Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Georgia AG to Gov: Health Reform Lawsuit Hogwash

Georgia's Democratic Attorney General Thurbert Baker refused to comply with a request from Republican Governor Sonny Perdue to join with other (all Republican) Attorneys General in their lawsuit against the Federal Government over the recently-enacted (LOVE saying that) health insurance reform.

Putting it much better than yours T (there's a shocker), General Baker let Sonny know just why the litigation is so wrong-headed. His correspondence was recently released:

In short, this litigation is likely to fail and will consume significant amounts of taxpayers' hard-earned money in the process.

Throughout the history of this nation, our courts have been reluctant to overturn legislative acts unless a clear constitutional violation is shown. While your letter does not suggest specific claims in the proposed litigation, I will address two that have been raised publicly regarding the law. Some believe that the law's requirement that all individuals purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. I believe such an argument is highly unlikely to succeed. In fact, earlier this month, an appellate court decision rejecting such arguments was issued in the only case I am aware of to be litigated on this topic to date.

As you may know, then-Governor Mitt Romney proposed and signed into law in2006 a bill thatrequires all Massachusetts residents to purchase health insurance. [Egads. Mittens!? Really??!] A suit was brought against theCommonwealth by a plaintiff who alleged that the requirement violated his rights under the Fifth,Seventh and Eighth Amendments of the United States Constitution and various provisions of the Massachusetts Constitution. In Fountas v. Commissioner of the Department of Revenue, 2010 Mass.App. Unpub. Lexis 223 (Marchs, 2010), the Massachusetts Court of Appeals rejected all of those arguments.

I also understand that some believe that the Act's expansion of eligibility for Medicaid violates states' rights by requiring the state to spend additional money to insure more people. While there may be disagreement with that provision as a matter of budgetary priority and policy, I am sure you are also aware that Medicaid is a joint federal-state program in which Georgia's participation is voluntary and in which federal funding provides approximately 60% of our state Medicaid funds. The right of the United States govemment to require action by states as a condition of receiving federal funding has been litigated repeatedly, including in the United States Supreme Court, and is well established in our nation's constitutional law

* * *

For the reasons stated above, I cannot in good conscience file a lawsuit against the United States that I believe has little or no chance of success and will undoubtedly consume significant state resources in atime of severe budgetary crisis.
Poor Mittens. What is he to do? After doing the right thing in Massachusetts (at the time he said it should be the model for a national reform), he now turns around and condemns an essentially similar national reform. So the Baggers and Wingnutz will shun him for what he did as Governor, and the moderate and liberals will laugh at him for his duplicity. And he sooooo wants to be President.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rethugs Thugs and Outliers

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Chuck Schumer waived off David Gregory's invitation to pile onto the Republicans over the insults, threats, and acts of violence directed at Democratic Members of Congress in reaction to the health insurance reform law. Senator Schumer correctly noted that those behaving reprehensibly represented "outliers" of those opposed to the new law, and that it would be wrong to tar all the rest.

We'll leave aside for the moment the sad fact that no one within eye or ear shot of the various acts and slurs lifted a finger to stop the "tiny fraction", or even wagged a finger, much less collared them for processing by the authorities. And as to the cover of darkness brick throwers, no one to whom those yahoos have boasted has yet to drop a dime.

Schumer passed on the opportunity to use this question to assess the responsibility of the Republican Party leadership for the series of violent and extreme actions we've seen directed at Democratic Members of Congress recently. He may have thought it impolitic after lecturing Lyndsey Graham on the Republican threat of refusing to work with Democrats on the other pressing issues before Congress.

But hearken back to the days of the Obama-McCain campaign. Recall those accusations against the now-President? How McCain would egg on the crowd by asking them "Who is the real Barack Obama?" and wait for their answer -- "Terrorist!" Throughout that summer and fall the Republican standard-bearers allowed their supporters to shout "Treason!" or "Kill Him!" at their rallies. Instead of throwing them out, or correcting their supporters, McCain and Palin paused to enjoy the huzzahs of the crowd. (McCain, unevenly and only halfheartedly, sometimes murmured objections, infrequently enough to make them ineffective.)

