Monday, November 27, 2006

The System—Giffords, Latas, Fundraising and Character

This started as a reply to comments at my last post but got long enough to post here. Folks might want to read Liza’s remarks at the previous story. While focusing on the AZ CD 8 Democratic Primary, the implications elsewhere are obvious.
Fundraising

I appreciate Liza’s frustration with the system. IT STINKS, but until it is fixed, fundraising is critical for viability for any serious office. When the April FEC reports came out, Giffords had over $500K, Weiss $180K, and Latas only $18K.

His number was so low that I just couldn’t see him as viable anymore. Nothing personal, but Why couldn’t Jeff raise money? Until the system changes, the ability to invent, create, and successfully hold fundraising events and other activities that produce contributions is critical. Without it, game over.

The race does not always go to the candidate with the most money, but it NEVER goes to the candidate with NO money. Should Jeff Latas choose to run for office again, and will be glad to see it if he does, I hope he hires staff that knows how much money will be necessary and how to raise it.

The founding fathers would wretch. Unfortunately, we have a systemic Catch-22 that the only people who can change the game are those who have learned how to win it, and real change will require people truly dedicated to what is best for the country. How many of those are in Congress? Good question.

Character

In the context of 2003 politics, I find it difficult to judge the vote on Senate Resolution 1026 regarding the Iraq war. I couldn’t stand Saddam Hussein and knew he’d gassed the Kurds. My heart goes out to Colin Powell, who addressed the entire planet, only to later learn he had been set up. The Bush Administration LIED to us, and IMHO human history will crucify this president and his top level staff.

If I had held office in 2003, would I have known or seen enough to go against the tide at the time that vote was cast? Probably not. I don't buy this vote as saying anything substantive about Senator Giffords. I just don't, and Weiss and Latas have the luxury to Monday morning quarterback this thing. Assertions on what they would have done in Giffords position in 2003 occur to me as folly.

Wasn’t in Patagonia, but I do recall Giffords speaking in Tucson of this race as a huge opportunity, but my read was that she was referencing the ability of the democrats to finally win, i.e. an open seat as opposed to the horrible odds of facing an established incumbent. Kolbe’s retirement did in fact open up an opportunity for democrats.

Did a similar statement at another time reflect the race as an opportunity in terms of her personal ambitions? I don’t know.

Based on prior posts he has made, Sirocco clearly knows more about our new Congresswoman than I do (sometimes I think he is Gabrielle). There have been negative assertions about her character, like her behavior after a fender bender, but I consider it safe to bet that if Latas had polls showing him at 50+% and seven figure funds raised, we’d have heard plenty more about his character, valid and otherwise, and for what’s it’s worth, he occurs as a fine human being to me. “All that criticism” seems a little strong for the earlier remarks.

At this blog I addressed a letter to Gabrielle Giffords the night she won. I put some effort into it and have cause to believe she read it.

In it I noted that no one is perfect. Nothing exposes one’s flaws like a tough job and a committed relationship. Now she has both, and 2008 approaches. Tick Tock. Using different words, I requested she use the the inevitable challenges of the next two years to become a better person.

Shouldn’t we all?

12 Comments:

Blogger Liza said...

x4mr,
This is from news headlines on the August 3, 2005, broadcast of Democracy Now:

"And in election news in this country, Republican Jean Schmidt has won a special Congressional election in southern Ohio beating out Democrat Paul Hackett by a 52 to 48 percent margin. Hackett was attempting to become the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress. He had run on a platform highly critical of President Bush's handling of Iraq. Analysts had originally predicted the Republican Schmidt would easily win since no Democrat had come close to winning the House seat in decades. But Hackett nearly pulled off a major upset by losing by only about thirty-five hundred votes. The Cincinnati Enquirer described Hackett's run as "nothing short of astounding.""

I think that Jeff Latas and many other war veterans were inspired by the fact that Paul Hackett did as well as he did in a solidly Republican congressional district. Hackett ran his campaign on a shoestring without any money to speak of. Remember that Jeff Latas declared his candidacy prior to Kolbe announcing his retirement.

