Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rules Committee Is Done

Chris Cilizza has the specifics on Florida and Michigan. Hillary and uber-Clintonista Harold Ickes both supported the Florida compromise, but "bitterness" lingers over -- I'm not making this up -- four delegates in Michigan.

Remember that this is now about four delegates. Assuming Obama secures the nomination with a greater than eight delegate cushion (because that's the swing), remind the beings from Planet Hillary that their candidate endorsed Florida and only wanted an additional four delegates in Michigan. Then serve up a hot cup of STFU.

Oh, and while Ickes was, well, icky, I nominate former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard Asshat of the Day.

Puerto Rico Tomorrow

Yes, Puerto Rico has their primary, for reasons unclear to anyone given that they don't vote in national elections. My guess is that it's about appealing to stateside Latinos, but whatever.

Anyway, Anthony and I had words about the primary earlier this week. I would add to all this that Hillary supporters have had their own fun with goal posts, for example arguing that supers should follow polls of Democratic voters (back when Hillary was leading them) and dismissing Obama's success in red states. If there was logical consistency on Planet Hillary, the beings there would not use the results in a territory with no electoral votes as the basis of an argument, but there isn't, so they will.

A few sources if you want to follow along. CQ Politics has answered 5 FAQs. Apparently an urban legend is percolating that the primary is winner-take-all. In fact it's proportional rep, just like all the rest. WaPo gives the rumor their Pinnocchio treatment. Also here's a general backgrounder with past results in Puerto Rican elections.

Finally, there hasn't been much polling, but the latest shows Hillary up 20 points.

It's Pointless to Argue About Michigan . . .

. . . because Planet Hillary simply is not interested in honest debate. (h/t Plunder)

Nonetheless, consider this. Forty percent of the voters cast a ballot for "Uncommitted." In other words, those forty percent took the time to go to the polls and to pull the lever/punch the chad/fill the oval/touch the screen for NotHillary. So if we just give Hillary her delegates and leave it at that, are we really "counting all the votes" in the sense of making them count?1 We aren't. The people who voted Not Hillary expressed wishes that are being ignored under the "solution" proposed by the Clinton campaign.

The truly "count every vote" solution would be to subtract from Hillary's vote total those voting NotHillary and tally her delegates based on those votes.

Of course that will not satisfy Hillary. The Tubbs-Jones complaint betrays the strategy we all know is at work. A half-strength delegation does put Hillary any closer to Obama in terms of the number of delegates needed. But a full-strength delegation gives the appearance of diluting the magnitude of Obama's lead, and the whole game is convincing the supers that the voting result is sorta kinda a tie.

I'll admit I have doubts about Obama as a candidate. His experience is thin, he isn't enough of a politician to ditch his fringier friends, etc. But the Hillary campaign's craven, cynical, dishonest closing argument has not simply finished her with me. The whole enterprise so infuriates me that I have difficulty respecting people who will not join in denouncing it, much less those who continue to mouth such nonsense.

1This being the only sense in which the "Count every vote" trope makes any sense at all, given that the votes have been literally counted. Planet Hill doesn't just want them counted, they want them to be given effect.

Worst Hyperbole Ever

Nothing is more important to the protests at the DNC than credibility. The protesters insist that their effort is only about principle, not straw-grasping Hillary advocacy.

It doesn't help the credibility story when an organizer of one of the groups protesting calls the W years "The worst eight years in the history of our country, bar none."

OK, it's a small point, but can we have a little perspective here? Bad, yes. One of the worst presidents, yes. But the worst eight years?

We've had a civil war in this county for God's sake. We endured a world depression during which Americans ate grass to survive. Nothing in the Bush years rivals Vietnam, Watergate and violent resistance to the civil rights movement individually, much less all three together from 1964-72. For that matter, any eight years during the slavery era, the Jim Crow era and/or the conquest of Native Americans stain American history more than anything happened in the aughts.

Ms. Campasono, this is obviously a cry for help. I'm a longtime sufferer from Bush derangement syndrome. You can only overcome it one day at a time. Just don't pick up the first issue of The Nation, and Easy Does It.

Another Sad Measure of Ohio's Charter Schools

The Newsweek school rankings came out this week. The top "non-elite"school by Newsweek's measure is BASIS Charter in Tuscon. There are a half-dozen charter schools in the top 40. And through the entire list, none from Ohio, according to the list compiled by Jill.

