Thursday, July 1, 2010

Putting Democrats in the Crosshairs of the Right

By Steven Tavares

Rep. Pete Stark is more of a liability for the Democratic Party than he is to the prospects of retaining his long-time seat in Congress. He has always had a propensity for shooting from the hip and the proliferation of YouTube has made his biting, sometimes callous comments, fodder for conservatives across the country, but typically elicits so-what shrugs and wry smiles from his constituents.

Stark has not faced a viable challenger since the 1970s. Republican Bill Kennedy has come the closest to unseating Stark in the last 30 years and he only gained 40 percent of the vote in 1980. In fact, during the past five elections cycles, opponents have surpassed a quarter of the vote just once. On George Bruno's second attempt, he registered 25.1 percent.

For East Bay voters, though, Stark's staunch liberal views have been long embraced. Stark began his political career on the heels of protesting the Vietnam War and has consistently been critical of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. He also urged the administration to go further with health care reform by supporting the public option. While Stark is an institution in the East Bay, his controversial comments over the past five years have gotten him in hot water with House Democrats. Many pointed to his remarks ranging from saying President Bush enjoyed having soldiers get "their heads blown off" in Iraq to denigrating comments made to constituents in Fremont last year as one of the reasons he inexplicably held the coveted chair of the House Ways and Means Committee for just a single day before stepping down.

In addition to behavior that inherently attracts the ire of conservatives across the country, there is still concern about Stark's health. He battled the effects of pneumonia for much of last year and has recently appeared puffy and bloated during public events. Because of his health, he also has one of the lowest attendance records in Congress. If there has been a time that Stark seems relatively vulnerable it may be now.

Republican challenger for Stark's seat this November Forest Baker may be the biggest beneficiary of Stark's mad ravings. It is conceivable conservative talking heads like Glenn Beck, Jim O'Reilly and blogger Michelle Malkin could turn Stark's comments asserting the border is secure into a right-wing call-to-action. Beck  featured Stark's video on his program yesterday, although he mistakenly referred to him as a senator. "Senator (sic), let me put you on notice now — don't you dare treat the American people like King George a second longer, because we have changed. We're done. We're done."

In a statement Wednesday, Baker called Stark the "last of the 1970s Marxist in American politics," slyly insinuated his advanced age did not cloud his statements and zeroed in on his secure border remark. "To declare that our southern border is secure when $100 billion worth of drugs enters our country from Mexico every year and a civil war is spilling over into the United States … In any such moment there are underlying stupidities that must simply be stopped," said Baker.
In spite of what San Francisco Chronicle political reporter Carla Marinucci wrote yesterday, the increased prevalence of conservative supporters at Stark's town hall meeting last Saturday is not an indication of a groundswell of local disenchantment with their representative, but a negligible minority of opinion. Stark has not appeared locally for months and the rabble rousing appears to be limited to events in Fremont. There was not reports of opposition at his event the same day in San Leandro.

What may occur is the likelihood out-of-district conservatives prompted by pundits like Beck will flock to the East Bay to make an electoral example of Stark. How much pain they can inflict on Stark is unknown, but he does have 25 percent to give before right-wingers can claim a scalp in one of the bluest locales in the country.


  1. Only a handful of people ever come out and vote in this District. The Commie gets barely 100,000 votes out of a district of 600,000. Most of his supportors are welfare loving, sloths who would rather get a government check than put in an honest days work.

  2. He is not a LIBERAL, he is a Far LEFT PROGRESSIVE and I would dare to say...even left of that! He is also rude, difficult to work with, ineffective and arrogant. I am a Democrat, but if you actually had the opportunity to meet and talk with the man in his Congressional office, you would never vote for him again.

  3. Would you be happy with a congressman who is sweet and sappy and agreeable?go visit your grandpa in the rest home and I'll stick with someone who tells you when you're wrong regardless if you're a voter or not and sticks up for working and poor people. I think it's funny many of the people calling Pete names for helping people are probably struggling themselves.

  4. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 2, 2010 at 8:56 AM

    Sticks up for working and poor people? Wow, those two in one sentence? Amazing.

    Do you HONESTLY think Pete Stark is tuned in to this district, let alone...anything. He's a tired old, wealthy, man living on the east coast. Do I want a sap for a Representative? No. Do I want someone that shows respect even when he disagrees with me? Absolutely. This isn't a life job, even though he's been there too long. He shows no respect for anyone, UNLESS you're just like him (ie. smcgaels77). Even as a supporter, you can't defend why he'd talk to someone the way he did and does. You can't justify it. We need to hold them accountable...they need to show respect. You're excusing his behavior. I am not struggling, I live within my means, work hard and ask that my Congressman show some respect, class and dignity. It's unfortunate that he's content in being remembered as the most arrogant man in Congress.

    I argue, he doesn't represent his district the way you think he does. Poor or not...his words do not echo the majority he represents (this isn't Berkeley...but it's not far off).

  5. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 2, 2010 at 9:02 AM

    He faces a decent Republican candidate, and there's an independent...it COULD be close, so long as they campaign right. Pete DOESN'T campaign, just those lame diamond shaped signs you see that are recycled every two years. He's facing two guys who are able to walk, a lot...it should be interesting. They'll probably get some decent air time too. It is a talked about race outside of this district.

