Saturday, December 29, 2007

Boyda see progress in Iraq, but military spread "dangerously thin"

The Topeka Capital-Journal today runs a wrap-up piece about Congresswoman Nancy Boyda's week-long trip to Iraq. In that article, Boyda runs down several of the reasons we're (thankfully) seeing reduced violence in Iraq.

Boyda credits General David Petraeus (left, with Boyda) for his leadership abilities, as well as his ability to use outside factors to his benefit. She also rightly credited the new Democratic Congress for sending the message to the Iraqi government that the United State commitment wasn't "open-ended."

"Until there was a change in the majority (in Congress), the Iraqi government was never told this wasn't open-ended," she said.

"This is a war zone," Boyda said, adding that while bombings are still happening, "a bad situation in Iraq is certainly getting better."

After Boyda's trip to Iraq, we can all take away some very important information:

1. The troops are in good spirits. Boyda said in several interviews that the troops were in better spirits than they were during her previous visit in March and that the troops told her that they felt supported by the American people and Congress.

2. Violence in Iraq is down. Because of the abilities of our men and women in uniform- and some lucky coincidences- tentative progress is being made. As Boyda said in a previous interview, however, no one wants to over state the situation, and everything could indeed change in a moment's notice. The point is reinforced by the fact a car bomb killed 25 and injured 80 in Baghdad while Boyda was in Iraq.

3. Our military is spread far too thin. Decreased violence in Iraq notwithstanding, we cannot respond quickly to another situation in the world because all of our resources are tied up in Iraq. As we watch Pakistan become more and more unstable, the fact our hands are tied by Iraq should worry all of us.

In all of her public statements, Nancy Boyda has approached the Iraq War in terms of what it is doing to our troop readiness, and the message she brings back to us from Iraq this week doesn't change that. Our men and women continue to do the job they've been asked to do, but if another threat appears somewhere else in the world, either a military confrontation or a natural disaster like the Greensburg, Kansas tornado, help simply can't come soon enough.

Thank goodness we're seeing success in Iraq, and we all hope it continues to improve. But, with that said, Congresswoman Boyda's concerns about readiness remain very real.

We're planning a end of the year wrap up ourselves to highlight Congresswoman Nancy Boyda's phenominal first year in office. After that, our posts will be a little farther between for a few days, what with the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary and all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

More on Boyda's trip to the Middle East

John over at Argghhh! The Home of Two of Jonah's Military Guys has a good wrap up of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda's telephone press conference today regarding her recently concluded trip to Iraq and Turkey.

Highlights include:

In her prepared remarks, she made clear she believes that the downward spiral of escalating violence has stopped, and begun a slow, upward, positive trend. Or, as she said, "The undeniable fact is, violence is significantly down in Iraq, and everyone should be extremely grateful for that."

Which she then caveated thusly: "General Petraeus and General Gaskin do not want to overstate what is going on - they don't want to jinx it. It is very fragile, and they know it."

and
3. The "outstanding leadership" of General Petraeus in both managing the application of violence and engaging with leaders of both sides of the Shi'a-Sunni divide, with the premise that "we are not going to continue to infuriate the Iraqis all the time, we are going to understand their culture and work within it." Clearly, Nancy is *not* a subscriber to the "General Betray-us" viewpoint.
We'll have more of our own analysis soon.

News roundup: Boyda in Turkey, KS GOP reveals efforts to suppress voters

Apologies for the frequency of posts- we're still recovering from Christmas (though our vacations are all over already).

Three stories to tell you about: first, Congresswoman Boyda continues her trip to the Mideast, spending Wednesday meeting with officials in Turkey. Boyda said in an interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal the meeting with Turkish officials revolved around efforts to improve relations between Turkey and the United States. Those relations have been strained since Turkey started to conduct air raids in north Iraq against Kurdish separatists.

"[Relations are] at a low point," Boyda said Wednesday during a telephone call from Turkey to The Topeka Capital-Journal. "We couldn't ask for a worse time to put this relationship in jeopardy."

"We understand they have to fight the terrorists wherever they are, but a stabilized Iraq is (best for) everyone in the area," said Boyda, a Democrat from Topeka who represents the 2nd Congressional District.
The article also mentions Boyda's trip will be cut short due to Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO) becoming ill. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Next, the AP ran a story saying Congresswoman Boyda and other members of the Kansas delegation made a significant contribution to the 2007 session.
Overall, the Democrat-controlled Congress could point to some major accomplishments. Wielding power in Congress for the first time in more than a decade, Democrats increased the minimum wage, cut financial aid costs for college students, implemented key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and passed an energy bill that boosts fuel economy standards in cars and requires refiners to use 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022 - a six-fold increase over today.
The article also provides an explanation for Congresswoman Boyda's and Congressman Dennis Moore's (D-KS) vote against the final version of the Alternative Minimum Tax fix.

Congress also approved a last-minute fix to keep 20 million people from getting hit by a major tax increase. But in doing so, Democratic leaders broke their pledge to offset any tax cut or spending increase with other moves that would avoid adding to the deficit.

"These have been good steps forward, but let's face it, Washington is a troubled town, weighed down by partisanship and infighting," said Democratic Rep. Nancy Boyda, of Topeka. "I just hope that in 2008, we can bring Democrats and Republicans together and get our jobs done."

