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TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Florida, the a new Quinnipiac University tracking poll shows the race a tie. The numbers: Bush-43%, Kerry-43%, Nader-5%. If Nader was not on the Florida ballot, Kerry holds a 46% to 44% lead. Reality, however, is that Nader will appear on the ballot in the Sunshine State as the Reform Party's candidate.July 4th Holiday
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.30.04 |

INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY. Meaningful political news is slowing down as we head toward the long July 4th weekend. We'll keep publishing updates here on the homepage -- and also check out the new listings on our Jobs page -- but don't expect much news over the next few days (unless Kerry names a VP runningmate). Thank you to everyone who submitted writing samples, as I'll be reviewing them in the coming days and getting back to each of you. Also, I'll keep adding a new open thread each day through the holiday weekend.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.30.04 |

WEDNESDAY OPEN THREAD. Have at it.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.30.04 |

OKLAHOMA US SENATE UPDATE. Carson, Coburn & HumphreysOne of the hottest open seat US Senate races in the nation is in Oklahoma. A new poll released Monday shows that the Democrats have largely united behind a single candidate, but Republicans are still deeply divided on who they want to replace retiring incumbent Don Nickles (R). The KFOR-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows that Congressman Brad Carson led the Democratic primary field with a whopping 61%, distantly followed by State Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher second with just 15%, and three others even further behind. Turning to the GOP primary contest, former Congressman Tom Coburn led with 38%, closely followed by former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys at 34%, and State Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony at 16%. National and state GOP leaders recruited Humphreys into the race months ago, but the independent-minded Coburn is a late entrant with a solid base among Religious Right voters. We'd still classify the race as "No Clear Favorite" for November -- but watch for the Dems to pour in lots of money in this targeted pickup race.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.29.04 |

MOON SHOT. It seems the Moonies are bit annoyed with John Gorenfeld, me, and a few others who successfully pressured the mainstream media to finally report on Reverend Sun Myung Moon's bizarre messianic cult coronation on Capitol Hill ... and all the Congressional excuses that followed. In their press release, a Moon WatchMoon spokesman complained that, in "contrast to the efforts and integrity of much of the mainstream media, the momentum for this 'story' was provided by independent 'journalists' and 'blog' writers who have made no effort to contact the event organizers for a balanced presentation of both sides of the story." Bartlett and MoonBy the way, no US Senator has yet stepped forward to admit they were the one who reserved the Senate reception room for the Moonies (but, by elimination, Senator Lindsey Graham appears to be the most likely culprit). Likewise, we've learned more about the appalling role played by Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). A week ago, his press spokesperson said that Bartlett "received the Ambassadors for Peace Award from the Washington Times Foundation for his work in Congress, and attended part of the banquet ... this was the sum total of his participation." ABC News has now learned that Bartlett was the one who carried Moon's imperial robes up to the platform for the crowning ceremony. Bartlett now explains that he's seen lots of people crowned King or Queen at proms, 4-H festivals, etc., so he didn't think there was anything odd about his helping to crown convicted felon and declared "Messiah and Returned Lord" Moon as the world "King of Peace" (a Biblical term of significance, noted Gorenfeld). Finally, the Illinois American Family Coalition -- another Moonie organization -- put out a call for support on behalf of the Congressman who carried one of the crowns used in the ceremony. "Our dear brother Congressman Danny Davis is being attacked by the media full tilt ... please ask your best ministers to write a letter to the editor to the Chicago Tribune decrying their treatment of Congressman Davis and their treatment of Rev and and Mrs. Moon," said the letter. Others who also should be held accountable for participating in this fiasco: Congressman Curt Weldon, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Senator Mark Dayton, Senator Norm Coleman, Congressman Sanford Bishop, Congressman Chris Cannon, and others. FYI: As you can tell, I'm not losing any sleep over the fact Moon is pissed with me.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.29.04 |

TOM SAWYER PAINTS HIS FENCE. Remember the Mark Twain story of how Ron ... umm, I mean Tom Sawyer got his friends to do his Politics1 Try-Outswork painting his Aunt Polly's fence? Well ... writing these daily news summaries are so much fun that I couldn't imagine letting anyone else research and write them. But, maybe, if you beg a bit ... well, maybe, hmm, let me think about it. So, here's what I'm proposing: I'm looking for a small handful of folks (in the 3-10 range) who want to acquire some experience in online journalism. Break hot news stories ... research and write interesting political stories ... and reach a large weekly national audience. You can see what general style of writing I'm looking for by reviewing my past stuff. Short, useful, interesting, factual, tasteful stories -- and sprinkled with wry humor -- that relate to the Presidential race, or Congressional, Senate or gubernatorial races, or off-beat local stuff. No self-promoting or boring press release type items. Don't use it as a platform for promoting your local candidate. Be factually accurate. Be able to compose literate sentences in English. No op-ed pieces, white papers, or lectures. Well ... you get the idea. Of course, I reserve full editorial rights to decide what items to run or not, and to fully edit all articles (note: the people who worked with me at HillZoo in 2000-02 will tell you I was a pretty cool editor and will not edit any of them in a manner that takes them out of context). So, what hoops do you need to jump through to get this gig? Over the next week or two, write up a few of our single paragraph-style news blurbs, put them together into the body of one email, and send 'em to me. I'm looking for a few Dems, a few Reps, and a few Indy/Third Party folks. If selected, your name will appear in the "Posted by ..." line (but I'll still be doing the final postings). Also be sure to send me a little blurb on your background (age, party affiliation, political bio, occupation, homestate, etc.). If selected, you can give me stories weekly, daily, or anything in between. Tom Sawyer's fenceThe pay is low (actually, it's nothing) ... but, in exchange you'll get your fifteen minutes of fame ... and you can add a Journalism Internship (or Contributing Writer) line to your resume! So, despite me being kind of a control freak who often doesn't delegate, I'm willing to try this experiment in giving up a modicum of my total control over Politics1.

"Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."

Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

"No – no – I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's awful particular about this fence – right here on the street, you know – but if it was the back fence I wouldn’t mind and she wouldn’t. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there ainit one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done."

"No – is that so? Oh come, now – lemme, just try. Only just a little – I'd let you, if you was me, Tom. ...".

So, drop me a note with some writing samples! Maybe I'd let you write ... maybe ... let's just see how this goes.
Posted by YOUR NAME HERE ?? - 06.29.04 |

TUESDAY OPEN THREAD. Just got a copy of Joe Trippi's new book The Revolution WIll Not Be Televised in the mail today. I'll let you guys know what I think of it ... but first I need to finish reading Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures (which I'm really enjoying). So, what do you guys want to discuss today?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.29.04 |

NATURAL LAW PARTY, R.I.P. Natural Law Party - 1992Call it a natural death. The Natural Law Party -- the political party founded in 1992 by followers of purported cult leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi -- has been dissolved. Party co-founder and nuclear physicist John Hagelin was the NLP Presidential nominee in 1992, 1996 and 2000 -- peaking in support in 1996 with ballot status in an impressive 44 states (110,000 votes - 0.1%). The NLP also regularly ran a large number of candidates for Congress and other down-ballot offices. The NLP made failed attempts in 2000 to grab control of the Green Party, and later the Reform Party. Last year, the NLP officially endorsed Dennis Kucinich for President and seemingly held out the possibility of giving him their 2004 nomination. In an odd twist, a notice posted on the NLP website within the past week states that the NLP leadership voted two months ago to shut down the NLP as a national party. The notice also says that individual state NLP affiliates are each free to continue operating and fielding candidates on their own. It appears that at least a few state NLP groups are still functioning in 2004 -- but not many. The NLP seems to have entirely abandoned using electoral politics to advance their New Age agenda and, instead, are now advocating something they call the US Peace Government. They've closed the NLP National Headquarters and have subsequently opened Peace Palaces for their make-believe government -- with Hagelin as the new "US Peace President" and the Maharishi as the "Founder of the Global Country of World Peace." I guess the US just wasn't ready for a President who believed in "yogic flying."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.28.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Wisconsin, the latest Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/Badger tracking poll shows President Bush leading Senator Kerry by a vote of 46% to 42%, with Nader at 5%. Bush lost Wisconsin by 0.2% in 2000. A new Denver Post/Mason-Dixon poll shows a competitive race in Colorado. The numbers: Bush-48%, Kerry-43%. Bush won CO by 9% in 2000. In related news, the poll also shows Attorney General Ken Salazar (D-CO) continuing to lead the race for the state's open US Senate seat. Salazar leads beer magnate Pete Coors (R) by a 47% to 40% vote. The Dem leads former Congressman Bob Schaffer by a wider margin: 49% to 35%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.28.04 |

