate.

PolitickerCO: Mark Udall Interview

Jeremy Pelzer at PolitickerCO has an interview with Mark Udall:
PolitickerCO: There's a new poll out a couple days ago showing you with a 12-point lead over Bob Schaffer. But before that, as I'm sure you know, all the polls show you and Bob within the margin of error. Are you still expecting a close race through November?

Udall: [Laughs] Of course. The only poll that counts is the one on November 4 of this year. I know that's a truism, but that truly is the only contest that matters. I expect this race to be hard-fought. Colorado's a swing state. The color schemes that people like to use are, I think, of limited use, but if you want to use the color scheme we're a purple state. I do believe my record, my style, my focus will be attractive to Colorado voters, particularly independents and swing voters. And people want a change, people want problem-solving. They don't want the ideology or formulaic approaches to policy-making. And certainly that characterizes my record in the Congress and my style.

Bob Schaffer, on the other hand: if you look at his record, it speaks volumes. The difference between Bob Schaffer and myself are numerous, and I'd be happy to share that list with you. But let me say this too: my focus right now is on traveling the state, listening to people here, letting them hear what I have to say about the country's future, and introducing myself to them and undergoing what is a long, exciting and important job interview, and at a necessary point in time, then, people can draw the contrasts between Bob Schaffer and myself.

But in sum, I'm saying to people, "Here's why I want the job," not why Bob Schaffer is somehow not ready for the job -- though I think that needs to be made.
Some boilerplate, but Udall mainly takes the high road, until the small swipe at the end.

Exit question: Udall dubs himself an "independent Western Democrat"--do you buy it? Is Udall just as "mainstream" as Gov. Bill Ritter or Senator Ken Salazar claimed to be in their elections?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Proof of Mark Udall as Career Politician: Taxpayer-Funded Stop in Colorado Springs

In a morning press release, Dick Wadhams and the Bob Schaffer campaign gave us another reminder today of why Mark Udall is the consummate career Washington politician:
The Bob Schaffer for U.S. Senate campaign charged today that Boulder Liberal Mark Udall is using taxpayer funds to hold a thinly veiled campaign event billed as a "subcommittee field hearing" in Colorado Springs.

"Boulder Liberal Udall needs to be reminded that Colorado Springs is not in his Boulder congressional district," said Schaffer campaign manager Dick Wadhams. "Taxpayers should not be financing Boulder Liberal Udall's campaign events."

"Boulder Liberal Udall's taxpayer funded campaign event comes on the heels of revelations that Udall secured federal earmarks for a Boulder company and then received campaign contributions from that same company."

Boulder Liberal Mark Udall represents the Boulder dominated Second Congressional District and chairs the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. Udall is holding a taxpayer funded subcommittee "hearing" today in Colorado Springs which is in the Fifth Congressional District. Udall's press release did not indicate any other members of the subcommittee would be present for the "hearing."
Nothing illegal in what Udall did that I know of - just a sign of how comfortable Mark Udall the career politician is in using taxpayer money to give himself a little extra campaign exposure.

Udall, Colorado's biggest purveyor of pork, also recently has been embroiled in an inquiry about his raising funds from groups to which he earmarked million-dollar plus federal government contracts.

Anyone expecting Mark Udall to change the corrupt Washington culture is sadly naive. Coloradans have a much better chance for ethical government and honest representation from Bob Schaffer, the candidate with real-world business experience who kept his term-limits pledge.

U.S. Term Limits Ad for Bob Schaffer Earns High Marks for Truthfulness

A recent ad that U.S. Term Limits ran on behalf of Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer won high marks on the "Truth Test" at
QUOTE: "Today, we have more charter schools–thanks to Bob Schaffer."

TRUTH: This is true. Bob Schaffer has been an active supporter for charter schools since the Colorado Charter Schools Act (SB 93-138) passed in 1993. Its prime sponsors were then-Sen. Bill Owens (R-Aurora), then-Rep. Peggy Kerns (D-Aurora) (Source: CO General Assembly) and signed into law by then-Gov. Roy Romer (D-Colorado).

Schaffer was an original co-sponsor of that proposal. (Source: Schools of Choice Unit at the Colorado Department of Education e-mail, April 7, 2008)

In 1996, then-Sen. Schaffer co-sponsored legislation at the State Capitol that created an advisory committee to develop ways for improving the Charter Schools Act. (Source: CO General Assembly)

Further, Schaffer, with other like-minded parents in Fort Collins, founded that city's first-ever charter school, Liberty Common School, in 1997. (Source: Denver Post, October 24, 1999).
It's nice to see honest political ads touting the record of a candidate with true integrity: Bob Schaffer. A breath of fresh air for Colorado's independent voters.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bob Schaffer Raises More Money from Coloradans, Mark Udall from Out-of-State

Judging by money donated to their respective campaigns from within Colorado, it would appear Republican Bob Schaffer is the favored candidate at this point. Of Boulder liberal Mark Udall's nearly $2.2 million raised, only $918,822 (or about 42 percent) has come from within Colorado. Of Bob Schaffer's more than $1.9 million raised, $1,332,049 (or about 69 percent) has come from within Colorado.

Seems like out-of-state special interests are more keen on electing Mark Udall than Coloradans are. Something to think about.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Questions of Earmark Ethics Dog Big Congressional Spender Mark Udall

The Denver Post reports:
While U.S. Rep. Mark Udall has sworn off budget earmarks for next year, records show he secured at least two contracts in the past for a Boulder-based company that has contributed thousands to his campaign.