Boyda and Rep. Dennis Moore, of Lenexa, were among 64 Democrats who voted against the "patch" to the Alternative Minimum Tax. Moore, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who push fiscal responsibility, said he could not support a measure that would saddle future generations with more debt.

It should be remembered Boyda was fully supportive (and voted for) the paid-for version of the fix that the House passed earlier this year.

Finally, that article provides a snapshot of Boyda's successes in 2007, and part of her 2008 plans:

Boyda spent 2007 working to distance herself from more liberal-leaning party leaders, yet it was Democratic leaders who helped her sponsor or co-sponsor more than $190 million worth of earmarks, or pet projects, for her district in the massive spending bill Congress approved before leaving for the Christmas recess. That included millions in improvements for Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth.

Next year, Boyda plans to focus on problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement and the role of trade in the U.S. economy.

Last, but not least, our friends over at Blue Tide Rising exposed the KS GOP's efforts to suppress likely Democratic voters through "caging." According to the Lawrence Journal-World:

Mike Gaughan, executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, said, “Vote caging is a pretty direct form of voter suppression.”

One form of vote caging is when a political party sends registered mail to an address of a registered voter. If the mail is returned as undeliverable, the voter will be challenged by the party as having a fraudulent voter registration. In the past, there have been reported incidents of caging lists targeting predominantly minority districts that tend to vote for Democrats.

Gaughan noted that the Republican Party has said it will make a major effort to try to win back the 2nd Congressional District, which includes western Lawrence. U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, a Democrat, won that seat last year by defeating a five-term incumbent Republican, Jim Ryun.

It's also illegal. Or, if you believe KS GOP Executive Director Christian Morgan:
“It’s just a term of art,” Morgan said of caging voters.
Happy New Year, folks.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boyda visits Iraq, praises job done by US military

Stories ran in yesterday's Topeka Capital-Journal and Lawrence Journal-World providing more coverage of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda's trip to Iraq. In interviews, she said she could see improvement on the ground, but that everything was still on shaky ground.

“It’s headed in a much better direction but everything is very tentative,” Boyda said after receiving briefings from war commander Army Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and others.

She said that violence has decreased significantly in the region but that U.S. military and civilian officials don’t want to raise hopes yet.

“What is happening on the ground tactically is very good, and everyone is hopeful that it will continue, but no one is taking anything for granted and they don’t want to overstate things,” she said. -Lawrence Journal-World

We'll be back later today with some added analysis.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Boyda to spend Christmas with troops in Iraq

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda is currently on her second trip to Iraq, this time going so she can spend Christmas with our men and women stationed there.

According to a story that appeared in today's Topeka Capital-Journal, Boyda was one of seven members of Congress selected to go with Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton's (D-MO) delegation.

Boyda said she will share meals with Kansas servicemen and servicewomen tonight and on Christmas Day, and at some point meet with Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, who is responsible for the ground campaign there.

She also will be distributing Christmas cards made by Kansas grade school children to the troops.

We're proud of Congresswoman Boyda for taking the time to travel to visit our troops stationed away from their families this holiday season. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Boyda has shown she's a dedicated champion of the boots on the ground, and this is just another testament to that fact.

This is Boyda's second trip to Iraq since she took office in January.

Our prayers go out to all the members of the delegation (and all of our troops) for a safe return home.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

SEK reacts to funding secured by Boyda

More Kansans today thanked Congresswoman Nancy Boyda for delivering for all of us in the 2008 appropriations bill.

Reported in today's Pittsburg Morning Sun, the Omnibus Appropriations Bill included $335,000 to help the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas upgrade technology, including "making all medical records electronic, upgrading the center's ultrasound and cardiac equipment, and the addition of an X-ray machine."

Krista Postai, Director of CHC/SEK is quoted as saying that her staff "danced for joy" when they got word the bill passed.

"This will take us a quantum leap forward in our ability to provide care, especially in the area of technology," Postai said.
Postai recounts a story that you could hear up and down the district this holiday season, and it speaks directly to the level of commitment Nancy Boyda has to her constituents.
"When she (Boyda) first got elected, she came back to southeast Kansas because she really is attached to this area," Postai said. "We had just started construction and it was freezing and she stood with a little hard hat on and she looked at things and really, really was very supportive and encouraging. It's so wonderful to know that she remembered. It was a wonderful Christmas gift."
Scenes like these are heartwarming, and a reminder that all "earmarks" aren't bad things. In fact, responsible members of Congress, members who are doing their jobs, make sure federal funds come home to help fulfill needs like those at the CHC/SEK. We're lucky to have Congresswoman Nancy Boyda fighting for us in Washington, and all the people who rely on the CHC/SEK for medical service are particularly luck she's there working for them.

(As a side note, we'll be posting a little slower over the new couple of week- Christmas and all- but we'll hopefully not miss too many days. We hope all of you, even the people that come here and say mean things, have a lovely holiday season).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Act now! Only while supplies last! Sorry, no refunds.

We were going to post about the relatively complimentary editorial that ran in today's Parsons Sun (I liked this line: "The fact that Ryun is leading Boyda in the fundraising category shouldn't be too big of a concern for Boyda at this stage. Being the incumbent, Boyda should be able to leverage her status to help pull in support." Abso-freaking-lutely- and the fact she's got more cash on hand than both Republicans eliminates the fundraising advantage Ryun supposedly has).