NO NADER, NO MOORE. Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns must be sighing in relief today now that the Green and Constitution nomination conventions concluded this weekend. The Kerry folks must be thrilled knowing that now -- unlike the threat seemingly posed by David CobbRalph Nader just a few days ago -- Nader will now only matter in a few key swing states (Florida and Michigan, plus maybe one or two others). Otherwise, the Green Party nomination of David Cobb on Saturday (see below) gave ballot spots in 22 states to a candidate who plans to largely run a "safe states" strategy. Cobb's website states he "will focus his campaign on states neglected by the corporate parties, he has also said that he will visit and campaign in any state that invites him." In other Nader news, it appears that Nader on PeroutkaSaturday may again have missed the goal of obtaining Oregon ballot status in his second attempt. While more than the requisite 1,000 people attended the "short-cut" mass rally event -- thanks to help from two conservative GOP groups -- the Dems also filled some of the 1,100 seats to thwart Nader from collecting his needed signatures. Nader's folks only turned in 950 signed petitions, although some had multiple signatures. Presuming a few signatures are bad, as is always the case, Nader will have missed again. "It doesn't matter. We'll [still] get on the ballot," said Nader. At this pace, Nader appear likely to win spots on so few state ballots that he will struggle just to finish ahead of Cobb, Constitution nominee Mike Peroutka, and Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik in terms of national vote totals. In directly related news, conservative attorney Mike Peroutka won the Constitution Party's nomination. Republicans had worried that former "Ten Commandments" Justice Roy Moore would be a last-minute surprise CP nominee in place of Peroutka. It didn't happen, so Bush doesn't need to worry about a high-visibility "Nader of the Right" this year.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.28.04 |

MONDAY OPEN THREAD. Judy Topinka, Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson all already passed on the US Senate race in IL ... Saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Sunday night. Two-block long line to get in, and that was after we bought the tix. Bushies will hate it, Kerry folks will love it, but -- from a propaganda perspective -- I think it will rev up the base but not change many minds ... Unexpected Letterman-style "Brush with Greatness" on Saturday night. While out for dinner at a nice place (Timo) in Miami Beach with my folks and Dana for the combined celebration of three closely-proximated birthdays and an anniversary, we had a double celebrity sighting: two tables over on my left was fashion magnate Calvin Klein, and three tables over on my right was actor/director Bob Balaban (Best in Show, Gosford Park, etc.) ... So, what do you guys want to discuss?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.28.04 |

NADER LOSES GREEN PARTY NOMINATION TO COBB. In a major defeat for Independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader, attorney David Cobb won the Green Party's nomination over Nader on the second ballot Saturday afternoon. In the first round of balloting, no Cobb vs. Nadercandidate won the majority vote required to be nominated. First ballot results (note: Peter Camejo and Lorna Salzman were both pro-Nader surrogate candidates): Cobb-308, Camejo-118.5, Nader-117.5, Nominate No Candidate-74.5, Salzman-40, "Someone Else"- 35.5, Kent Mesplay-23.5, and the rest were scattered. Legendary Socialist leader Eugene Debs even scored a vote -- despite being dead for nearly 78 years. he Nader strategy was to next have the delegates cast a majority vote for "Nominate No Candidate" and then follow that up with a motion to instead "endorse" Nader. Instead, Cobb captured 408 votes and the nomination on the second ballot -- well above the 347 vote majority required. In related news, Cobb selected a woman as his VP runningmate: Green enviromental activist Pat LaMarche of Maine. With the nomination, Cobb -- and not Nader -- will have ballot access in at least 22 states in November.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.26.04 |

SATURDAY OPEN THREAD. Green Party National Convention ... Iraq ... Dubya goes to Europe ... Fahrenheit 9/11 breaks documentary film ticket sales records ... Dick Cheney on the joy of swearing ... you name the topic.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.26.04 |

FRIDAY Fahrenheit 9/11EVENING UPDATE. Embattled US Senate nominee Jack Ryan (R-IL) quit the race on Friday afternoon under heavy pressure from state GOP leaders. Ryan was the subject of recent news articles highlighting claims by his ex-wife -- actress Jeri Ryan -- that he had repeatedly taken her to sex clubs and pressured her to have sex with him while others watched. Democratic nominee Barack Obama was a class act throughout and never raised the matter. Today, after Ryan exited, Obama praised Ryan's credentials and commitment to public service, and sadness for the media firestorm that Ryan experienced. The Illinois Republican Party has until August 27 to select a replacement nominee ... Also, Michael Moore's controversial anti-Bush Fahrenheit 9/11 film opened around the nation today. Here in South Florida, I tried to see the film tonight. Even though the theater made a last-minute move to cancel the screening of another film so as to simultaneously show the movie on two screens, both the 5:30 and 7:50 double showings were entirely sold out hours before showtime. Even the later 10:10 showing was nearly sold out three hours ahead of time -- so I guess I'll just wait a day or two to see it. I cannot remember anything like that ever before at that theater for any movie (and I've lived in this neighborhood for 16 years).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.25.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. A good round of polls today for Senator Kerry ... unless you're a fan of FOX News and, in that case, it was a good day for President Bush. In Florida, the latest ARG tracking poll shows Kerry continuing to hold a very narrow lead over Bush. The numbers: Kerry-47%, Bush-46%, Nader-2%. Why so close? According to ARG, it is because Bush grabs the support of 11% of Dems, while Kerry counters by holding a 13% advantage among Independents. However, the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of Florida voters shows Bush leading Kerry by a 48% to 38% vote, with Nader at 3%. In Ohio, the new ARG poll shows Kerry-49%, Bush-43%, Nader-2%. Again, the FOX poll flips the Ohio lead: Bush-45%, Kerry-41%, Nader-4%. In Pennsylvania, the new Quinnipiac College poll places Kerry at 44%, Bush at 43% and Nader at 7%. Fox, meanwhile, gives the PA lead to the President: Bush-46%, Kerry-41%, Nader-3%. Fox also gives Michigan to the GOP: Bush-42%, Kerry-40%, Nader-5%. The Q-poll also shows US Senator Arlen Specter (R) leading challenger Joe Hoeffel (D) by a 50% to 35% vote -- and also showed that nearly 60% of voters have still never heard of Hoeffel. Whew ... that's a lot to digest (and argue about).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.25.04 |

NADER, NADER, AND MORE NADER NEWS. The Green Party Presidential Convention is meeting right now in Wisconsin -- and the nomination vote is set for Saturday. Nader isn't a lock for the nod, and could be facing an embarrassing upset by attorney and rival hopeful David Cobb. In Indiana, the NaderNader campaign spokesman said that Nader will not qualify for the November ballot. The petitioners collected only 9,000 of the 30,000 signatures required. Nader State Coordinator Dallas Stoner told the Gary Post-Tribune he was so demoralized by the experience that he was thinking "of moving to Canada." In South Carolina, the Nader campaign announced they will not -- repeat NOT -- accept the Reform Party's spot on the state ballot. Nader's spokesman said he "never really considered running as a Reform Party candidate [in SC] because of the state's easy ballot access laws." Meanwhile, in Arizona, the state Democratic Party filed suit in court to knock Nader off the state ballot. The pleadings claim that at least 70% of the Nader signatures are invalid -- meaning that Nader will be left with less than half the signatures required to qualify. DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe said the DNC is not funding the Nader legal challenges around the country, but the party fully supports the efforts. "In principle we support them 100% ... Do I want Ralph Nader on these ballots? Absolutely not," he said. Finally, we note the creation of the new Greens for Kerry group. "We must defeat George W. Bush. We urge all Greens and Nader voters in swing states to vote strategically and join with people of all political stripes, united in our concern for America's future, and support John Kerry for President," said a statement posted on the group's new website. Abe Gutmann -- founder of the New Mexico Green Party and a former Green nominee for US Senate -- is one of the group's organizers. "The circumstances under which we live today are dramatically different than they were four years ago. We should take a much more pragmatic approach to this election. We tell people to register Green and vote for Kerry," said Gutmann. They are encouraging "vote swapping" in which individual Green voters in swing states would agree to support Kerry in exchange for a like number of Dem voters in safe states agreeing to back the Green nominee (in order to help the Greens reach the 5% mark for 2008 matching funds).
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.25.04 |

