Friday, February 29, 2008

Fact Checking can be Fun!


Newsweek has done a terrific story that I think you might find to be very very interesting.

I'm sure ya'll have noticed that there are ads running on TV and on Radio now that are slamming Congressional Democrats for their FISA votes. Congresswoman Boyda is one of them. I could link to the video, but I don't want to lend credibility to the lie.

The ads are run by a group called Defense of Democracies. I knew when I first saw the ad and the disclaimer at the bottom that it was probably a shady 527 run by the "rooty tooty republicans for less democrats society." Wow was I right.

"The ads began running Friday, Feb. 22 in 17 media markets targeting 15 Democratic members of the House. A national version was up and running Monday on the major cable networks, and it was expected to air for most of this week. It appeared during a commercial break in Tuesday night's MSNBC-sponsored debate between Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The group behind the ad, Defense of Democracies, was set up just last week. It was spun off from a nonprofit called Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which was formed after 9/11 and is headed by Clifford May, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee. The three listed members of the foundation's board of directors are Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of the business magazine Forbes and a Republican candidate for president in 1996 and 2000; Jack Kemp, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988 and GOP nominee Bob Dole's running mate in 1996; and Jeane Kirkpatrick, best known as Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations. Kirkpatrick died in 2006, however. A few Democrats were sprinkled in among the parent group's advisers (as well as Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman), but several of the most prominent, including Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Donna Brazile, the former campaign manager for Al Gore's presidential bid, have resigned because of this ad. Brazile issued a statement calling the ad campaign "misleading and reckless" and saying it would "have the effect of emboldening terrorists."

The piece moves forward to specifically target each word and detail the ways in which it is both misleading and includes important facts that the ad conveniently leaves out.

Narrator: Midnight. February 16. The law that lets intelligence agencies intercept al-Qaeda communications expires.
This is simply not true. First, if government eavesdroppers want to listen in on communications between two suspected terrorists who are outside the U.S., they can. That would likely include a lot of al-Qaeda-related chats. No warrant is necessary as long as the communication isn't intercepted over a wire in the U.S.

Second, even if one of the parties targeted for tapping is in the U.S., the government still can rely on the granddaddy of laws that deal with wiretapping as a foreign sleuthing tool, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under FISA, intelligence-gatherers must apply to a special court for a warrant to tap the communications of a person in the U.S. The process can be cumbersome, although officials have said that court approval sometimes takes only minutes. And if there's an emergency and the government has strong evidence, the wiretap can proceed before an order is sought; authorities have up to 72 hours to get their application to the FISA court, which seldom swats the government down. Of the 2,181 applications made to the FISA court for authority to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches in 2006, just one was denied, and only in part, according to the Justice Department's annual report on the statute.

What the ad's narrator really means is that a law updating and expanding FISA to make the government's work easier, which was passed last August, has expired. The Protect America Act was given a life of only six months because lawmakers wanted to put something in place while continuing to debate its civil liberties and national security implications before deciding whether to make it permanent. That's the law that vaporized on Feb. 16, with disagreements between the House and Senate still unresolved.

The Protect America Act, among other things, expanded the range of situations in which the government could operate without a FISA warrant. Controversy arose because the wording of the law could have allowed the government to wiretap the conversations and e-mails of Americans without a court order when targeting a foreigner abroad.

Narrator: Senate Democrats and Republicans vote overwhelmingly to extend terrorist surveillance. But the House refuses to vote and instead goes on vacation.

It's true that the Senate passed a bill replacing the Protect America Act, and it was largely to the White House's liking. It's not as though the House sat on its hands, however. It passed its own bill, the Restore Act, back in November.

The Bush administration opposes the House bill, as do its allies at Defense of Democracies, and the point of the ad is to pressure House members to accede to the Senate version...

I know this is a lot of information. But this is important. As we mentioned earlier today:

"The Senate bill would give telecommunications companies retroactive immunity from lawsuits arising from their cooperation with the Bush administration's post-9/11 intelligence-gathering program. In December 2005, the New York Times broke a story revealing that after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, President Bush secretly authorized a program that allowed the government to bypass FISA in pursuit of terrorists, even when collecting communications in the U.S. More than 40 lawsuits contending that the program was illegal and that telecom companies violated citizens' constitutional rights by participating in it are pending in federal court in California, consolidated from around the country. Bush has accused Democrats who oppose this immunity provision of shilling for the trial lawyers' bar, and he has cast the House Democrats as roadblocks on this issue almost daily...

Critics of the immunity provision point out that it provides blanket immunity and is not specifically targeted to lawsuits arising from the companies' cooperation with the post-9/11 program. Some suspect there may be another secret program that hasn't yet come to light. Telecom companies already have immunity for actions they take in connection with surveillance conducted under the law.
But wait... here's the golden part. This is where it gets crazy

The ad's play to public fear echoes the tactics used by the administration to put strong pressure on Congress. In an interview late last year with the El Paso Times, McConnell even went so far as to say that without quick approval of the law, "some Americans are going to die" because of continuing public discussion of the issue. The reporter asked McConnell how he makes the case that the new law is important.

