Thursday, December 14, 2006

Other newsworthy items...

Congressman Ben Chandler has been named to the House Appropriations Committee.
"I hope with this new committee assignment I will be in a better position to serve the people of central Kentucky," said Chandler. "It's an honor to be selected by my Democratic colleagues for this most important seat, and I look forward to my new duties as a member of this exclusive committee."

The Committee on Appropriations is one of five exclusive committees in Congress. The other committees are Rules, Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Financial Services. As of result of its exclusive status, Chandler will be giving up his seat on the International Relations, Agriculture, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.

"As a member of the new majority party in Congress and now a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am excited about the opportunity this presents to further benefit my district," said Chandler.
Current Lt. Governor Steve Pence believes that UNITE should be taken statewide.

Senator Bayh was recently in Florida.
At Wednesday's gathering of the Democratic Professionals Forum, a group comprised mostly of business professionals and lawyers, Bayh's pitch was mostly biographical. He offered more general themes than specific policies.

Examples: "We care about our country and we know that we're not meeting our challenges," a call to "start moving this country in a different, better direction," a declaration that "America stands for something special, unique and precious," and a desire to create "a better America of more hope and more dignity and more justice for all of G-d's children."

Bayh said the war in Iraq is not going well and the nation needs to reduce its dependence on imported energy, but didn't offer an agenda for either.

He criticized the style of leadership personified by President Bush and his political adviser, Karl Rove that concentrates on motivating the Republican base rather than reaching across party lines for compromise and solutions. "We don't have to be as polarized as we are. We don't have to be as divided."

Bayh made held a series of closed closed-door events in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Palm Beach. He received favorable reviews after his appearance at the meeting at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the only public event of the trip.

"He's extremely interesting," said Barbara Effman, president of the West Broward Democratic Club, who also saw Bayh at a smaller private gathering Wednesday morning. "It's wide open. We've got a lot of good talent."

State Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, said he was impressed that Bayh won re-election by 24 points in 2004 while Bush was wining Indiana by 21 points. "He was certainly impressive. He's very genuine. I like what I heard."
Criticism of ex-President Jimmy Carter has gotten worse and it does not surprise me. I am one of those critics and I'd be doing the same thing if he were of a different political party.
Facing attacks from pro-Israel heavyweights, Mideast analysts and book reviewers for what many see as a one-sided, factually flawed analysis of the conflict, Carter has upped the ante by claiming that Israeli policies in the West Bank are “even worse” than the apartheid policies of the former government in South Africa—and accusing pro-Israel groups of stifling legitimate debate on U.S. Mideast policy.[...]

That has led to an escalating response from the Jewish side as the book, Carter’s 21st, climbs the charts to No. 7 on the New York Times best-seller list, up from No. 11 last week.

“I believe he is engaging in anti-Semitism,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “For a man of his stature and supposed savvy to hold forth that the issues of Israel and the Middle East have not been discussed and debated because Jews and Zionists have closed off means of discussion is just anti-Semitism.”

Foxman particularly objected to Carter’s claim in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that while issues of peace are hotly and freely debated in Israel, “for the last 30 years, I have witnessed and experienced the severe restraints on any free and balanced discussion of the facts. This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American-Israel Political Action Committee [sic] and the absence of any significant contrary voices.”

That, Foxman argued, is anti-Semitism because it reinforces the anti-Semitic canard that “our power is so great that you can’t even talk about these issues.”[...]

Others are working quietly, behind the scenes, to line up prominent political figures to speak out against Carter’s harsh view of Israel.

One top Jewish leader said that he is hoping former President Bill Clinton can be enlisted to speak out against the apartheid charge—and “speak the truth about what happened at Camp David in 2000.”

Former Carter administration officials and associates of the former president after he left office in 1981 have also been approached.

