A Modest Proposal

We seem to have reached the point in political campaigns where neither the candidates nor the press nor political commentators seem to control the political debate.

Invariably, the person with the most voice (read as money and message) prevails and we are left wondering sometime next April why we did not hear about X issue or Y viewpoint or why nobody reported something about Z.

Its time to have an Official Referee.

The Official Referee will call fouls and assess penalties.  Replays will not be allowed.

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The Death of Jesse Helms

I must admit I write this saddened that Senator Helms is dead.

While most of my fellow travellers --- Senator Helms told me personally when I was working for Senator Moynihan that I was a "wretched little communist" --- are probably gleeful at his passing.  I am not.  He was a frequent friend in the mornings (in the Senate cafeteria) when he and I used to talk Redskins football and the need for Baseball in the Nation's Capitol.  I knew what he was working for and he knew what I wanted and he and I "agreed to disagree"

More importantly, I considered him a boon to liberals.

In 1984, he sucked a boatload of money out of the political system (he actually fundraised in sates with fellow Republicans trying to get re-elected) and kept the Democrats in position to retake the Senate in 1986.  

In 1990, he ran the most racist campaign in 25 years.  It was deplorable.  1990 was an anti-incumbent year and Helms once again defunded the right in his effort to get re-elected.  

In 1996, Helms (two years into a Republican held Senate) again went all out to raise money.

In addition to his penchant for selfishly putting his re-election ahead of everyone else, Helms defined Right Wing.  In 1990 while woprking to re-elect a NJ congressman, I quipped to the press that my boss' opponent had more in common with Jesse Helms than the people of New Jersey.

I studied his every move and his every word, he was teh master of defining the contest and his opponent.  The first Democratic politician I saw that emulated his technique was Harris Wofford...who was advised by Carville and Begala (who would go national with Clinton)

Goodbye Jesse, say hello to Lucifer for me.

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Does Hillary Clinton have an endgame?

On June 4, 2008, the primaries and caucuses will have ended.

If HRC gets 55% of the remaining 404 delegates, she will have 1562 pledged delegates.  Barack Obama will have 1672 pledged delegates.

269 Superdelegates have pledged to support Clinton; 249 have pledged to support Obama.

If no other Superdelegates commit, Obama has 1921 delegates and Clinton has 1831.

Put another way, Obama will need 103.5 delegates to seal the nomination and Clinton will need 193.5.  

HRC has three options on June 5

First, she can press the remaining Superdelegates to give her the nod.  Its a hard sell but not impossible.  What is she up against here?  Well, she's been bleeding these delegates for months now and Obama has been succesful in closing the gap.  Furthermoe, she will need an argument that will beat more democratically elected delegates, more states and more votes for Obama.  (While its possible she could get more votes, its impossible for her to overcome the first two).  

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How to get nominated

Candidate A and Candidate B ( and 7 others) want to be elected President.  So they begin campaigning.  Candidate A has the highest name recognition and leads the field in all the the pre-primary polls.  Candidate B is well known and has polled in double digits far behind Candidate A.

Candidate A has aggressively pursued endorsements from elected officials, has sought out commitments from Superdelegates ahead of the selection of pledged delegates, and has relied upon big donors and PACs to finance presidential campaign.  Candidate B has aggressive pursued endorsements from elected officials, has sought out commitments from Superdelegates ahead of the selection of pledged delegates, and has relied on small donors (most notably from the internet) to finance presidential campaign.

At the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Candidate B is a viable threat to Candidate A winning the nomination.  Several lesser Candidates drop out.  After the New Hampshire primary, Candidate A's campign appears to be back on track.  More Candidates drop out until the nomination appears to be limited to three candidates on the eve of Super Tuesday.

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Clinton and her campaign so far

I will enthusiastically support HRC if she is a the nominee
BUT there have been some strategic missteps here

1. HRC has to loan money to her campaign --- This looks like a poor fundraising, but it is a sign of something else --- no fundraising.  Money keeps going out and suddenly the loan is reported ('cause money is not coming in), the next month the fundraising is back on track.  I sure hope someone on her staff got fired.  Obama has been getting millions every months beacuse he has been asking every month.  I'm sorry but you cannot stop asking for money ever if you expect to win. You never figure, I'll give my donors a break.  Your donors get a break after election day.

2. Lowballing primaries/caucuses between Super Tuesday and the Ohio/Texas primaries --- Fighting for enough to win the nomination and arguing that you won the primaries that will give you an electoral win is idiotic.  I don't want Clinton or Obama to win, I want the Democratic ticket to win.  I want the kind of state house victories/gubernatorial victoes and Congressional majorities in both houses that will give progressive agendas a chance.  Ohio in 2004 and Florida in 2000 are metaphors for poor political strategy.  I want a candidate is will do what it takes in every state to keep it in play, if not for HRC, for those down ticket

3. Criticizing the process - Michigan and Florida blew it. The caucus system was Clinton's friend in Nevada but not in Texas and all the caucuses after NV and before TX.  If I had to pick an issue that has irked me the most, it has been this.  Ohio and Texas were a big story because Clinton was going to drop out if the results were this or that  ---- the answer should have been all along what she's saying now --- not until the primaries are over

I like the debate and the testing of these two excellent candidates but the drama made of gotchas, he said/she said and Clinton's political amateur hour NO THANKS

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Dear Barack and Hillary

Your supporters have drawn lines that you would not.  Your supporters are openly speaking of voting Republican, Third Party, or worse still sitting out the presidential ballot if the other is on the ballot

This problem will last until 2012 when neither one of you will be allowed to run.  Why?  No state politico will let you be on the ballot, no one will sign a nominating petition and unlike this year, the Supperdelegates will announce they will not support either of you.