El Paso Times: You have to do public relations, I assume?

McConnell: Well, one of the things you do is you talk to reporters. ... The fact we're doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die, because we do this mission unknown to the bad guys because they're using a process that we can exploit and the more we talk about it, the more they will go with an alternative means. ...

El Paso Times: So you're saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

McConnell: That's what I mean. Because we have made it so public.

Wow... I mean.... wow. Seriously.... what do you say to this? I think I just threw up a little in my mouth..... Anyone seen the movie The Lives of Others? Nice little German flick about what it was like living under communism... deserves a poignant mention.

Protecting American Patriots

Yesterday's CapJournal reported on the Op-Ed we reprinted here from the Ottawa Herald.

The piece addresses the recent attacks Rep. Boyda has faced from fearmongering Beltway Republicans.

"The White House is trying to scare Americans to give total control to one branch of government," Boyda said in an interview from Washington. "The Republicans don't have the guts to stand up to the president. They're afraid of some 30-second ad that could be run against them."
The piece goes on to explain in detail the facts of the FISA Bill and what the differences between the Senate's version of the bill and the preferred Congressional legislation:

"Current federal law permits the government to go after fleeting targets and seek a court order three days after initiating a wiretap.

"The Senate-passed bill would eliminate the FISA court and grant immunity from civil lawsuits to telecommunications companies that helped the government with past wiretapping programs.

"The House bill favored by Boyda would preserve the secret court and extend to 14 days the time for obtaining after-the-fact court permission for a wiretap. The House isn't offering telecom immunity."


And let me remind you that Beltway Republicans find this still objectionable. It doesn't say that you don't have the right to slap a wiretap on anyone's phone - it says you have to file your paperwork after you do it. If the Federal Government can't get their shiznet together to file the paperwork then there is something very wrong with this country.

The Beltway Republicans also hope to lend immunity for phone companies who allow people to break the law. If this were a court of law they would call them "accomplices." In the Beltway of course they are referred to as patriots.

Rep. Boyda prefers to protect the real patriots - the American People and that's what the Congressional side of the bill does. It protects Americans by preserving our Constitution and allows for intelligence agencies to act on information quickly and reasonably - so long as they get their paperwork done after the fact.

If you haven't had a chance to see it yet - the fan done video that won the BoydaBloc competition sends a proper thank you to Rep. Boyda for her stance on this issue. We thank her as well. Critics are calling it "fancy" and saying it is done by a true technical "geek." We are proud of our fellow volunteers for their hard work and great message and give it two thumbs up.



Have a great weekend everybody.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Keeping Promises


As part of her strive to keep campaign promises to the Kansas Second District, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda voted to strip oil industry of subsidies it receives from the federal government.

This comes on the same day Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified that he considered "a surge in oil prices and food prices ... worrisome."

Rep. Boyda was quoted in the Topeka Capitol Journal saying

"For years," Boyda said, "nobody in Washington had the guts to stand up to Big Oil. This bill says, 'Enough is enough.'"

The bill would create tax incentives for renewable energy by repealing tax subsidies for five large oil companies."

Further, Boyda said, "Renewable energy offers tremendous promise for our state's economy. Kansas has the soil to grow crops to be converted to 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 Act’ – that's how important it is to our businesses and communities."

This arrives following a recent opening of a BioFuel gas station along Highway 59 in Lawrence.

According to Boyda,
The bill is fiscally responsible. It pays for these energy incentives by repealing unnecessary tax subsidies for the large five integrated oil companies. The big five oil companies recently reported record profits for 2007, with ExxonMobil earning $40.6 billion - the largest corporate profit in American history. That’s earnings of more than $111 million a day or $77 thousand dollars a minute! While oil company profits have quadrupled, high energy prices continue to squeeze American families – gas prices have skyrocketed and home heating oil has jumped along with other household costs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nancy at Washington Days


If the Shawnee County Bean Feed is any indication this year's Washington Days should be one of the best yet!

Kansas is well known for producing some of the greatest patriots in our country. One of them is current Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Governor Kaine was elected in 2005 and has proven time and again his Heartland values are the right way to lead.

Governor Sebelius, Rep. Moore, Attorney General Six, and our own Rep. Boyda will be joining in festivities this weekend as we put the "Party" back in politics.

We can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Boyda's FISA Op-Ed: "Wiretap program needs oversight"

This appeared in full in this weekend's issue of the Ottawa Herald. We'd like to give it all to our readers as well.

Wiretap program needs oversight

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda,
Community Viewpoint

When America’s political debate breaks down into slogans and shouting matches, our whole country suffers. Just look at the broken debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

If you listen to the heated rhetoric, you might believe that keeping America safe requires shredding our constitutional system of checks and balances. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FISA is a critical 1978 law that authorizes the United States government to wiretap suspected criminals and terrorists residing overseas. Since FISA was enacted three decades ago, the communications tools used by terrorists have evolved dramatically, so Congress is now considering proposals to update FISA to meet modern-day security needs.

