Bob Levis, Green Party candidate, Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District

Original Publication Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2006

ePluribus Media: Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for ePluribus Media. To start, I'd like to allow you a chance to tell us a little bit about yourself.

Bob Levis: I've been an activist most of my adult life. Having grown up in privilege I easily jumped into the New York corporate world after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1963. The button- down pyramid structure of the media companies I went to work for (NBC, Westinghouse Broadcasting and Time Magazine, Inc.) was way too confining for me. I began to experiment with a variety of classes in the evenings and hooked up with a couple of different theatre groups. Eventually, I headed out to San Francisco, having read about the Haight-Ashbury counter culture. There I co-founded a theatre and also a film company that produced several socially relevant documentaries and a rollicking anti-establishment feature "GOLD." From there I worked briefly but intensely with the United Farmworkers, which was my seminal political experience in organizing. Later I moved to England with my co-vivant and we were at the center of the squatting movement that resulted from the impossibly high prices for living spaces. Our daughter was born there and we returned after four years and settled into Oakland, California. My Better Half started a community newsletter, which we built into a bona fide tabloid, advertiser- supported newspaper "GLAD RAG." I was elected President of the merchants' association.

I continued supplementing my income with a variety of sales jobs and working on a multitude of social justice issues. A series of political events brought me back to my roots in Wisconsin to challenge the incumbent Republican F. James Sensenbrenner for the fifth congressional district of Wisconsin. I went to school fifty years ago with Sensenbrenner, and I have watched him become more and more disconnected with the voters and connected with only the money interests that rule Washington.

ePMedia: As your artistic life is not separate from your political one, could you tell us a little about your writing, particularly "The Wicked Priest"?

Transcript of the John Laesch ePluribus Media Interview

Original Publication Date: 
Friday, June 9, 2006

Kay Shepherd prepared several podcasts from the exhibition hall at Yearly Kos in Las Vegas, June 2006. ePluribus Media correspondent Timothy D. Smith garnered interviews with many of the Democratic candidates who were attending.   Below is the transcription of Smith's interview with John Laesch, running for Dennis Hastert's seat in the Illinois 14th CD.

Kay Shepherd for ePluribus Media:  Good evening Las Vegas and welcome to the ePluribus Media Podcast.  It's Friday June 9th 2006 and I am Kay Shepherd your host for yet another edition from Las Vegas, Nevada.  It's been quite a day.  Been quite a day, been quite a couple of days.  As you can hear there's still quite a crowd in the exhibition hall.

To our left are the Young Turks whom we talked to earlier this afternoon for their video log.  To our right is Carry a Big Sticker dot Com which has some of the funniest Anti-Bush bumper stickers around.  Wake Up Wal-Mart is a few doors down; Joe Wilson is signing his book a couple tables away; The Progressive Patriots Fund is catty-corner from us and around the corner is Soapblox and Swing the State.   We have been meeting a lot of interesting and intelligent people the last couple of days and of course ePMedia people are trying to get it all on record.  Here's a little bit of what we've been working on.  ePMedia correspondent Timothy D. Smith had an interview with John Laesch who is running for the US House of Representatives in Illinois against speaker of the house Dennis Hastert.  

Here's what John had to say.

John Laesch: Everyone says that "uphill battle" is the first words that come out of everybody's mouth and then right after that  they say "good luck."  We are in Las Vegas and Las Vegas is where you need luck, but in the Illinois fourteenth district we need hard work and money is what it takes.  We are out there doing our pushups to take on the most powerful congressman in America.

Timothy D. Smith for ePluribus Media:   What are you focusing on in terms of your fight?  What are your issues?   What is resonating with the people of the 14th?

Redefining Core American Values -- Jack Carter, NV-Sen

Original Publication Date: 
Thursday, June 8, 2006

ePluribus Media correspondent Timothy D. Smith interviewed Jack Carter, who is running as the democratic nominee for Senate against Republican incumbent John Ensign in Nevada. The following is an edited transcription of Smith's June 8th interview with Carter at his campaign office in Las Vegas. Visit to learn more about Carter's Senate campaign.

Jack CarterTimothy D. Smith: I'm here with Jack Carter, who is running for Senate in the great state of Nevada.

