Watching The DNC Rules Committee At Work

I’m not certain quite the purpose for showing the inner workings of the Democrats’ Rules Committee as they wrestle with the issue of delegates and super delegates in contested states Florida and Michigan.

On the one hand, I think it’s valuable to some to understand how all this gets worked out re: who will be the Democratic Party nominee. On the other, however, bringing out (so called, cough, cough) big guns like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to discuss things like the Austin petition and half votes and whether Howard Dean will say, “yeeehaaaaaw” again (he won’t, but CNN likes to make Dems seem dumb) makes the whole thing seem a little ditzy.

Me? I suspect it’s a ratings black hole.

Your Take On HBO’s “Recount”?

Though I was nursing a miserable stomach flu that had me using my DVR to catch spots I missed in rushing to worship the porcelain goddess, I saw rapt through HBO’s “Recount”.

As honest as it was (and I thought it avoided some of the most fiery yet since proven true material), I realized there was probably no production that could completely tap my sick outrage at what happened in the Gore/Bush 2000 election.

Ironically, I was very ill on Election Day 2000 but I’d dragged myself out of bed, completely dazed, because I never felt like my vote was more important. And yet, at the same time, it never, ever permeated my consciousness that Bush could be named president. My partner voted Nader – and I let him have it for his decision – at least in part for how nasty the so-called left got toward Ralph for running, but though I never thought Bush could steal it, I felt the election was just too important to “waste” a vote.

Late in the day, I was very surprised at how well I heard Bush was doing. But it still did not dawn on me that what was about to happen ever could (and yet his stolen re-election in 2004 also surprised me because I could not fathom that we’d let him get away with it twice). After that, we made a concerted decision to turn off the media until 10 or 11 PM ET when at least some real count was in.

It was around 2 AM when Florida was turned from a Gore win, to a too-close-to-call one, and then around to a Bush victory. We were already hearing some stories about the Palm Beach and poorer Floridians having big problems either with nonsense design or broken voting equipment or being challenged as being on a felon list (and some 500-1,000 or more people were kept from voting for every “felon’s name” listed on the stuff that came from ChoicePoint, who has since been awarded much of the control for our terrorist watch lists, etc).

This is how feverish sick I was, both physically and from the news: around 2:30 am, I started telling God that he’d be welcome to “take me” if only he wouldn’t let Bush win (and I’ve been a little pissed at Him/Her ever since).

As outrageous as that night was, what followed was worse. The media kept telling us we were all tired of the fight to get the recount (I only recall the Bushies being tired) because we were eager to focus on the holidays (sheesh!). But the people I spoke with, while they wanted it over, certainly didn’t feel Gore or anyone else should just capitulate to suit the MSM. And some of these folks were Bush voters. Thus, long before 9/11, we’ve been letting the media, probably at the direction of the politicos it supports, tell us what should happen because of what appears to be an INACCURATE read of where the American public is.

So “Recount” could not quite recapture the terrible dawning horror of that first Tuesday in November of 2000. But could anything, especially knowing the great ruination of our country ever since?

And what was your reaction to “Recount”?

The Puerto Rico Primary – Fair? Or Not?

I know the issue of Puerto Rico’s status – whether its “just” a possession or whether it should ever be granted statehood like Hawaii was after enjoying a similar status – is always a thorny one, but with the news of how the Democratic candidates are putting the pedal to the metal in preparation for PR’s Dem primary, I just have to shake my head.

You see, Puerto Ricans can vote in a primary ahead of a general election, but they have no right to vote in the election itself. Does this strike anyone else as… well… convoluted?

I can understand the argument of not letting them vote at all (not one I necessarily like but the issue does have some weight as does the opposing side), or giving them full state status and letting them have the same voting rights as anyone else (just like DC should have).

I find myself wondering if there’s an agenda being served by allowing the first part but not the second. An agenda serving perhaps the opposing party that doesn’t like any Hispanic vote outside of the GOP’s declining Cuban-American support (has dropped very sharply in recent years).

