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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Viva La Vermont Revolución, too?

2Our little chat with Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday afternoon covered a couple of other subjects besides Costa Rica. One was La Revolución here in Vermont.

Republican Gov. Jim Douglas looks almost unbeatable for reelection to a fourth term in November 2008. All the possible Democratic contenders appear to be quietly waiting their turn, except for Matt Dunne. Matt's the only one of significance who hasn't completely ruled it out, yet.

But Matt Dunne's not going to run unless he believes winning is doable.

Then there's Progressive Anthony Pollina, a fixture on the Vermont political stage for more than 20 years. Ran against Republican Congressman Jim Jeffords back in 1984 as a Democrat!

An Italian kid from New Jersey who became a champion and organizer of Rural Vermont. Was a senior policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders in the early 1990s. Then directed VPIRG and organized dairy farmers.

Was a founder of the Vermont Progressive Party. Ran for governor [2000] and lost. Ran for Lite-Gov [2002], and lost by less. He's articulate, passionate and, like Bernie, says what he means and means what he says. And he does most of his talking these days on Equal Time talk-radio on WDEV.


And right now, Anthony looks like the only true opposition candidate to our beloved Gov. Scissorhands who's out there with a shot. But he'd have to do "a Bernie," i.e. run as an Independent who has the support of the Progressive and Democratic parties - just the way Ol' Bernardo did in the 2006 U.S. Senate race.

Name one issue, one policy position, be it on healthcare, energy, the environment or economic justice where Bernie and Tony disagree?

There are none.

But the list of issues on which Bernie and GOP Jimbo disagree, well, excuse me, but the list is not short, is it?

I asked Sen. Sanders about it....

Let me just say this at this point, Peter. I’ve seen Anthony around in the last month or two. Have not talked to him at any length about his possible candidacy. I really haven’t. But I’ve known Anthony for many years.

If you’re asking me do I think he could be a very strong candidate, I do. He’s clearly smart and he’s clearly articulate, No question about that.

FREYNE: You're not urging him to run, are you?

BERNIE: I'm not urging him to run, I’m not urging him not to [run].

You know, I don’t like to make these decisions in one second when you ask me a question. It’s something that has to be thought about and I’ve got to talk to a number of people and so forth.

FREYNE: So, at the moment, you think he’d be a strong and smart candidate?

Well, Anthony is very smart and he is very articulate. No one disputes that.

No one.



From Al Kamen's "In the Loop" column in today's Washington Post:

Guv_douglas Free lunch today! We got an invite yesterday from Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R), former South Carolina governor Jim Hodges (R) and some contractors who are inviting all the state governors' Washington office directors to a fine meal at tony Johnny's Half Shell, where they'll hear why it is important to strip from the farm bill a provision that bans some outsourcing of the food stamp program.

The companies and their supporters perhaps could have held this briefing at a National Governors Association committee meeting, but food stamp matters obviously are better discussed over oysters.

Be there by noon!


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Anyone remember Doug Racine? He came within 3 points last time he ran against Douglas and that was in a 3-way race where Con Hogan got 9 percent. He'd be a much, much stronger candidate that Matt Dunne or Pollina.


In a state like Vermont Racine should have buried Douglas. He was weak then and he's weak now. Pollina will challenge the governor, something that's been lacking for the last three campaigns against him. I could work hard on that campaign.


We were in 9/11 mode and Douglas campaigned heavily on patriotism and loyalty to the prez. People were tired of the Dean regime and ready for a switch to GOP. And civil unions were still an issue (and Racine was on the record supporting marriage rights.)

Pollina, unfortunately is hackneyed, predictable, and hopelessly boring. (Not that Racine is a ball of fire, but at least he's got more than one note to sing.)


Nobody uderstands the needs of family farmers and rural Vermonters better than Pollina. He's done more for family farmers in the past year than Douglas has done during his entire tenure.


Skeptic is right; Racine was running against two republicans and lost.


Doh! I mean row is right, not skeptic.

Pollina is predictable: he just talks about helping farmers, students, workers, etc.

And who wants to help them?


A cow turd could run for office and I would vote for him (her) over Douglas.

Any change would be an improvement. You can't get anything good done when all you do is nothing. I'd even tolerate somebody who disagrees with me on some things just to get somebody who would DO SOMETHING BESIDES CUT RIBBONS.

Lisa Crean

"Food stamp matters obviously are better discussed over oysters." LET THEM EAT CAKE! Because cheap, high-fructose-corn-syrup-filled junk food is all your going to be able to afford, food stamp hoi polloi. Enjoy your Little Debbie's, while we knock back some Oysters Rockefeller!

Of course, your kids won't be able to see the doctor for their incipient Type II diabetes either, now that Mad King George has vetoed kiddie health care. On the plus side, Chinese granite is much less expensive than that Vermont stuff, should you need a headstone for little Johnnie or Susie. The funeral is bound to cost less than the medical care!


"Of course, your kids won't be able to see the doctor for their incipient Type II diabetes either, now that Mad King George has vetoed kiddie health care"

WoW, I hope you are kidding. Since you do realize that nothing that Bush or Douglas has done prevents children or anybody for that matter from obtaining health care. Health care cannot be denied no matter what. Health Insurance on the other hand is not a right.


It's nice that Pollina and other candidates can promise health care, better wages help for the family farmers, etc.. the question will it paid for? We know that very few are going to accept higher property taxes. That leaves the main source of revenue as income taxes. The lower and middle class won't stand for higher income taxes and that leaves the "wealthy". People hate to look at the truth. Many of the wealthy throghout the country have choices of residency and many, many move to a income tax free state because of it. An Ohio State study between 2000 and 2006 showed 2.3 million people moving from states with income taxes to states without during that period. That was an average of over 1,000 people per day. So, who do we think is going to pay this higher income tax in Vermont?...Ralph Wright.....Nope, he changed his residency to Florida where there is no state income tax:-)


good points, Gunner.