Charter schools shouldn't be a left/right thing, and in many states they aren't. Charter schools done right offer the right kind o choices to parents and students, and may be helping to break the dysfunctional structures that hold many districts back. That's why Barack Obama gave a recent education address at a charter school in Denver. It's why a group like Democrats for School Reform embraces charters.

But the charter system in Ohio is predicated on the belief that the market alone is sufficient to regulate schools and ensure quality. Ohio's experience is a strong indication that it is not.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Actually, the Story Is Cold Dead, but BSB Keeps Pounding on It's Chest Anyway.

First off, congratulations to the new Buckeye State team of Nick D and David Potts for a seamless transition to a new regime. They have embraced many of the virtues of previous Head BSer Jerid, and minimized his vices. Also, congrats for securing credentials for the Democratic National Convention in the General Blogger Pool.

All that said, quit yer goddam whining about Ohio Daily getting the nod for State Bloggercorps credentials. For those of you who don't know what this is about, Paul reset the "controversy" here when it first sputtered. You might think that when the DNC decided to acknowledge the importance of blogs and offered credentials to one of our own that we would all be happy and that the success of one is a positive reflection on the work we all do.

Dude, that is so 2006.

In Nick's announcement that they received General Pool credentials, he maintains that the story of BSB being passed over "will not die" and links to two stories, one in a WaPo blog and one on Wired. Actually there are three stories at work here. One is the story of the state blogger corps being overwhelmingly white. That's the focus of the WaPo story. A second is the story of some state blogger corps blogs actually being corporate owned as opposed to the DailyKos first raised that complaint which is the focus of the Wired piece.

Then there is the story of two quality blogs in the state of Ohio competing for state credentials and the loser raising a fuss. That angle is mentioned nowhere in any of the stories linked above. BSB is mentioned nowhere in either of the stories linked by Nick. In fact, at last count about five people, all in Ohio, give a crap.

But in their zeal to cry "We wuz robbed," the BS partisans are both linking their cause to real issues and dropping facile slams on Jeff Coryell, including resetting the meme first launched by Russo that all Jeff does is post press releases.

All bull. Jeff may be the hardest working man in blog business. He travels all over the state, has interviewed scores of candidates and other figures and offers plenty of analysis. Posting press releases is also part of the the current SOP for political blogs, though his presser posting is not significantly greater than either BSB and certainly less than ProgressOhio.

Bottom line, there's plenty of niches for different blogs to fill. Jeff represents what could be called the grown-up sector of the blogosphere. BSB is a little more shoot-from-the-hip, a little more reckless. That's fine and all -- part of what makes blogging great is the diversity of voices. But people shouldn't be shocked shocked if they live to give a finger to the establishment and the establishment doesn't love them for it.

In any event, I for one and happy that the DNC found room for both blogs under the big tent and am proud to be part of the blog world with both.

Widowfield Dropping Out of County Council Race

From today's Beacon:

    Former state Rep. John Widowfield, who resigned from the Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday, plans to withdraw from running for Summit County Council this fall.
Makes sense, since he has a serious scandal to contend with and could be indicted before the election. All that said, the stated reason strains credibility:
    Summit County Republican Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff said Widowfield told him a few weeks ago that he planned to drop out because of his new private-sector job.
Are you effing kidding me? He knocks off the only sitting R in County Council and the party is OK with him saying "Never mind?" Sorry, not buying it. This sounds like he saw the investigation coming and went scrambling for a golden parachute.

What's more, if true, the party is taking it's time dealing with it:
    If Widowfield withdraws from the county council race, the county party will have until Aug. 20 to appoint a new candidate to run in the Nov. 4 election for county council's District 3 seat.
But of course that person needs to be gearing up to run against Paul Colavecchio who came within shouting distance of unseating Widowfield in 2006. In other words, someone with name recognition, campaign experience and a campaign infrastructure.

This will be something of a gut-check for the Summit Republicans. Tapping Louise Heydorn, the well-respected incumbent whom Widowfield unseated, would seem the logical choice. But Heydorn (or at least her husband) sided with the Coughlin camp in the Elephant Wars which brought this whole mess on in the first place. If nothing else, party boss Alex Arshinkoff is consistently vindictive. If Heydorn gets the nod, it's a safe bet that the Central Committee has gone against A2's wishes. Longtime Alex watchers have been waiting for the revenge phase of the Elephant Wars. Passing on Heydorn would be a colorful start.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Word on a Blog Alumnus

From the Dispatch blog Daily Briefing:

    On Nancy Hardin Rogers' first day as Ohio's interim attorney general, three top lawyers in the office found themselves sitting in new desks.