But we're not going to post about that- instead we're going to do some free advertising for Frm. Congressman Jim Ryun- it being Christmas an all, it's only right that we do something kind for the downtrodden.

So, we're proud to announce the Ryun campaign has unveiled a new campaign store (link on the "Training Blog" page, top right)- right in time for Christmas, too! Stocking-stuffers galore- and they offer just what we know our grandmothers have always wanted- a Jim Ryun trucker hat! Yours for only $10.99!

Standard other campaign-y stuff available, including 22
different styles of shirts. No, not 22 nifty different logos and slogans from the campaign, just 22 different styles of shirts: baseball jersey t's, sweatshirts, hooded sweatshirts and even a tracksuit for $40, which is uber trendy.

Also, what we hope is a life-size image of the new Ryun for Congress bumper stickers- it could be yours for only $3:

The campaign also offers coffee mugs with the logo off center, if you're into that kind of, oh, slapdash, sloppy look at the office ($11 for the smaller one, $12 for the jumbo sized version).

Oh, also, Jim's nice enough to tell us which items from the store are "Made in the USA." Of the 29 items available- including the tracksuit and the absolutely stunning bumper stickers and the coffee mugs, three, (yes THREE), are made in the United States of America. Thank you, Jim, for letting us know you support outsourcing even campaigns for Congress to other countries. If we call the office number are we forwarded to a call center in India, too?

You know, Jim, there are print shops in the district...perhaps you don't remember, seeing as you've been away so very, very long.

Boyda secures nearly $400 million for district

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda announced today the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill approved by the House and Senate and that is expected to be signed by President Bush contains $387 million for the Second Congressional District, including $86 million requested specifically by Boyda for projects district wide.

Boyda's press release both praises the investment the bill makes into Kansas communities and military installations and rightfully criticizes the final bill's unfortunate flaws.

"There's no question that this bill makes important investments in the Second District of Kansas," Rep. Boyda said. "It supports our law enforcement officers, improves rural roads and infrastructure, and strengthens our three military bases."

Rep. Boyda added, "Unfortunately, this isn't a perfect bill, and it should have been much better. In the House, we passed a bill to fix the Social Security disability backlog; the president vetoed it. We passed a bill to fully fund BRAC, and it got bogged down in politics. This is no way to run the federal government. Next year, we have got to find a way to bring Republicans and Democrats together to do the job right."
The $86 million Boyda requested for Kansas communities will provide much needed support for a wide range of projects, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in public safety equipment for Kansas police offices, and millions of dollars specifically requested by Boyda for Ft. Leavenworth and Ft. Riley. The bill also pays for infrastructure improvements all over eastern Kansas.
Federal funds are an especially important source of revenue for rural towns that have few other financial resources. "In small, rural communities in Kansas, there's not a lot of money that can be put toward projects of need," said Judy Brigham, the city administrator of Iola, Kansas, which has a population of about 6,000.

Under the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Iola will receive a $492,200 earmark to build a new wastewater treatment facility. "Wastewater treatment certainly isn't a very sexy project, but it's a public health issue for our communities," Brigham added. "To have money come toward that project means that we can put more money toward police and fire protection and those kinds of items that we always have difficulty funding. We're just thrilled to have received this money."
We'd like to thank Congresswoman Boyda for her hard work securing monies to benefit all of us back home. A complete list of all of Boyda's approved appropriation requests are available here, and a list of all of her requests, both approved and rejected, can be found here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The price of Republican priorities: Children going hungry

Republicans in Congress and the White House have prevented most of this year's spending bills from becoming law.

The federal budget is so huge and deals with numbers so large it takes a significant problem with it to make it small enough for the average person to care about. Such a situation is about to hit the very most vulnerable Kansans- those who rely on the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program (WIC) to purchase necessary foodstuffs. We aren't being dramatic when we say children could starve to death without WIC.

According to a story that ran in today's Topeka Capital-Journal, if President George W. Bush's budget is accepted, WIC in Kansas stands to suffer a $7 million shortfall, which would force 6,000 people off the rolls, and would require an additional 2,000 people be turned away in 2008.

Put a different way, if the President's budget is approved without any increases, an estimated 8,000 children in Kansas will go hungry.

This problem is the same problem we see across the board when it comes to domestic necessities, and Congresswoman Nancy Boyda hits the nail on the head:

"This isn't just about WIC. This is about Head Start, veteran's funding, social security, everything.

"The bottom line is, the president has said he will veto any bill that increases spending. The Democrats have tried to compromise, compromise, compromise, and there have been no compromises with this White House."
First SCHIP, now WIC. The Republicans screamed and yelled the Democrats were using children during the SCHIP debate, saying they were trying to make the Republican Party look cruel and like it didn't care about the real hardship their policies were putting on people.

The obvious contempt the Republicans in Congress and the White House have for the poor is stunning. We don't need to use anything to make that point.

(Photo from, and more information available at kdheks.org)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Money, money everywhere...