So why Nevada? This is not your home state. I happen to know where you're from...

Jack Carter: Well. I moved out of Georgia in 1981, and went to Chicago -- to the Chicago Board of Trade. Then I met my wife Elizabeth, in 1992 -- I was working at Citibank at the time -- and she was living in Cleveland -- although she's from Cleveland, Mississippi.  And when we met, it was one of those explosive kinds of meetings, and we met on Lincoln's birthday in 1992, February 12th, and after both having sworn off marriage forever, we got married three months later.

We merged two kids from previous marriages. But then she was living in Cleveland, and I was in Chicago.  And by the time we could both live together and get jobs, the next morning I was in Bermuda with Invesco and she was running the investment department over at the Bank of Butterfield.  So we stayed there for a while and wound up setting up our own business where we showed derivative-type investments to big insurance companies and things like that.

And then she bought a condo on the internet in 2001, right here in Vegas...

TDS: Which hotel? Was it one of the hotel condos?

JC: No, this was five years ago. They didn't have hotel condos back then.... It was in Summerland, just some condos -- townhouses where you have a one story, connected to a two-story, then another one-story, and you repeat it 80 times... We got a two-story one. Anyway, she bought it over the internet, and we moved out here about a year later.

TDS: Set up shop?

Christine Cegelis - Page 2

Original Publication Date: 
Monday, August 8, 2005

ePMedia: You went through a primary in 2004. What lessons do you take from that experience?

CC: Everyone would agree that we'd prefer not to go through a primary, especially since the Republican doesn't have one. He's going to be able to build financial strength. But the 2004 primary was the very best thing that could have happened to my campaign, because it made me get organized earlier. It gave me press that I would not have normally gotten -- I received a lot of endorsements. In an uncontested primary, a lot of people don't even bother to endorse. So my philosophy is that I will make the best of whatever happens.

We'll have a ground organization, built for the primary, that we can build on for the general. This is going to be a tough race. It's not a seat the Republicans are going to give up easily. Karl Rove has already gotten involved in this race. Grover Norquist has already gotten involved, by doing a fund-raiser for the Republican candidate. Karl Rove has been advising him and introducing him. The candidate was formerly an aide to Tom Delay. This is not a race where the Republicans are just going to roll over and give up.

ePMedia: If you've been following Paul Hackett's campaign in Ohio's 2nd District, do you find any parallels to your district?

CC: Absolutely. The talk in Ohio when this seat came open -- that it's such a Republican area, with no chance for the Democrat -- is exactly the thinking that has helped us lose the House. It's the same thinking that was pervasive when I initially ran against Henry Hyde. One consultant told me that if I got anything over 40 percent, that would be a victory because nobody could do well against Henry Hyde.

Nobody understands that all we really have to do is get out there and give people our message. When we get our message out and are clear about who we are and what we believe in, we find that many people agree with us. They're not hearing our message because we Democrats walk away from so many districts.

ePMedia: The recent redistricting strengthens the perception that many seats are certainly not competitive.

Christine Cegelis, Illinois Congressional Candidate

Original Publication Date: 
Monday, August 8, 2005

This interview is second in a series with candidates for the House and Senate. The first, with Chuck Pennacchio, was conducted by Aaron Barlow with contributions from Todd Johnston on May 18th, 2005. We hope this series encourages candidates to address issues important to grassroots organizations.

National Atlas of the United States, August 8, 2005,

Christine Cegelis first ran for Congress in 2004, against incumbent Henry Hyde in Illinois' 6th District. Since Rep. Hyde recently announced his retirement, the 2006 race will be for an open seat. Currently three Democratic candidates are competing in the Spring 2006 primary: Ms. Cegelis, Peter O'Malley and Lindy Scott. The Republican candidate, Peter Roskam, as yet faces no primary challenger.

On August 1st Ms. Cegelis spent about an hour on the phone with ePluribus Media. What follows is a partial transcript of our conversation.

ePMedia: Could you give us an idea of the makeup of your district and the issues that concern your neighbors?

CC: The 6th District is right outside the city of Chicago. We incorporate O'Hare airport, and our largest employer is United Airlines.

