PROGRESSIVE GAINS IN ELECTION. Progressive candidates made gains across the country on Nov. 6, as Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R), mired in accusations of corruption, lost in a landslide to Steve Beshear (D), who led a sweep of statewide offices. In Virginia, amidst internal warfare between more moderate and right-wing Republicans, Democrats took control of the Virginia Senate for the first time since 1995 and made gains in the state House. In Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) was re-elected, but Democrats took control of the state Senate. In Maine, Dems won three of five special elections, extending their lead in the state House to 90 out of 151 seats. In big-city mayoral races, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Utah’s Salt Lake City all elected or re-elected Dems. In New Jersey, Dems added a seat in the state Senate and lost two in the House, but retained control in both. In New York local elections, a few Republican gains upstate were balanced by Democrats widening their control of the Suffolk County Legislature on Long Island. In Ohio, the largest city run by a Republican — Canton — went Dem.

Ballot initiatives were more of a mixed bag:

• Utah voters massively repudiated a plan by the state legislature and governor to institute school vouchers.

• In Oregon, voters repudiated the radical anti-environmental Measure 37 approved at the ballot a few years back, while voters around the country generally approved measures to preserve open space. 

• On the health care front, Oregon rejected a tobacco tax to fund expanded health care for kids, and New Jersey rejected a 10-year bond program to fund stem cell research, but Texas approved a $3 billion bond for cancer research. 

• Washington approved a measure that would apply triple damages to insurers who deny non-health insurance coverage to clients.

• Voters across the country approved bonds for a variety of purposes, while Washington State tightened its super-majority limits on tax increases by the state legislature. (ProgressiveStates.org)

Instant runoff voting won support across the country. A whopping 77% of voters in Aspen, Colo., voted to move to instant runoff voting, while 78% of Sarasota, Fla., voters approved IRV and 65% of voters in Pierce County, Wash., approved a charter amendment to keep IRV on track for the hotly-contested 2008 county executive race. In rural western Washington, voters in Clallam County narrowly rejected IRV in their charter. Meanwhile, San Francisco held its fourth IRV election, and its first for mayor, with first-round winners in three citywide races. Takoma Park, Md., smoothly held its first IRV election for mayor. Hendersonville, N.C., following in the footsteps of Cary, N.C., in using IRV this fall, had a strong first IRV election for two city council seats. And a graduate student in Cambridge, Mass., won a city council seat in an upset victory under proportional voting, now in its seventh decade of use. (Fairvote.org)

DEMS GET SENATE BOOST. US Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), whom polls show would be the strongest Dem (other than Gov. Bill Richardson) to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), has decided to make the race after showing initial hesitation, his chief of staff told the Associated Press (11/10). A poll of likely voters by Research 2000 for DailyKos.com (11/8) showed Udall leading likely GOP contenders, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) by 55-38 and US Steve Pearce 54-37. Udall’s own pollsters found him leading Wilson 52-36 and Pearce 50-33. Udall’s cousin, Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), is running for Senate in Colorado. With Tom Udall’s entry, Markos Moulitsas noted at DailyKos.com (11/12), With the Dems now owing their 51-49 majority to two independents (including increasingly conservative Joe Lieberman), Dems are favored to take GOP seats in Virginia, New Hampshire and New Mexico, while Colorado leans Dem and Minnesota is a tossup. Second-tier races on Kos’s list include Louisiana (where Mary Landrieu is the only seriously endangered Dem), Oregon, Maine, North Carolina and Texas. Texas may be wishful thinking, but polls show John Cornyn (R) is vulnerable and the potential challenger, state Rep. Rick Noriega (D-Houston), has a strong resume as a National Guard lieutenant colonel and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan but is unknown outside Houston. Also, Kos noted that Kentucky, Alaska and Nebraska could be put in play.

In the House, Dem leaders, sensing an opportunity to pick up seats from the current 233-200 gap (with two vacant seats) are warning some vulnerable incumbents that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee won’t spend money in Dem districts unless GOP leaders do. The DCCC has $25 mln in the bank, while the National Republican Congressional Committee struggles to get out of debt. Todd Beeton noted at MyDD.com (11/8). DCCC Chair Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told Roll Call he expects to have at least 40 “good challengers” for GOP seats.