An article ran into today's Topeka Capital-Journal repeating the same story that was ran at the end of the 3rd quarter: Jim Ryun's raise a bunch of money and has spent it all and Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and Lynn Jenkins have raised similar sums and spent a relatively small amount.

The article did fail to mention, however, that Boyda's got the most cash on hand of anyone in the race. That's the only number that really matter when push comes to shove because, well, if don't have any money in the bank it really doesn't matter how much money you used to have in the bank.

Jenkins' campaign manager does say something that's fairly astute, making the point outside expenditures could be huge this time 'round. He knows that all too well, because conservative groups have already run TV ads against his boss, calling Jenkins out for voting over and over again to raise taxes on average Kansans.

The article doesn't point out the other independent expenditure TV ads that ran in the district- probably because it was a positive ad run in support of the job Nancy Boyda has done thus far.

Please, partake- it's very nice.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tankers, prisons & NAFTA

A quick rundown of three news items relating to Congresswoman Nancy Boyda from this last week:

First, a piece from the Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Boyda added an amendment on to the National Defense Authorization Act "to allow 48 of the 85 KC-135Es in the country to be retired immediately. The remaining 37 will be decommissioned as newer model replacements become available."

According to the article, eight of those KC-135Es are currently located at Forbes Field in Topeka, with four more expected to arrive soon. The planes are no longer needed, but current federal law requires the planes to be kept at "warm-ready" status- resulting in an expenditure of $1.1 million annually in Topeka alone.

And, just so no one says anything about this bring "anti-military," the Guard thinks it's a good idea, too.

Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas National Guard, said the act should result in freed-up space and money at Forbes.

"We have a number of planes stored at 190th Air Refueling Wing that would be impossible to retire given the former legislation," she said. "We're very pleased to see this bill pass."

Next, a story in the St. Louis Examiner says Boyda and Senator Sam Brownback are both pushing for a new federal prison to be built in Leavenworth.

Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., who represents the Leavenworth area and has also lobbied for a new facility, said residents are enthusiastic about the possibility of gaining a new prison.

"Prisons are the foundation of Leavenworth's economy, and a new facility would certainly strengthen that foundation," Boyda said.

Finally, some more national exposure for Congresswoman Boyda's NAFTA Accountability Act from David Sirota.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Boyda, rest of Kansas delegation, urge President to approve FEMA aid

In another one of those "it doesn't matter what party you're in to know what correct," the entire Kansas delegation banded together to ask President Bush to approve FEMA aid for Kansans effected by this week's terrible ice storms.

The text of the letter, courtesy of WIBW-TV in Topeka, is as follows:

"We write today to once again ask that your attention be directed to the spate of disasters that have struck the state of Kansas this year.

"As you know, multiple large winter storms spread thick ice throughout Kansas this week. This event was made worse by consecutive days of precipitation and dropping temperatures, which quickly solidified ice on power lines and trees. The damage to date includes wide scale power outages and a great deal of damage to homes andbusinesses. Over 100,000 people are without power, a great deal more cannot leave their homes, and at least 4 people have died due to icy conditions. Currently, in many parts of the state, Kansans are making due without power and without access to supplies.

"As you might imagine, yet another disaster striking our state this year comes as disheartening news for Kansans who have already endured a blizzard that destroyed infrastructure and endangered livestock, a tornado that wiped an entire town off the map, and floods that compounded with an oil spill to destroy grave amounts of property and businesses.

"In the immediate wake of this most recent storm, the Governor of Kansas declared a state emergency. Today, she also requested that you authorize FEMA to provide public assistance to aid in the recovery. We wholeheartedly support this request and thank you for your support to date. The federal government, including FEMA and the National Guard, deserve endless amounts of credit for their rapid and effective responses in Kansas this year. This, combined with the can-do attitude and spirit of giving inherent in Kansans have mitigated the long term effects of the disasters we've faced this year to an incredible degree.

"Thank you in advance for your consideration."

Our hopes and prayers to out to everyone who is struggling through this storm, and we thank Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and the rest of the Kansas delegation for acting so quickly to secure federal aid.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Boyda votes for sweeping energy legislation, directly benefits Kansas economy

In what it yet another landmark piece of legislation from the new Congress, the Energy Independence and Security Act will directly benefit the Kansas economy by investing more money into renewable energy.

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda heralded passage of the bill, saying:

"For years, nobody in Washington had the guts to stand up to Big Oil, and Kansans pay the price every day at the gas pump," Rep. Boyda said. "This bill says, 'Enough is enough.' It ends taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil to support renewable fuels right here in Kansas. It invests in the Midwest, not the Middle East."

She added, "Renewable energy offers tremendous promise for our state's economy. Kansas has the soil to grow biofuels, the skies to harvest wind energy, and the research base to nurture new technology. Now all we need is a national commitment to energy independence. That's what today's bill is all about. It should be called the 'Kansas Economic Development Energy Package' – that's how important it is to our businesses and communities."
More details of this bill are available on Boyda's web site.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lynn Jenkins & Nick Jordan: We love you, Mr. Vice President!

We hate to quote other blogs, because you never know for sure if they actually have their information down, but, hell, it's Sunday night and this is simply too much fun not to post.

According to conservative blog The Kenig Konnection, State Sen. Nick Jordan's campaign fundraiser with Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday last was a rousing success, raising upwards of $30,000 and featuring all sorts of Kansas Republican Party royalty, including none other than Kansas State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins.