We are also very much a white-collar district. About two-thirds of my district incorporates DuPage County, the 22nd richest county in the United States; it's an upscale and very nervous district. A lot of us, myself included, are white-collar IT workers that have seen our jobs disappear, go overseas. Three articles over the weekend in the Daily Herald, our local newspaper, talked about the crisis in health care in DuPage County and the rise in poverty -- we have a 5.6 percent unemployment rate. So in a county used to being relatively affluent, you see story after story where serious economic problems are happening. If that is going on in DuPage County, it's happening elsewhere.

Matt Brown - Page 2

Original Publication Date: 
Friday, September 9, 2005

ePMedia: Juan Cole, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, a widely read leftist, antiwar journalist and professor, points out that a major flaw of creating a timeline is the very real potential for a civil war. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who is frail and in his ’80s, is a wanted man by Sunni Arab guerillas. If he’s assassinated, civil war is sure to break out. Isn’t Iraq simply too fragile for timelines?

MB: Commanders on the ground have the best sense of what is going on there. In the last two weeks, the numbers one and two commanders in Iraq have actually said that a good message to send to the Iraqis is that we do have a timeline and a plan for withdrawal, so that the Iraqi leaders know that they need to be taking responsibility and taking control of their country, and to let them know that we’re not going to be there forever. A timeline and a plan are important messages to send.

ePMedia: In April this year, you launched a clever Web ad calling on Chafee to oppose the John Bolton nomination, saying, “John Bolton is one of the most extreme of all of Bush’s nominees. He opposed the nuclear test ban treaty, he criticized the universal declaration of human rights.” On September 14th leaders of 175 nations are meeting in New York to finalize an agreement on poverty and on UN reform. The agreement took six months to negotiate and is only 29 pages long. At the last minute, the United States added 750 amendments to the agreement.

One month into his controversial recess appointment, Bolton has issued a memo requesting negotiation of sweeping changes to this agreement. Some of his proposals would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to poor nations, halt actions regarding climate change, and scrap the 2000 Millennium Development Goals, which created deadlines to meet reduction of poverty goals and prevent the spread of deadly diseases, etc. Bolton and the White House, are working on the premise that they’re trying to streamline the UN in general. What is your response?

Chasing Chafee: Matt Brown, Candidate for U.S. Senate from Rhode Island

Original Publication Date: 
Friday, September 9, 2005

Matt Brown is a 35-year-old, “tell it like it is” 2006 Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Rhode Island. In what’s turning out to be one of the most watched races in the country, Matt Brown joins Michael Cote of ePluribus Media for a lively discussion ranging from Brown’s extensive past in community-building and grassroots voter efforts, to his controversial petition calling on President Bush to start withdrawing the troops in six months, to the future of the Democratic party. While chasing Rhode Island Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, a moderate, Brown talks about Chafee’s “weak leadership,” the John Bolton nomination and solutions for health care.

Matt Brown attended Yale School of Law. Against all odds and many political naysayers, he was elected Secretary of State for Rhode Island in 2002 at age 32. He has advocated successfully for open government and combated government corruption, and he has been especially successful exposing lobbyist-money ties between politicians and insiders.

ePluribus Media: Matt, thank you for speaking with us. Let’s start with this recent quote from The Providence Journal:

More than a year away, the 2006 U.S. Senate election in Rhode Island is already developing as one of the nation’s most closely watched races. Republicans control 55 Senate seats, Democrats 44, and there is one independent who votes with Democrats. In next year’s midterm election, Democrats will defend 17 seats and the GOP 15.

War Profiteers Plead Guilty to Grand Larceny

Original Publication Date: 
Monday, October 24, 2005

On October 20, 2005, Midway Trading of Reston, Va., pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to grand larceny charges of paying $440,000 in kickbacks to Iraqi officials. The kickbacks had been funneled through the Romanian company Bulf Oil. Midway Trading agreed to pay a $250,000 fine.

Ken Silverstein of In These Times reports that Midway Trading president Stephen “Satch” Baumgart has a decades-long involvement in international arms dealing:

A former Naval officer, Baumgart has been involved in the murkier fringes of the weapons trade since the ’70s, when he brokered sales to American allies such as Mobutu and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines — all apparently with a wink and a nod from U.S. intelligence. “A CIA agent would drop by our office and Baumgart would brief him about his overseas travels, particularly about his contacts in the Arab world,” recalls Gerhard Bauch, a one-time German intelligence officer who worked for Baumgart. “They knew about everything we did.”

