Friday, October 06, 2006

Would a Clown do a better job if elected?

Clown Is Running for Mayor of Alameda
4:07 PM EDT, October 3, 2006 By Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A real clown is running for mayor of Alameda, and even his sister won't vote for him.

Kenneth Kahn, 41, a professional joker known as "Kenny the Clown," admits he's running a long-shot campaign for City Hall's top spot. Kahn has not previously run for an elected position and has never sat on a public board.

"People ask me, 'Do we really want to elect a clown for mayor of the city?'" he said.

"I say, 'That's an excellent question.'"

Kahn's mother, Barbara, said her son doesn't have a chance, and Sylvia Kahn, a teacher, said her brother's candidacy is a "mockery of our system."

"I don't think it makes any sense, because, to me, running for mayor is not where you start as far as community involvement goes," she said.

In November, the funnyman who graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, faces incumbent Beverly Johnson and City Councilman Doug deHaan.

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EDITORIALS (The Hartford Courant, Connecticut)
The Speaker Cannot Stay, October 6, 2006

We join the growing chorus saying that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert must step down.

The evidence is growing almost hourly against Mr. Hastert. He has belatedly apologized for the exploding scandal at the Capitol, but still insists on keeping his powerful job title.

But the speaker has lost his moral authority and the trust of the nation by treating a member of his party, former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, with kid gloves after learning of Mr. Foley's sexually explicit e-mails to young pages. Mr. Foley, who had railed against child pornography while in office, resigned from Congress last week, no thanks to Mr. Hastert.

The House ethics committee has begun an investigation, but the House has proved incapable of policing itself. Others in the Republican leadership had known of Mr. Foley's outrageous behavior. They say they informed the speaker or his staff but apparently did nothing more, letting the Florida congressman continue his hunt for teenagers.

At first, many people were wary of condemning Mr. Foley and Mr. Hastert on the basis of messages from 2005 that sounded odd but not overtly sexual. Mr. Foley, 52, asked a 16-year-old former page for his age and a picture. The teenager's parents complained to their congressman, and Mr. Foley was told to leave the boy alone.

But soon other e-mails to pages emerged, and they are undeniably disturbing with their talk about masturbation and genitals.

Mr. Hastert should be out of the speaker's chair by this weekend for allowing Mr. Foley to remain in the chamber and, worse, on the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, which he headed.

This is not the speaker's first disgrace.

He stood nearly motionless while lobbyist Jack Abramoff was investigated for (and eventually pleaded guilty to) corruption and fraud. Mr. Hastert also backed a change in the rules that would have allowed Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to continue serving as House majority leader although Mr. DeLay had been indicted for violating campaign fundraising laws. Mr. Hastert, furthermore, made it hard for the House ethics committee to investigate Mr. DeLay.

Thursday, Mr. Hastert claimed responsibility for the scandal and asked former FBI Director Louis Freeh to look at the page system. He is deceiving himself if he believes these actions alone will satisfy the American people.Mr. Hastert and members of his staff have known for at least a year about Mr. Foley's stalking. (Mr. Foley now says he is an alcoholic and homosexual, as if that exonerates him.)

It is astonishing that Mr. Hastert did virtually nothing to protect the pages. Neither did he inform Democratic leaders or police.

His reaction was to leave the problem to a few fellow Republicans to settle quietly - and the only plausible reason was to avoid a political embarrassment for his party.

Mr. Hastert would rather protect the party than young pages. That is terrible stewardship. He must go.

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The Foley Factor
October 6, 2006 By DAVID LIGHTMAN l Washington Bureau Chief, The Hartford Courant

WASHINGTON -- Investigations into who knew what about the Mark Foley sex scandal have just begun, but Democrats are busily trying to make the blowup a cornerstone of their campaign to retake control of Congress.

The incident fits snugly into a general theme the Democrats have been pushing for months: Republicans tolerate a "culture of corruption" and promote moral values but do not practice them.