When Kolbe announced his retirement, everything changed because of Giffords and Weiss entering the race. One had a five year head start in political campaigning and the other had instant name recognition. How can you criticize the Latas campaign for not knowing how to immediately succeed at political fundraising? You may as well criticize Giffords for not knowing how to be a jet pilot. Latas is a citizen who holds a regular job and did not have millions of dollars like Jim Pederson to hit the ground running.

As far as Giffords support for Iraq is concerned, I can only reiterate that AZ Senate Resolution 1026 is unambiguous. It is a matter of public record that Ms. Giffords supported the invasion of Iraq.

It's interesting that you mention Colin Powell. It's really too bad for him that he did not recognize his moment in history. He had a chance for greatness just handed to him which is something that rarely happens. All he had to do was resign his position instead of giving his ill-fated speech before the UN Security Council.

Is any of this 20/20 hindsight? I don't think so. The Project for the New American Century was not in hiding. They never were. In addition, there was an immense amount of good investigative journalism as well as writing from other sources that did not support the invasion. Remember Scott Ritter?

My argument with sirocco is just simply this. There is a time to let the truth stand for what it is. As I said, Giffords won the election despite her support for the invasion of Iraq. Most people didn't know about it or didn't care.

Quite frankly, I think this criticism of Jeff Latas has gone too far. Kralmajales criticized him for not attending Gifford's victory parties or whatever. Maybe that's why George Tuttle deleted his blog. He was sick of Kralmajales.

11/27/2006 11:00 PM  
Blogger sirocco said...

For the record, I am definitely NOT the new CD 8 representitive-elect. Wrong gender for starters. I do know her and her family fairly well, and see and speak with them regularly (and have for a number of years, and expect to for years into the future). However, nothing I say should _ever_ be interpreted to express any views other than my own on any subject.

Jeff was in, perhaps, the worst possible position vis-a-vis fund-raising in this last election:

1. He did not (to the best of my knowledge) have a known record of having contributed effort to local Democratic causes. Ergo, he was essentially an unknown quantity.

2. Initially he was in against a long-time incumbant, and was seen was not having a chance to win. No one wants to contribute money to that type of candidate.

3. After Kolbe announced he was stepping down, Giffords announced her candidacy. She did have political capital from her time in office, along with organization (including donor lists) Latas didn't have. She was seen as a potential (even likely) winner, and immediately began sucking up the majority of available funds.

4. About four weeks later Weiss jumps in, which effecitvely kills off Latas fundraising for good -- she is going to pick up any "anti-establishment" or "anti-Giffords" funding.

He was handicapped from the start -- as Liza notes, he could not build up the organizational structure Giffords had spent years building, or the name-rec Weiss had decades building.

11/28/2006 11:18 AM  
Blogger sirocco said...

Liza,

As I noted in the other thread, the resolution in question had four elements to it. You focus solely on one.

Using your logic, I can focus solely on item 2, and declare it a resolution in support of the troops ...

... and you can absolutely bet that had she voted against the resolution, that's exactly the way it would have been portrayed -- as a vote against the troops (essentially, doing what you are doing -- putting the worst possible spin on the matter).

That resolution was a pure, boiler-plate resolution created and passed in support of our government and military in a time of active conflict. It passed nearly unanimously.


Further, even if it were true Giffords supported the Iraq war (I don't think she ever made a definitive statement at the time either way, nor do I think it was ever asked/expected), she would hardly have been the only person to have been wrong on that matter.

11/28/2006 11:26 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

sirocco,
Interesting spin. I commend you for trying. BTW, I responded to you on the other thread as well. Too bad that x4mr made a separate post because we might have been able to get the previous thread deep into the double digits which I think would be a first for this blog (smile). In all sincerity, I think this blog is outstanding.

Anyhow, back to you, sirocco.