Catch HBO’s “Recount” Sunday Night

Just in time to make us (appropriately) very worried about November’s presidential vote comes the star-studded HBO docu-comedy-drama “Recount” about the Bush v. Gore 2000 Florida contest. HBO airs it tomorrow (Sunday) at 9 PM EDT.

Just the Laura Dern-as-Katherine-Harris bit looks deliciously worth the watch, IMHO. Might bring a few laughs along with a reminder of the great injustice and tragedy done when Bush was allowed to steal the White House.

Romney As McCain’s VP Choice?

While I think it’s a full-blooded guarantee that WHOEVER John McCain picks to run with him on the Republican presidential ticket for November’s election will be a 325% right winging whackjob with an agenda as big as his (or her, since SuckSecretary of State Condi Rice’s name keeps coming up in relation to McCain’s VP choice) ego, hearing former GOP challenger Mitt Romney is on the relative short list of potential veeps leaves me stone cold (and dyspeptic!).

Well, we’ve rarely seen such concentrated wealth in one party’s Prez/VP combo. Cindy McCain alone is worth a very conservative $200 million.

But, unless one or both of these folks wants to just write a personal check to pay off the national debt (and they’re welcome to write that check if they don’t get elected, too), I don’t think we need more over privileged, under taxed, rich emperor wannabees in the White House.

While the right just LOVES to depict Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as elitists out of touch with the people due to their money and celebrity, BHO and HRC at least earned their money, and not on the bloodied backs of so many broken Americans and laborers worked to death in factories propped up by our fair trade pact agreements that are growing, rather than curing, poverty and the unsustainability of declining resources.

On another sour note, if McCain is willing to consider Romney and Huckabee and Sam Brownback as VP possibilities, there really isn’t any hope that he would align himself with a sane, moderate type that might provide our only lifeline if the GOP steals this presidential election for a record three in a row.

Hillary’s Renewed Pleas For Michigan, Florida Votes Counting

While this has frequently been a much-referenced topic with Hillary Rodham Clinton, she’s been working overtime since Tuesday’s primaries in Oregon (where she lost) and Kentucky (where she won big) to renew her demands for the popular vote/delegate seating to happen in the states of Florida and Michigan, where because the states chose to hold primaries ahead of the official February 5th (1st Super Tuesday), Democratic primary voters there did not get counted.

Now, Clinton knew the rules that required the 2/5/08 start date for Dem Party primaries (and in Florida, was enacted by a mostly Republican state house), and agreed not to campaign in those states where, for example in Michigan, Hillary was the only Dem candidate on the ballot.

As I’ve written before and no doubt will write again, as much as I hate votes not being counted, and ahead of the decision from the DNC Rules Committee expected next week on whether these votes can count, I just don’t see how you can seat these two states’ votes when other Democratic candidates followed the rules and were not available on the ballot. This isn’t anti-Hillary; it’s about general fairness. If Barack Obama’s name was the only one to appear on the ballots in these two states and he was now making the same claims as HRC, my reaction would be identical.

What’s your take?

Petition: Our Right to Vote

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court of the USA decided that our Constitutional right to vote, to be represented in this Democracy, was not as important as someone’s ability to pay the appropriate fees involved in procuring a proper and legal ID from the state.

Today, many other states are following suit. Allow me to qualify that: many other Republican legislatures are introducing legislation, potentially “stopping senior citizen, low income, and newly registered Americans from voting.” Why? Democratic voting.

Democracy For America has the petition. Sign it. Make a phone call. Stand up. Some of the people we want to protect cannot.

Wes Virginy – Huh?

Hillary Clinton smashed Barack Obama yesterday in West Virginia, although it’s not a big push or change in the D v. D battle going on. As it turns out, it says a lot more about the people of West Virginia. As in Kate’s elucidating piece on race, in a Financial Times article, one WV voter commented “I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist” and another said “I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president.”