‘HIDDEN COSTS’ DOUBLE PRICE OF WARS. Costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far total approximately $1.5 tln, when higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars are figured in, according congressional Dems. That amount is nearly double the $804 bln the White House has spent or requested to wage these wars through 2008, according to Dem staffers of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee. Its report, “The Hidden Costs of the Iraq War,” estimates that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have cost the average US family of four more than $20,000.

Recall that Lawrence Lindsey was forced out as Bush’s chief economic policy adviser in 2002 after Lindsey predicted that invading Iraq would cost $100 bln to $200 bln. The White House insisted the war would cost less than $60 bln.

Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 tln by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. which estimates that interest costs alone from 2001-2017 could total more than $700 bln. CBO director Peter Orszag said, “We are on an unsustainable fiscal path and something has to give.”

Meanwhile, Bush vetoed a $606 bln health and education appropriation bill (11/13) because it proposed to spend $22 bln more than he called for. The House was three votes short of the two-thirds needed to override. Bush signed the $471 bln appropriation for the Pentagon, but the House and Senate planned to vote on a $50 bln measure for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that would require Bush to initiate troop withdrawals immediately, with the goal of ending combat by 12/08. If Bush vetoes that bill, “then the president won’t get his $50 bln,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made a similar statement the previous week in a closed-door caucus meeting, AP reported.

RUDY’S WHOPPER TRIFECTA. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani hit a trifecta of sorts, Greg Sargent noted at TPMElectionCentral.com (11/6) as the former New York City mayor appeared to tell three lies in once sentence. In an interview with the Associated Press, Rudy defended his appointment of embattled former top cop Bernie Kerik as follows: “There were mistakes made with Bernie Kerik. But what’s the ultimate result for the people of New York City? The ultimate result for the people of New York City was a 74% reduction in shootings, a 60% reduction in crime, a correction program that went from being one of the worst in the country to one that was on 60 Minutes as the best in the country, 90% reduction of violence in the jails.” Sargent noted that much of the drop in crime occurred when Bill Bratton was police commissioner from 1994 to 1996, before he fell out of favor with Giuliani. Kerik was commissioner from 8/00 to 12/01. Between 1999 and 2002 — a period longer than Kerik’s tenure — the number of shooting victims in New York City fell a mere 7%. FBI stats show an 8.5% drop of police-recorded crimes from 2000 through 2001. And Sargent found a 60 Minutes II episode in January 2001 that talked about Kerik’s success turning around one jail, Rikers Island, not the whole system. Nowhere did the episode describe the system as the ‘best in the country.”

Sargent also noted that in an 11/2 interview, when Giuliani was asked about waterboarding and whether he knows more about torture than John McCain, Giuliani said he had “a different experience than John” but suggested that he knows that “intensive questioning techniques” work because he successfully used “intensive questioning” on mob suspects. Sargent noted that McCain was tortured regularly for five years in Vietnam, while Rudy secured five draft deferments, according to Rudy biographer Wayne Barrett, who wrote in Grand Illusions, his book about Rudy and 9/11, Rudy got one deferment for every year that McCain was tortured.

MOCKING IMPEACHMENT. House Democrats, in what the New York Times called a “potentially embarrassing distraction,” shuffled the resolution of Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney to the House Judiciary Committee, where a similar resolution already was languishing. The Washington Post also seemed to be channeling the president, who criticized the House for “wasting time” when it hasn’t sent him appropriations bills. “On a day intended for moving long-overdue annual spending bills,” the Post’s Elizabeth Williamson wrote (11/7), “the House instead spent a good chunk of yesterday wrangling over” Kucinich’s impeachment push. Neither newspaper paid much attention to the merits of Kucinich’s arguments against Cheney. Salon.com’s Tim Grieve noted that the Post referred to the resolution offered by the “seemingly Quixotic” Kucinich as a “rambling” document that “bristles with citations of Cheney’s public comments” justifying the war in Iraq. The Post doesn’t identify even one of those public comments — how about, “We know they have biological and chemical weapons”? — but at least it says that Kucinich charges Cheney with lying to Americans in the run-up the Iraq war. If you were to read only the Times’ account, all you’d know of Kucinich’s arguments is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “has said the Democrats have no interest in impeaching Mr. Cheney or President Bush over the Iraq war.” Grieve added, “In the end, maybe that’s all anybody needs to know: The House Democratic leadership thinks impeaching Cheney is just as crazy as news reporters for the Times and the Post think it is.” See the full text of Kucinich’s resolution at kucinich.house.gov/.