With the top of the ticket giving them cover, Republican leaders told their faithful that Senator Obama was "a terrorist's best friend". After the election, Republican leaders, like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, gleefully attend the Tea Bagger rallies, prominently featuring racist and violent signs and pictures attacking the President and Democrats. They encouraged the claims of socialism, that the President was leading an attack on freedom or ushering in totalitarianism. No correction, no objection, no call for serious discourse. They delighted as the Baggers, with Republican Congressional encouragement, disrupted town hall meetings for the very purpose and effect of preventing reasoned discourse.

Two years into this ugly campaign, Michele Bachman now tells supporters to consider policy disputes an armed conflict, in which she is "a foreign correspondent behind enemy lines". Warning about "nefarious things" going on in Washington, she shrilly laments for the very existence of the country: "the people . . . .are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country." And, after seeing violence directed at Democrats in Congress, Bachman exhorts "the people" to prepare for war: "I want people . . . armed and dangerous . . . we need to fight back . . . having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."

Under what scenario is this sort of talk tolerated from a Member of Congress? Under what circumstances would that member's party leadership not condemn and disown the comments?

Sadly, in today's Republican Party -- we have witnessed a two-year campaign in which incitement has become not only an acceptable way to whip up the base, but and essential element of the opposition strategy.

Michele Bachman can get away without criticism from her leader, because just a week before that he referred to a supporter of health insurance reform as a "dead man": [He's] a dead man. He can’t go home to the west side of Cincinnati."

And, while the reform legislation was passing the House, Iowa Congressman Steve King took the bullhorn at a Tea Bagger rally to issue these calming works about what needs to be done with the Democratic majority: "Let’s beat that other side to a pulp! Let’s take them out. Let’s chase them down. There’s going to be a reckoning!" (King is the same guy who essentially justified the nut who flew a plane into the IRS building in Texas.)

Those Tea Baggers who spat on Congressmen, hurled epithets and slurs at them are indeed outliers and don't represent the greater majority of the opposition. But they were given cover, and permission, to act out by the Republican leadership tolerance of this sort of thing for the last two years -- by the creation of an appearance of the propriety of such conduct, by the indirect and direct expression that this kind of action is necessary to preserve our freedoms, to save our country. In a more sane environment, those surrounding these "outliers" would denounce them, would oust them from their midst to avoid being tarred with their brush. Just as in more sane times an outlier Congressman would be taken to task for intemperate words.

But when the minority leader of the House suggests a colleague is a 'dead man' who can't go home; when a member of Congress grabs the bullhorn before an angry mob with vicious posters and ugly chants, and exhorts them that the only way to deal with the opposition is to "beat them to a pulp", we are not in sane times.

After seeing the horrifying dividend paid on their two-year campaign, John Boehner went to the airwaves to recruit the brick throwers, the spitters, the gun shooters, to work for his campaign. Does anyone really need to say that he missed the point?

In a more sane environment, he would have asked those with knowledge of these criminals to turn them into authorities. He would have urged the Tea Baggers to cleanse their ranks of the loonies, the racists, and the violent among them. In a more sane environment, Sarah Palin would have been shamed into taking down her graphic of rifle crosshairs on the Democratic Congressmen who supported the health insurance reform legislation. Instead, she is cheered for defiantly calling on her following to "RELOAD!". And they do.

The Republican Party leadership condones, encourages, and participates in this rhetoric of violence in response to policy differences. That political disputes ought not be addressed in civil discussion on the issues is further underscored by their second strategy -- preferring process arguments, procedural complaint, and atmospherics to discourse. Their legions, and particularly the outliers among them, are hearing that there is no use talking, there is nothing to talk about, that dangerous and fearful things are happening, and that the discourse is no way to deal with the Democrats. They then see their heroes using gun sights to target Democrats, calling for them to be beaten to a pulp, exhorting them to reload.

In all these ways and many more, over the last two years the Republican leadership has ,directly and indirectly, in manners veiled and plain, granted cover to the worst of their fools to behave in the worst of ways. And while the actors are themselves to blame for their actions, the Republican reaction to those violent and threatening outliers continues to be tone-deaf and some, like King and Palin, seem to take delight in incitement. When they do, it is for people like Cantor, Boehner, and McConnell to let them know that that is not how the loyal opposition behaves in a mature democracy. Instead, they recruit the angry to work on their campaigns, make up stories about angry gunshots through their own windows, and keep repeating slogans suggesting a national Armageddon is upon us.