    Rogers said she didn't order the moves, which are among the first personnel changes since former Attorney General Marc Dann resigned under pressure May 14.

    One of Dann's most loyal advisers, Christopher R. Geidner, got a new title as deputy chief counsel for administrative agencies. Geidner had been counsel to the attorney general. His $90,000 salary did not change.

Not bad for a law dork.

Ezra Klein on the Politics of Testosterone

Excellent piece by Klein touching on many salient points. The hook is buzz about Jim Webb as Obama's running mate. Klein notes that trying to out-macho Republicans is a losing game:

    But this is not a sustainable approach to politics. Democrats can't out-tough the GOP. It's possible that James Webb can do it. But he's sui generis; a Democrat who can win at politics when played under Republican rules.
What's special about Obama:
    [Obama's] policies -- particularly his domestic policies -- have not been half as innovative as his politics. But his willingness to double down on opposition to the gas tax holiday, to battle back on negotiating with dictators, to respond to attacks by pressing the point, has been genuinely exciting. And though he has been confident and even aggressive in all of this, he has not been "tough." He has not pretended to go shooting, or driven on to Jay Leno's show on Harley. He's essentially been making his own rules.
And the paradox of women in politics:
    Meanwhile, the sexism of our politics was far less present in Clinton's loss than the fact that she was the single woman on a stage of nine Democratic presidential candidates, and in a field, including the Republicans, of 20. Now, studies show that women do not, in fact, perform worse in primaries than men. In fact, in Democratic primaries, the evidence since 1990 is that they do better (see my article in the forthcoming American Prospect for more on this). But they run less often -- for a host of reasons, but one of which is that they think they're more likely to lose.
And more besides that. Go. Read. Now.

Oh, before you do, let's drop this idea of Webb as a running mate. The idea misunderstands Obama's greatest weakness -- it's lack of experience, not lack of manliness. He needs a running mate who is well-seasoned in government, preferably with some administrative experience, and from a part of the country that allows him to do some good. I'm not sure who that is, but those should be the criteria.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Interim AG Was Nation's First Female District Court Clerk

WKSU's M.L. Schultze interviewed retired District Court Judge Thomas Lambros for whom interim Attorney General Nancy Hardin Rodgers clerked. According to Judge Lambros, Dean Rodgers was not only the first female district clerk, she was one of the best clerks he's ever had. Hiring her was one of the best experiences of his career. And in tapping her to be interim AG, Gov. Strickland has made the best decision of any governor in Ohio's history.

Listen to the interview. It's the best hyperbole ever.

Rep. John Widowfield Stepping Down Due to Improprieties

Akron Beacon Journal is reporting tonight:

    State Rep. John Widowfield, R-Cuyahoga Falls, is expected to resign from his legislative seat following accusations that he purchased Ohio State University football tickets with campaign funds and sold them for a profit.

    Widowfield did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment Tuesday and today. He signed for gas mileage reimbursement for the week and attended a committee hearing in the morning, but was not at the House session in the afternoon.

    Sources told the Beacon Journal that Widowfield sold the football tickets over the Internet for more than their face value, and pocketed the profits.

    Widowfield's financial disclosure forms for the past two years list only his legislative salary and interest on checking and annuity accounts as sources of income.

Some reminders about John Widowfield. He ran unsuccessfully last year for Cuyahoga Falls Muni Clerk. Despite still having a term to go before bumping up against term limits, he is not running for re-election, he instead is running for the one spot on County Council currently occupied by a Republican.

He's also an Alex crony. Louise Heydorn, the woman he beat in the primary for County Council (as the Republican endorsee) is married to one of the attorneys who represented Kevin Coughlin in the Elephant Wars. And Widowfield famously did Alex's bidding as the county lobbied for new common pleas judgeships, even as the ABJ chanted "Who's yer daddy?" In sum, it looked like Alex has been looking for a soft landing for a valuable tool who hasn't done well in Columbus.