One FISA proposal, which I emphatically support, tells the executive branch, “Go wiretap the terrorists. Keep America safe. Then, within 14 days, tell a court what you’re doing and get their approval. Wiretap first, get permission later.”

To my mind, “wiretap first, get permission later” makes perfect sense. It gives the executive branch the power it needs to fight terrorism, and at the same time, it preserves the checks and balances our Constitution guarantees. It ensures that the U.S. intelligence community has every tool it needs to fight terrorists. And, by providing judicial oversight, it ensures the privacy of Americans who travel overseas for business or pleasure. It is simply wrong to wiretap Americans without a warrant.

Very unfortunately, the president has drawn a line in the sand. He has sworn to veto any FISA bill that includes court oversight. Instead, he wants the executive branch to oversee itself; he wants all FISA programs to fall under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.

That is a flagrant violation of checks and balances, and what’s more, it won’t help America fight terrorism more effectively. The FISA court is extremely generous with its warrants. Through 2004, the court had granted 18,761 wiretap requests. It had rejected only five.

So why isn’t this an open-and-shut discussion? Why doesn’t Congress just tell the White House to read the Constitution? Most importantly, why would any member of Congress willingly shred the protections promised by our Founding Fathers?

Because some folks in Washington are terrified of 30-second attack ads saying they’re “soft on terror.” In the face of that communications nightmare, some politicians lose their nerve. They trade our national values for a better shot at re-election.

And that’s what’s so scary. Soundbyte politics works. And it will keep working unless we demand better.

Please know that, as your representative in Congress, I will vote for a strong FISA bill that protects America while preserving our historic system of checks and balances.

Defending America is our nation’s number one priority. There’s just no reason to throw out the Constitution to do it.
Tie this together with everyone that has already been said on this blog over the last week. The base ideas in the bill aren't bad...but the Bush Administration and the Republicans in Congress want to violate our civil rights. Courts must maintain their oversight role, and blanket retroactive immunity must not be given- ever.

What does this all come down to? We know we aren't less after, we know the Republicans and the President are trying to scare people into action again. And we know brave members of the House like Nancy Boyda are standing up to it this time.

"Thanks, Nancy!"

In late January, we challenged all of you to create a YouTube video for Congresswoman Nancy Boyda. The YouTube revolution has changed the way people campaign, and we thought it was high time Congresswoman Boyda was part of that new wave of campaigning.

The response was great- so awesome we decided that we couldn't really post them all here for you to see. So, we got together and picked out a winner. It just so happens our winner was one of the very last one's received, and it's quite topical: It thanks Nancy Boyda for defending our civil liberties since she's been our member of Congress.

And, here it is...click on it a couple thousand times, and share it with your friends. And, most of all, do exactly what it says- say "thank you" to Congresswoman Boyda for all she's done for us!



Thanks again to the entrants...keep sending them in!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Boyda blocks closure of Social Security offices

In some non-FISA related news, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda, along with Congressman Dennis Moore (D-KS) announced on Feb. 11 that they had successfully prevented the closure of the Social Security field office in Kansas City.

In what amounts to a blessing for thousands of people in Kansas and Missouri, Boyda and Moore stopped a pilot program that would have limited office hours at the Kansas City field office- with the idea limiting business hours would allow the small numbers of employees to catch up with the tremendous backlog of cases they currently have.

The American Association of People with Disabilities released a report in August 2007, showing that of Social Security disability beneficiaries residing in Kansas, over 26 percent of those are still waiting for their cases to be heard – the worst rate of disability backlogs in the country.
The backlog is very really, but cutting the number of hours the administration offices were open to help was simply not an option that could have been on the table.
“Kansans already wait an average of two years to have their Social Security appeals heard. The Social Security Administration’s proposal to cut their Kansas office hours could have made a bad situation much worse,” Rep. Boyda said. “Congressman Moore and I appreciate the SSA’s willingness to address our concerns. We look forward to finding ways to reduce the backlog while keeping the doors of the federal government open to Kansans.”

“We’re pleased that this project has been delayed indefinitely, but that alone doesn’t improve the current backlog for Kansans," Congressman Moore said. "Congresswoman Boyda and I will continue to find ways to improve the efficiency and quality of service so that beneficiaries aren’t unduly punished by extended delays."
He wasn't just whistling dixie. In a piece that appeared in Sunday's Lawrence Journal-World, Congresswoman Boyda said that, hopefully, the new funding added to this year's budget by the Democratic majority might just help add much needed staff to the Social Security Administration.

Even with improvements, waits grow longer as the pile of claims coming into the agency continue to climb. Both the Kansas City and Wichita offices ended the fiscal year with 1,000 more cases than what they started the year with.

While Social Security staffing levels are at their lowest in more than 30 years, baby boomers are filing claims in record numbers.

“The baby boomers, and I am one of them, are in the middle of our most disability-prone years now,” Garlinger said. “And it is only going to get worse.”