REVIVING THE SOVIET MEANING OF A "FRANK" DISCUSSION. Washing Cheney's mouth out with soapIn the dark old days of the Soviet Union, woe to the foreign leader who heard a Kremlin spokesman describe his meeting with Brezhnev (or whomever) as "frank talks." That's what the Kremlin said immediately after Afghan "fraternal ally" Hafizullah Amin met in Moscow with Brezhnev and said he wanted some autonomy in national matters -- which meant deciding which of his internal communist rivals he wanted to purge. The next day he returned home to the Presidential Palace in Kabul and was murdered (along with his entire family) in a Soviet-backed coup. Considering that history, it was amusing Thursday to see Vice President Cheney's office use the same diplomatic parlance to describe a testy exchange with US Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT). During the annual Senate "class photo" session, Cheney and the Senators posed for picture. Cheney saw Leahy and, according to CNN, berated him "over his recent criticism of the Vice President for Halliburton's alleged war profiteering." Without backing down, Leahy responded by quoting a similarly unfavorable comment Cheney had previously made to the media about Leahy. "Go fuck yourself," snapped Cheney to the Vermonter. "I think he was just having a bad day," said Leahy afterwards. Even Cheney's spokesman sorta confirmed the exchange: "That doesn't sound like the kind of language that the Vice President would use, but I can confirm that there was a frank exchange of views." Leahy is lucky this was the US version of "frank" exchange.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.25.04 |

JUST CALL HIM LAZARUS. Since March, former Secretary of State Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was the declared Democratic nominee for Congress in CD-28. Rodriguez vs. CuellarOn Wednesday, a Court of Appeals breathed a glimmer of life back into the derailed political career of Congressman Ciro Rodriguez (D). On primary night nearly four months ago, final results showed Rodriguez had won by just 145 votes out of 50,000 cast. A recount, however, "discovered" roughly 200 uncounted ballots box in two counties controlled by Cuellar's allies -- and gave the challenger a 58-vote upset victory. Rodriguez went to court, seeking to have the 200 ballots discarded as fraudulent. The trial court refused to let Rodriguez present any evidence of fraud and certified Cuellar as the winner. By a 2-1 vote, the Court of Appeals said Rodriguez has the right to question the legality of the votes. "I've said all along that if we just count the legal votes, I'd be the winner. I hope that the court's decision will end my opponent's efforts to hide the truth and obstruct the progress of this case," said Rodriguez. Cuellar, meanwhile, said he will ask for a hearing before the full seven-member panel of the appellate court. Even if given the chance to present evidence, the burden of proof will be on Rodriguez to establish the invalidity of the votes. The district is a very safe Dem seat, so whichever man wins the legal fight will be the next Congressman. Rodriguez is fairly liberal, while Cuellar -- who was appointed Sec of State by then-Governor George W. Bush -- is more center-conservative.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.25.04 |

FRIDAY OPEN THREAD. Jack Ryan: Know when to hold, know when to ... umm, 'reassess'? Nader versus Cobb? Peroutka? Opening weekend for Fahrenheit 9/11? Anything else?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.25.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. Definitely add New Jersey to the list of battleground states. The latest Quinnipiac College poll shows Kerry-46%, Bush-40%, Nader-7%. Bush lost NJ by 15% in 2000. Most other recent independent polls here showed similarly competitive numbers (usually with Kerry holding a 3-6% lead). However, Tennessee appears to be a state that is looking less and less like a battleground. A new WBIR-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Bush-51%, Kerry-41%. Bush won TN by 3% in 2000.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.24.04 |

NADER HAS HEATED MEETING WITH CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS. Independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader met this week on Capitol Hill with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- and it went very badly. Although the meeting was held behind closed doors, the AP reported that angry "shouts could be heard from inside" and that some CBC members "stormed out" during the meeting. The CBC members asked Nader to consider exiting the race, but he defiantly refused. "It became abundantly clear that this was about Ralph Nader and we were sorely disappointed. If nothing else we believe we've had an impact on his conscience. Now we pray he'll synchronize his conscience with his conduct," said CBC Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD). "I told Mr. Nader: 'A vote for Ralph Nader is really a vote for George Bush. We can't risk this Bush presidency taking hold again,'" said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), who is one of the two most progressive members of the House.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.24.04 |

Gay Marriage DebateMASSACHUSETTS GOP GOVERNORS SPLIT ON GAY MARRIAGE. While current Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) was testifying this week in DC before the Senate Judiciary Committee, two former GOP Massachusetts Governors were spending the day attending a same-sex wedding ceremony in Boston. Romney testified "that the Constitution must be changed or else same-sex marriage would spread [to other states] ... [and] may affect the development of children." Former Governor Bill Weld (R), however, actually was called upon to deliver formal remarks during the wedding of his friends Kevin Smith and Mitchell Adams. Smith had been Weld's Chief of Staff and Adams is the former State Revenue Commissioner. "If I had been down [in DC], I think I would have been testifying on the opposite side [from Romney]," Weld later told the Boston Herald. Former Governor Jane Swift (R) also attended the wedding, but tried to avoid the political fight. "I'm happy for Kevin and Mitchell and I try to stay out of current political debates," said Swift. Other guests at the wedding included Senate President Robert Travaglini (D), Boston Mayor Tom Menino (D), State Auditor Joe DeNucci (D) and Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.24.04 |

THURSDAY OPEN THREAD. You know what to do.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.24.04 |

DeMINT Tenenbaum vs. DemintDEFEATS BEASLEY IN S.C. Congressman Jim DeMint (R) -- a leading advocate of free trade policies -- won a big victory over former Governor David Beasley in the GOP run-off for the state's open US Senate seat. DeMint, who finished second place in the primary two weeks ago, defeated Beasley by a wide 59% to 41% vote. DeMint outspent Beasley by a 2-to-1 margin, and attacked Beasley for waffling and ultimately removing the Confederate flag from flying over the State Capitol. Beasley had higher name ID rates than DeMint, but also had a much higher negative rating from his time as Governor. DeMint will now face State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D) in what is expected to be a hotly contested November race. Retiring US Senator Fritz Hollings (D) is actively supporting Tenenbaum, who is the top Democratic vote-getter in the state in her own right. DeMint, meanwhile, touts his strong record of support for President Bush. Tenenbaum is likely to be critical of DeMint's support of free trade views and the negative effect that those policies have had on the state's declining textile industry and manufacturing base. However, DeMint should be viewed as a slight favorite in the contest because of the state's conservative tilt.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

TRACKING Bush vs. KerryTHE BATTLEGROUND STATES. In Oregon, an independent poll conducted by Moore Information for state business leaders showed Kerry-44%, Bush-39%, and Nader-4%. Bush lost Oregon by 3.5% in 2000. In North Carolina, a new Raleigh News and Observer/WRAL-TV/Research 2000 poll shows a surprisingly competitive race. The numbers: Bush-47%, Kerry-42%. This is the third independent poll within the past month to show Kerry within 4-7% of Bush in this normally conservative bastion. In 2000, Bush carried NC by a 13% margin. In related news, the same poll showed former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D) continuing to widen his lead over Congressman Richard Burr (R) in the open US Senate race for the seat being vacated by John Edwards. The numbers: Bowles-47%, Burr-39%.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