Meanwhile, Mike Moran has been mounting a strong challenge for his seat. Since Widowfield was already standing down, this changes the dynamic of that race but little. I believe the party gets to pick his replacement, but let me get back to you on that. If so, Robart Jr. will be running as a sort of incumbent. || UPDATE: I had forgotten that the younger Robart was upset in the primary by one Richard Nero. The replacement gets appointed by the House Republican Caucus. It would be interesting to see if Alex tries to orchestrate a coup of sorts and get Robart appointed and on the ballot. END UPDATE || On the other hand, the Republicans will have a harder time imposing their announced strategy of tying Dem candidates to recently disgraced Dems, at least in this race.

As for County Council, that's probably the least of his worries right now. From the looks of it, he's probably guilty of at least two campaign law violations.

Thus endeth the state career of Ohio's laziest legislator.

Transmissions from Planet Hillary Are Increasingly Surreal

After a bit of a lull, the ebag has received two curious email from the Clinton campaign. Yesterday Chelsea sent one under the subject "An Important Decision . . ." What, how long her mom will push her longshot campaign? Whether to tone down the negative rhetoric?

No, it's a T-shirt contest. That's right, according to Chelsea, "We need your help to make a critical decision -- our next official campaign t-shirt." The designs in the semi-final are nice and all, but a campaign on its last legs and tens of millions in the red probably has better things to commit money to than printing up a new set of Hillaryware.

Then today Hillary sends an email titled "How we win." No, she's not coming clean about her count-every-vote bait-and-switch. No, she's not even admitting to supporters that she is relying on the superdelegates to overturn the popular will. Instead, "We are depending on the voters of Puerto Rico in our fight to secure the nomination [emphasis in original]." This conjures up a mental reworking of the Dean Scream speech: "We're gonna go to Puerto Rico and Guam and the Marshall Islands and Montana and South Dakota. And then we're gonna go to Colorado and strong-arm the supers . . . Heeyaaaaa!!!"

Oh, but she's not talking about the supers. Not at all. In fact the email actually says, " It doesn't matter what the pundits say. You and I know this race is up to the voters, and I'm going to keep fighting for every last vote [Emphasis in original]." Please. If the race is actually up to the voters, game over, with or without MI/FL. The only reason she's still anywhere in the conversations is that it isn't ultimately up to the voters, it's up to the supers.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the fundamental dishonesty of her campaign rakes my nerves. She talks voters, she talks democratic process, but she will ultimately make the case to the supers to overturn the result of that process to win.

On the bright side, if she succeeds, we'll have a really nice T-shirt for November.

Strickland Appoints OSU Law Dean as Interem AG

Gov. Ted Strickland announced today that he is appointing Nancy Hardin Rodgers, currently Dean of the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law, to be interim Attorney General. According to both the press release and the press conference, Dean Rodgers will take a temporary leave of absence from Moritz and does not intend to run for the unexpired term.


Dean Rodgers' bio page, including a link to her curriculum vitae (pdf) on the Moritz website.

Dean Rodgers on Wikipedia (already updated of course.)

Governor's statement.

Good career rundown from Jeff. I would add that in addition to serving on the Executive Committee of the American Association of Law Schools, she is also the immediate past President.

I briefly interviewed a source who works in law school administration (grin). She says that Dean Rodgers is widely admired and highly accomplished. She also said that despite a soft-spoken demeanor, she has a sufficiently thick skin to be effective as a law school dean. In many ways she is the AntiDann.

I'd agree with Jeff's assessment that she is a solid choice, though labeling it "safe" may include some connotations I don't necessarily agree with. Strickland has deftly threaded the needle. He picked someone with extensive administrative experience, but without political ambition. In other words, someone well poised to assume the role of cleaner.

What the office needs now is someone who will root out the rotten parts of the office, but with enough care and precision that she doesn't gut the workforce. The citizens of Ohio are best served by someone who will reform the office objectively, without being constrained by political considerations. What the office doesn't need is someone scrambling to put his or her own policy stamp on prior to the election. In all Dean Rodgers appears a good fit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blue Ohioan Is Back Up

Blue Ohioan founder Anthony Fossaceca just posted an impassioned argument for Hillary Clinton, hopefully reviving the long-dormant blog. The post makes me a little wistful about what could have been -- passionate supporters focusing on each candidates strengths. Instead we got Hillary nutcrackers and dismissive rants about Barack the "Unity Pony." Most unfortunate.