Try this ---- Tell your supporters that you don't want their money or their votes if they will not support the party's nominee.

I, for one, am getting tired of every comment turing into a personal attack!

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Washinton post gives live returns

this is the indinia page

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/pol itics/elections/2006/in.html

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Obviously we'd like a Democratic landslide

but what happens if we get close but miss the magic numbers.

Suppose Congress is at 219 to 216 in the House and 52-48 in the Senate.  It appears that unlike the Republicans in 1994 we are unwilling to nationalize this election  (Think showing the Jack Abramoff indictment and the fact that he was trawling for contracting work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Tom DeLay investiagtion, spying on Americans, no end in sight in Irag with a tagline "Enough is enough")  What will we do?

I liked John Kerry as a person and as a candidate  --- but the biggest failure of 2004 is that the media and the various political machines focused too much energy on the top slot.  In PA, a large number of voters knew nothing about the candidates for Senate because nothing got covered.  Ditto for several suburban Philly house races (in the blogosphere it was a different matter, of course).  In 2008, the GOP field will probably wittle itself down to 6 candidates and on the Dem's side probably 4-6 as well.  If a GOP governor gets the nod --- he'll win as a reformer and we'll be back to where we were in 2002, behind the political 8 ball for redistricting in 2010.

We need to focus not on Congress in 2006 but on the Statehouses and State legislatures.  Our mantra should be to have leverage in every state (the governorship or control of state senate or state house)  Further, the political heavyweight ought to be told that if the GOP pulls the Texas redistricting stunt we'll gerrymander very state in which we have the trifecta (NY, IL and OH look prime for this) plus there are a dozen medium to small states where we could erase GOP seats or severely weaken them.  

The biggest political "talking heads" comment in January 2007 is going to be how well positioned the Dem's are to reversing the 2000 redistricting nightmare.  Nationalizing 2006 and pressing for all the 7000+ state rep/state senate seats to be challenged may be a better way to go.  

Can we nationalize state house seats?  I don't know but Russell Nigro (A Democratic PA Supreme Court Jutice) got toosed in a judicial retention election in 2005 beacuse people were mad at the GOP controlled PA legislature over a pay raise.  Its not about connecting the dots; its about giving voters options for change.  Democratic candiadtes for every statehouse seat in every state puts options in place.  People are angry, they'll probably get angrier by November (gas prices are climbing again, our trade deficit with China just tripled, corruption pervades the GOP controlled city of Washington, Irag is a mess, Iran wants nukes, we've been executing people with such rhytmic ease that it is possible a few innocents have been killed, etc.)  Its time to run races if we want to win

Opposing Alito

Since Judge Alito is a resident of New Jersey and it has two liberal Senators, lets have thenm put a hold on the nomination (this merely prevents a floor vote).  The current rule is that if both home state senators oppose a nominee, the nomination is effectively dead.

For more than a decade, the Republicans have reshuffled the judicial process to a point where they intend to rubber stamp nominees regardless of how out of sync they are with the Legal Mainstream in this country.  Lets play hardbball...

Hey a guy who's resume as a gubernatorial candidate is 1 page long

how can any reasonably intelligent person be surprised by this.  W's appointed two people who's judicial experience comes down to CJ Roberts 1 year on the DC Court of Appeals

Anything Roberts or potentially Miers does on SCOTUS that recedes from the Right's legal agenda will be met with anger,accusations of incompetence and perjured Judiciary Committee testimony.

Miers might be beatable (and Roberts might also have been beatable) on their collective  lack of judicial experience.  Its time to play the "Earl Warren" card.

CJ  Warren served as a hard nosed California prosecutor for more than 20 years (the last 4 were as CA AG).   The last two CJ of SCOTUS had 13 years (Burger) and 14 years (Rehnquist) were known entities, neither CJ Roberts nor SCOTUS nominee Miers is.  The Dems can point out every policy failure and tie it to lack of experience (e.g. FEMA's Brown -check out the last issue of Time -- article on several others).

It would be interesting if the pre-hearing Buzz on Miers came down to a review of the last SCOTUS Justices were had no judicial experience.  On the Right, we have Rehnquist (nope never a judge) and Whizzer White.  On the Left, we have Frankfurter, Black (famed former KKK member), Douglas, Goldberg, Fortas and T. Marshall.  Maybe the Republicans in the Senate will grouse about this more than the Dems.  

In any event, the Democrats need to oppose this Bush Admin. Blank Slate approach for appointments and filibuster for a better nominee.  We may (and probably will) lose but in this zero sum game, its better to oppose the nominee and be pleasantly surprised than to support a nominee and have to defend voting for someone without srong judicail credentials who undoes decades of progress with bad legal decisions.

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