First off, begging apologies, but $30K raised at a fundraiser with the sitting Vice President of the United States is PITIFUL- just miserable, awful, embarrassing and laughable.

Think we're full of it liberals? Missouri Rep. Sam Graves raised $275,000 at a fundraiser with Cheney in Kansas City in September.

So, the above link proves Kansas City Republicans still like Mr. Cheney (God, why?), and, also, we know Kansas City Republicans are happy to fork out huge sums of money for Republican candidates.

Knowing both of those things, what does it say about Jordan's candidacy? Not sure, but it could be a couple of things. Could be that Kansas Republicans know Dennis Moore's an excellent member of Congress and that they have no interest in replacing him with a two-bit state senator, or it could mean that even rank-and-file Kansas Republicans have the good sense to know Dick Cheney's stamp of approval is a bad thing, and candidates so endorsed ought be avoided at all costs.

Where does that leave Lynn Jenkins? Was she hoping some foreign policy expertise would rub off Mr. Cheney if she got close enough to him, or that she might be able to convince a Jordan donor or two to flip her a dime, or is it just that she's too stupid to realize the majority of people in Kansas- heck, in the country- think the man's the worst vice president in history? It's a lesson Jim Ryun learned in 2006- it's good to see it didn't stick.

Go ahead, Lynn, convince him to come to Topeka for you- we'll be there will bells on.

(By the way, we'll give anyone a shiny dollar if they can send us a picture of Lynn and the VP... boydabloc@gmail.com)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Frm. Rep. Bill Roy: Nancy Boyda will win regardless of Presidential nominee

Dr. Bill Roy's column in to today's issue of the Topeka Capital-Journal is excellent, providing historical context to support what this blog has already said: Kansas voters will send qualified members of Congress back to Washington (like Nancy Boyda and Dennis Moore) regardless of who the Democratic Party nominates for President.

How does Dr. Roy know? The people of Kansas sent him back to Washington with 61% of the vote in 1972- the same election Sen. George McGovern received 29% of the vote for President from the good people of the state of Kansas.

"... having been there and done that, I feel confident Boyda will defeat anyone the Republicans throw at her in 2008, regardless who heads the presidential tickets. She will win because she has provided Kansas communities with service unknown since the last Democrat was elected to the House in Kansas' 2nd District. Democrats, by the way, have held this "Republican seat" for 22 of the past 36 years."
Read the full text of Dr. Roy's column here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Boyda's Top 10 Problems in DC

Earlier this week, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda was the host of the Jim Cates show for the whole show- 8 - 11 a.m. All accounts are she did a great job.

Boyda used a Letterman-esque "Top Ten" list to keep the show moving. We've already talked about her exciting new NAFTA legislation, but here is the whole list of her ten biggest problems with Washington, DC:

AFTER FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE, BOYDA LISTS TOP 10 PROBLEMS WITH WASHINGTON, D.C.

By Rep. Nancy Boyda

If you're like most Kansans, you trust Washington about as far as you can sling a piano – and with good reason. From the Abramoff lobbying scandal to the Craig sex scandal, from $3 gasoline to the endless war in Iraq, from the skyrocketing national debt to the runaway cost of health care, Washington has proven time and again that it doesn't deserve your trust.

If Kansans hope to clean up our nation's capital, I believe that our first step must be to define the problem. Why, exactly, do we have so little faith in our leaders? What has gone wrong?

If you ask me, there isn't just one problem – there are many. I could probably list a hundred, but for now, here are what I see as the top ten things wrong with Washington, D.C. today.

10. Capitol Hill is an ethical swamp. Earlier this year, in an effort to begin cleaning up Capitol Hill, I authored legislation to strip the government pensions of Members of Congress who commit federal crimes. The good news: My provision passed the House unanimously and was signed into law by the president. The bad news: So much work remains to be done. Until Congress is held accountable by a powerful, independent ethics committee, corruption will remain the rule rather than the exception.

9. D.C. kicks Americans while they're down. If you're a middle-class Kansan having difficulty paying to heat your home this winter, or if you're working hard but can't afford health care for your kids, or if you're disabled in a car accident, don't look to Washington for help. Although Congress has passed several bills to help the middle class, all have been vetoed by the president.

8. Washington is out of touch with the heartland. Many of my colleagues in Congress only visit their districts a few times a year. They simply don't have a clue what life is like for everyday Americans. I've worked hard to avoid being trapped "inside the Beltway" – for example, I turned down the Congressional health care plan so that I stay in touch with the cost of health insurance, and I fly home to Kansas nearly every weekend – but far too many politicians have lost contact with their constituents.

7. Lawmakers play hide-and-seek in the federal budget. Every single Member of Congress can request federal funds for "earmarked" projects in their communities; most never release their requests to the public. You have no way of knowing how your elected officials want to spend your tax dollars. That's just wrong. Members of Congress should be required to disclose their earmark requests to the public. I was the first representative in Kansas history to do so: You can view a full list of my requests at www.boyda.house.gov.