During the mid-’80s, Baumgart — who did not return phone calls seeking comment — helped supply Saddam Hussein, who was then seen by the Reagan administration as a bulwark against the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.

Washington Post reporter Colum Lynch writes in the paper’s edition published October 21st that his attempts to reach Baumgart for comment were also unsuccessful.

ePluribus Media Contributors: Sue in KY, JeninRI, Jeff Huber, Standingup and Lilnubber

Researchers: Avahome and XP

Bryan Kennedy: Democratic Challenger to Sensenbrenner

Original Publication Date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bryan Kennedy is a specialist in Brazilian culture and is Assistant Professor of Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. He has lived extensively in Brazil and has been fascinated with Brazil’s poor for more than a decade. The Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Wisconsin 5th District in 2004, he is running again in 2006.


Kennedy was born on February 4, 1970, in Hagerstown, a largely blue-collar, middle-class city in western Maryland. He spent much of his youth as the only child of a single mother, but his household was later home to a pro-labor, working-class family, as his stepfather and grandfather were members of the NEA and UAW, respectively. In addition, his stepfather is a Vietnam-era Army veteran.


Kennedy’s signature proposal, a universal catastrophic health-care system, is designed to remove the most expensive elements from the health-care pool, to introduce greater competition in the health-insurance industry, and to bring overall health-care costs down.

The day after this interview was completed, Kennedy’s opponent, the incumbent F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., voted against aid for Gulf Coast survivors (one of only 11 members of Congress to do so). On September 8th, Kennedy issued a press release in response that included the following:

“I don’t know what he [Sensenbrenner] was thinking,” Kennedy said. “An American city the size of Milwaukee is in ruins, its residents are scattered all over the country in temporary shelters, and Sensenbrenner doesn’t believe that they should receive assistance. I don’t think that Sensenbrenner is heartless, so I really can’t understand why he would vote against helping his fellow Americans through one of the greatest natural disasters in our nation’s history….”

The $50 billion aid package would provide $2,000 to families who had been displaced and would help pay for the cleanup efforts. Kennedy commented:


Bryan Kennedy Interview - Page 2

Original Publication Date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2005

If our police are involved in their communities and are serving as role models, and if we are doing everything we can to alleviate the effects of poverty, we will see a change in violence. People will have hope again. My support of a three-strikes rule is to ensure individuals understand that certain behaviors cannot and will not be tolerated in a civilized society, regardless of the reasons.

ePMedia: As a strong advocate of the right to privacy in a number of different areas, you are setting yourself in opposition to those who see a role for government in protecting all life. How far would you go in keeping government out of private life-or-death decisions? For example, could you support an Oregon-like law allowing for assisted suicide in extreme cases?

BK: Most of those who seek government involvement in these areas also want the government to legislate religious morality. I believe that government laws should protect the right to privacy and civil rights. Your right to swing your fist stops at the tip of my nose. If I have a “do not resuscitate” order and do not want to spend the rest of my days in a vegetative state, that is my decision — not yours or any member’s of Congress. There is a reason we have curtains in our windows: to keep our families and homes private. My opponent has authored some of the most invasive and offensive laws regarding limiting privacy rights.

ePMedia: Though everyone today claims to support our troops, there are a great many problems for veterans — not the least being that National Guard veterans get different benefits from those of active-duty military veterans. Would you be willing to see all veterans granted the same benefits, no matter their form of service — particularly as the Guard is taking on such a large part of the burden in Iraq?

BK: Absolutely. This administration will send our troops to die, but won’t take care of their children when Mom or Dad comes home in a body bag. They are closing Veterans Administration hospitals, gutting the GI Bill, and limiting mental-health benefits for our veterans. It is immoral.


Original Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Editors' Note: On the first year anniversary of Katrina, Louisiana resident and writer, Polydactyl reflects on her in-the-moment journals and diaries to remind us of what it was like in the eye of the storm.

about the author: Polydactyl dons her blogger's hat in Central Louisiana between shifts as a wife, mom, cat-herder and computer healer.