NO SURPRISES IN UTAH PRIMARYHuntsman vs. Matheson. Wealthy businessman and former US Ambassador Jon Hunstman Jr. (R) romped to a landslide 2-to-1 GOP primary victory Tuesday in the open race for Governor. Huntsman will face-off in November against former law school dean Scott Matheson Jr. (D) in what is likely to be a competitive race. Matheson is the brother of Congressman Jim Matheson (D-UT) and the son of Utah's last Democratic Governor. Campaign reports show Huntsman currently has $134,000 remaining in his campaign account, while Matheson has over $400,000. Jim Matheson, meanwhile, will again be challenged in November by former State Rep. John Swallow (R) in a rematch of the 2002 race. Swallow won his primary with 53%, and must quickly try to heal the divisive wounds inflicted during the very nasty primary campaign. It was this same type of GOP split that crippled Swallow's 2002 run against the incumbent. In terms of money, Matheson currently holds a nearly 4-to-1 financial advantage over Swallow. The Matheson-Swallow fight will be one of the NRCC's top target races in the nation. In CD-3, Congressman Chris Cannon (R) stayed in DC on primary day, but still won renomination over former State Rep. Matt Throckmorton by a 59% to 41% vote.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

A REFRESHINGLY DIFFERENT SEX SCANDAL. A divorce file unsealed this week revealed sex scandal allegations involving wealthy former investment banker and current US candidate Jack Ryan (R-IL). Jim RyanThe twist: the allegations are that -- and here's the really kinky part -- Ryan would have sex with his then-wife. Of course, the part I forgot to mention was that where he wanted to have it was in sex clubs with other people watching. Ryan fought for months to block the public release of his divorce papers, despite calls from rivals for him to do so. During the Illinois primary campaign, embarrassing allegations of spousal abuse in court paper derailed the US Senate candidate of multimillionaire banker Blair Hull (D). The release of those papers put pressure on Ryan to open his sealed divorce file. Ryan, resisted, claiming he would not do so because he was protecting his child. Many GOP leaders would like to see Ryan -- who was recruited into the race by the White House -- withdraw so the party can file a replacement nominee. They feel Ryan was not candid with them and is hurting their ability to rebuild the weakened party in the state. Ryan, however, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he will not quit the race. "I think we'll be victorious in November," said Ryan. Frankly, after all of the news of extramarital affairs in recent years involving President Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Bob Wise, Kirk Fordice, and many, many others of both major parties, it almost seems wholesome (by comparison) that these latest at least involve a husband having sex with his own wife. Still, even before the release of the divorce papers, Ryan was already an underdog in the open seat US Senate race against State Senator Barack Obama (D). If Ryan stays in the race, move this contest from "Leans Democrat" to "Democrat Favored."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

BEER, POT, GUNS, GAY SEX, NUDITY ... AND HARMONICAS? For some unknown reason, Utah produces lots of colorful gadfly candidates. One of our favorites has been self-proclaimed "Acting Utah Governor for Martial Law" Lawrence Topham. Topham, however, hasn't had such a good political year. First he lost out to a legalized gambling activist for the Personal Choice Party's Presidential nomination. Then Topham lost for the party's nomination for Ken LarsenGovernor to perennial candidate Ken Larsen. While doing updates on our Utah page, we came across Larsen's website. Unlike Topham -- who takes himself very seriously -- Larsen at least shows he has a real sense of humor about his frequent political bids. Here's what we found on his very amusing bio page: "Past candidate for virtually every office besides US President and dog catcher. Founder of several churches, including the Same Sex Church, the Church of the Holy Nudity, the Church of the Goddess of Chance, the Tobacco God, the Beer God, the Sex Goddess and the Church of the Hemp Goddess. I have performed legal marriages as the Mouth of the Church of the Hemp Goddess. I was chairman of the Utah THC (Therapeutic Humane Cannabis) Committee and sponsored two initiative petitions to legalize medical marijuana in Utah. I have sued the State for the right to buy a gun without a background check and also for the right to marry another man. I got the first ticket for cruising State Street so I could challenge that law before the Utah Supreme Court. I also sued the judge in that case for denying me the constitutional right to a jury trial. I lost all those cases. I should say the Constitution lost all those cases ... I have directed a play in which I had a leading role at the 10th East [Street] Senior Center. Also, I was a member of the 10th East Choir and the 10th East Harmonica Band, as well as the 10th East Advisory Council (an election I actually won) ... My passion, of course, is politics because I have the strange, Quixotic notion that somehow I CAN make a difference in the world." Larsen -- who holds a Ph.D. in zoology and works as a university medical research scientist -- is the only third party candidate on the ballot this year for Utah Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

Moon WatchFULL MOON (COVERAGE). I know, I know ... I hadn't planned on mentioning the Moon story today (note: if you missed our original stories, they can be found here and here) and, thus, the "no Moonie story" reference below. However, it appears the Moonie-Capitol Hill messianic coronation story is widely breaking in the mainstream media today. The Washington Post finally reported the story in detail this morning, as did CBS News. Also, I've learned that ABC News plans to report on it in this evening's broadcast. Thank you to everyone who helped us spread the word, and especially to investigative writer John Gorenfeld who first looked into it and turned us onto the story.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

WEDNESDAY OPEN THREAD. "Hey, there's no Moonie story from Ron today" ... but feel free to discuss that, or anything else.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.23.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. We have new tracking poll numbers from Arizona. Despite John McCain's recently re-emphasized support for President Bush, the race in the state is still very close. The Arizona Republic numbers: Bush 44%, Kerry 41%, Nader-2%. Bush won Arizona by 6% in 2000. In related news, McCain told CBS on Sunday that he "would not" consider replacing Dick Cheney as Bush's VP, even if asked -- and again expressed support for the Bush-Cheney ticket. Shifting to the Kerry veep choice, did you know that Kerry held a lengthy private meeting with Senator John Breaux (D-LA) last week -- their second over the past two months. If that means anything at all, it means that no one but Kerry really knows what he's thinking, which names are really being considered, and which names are red herrings. And -- shifting gears once more (but back to polls) -- a new Raleigh News and Observer/WRAL-TV/Research 2000 poll asked some questions about the war in Iraq. Was the situation in Iraq worth going to war over? Yes-48%, No-44%. Bush handling the situation in Iraq? Approve-46%, Disapprove-44%. Fascinating ... so, what will it mean for Bush versus Kerry?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.22.04 |

GOVERNOR ROWLAND QUITS AMID Rowland resignsCORRUPTION SCANDAL. In a televised address, three-term Connecticut Governor John Rowland (R) said Monday evening he will resign from office effective July 1. Rowland's fate was sealed last Friday when the State Supreme Court ruled that Rowland could not invoke Gubernatorial Privilege to avoid testifying before the House Impeachment Committee. Rowland has been under state and federal criminal investigation for months ever since he admitted he lied about accepting tens of thousands of dollars in unreported gifts from state contractors. "I acknowledge that my poor judgment has brought [me] here," said Rowland, with his wife standing by his side. He described the resignation as "a decision that we believe is not only in the best interest of our family, but in the best interest of the State of Connecticut as well ... I can only hope that when all is said and done -- when the dust settles and time casts light on our time in office -- that the people will see [I achieved much for the state as Governor]." The resignation will head off the looming impeachment, but will not end the criminal probes. Observers believe Rowland is likely to be indicted on corruption charges in the coming months. One of Rowland's top aides already pled guilty a few months ago to taking unreported cash bribes in exchange for steering state contracts to companies. Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell (R) will become the new Governor when Rowland leaves office. Likewise, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin Sullivan (D) will then become the new Lieutenant Governor.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.22.04 |

NADER PICKS GREEN VP Camejo and NaderRUNNINGMATE. In a smart political move on the eve of the Green Party National Convention, Independent candidate Ralph Nader selected respected Green Party leader Peter Camejo as his Vice Presidential runningmate. Camejo -- a longtime Nader activist and financial executive -- was the Green nominee for California Governor in 2002 and the 2003 recall election. Camejo actively sought the Green Presidential nomination this year as an avowed "Draft Nader" candidate. The VP move is an attempt by Nader to derail repeated criticism from rival Green Presidential candidate David Cobb. Cobb has argued for months that giving Nader -- who is not a party member -- the Greens' ballot spots would do nothing to build the party for the future. Having Camejo -- a Green -- on Nader's independent ticket will likely blunt those views. The Nader-Camejo ticket, which unites two of the most popular figures in the Green Party, may be sufficient to generate the momentum they need for Saturday's nomination vote. Before selecting Camejo, it was questionable whether or not Nader was going to capture the Green Party endorsement.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.22.04 |