6. D.C. has abandoned our kids. Earlier this year, a Kansas man found guilty of possessing child pornography walked free because Congress had written a needlessly vague law. I authored legislation to close this loophole, and the House of Representatives passed it unanimously last month – but Congress should have done its job right the first time. Washington has ignored our kids in other ways, too: Just look at the President's veto of the critically important Children's Health Insurance program, or the consistent underfunding of our schools under No Child Left Behind.

5. Politicians use, then abuse, our nation's veterans. Our VA facilities are badly overburdened. Many veterans wait months or years to receive the medical care they need. Congress took a major step toward fixing the problem by passing $5.2 billion in emergency funding for the VA, but at many facilities, the backlogs remain severe.

4. Washington is gambling with our national security. The war in Iraq has stretched America's strategic readiness dangerously thin. Our military will need about ten years to reset its resources across the globe, and until then, America will be ill-equipped to respond to terrorist attacks or rogue nations. The world is growing more dangerous each day. Congress must take steps to rebuild our readiness and refocus our military on global threats.

3. Congress doesn't understand the word "illegal." Illegal immigration is undermining our nation's economy and endangering our security. America can't ignore this problem any longer, and we can't afford another 1986-style amnesty. We need meaningful, aggressive immigration reform that strengthens our borders and cracks down on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. And we need it now.

2. Republicans and Democrats can't play in the same sandbox. Turn on C-SPAN for an hour, and see if you can spot even five minutes of substantive debate. An unseemly amount of House floor time is wasted on shouting matches; the Senate is routinely a hair's breadth away from a filibuster. Republicans and Democrats rarely even talk to each other, let alone accomplish real work. In my role as Republican Liaison for the freshman class of Democratic representatives, I'm working hard to reach across party lines. Too often, partisanship gets in the way of progress.

1. NAFTA. You'd be hard-pressed to find a politician in America who hasn't, at some point or another, acknowledged problems with the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA is dragging down our economy, weakening our borders, and devastating our manufacturers. After fourteen years, it's time to either fix NAFTA or get the heck out of it. In early December, I'll introduce legislation to require precisely that.

These problems are daunting, and they won't disappear overnight. But they can be solved, and the solution begins with individual Kansans – people like you.

As I've so often said, democracy is a contact sport. If we want to have any hope of cleaning up the Washington train wreck, each and every one of us must do our part.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ryun: Campaigning to be your representative from Hawaii

We've heard for months about Jim Ryun's desire to re-connect with the voters of Kansas (a tough task, seeing as he hasn't talked to them for about 10 years) and also about his full-time, full-scale campaign to take "his" seat back.

First, of course, it isn't Jim's seat, it belongs to the voters of the Second Congressional District, and they, quite convincingly, kicked him out on his rump in 2006 and replaced him with Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. But, whatever, Jimmy's running full-time and he's putting in his all!

But running full time for Congress is awful hard work, and, well, he is a world-famous runner, right? So, you couldn't begrudge him some time hamming it up as a celebrity, right?

Naw, of course not, so the man who promised to work so hard to win back the confidence of his old constituents is taking a little trip to wallow in used-up celebrity and is participating in a photo opt and autograph signing in Honolulu, Hawaii tomorrow at the Honolulu marathon.

Jim does this kind of thing all the time, of course, but it's just convenient this particular one is in Hawaii in December. I'm sure that has nothing to do with why he's there.

Aloha, Jim! Remind us again about how hard you're going to work to win back your seat? Naw, nevermind- we remember what it was like having you in Congress: you always did care more about your own fame than connecting with your voters or doing your job.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More coverage of Boyda's landmark NAFTA legislation

Nancy Boyda's been all over the media today, from the front page of the New York Times to the pages of our very own Topeka Capital-Journal and every single piece (written by a non-radical Republican partisan) says that same thing: Nancy Boyda is representing her district to the nines.

Our good friend Ally took on the story from the NYT earlier today- we're so glad she took the time to post here before sending the piece on to her national sites- and she did a fine job explaining the piece. It was a little bit sensational, which certainly sells papers, but probably the best thing to take out of it is that Congresswoman Boyda has connected with her district, is working hard, and will win or lose on her own merits, no those of someone else. 'Course, Boyda makes the point best in the article:

Of the presidential race, she said: “It is something I have no control over, quite honestly. They will demonize any Democrat who becomes the nominee. I just put my head down and work.”
And work she is, yesterday unveiling a remarkably ambitious bill to rework NAFTA.

The Topeka Capital-Journal ran a great article today detailing Boyda's plans, which we talked about briefly yesterday after they were released. The article also included two quotes that were particularly good from the congresswoman:

The United States needs to "get a NAFTA that works or get the hell out of NAFTA," she said during "The Jim Cates Show" on KMAJ 1440-AM radio.

[...]

"I'm not against trade, I'm just against trade that gives America the short end of the stick," Boyda said.

Opposing NAFTA doesn't have anything to do with being against trade, folks. It does, however, have to do with protecting American jobs, and making sure our trade policy works for the little guy at home, rather than the big guy in the other country.

So, the New York Times can be however dramatic as they please- regardless of the nominee, Nancy Boyda's work on immigration and trade policy is exactly what her district wants. She's done more in a year than Jim Ryun did in 10.

Boyda Embraced by Republicans

Ally Klimkoski is a founding blogger from Everyday Citizen, Future Majority, and authors the Youth Guide to Politics for WiretapMag and The Nation. She is a well known national progressive blogger that lives here in Kansas and often advocates for Rep. Boyda's policies. We are excited to have her guest post here today.

