Wednesday, May 8, 2013

sex and the double standard

By now, everyone knows that Mark "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" Sanford is back in Congress after winning a special election last night. While the district is bright red, many Democrats (including myself) thought that we had a chance to pull this one off. We had a rockstar candidate (who piggybacked on her brother's name ID) and they had a deeply flawed candidate with more baggage than an airport. However, the voters ultimately decided that the R next to Sanford's name was good enough to revive his political career.

Like many, I like to follow political sex scandals. They are amusing to even non consumers of political news. Some of them are so silly that if you made it up, nobody would believe it. When I saw The Campaign last summer, when Will Ferrell's character posted pictures of his dick to Twitter, it almost seemed made up, but yes that really did happen. They happen on both sides of the aisle. Some of course are more sleazier than others (I would rank Mark Sanford up there in terms of sleaziness). They also happen on both sides of the aisle. For every Mark Sanford there's an Eliot Spitzer. What is different is how the various parties handle the sex scandals and how the party that preaches 'family values' gets away with it.

Within a year of each other, two politicians that hold statewide office (one a governor of a blue state, the other a senator from a red state) get caught with prostitutes. When Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer (who I voted for in my last NY election) was caught, he resigned his office within a week. His party punished him by stripping him of his superdelegate status at the national convention that year. Contrast that to Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. The senator secluded himself for a week and then his party and constituents forgave him. He never resigned his office, in fact he easily won re-election in 2010 with 57% of the vote. (Note, even though Governor Spitzer left politics, he has since made a comeback as a media personality).

To use another bipartisan example, two politicians seeking the presidency both cheat on their wives who have cancer. Very sleazy indeed. However, only one of them is still in the spotlight (granted, years after the scandal) and his party took him seriously. Newt Gingrich's adultery was the not the only scandal that plagued him throughout his career. He was cheating on a wife with cancer and actually served her divorce papers while in the hospital. This is a man who finished 3rd in the presidential primary in 2012, many years after his scandal was public. On my side of the aisle, we also have a presidential candidate who cheated on his (now late) wife with cancer-- John Edwards (who I will admit was my first choice in the 2008 primary, but now I feel I dodged a bullet). Because he's a sleazeball, he was punished by his party (his speaking role at the convention was taken away and any hopes he had of a cabinet appointment were as well), and five years later he remains out of the spotlight. Will he pull a Newt and make a run for president down the line? I'll eat my shoes if he's taken seriously as a contender. I think that the party leadership and base would (rightfully) turn his candidacy into a laughingstock.

Newt Gingrich (who won Mark Sanford's Bible Belt state in the 2012 primary), David Vitter, Mark Sanford, and to throw a Democrat in there, Bill Clinton. All of these guys have survived a sex scandal. With the exception of Anthony Weiner (who is interested in running for mayor of New York City), it seems that the Republicans are more likely to (sometimes successfully) run candidates that have been caught in a sex scandal while the Democrats punish most of their sex scandal candidates. So what is next for the party of family values? After Sanford's victory last night, it seems that the sky's the limit for sex scandal plagued Republicans. So who's the next GOP comeback kid? Larry Craig (last seen in an airport men's room)? Mark Foley (last seen auditioning for "To Catch a Predator")? John Ensign (last seen paying off his mistress's parents)?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

from progressive to blue dog-- my own evolution

I am not much of a blogger anymore, as anyone who reads a date can tell (my first post in 2.5 years). I'm still a Democrat, but I would not longer self identify as the Outspoken Liberal. Having worked on four Democratic campaigns in rather conservative districts, my own views have become more conservative over time. Maybe this is an attribute to getting older (aka being on the wrong side of 30), but I see it more as leaving the liberal bubble that is the New York metro area and being sent to what Sarah Palin famously referred to as the "Real America." (I am sure that I just lost even more of my progressive credentials by quoting Sarah Palin.) What sparked me to come out of blogging retirement is the growing civil war within the Democratic Party between Progressives and Blue Dogs. On one forum I frequent, several posts can be summed up by the following sentence-- 'Rah rah Progressives, boo hiss Blue Dogs." I haven't looked at profiles to see where many of the posters are from, but my guess is that many are from liberal enclaves like parts of New York and California.

Since my last blog post, I'm not focused on issues as much as I once was. As a campaign staffer, I am focused on my next race and what it takes to win that race (with the exception of labor, which lead me to Wisconsin in 2011). What I have learned is that in many districts (even more now due to GOP gerrymandering), an ideological Progressive is simply not electable. When I interviewed for my first race in 2010 (a Blue Dog district), I was asked if I was okay working for a Blue Dog congressman. My response was that I'd rather have a Blue Dog who votes with the party 85% of the time than a Republican who votes with the party 0% of the time. This holds true for me now more than ever, having been to four Blue Dog districts in four different states. While I am not on a race this year yet (I have my fingers crossed that this changes soon), if I had my choice I would go to a Blue Dog district. I like the challenges that Blue Dog districts present and I feel they're a good fit for me.