Leaders don't act that way on the national stage -- outliers do.

Robert Greenwald and the Brave New Foundation team have recently gathered over 50,000 signatures on a Petition to the Republicans to take ownership of this insane environment and to encourage them to take more serious action to quell the violence of the Tea Baggers. Here's a suggestion to the Republicans, start with policing your own ranks.

All of which leaves me to wonder, what punctuation would fit the title of this piece?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bloggers, Pols, and Wannabes Overwhelm Rooney's

About 100 NEPA Bloggers, Politicians, Candidates, staffers, and groupies of all, descended on Rooney's in Pittston last night for the umpteenth OT Blogger Happy Hour organized by Gort, but the first to attract such widespread attention. Most interesting, the print media was there to cover the bloggers.

Phyllis Mundy was there, gracious as always. Rumor has it John Yudichak was also in attendance. I did see a suit with a haircut, that might have been him. Democratic-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen's paid and volunteer staff was there in force, but the Sestak folks were apparently too busy with their campaign to become the Senator from MSNBC to send anyone by. Commissioner (why doesn't anyone listen to me) Steve Urban, Mayor (is that a City Contract or a Donation Card in Your Pocket) Tom Leighton, and many others put in appearances.

The valiant staff at Rooney's clearly had no idea what they were getting into. They smiled and tirelessly tried to keep up with the beer, wine, and food orders. Expecting not much, we were pleasantly surprised with the good food, beer and wine selections.

The NEPA Bloggers seem to have come of age.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coverage Kerfuffle

Yesterday I was thrice told that Senators and Representatives exempted themselves from the just signed health reform law.

This is yet another example of the exasperated and desperate simply making things up to stir the pot. Actually, the bill (page 157) requires Members of Congress to participate in the exchanges:

(i) REQUIREMENT- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are–

(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or

(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
Okay, kids? Can we now agree that the claim you heard in the echo chamber -- that Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi are not subject to this reform -- is just another made up "fact" about the health insurance reform law? So, how many more lies and distortions are you going to believe and blather on about until you embarrass yourself again? Didn't you ever hear this saying?

Now, there is some confusion about how far down the Congressional line this applies -- it is clear it will apply to Congressional personal staff. But, it looks like some Committee professional staffers might be excluded from mandatory participation. STOP THE FREAKIN' PRESSES!!! The Architect of the Capitol and committee lawyers might be able to "keep the insurance they have". Damn, the bastard kept another promise.

I'd like to see direct Congressional employees in this thing, as well as the President and White House staff. But if this is the best argument against the bill law, well, do I need to point out how weak it is?

This is another example of the strategery here -- talk about anything except the substance. Talk about the process (but never mention that the law passed with a majority of both chambers and a super-majority in the Senate), raise distraction, embrace distortion, but never ever talk about the 750,000 who filed bankruptcy last year because this law had not been enacted, or the 150,000 babies born with birth defects last year who will now be insurable, and for heaven's sake, don't let small businesses hear that they are getting up to 35% in tax credits for every dollar they spend on health insurance.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When You're Dead, Lay Down

I took the title of this piece from a line someone tossed out on the Republican lawsuits and threats after yesterday's wonderful signing ceremony (I think it was Paul Begala). Whoever said it, it was good advice.

President Obama was still handing out pens when the Republican attorneys general filed their complaint. (I guess, unlike John Boehner, they had had plenty of time to learn what was in the bill and prepare their complaint.) The lawsuit was filed in State Court in Florida. (You'll soon see it removed to Federal Court.)

The complaint tells us that the health insurance reform legislation, which -- it bears repeating -- was approved by a Senate super-majority and a majority in the House -- is "an unprecedented encroachment on the liberty of individuals . . . by mandating that all citizens and legal residents of the United States have qualifying healthcare coverage or pay a tax penalty." (Paragraph 2.)

The complaint was prepared by David Rivkin and Lee Casey, partners in the D.C. office of the law firm Baker Hostetler LLP. They previously served in the Justice Department under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Their arguments were previewed in a Washington Post piece last summer.