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., said the boost in this year’s federal budget will be just enough to “stop the bleeding” after consecutive years of declining personnel.

“Cutting this many people out of administration right as the baby boomers were coming on was a sure way to crash the system,” Boyda said.

Congresswoman Boyda and Congressman Moore need to be commended for their work protecting the very most vulnerable in our society. Hopefully Boyda is right, and with the new funding provided by the Democrats, the backlog can be eliminated and applications can be processed in a swift manner.

Republicans losing on FISA

We know we're going to spend the next several days just as we've spend the last several: explaining calmly and rationally that the Republicans are lying to the American people- that they're playing politics with our national security.

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and many of her colleagues in the House are protecting our civil liberties...while, at the very same time protecting America.

We're posting this video of the floor speech delivered by Rep. Steny Hoyer the day the Republicans walked off the floor after not getting their way- while, if you apply their logic, leaving Americans vulnerable to terrorist attack. We've said it before, and we'll say it again right now: Even they would compromise before leaving us less safe- because they didn't, we can all be assured that they are lying to us, and that we are just as safe as we were before.

Hoyer says it's the politics of fear. Keith Olbermann calls it terrorism of the purest form. We'll let you decide what it is.


Too true to be funny


Courtesy Politico.com

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Boyda speaks out on FISA

In an excellent write-up in the Joplin Globe, Congresswoman Nancy Boyda today laid out exactly why every single member of the House of Representatives should opposed the so-called "compromise" FISA legislation that the Republicans are attempting to force through Congress:

‘Shred the Constitution’

U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan, said House Democrats are finally standing up to President George W. Bush. She said the Senate bill would eliminate the oversight and checks and balances provided by the Constitution.

“My No. 1 priority is keeping Americans safe and going after the terrorists,” Boyda said. “You don’t have to shred the Constitution to do it.”

She said there is little judicial or congressional oversight in the bill, giving free reign to the executive branch.

“The Protect America Act does away with court oversight and puts everything in the executive branch,” Boyda said. “People should be horrified of that.”

Boyda said the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act has been amended over the years so that it keeps up with changing technology. While the president has said the House failure to approve the Senate bill is endangering American lives, Boyda said he is engaging in fear-mongering and she expects that tactic to continue.

Boyda also said she doesn’t favor giving immunity to the telephone and communication companies.

“The president will not tell us what he wants immunity from,” Boyda said. “He wants blanket immunity. The American people should be alarmed.”

Today, it's pretty clear that we are absolutely not "less safe" with the expiration of the Protect America Act than we were before. If we were really going to be less safe, how in the world could the Republicans have stood in the way of the 21-day extension they all voted against before the recess? And how in the world could the President have promised to veto any bill that didn't include immunity for the telecoms?

They allowed the bill to lapse, and they refuse to accept a bill that doesn't protect the phone companies because they know we're safe without the bill, and they know they aren't putting a single American life in danger. Otherwise they would never dare play politics.

If the telecoms have helped the Bush Administration violate our Constitutional rights, we should have the right to prosecute them. And the President of the United States, and the Republican members of Congress (and in the Kansas GOP) must stop their fear mongering immediately. It's the very worst of cynical politics, and it's disgusting.

Every Kansan should be proud of the work Congresswoman Nancy Boyda is doing to prevent rank violations of our most fundamental rights, and we should all be proud of the fact she, and the Democratic Majority, are finally standing up to the fear machine that has kept us all from asking the hard questions for the last 7 years.

The FISA courts have granted thousands- literally thousands- of warrants of the years for wiretapping. If it was good enough all those thousands of times, why isn't it good enough for this President?

Friday, February 22, 2008

"I think of pork-barrel spending as bridges to nowhere"

The quote in the headline is from Dr. John Iley, Chairman of the Pittsburg State University Technology Studies and the Automotive Technology Department. He said it after Congresswoman Nancy Boyda asked him if he thought the $263,310 federal allocation to the school’s Kansas Technology Center she secured fell in that category.

We agree, and we think most Kansans would agree, with his "of course not" assessment, and that maybe, just maybe people are starting to realize "earmark" isn't a dirty word.

Working in tandem (and in a bipartisan manner) with Senator Sam Brownback, Boyda was able to secure a total of more than $1.3 million for PSU in an effort to make sure the university has the best equipment possible.

It's about the future of Kansas, both Boyda and Illey said, and it's about making sure Kansas graduates can compete on a global scale.

[...] but she said this money will make a difference in preparing PSU students for careers. She also said the money will be used at the technology center for woodworking, plastics, automotive and other programs.

“We’ve got to get ready for the 21st century,” she said. - The Joplin Globe

Just another example of Boyda's bipartisan leadership style, her dedication to her district, and her smart use of federal dollars to improve the lives of all of us back at home.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ryun tours Parsons... continues to be oblivious

An article appeared in today's Parsons Sun about former Congressman Jim Ryun's Wednesday visit to Parsons, and included one of the best quotes ever from the former member of Congress in reference to his disaster of a 2006 campaign:

"I didn't have the best race. That's behind me now," he said.
Understatement of the year- but the only thing behind you is your career in Congress, my friend.