And unfortunate that circumstances didn't permit Anthony to post sooner. As I wrote in his comments:

    [T]his post . . . was a great argument three months ago. If Toxic Susie had written like this, Blue Ohioan would have remained readable.

    But the election is what it is. It's not impossible for Hillary to win, but it is impossible for her to win without overturning the clear will of the voters, thus tearing the party apart. Aside from some sharp-elbowed tactics and winking approval of the race bias against her opponent, what really has Obama's supporters in an uproar is that continuing to press her case is damaging the party and successfully pressing her case would be disastrous.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about the complaint from Hillary supporters about the pro-Obama/anti-Hillary bias in the media. There is probably something to it, or at least more than is within my biased perception (and probably less than the pro-Hillary biased perception.) Nonetheless, it's all one with a flawed pro-Hillary electability argument that boils down to: Obama has little going for him except his charisma and political skill which has generated a core of wildly passionate followers, tons of money in small donations and favorable media coverage. Which is too bad because Hillary is more electable.

To which the discerning reader says, "Huh?"

With the link.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Ohio has lost 168* men and women in the Iraq War. Ohio dot com offers a slide show of the area's war dead here.

Today there will be parades and picnics, barbecues and catching up on some sittin' around the house. Fine, but don't forget to say a prayer for our troops in the field, for the families and friends of those who don't make it home, and for peace in our time.

*Thanks to anonymouse in comments for correction

Cleveland's Slavic Village Becoming Forclosure Crisis National "Poster Neighborhood"

This week's Newsweek features a lengthly story about how predatory lending decimated Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood. Over the past week two public radio programs have reported on Slavic Village: NPR's Weekend Edition and American Public Media's Marketplace.

The Newsweek story is devastating. We heard about Cleveland trying to regulate predatory lending and being preempted by state officials. As the story makes clear, the unregulated environment and promises of easy money led to widespread fraud:

    Yet insidious forces were at work in the neighborhood. After the mortgage-refinancing boom of 2003–04, demand for fresh subprime "product" grew so intense that lending standards nationwide disintegrated. To meet Wall Street's demand for a steady supply, lenders kept reaching lower and lower down the scale of quality in both property and borrowers, until the street hustlers jumped in to offer up their "product." Not surprisingly, the once shunned inner city became a prime lending spot across America. That, in turn, led to the phenomenon of reverse redlining. More than a decade ago, the big story was the redlining of low-income, often African-American, neighborhoods by banks that refused to lend there. Now the opposite happened.

    Wall Street's insatiable demand inspired the local shop owner and plumber to go into the mortgage business—what Brancatelli calls "station-wagon brokers."

    "There are a lot of former drug dealers who have gotten into the business," adds Ed Kraus of the Ohio Attorney General's office. Many brokers simply invented biographies and jobs for their indigent borrowers, officials say. In one case, says Brancatelli, Kellogg saw a lawn mower in a truck belonging to Williams's husband and declared him a "landscaper" for the mortgage records.

Clearing the Tabs

A few notes about what lingers in open tabs, but won't make it into full fledged posts.

Last Tuesday a Senate committee grilled execs from high tech companies about their complicity in China's censorship of the internet. The headline raises the possibility of new legislation which I doubt will happen, particularly this year. Steven Dell loudly pushed for Bush after Kerry took on the issue of outsourcing in 2004. Given that Chinese dissidents do not vote in our elections, I don't see Congress risking the wrath of people who, in the modern version of the old saw, create pixels by the trillions. Still, it is good that Congress is at least showing an interest.

I'm only halfway through this transcript of a Pew Forum program on religious voters and the 2008 elections, but it's definitely worth the time. If nothing else, it's notable for taking on the subject without the participate of U Akron's Dr. John Green.

Paul makes a good point about the election. Obama is beset by as many opponents as Hillary Clinton is. She has Chris Matthews, but he has Rush Limbaugh, etc. (I would add to Obama's list much of the bloghersphere, led by the egregious Taylor Marsh, plus the knuckle-draggers who keep forwarding the Muslim emails.) But Obama doesn't whine about it. He doesn't send emails to contributors stoking their sense of injustice either.

The Pages have featured some breathless dispatches about the promise of nanotechnology in the past. There are downsides -- there always are. One is that nanotubes may act like asbestos fibers in the lungs. This is more a manufacture problem than an end consumer problem. Once nanotubes are incorporated into an electronic device, they are unlikely to get out. The problem on the manufacturing side is that nanotubes are, well, really really small, so workers need some pretty high-end filtering equipment to remain safe.