The problem with your logic is that #1 is the most significant part of the resolution. That's why it is #1. The remainder of the resolution is politically neutral because it thanks the troops for their bravery and offers prayers for their families.

The only moral issue to be decided here is whether or not President Bush should have been commended for invading a country without cause. Again, this is not 20/20 hindsight. A LOT of people got this one right. They were investigative journalists, political writers, college professors, politicians, former weapons inspectors, Mideast scholars, and the list goes on. The question is, why were their voices and their words drowned by the louder voices of spin, lies, and propaganda? But the voices of truth were there the whole time, and anyone who wanted to hear them could have.

Sirocco, do you think there is anything more horrible than war? Here at home, we sit on our leather couches watching our 42" monitors and tell ourselves that we really thought this particular war was justified. To the best of our knowledge at the time it was a "just" war.

I guess that the moral of this story is that perhaps we owe it to the people of the world to listen to all the voices before we decide that its okay to invade a country and kill tens of thousands of civilians.

11/28/2006 12:27 PM  
Blogger sirocco said...

Liza,

I agree with you this is a great blog, and I thoroughly enjoy reading it. I wasn't going to reply, as I don't see either of us getting anywhere, but I just ... could ... not ... resist ... :)


I disagree with your postulate that item 1 in the resolution is somehow of more significance than item 2 (or 3, or 4). Since I don't accept the postulate, I will necessarily disagree with your conclusion.

I fully agree with you it was possible to anticipate what has happened in Iraq -- I was against the war prior to it's start, along with many others, as you correctly point out. Howard Dean gave a speech a month prior to the invasion which was almost prescient in predicting what might occur.

However, I don't believe thats fully the point x4mr was making. It's certainly not the one I am arguing.

It's entirely possible to be against something up to the time the decision is made, and support it going forward. Happens all the time in the real world, and there is nothing contradictory about it.

If I had been in office at the time, three weeks after the war was initiated, and even given my opposition to the war in the first place, I fully believe I would have voted for the resolution. I would have seen it as a sign of national unity in a time of conflict, NOT as an endorsement for an action I disagreed with.



All wars are horrible, of course, but some are justified. This one was not, never was. Not sure what I said that apparently made you think I did feel it was justified.



By the way, as horrible as the Iraq war is, it most certainly is _not_ the most horrible thing occuring in teh world right now. The ongoing genocide in Darfur gains that "honor".

11/28/2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

HA HA Liza!! about the double digit thread length. I did struggle on whether to reply or post another story, went back and forth several times. Ah, well. If we were back in the primary days with commenters like "Fedup," no doubt the double digit would have been hit long ago.

If I have my way, this place will have quality over quantity (have you checked out what gets posted after stories in the online Daily Star?), similar to blogs like The Data Port, which has pretty much had single digit threads since the election.

Your kind words are appreciated, as are your remarks. For what it's worth, I am every bit as disgusted by this war as you are, as you can probably tell, but I agree with Sirocco regarding this vote. I just don't think it says anything of substance about Giffords.

Also, I don't follow that it would be realistic to expect Colin Powell to have acted differently from that famous UN address. I'm not going to assert he had to do what he did, but I would not be comfortable asserting he could have just resigned.

At that level, and in that context, hmmm, just don't know.

Sirocco, get that you're a guy, which does eliminate certain possibilities.

11/28/2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

sirocco,
Your statement:

"It's entirely possible to be against something up to the time the decision is made, and support it going forward. Happens all the time in the real world, and there is nothing contradictory about it."

I guess I just don't understand this. Well, let me backtrack. I can understand this statement within the context of perhaps a business decision that is neutral with respect to life and death. A decision to have a war is very different, my friend. It is not the time to "go with the flow" when there is credible evidence that the war would be immoral. To support the majority or to be silent is tantamount to complicity in causing the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the suffering of millions. It really is that simple.

I know that I would not have signed the resolution unless they were doing that Abu Ghraib stuff to me.