John Edwards won 7% of the vote last night and he’s not even running for President. Do these people have access to news? Should Hillary be embarrassed to have won, like “hey, all the kids in detention want me as class president”? Should West Virginia be embarrassed? Does this vote say anything other than how out-of-touch the residents of West Virginia are with what is happening in the country and the world?

Supreme Court Approves Of New Poll Tax

That’s exactly how the Times Argus of Vermont, hardly a liberal rag (believe me!), characterizes the U.S. Supreme Court’s rubberstamp of states who’ve decided to force voters to pay fees other than directly at the ballot to cast a vote. And I heartily agree with them.

… voter ID laws have proliferated not because of a surge of voter fraud. They have been adopted by Republican-dominated legislatures as a method of discouraging voting by groups likely to vote Democratic. Ethnic minorities, the poor, the elderly €” these are the people not likely to have a driver’s license as a matter of course.

What will happen now is that elections will take place, and election officials will forbid some voters from voting. At that point, new plaintiffs will have been created, and new lawsuits will proceed. In the meantime, elections will have been corrupted by unnecessary voter suppression measures.

Voter suppression is a tactic employed by Republicans in recent history, as in Florida where police went to the homes of blacks to frighten them from voting and voter rolls were stripped of names by the overenthusiastic purging of the names of felons.

The remedy is for state legislatures to reject these Republican tactics. The court now has made the reinstitution of the poll tax into a political fight. It is a fight the American people thought they settled in 1964 when they adopted the 24th Amendment.

My grandmothers could not vote until they were well into their 20s because law did not consider them full citizens solely because of their gender. Now someone else’s grandmothers will be restricted from voting because they don’t hold a driver’s license (something neither of my grandmothers had; lots of poor rural women in the first half of the 20th century did not) or just feel it’s wrong to force this effective poll tax at the polls.

Vermont Wrestles With Popular Vote Vs. Electoral College Prez Selection

God forbid the American people, rather than politically connected special people, decided an election. And before Dems started hating the concept of superdelegates, we hated the Electoral College more. That Douglas is a Bushie (yes, Vermont has (too) many rightwingers) makes his bid all the more transparent since Boy King George never won the popular vote in America, despite his two terms.

Gov. James Douglas is “not enthusiastic” about a proposal to have Vermont join a coalition of states calling for the election of the president by popular vote as opposed to the electoral college system now in place, his spokesperson said Monday.

A bill that would have Vermont join Maryland, New Jersey and Illinois in a compact to use the “one person, one vote” system instead of electoral votes to elect a person to the country’s highest political office has passed both the Vermont House and Senate.

The bill is expected to land on Douglas’ desk soon, but his spokesperson Jason Gibbs said the governor has serious philosophical and practical concerns over that proposal, opening up the possibility that he could veto the legislation.

“The governor is very concerned that this bill would put small states like Vermont at a disadvantage and decrease our influence in the election process,” Gibbs said Monday afternoon. “Fundamental changes such as altering the way we elect the process ought to be accomplished by amending the Constitution.”

Sen. Carl Levin: Why Michigan Continues To Fight For Delegate Counts

Given that I’ve discussed the whole debacle of the disqualified primary votes in both Michigan and Florida - along with a really strange effort to try to convince disenfranchised Michigan Democrats to vote for John McCain, of all possible insanity – I wanted to point you to a New York Times op/ed piece Michigan’s Senator Carl Levin co-authored with a fellow Congress critter (Debbie Stabenow) on why Michigan continues to fight for the primary delegate count inclusion.

My Primary Voting Experience in Ohio

This is not an exciting story.

Even though there was a slight drizzle outside and a damp, near-freezing air permeating all of Southern Ohio, I tamped down my Irish cap and walked the less than quarter mile to my local voting station a little before noon. It was uphill and once I got there I had to climb multiple steep staircases, but I’m green like that.

