It’s great to be here! This is my first chat in this format, so please bear with me. And please accept my apologies if my typing is a little slow for everyone.
I’m especially excited because I know that even though we may not always see eye to eye on the issues, I believe this community is an important voice in the party and I really respect the role the netroots plays in shaping the national debate.
I firmly believe that Senator Dole is among the only Republicans up for re-election this year with a national profile that Democrats across the country can rally against, and I don’t doubt for a second that Democrats here and across North Carolina will do everything in our power to give her that pair of Ruby Red Slippers and finally give North Carolina a voice in Washington!
So let’s get started…
She was doing fine here, but she had to go and use that damned "Ruby Slippers" joke.
It's tired, Sen. Hagan. Tired and lame. When it was fresh, it was only mildly amusing. After the nth hundred repetition it is not only tired and lame, it acquires a Limbaughesque quality that makes you seem petty and small.
Since the Greensboro News & record even made pointed reference to it in there article on Sunday, you would think she would drop this shtick.
First, a little historical preface...
On Friday, our nation will pause to remember a tragic anniversary: on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King's legacy on issues of civil rights and social justice (esp. with regard to Vietnam) warrant particular remembrance during this critical time in our nation's history. But it's also worth noting this fact: for the last few years of his life, the FBI illegally wiretapped King's home, office and, since J. Edgar Hoover was feeling particularly vindictive, hotel rooms...all because of King's suspected ties to Communists.
It was because of Hoover's actions against King (and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) that Congress enacted restrictions on wiretapping (specifically, the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA)).
Fast forward to present day and you have the Bush administration asking Congress to provide immunity for telecommunication companies who abet the government in wiretapping. The restrictions, passed after King's bugging became public, are being disregarded today.
I haven't heard you speak on the issue directly--only second-hand reports via bloggers and a mention in the News & Record, but now that you're here, I'd love to hear from you directly.
Sen. Hagan, what is your position on teleco immunity?
Here I was thinking FISA wouldn’t come up!
Apparently the issue is causing her problems. Since bloggers have been the only group covering it (until Sunday's mention in the Greensboro N&R a month after the fact), this is a significant comment.
At a time of grave national security concerns, the Bush Administration told the telecoms it needed information to protect the nation and they responded. The companies did not benefit, they did what was asked of them. The Administration was the bad actor here, and we must hold them accountable, but we need to move forward and keep America safe. Washington is broken, we all know that, and arguing over who did what isn’t going to help prevent another terrorist attack. The recently passed House bill was a good compromise to find out what the Bush Administration did to get that information and I hope the Senate will pass it and the President will sign it. Our top priority should be to pass a straightforward bill that keeps us safe while ensuring the rule of law, accountability and court oversight.
I know some folks may disagree with me, and I respect that.
I begin to wonder whether Ms. Hagan has actually READ the FISA laws and the news coverage about what the telcos did.
The companies were well aware they were being asked to break the law. Qwest understood this, since they asked for a warrant. It is beyond the pale to think that the company lawyers weren't involved in this request.
To say the companies "did not benefit" is naive in the extreme. First, the telcos knew that if they played ball, lucrative government contracts loomed, contracts worth billions. Second, they were PAID to conduct these wiretaps, evidenced by the fact that when the DoJ didn't pay the phone bill, they cut off the wiretaps.
What price national security? Apparently an unpaid phone bill will about cover the tab.
Also, as I have pointed out, the wiretapping was going on BEFORE 9/11, so the argument about the compelling need of thwarting a nascent terrorist attack is bogus.
How has all of this work out for the telcos so far? The only CEO to refuse to go along with the illegal program, Joseph Nacchio, is in jail for insider trading and fraud, while the other three telcos who went along with the felonies now have the DoJ, the "president", and most of congress, lobbying for immunity from prosecution for the telcos.
Also, does Sen. Hagan actually believe that, given everything we have learned bout the Bush administration, these wiretaps were never used for political purposes? I wonder what we would learn if we dug into the background of the Eliot Spitzer wiretaps. The new FISA law allows open season on the very information that "tripped up" Spitzer.
Worse still, we hear all the same fear-mongering words that we hear every damn time Bush opens his mouth on the issue.
"...keep America safe..."
"...arguing over who did what isn’t going to help prevent another terrorist attack."
"pass a straightforward bill that keeps us safe"
These are all phrases tinged with fear, designed to compel obedience without thought. They are straight out of the GOP play book.
First, thank you Senator Hagan for participating in this liveblog.
Senator Dole has not supported any legislation before her that would extend civil rights to LGBT citizens. What are your positions on matters under consideration in the U.S. Senate that will profoundly affect gay and lesbian taxpaying citizens here in NC. Below is legislation already introduced or about to be introduced that you would cast a vote on during your term if elected.
1. Federal hate crimes legislation. Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592 / S. 1105).
2. Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). One version has already passed the House. It would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. Gender identity is included in the other version of the bill.
3. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, which would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. This has been introduced in the House and will likely be introduced in the Senate.
4. The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 2221, S. 1328), that would enable an American citizen to petition for immigration sponsorship for a same-sex partner, and the INS would treat the relationships between opposite and same-sex couples in the same manner under the immigration code.
LGBT voters and allies in the NC (as well as thousands of my readers around the country) would also like to know your positions on these civil rights issues...
* Regarding civil marriage. In her consistent position in favor of restricting rights of LGBT citizens, Senator Dole voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment in 1996.
During a Feb. 25 forum at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, you conveyed to attendees that the definition of marriage should be left up to state law.
- How is that reconciled with 1967's Loving v. Virginia, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated state bans on interracial marriages? Should that have been left a state matter?
- Would you be in favor of overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act in full?