HuntsmanFINAL UT, SC PRIMARY POLL NUMBERS. GOP primary voters go to the polls today in Utah and South Carolina and we have some last-minute poll results. In the Utah race for Governor, the KSL-TV/SurveyUSA tracking poll showed former Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. (R) at 68% and former State House Speaker Nolan Karras at 27%. The final Salt Lake Tribune poll has Huntsman holding a 37-point lead. In South Carolina, the final WCSC-TV/SurveyUSA tracking poll shows Congressman Jim DeMint moving out to a 54% to 44% lead over former Governor David Beasley in the open US Senate race. While the SC primary was a very polite affair, the run-off has turned rather critical. DeMint regularly attacks Beasley as a "flip-flopper" and "wishy-washy" in an effort to remind conservative voters of Beasley's past stance that first opposed but later favored removal of the Confederate flag from over the State Capitol when he was Governor. In return, Beasley attacks DeMint for his free trade record that allegedly caused South Carolina jobs to be lost to China and other places with cheap labor costs. DeMint is also outspending Beasley 2-to-1 in the run-off.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.22.04 |

Moon WatchPARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON (YES, AGAIN). Okay, so I'm still banging this same ol' drum until more of the mainstream media finally reports on this story of cult leader Sun Myung Moon's bizarre Messianic "coronation" ceremony involving elected officials on Capitol Hill. Salon.com reported on it Monday as their lead item, and The Hill jumps in with coverage today. If you missed our stories, they can be found here and here. Now it's up to you folks to keep the pressure on. Important: If you've got news about Moonie (or other) cult influence in US politics, please drop me a note.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.22.04 |

TUESDAY OPEN THREAD. Congressional candidate Larry Diedrich (R-SD) is recovering from open heart surgery to replace a leaking valve -- just three weeks after losing the Special. Got other news or gossip? Policy to pop. Anything at all.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.22.04 |

TUESDAY PRIMARY PREVIEW. Voters go to the polls Tuesday in Utah and South Carolina. Utah Republicans will select a cast ballots in races for Governor and for Congress in CD-2 and CD-3. In the gubernatorial contest, wealthy businessman and former US Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. will likely cruise to a landslide victory over former State House Speaker Nolan Karras. Beasley vs. DeMintA poll last week showed Huntsman holding a 46% advantage. In CD-2, Tim Bridgewater and John Swallow -- who were both unsuccessful candidates in 2002 -- are locked in a competitive race to oppose vulnerable Congressman Jim Matheson (D) in November. Meanwhile, Congressman Chris Cannon should again hold off the second consecutive primary challenge he's faced from former State Rep. Matt Throckmorton. Utah Democrats already selected their nominees and have no contested statewide or congressional races on the primary ballot. In South Carolina, GOP voters will decide the US Senate run-off between former Governor David Beasley and Congressman Jim DeMint. Beasley placed first in the primary two weeks ago with 37%, followed by DeMint at 26%. The GOP candidates who placed third and fourth in the primary have both united behind DeMint. A WCSC-TV poll released a few days ago shows that DeMint has rapidly closed the gap: Beasley-48%, DeMint-47%. DeMint appears to have the momentum to score a win, but it will all be about GOTV efforts in a race this close.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.21.04 |

TRACKING THE BATTLEGROUND STATES. Here are some new independent polls from the past few days. In Florida, the latest WKMG-TV/SurveyUSA poll shows Bush-50%, Kerry-43%. In West Virginia, the latest American Research Group tracking poll shows Kerry has captured the lead over Bush by a 47% to 44% vote, with Nader at 3%. Bush carried WV by 6% in 2000.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.21.04 |

GREEN PARTY, CONSTITUTION PARTY BOTH HOLD PREZ CONVOS THIS WEEK. Two political parties will be selecting their Presidential nominees this week. The significance? Both the progressive Green Party and conservative Constitution Party each will likely be able to place their respective nominees on ballots in at least 40 states. The Greens will gather in Wisconsin, while the CP will meet in Pennsylvania. Cobb vs. NaderThe Green race pits attorney and GP activist David Cobb against the invisible presence of Ralph Nader. Cobb, a Green Party member, is actively seeking the nomination and leads with 229.5 delegates. Nader is not seeking the nomination, notes he is an Independent (and not a GP member), and says he only wants to party's "endorsement" and state ballot spots. Cobb's supporters say Cobb's candidacy is about long-term party building, while Nader's candidacy is simply about promoting Nader himself without doing anything to grow the party. Nader supporters counter that Cobb is a good guy but will not get any media attention -- while Nader will at least keep the Greens in the news. Nader does not plan to attend the convention, but Nader and several Nader surrogate candidates hold 214.5 delegates. The remaining GP delegates are divided as follows: Others-28, Uncommitted-173.5, and "None of the Above"-88.5 delegates. The GP Presidential vote will take place on Saturday. By contrast, the Constitution contest looks like a done deal. Attorney Michael Peroutka is already the party's provisional Presidential nominee, subject only to ratification at the convention. Peroutka has repeatedly offered to step aside if "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore of Alabama or any other big name wants the nomination. Moore, despite some flirting with the media, has shown no real sign that he wants to run for President this year. Former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) will be speaking at the CP convention -- not as a Presidential hopeful, but as a privacy rights activist who opposes the Bush Administration's so-called PATRIOT Act.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.21.04 |

Moon WatchPARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON (NEWS). Our in-depth reporting on cult leader Sun Myung Moon's bizarre "coronation" ceremony on Capitol Hill after Moon proclaimed himself the "Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent" has started to draw a trickle of mainstream media attention. National Journal's "House Race Hotline" made it their lead item on Friday. Then, on Sunday, a Chicago Tribune columnist caught up with an entirely unapologetic Congressman Danny Davis. If you missed our stories, they can be found here and here. Hey, we've done our part ... as we notified the opponents of all the Congressmen involved and all of the newspapers in their respective districts of what went on in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Now it's up to you folks to keep the pressure on. Important: If you've got news about Moonie cult influence in US politics, please drop me a note.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.21.04 |

BECAUSE FIGHTING ONLY TWO WARS ISN'T ENOUGH FOR NOW? The US currently has military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan engaged in daily combat. Well, conservative legal activist and US Senate candidate Larry Klayman (R-FL) is proposing we open a third combat front ... in Cuba. "If we can do it for the Iraqis, if we can do it for the Afghans, why not the Cubans? It's time to remove Castro by force, if necessary," said Klayman in a debate last week. Despite this blatant pandering for the sizable Cuban-American vote in the state, polls show Klayman mired in the single-digits. Klayman founded the Judicial Watch group that played a key role in exposing some of the Clinton Administration scandals.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.21.04 |

MONDAY OPEN THREAD. Bush vs. Kerry. The battle for Congress. Iraq. Whatever.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.21.04 |

Moonie invitationSPINNING MOON. For the past two days, we've been reporting on the bizarre coronation ceremony held in a US Senate office building in which Congressman Danny Davis helped place a golden crown upon the head of billionaire Korean "Unification Church" cult leader and convicted tax felon Sun Myung Moon after Moon proclaimed himself "humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." Don't believe me? Then click here and read Moon's speech, as posted on his own website. Several other Members of Congress also participated in or were listed as hosts of the evening's festivities. Well, as expected, the elected officials involved in the event are now offering various excuses and explanations for attending the event sponsored by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP). Many claim they did not know the Moonie nature of the group or that they did not know the event would evolve into a messianic coronation. While the latter excuse may be plausible (for all except Davis), a simple visit to the IIFWP website rebuts the former claim by clearly and repeatedly stating that Moon founded and directs the IIFWP. But -- as you've seen our story and photos -- and can view the Moonie videos of the event online here (English - short version) and here (Windows Media Player, in Korean, long version) ... and now you can read how the other side and those involved are spinning this:

  • DESCRIPTION OF THE EVENT FROM THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/24/04 (Note: Moon is the founder of News Word Communication, the parent company that owns the Washington Times): "Several dozen religious and civic leaders were honored ... in Washington for their 'exceptional dedication' as peacemakers. ... The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the [IIFWP], and his wife, Hak Ja Han Moon, received Crown of Peace awards for their lifelong public service. In his remarks, Rev. Moon said historical divisions are solved when men and women form 'God-centered families' and live in harmony with other such families ... The dinner included a ceremony in which representatives of Judaism, Islam and Christianity exchanged symbols of one another's faiths as expressions of reconciliation ... Nearly 90 other religious, civil, political and educational 'ambassadors for peace' were cited for their regional efforts. Members of Congress assisting at the event included Sen. Mark Dayton, Minnesota Democrat, Reps. Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, Christopher B. Cannon of Utah and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania, all Republicans, and Democratic Reps. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Harold E Ford Jr. of Tennessee and Sanford D. Bishop Jr. of Georgia." [Note: This is excerpted from an article displayed on the IIFWP website.]
  • Davis in Moonie ceremonyCONGRESSMAN DANNY DAVIS (D-IL) - Initially, Davis told Capitol Fax he was "not necessarily in agreement with everything that [Moon] said ... Jesus the Christ is my guy." Next, he explained to Christian Challenge that he "was attempting to provide an accolade to the Rev. Moon and his wife for promoting visions of world peace ... [and their] visions of family structure. From my vantage point, it did not have anything to do with religion. I am a practicing Baptist, and have been a Protestant all my life." Davis added that Moon's messianic pronouncement speech "was similar to a baseball team owner telling team members that 'we are the greatest team on earth'" just before a game. Then -- in an interview published yesterday in the Chicago Reader community newspaper -- Davis equated Moon's messianic crowning ceremony to the Boy Scouts: "You know the Boy Scouts have rituals that they go through and they make individuals Eagle Scouts and they give awards and presentations. [The IIFWP] recognize people for promoting peace. Of course the highest recognition goes to the highest promoter and the highest promoter is Reverend Moon, so they come up with something higher than the certificates and plaques that other folks get."
  • Weldon at Moonie eventCONGRESSMAN CURT WELDON (R-PA) - When first contacted by investigative reporter John Gorenfeld, Weldon's press secretary stated: "I'm telling you, he didn't go." When Gorenfeld sent her some links showing Weldon was listed as a primary sponsor of the event, she stated that Weldon "planned to attend this awards show, but couldn't make it due to his schedule." When Gorenfeld next produced a photo of Weldon standing with a group of Moon associates at the event, she said that Weldon's participation was apparently "limited to his attendance." Soon after, Gorenfeld found a photo of Weldon actually giving the welcoming "congratulatory remarks" from the stage -- as a photo was displayed of himself giving a pin to Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy. Gorenfeld, who has extensively covered Moon's involvement in US politics, said that pin presented last year by Weldon to Khadafy was apparently one of Moon's peace pins. Okay, back to Weldon's staff for version #4 of Weldon's explanation. Weldon's chief of staff told Christian Challenge that Weldon "was at the banquet for '5 or 10 minutes' to speak about his recent trip to Libya; Weldon neither saw Moon at the event, nor witnessed the coronation, nor heard his Messianic speech ... [and] 'in no way does Congressman Weldon share that belief.'" That he did not know of Moon's involvement strains credibility (see yesterday's story) as he and Davis also co-hosted Moon's Capitol Hill event in 2003 and they praised him by name in the Congressional Record. Weldon later added -- not that he has any remaining credibility on this issue -- that he did not give Khadafy a Moonie peace pin but, rather, pinned a US flag to the anti-American dictator's lapel.
  • Bartlett and MoonCONGRESSMAN ROSCOE BARTLETT (R-MD) - Bartlett's press secretary told Christian Challenge that Bartlett thought he had "received the Ambassadors for Peace Award from the Washington Times Foundation for his work in Congress, and attended part of the banquet ... this was the sum total of his participation ... His attendance in no way reflects an endorsement of what the Rev. Moon said or did at that event, or at any other time."
  • CONGRESSMAN HAROLD FORD JR. (D-TN) - Ford's office told Christian Challenge that Ford did not attend the event and "if Rep. Ford was on the Host Committee, 'he was not aware that it had any affiliation with the Unification Church,' and that Ford 'does not accept Moon's claims to be messiah.' In partial support of Ford's claim, it should be noted that Ford does not appear in any video of the event. However, see the IIFWP website and see if you find the statement about not really knowing who the real sponsor was to be credible.
  • Dayton at Moonie eventUS SENATOR MARK DAYTON (D-MN) - Dayton's press secretary told Christian Challenge that Dayton "attended part of the banquet because some 'very distinguished people from our state were being honored there' ... She said that the meeting planners 'were not being up front as to who was sponsoring the event. We would never have been there if we knew what the event really was.'" Again: See the IIFWP website and see if you find the statement about not really knowing who the real sponsor was to be credible.
  • CONGRESSMAN PHIL CRANE (R-IL) - Crane's office told Christian Challenge that "we have checked [Crane's] schedule, and he was nowhere near the Dirksen Building" at the time of the event. She added, "we can say without equivocation that Rep. Crane was not there, and had no knowledge" of it, nor was he on any invitation committee regardless of whatever the invitation stated.
  • CONGRESSMAN SANFORD BISHOP (D-GA) - Bishop told Christian Challenge that "he received an 'international peace award' at a banquet, but got there late 'just before it was dismissed.' Bishop added, 'The Messiah in my life is Jesus Christ ... I am not a Moonie, and I do not believe that Mr. Moon is a messiah. The Washington Times has never spoken to me; they have no authorization to say that I am affiliated with this." Bishop (see above) is named as a Congressional Co-Chair of the event.
  • HOUSE SPEAKER DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), CONGRESSMAN CHRIS CANNON (R-UT), US SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CONGRESSMAN CHARLIE RANGEL (D-NY), CONGRESSMAN TOM DAVIS (R-VA), CONGRESSMAN ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), CONGRESSWOMAN EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON (D-TX) - No response to date from any of these offices.

For those of you not familiar with Moon, all you may recall is that Moon's Unification Church are the folks who did those mass wedding ceremonies in the late 1970s and early 1980s (involving thousands of people who were matched-up by Moon himself and -- for most -- met each other for the first time at the wedding ceremony). Beyond proclaiming himself the Returned Lord and Messiah, here are some of Moon's other recent pronouncements:

  • ABOUT JEWS: In a 2003 spech in Virginia, Moon blamed the Jews for the Holocaust and demanded that they accept him as their messianic leader. "Who are the Jewish members here? Raise your hands! [Then, in response to the raised hands] Jewish people, you have to repent. Jesus was the King of Israel. Through the principle of indemnity Hitler killed 6 million Jews. That is why. God could not prevent Satan from doing that because Israel killed the True Parents. Even now, you have to determine that you will repent and follow and become one with Christianity through Rev. Moon," said Moon. (Source: Moon's own Unification.net site)
  • ABOUT SEX AND THE LOVE ORGAN: "Man's convex love organ, thousands of your ancestors culminate there. When these two organs meet together, lineage is mixed. Through that, new life is created. Do you think that new life would want to get involved in the dirty, filthy lineages of its parents? Will the newborn try to run away from this filthy abomination? 'I would rather not be home,' it might say ... If you create a mixture of black and white, maybe not in your generation but down the road (a few generations) a sign of this mixture will emerge. The worst possible man and woman meet together and have a relationship, and then won't they create the worst devil? They both inherited Satan's lineage. Do you think they can separate it from them? If you young people do something, you will create a worse thing than the atom bomb ... We should love our enemy, but what about our love organ and lineage. You sisters look so gentle and pretty, but your lineage is filthy and dirty. You need a blood transfusion. But there is only satanic lineage? What can you do? Where can you find God's love? That is why throughout human history God created many religions through which he trained people to receive the Lord of the Second Advent. pliersThe role of the messiah is to clean the filthy blood lineage and give God's blood to mankind ... Satan is like a prostitute. Don't we all have that kind of mind? Perhaps a Westerner may feel 'If I sleep with this oriental man, it will be good.' We all have this problem, no matter how old. Sometimes old women have the urge to live with a handsome young man. Among six billion people, there are all kinds of handsome men and women all over the world. If you become a promiscuous person, you can commit all kinds of sin ... What about young Americans who go to nightclubs and dance and have one-night stands? They mix their blood. Your lineage is so filthy; there is no way to clean it ... We possess the most fearful organ, the love organ. Unless we become one mind and body, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. Even after forty days of fasting, you forget meal time. But to unite mind and body, you still cannot enter ... As a man, in your right front pants pocket is a small inside watch pocket. Keep pliers there, and when you go to the bathroom, once a day, pinch your love organ. Cut the skin a little bit as a warning. If your love organ does not listen to your conscience, then you should cut off the tip. Even if it takes that extreme measure, we have to make sure our mind and body become one ... Without going through that kind of enlightenment stage, you cannot become a true man ... ," excerpted from a 2001 Moon speech entitled "Purity, Lineage and the Love Organ." (Source: Moon's own Unification.net site).
  • ABOUT GAYS: "There will be a purge on God’s orders ... Gays will be eliminated ... It will be greater than the communist purge, but at God’s orders," as quoted in the New York Press (2004).

Those are just a few samplings of Moon's pontificating, but you can see why its rather odd for our elected leaders to be fawning at the feet of this falsely-claimed and crowned Messiah. When is the mainstream press going to pick up on this story?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.18.04 | Permalink |

TWILIGHT ZONE CHAT WITH WELDON'S OPPONENT. After publishing lengthy details about Congressman Curt Weldon's (R-PA) involvement with Reverend Moon, I telephoned Weldon's opponent -- attorney Greg Philips (D) -- to let him know that the story was online and ask for his reaction. Frankly, the response I got was surprising. "I'm not going to use religion as a campaign issue," he said. But this is Moon's Unification Church, which is widely described as a cult, I stuttered. "I'm a Catholic and people could say the same thing when describing my religion," he answered. But what about the large amount of money that members are required to give to Moon? "You could say that about most religions," said Philips. At one point, Philips actually said: "I don't care if you have pictures of him with Reverend Moon or with Billy Graham, I'm not going to use them." Philips said that, as far as he was concerned, none of this -- Weldon's ties to Moon, giving the pin to Khadafy, etc. -- was relevant to the campaign. Philips asked if I knew how many of Moon's followers lived in his district, because this could alienate them. Whether it's 10 or 20 or whatever, I said, you probably don't need to worry about them so much as you do need to winning votes from among the 99.99% of other voters in the distruict. Don't you think, I asked, with the pictures of Weldon, his inconsistent excuses, and the reported actions, you had enough there to raise questions about Weldon's judgment as an US elected official? "No. Bring me hard evidence of a quid pro quo and maybe then I'll say something." Hmmm ... well, maybe in two years Weldon will get a savvy GOP primary or Dem opponent who can oust him.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.18.04 |

McCAIN HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL TODAYKerry Veepstakes. If you still harbor any fantasies of having Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as John Kerry's runningmate, today should finally end any lingering hopes. McCain will join President Bush today on Air Force One as they fly to campaign stops in Washington State and Nevada. McCain will introduce Bush at the stops as his candidate for President. "Senator McCain is a respected leader in our party. ... We are grateful that he will be joining [Bush on the trail] to talk about why it's important for President Bush to be re-elected," said a Bush campaign spokesman. The two men have had a cool relationship ever since they faced off in the 2000 Presidential race. So, will this start the McCain for VP rumors ... on the GOP side?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.18.04 |

FRIDAY OPEN THREAD. Anything at all.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.18.04 |

DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. On Wednesday we reported on a largely ignored story -- investigated in depth by journalist John Gorenfeld -- about Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) having participated recently in a bizarre Davis with Moonie crownDC event featuring purported Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon. Moon -- the leader of the Korean-based Unification Church cult, a convicted felon, and owner of the Washington Times newspaper and the UPI press service -- was previously involved in the "Koreagate" Congressional scandal in the late 1970s. We mentioned yesterday how Davis wore white gloves, read Moon's "Crown of Glory" poem, and carried a golden crown that was placed on Moon's head after Moon proclaimed himself the "Messiah", the "King of Peace" and "Returning Lord." The crowning relates to Moon's push over the past year to urge Christian churches to remove crosses from their walls and replace them with a crown -- honoring the King of Kings (which, of course, he says is himself). Now, if you thought that was bad ... well, keep reading because it gets much worse!

The huge event was Weldon at Moonie eventheld in the Dirksen Senate Office Building -- a US government building -- on Capitol Hill. Not only were there Congressional Co-Chairs of the event (Congressmen Danny Davis, Curt Weldon, Roscoe Bartlett, Sanford Bishop and Chris Cannon), others played roles that evening. US Senator Lindsey Graham, NRCC Chair Tom Davis and Congressman Phil Crane served on the Host Committee, as did noted GOP political consultant Charlie Black. Weldon -- who had his staff initially deny he even attended, then claimed he possibly popped in briefly on his way to a meeting -- actually delivered the official "congratulatory remarks" welcoming the guests. Weldon, however, seems to have a good reason to fear exposure of how closely tied he is to Moon. On June 19, 2003, the Congressional Record shows that Davis introduced remarks on behalf of himself and Weldon for last year's Amassadors of Peace Award ceremony held in the Rayburn House Office Building. Weldon and Khadafy"Many of my colleagues will join me and the Gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Weldon], co-chair, in giving tribute to ... those honored with the Ambassadors for Peace Award ... We are grateful to the founders of Ambassadors for Peace, the Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung [Moon], for promoting the vision of world peace, and we commend them for their work," said Davis. Weldon has even gone so far as to apparently organize a Congressional fact-finding mission to Libya to create an opportunity for him to present dictator Moammar Khadafy with one of Moon's Ambassadors of Peace pins. Don't believe me, check out the photo at left (which was also displayed by Weldon at the Moon event in the Dirksen Building).

So, what else went on at the Dirksen event? Famed civil rights activist and retired Congressman Walter Fauntroy (D-DC) presided at the event. A welcoming letter from House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was read. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Bartlett gets Moonie medalElijah Cummings (D-MD) praised Moon for "always standing up for what is right." Is Cummings aware that Moon supports the eradication of homosexuals (who Moon calls "dirty dung-eating dogs")? Utah State Senator Howard Stephenson (R) spoke "as an ancestor of the white settlers, the pilgrims, and those who moved westward ... as a representative of my people in a spirit of repentance for the 'Trail of Tears' which we imposed upon the Native Americans." Bartlett next was proclaimed to be one of Moon's Ambassadors of Peace, and received a medal for this from Moon. Then came the Davis poem reading and the crowning ceremony. The narrator of the official Moonie-produced video of the event -- when showing this part -- stated that "the Honorable Roscoe Bartlett [was] representing the United States" at the crowning and "Senators and Congressmen and representatives of all the [religious] families of the world joined in." The Moonie video even claims that "81 US Senators and Congressmen" attended the event, although nowhere near that number appear in the video.

In a related development, it seems the Washington Post's "Reliable Source" column on April 4 unsuccessfully attempted to report on Moon's remarks at the event. They quoted Moon as proclaiming (and this is the same quote that appears in Moon's own video): "The five great saints and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity and murders on Moon coronation on Capitol HillEarth, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons. Emperors, kings and presidents who enjoyed opulence and power on Earth, and even journalists who had worldwide fame, have now placed themselves at the forefront of the column of the true love revolution. ... They have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." However, shortly after it first appeared on the Post site, it was deleted by the Post and oddly replaced by a paragraph about Celebrity Jeopardy.