Stuart Eizenstat, Carter’s domestic policy chief, said in an e-mail that he has “expressed my strong views to President Carter privately about his book,” but declined public comment.
Here's a piece on Jonathan Miller that was in the Forward.
It is a warm-and-fuzzy comparison that Miller — who at 39 looks and sounds like a tidy investment banker — made repeatedly as he recently toured the country in support of his new book, “The Compassionate Community: Ten Values to Unite America.” Soon, it will likely be recycled on in the wake of a patronage scandal, and several of the state’s most prominent Democrats have recently ruled out taking him on in next November’s gubernatorial election. This leaves Miller, the only state official who faces a term limit next year, as one of several younger Democrats feverishly scrambling to find a running mate in advance of publicly announcing a gubernatorial bid.

Heavily evangelical Kentucky might not seem to be particularly fertile ground for Jewish Democrats — indeed, the state supported President Bush by a margin of 20 percentage points in 2004 — but Miller is, in fact, the least prominent member of a homegrown Jewish political triumvirate. The mayor of Louisville, Jerry Abramson, was first elected in 1985 and is arguably the most popular politician in the state, having captured more than 80% of the vote in November. John Yarmuth, who was previously best known as a liberal political columnist for the Louisville Eccentric Observer, recently defeated Republican Rep. Anne Northrup in a race for the city’s congressional seat.

While all three men are the first Jewish citizens to hold their respective positions, it is notable that Abramson, 60, and Yarmuth, 59, both won election in relatively moderate Louisville. With more Catholics than most southern communities and a history of strong union activity, the city has more in common with Midwestern neighbors like Cincinnati than with Kentucky’s deeply conservative rural areas. If Miller mounts a campaign for governor, however, he will need to succeed throughout the state, in a way that Tennessee Democratic Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. failed to do with his recent campaign to become that state’s first African-American senator since Reconstruction.

“In terms of statewide politics… Kentucky politically is a choice between conservative and more conservative,” said Michael Baranowski, a professor of political science at Northern Kentucky University. “You have to have good positions on guns, gays and God, and if you don’t, you’re going to make life tough for yourself as a candidate.” A Reform Jew from Lexington who first discovered his passion for elective office by serving as treasurer of his local Jewish youth group chapter, Miller has firsthand knowledge of the social conservatism of rural Kentucky. Both in his book and in his standard tour speech, he tells the story of how, during his 2004 re-election campaign, he traveled the state’s poverty-stricken backcountry. Armed with information about how he could help the state’s poorest residents, Miller knocked on doors, only to find himself asked repeatedly, “What’s your position on gay marriage?”

It is a question that Miller sidesteps in his book. A centrist who was named a rising star by the Clinton-allied Democratic Leadership Council — his book’s afterword was written by Al Gore — the treasurer gives the impression of a straight-A student who never has the wrong answer. During a failed primary bid for Congress in 1998, Miller filmed a campaign commercial with his former third-grade teacher, who assured voters that she “knew even then that he was destined for great things.” When interviewed by the Forward before a recent appearance at the National Arts Club in New York, the treasurer said that his two daughters, ages 10 and 12, attend private school, but quickly added that the eldest will be going to public school next year.

Like a growing number of faith-friendly Democrats — including former vice-presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman and potential 2008 presidential contender Senator Barack Obama — Miller is unapologetic about publicizing his religious beliefs.[...]

Miller’s willingness to embrace faith distinguishes him from previous generations of Jewish politicians — including Louisville’s Abramson — who have won office in areas with few Jewish residents by drawing a distinction between their own private faith and their ability to serve predominantly non-Jewish constituencies. “I don’t see [my faith] as part of my public life,” Abramson explained in an interview with the Forward. “I talk about the importance of my faith to me and my family, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve.”

The mayor recalled his 1985 campaign, during which a rough crowd at a bar heckled him, as well as black photographer, during an ill-considered late-night campaign stop.

“They didn’t particularly like African-Americans, they didn’t particularly like Jews, and they let us know,” Abramson said, chuckling. “They let us know, and we ran out the side door, got the car and left. And that was my one and only experience [with antisemitism], but it was my own fault for getting there too late” in the evening.

During his two terms as state treasurer, Miller has pursued bipartisan policies popular with the middle class, including the creation of a pre-paid college tuition savings program.

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