* What legal rights should tax-paying gay and lesbian couples NOT have access to if you believe that extending civil marriage is inappropriate at this time. Do you believe that there should not be parity with opposite-sex married couples regarding:
- inheritance rights
- hospital visitation rights
- equal pension and health care benefits
- and the over 1,100 other legal protections government affords couples via civil, not religious, marriage?
Pam asked very detailed and very specific questions. She was very careful to document each of her points, providing links to the specific bills in question. Sen. Hagan could have examine these laws and decided if she would vote for them.
The most important issue Pam meticulously lays out, is Hagan's previous statement that the definition of marriage be left up to the state, not the federal government. Pam points out that the same argument was made in the Loving vs. Virgina in 1967 about laws prohibiting racial intermarriage. In that case, the SCOTUS rejected this argument. She then asks whether that decision was correct in Hagan's opinion.
Based on Hagan's statement that the definition of marriage is a state matter, this was an opportunity for Sen. Hagan to re-examine her statement.
At this point, Sen. Hagan could have answered in several ways and garnered respect, if not agreement, with her views.
1) The issue should have been left to the state. While I disagree with and would have fought to overturn the state law in question, it was still a matter that should not have been overturned by the SCOTUS.
2) I see your point by bringing up this case. While I think the court was correct in overturning the decision, I personally make a moral distinction between this situation, and the racial issues in Loving.
I support equal rights for gays and lesbians, and support civil unions affording all the legal protections of marriage, but I think marriage is a religious issue, and not a civil issue for the government to decide.
3) Upon reflection, I see the point you are trying to make. In fairness, I cannot take one stand on Loving, and a completely opposite one on gay marriage, as this would be hypocritical. So, I would oppose DOMA and support legislation overturning state-based legislation prohibiting gay marriage.
Any of those answers would have been honest, and worthy of respect.
Instead we get a general dance around the question.
Pam - I’m close to John Edwards on this
John Edwards isn't here, and is not running for the NC Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, you are. Even so, what does "close to John Edwards" actaully mean?
I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and that it’s fundamentally a state issue the federal government has no business getting involved in.
Then, by definition, you would have opposed the Loving decision and believe the state should have the right to outlaw interracial marriage.
Since you didn't address the question asked, you leave us with no alternative but to infer the answer from your (non)answer.
But I take a back seat to no one when it comes to equal opportunity and fairness.
Except, apparently, when it comes to gays and lesbians. Since you say this is a state issue, not a federal one, you are saying, in essence, that you are perfectly willing to allow the NC legislature to discriminate against gays and lesbians. So, while you may "take a back seat to no one when it comes to equal opportunity and fairness", you don't seem to plan on driving to the same destination as the rest of us.
Now before I am accused of twisting your words, I point out that by answering the question as you did, you tacitly invite us to parse your answer. If you had answered Pam's very deliberate and precise question with a deliberate and precise answer, no parsing would be required.
I oppose ANY form of discrimination and I believe that partnerships should be protected when it comes to financial issues, hospital visits, employment, and housing issues.
But you just said, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and that it’s fundamentally a state issue the federal government has no business getting involved in." This means you are favoring discrimination as long as you don't have to be on record voting for it.
I begin to see why you are leaving the state senate. Since this question is currently pending, you would be in a hell of quandary, since your would have to take a stand on the issue one way of the other.
Pam, bless her, was far more classy than me in this. Since Hagan pretty much gave a non-answer, Pam simply chose to accept it as an endorsement of the bills in question and pointedly asked Sen. Hagan to confirm this view.
Scharrison asked about earmarks, how do you feel about U.S. legislators directing Federal tax dollars to specific private companies back home, outside of the standard, regulated bidding process? Would you support the idea of directing said funds back to North Carolina, and then requiring an open (to the public) bidding process before the actual contract is awarded?
When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I pledge to post the earmarks I obtain for North Carolina on my website. Furthermore, I believe we need to have an open, transparent system that allows sunshine into the process. Advocating on behalf of your district or state is what you’re elected to do; funding a ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ is not. Special interests projects like $13.5 million for the World Toilet Summit has no business in our federal budget.
Excellent answer. Straight and to the point. I could quibble that she didn't say "where" she would post them, but I'll give her full marks for this question.
Nationally 37 million Americans live in poverty. In North Carolina around 15% of our state live in poverty, including a depressingly high number of children.
What steps would you take to reduce poverty, and how would it rank in the rest of the priorities that you will have on your plate if elected?
In North Carolina, we’ve done things right. We provided health insurance for thousands of kids after Elizabeth Dole voted no and President Bush vetoed the SCHIP bill. We’ve raised the minimum wage in-state while the federal minimum wage has lagged behind. We’ve created a pilot program which allows folks to borrow money to pay their mortgage if they lose their job.
But the sad reality is that for some people, this is still not enough. We have such pockets of poverty in this state and such communities of wealth. As I’m driving through the state, that’s abundantly clear. We need to do more to increase the number of people in the middle class, and importantly, keep them from falling out of the middle class. In this economy, we need to help families buy homes and stay in them. We need to increase educational opportunities, as we’ve done at our state’s 59 community colleges, and expand access to health care.
One of the committees I’d like to sit on in the Senate is the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee (HELP) which has broad oversight over these issues. They’ve been important to me here in the state Senate, and they will obviously continue to be important to me in the U.S. Senate.
Poverty. She's apparently agin it.
Nice generalities, but she didn't answer the question of what priority poverty would hold in her agenda.
Also, everyone here is aware of how Dole voted on SCHIP. As distasteful as it may seem, BlueNC is one of those "partisan" groups that the Republicans keep saying voters are sick of, so no one here is voting for Dole.
Part II, tomorrow.