A poll by American Research Group released 11/13 found that 70% of likely voters say that Vice President Dick Cheney has abused his powers as vice president, but only 43% (though 63% of Dems) said he should be impeached. The same poll found 64% said President bush has abused his powers, but 34% (50% of Dems) said he should be impeached. In July, ARG found 50% of all voters (and 76% of Dems) favored Cheney’s impeachment, while 46% of voters (and 69% of Dems) favored Bush’s impeachment. The Gallup poll in July found 36% of Americans said there was sufficient justification for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.

Gallup hasn’t polled for impeachment lately, but on 11/6 it reported that by 64%-31%, Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing. For the first time in the history of the Gallup Poll, 50% say they “strongly disapprove” of the president. Richard Nixon had reached the previous high, 48%, just before an impeachment inquiry was launched in 1974.

OUR PAKISTAN PROBLEM. The Bush administration’s muted reaction to the dictatorial rule of Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf has nothing to do with its stated goal of promoting democracy, Robert Bryce writes in the Austin American-Statesman (11/8). US policies are constrained by reliance on Pakistan as a source of fuel for US and allied military forces in Afghanistan, Bryce noted. The US military burns 575,000 gallons of fuel per day in Afghanistan, he reported, and about 80% comes from refineries in Pakistan. “Without the support of Musharraf and the Pakistani military, US forces in Afghanistan would have to rely on a precarious logistics line that extends more than 1,000 miles from northern Afghanistan all the way to refineries in Baku, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan,” Bryce noted. Without Pakistani support, the 24,000 US troops in Afghanistan would likely run out of fuel within a matter of days.

DIRTY DEEDS. Jerry Patterson (R), who as Texas land commissioner is responsible for the administration of state land, has a novel approach to deed restrictions as he plans to sell the 9,269-acre Christmas Mountains wilderness tract in West Texas. The Conservation Fund and the Richard King Mellon Foundation donated the land to the state in 1991, before Patterson took office, with a deed that holds that the state land office can sell the property only after offering it to the neighboring Big Bend National Park or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and then only with the approval of the Conservation Fund. But Patterson resisted transferring the land to the Park Service because it prohibits hunting in national parks and he said the deed restriction amounted to unlawful prior restraint and was essentially unlawful. Anyway, he said, “I’m not honoring five words out of a thousand words in the agreement,” the Austin American-Statesman reported (11/6). “To say that I’m not honoring the agreement is patently false,” though many Texans wondered how the state could cherry-pick the parts of the deal it would honor.

HERE’S A TIP: COVER THE NEWS. In a story on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s new Web site dedicated exclusively to issue rebuttals, the New York Times (11/9) mentions that the previous day’s “mini-scandal” was whether Clinton had left a tip at a diner in Iowa. (NPR had reported that she hadn’t left a tip; the Clinton campaign replied that it had left a $100 tip on a $157 tab; the restaurant manager confirmed the bill was paid and a tip was left, but he couldn’t say how much.) The Times talked to the waitress and she was simply dumbfounded the whole thing had become such a big deal. “You people are really nuts,” she said. “There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than … who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.” (Slate.com)

RANGEL’S TAX REFORM A ‘START.' House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y. ) introduced HR 3970, a tax reform bill that would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), improve tax provisions for low-income people (including the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit) and replace the revenue by closing loopholes and creating a surtax that would reduce the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans. Generally, only those with incomes above $500,000 would pay higher taxes overall than they do today. On the corporate tax side, the bill would sharply cut the top corporate tax rate and pay for that by eliminating some inefficient and unfair corporate loopholes. Citizens for Tax Justice supports the Rangel bill because it would make the tax code simpler and fairer without making our fiscal situation even more dire. While these goals sound sensible to the average American, the Republican leadership in Congress has a hostile reaction to any proposal to raise any tax or close any tax loophole, no matter how egregious. See www.ctj.org.