It is almost taking credit for running a miserable campaign, though it is certainly a nicer thing to say than blaming your volunteers for your defeat like you did in November 2006:

Ryun, of Lawrence, said his campaign volunteers were lulled into a false sense of confidence because he easily defeated Boyda in 2004.

"It was difficult to get them engaged because they said, 'Well, you won by 15 points last time.' " Ryun said.
The rest of this new article is just Ryun campaign fluff, and most of it is just more hypocritical nonsense. If you're so concerned about illegal immigration, Jim, why didn't you while the Republicans in the majority do anything about it? If you're so worried about spending why didn't you do anything to limit spending while in office? You had 10 years buddy, and in those 10 years wasteful earmarks and the deficit exploded, a war was mismanaged, and all the while the Republicans in Congress pushed for huge tax shifts from the wealthy onto the middle- and lower- class.

Did you lose in 2006 because you had bad volunteers, because you just ran a bad campaign, or because you were the most conservative cog in the worst Do-Nothing Congress in history?

More done in one year than in 10

We've said it over and over and over again, and we're happy to say it again today: Congresswoman Nancy Boyda will be re-elected on the backs of her fantastic constituent services staff.

Congress on Your Corner, a program that has taken Boyda and her staff into every single county in the district at least once (there have actually been 31 of them- there are 26 counties in the district), is only a small part of the excellent work she and her staff have done.

Recently an article was placed on her official web site detailing all of the casework handled by her offices in Topeka, Pittsburg and Washington, DC. That article shows that in one year Boyda and her staff helped more than 2,000 with all sorts of problems relating to the federal government.

In brief:

  • Boyda and her staff helped more than 350 people with military/ veterans issues, ranging from correcting veteran's benefit problems or obtaining medals never awarded.
  • They assisted more than 170 groups and individuals going through the federal grant process.
  • Cases directly related to the disasters early in the year, and helping people deal with FEMA, took up a significant amount of time, and the article mentions for many that process is ongoing for many victims.
The story that article tells about the Social Security disability backlog is particularly poignant- 3 years for an appeal to work it's way through after someone has been rejected the first time and no improvement in sight:
Of course, disability applicants are generally unable to work, so this kind of wait puts them in a terrible place. Our office has worked diligently to find a solution to this problem, and throughout the last half of 2007, we worked with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review to shepherd cases through the bureaucratic mess. Since then, many of our constituents have been able to obtain the benefits they need. The Social Security Administration is also working with us to help reduce the backlog so that others won't have to face going years unable to work without the benefits they have earned.
We're sure many of you remember the passport crisis that hit international travelers in the beginning of 2007, and in what might be the most stunning number related in the whole article, Boyda's district staff helped nearly 800 people receive their passports in a timely manner.

OK, actually, that's not the more stunning number in the article, this one is: Boyda and her staff sent more than 60,000 letters to constituents in response to letters on all sorts of subjects.

Just that much more fact to support the idea Congresswoman Nancy Boyda is always there for all of us.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ryun-Delay? Jenkins-O'Conner? Ryun-Foley? There it is!

There seems to have been a small rebellion across the waters at Bounce Boyda, our very favorite Internet arm of the Kansas Republican Party.

A whole slew of commenters over yonder have started smacking our conservative nutjob friend over the head for always, without fail, calling Congresswoman Nancy Boyda "Nancy Boyda-Pelsoi," in an effort, you see, to show they are so similar, that they're the same person. Or that they've gotten married. Or something. We're still unclear.

It became so bad Bounce had to come done from on high and post their own comment, explaining that it is so important for everyone to remember Nancy Boyda and Nancy Pelosi share more in common than a first name, they also vote the same!

We're sure that sends partisan hacks through the roof, but it's not only melodramatic, it's also disingenuous.

Congresswoman Boyda has, of course, voted with her party most of the time, but her year and a month in office has been peppered with votes against leadership, and for Kansas

Most of the time- most of the time- the House Democrat's agenda is fine for Kansas, but sometimes it isn't, and the best point to illustrate that is on illegal immigration. We won't let anyone forget that Nancy Boyda was one of the only Democrats in the entire Chamber who joined with nearly all of the Republicans to defeat the McCain-Kennedy Amnesty bill.

Yes, Boyda voted with Pelosi to name a couple hundred post offices, but when it comes to the big things, like illegal immigration, she obviously isn't in lockstep.

So, Bounce Boyda, hate her, whatever you want- go for it. But grow up. Paint your connection between the two by doing the research, not with some junior high hyphen party. Both sides of this debate have important things to say, and whenever you make a valid point (however rarely that may be), it's undermined by our total lack of credibility, because you aren't even mature enough to call her Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.

Actually...on second thought, don't stop!

Boyda amendment helps military families afford college

It's en vogue to say nothing gets done in Washington- both sides say it- but it is sad that that rhetoric makes us ignore some pretty awesome things the current Congress is doing.