Darfur is incomprehensible as is the international community's tolerance of genocide when it occurs in Africa. I don't think it lessens the horror of Iraq, or Lebanon, or Gaza, or anywhere else where lives are being destroyed.

11/28/2006 3:19 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

x4mr,
Some of those long threads were pretty entertaining.

I don't believe that Colin Powell had to do what he did and he certainly could have resigned. He failed to recognize his moment for greatness because he was a good soldier or he had a private agenda or whatever. He just didn't see it and that is the difference between an average person and a visionary.

11/28/2006 3:36 PM  
Blogger sirocco said...

Liza,

I don't believe events in Darfur in anyway lessen the horror of Iraq ... you asked what might be worse than the horrors of war, and I put forth an example, the horrors of genocide.


Regarding war votes, 49 representatives voted against US entry into WWI, but that didn't stop ,amy of them from working hard to support the forces, and administration, once war was declared.


Again, given the time the resolution was passed, it amounts to nothing more than a "standard" declaration of unity, not support for the policies that got us there in the first place. You choose to read more into it, which is, of course, your perogative.



x4mr,

My girlfriend _loves_ the oragami spider made out of money. Did you do that, or did you find the pictures on the web?

11/28/2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Sirocco,

Send your girlfriend here and it has the directions so she can make her own spider.

I'm not the type that actually does stuff like that, but if you haven't guessed, I love good images, and consider them an important part of the story, just like in newspaper or magazines.

11/28/2006 7:08 PM  
Blogger Kralmajales said...

Liza and all...

All I did throughout that campaign was defend Giffords against some really wild speculation about her record. A lot of that occurred on George's blog and came from a group of some anti-establishment folks that tried to build Latas up by attacking who they said Giffords was. I won't forget that.

A lot of us disagreed and it got heated. Yes, I criticized Jeff Latas after the campaign on George's blog...and it elicited a difference of opinion...and a few attacks on me. Fair game since I put it out there. George has his opinion...I have mine.

Maybe it was unnecessary. Latas ran, he lost, and he made an impact on the debate while running. All of that is fine. I thought he was a pretty amazing candidate despite where some of his supporters went as they argued for his candidacy and at the same time tore into Giffords.

I simply stated that I was angry that after the campaign he appeared to go his own way and did not really endorse Giffords. I even had heard from pretty good sources that he even offered his support conditionally...based upon whether she would sponsor a bill that he wanted sponsored. A little arrogant (in my opinion)...and it made me wonder what he plans to do with his new found name recognition, political capital, and the trust he earned in the campaign. Will it be a movement inside the party? Outside the party?

He can of course support whomever he wants. He can of course build any movement he wants. But I thought his lack of support for the Democratic primary victor (one who did not attack him publicly in a single ad) was a bit odd.

Last, I agree with Sirocco on one thing. I think he was not well known enough in party circles as was Giffords. I said that from the beginning. It is also clear that is what some love about him. However, I think he will need this broad based support if he is going to move on to bigger and better things in politics (as he should...he was a good candidate). I suggested on George's blog (and took some heat for it) that his lack of support for Giffords after the primary was a little odd and I think it is unwise. My opinion.

12/03/2006 10:16 AM  
Blogger Francine said...

In politics, if you run for office and do not win, you support the winner - unconditionally. If you want to be "in politics", you need to know the rules, respect the rules and run by them. Latas offered his support to Giffords conditional on her support of a Congressional resolution to refuse to fund the war after the end of next year. People who do not win (sounds better than saying "people who lose") do not deliver ultimata to the winner. Now, Latas is running for State chair. How can a person who did not support the winner in the race he ran possibly possess the qualities required of a State chair???? The State chair must support all Democratic candidates - not just the ones s/he may agree with.

I suggest we all stop blithering and get behind Congresswoman elect Giffords. By all means, let her know what you think she needs to do to represent the district and by all means let her know if you don't agree with her. But let's remember that in 2008, the Republicans are not going to let this seat go and we are building the record that will keep this seat in the Democratic column.

12/08/2006 10:55 PM  

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