I am going to try to resist the legal jargon and case citations, but before we jump into the Constitutional arguments, one has to understand two points:

i. under the Constitution's "Commerce Clause" the Federal Government has the authority to regulate commerce and to enact all laws "necessary and proper" related to that power; and,

ii. the 'tax and spend' clause (there really is such a thing) gives the Federal Government the power to levy taxes for the "common Defence and general Welfare of the United States".

Okay, the Republican attorneys general argument goes like this:

1. "[T]he [health insurance reform] Act compels said persons to have healthcare coverage, whether or not they wish to do so, or be subject to sanction. . . . The Act is directed to a failure to engage in activity . . . . Such inactivity by its nature cannot be deemed to be in commerce or to have any substantial effect on commerce, whether interstate or otherwise. As a result, the Act cannot be upheld under the Commerce Clause". (Complaint, para.64-65.)

2. The act imposes a penalty -- a tax -- on people who don't purchase health insurance. The Republican argument is that the tax isn't Constitutional because "It is to be levied upon persons for their failure or refusal to do anything other than to exist and reside in the United States" -- that is, a coercive tax penalty on "inactivity" is unconstitutional.

The Commerce Clause argument is too cute. In a weak high school debate, it might score a point. In the grown-up world, it fails. The fundamental flaw (and there are many other flaws) is the conceptual blinder required to view "inactivity" as not having the ability to affect interstate commerce.

Individuals not purchasing health insurance have as great and substantive impact on interstate commerce as individuals purchasing the coverage -- it is the lack of coverage which precipitates the crisis. Estimates are some 750,000 personal bankruptcies are filed annually caused by the lack of any, or of adequate, health insurance. That, alone, is quite enough to establish the interstate commerce nexus for Constitutional purposes.

And this is not an unexamined area of the law. The Federal Courts uniformly reject precisely this "inactivity" argument. For example, Federal law requiring former sex offenders to register have been upheld against a claim that the Commerce Clause could not regulate "non-activity" (ie, not registering) and the Federal law criminalizing the failure to make child support payments was also upheld against the same claim that the Commerce Clause does not regulate "non-payment".

Remember when the Supreme Court struck down the Federal law making it a crime to carry a gun in a school zone? It did so on Commerce Clause reasoning that the act of carrying a gun in a school zone was not an activity which, if repeated elsewhere, would have an effect on interstate commerce. While it is a case that Rivkin & Casey like to point to, the obverse of the reasoning undermines their argument -- it is incontestable that the failure to have adequate health insurance -- the "decision not to act", if you like -- has a direct and substantial impact on commerce.

The taxing powers claim similarly fails. First, remember that the Congress can adopt any tax enacted to support any of its enumerated powers. Therefore, if the legislation passes muster under the Commerce Clause, then the taxing provisions are Constitutional. Second, the general tax and spend powers are interpreted very broadly and even if some exceedingly activist Court ignores the interstate commerce nexus, the power to tax for the general welfare is broad enough to sustain the Act. The assertions in the complaint that it is a coercive penalty and not a revenue-producing tax is another word play that has no legal implication -- from a Constitutional law perspective, there is no difference between a coercive tax and a revenue-producing tax.

The Republican attorneys general should just lay down (and encourage John McCain to join them).

Monday, March 22, 2010

NEPA Blogger Meet Up This Friday, Candidates Welcome

From Gort:

The next blogger meetup will be Friday March 26th at Rooney's Irish Pub 67 S. Main St. Pittston, PA 18704 starting at 5PM. There is big bar area with tables off to the side and plenty of free parking across the street where the Tomato Festival is held. It's easy to find just drive north on River Street from W-B and it's on the left.

It looks like we will have a good turnout. So far I have received confirmation from about 15 campaigns for Congress, State Senate and State House that the candidate and/or supporters will be attending. That includes Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Pastafarians.

Our political bloggers from Luzerne and Lackawanna counties will be there along with our readers, commentators and people who are just interested in local politics.

This is an informal mixer with no speeches scheduled. There is no charge for admission.

Senate to House: You can Trust Us Here's a Signed Document

Over half of the Senate has signed a letter to the House promising to support the House reconciliation package. And we all know, if you have a signed document in your possession, you can't go wrong (h/t Tim Farley):

Time for Thank-yous

If your Representative voted as you wished in yesterday's historic advance, it is very important that you call and express appreciation for the vote. It is important because you want your Rep to listen the next time you call and because you want your Rep to understand that what they do is being watched and is important to you. Besides, when someone does something that you ask them to do, a simple "thank-you" is just polite.