Take, for instance, the recently passed College Opportunity and Affordability Act. The bipartisan bill aims to make it cheaper for Americans of every strip to receive a college education- one of those sorts of measures no rational person could oppose.

The base bill was made even better by an amendment penned by Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and Congressman Chet Edwards (D-TX) that pumped in aid specifically for military families.

Boyda said the idea for the amendment came when she and Edwards, who is the chairman of military construction and veteran's affairs, visited Fort Leavenworth a few weeks ago as part of a listening tour.

"There were several things that stood out, that people we talked to said were frustrating," Boyda said. "Kansas has led the nation in helping military families pay for college. Today's amendment extends Kansas' promises to military families across America."

All of the provisions of the amendment can be found in the article linked to above, but as a quick run down, it includes new scholarship money, protections against being forced to pay out-of-state tuition, and freezes student loan interest in certain cases for some active duty service members.

Again, it's sad quality legislation like this bill- made even better by Boyda's amendment- gets ignored in all the partisan bickering. But the issue of college affordability is one this Congress has tackled head on, and has been quite successful.

Boyda said this year's act would combine with last year's College Cost Reduction Act to help all students gain access to college.

"The whole cost of higher education is something that we have really addressed," Boyda said. "It's something that students and their families need to know about. I think it's fantastic."

Oh, and just so our Republican friends don't go into a tizzy about how wasteful the bill is or how poor people shouldn't be able to go to college because it's their own damn fault they're poor- the companion amendment on the Senate side was fostered through by US Senator Pat Roberts. Some ideas are truly beyond reproach.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Boyda honored by Kansas farmers

Congresswoman Nancy Boyda has been honored by Kansas farmers for her work on behalf of ag producers in her first year in Congress.

Boyda received the 2008 Ruth Hirsch Award, which is given annually to an individual who has provided outstanding leadership and dedication to Kansas family farmers. Considered the most prestigious award given by the state organization, it is named after Ruth Hirsch who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Kansas Farmers Union and its members.
The President of the Kansas Farmers Union Donn Teske said "that it gave him 'great pleasure' to present the award to Boyda, who has shown outstanding dedication and service to agriculture and to Kansans in the short time she has served in the House of Representatives."
As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, she immediately jumped into the fire in hammering out the House version of the 2007 farm bill, drawing on input from her constituents and the Kansas and National Farmers Union organizations in crafting the bill. She is a member of the Farmers Union and has also received the Golden Triangle Award from the National Farmers Union for her work on agriculture-related issues.

National Farmers Union President Tom Buis, who was present at the convention banquet, also applauded Boyda for her work on the farm bill and other issues relevant to rural America during his remarks to convention attendees.

Ever since Congresswoman Boyda took office last January, we've seen these sort of awards and accolades from her constituents. Sometimes it's easy to forget the right-wing bloggers and the NRCC aren't the only ones who have an opinion on Nancy Boyda- and it's been clear since day one that her constituents think she's doing a superb job.

Friday, February 15, 2008

FISA and the desperation of the KS GOP

OK, Bounce Boyda, if you want to play ball, we'll play ball.

Yesterday Congress voted against extending for three weeks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act...and our nutjob Republican friends would love for you to believe it's because Nancy Boyda singlehandedly convinced the majority to oppose the bill and, thus, give the terrorists the keys to City Hall.

Funny, because Congresswoman Boyda voted in favor of extending the act for a further three weeks so differences between the Democrats and Republicans could be worked out. That planned extension was prevented by the Republicans in Congress.

It's stunning- and depressing- that today the Republicans are blaming the Democrats for the extension not being passed when they were the ones who refused to compromise and refused to allow more time for bipartisan negotiations.

Republicans are playing politics with our national security and are fear-mongering, and that's depressing:

“The president repeated today his untenable and irresponsible claim that our national security will be jeopardized unless the House immediately rubber-stamps a Senate bill to modify the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” said [House Majority Leader Steny] Hoyer in a statement released by his office.

“In fact, a wide range of national security experts has made clear that the President and our intelligence community have all the tools they need to protect our nation, if the PAA expires.” -Politico.com

A new bill needs passed, absolutely. But this failure is a Republican one. Nancy Boyda, Dennis Moore, the Democratic Leadership and, yes, even the evil Speaker Nancy Pelosi are trying to solve very real problems in FISA, and the Republicans are the ones who are refusing to put the good of the United States of America before blind devotion to partisan politics.

We've said what needs said on earmark reform- she's done more than your party did in 10 years. She's vote for reform after reform, shed light on the process, and has benefited her constituents, all at the same time.

Bring a bigger bat next time, kid.

Boyda on the front lines of earmark reform

It's interesting that both of the major anti-Nancy Boyda blogs picked today to throw up posts lambasting Congresswoman Nancy Boyda for securing money for projects for communities all over the district. (Gasp! How horrible! She's helping improve the lives of Kansans! Stop her!)