DEMS TOUT FARM CREDENTIALS. Barack Obama told rural advocates in Des Moines that he has always stood for local control over whether large-scale livestock operations can be built in neighborhoods, making a subtle dig at Dem rival John Edwards, the Des Moines Register reported (11/11). The Edwards campaign jabbed back, saying that its candidate is the only one who supports a national moratorium on confined-animal feeding operations because of the environmental destruction they cause. As a senator, in 2002, Edwards (D-N.C) voted against a lower payment limit for farm subsidies and against a “packer ban” that would have banned meatpackers from owning their own supplies of hogs. Edwards now supports both subsidy limits and a packer ban. Of the five Democratic presidential candidates who appeared at the Iowa Farmers Union’s presidential summit, Joe Biden (D-R.I.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) also said they support limits on farm subsidies. Biden said he would “help farmers by connecting the dots between farm policy, foreign policy and economic policy.” Clinton supports renewable energy sources, tax credits for small businesses that stay in rural America, fixing crumbling infrastructure and “a national broadband strategy to bring the Information Age to every corner of our country.” Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said renewable energy is a priority, as well as ending “the digital divide.” His Justice Department would start enforcing the anti-trust laws and he would insist on trade policies that ensure prices of American farm products aren’t undercut. Obama said that, in addition to supporting the packer ban, upon taking office, he would hold a summit on rural issues in Iowa, bringing Democrats and Republicans together. “We’ll take action on a rural agenda in my first 100 days in office,” he said.

CULTURE WARS DEFINE POLITICS. Zogby International, in a survey of 3,939 adults, with a 1.6% margin of error, conducted in June for the Norman Lear Center, found that liberals are much more likely to listen to conservative programming than conservatives are to listen to liberals (which may account for the maddening popularity of right-wing talkers such as Rush Limbaugh). Based on how respondents evaluated 48 statements about political values, the survey found that 37% of the national sample agreed with “conservative” values (red), while 39% agreed with “liberal” values (blue) and 24% were “moderates” (purple).

Conservatives tend to think that fictional TV shows and movies are politically biased, but they watch Fox, Fox News, sports and business programming, the survey found. When they go to the movies, which is rarely, they seek out action-adventure films. People with “blue” taste like a lot of different types of entertainment, even if it doesn’t reflect their taste or values. “People with purple taste like all the broadcast networks and a lot of primetime programming, including police procedurals, game shows and reality programming,” Marty Kaplan wrote at blog.learcenter.org (11/11). “... They don’t seek out entertainment with political themes, and they’re far less likely to read books about politics or current events than other people.” But it’s those purple eyeballs — under a quarter of the country — that primetime network entertainment programmers seems to be fighting over. Kaplan noted that Fox has managed to appeal to conservatives without sacrificing its moderate audience. “Which broadcast network will be the first one to drop the gloves, give up the effort to attract everyone, and instead focus unapologetically on a liberal audience? Currently, the one that comes closest — though, unlike Fox, it looks to be by accident rather than by design — is NBC. Twenty-seven percent of conservatives (compared to 8% of all other respondents) report that they never watch NBC, making it their most hated broadcast network. Of course it’s the one liberals like best: almost 70% watch the peacock on a daily or weekly basis. Moderates like all the broadcast networks, and, like liberals, NBC is their favorite, with 37% watching daily.”

Kaplan also noted that conservatives are way more PC than liberals. “People on the right ... don’t like to consume entertainment that doesn’t reflect their worldview, and they feel that way about a lot of it. But people at the other end of the political spectrum are voracious in their entertainment consumption. They enjoy watching, reading and listening to plenty of stuff that runs counter to, even offends, their political values. Over 80% of liberals say they’re entertained by material that’s in bad taste, but over 40% of conservatives say they’re never entertained by it. So the next time a Fox News fan tells one of you liberals how PC you are (and it won’t be a compliment), try pointing out that you listen to Rush for entertainment -– and just ask him or her the last time they watched Jon Stewart.”

GREENS WIN LOCAL RACES. At least 16 Green candidates, out of 94 who ran on Nov. 6, won races for local office, the Green Party of the United States (gp.org) reported. Among the cities where Greens won races were New Haven, Conn.; Portland, Maine; Tacoma Park, Md.; and Boston and Cambridge, Mass. David Lussier held a five-vote lead for County Legislature (District 7) in Albany, pending the counting of 90 affidavit and absentee ballots on Nov. 14. A total of 142 Greens ran for public office in the 2007 off-year elections. The Illinois Green Party met the Nov. 6 filing deadline for placing presidential, congressional and other candidates on the ballot for the state’s Feb. 5 primary. See www.gp.org/elections.shtml.