To contact your Representative, call the general switchboard at(202)224-3121, or enter your zip code in the Congressional Directory maintained at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kanjo has announced support


UPDATE: Kanjo got asterisk manager changes that benefit Geisinger Insurance and Scranton Orthopaedic. More later as details become known.

Kanjo rescinds, back on the fence; Stupack has tentative agreement with WH

Latest from our little bird inside the beltway loop -- Kanjorski's unease about voting against the interests of a corporation that has given a million bucks to his pet projects, operates a PAC that has been very generous to him (in the last cycle, no one in Congress got more from the Sallie Mae PAC than Paul Kanjorski), and with executives who have opened their wallets for him, has apparently caused him to retract and place himself back into the "undecided" column. And those hundreds of thousands of residents of his district that would be benefited by this legislation, they just don't stack up to millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, we are told that Stupack is polling his little gang to measure agreement to a White House deal that appears to solve their faux abortion issue. Stupack has been dealing with White House lawyers since yesterday evening and those close to the talks appear confident that Stupack and his gang will end up in the 'Yes' column.

Deal Done, Kanjo on Board

Kanjorski has informed the White House that he is now a definite yes. We're assuming some sort of deal favoring Kanjo's corporate sponsor, Sallie Mae, was struck. But we'd like to think all of those constituent phone calls to his DC office helped win the day.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Carney Moves into the 'Yes' Column

Congressman Chris Carney (PA-10), announced late this afternoon that he will be supporting Health Insurance Reform when it comes up for a vote in the House. Carney supported the House Bill, but was undecided on the Senate Bill and reconciliation package. In recent days he has expressed exasperation and a bit of anger towards what he called "unconscionable" and "entirely misleading" anti-Health Insurance Reform television ads targeting him, which were financed by the astroturf group, Americans for Prosperity.

Weighing a Vote -- Kanjo Protecting Sallie Mae over District 11 Residents?

With the report that Kanjorski told the President that he will probably vote NO on Health Insurance Reform because the Congressman objects to the impact of the included student loan reform effort on the Billion-Dollar Sallie Mae, which employs a few hundred in his District, we thought it a good time to take a look at what was on the other side of these scales.

A small percentage of Sallie Mae's employees work in the Hanover Industrial Park, in Kanjorski's District. Most of them are low-paid telephone collections/customer "service" workers. Even if Sallie Mae is right that many of them would lose their jobs as a result of the student loan reforms included in the health insurance reform legislation, even those jobs seem to pale in comparison to the impact of the pending legislation on the District residents.

Here's what the Congressional analysis of the impact for the 11th District shows:
  • Improve coverage for 420,000 residents with health insurance.
  • Give tax credits and other assistance to up to 190,000 families and 14,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage.
  • Improve Medicare for 133,000 beneficiaries, including closing the donut hole.
  • Extend coverage to 27,000 uninsured residents.
  • Guarantee that 8,200 residents with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage.
  • Protect 900 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
  • Allow 52,000 young adults to obtain coverage on their parents’ insurance plans.
  • Provide millions of dollars in new funding for 7 community health centers.
  • Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and other health care providers by $42 million annually.
(The House has done a similar analysis for each District.)

There are 190,000 families in Kanjorski's District who would qualify for health insurance subsidies under the pending legislation. 190,000!

But Kanjorski is joining the Republicans to say NO to the 190,000 families in his District who would finally be able to secure health insurance for their families. To protect a few hundred jobs.

There are 8,200 uninsured individuals in Kanjorski's district who have pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes and can't get health insurance. That would end under the act, but Kanjorski thinks protecting a few hundred Sallie Mae jobs are more important than those eight thousand unfortunate citizens in his District who had the bad judgment to become ill.

In a single year, 900 families file bankruptcy in Kanjorski's District due to health care costs. That tragedy would be all but eliminated -- if not for Kanjorski's determination to protect a few hundred Sallie Mae jobs.

There are 133,000 Medicare beneficiaries in his district. The legislation improves their benefits by providing free preventive and wellness care, improving primary and coordinated care, and enhancing nursing home care. The bill also strengthens the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its
solvency from 2017 to 2026. And you know what Kanjorski thinks? Too bad, he wants to protect Sallie Mae jobs.