Republicans are having a political orgy today talking about the New York Times piece that addressed all of the problems Rep. Boyda might face if Sen. Hillary Clinton is the democratic nominee for president.

I think its nice to let them have their time to play and declare victory before any votes are cast. As my momma would say in that sweet southern way of hers, bless their hearts....

What is neglected by media and clearly all of the conservatives drooling over this is that the article talks about how embraced Rep. Boyda is by Kansas Republicans.

"The mere mention of Mrs. Clinton’s name as a potential president drew a strong reaction from Tom Doperalski, an official in rural Pottawatomie County who had just finished meeting with Ms. Boyda about how to contend with growth issues arising out of the increase of troops stationed at nearby Fort Riley.

“The people I talk to, they just cannot imagine a worse scenario,” said Mr. Doperalski, a Republican who heads the county commission. “They just don’t think she can be trusted.”


Its no shock that Hillary Clinton is not a friend to Kansas Republicans, and I think its safe to say that they aren't interested in sharing a pizza with her any time soon. But these same Republicans, the ones who don't work for the Kansas GOP, or for the Jenkins or Ryun campaigns, still address their admiration of the dedication Boyda has for the KS-2.

Greg Unruh, the administrator of a hospital that she visited the other day, said, “I may be of a different political party, but she has done a good job as a freshman.”

And Mr. Doperalski, the county commissioner, as well as his two fellow Republicans on the three-member board, says any antipathy toward Mrs. Clinton will not necessarily mean enmity toward Ms. Boyda. “She will be judged on the job she does,” he said.

So... Republicans seem to like her. At least the ones that aren't right wing nutjobs.

Also, notable is the commentary on Media Matters who mentions that none of the democrats quoted in the piece say that Clinton would be a problem for Boyda:

"In his article, headlined "Vulnerable Democrats See Fates Tied to Clinton," Hulse quoted only three Democrats: Reps. Nancy Boyda (KS) and Chris Van Hollen (MD), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson. However, none as quoted supported Hulse's assertion that "some Democrats in Republican-leaning states and Congressional districts ... fear ... sharing the ticket" with Clinton.

[...]

"By contrast, Hulse quoted two Republicans asserting that Clinton would hurt Boyda's chances of re-election if she were the Democratic nominee: Patrick Leopold, campaign manager for Kansas state treasurer Lynn Jenkins, who is running against Boyda, and Pottawatomie County Commissioner Tom Doperalski. But while Doperalski stated that "[t]he people I talk to, they just cannot imagine a worse scenario" for Boyda than having Clinton as the Democratic nominee, Hulse also reported that Doperalski "says any antipathy toward Mrs. Clinton will not necessarily mean enmity toward Ms. Boyda."

Rep. Boyda has done a spectacular job declaring her loyalty not to a party but to her district. With her recent war against NAFTA as an indicator and Jim "Gone Washington" Ryun himself as the contrast, it isn't hard to see why everyone, regardless of party is grateful for Boyda's leadership.

As a refresher - Weekends Boyda Spends in Kansas: All but a few. Weekends Ryun spent in Kansas: Few if at all. Of course one weekend it was because she was in Iraq with the troops... What about landmark Legislation passed by Boyda in just one year rivals work done by both of her opponents? And, how many times has Lynn or Jim been on Lou Dobbs talking about stopping Illegal Immigrants?? And at the end of the day Rep. Boyda doesn't live in a 7br house or a house that was a gift from Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff.



Special Note to Conservatives: Take some time to talk to your own voters about what's important to them. You might be surprised how out of touch you really are.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Nancy Boyda's bold new bill: Either fix NAFTA or withdraw


In a major policy announcement today, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda announced bold new legislation that could result in the United State of America's withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

According to her official web site, the bill, named the NAFTA Accountability Act, "would require the United States to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). If the negotiations do not produce specific, concrete improvements, the bill calls for America to withdraw from NAFTA."

Honestly, I can't say it any better than Boyda's press release, which is one of the most powerful her office has sent out to date:

Rep. Boyda said, "Practically every politician in Washington has said that NAFTA has its share of problems. Even supporters admit that NAFTA is deeply flawed, but nobody has had the guts to fix the problem."

The bill finds that, since NAFTA was enacted, the American trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has climbed to $919 billion. Outsourcing has devastated the U.S. manufacturing base and cost America over a million living-wage jobs, and poor border security has contributed to the illegal importation of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana from Mexico.

Rep. Boyda's legislation requires the President to renegotiate NAFTA to correct trade deficits, currency distortions, and agricultural provisions. If five specific conditions are not certified by the end of 2008, the bill calls for the United States to withdraw from NAFTA:
(1) gains in U.S. jobs and living standards (by the Secretary of Labor)

(2) increased U.S. domestic manufacturing (by the Secretary of Commerce)

(3) improved health and environmental standards, with respect to food imports and to U.S.-Mexico border areas (by the Secretary of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Food and Drug Administration, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency)

(4) reduced flow of illegal drugs from Mexico and Canada (by the Attorney General)

(5) Mexican democracy and human freedoms (by the President)

The bill also expresses the sense of the Congress that, until these conditions are met, the president should not engage in negotiations to expand NAFTA to include other countries, and fast-track authority should not be renewed with respect to the approval of any such NAFTA expansion.