The first thing I noticed was how eerily quiet it was: there were no signs telling me I was in the right place, no pamphlet-shucking denizens, no pollsters. Nothing. Being held in a nursing home, there was prominent signage declaring that anyone with a cough, sore throat, chills, aches, etc. should not enter. You mean those things that affect just about everyone when yesterday it was 70 and today it’s 35 and raining? Yes. Potential deterrent #1.
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Oh, the Conservative Confumanity

Three weeks ago, the conservative radio view was rather focused: Support McCain or support Obama and stop Hillary (Hannity calls it the “Stop Hillary Express”). Two weeks ago, it got a little more complicated, with Hannity’s introduction of the Stop Obama Express and Rush Limbaugh calling for outright Republican voting for Hillary to keep the party neck and neck. In the last week, there’s been some waffling about what to do, and today, at least on the Conservative end, no one knows what the hell’s going on.

As of yesterday, Rush was still pulling for Hillary votes, but today Mark Davis is filling in for him, and he’s saying “don’t do that” (and Tony Snow is in for Bill O’Reilly?) and the call-in confessionals on several right-wing shows have been all over the map: Voting for Hillary, Obama, Ron Paul, Fred Thompson, McCain, and even a write-in for Zell Miller. I fully expect to hear someone say they wrote in Ronald Reagan before the end of the day.
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Party Jumping, Sham Voting in Ohio

As we start scraping into Tuesday, March 4th, it’s not difficult to hear the calls of right-wing radio openly advocating that Republicans getting themselves involved in some party hopping, or, specifically, voting in the Democratic Primary. For Obama. (Update note: Rush Limbaugh is moving in the other direction, pushing for Repub votes for Hillary, in order to push an even split and a potentially crippling rift to the convention. WTF?)

The reasons are many, but are generally pooling into three groups: those who simply hate the Clintons, those who don’t like McCain, and those who are a little more independent and are being drawn to the Democratic party (like this NY reverend penning an open letter to Republicans to vote for Obama).

All four of the primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island are – to a certain extent – open, which means that any Republican can vote on the Democratic Primary ticket. These laws, however, are not without nuance. In Texas, for instance, they don’t officially call the vote open because if you vote in the Democratic primary, you are committed to the Democratic ballot should there be a primary runoff (which, unless Gravel pulls 10% of the vote, will not happen).

I’m in Cincinnati, and in the great state of Ohio the primary is also officially not “open,” and the deterrent, while mildly frightening, has absolutely no teeth. Here’s how it works: if you are a Republican voting in the Democratic primary (or vice versa – as if!), under penalty of law, you must sign the following form:
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GOVIT (Beta)

This is a new website, currently in beta (which means testing to work out the bugs) and it is really quite well done. Ground floor stuff, folks, and totally worth a visit.

What is it? Part social networking site (you can “friend” people), when you create an account – which is a very quick and painless process – you enter your zip, identifying you with your congressional reps. The main gist of the site is that it lists all the bills currently active in the House and Senate and allows you to “vote on legislation, contact Congress by email, and compare your voting record with your Representatives.”

I love it. It’s an easy way to keep up to date with what’s currently going on in Congress with bills and your representatives and their voting records without wading through the density of the completely un-friendly .gov websites.

Give it a shot, but remember it’s brand new – there isn’t a gigantic population. Yet. I’m on board as rickyshambles.

(For the record, I am not pimpin’ anything here either; I found the link in a comment at Cause for Concern and think it has serious potential.)

Super Tuesday Twister: Confusion in Texas

From KSAT:

SAN ANTONIO — All the talk about Super Tuesday apparently caused confusion for many voters in Bexar County.

More than 1,000 calls poured into the Bexar County Elections Department on Monday from voters wanting to know where they could vote in Tuesday’s primary.

Problem is — Texas isn’t holding a primary on Tuesday, like more than 20 states are.

“The voters think they’re actually going to the polls (Tuesday) because it’s Super Tuesday,” said Bexar County Elections Commissioner Jacque Callanen. “It’s all over the national media and the local media that there’s a big election.”

Callanen added that voters in Bexar County can begin voting early for the Texas Primary on Feb. 19.

Election Day is March 4.

Everything’s bigger in Texas. Apparently so is the dumb.