ISRAELI SPYMASTER ADVISES TALK WITH IRAN, SYRIA. Efraim Halevy, the 72-year-old retired chief of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, now hawking his memoir, Man in the Shadows, has some surprisingly contrarian things to say about Iran and Syria, David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post (11/11). “The gist of his message is that rather than constantly ratcheting up the rhetoric of confrontation, the United States and Israel should be looking for ways to establish a creative dialogue with these adversaries.”

FEINSTEIN ENABLES BUSH MISDEEDS. In September, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) used her position on the Senate Intelligence Committee to enable passage of Bush’s FISA amendments, granting the president vast new warrantless surveillance powers. In October, Feinstein used her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to ensure confirmation of Bush’s highly controversial judicial nominee Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, by being the only committee Dem to vote for the nomination. In November, Feinstein used her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to enable confirmation of Bush’s attorney general nominee by ensuring that frightened Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) didn’t have to stand alone. Now, Feinstein is using her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee — simultaneously — to single-handedly ensure fulfillment of Bush’s telecom amnesty demands, as her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, reported (11/9) that she favors legal immunity for telecommunications companies that allegedly shared millions of customers’ telephone and e-mail messages and records with the government, a position that could lead to the dismissal of numerous lawsuits pending in San Francisco. Glenn Greenwald wrote at Salon.com (11/10): “Feinstein is not merely voting reliably for the most extremist Bush policies, though she is doing that. Far more than that, she has become, time and again, the linchpin of Bush’s ability to have his most radical policies approved by the Senate.” Greenwald noted that a SurveyUSA poll released 10/16 found that only 28% of Californians approve of the job Bush is doing, while 70% disapprove.

DELAY DELUSIONAL ON HEALTH CARE. Speaking in England 11/8, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) predicted that Hillary Clinton would be elected president in 2008 and seek to install universal health care, similar to the system in Britain. That prediction, at the Oxford Union, “received thunderous applause,” AP reported. But when DeLay claimed that, under the US system, “no American is denied health care,” the audience responded with “derisive laughter,” according to the AP. A recent report showed that for the sixth straight year, US jobholders continued to see a decline in employer-provided health insurance, with 38 states seeing “significant” drops in benefits offered by employers, ThinkProgress.org noted (11/9). Observers estimate that anywhere from 1% to 18% of Americans are denied health insurance because of pre-existing health conditions, which can range from heart disease to high cholesterol to yeast infections to being too skinny. And as Michael Moore’s film SiCKO showed so clearly, millions more Americans who have health insurance are denied the care they need due to insurers’ “cost-cutting strategies.”

ANTI-HEALTH CARE NOT ‘PRO-LIFE.’ As Congress debates a plan to offer health insurance to millions of uninsured children, Catholics United is running an expanded ad campaign on Christian radio targeting 15 “pro-life” members of Congress who voted against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The ads contend that members of Congress who vote against health care for children are compromising their pro-life voting record. “As members of Congress debate this legislation, Catholics United wants them to know that people of faith are paying attention to their actions back home,” said Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United. “Protecting the weak and vulnerable lies at the heart of the Christian faith, and we are willing to go all out on behalf of this legislation.” The ads feature a mother urging constituents to tell their congressional representative to support SCHIP. Targeted Reps (all but one GOP) include Ginny Brown-Waite, Fla.; Joseph Knollenberg, Mich.; Thaddeus McCotter, Mich.; Tim Walberg, Mich.; Steve Chabot, Ohio; Michele Bachmann, Minn.; Sam Graves, Mo.; Thelma Drake, Va.; John Peterson, Pa.; Jim Marshall, D-Ga.; Virgil Goode, Va.; Todd Tiahrt, Kan.; Kenny Hulshof, Mo.; Brian Bilbray, Calif.; Tom Latham, Iowa.