What is it that Jim Douglas is doing now that's so successful? This governor has accomplished nothing. He complains about affordability yet does nothing to make Vermont more afforable. Study after study has shown that single payer health care would save money and people would have better health outcomes. Douglas won't propose that. Pollina will. Yes, it will take more than a campaign promise to deliver that. It will take people sitting down and figuring it out. This governor has no inclination to fix health care. Pollina does. We can't afford another term of nothing from a do-nothing governor. People need help and Douglas has never and will not be the one to deliver it.

Peter Joes

Let's see if I got this right. If Anthony Pollina or Vince Illuzi runs as an independent and gets 30% of the vote. And, if Matt Dunne or Vince Illuzi runs as a Democrat and gets 30% of the vote -- -then - - its up to the Vermont Legislature to decide the winner. They are unlikely to select Jim Douglas.

So, if this is true, those that want to unseat Douglas should encourage both an independent and Democratic candidate instead of them combining forces.



Peter Joes

Follow up - - if faced with the choice of Illuzi or Pollina, which one do you think they would choose?



If you look at issues instead of labels it would be Pollina hands down. He has worked steadily and effectively over the years at coalition building, community organizing, and giving voice to regular folks. His ideas make sense.

Illuzi seems attractive at first glance as a maverick republican (remember John McCain?) but his positions are still too conservative. And unpredictable.


"Study after study has shown that single payer health care would save money and people would have better health outcomes"

What studies, if single payer health care works so well, why does medicare/medicaid fail so miserably, why do cancer patients from Canada come to the US to get treatment rather then die waiting? Why do people think it is the role of government to ensure health insurance for all?

"He complains about affordability yet does nothing to make Vermont more afforable."

I disagree completely, just last year he veto'd the Legislatures climate bill, savingn VTer's money. He does what he can, since you do realize that Dougals can not write laws, he is only able to sign or veto those that are written by the legislature. Basically, if you don't like the laws coming out of Montpelier look to the Legislature and not Douglas. Douglas is only able to propose what he would like to see done, and it is clear the legislature is on their own agenda, not Jim's. Did the legislature propose anything last year that would have lowered VTer's tax bills?

The progressives have spent the last 3 decades running Burlington into the ground the last thing we need is for one to be running the state. Pollina doesn't stand a chance as long as he pulls that parties line. Illuzi is, well lets just say a bit out there. He won't even garner support from the people who he represents. Dunne would be the person who stands the best chance, and that chance is slim, very slim.


"its up to the Vermont Legislature to decide the winner. They are unlikely to select Jim Douglas"

I would not expect that to happen. I would expect the two 'losing' candidates to concede. But, I really don't think that would be the right thing for them to do. If the law states the legislature decides in the event no candidate reaches 50%, then so be it.

Lisa Crean

"Nothing that Bush or Douglas has done prevents children or anybody for that matter from obtaining health care." Glad that you're financially well off, JPC, and have never had to choose between food, shelter and medicine.

Many of us have.

It's pointless to keep debating whether health insurance is a right. Universal health insurance is a SMART, fiscally sound way to deliver health care. Starting with universal coverage for kids seems, I don't know, COMPASSIONATE? Plus, the little ones are basically healthy, so it's a pretty cheap proposition.

The whole "socialized medicine" scare is just right-wing silliness. Are there kinks in the British and Canadian systems? Let's learn from them. We spend boatloads more money than they do; let's just redirect it more effectively, instead of spending ONE THIRD of our health care dollars on insurance company paper-shuffling. But stop turning Karl Marx into the Boogie Man--univeral health insurance isn't going to turn us into a bunch of bearded, Das Kapital-reading commies!


"Many of us have." That is your problem since you didn't have to. And no I am not financially well off. I work to jobs to pay my taxes and support my family and provide health care for them. People need to stop waiting for a government handout.

Sorry, about being compassionate, I am really, but that's not government's job period. The role of government is to uphold the constitution, not provide for people. There is nothing in the constitution that says the state will provide for those who choose not to provide for themselves. We spend boatloads of money because medicare/medicaid doesn't pay the true cost! That is then borne upon the private insurance companies that pass that along to those of us who work to buy it. No universal health care won't turn us into a bunch of commies, but it will turn us in to a bunch of lazy people who will sit around and wait for the government to pick up the tab. I mean seriously, if I talked my wife into quitting work today we would be ahead of the game with all the state sponsered programs. Why work?

Lisa Crean

Oops--sorry about the double post...don't know how that happened.

One more JPC remark that cannot go unquestioned. "If single payer health care works so well, why does medicare/medicaid fail so miserably?" This is wrong on so many levels. Medicare actually has the lowest administrative costs of any American insurance plan. Medicaid is ruthlessly efficient--they drive hard bargains on prescription drug prices, for example. Why do you think the privatized, Big Pharma-written Medicare prescription drug legislation mandated that the 6.3 million "dual eligibles" (Medicare beneficiaries who already did have drug coverage through Medicaid) give up their much-better Medicaid Rx plans to go on the privatized Part D plans? Because state Medicaid plans play hardball and negotiate low drug prices; the legislation specifically forbid Medicare from bargaining.

So, the government is now paying MORE $$$ for the same drug for Patient X...times several drugs...times 6.3 million patients. (The dual eligible population is a particularly vulnerable population, with the poorest elderly and disabled.) The private, capitalist system JPC loves exponentially raises the costs that public, nonprofit models such as Medicaid have been working hard to lower.

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