There's been a purity move in politics on both sides of the aisle. On the Republican side, you have the tea party movement, who primaries the establishment (sometimes successfully) with extreme conservatives (more on this below). On the Democratic side, the purity movement is not as widespread and vocal. You have groups like Progressive Democrats of America aka PDA (I went to a conference of theirs before working on campaigns and while I agreed with what they stood for, I was extremely turned off by their tactics), who spend their time and effort into going after Democrats because they're not liberal enough. An example of this was complaining about the healthcare bill (prior to passage) because it was not single-payer (even though single-payer could not pass). Instead of accepting a baby step in the right direction, they fought it and made the perfect the enemy of the good. Perhaps they'd be a lot more successful if they spent half as much effort going after Republicans as they do Democrats.

When ideological purists are nominated in primaries, you have races that one party should have held or picked up go to the other side. If not for the tea party, we would have a Republican controlled Senate right now. But the tea party gave us candidates like Christine "I am not a witch" O'Donnell and Todd "legitimate rape" Akin. As a Democrat, I made the popcorn, sat back, and enjoyed the show as the GOP squandered these opportunities to lose races they should have won. As a political professional, I learned the lesson that a candidate is only as good as the district he/she is running in. If the candidate is too ideological for the district/state, he/she will not win period.

A good example of this is Richard Mourdock, a tea party Republican that primaried a longtime GOP senator in the red state of Indiana. At the end of the day, Indiana voters decided that Blue Dog Joe Donnelly was a better fit to represent them than the extremist Mourdock. If PDA had stepped in and decided that Joe Donnelly needed a liberal primary challenger (primary voters-- especially in states with closed primaries--tend to be the most ideological voters), then we would probably be looking at Senator Mourdock.

As a Democrat, I want the most progressive ELECTABLE candidate to represent the district. The keyword here is electable. The last thing I want my party doing is nominating our version of Todd Akin and turning into a laughingstock. 2014 (and 2013) is looming and we've worked too hard to blow our chances. As for Progressives who would like to see other Progressives elected, in many districts that is a long-term strategy. I will have a future post on that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Questioning religion

I normally do not like to comment on religious issues here since this is a blog about politics but the concept of questioning religion has really gotten under my skin lately. As an agnostic/deist I really don't care if someone questions my own religion, but I don't think it's anyone's business when you run for and/or serve public office what your religion is or is not.

So 2010 brings us two instances of questioning religion in politics. The first one was in the form of a nasty campaign ad (that shall remain nameless) where a Democrat asks a Republican to be a man and own up to his mistakes of worshiping his bong in college. The Republican turns around and spins the ad so it makes the Democrat look like he's questioning the Republican's religion. The voters of the Bible Belt state believe the Republican and the Democrat's campaign is over.

After the election the Republicans are at it again. Just yesterday Senators Jon Kyl and Jim DeMint (R-teabagging morons) yelled at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid because he's keeping the Senate in session through the holidays and accuses him of disrespecting Christianity for making them work through the holidays (waahh waahh I will work through the holidays for 6 figures and I'll be happy to take their jobs). Luckily Harry Reid is finally starting to grow a pair and stood up to them.

I am sick of the Republicans questioning religion for their own personal gain. They started in 2008 with Barack Obama and it was just a disaster since. In fact the Republicans being in bed with organized religion has taken a formerly apathetic voter like me and turned me off from organized religion and their party. I am sure I am not alone here. Heckuva job GOP!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm not dead yet!

Most of my readers probably left this blog for dead. However since starting this blog two years ago (on a much happier note), I have since decided to pursue politics as a career and was working on a campaign that gave me experience outside of the blue northeastern politics that I am used to. I must say that getting involved in politics is one of the best things to ever happen to me. My life has definitely changed for the better due to politics.

This flaming liberal from NY/NJ was sent right into one of the most watched senate races in the country—Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway against legacy teabagger Rand Paul. Although we did not win the senate race, we did narrowly win the congressional so I don’t feel as bad this year as I did last year. (Last year I was absolutely devastated by the election results. This year while the Democrats did lose the House and a lot of senate seats, my own representation is still Democratic which makes me a very happy camper).

Kentucky’s an interesting place politically. Unlike the New Jersey politics that I am used to, there are often competitive Democratic primaries, thus there is a large Democratic advantage in voter registration. But how someone is registered in Kentucky does not predict how they will vote in the general election. Throughout the campaign, we talked to several “tea party Democrats” (the term continues to confuse me) and had several registered Republicans in our office making phone calls for us. Unlike the two states I have voted in, independents (non-affiliated voters, as I once was) make up only a small fraction of the electorate.

Also being in the heart of the Bible Belt religion is always an issue (and in this case I think cost us the election). My experience started out with rural church picnic that is the state’s biggest political event of the year. And the Republicans being the masters of spinning the facts that they are made an ad that Jack released asking Rand Paul to man up and admit he made some mistakes in college was seen as questioning his religion. Apparently it’s only acceptable to question a candidate’s religion if you are a Republican calling a black guy a Muslim.