We all here think the earmark debate is silly, and that it is stunningly hypocritical of the Republicans to cry fowl now, even though they never did anything about dreaded earmarks when they were in control for more than a decade.

Don't let the facts get in front of the rhetoric, right?

Really, though, their attacks aren't because she's helping her district (even they won't say that's bad). No, they're attacking her because she's lying- LYING I say!- about wanting to reform the process because, jeez, anyone who would dare use the process must be against changing it.

Right?

Wrong- as they so often are.

Earmarks are only bad when they're wasteful- and they're bad when they're secret. None of Congresswoman Boyda's funding requests are wasteful because they help Kansans, and she has certainly been more up front about her requests than any other member of the Kansas delegation- making all of them public, not just the ones approved.

That in itself was an amazing step in the right direction. Boyda didn't stop there, and voted for the most sweeping earmark reform bill in history her first month in office. Only days ago voted for a total moratorium on earmarks until the process is further reformed and other members are held to the same standard she already holds herself. The Club for Growth praised her for that one, along with the 7 other Democrats who broke ranks and voted with the Republicans.

Reform hasn't gone far enough- probably Congresswoman Boyda would agree on that- but this Congress, and Nancy Boyda, have gone farther than the Republicans ever did to eliminate wasteful spending (including cutting earmarks in half from the 2006 Republican level).

But, this quote sums up what's really going on here:

So what is all this shouting about? Could it be an effort to distract voters from the record, which is that under Republican rule, pork-spending in Congress jumped from $12 billion in 1999 to $29 billion in 2006, the Times op-ed points out. "The Republicans are the last people who should be lecturing on earmark reform," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Doug Thornell. "They have absolutely no credibility on this issue."
Boyda's done more to reform the process than Ryun ever did, and has still been able to make sure important projects have been funded back at home. While the Republicans might not realize it, Congresswoman Boyda obviously knows this isn't an either/or situtation- you can be responsible within an irresponsible system while working to reform it- and the only ones being hypocrites are the Republicans.

And thank you Bounce Boyda and Stay Red Kansas for the chance to point that out!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

FEC Analysis: Lynn Jenkins has nothing to smile about

On top of not even breaking the 25% mark (and barely rating better than Congresswoman Nancy Boyda) in a poll of Republican Party activists in a poll taken at the Republican Party caucus last Saturday, State Treasurer Lynn Jenkins filed the most depressing, most disappointing, and the most tear-jerkingly hilarious FEC finance report of anyone running for Congress in Kansas- including State Sen. Nick Jordan! (and that's saying something, folks...).

Our favorite CPA raised a sum that can only be describe as embarrassing- barely $90,000. What happened this quarter is beyond us- she's been able to hold her own against Congresswoman Boyda and Jim Ryun up to this point, but obviously something dramatic changed.

  • Perhaps she decided doing the job Kansans already elected her to was more important (but that's not likely, knowing Lynn).
  • Or maybe the money just dried up because it's clear she isn't qualified to do the job.
  • Or maybe she's the Fred Thompson of Kansas, and will lose because she's too lazy to do it right.
Regardless the reason, $90,000 raised is a shockingly small amount of money- particularly when you take into account her disbursements for the quarter show she spent $12,307.59 on a fundraising consultant.

What is it they did for you, Lynn? Doesn't it hurt your little CPA soul to hire someone to help you with money?

Her only other major expenditure was payroll for her campaign manager, Patrick Leopold, who took home a little over $12,000 in the quarter...for doing what, no one in the district knows.

It certainly does look like the wheels are coming off the bus over at the Jenkins Camp, with disasters ranging from a shockingly poor finance report to next to no enthusiasm for her at Kansas Days to getting trounced in straw polls on caucus day- pretty obvious she's got nothing to smile about.

All of that makes us wonder: When is Lynn Jenkins going to call it quits? When will our lightweight State Treasurer realize she's in over her head and withdraw?

Only time will tell.

Caucus recovery and a little Republican poll

Back in full strength after the Caucuses...it really took it out of our team (just because we've been asked, one of us caucused for Barack Obama, one of us caucused for Hillary Clinton, and one of us caucused for John McCain. And, no, we don't know how Jason Croucher caucused...).

Anyway, the Republican Caucus was exciting from our point of view for a couple reasons. First, turnout was embarrassingly small (one of those times you wish Sen. Phil Journey would just shut up, huh, Republicans?). Another was that, as always in Kansas politics, the crazy right wing of the Republican Party dominated the day, and picked the candidate with the very best shot of getting creamed by the Democrats in November

Something unexpected came out of the Republican embarrassment on Saturday: A wonderful poll up that was conducted at the Riley County Republican Caucus:

  • Ryun- 53%
  • Jenkins- 14%
  • Boyda- 7%
  • Undecided- 26%
Quick comments: Those of us here would like NOTHING better than to see Jim Ryun win the nomination. The people of the 2nd District (those who aren't the radical right wing- so most of them) have absolutely no desire to go backward- they kicked Ryun out because he was a stunningly poor representative who had lost touch with the people he was supposed to be representing. Jeez, even he didn't consider himself a Kansan anymore.