The Foley controversy is expected to be of particular benefit to one specific group of congressional candidates: the 97 Democratic women who are vying for office, including Connecticut's Diane Farrell.

Analysts see political gold for women in the scandal surrounding Foley, a Florida Republican who sent lurid computer messages to young congressional pages. GOP leaders - mostly men - are facing pointed questions over when they knew about the messages and what they did about it.

"Women are seen as the protectors of children, and this is the kind of thing they would not have let go," said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics in New Brunswick, N.J.Farrell, who is challenging Republican Rep. Chris Shays in the 4th District, has a particularly close tie to the situation:

Her daughter was a Senate page in 2002.

"As a mother, I expected that the well-being of my daughter and all these youngsters were being protected by all the members of Congress," Farrell said.

"This apparently was not the case for a number of years."

Women are helped, Walsh said, not only because they are regarded as more sensitive to children, but because they are perceived as outsiders and agents of change.

"At any moment when a system is seen as corrupt, broken and people are looking for change, they look for someone who's not the standard issue congressperson," she said.

"Women don't even have to open their mouths. They just look different."

In addition, "women can identify with [the Foley allegations] because most have experienced this kind of thing as teenagers themselves," said Marie Wilson, president of the White House Project, a nonpartisan group that helps train women for political jobs.

As a result, women are citing their roles as parents and stressing their records as fighters for child safety. On Saturday, Minnesota House candidate Patricia Wetterling, whose son Jacob was abducted 17 years ago and never found, will give the Democratic Party's weekly radio address.

The Connecticut race getting attention from Foley-watchers is the Shays-Farrell battle.

Last Saturday, the day after Foley resigned, Shays was one of the first Republican members of Congress to ask why GOP leaders did not act sooner. "If they knew or should have known the extent of this problem," he said of his colleagues, "they should not serve in leadership."

But early this week Shays was getting new pressure. American Family Voices, a group that deals with economic and health issues, made automated calls to voters in 50 congressional districts, including those represented by Shays and Reps. Nancy L. Johnson, R-5th District, and Rob Simmons, R-2nd District.

The group would not say how many calls were made. They charged that GOP leaders "covered up for a child sexual predator" and urged people to call Shays' office and "demand he stop the coverup."

Shays reiterated his views Tuesday and added that he would not vote for any leader who "knew or should have known about Mark Foley's conduct."

Shays' stance satisfied American Family Voices.

"Our goal was to have Congressman Shays do what he did," said spokeswoman Hayley Zachary.

The House now has 67 women - 43 Democrats and 24 Republicans. One hundred thirty-nine women - 97 Democrats and 42 Republicans - are candidates for House seats this year, while 12 women - eight Democrats and four Republicans - are vying for Senate seats.Some analysts see advantages for Republican women candidates as well as Democrats.

"It will help any woman who has a reputation built on integrity," Wilson said.

But in several close races, Democratic women are hammering their female opponents over the issue.

In Ohio, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy is demanding that Republican opponent Deborah Pryce, fourth-ranking House GOP leader, "come clean" about "what she knew and when she knew it."

Pryce has asked for a full investigation of allegations against Foley.

New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid is accusing incumbent Republican Rep. Heather A. Wilson, a member of the congressional page board for three years, of not doing her job.

Wilson's campaign has said the charge has no basis, and Wilson is giving to charity money that Foley donated to her campaign.

Colorado state Rep. Angie Paccione has called on incumbent Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave to press House Speaker Dennis Hastert to step down over claims he had information about Foley's conduct long before it became public.

It's unclear how much, if at all, the Foley incident will swing these and other races.

But the pollsters and analysts sense it's a potential factor, and Democrats are pushing hard to keep the incident in the public eye.

And as long as they do, and races stay tight, their women candidates could benefit.

"In an election this close," said Gary Jacobson, professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, "anything can have an effect."

Contact David Lightman at

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to tell you I did an exclusive interview with Mr. Kahn. Extremely nice guy.


Friday, October 06, 2006 3:00:00 PM  

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