That will probably be my only comments on the race. I enjoyed my time in Kentucky and everyone that I met along the way. In the mean time I will be posting a lot more frequently now about various federal issues that concern me, and I welcome my readers back to The Outspoken Liberal.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Phoenix Suns took action....

Onto another day of organizing the Arizona Major League Baseball Boycott. Although this focuses on baseball and the Arizona Diamondbacks, I want to give major kudos to the Phoenix Suns, Arizona's NBA team, who is changing their jerseys tomorrow (Cinco De Mayo) due to this law.

Now I do not follow professional basketball the way I do baseball. I will be the first person to admit that I am honestly not sure what the demographics of a typical NBA team. I do not think they have very many Latino players though (if I am wrong here, please correct me in the comments). However the fact that the Suns are willing to do something before the Diamondbacks are, and that speaks volumes.

Come on Diamondbacks, it's time to step up to the plate. Basketball's already beat you to it.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why Arizona's immigration law matters

So for the last week I've found a new cause to work on-- getting Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star game out of Arizona due to the state's new law that legalizes racial profiling.

Like when I got involved in the fight for marriage equality in New Jersey, I am often asked why I am involved in a law that does not affect me personally. This is true. I'm a white Mayflower descendant and both sides of my family have been here for generations. I would probably not be profiled in Arizona. I'm fighting this law on behalf of everyone in America, legally or illegally, citizen, alien, or tourist, who may be profiled by the police.

Racial profiling is wrong. How is Joe Police Officer going to distinguish between someone who crossed the border yesterday and a third generation American who's grandparents came here from Mexico as children. How do you tell if someone is illegal by looking like them? It's not like they're wearing a t-shirt that says "I'm illegal arrest me."

The reason why we are trying to get Major League Baseball involved is because of the high concentration of Latino players, fans, staff, umpires, coaches, etc. It truly has become a worldwide game. It is also a very lucrative business for any state that has a team (or more). By moving the 2011 All-Star game out of Arizona, it costs the city of Phoenix lost revenue not only from the game itself but from hotels, restaurants, and other touirst attractions.

I will agree with most that something needs to be done about immigration. However, this is a federal issue and not a state issue. And the best way to approach this problem would be penalizing the employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona's new immigration law and an action plan

On Friday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed into a law that passed the Arizona legislature that allows police to make people produce papers to prove their immigration status (and without cause). It's one of the most racist laws in recent American history. Arizona is going to take a significant hit in their tourism as nobody will want to visit Arizona anymore (it's ashame because I've been there before and the Grand Canyon is beautiful).

As my fellow Tweeple (the great progressive community on Twitter) and I were discussing, the best recourse for this law is to utilize an industry that is a significant source of direct and indirect revenue that employs a lot of (highly-paid) Latinos-- Major League Baseball. Not only do the Arizona Diamondbacks play in Phoenix, but exactly half (15 of 30) of the teams call Arizona home for spring training. In addition, several players call Arizona their offseason home.

Fortunately a lot of the voices in the media are baseball fans. Keith Olbermann (who's sportscaster days gave him several MLB connections) is aware of the campaign but wants something bigger. His fellow MSNBC hosts Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews, and Rachel Maddow are also baseball fans who have the power to use their shows to advance this cause. Here is a copy of the email that I sent to their shows.

Dear (Ed, Chris Rachel) (,,

As a fan of your show, I know enough that you are both disgusted by this new Arizona law and a fan of Major League Baseball. Approximately 25-30% of players on MLB rosters are Latino. Depending on who you ask, an argument could be made that the best position player in each league (Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols) is Latino along with the best closer the game's ever seen (Mariano Rivera.) If this law were always in effect in Arizona, some of the best players in the game such as 2009 All Stars Felix Hernandez, Mariano Rivera, Victor Martinez, Carlos Pena, Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Raul Ibanez, Yadier Molina, Francisco Cordero, Adrian Gonzalez, and Freddy Sanchez. could be asked for their immigration papers without just cause.

On Twitter (hashtag #AZMLBB) and the Daily Kos ( and people are well-aware that baseball has a higher Latino following and could have a greater impact than another sport. It's time to take this story to the next level. I am writing you, both as a fan of the game, and as an American who is against racial injustice to cover this story on your show. Arizona already lost the Super Bowl in 1993 because of their opposition to Martin Luther King day.

Thanks for all your work from a concerned American and a baseball fan.

Caroline Lastname

In addition I am sending the following email to the ESPN Baseball Today podcast (

Dear Eric and company
As employees of ESPN I am sure that you are very aware of the influence that Latino baseball players have had on the game, especially since you could argue that the best offensive player in each league (Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols) and the best closer the game has ever seen (Mariano Rivera) are Latino. I think it would be a disgrace to the game if players getting to the ballpark were asked for their papers.

ARizona's racist behavior already cost the state a Super Bowl. It's time for MLB to step up to the plate and look out for their players and fans.


Caroline Lastname

IF you want to help spread our cause, copy and paste my emails and send them.