Rep. Boyda added, "NAFTA is dragging down our economy, weakening our borders, and devastating our manufacturers. After fourteen years, it's time to either fix NAFTA or get the heck out of it."

You don't expect groundbreaking legislation from freshmen members of Congress, and you don't expect freshmen to be nearly this brave or nearly this bold. Nancy Boyda isn't an ordinary freshmen congressperson, and we're lucky we have elected someone with the "guts" to tackle the horrendous problem NAFTA has become.

UPDATE: An excellent post from our good friend Ally over on Everyday Citizen goes even farther into the effects of NAFTA and of Boyda's proposal.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stating the obvious: contentious primary benefits Boyda

A really interesting piece posted on Friday over on Yahoo, featuring some '08 race analysis (and '06 recapping) from the editor of the Almanac of American Politics, Charles Mahtesian. Mr. Mahtesian presented some really neat information for all the political junkies out there- some of it you have to take with a grain of salt, of course, including quite a bit of conversation about our congresswoman, Nancy Boyda.

The editor's comments & a little analysis of our own:

RCP: Anybody who should be worried about being a one-term wonder?

CM: There are some people who probably would not have been elected in a normal election year. In a traditional election cycle, candidates like Carol Shea-Porter, and maybe Nancy Boyda and Jerry McNerney would have had difficulty winning. And so those are the members that need to be the most careful about the way they carry themselves going forward.

It goes without saying that Nancy Boyda was helped by the general awfulness of the Republicans in Congress, specifically of Frm. Congressman Jim Ryun. Also, she certainly benefited from the national mood. But that wasn't the only thing the contributed to her victory: I don't think anyone anywhere in the state of Kansas would say voters in Kansas are prone to be effected by Democratic waves. After all, the last time Kansas voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate was in 1964, and we haven't had a Democratic US Senator since the 1930's.

Sure, the wave helped- but the wave wouldn't have happened if people like Jim Ryun hadn't been so depressingly horrible at their jobs.

Another point: Awful incumbent get re-elected in waves if the other candidate is horrible (Todd Tiahrt, for example over Garth McGinn): waves don't elect people less popular than the incumbent- ever. Just a little more evidence the people of the 2nd District saw something in Nancy Boyda they liked, even if Republicans won't admit it.

RCP: What are some of the races you're most looking forward to watching next year

CM: The Boyda race is very, very interesting, for lots of reasons. The rubber matches are always a terrific race to watch. They're always bitter, there's lots of money spent, and it's always a great opportunity to see whether the so-called fluke candidates have established a set of political skills in the two years they've held office.

If you take a look at what's happened in Kansas recently, you see another example of a bloody primary that's going to end up biting them in the behind. Certainly that works in Boyda's favor. But Boyda's made some less than judicious comments that have really not played well in her district.

First off, we disagree categorically that anything Congresswoman Boyda has said has "not played well in her district." We assume the editor is talking about her exchange regarding Ret. Gen. Jack Keane, and while some radical conservatives and blind partisans in the district didn't appreciate Rep. Boyda telling it like it is, we think it was refreshing, appropriate, and we are certainly proud of her for being frank. We think most people in the 2nd District want their member of Congress to be independent and to be brave enough, and forceful enough, to say testimony they are hearing simply isn't the case.

Past that moment, nothing out of all of the press Boyda receives can we find anything that is outside the mainstream views of her district. She's spot on when it comes to Iraq, exactly what her district wants on illegal immigration, and constantly on the ground in Kansas talking to her constituents- all things Jim Ryun never was (and all things Lynn Jenkins has no idea how to do).

Finally, the bit we agree with wholeheartedly: The Kansas Republican Party will, absolutely, collapse in on itself during the primary behind Ryun & Jenkins. Ryun and the conservatives won't ever let a pro-choice moderate tax-increaser win and, we're guessing, will spare no expense beating her to a pulp. Jenkins and the moderates will, of course, respond in kind, doing everything they can to prevent a washed-up loser from dragging the party down.

So, whoever wins, they'll be blooded so badly hopefully every voters in Kansas will know exactly why they shouldn't be allowed to be elected. It's already worked wonders for Kathleen Sebelius and Dennis Moore.

So, there you go- this race is going to be one of the most watched in the nation, and because she's an excellent fit for her district, and because the Republicans will beat themselves to death, everyone watching will get to see Nancy Boyda be re-elected in 2008.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Boyda, Sebelius & Baby Jay present grant

For your weekend heartwarming piece, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda & Governor Kathleen Sebelius helped officials from the University of Kansas (including Baby Jay) announced a $2.4 million grant to KU in Topeka on Friday. The grant money will beutilized to increase the number of people studying to become math and science teachers in the state of Kansas.

Boyda & Sebelius were joined by fifth grades from Pinckney Elementary School in Lawrence.

To learn more, read the article that ran in the Lawrence Journal-World.

This blog is not affiliated in any way with the Kansas Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, or the campaign to re-elected Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. All commentary herein not directly attributed must be considered the opinion of the authors of this blog and not of any other individual, including Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.