  6. Pete Stark helping poor people who are struggling??? Give me a break with that stupid, cry baby excuses to this pathetic Communist. A man who has been on the wrong side of history let alone the nation. He's a piece of crap, pure and simple

  7. Nicholas, there are plenty of working poor people. Your statement at the beginning of your first July 2nd post is both ignorant of the facts and a broad slur on those less fortunate. From "What Did FDR Really Do for America?" by Steven D, www.boomantribune.com:

    "The truth is, we have the lowest taxes in a generation, the highest unemployment in a generation and (this will really surprise you I'm sure) the highest corporate cash on hand since 1952.

    "You see, corporations being awash in money does not mean they will go out and suddenly start massive hiring and solve all our economic woes. Why? Demand, that other part of the phrase "supply and demand." A generation or more of Americans have been told that supply side economics will bring us all prosperity, but it isn't true. Over the last three decades we have seen little if any real growth in wages among anyone who is not in the top 5% of earnings....That's what "supply side" economics (tax cuts, deregulation, relaxation or eradication of labor and worker safety laws) has brought us.

    "Why? Because feeding the supply side of the economic engine is not sustainable unless you also feed the demand side of the equation. Under republican policies we rejected any efforts to increase demand and promote jobs. We relied solely on the "free market: just like our ancestors back in the Gilded Age of Financial panics and depressions. What do you know. The free market doesn't always magically create demand.

    "To create demand you need good, well paying jobs. And corporations view labor not as an asset, not as an essential part of their collective effort to produce and innovate..., but as a liability."

    In addition, there are plenty of people who have been put out of work by the massive failures of the private sector which brought on our current high unemployment. Republicans in the Senate are now blocking unemployment insurance at a time when tens of millions across the county are suffering through no fault of their own.

    This is not only immoral, it is foolish economic policy. People recieving unemployment insurance spend that benefit immediately, which helps our economy. I'd rather the qualified unemployed have that money than megarich people and corporations, because much megawealthy money is hoarded and does not assist the "demand" side of the economy.

  8. There's no doubt that Congressman Stark ocasonally says intemperate things. I find it striking that many of the people who say that the Representative should be more respectful are remarkably disrespectful themselves. In addition, their arguments are often predicated on viewpoints which are factually false.

    Goodmess gracious, Pete Stark was a banker in the '60's and '70's before entering Congress. He hasn't commited a Communist or Marxist act in his life. Disagree with his policies, sure, but don't insult his (or our) intelligence.

    That a Republican candidate for Congress in our Bay Area would sling around words like "Marxist" in describing Stark is a sign of how unhinged and dangerous much of the current Republican Party has become. The health care reform which was just passed leaves the system of private insurance companies entirely intact; the reforms merely regulate the companies better to prevent them from their worst abuses of the public. Not exactly "seizing the means of production", is it?

    Sometimes, Pete doesn't abide foolish statements at his Town Halls. He's a human being, a liberal and a progressive whose office (Jo, Jason and the rest) are well known to provide good services to his constituents.

  9. I have never seen such ignorance than those comments coming from Pete Stark's defenders on this site. How so many idiots are blinded to reality is beyond me. You fools have no idea of how an economy works, all you sloths want is for a government handout. Pete Stark has been and always will be a dedicated Marxist. For you to think he's anywhere near the mainstream of this District let alone the nation just shows your collective mindlessness.

  10. Pete Stark is a rich, old, borderline senile, yet still VERY powerful crackpot.

    With money , power and the Ciongressional leadership in his corner, that nut case will stay in office until he keels over, or he goes off the wacko deep end like the lady State Senator from Santa Rosa did.

  11. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 6, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    Doug Jones believes the unemployed help the economy.

    "People recieving unemployment insurance spend that benefit immediately, which helps our economy."

    Wrong, Doug. The economy is still in trouble and we have record unemployed. It's OK to admit your opinion, rich in old fashioned liberal stink, is fallacious.

    Doug Jones...there's no need to respond, you're lack of sense of humor and pompous attitude do not penetrate my working-class superhero intelligence & class.

  12. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 6, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    PS. How pathetic to post on July 4th...have you no love of our Independence?


  13. A most ignornant argument; increased unemployment insurance helps the economy. Where does this idiot think the money comes from???? Oh the people who are working!

  14. I like how all this "Struggling" people who through "no fault of their own" are all overweight fat slobs, who use their welfare and foodstamps to gulp down free groceries, sodas, candies etc. Yet can't get their fat asses up off of the couch to make lunch for their seedlings. We need to not reform but stop funding laziness through; food stamps, WIC, Section 8 Housing, School Lunches etc.

  15. Our conservative/libertarian commenters would have it that the the rise in the unemployment rate is caused by, what, a 5% increase in lazy parasites since the end of the Clinton Presidency? Bizarre and wrong. Why do you hate America?

    Is it good for businesses to have 11% of the employable in the East Bay, almost all of whom want jobs desperately, to have NO income? How is that helpful to our local businesses? This is why unemployment insurance is good for the economy; it is immediately spent at local businesses which provide staples of daily life, because the basic staples are all that one can afford with the tiny income provided by unemployment insurance. Most of the tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations are not spent immediately at local businesses. Nor, obviously, are they used to employ more people.

    It appears that many of you on this thread see homeless and destitute people and think to yourself: GOOD, YOU DESERVE IT! I HOPE THERE ARE MORE OF YOU SOON!

    There's something broken in the spirits of people who think this way. Not exactly a "we're all in this together" American spirit.

  16. Hey Doug, there never was a "we're all in this together" American spirit. Where did you get that from? America has always been a land of freedom and rugged individualism. People like you want a guarantee in life. Well, Doug, there's only one guarantee in life; a person dies.

    You have a limited view of micro and macro economics. You think that by printing money the government can cure all ills. Such pathetic thinking.