In recent years, former Vice President Dan Quayle and Attorney General John Ashcroft (in 2001) and former President George H.W. Bush (in 1988) also attended events with Moon. Bush even called him "the man with the vision." Finally -- as if you aren't sick already -- senior Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) signed a proclamation on Congressional letterhead in April 2004 recognizing Moon as the "True Parent" and "King of Peace."

Bottom line: Why did elected officials actively and tacitly participate in crowning this ex-felon as the Messiah and King of Peace? Where is the public outrage demanding that these officials -- both Democrats and Republicans -- answer for their fawning ties to this cult leader?
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.17.04 | Permalink |

KERRY VEEPSTAKES Kerry VeepstakesUPDATE. Senator John Kerry on Wednesday held the first of what will be several lengthy personal meetings with each of his Vice Presidential runningmate finalists. Kerry and Congressman Dick Gephardt (D-MO) spent 90 minutes meeting in private in Kerry's Capitol Hill office. The AP has also learned that Kerry plans to meet this week with Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, retired Army General Wes Clark (D-AR) and US Senator Bob Graham (D-FL). US Senator John Edwards (D-NC) is also reported to be a finalist, although it is not known when the two will meet. Other finalists may also be in play, but the Kerry campaign declined to confirm any of the speculation. Graham and Edwards have been through this before, as both were VP finalists with Al Gore in 2000. Also, in what is becoming an amusing and frequent ritual to keep his name in play, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson yet again got himself into the news by announcing he was still "not interested" in being VP. Meanwhile, Zogby this week polled two possible Kerry tickets -- Kerry/Gephardt and Kerry/Dean (where did that one come from?) -- against Bush/Cheney. The results showed that either Kerry combination narrowly trailed Bush by a 45% to 43% vote. In one bit of real news, Kerry also said yesterday that he will announce his VP choice prior to the start of the Democratic National Convention. Postcript: MSNBC reported Thursday that sources close to Kerry say the list is down to three finalists: Gephardt, Vilsack, and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. As always, no confirmation from the Kerry camp.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.17.04 |

THURSDAY OPEN THREAD. Anything at all.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.17.04 |

Fahrenheit 9/11FAHRENHEIT 9/11: MOORE OR LESS. Depending on what you think of liberal filmmaker Michael Moore's documentary movies -- and I think they're usually entertaining and provocative, albeit sometimes fast-and-loose with being accurate -- there's a website for you. Moore's latest film, which won the highest award at the recent Cannes Film Festival in France, savages President Bush for being too distracted by vacations and lots of photo ops to pay attention to the threat of terrorism in the pre-9/11 days. The Bush folks clearly will hate the film. If you're a Moore hater, be sure to check out Move America Forward (produced by California GOP consultant Sal Russo). If you like Moore -- or hate Bush -- then check out Moore's own site that plugs his film and political views.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.16.04 |

COLORADO: BACK TO COLLEGE? A wealthy Brazilian university president (and US citizen) is financing a petition drive to place an initiative on the Electoral College mapColorado ballot this November to change the way the state awards Electoral College votes. The proposal would require that electoral votes be awarded proportionally based on the statewide vote total, rather than the winner-takes-all approach used in nearly all states. According to the Denver Post, the group needs to collect roughly 68,000 signatures to place the question on the ballot. If approved in November, the "constitutional amendment would affect this year's choice for President by immediately permitting the division of Colorado electoral votes." While the US Constitution mandates the use of the Electoral College system, it allows the individual state legislatures to determine the method of selecting electors. Two states -- Maine and Nebraska -- changed their methods years ago. In each of those two states, two electoral votes are awarded to the statewide winner and then one additional elector is awarded for each individual congressional district won. Organizers selected Colorado because state law there already explicitly defines a public vote on a constitutional amendment as being the people acting as the state legislature. "What we are proposing to do, at least in Colorado, is to come much closer to the notion of one man, one vote," said Rick Ridder, the Democratic consultant who is organizing the effort. The state GOP chair complained that the proposal "has a bad odor ... They don't feel their candidate is going to be able to win it outright, and they just want whatever piece of the pie they can get on a pro-rata basis."
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.16.04 |

Gay Marriage AmendmentGOP SENATE LEADERS MAY FORCE JULY VOTE ON GAY MARRIAGE. According to Roll Call, Republican leaders in the US Senate are planning to call a July vote on the proposed US Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The vote would likely take place in the 1-2 week period just before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The Republican Conference leaders want to force the vote, while some of the GOP committee chairs oppose bringing the issue to the floor. President Bush has endorsed the amendment, while Senator Kerry opposes it. Interestingly, the GOP leadership did not bring the matter up for discussion at today's policy lunch attended by all 51 Republican Senators. The move is surprising because it appears certain to fall far short of the two-thirds vote required to approve it. To date, 51 US Senators are on record as saying they will either vote against the amendment or are strongly leaning towards voting against it -- including 10 Republicans.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.16.04 |

ODDS AND ENDS. WASHINGTON STATE: The latest Mason-Dixon tracking poll shows US Senator Patty Murray (D) leading challenger George Nethercutt (R) by a 52% to 34% vote. Jon Huntsman Jr.MARYLAND: A new independent poll (Gonzalez Research) shows -- as expected -- US Senator Barbara Mikulski (D) at 61% and challenger E.J. Pipkin (R) at 30%. COLORADO: The conservative Club for Growth has jumped into the open US Senate race by throwing their support behind former Congressman Bob Schaffer (R). The group also released a Basswood Research poll they sponsored that shows Schaffer holding a 34% to 31% lead over beer magnate Pete Coors in the GOP primary. UTAH: A poll conducted for a business group shows wealthy businessman Jon Huntsman Jr. leading University Board of Regents Chair Nolan Karras by a landslide 63% to 17% vote for Governor in the upcoming June 22 GOP primary. Huntsman weighed in this week with a new TV spot featuring an endorsement from former President George H.W. Bush. Anonymous Karras supporter(s) -- purporting to be created by "just a Mom" -- countered with a very nasty anti-Huntsman site called UtahSerfs.com.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.16.04 |

SOMETHING STRANGE IN THE WATER IN ILLINOIS? Reports of strange behavior are coming from the Land of Lincoln this week. Remember Congressman Ray LaHood (R-IL) -- the calm GOP centrist who presided on the House floor over the Clinton impeachment proceedings? Well, LaHood is acting these days as if he's auditioning to be the John McCain -- the loose cannon -- of the Illinois Republican Party. Within the past week he told the Chicago Sun-Times that US Senate nominee Jack Ryan (R-IL) was "running kind of a bonehead campaign right now." Moon coronation ceremonyLater, LaHood predicted that senior Congressman Phil Crane (R-IL) could be an upset defeat this year. "A lot of people are worried that the November surprise could be Phil Crane. The problem is he just has not really worked [his district] that well, and he hasn't paid attention to it," said LaHood. Then there's the strange behavior of Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL). Davis participated recently in an event featuring purported Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon. At the "Moonie" festivities, Davis wore gleaming white gloves, spoke, and carried a golden crown that was placed on Moon's head after Moon proclaimed himself the "Messiah" and "Returning Lord." When contacted by Capitol Fax, Davis explained that he was "not necessarily in agreement with everything that [Moon] said ... Jesus the Christ is my guy." Postscript: It turns out that -- while Davis was the only Member of Congress to play a participatory role in the bizarre coronation ceremony -- other prominent officials were also in attendance as "Congressional Co-Chairs" of the event. They included: Congressmen Curt Weldon (R-PA), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Chris Cannon (R-UT). US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), NRCC Chair Tom Davis (R-VA), Congressman Phil Crane (R-IL) and former US Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) were among those listed on the host committee. Read more about it here. Weldon's office vehemently denied he attended, until a photo was found on a Korean Moonie website picturing Weldon at the ceremony. Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) was listed as a co-chair on the invitation, but he said he neither attended nor gave permission for his name to be used. All of this is very disturbing.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.16.04 |

WEDNESDAY OPEN THREAD. Your turn. Debate issues ... argue Bush versus Kerry ... or even use it as a forum to trade political items.
Posted by Ron Gunzburger - 06.16.04 |

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