Otologics, a maker of high-tech hearing implants, received $1.4 million and $1 million contracts in 2005 and 2007 — the same period in which the company's executives gave $6,850 to Udall, according to public records and the congressman's staff.

Udall and the many other lawmakers who push pet projects for campaign donors risk the appearance of impropriety, Steve Ellis of the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense said Thursday. [emphasis added]
As the story goes on to point out, it's all part of Mark Udall's record as Colorado's biggest purveyor of pork:
The Boulder County politician ranks as the Colorado congressman who brought home the most money in earmarks last year, according to rankings from the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.

At $27.6 million for his district, he ranks $1 million above Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, a Republican who has also sworn to forgo earmarks next year.
It was only last month that Udall flipped against earmarks only to flop back a day later.

Bringing home the pork in exchange for campaign contributions. This must be what the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee means by "helping" a Congressional district. In that sense, Mark Udall helps a lot more than Bob Schaffer.

Mark Udall's Superdelegate Decision Dilemma Looking as Sticky as Ever

If there's any credence to this report on the New York Times blog, it looks like superdelegate Mark Udall will be waiting to declare his preference for a Presidential candidate until the Democratic National Convention in August.

Four weeks ago we wrote about the dilemma Mark Udall was facing:
Go with the guy who won big majorities at the Colorado caucus and still kind of looks like the frontrunner despite nagging scandals and incompetent advisers. -OR- Pick the wildly unpopular and shrill former First Lady who suddenly has campaign momentum and who could make your life miserable if she ends up the nominee, especially if you wait too long to back her.
The dynamics of the race have shifted once or twice since then, but the New York Times blog still sees the two-candidate showdown dragging on until Denver:
Hillary has no incentive to bow out early, and every incentive to stay in until Obama is officially the nominee -­ something that won’t happen until the convention.
Does Mark Udall want to take the Convention stage with far Left Barack Obama, whom some might say fits more closely as his "touchstone" candidate? Or does Mark Udall want to take the Convention stage with Hillary Clinton, wildly unpopular in Colorado (44 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable) and probably even more so after eking out the nomination with the pragmatic but undemocratic intervention of the superdelegates?

It could even get messier and more confusing: political guru Michael Barone sees a plausible scenario where Barack Obama wins the delegate count but Hillary Clinton wins the popular vote.

What to do then? Udall probably wants to put this decision off as long as possible.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More On The "Latest" Schaffer-Udall Poll

The "latest" poll was tackled by Ben earlier this morning, but although it was released on March 28, the survey itself was conducted between March 6-9, nearly a month ago, and came before the most recent Rasmussen tracking poll that had Mark Udall up 46-43, within the margin of error, just like every other poll to this point:

As Ben points out, there is too little information here, hidden behind a fee wall--just like many of the other polls.

Here is the methodology blurb
Methodology: McLaughlin & Associates conducted statewide surveys among general election voters in Colorado (n=400), Maine (n=400) and Minnesota (n=500) between March 6th and 9th, 2008. All interviews were conducted by professional interviewers via telephone. Interview selection was at random within predetermined election units. These units were structured to statistically correlate with actual voter distributions in statewide general elections. The accuracy of the samples of 400 likely general election voters is within +/- 4.9% at a 95% confidence interval. The accuracy of the sample of 500 likely general election voters is within +/- 4.5% at a 95% confidence interval.
While their stated methodology may be sound, it is hard to put much credence into a poll with 25% undecideds, and no breakdown on which way those undecideds lean.

Rocky Mountain Right has a good tracking poll (blogroll-worthy, if you have not yet checked them out), but places this poll after the last Rasmussen poll, instead of before it, in correct chronology (not their fault, as the McLaughlin poll was released after the Rasmussen poll).

Our SvU tracking polls put the McLaughlin poll in its proper context (click to enlarge):

With trendlines:

Only the McLaughlin poll shows anything but a tight race, consistently within the margin of error.

But the national media and Beltway politicos have always expected this to be a Udall pickup for the Dems, and have dismissed the other polls showing a toss-up in favor of one outlier:
Given his lackluster performance in the 2004 Republican Senate primary, many expected that former Rep. Bob Schaffer's bid to replace retiring Senator Wayne Allard would fall similarly flat. Schaffer is assumed to be too far right for the increasingly-Democratic Colorado, and his opponent, Democratic Rep. Mark Udall, has a great name and a fat bank account.

But in poll after poll, Schaffer has trailed Udall by exceedingly small margins, virtually always within the margin of error. In December, Schaffer trailed by two points. In October, the gap was just one point. Was labeling Udall as a Boulder liberal finding success? Is Colorado still a red state? Or is Schaffer manager Dick Wadhams, a former top aide to Virginia Senator George Allen, the next Karl Rove?
. . .
Before Democrats get too thrilled and claim they are guaranteed to pick up the seat, they might want to wait for a few more surveys to come out. Schaffer has a talented political team, led by Wadhams, and Udall remains well under 50%. But a twelve-point lead is what most Beltway politicos expected to see, and the McLaughlin survey proves that Schaffer, who has trailed in every poll Politics Nation has seen on the race, has a ways to go to climb out of a hole.
It is surprising to see the RealClearPolitics blogger parrot the typical MSM-Beltway consensus, when every other poll has shown a maddeningly (for Dems) tight race. The Cook Political Report's most recent analysis (March 20) still has this race as a competitive toss-up, with either party having a good chance of winning.

And as for polls in general--the polls said Hillary Clinton would be the Democrat's nominee and that John McCain was on death's door (politically), just a few months ago.

So much for polls. There will be plenty more over the next seven months, and as the saying goes, anything can happen.