And there's more, you can read the details in the report.

You should be forgiven if you are thinking that stacking a few hundred Sallie Mae jobs against these hundreds of thousands of people in his District seems a little, well, UNbalanced. Because, in truth, Kanjorski IS NOT balancing those hundreds of thousands against a few hundred Sallie Mae jobs -- he is balancing them against MORE than a few hundred thousand of Sallie Mae's DOLLAR$.

If you are in the 11th, it is time to call your Representative and let him know that balancing the lives of hundreds of thousands against Sallie Mae's millions is not why you sent him to Washington time and time again.

Call Rep. Kanjorski's office at (202) 225-6511. But don't stop there. Make it your mission today to get 5 friends or neighbors to call, too.

Kanjo Tells Prez: "I'm (probably) voting 'No'!"

A source with information received directly from the White House has told us that Kanjorski has told the President that he is firmly in the Republican column on the health insurance reform initiative. [See UPDATE below] Contrary to recent reports in the Washington Post , Firedoglake, and Ben Pershing's Blog, among others, Kanjorski reportedly told the President there was little no room for movement on his vote.

Kanjorski's movement to the "No" column was NOT the result of the faux abortion issue. Instead, Kanjo's decision to oppose health insurance reform was dictated by the interests of the large private student loan lender, Sallie Mae, which has a facility in his district. Kanjorski has long-ties with the folk at Sallie Mae, something he's boasted about in the past. A 2008 piece on Kanjorski's deep-ties to Sallie Mae laid it out pretty well:
Sallie Mae has rewarded Kanjorski for his support in other ways as well. According to federal campaign finance records, the loan giant has contributed, through its PAC and from individual company officials, nearly $70,000 to the Congressman's campaign coffers over the last decade. In addition, the Sallie Mae Fund, the company's charitable arm, has made generous contributions to one of the Congressman's pet causes: donating $1 million in 2003 to the Wilkes-Barre Catholic Youth Center, which provides daycare and overnight care to children from primarily lower-income and minority families. Kanjorski has long championed the center and fought to get federal funding for it. In Sallie Mae's news release, the center's executive director "expressed deep gratitude" to the Congressman for helping to secure the loan company's donation.
Stephen Burd, The Higher Ed Watch Blog. The House added "The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act" to the reconciliation bill on health insurance reform. The reform measure allows students to borrow directly from the federal government instead of from Sallie Mae or other lenders. Currently, the federal government loans money to Sallie Mae, which in turn makes a tidy profit by re-lending our tax dollars to college kids.

Kanjorski, by supporting one of his large corporate financial backers, is threatening to turning his back on the rank and file, the middle class, the laborers, and all of the individuals suffering for lack of access to health care.

We spoke with a Kanjorski spokesperson who did not deny that Kanjo is a no. Instead, speaking about the Kanjorski conversation with the President, the spokesman said only, "I am not aware of that conversation." When asked, did the Congressman tell the President that he will be voting no, the spokesperson responded again, "I am not aware of such a conversation." Asked if the Congressman is going to vote no, "As far as I know, the Congressman is undecided."

As an apparent result of Kanjorski's conversation with the President, this morning the Organizing for America folks sent out an email to their supporters in Kanjo's district. In that email they warned that Kanjorski's vote can't "be taken for granted" and urged recipients to "pick up the phone and call Rep. Kanjorski's office at (202) 225-6511. But don't stop there. Make it your mission today to get 5 friends or neighbors to call, too."

The same source also reports that Kanjorski isn't going to bother to tally the calls to his District offices or 800 numbers -- the only calls he's counting are the ones to his DC office. Odd choice, but when a guy is going to cast a vote based on how it affects his corporate sponsor, one wonders why he's counting at all.

If he follows through, Corey O'Brien will be getting a check from me on Monday.

UPDATE: My source contacted me this afternoon to say that Kanjorski was firm in refusing the President's request to commit to yes and told the President that he was strongly leaning "No" -- he did not, apparently, come right out and say he was firmly in the 'No' column, but that he was likely to be a 'No' vote. We were also told that many Kanjorski District voters were unable to get through to his Washington office because it was so busy with callers.