But, we're all nearly certain Ryun will win the nomination...for the same reason Huckabee won the caucus: Nearly all the activists in the Republican Party are exactly as out-of-touch as Jim Ryun. While Lynn Jenkins is, obviously, a horrifyingly miserable alternative, her pro-choice views at least make her slightly less radically opposed to the people she's trying to represent.

And then you have the 7% of registered Republican activists who said they planned to vote for Congresswoman Nancy Boyda in November. Know why that is? Because Nancy Boyda is clearly the best of the three options, and there are even individuals at the very heart of the Kansas Republican Party that realize that.

It was a tiny sample, so it's meaningless in the end, but, we can't help but really enjoy watching the Kansas Republican Party shoot themselves in the foot...agian...and again.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Boyda brings local pastor to DC for prayer

A Riverton pastor had the honor of delivering the morning prayer today at the U.S. House of Representatives, thanks to Congresswoman Nancy Boyda.

The story appeared in today's Joplin Globe.

Davis said state Rep. Doug Gatewood, of Columbus, is a member of his church, and when U.S. Rep. Nancy Boyda has been in the area, she has joined Gatewood to worship at the church. He said that during one visit, Boyda asked him if he would like to lead the prayer in Congress, and he agreed. Boyda set the plans in motion, making contact with Coughlin about the idea.

[...]

Davis takes a thoughtful tone in his approved prayer:

“Your scriptures tell us, ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ May these, your people, sharpen one another today as their ideologies clash together, as one philosophy grates against another philosophy different than their own. Help them to see this diversity, not as tearing, for these are not people of sheer fabric. For they have been forged stronger by the rigors of politics and public scrutiny. But help them see this clashing and grating as an opportunity to sharpen thought, to cut through rhetoric and to pierce conscience for the benefit of humanity.”

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The ultimate in outreach

Nancy Boyda will once again file for Congress by petition- something she did in 2004, and was the first person to file by petition for Congress in Kansas in longer than anyone could remember.

(Sorry for no updates for a last couple days....caucusing and all...we'll have more on everyone's FEC reports later today).

Friday, February 1, 2008

FEC Analysis: Ryun spends like a drunken sailor

John McCain would say the drunken sailors of the world would resent the comparison, but Jim Ryun's campaign fundraising ship is absolutely sinking.

First, the man has raised a huge amount of money- nearly $1 million bucks ($960,127.85 to be exact). But now, shockingly, he only has $364,789.19 in the bank- a burn rate of nearly 75%!

Want in God's name is he spending it all on?

Well, in addition to caging voters, Ryun paid himself another $3,500 in mileage reimbursements (great to line your own pockets) and spent over $213 at a Kwik Shop in Lawrence.

That's a lot of Skittles, my friends.

Jim spent the vast majority of his money raising money, spendin' almost $35,000 on postage alone. It's sad he spent so much money on fundraising, of course, because only had a net increase to his cash on hand by $30,130.93.

So sorry. Not as horrible as Lynn's report, and we'll get to that one next.

Boyda puts the nail in USA Today story's coffin

Perfect explanation and full-throated defense of the Iola water treatment plant earmark in today's Topeka Capital-Journal.

First, Iola had tired unsuccessfully for years to convince Jim Ryun's office to help them, but got nothing other than lectures on the hot button issues of the religious right. So, they decided when they had a new member of Congress, they'd try again.

The story in the Cap-J provides the exact course of events, wholly undermining all my conservative blogging friends and USA Today:

Timeline:

Late January 2007: A task force from Iola traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Boyda to discuss possible funding for the facility.

March 15: Boyda made a request to the Interior Appropriations Committee for an earmark for the Iola project.

June 6: The earmark was included in the full committee markup of the Interior Appropriations Bill.

(Note: A June 13 article in The Topeka Capital-Journal described how a dozen Iola residents had traveled to Washington to discuss federal funding for three community projects, including the wastewater treatment facility.

"We're not talking about well-heeled lobbyists. It was 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.' " Iola city manager Judy Brigham said at the time.

June 27: The Interior Appropriations Bill, with the Iola earmark, was passed.

Early November: Boyda said Richard Zahn, a retired native of Iola who was appreciative of her efforts on behalf of the city, asked a lobbyist with whom he was acquainted to put together a fundraising luncheon for her in Washington.

"It was a small gathering that raised $6,800," Boyda said. "The topic of conversation for the entire hour was the struggles and challenges of rural America."

Dec. 17: The House passed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, with the Iola earmark included.

It's sad shoddy reporting on the part of USA Today lead to a story like the one that ran, and we're glad the issue's been cleared up. In the end, the folks around Nancy Boyda that don't like her tried, unsuccessful thank God, to turn something wonderful she did for her district into something bad.

But, of course, the Iola earmark was on the up-and-up, and the fundraiser held months after it was secured was on the up-and-up, too. This was all the politics of attack first, ask questions later, and that's disappointing.

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.