CLIMATE CHANGE RISKY FOR WHOM? The Washington Post ran a front-page story (11/6) with the frightful headline, “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats,” but Greg Sargent noted at talkingpointsmemo.com/horsesmouth (11/8), “There was zero polling data in the piece to support this claim.” However, The Politico reported that a poll conducted for an environmental group by Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster, in the 49 closest House districts found that “independents — who were responsible for ousting the GOP majority in 2006 — are unmistakably supportive of swift action to cut carbon emissions and require cuts in carbon dioxide emissions by cars, factories and power plants.” Even Republican voters are “surprisingly supportive” of action; and the number of Republicans who want specific, market-based solutions now is “on the rise,” Sargent noted. “Yet despite the fact that lots of Republicans have reached this conclusion, somehow the Washington Post was only able to discover that this is a risky issue for Democrats,” Sargent wrote. “This illustrates once again that the default setting for many in the political media is still that Dems are always vulnerable; Dems are always at risk of getting too far ahead of public opinion; and Dems are always at risk of provoking a backlash from the same public that strongly agrees with them.”

BILL WOULD SLOW MEDIA CONSOLIDATION PUSH. Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and several other senators introduced groundbreaking, bipartisan legislation to put the brakes on a Federal Communications Commission plan to accelerate media consolidation. The Media Ownership Act of 2007 (S 2332) would ensure that the FCC addresses the dismal state of female and minority ownership before changing rules to allow more media concentration. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is trying to rush through an overhaul of media ownership rules by the end of the year to allow large conglomerates to swallow up more local media outlets. This legislation would mandate that the FCC give the public 90 days’ notice before holding a vote on new rules to ensure a full public accounting of the impact of media consolidation before changing the ownership limits. The bill would create an independent task force to address the crisis in minority media ownership. These steps are necessary to preserve diverse local media that meets the needs of our communities, FreePress.net noted. Research by FreePress found that that while minorities make up 33% of the US population, they own less than 8% of radio stations and 3% of TV stations. See StopBigMedia.com.

The Senate Commerce Committee (10/31) advanced the bipartisan Local Community Radio Act (S1675), co-sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), which could authorize hundreds of local, low-power FM (LPFM) radio stations in cities and suburbs across the country. LPFM stations are community-based, nonprofit radio stations that operate at 100 watts or less and have a broadcast reach of only a few miles. Since Congress first authorized LPFM stations in 2000, the FCC has awarded more than 800 LPFM licenses to nonprofits, schools and church groups in rural areas.

HOUSING CRISIS BLUES. The housing crisis is beginning to gnaw away at Republican strength in the so-called “exurbs” that have been the locus of much recent development, and an even more recent wave of foreclosures and home price collapse, Maura Reynolds reported in the Los Angeles Times (11/6). In Virginia’s Loudoun County, which was a fertile ground for GOP organizers, foreclosures have risen from 12 in 2005 to 643 in just the first 9 months of 2007. Similar rumblings of discontent can be heard among GOP voters in fast-growing areas across the country that are being hit by the housing crunch, including parts of Florida and Nevada. It was in such areas that GOP strategists beat Dems at their own game — registration and voter turnout. But Tom Slade, former Florida state GOP chairman, has been trying to sell his sprawling house on the outskirts of Jacksonville, Fla., for the last 18 months without attracting a buyer, even though the house is listed well below its appraised value. “How deep, bad and big this monster will turn out to be is not clear yet, but it has the potential to turn wickedly mean,” Slade said. “Who gets the biggest thumping is anyone’s guess, but I would guess it would be the Republicans since we’ve had control of the executive branch.” Andrew Leonard of Salon.com noted, “Just a few years ago, you couldn’t ride your bike down a suburban street without being run over by an Ford F250 with a bumper sticker reading “permanent Republican majority.” But just a few option ARM resets later, and suddenly, the people just can’t take it any more.”

HILLARY ADVISER’S EXCUSE: BLACKWATER JOB DONE BY SUBSIDIARY. In the days leading up to a hearing on Blackwater’s operations in Iraq before the House oversight panel, which is led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who has no love for the private security firm, the New York Times reported (11/1) the company hired Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations firm. Blackwater said it hired the company on a temporary basis to help prepare Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince for his testimony. Mark J. Penn, Burson-Marsteller’s chairman and a senior adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, told the Times he had no direct contact with Blackwater and that the work was landed by BKSH, a subsidiary. BKSH is a political consulting firm led by Charles R. Black Jr., an adviser to President Bush and his father, and R. Scott Pastrick, a top Democratic fund-raiser. Mr. Penn said that a BKSH associate had worked briefly in Iraq and met several Blackwater personnel, who steered the work to his firm.

From The Progressive Populist, December 1, 2007

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