Hillary Clinton Catching Flack

And it’s the good kind of flack in that it’s preliminary flack, flack we can look at and evaluate and – should anyone be caught in the wrong – act upon. The source of contention is Hillary’s refusal to remove her name from the Michigan ballot, combined with the Florida “win” and the immediate turn-around from playing by the DNC rules to calling for delegates to be counted. As ever, Davis Fleetwood says it better than I:

Watch, evaluate, and decide if it’s time to get angry. This kind of flack has the potential to polarize voters – in the other direction. What you do think?

Who REALLY Won The New Hampshire Primary? Now We’ll NEVER Know

I’ve posted numerous times about some very odd questions that arose out of the New Hampshire presidential primary (the one Hillary Clinton for Democrats and John McCain for Republicans reportedly won) that brought Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich and GOPer Albert Howard demand a hand count. BradBlog has covered it even more extensively.

On the very first day of the hand count last week, we saw some big irregularities. Examples: Diebold-made machines registered no count on hundreds of optically-scanned paper ballots when the ballots themselves clearly marked a candidate; Hillary only maintained the higher votes in counties where electronic voting was used while Barack magically came out ahead in paper/hand-counted areas. All this played out WHILE New Hampshire’s Republican Secretary of State – and the red media, said everything was A-OK.

Yet, just a week later, with only one NH county examined (and even that, not fully examined), New Hampshire has stopped the recount because “funds ran out”. The Republican recount is supposed to start before this week ends (and we can only assume this count will also magically stop for funding issues, too).

And, through it all, the MSM pays no attention, as if a problem with voting in a small primary in a tiny state in January doesn’t bode for what’s to come in November when huge states will be relying even more heavily on electronic voting by machines already proven to be corrupt, fallible, and weighted toward anyone named Bush and those who serve King George.

Voting Rules Should Favor The Voters, NOT The Candidates

With all the talk the last few days of how critical it was that Barack Obama “won” a ruling in Nevada that permits caucuses in the casino areas (now there’s something our forefathers probably did not envision) so that workers, like the culinary workers union that threw its support behind Obama, can participate in the caucus process despite the fact the votes are held on a Saturday (today) which has to be a very busy workday on the strip, comes a point too often lost.

The point is this: voting rules and laws should always favor the best interests of all voters. For example, anything that can be done to make it easier – and yet still able to protect the integrity of the votes cast – for voters to cast their ballots can and should be done. Such rules should NOT be designed to favor one candidate or another. In fact, screw the candidates: it’s the voter’s interest that comes above all else.

The most egregious example we’ve ever seen – and I pray it will never be repeated – of the system being rigged for a specific candidate rather than the totality of the American voters came in the presidential election of 2000. And no, I’m not talking specifically about the Bush-Cheney subversion of the votes through outright thievery.

When Bush’s people, led by constant Bushie savior James Baker III, raced to the U.S. Supreme Court to be sure that the recount of votes in Florida was stopped (lest it was proven that indeed Gore won), Baker took a law designed to protect the voter and turned it magically into an argument that one single voter and candidate, namely our current Moron in Chief, would be irrevocably harmed if the Florida recount was permitted to continue to its logical conclusion.

Somehow (magically, through a packed court roster – though hardly as weighted to the extreme Bushian mindset as it is today), the Supreme Court not only let them get away with a total perversion of the laws, they rewarded Baker and Bush and Grand Evil Emperor Cheney with the presidency in a decision that boils down to “we can’t let Florida finish its recount because if it does, it’s likely Bush will lose, and that will hurt poor Georgie’s feelings and nobody ever says NO to Georgie and Dick(less).”

Thus, regardless of whether the court decision to allow Nevada voters to cast their caucus votes (and the caucus system is really a strange way to go, but that’s a whine – without the cheese and crackers – for another day) in a more convenient arena like casinos favors Hillary, Barack, John or Dennis, or hell, even the (choke) McCain-Lieberman ticket, the important issue is not which candidate benefits or is hurt, but that voters get to vote. This is exactly as it should be.