A poll-watching, number crunching blogger I've not heard of before has an interesting piece about whether Jews are "drifting to the right" politically. One question left open by the post -- are secular and religious Jews heading in opposite directions? In other words, are Jews acting like pretty much everyone else? (h/t Ezra Klein)

Finally John Spinelli ePluribus Media put together an Ohio politics crossword puzzle. A decent puzzle master lives for unusual four-letter words (think esne, ibis and oort), so I'm a natural at 26 down.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stop It. Just Stop It.

This is a message from your postmodern language snoot. I'm noticing a disturbing trend. People, some of whom have been around long enough that they really should know better, are using the word "blog" to mean "post." I'm not going to link to this grotesquerie at this time. I'm just telling you, stop it now.

You wouldn't call an article a magazine. You wouldn't call a story a newspaper. Stop calling a post a blog.

That is all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hillary's Electablishness

Matthew Yglesias makes some great points about the Hillary electability campaign. He starts with a Taylor Marsh quote about which more anon, then takes the argument apart:

    But it's quite true -- and indeed quite striking -- that the Clinton campaign has now shifted to a pretty single-minded focus on electability. The reason, of course, is that they know Obama will win a majority of delegates and they think the electability argument is most appealing to Democrats. The trouble is that the electability argument they really need is an absolutely electability argument which holds that it's almost inconceivable that Obama will beat McCain in November. That, however, isn't at all plausible and I was on a call yesterday where Howard Wolfson was at some pains to clarify that he wasn't making that argument.

    Instead, she's leaning on the relative electability argument which holds that she's simply more likely to beat McCain. This is much more plausible as an argument. But unfortunately, it's also much less persuasive. Nobody ever really wants to say that they're backing the less electable horse in a nominating contest, but it's also true that nobody ever really wants to say they're passing up a superior candidate in favor of a more electable one. Thus, by convenient coincidence, in essentially every hotly contested primary fight, the people who think Candidate A would be better on the merits also deem Candidate A more electable.
In the spate of map projections all over the web, Obama's performance and Hillary's performance is within a few points in most states. For example, the Karl Rove maps, which as Politico points out are methodologically iffy, show the two within three or four points in each of the battleground states. On other maps or other polls, Obama does as well or better than Clinton. And that's without factoring in Obama's healthy campaign jack or the effect of making McCain compete in Southern states. Anyone who asserts at this remove that Hillary can absolutely beat McCain or that Obama absolutely can't is just talking junk. The available evidence says at best Hillary may be marginally more electable than Obama.

When you mix in the necessity of overturning the popular result, the relative electability argument completely falls apart. Which brings us back to that Taylor Marsh quote. Normally, I'd rather dig out my eyes with a Phillips head than read any two words that person has strung together, but this quote makes a nice straw man womyn:
    Tumulty, like so many others, are ignoring Clinton's only goal, which is to make the case to SuperDs that she would be the best nominee against John McCain, the traditional media, as well as the Obama blogs, are missing one of the greatest political dramas ever to unfold, second only to the 2000 election.

    Clinton is campaigning on counting every single vote. But also that every Democratic delegate should be focused on who can win in November.
So first of all we are talking about "campaigning on counting every single vote" and campaigning on electability. That's more than only one goal. I know "math is hard," but counting to two shouldn't be. Seriously, the MI/FL debate has nothing to do with electability, and everything to do with generating the illusion that overturning Obama's popular mandate would be only mildly traumatic.

More importantly, Marsh, like so many others, is ignoring the fundamental contradiction between the two goals. The Marsh/Clinton position is to count every vote and inevitably ignore the 50%+ that break for Obama. Marsh and her ilk keep flogging this argument about enfranchisement, even as she advocates that the superdelegates should effectively disenfranchise me and everyone else who voted for Obama.

Do that, and those two to three percentage points will evaporate mighty quick.

Assassinating Herself in the Foot

Hillary Clinton, you no doubt know by now, invoked the assassination of Robert Kennedy in the course of a fairly incoherent explanation of why she's still in the race, then apologized.

Hillary's remark was on a What-the-*@%#-Were-You-Thinking level of bad, but let's not get hysterical. Oh, sorry, misogyny again. Let's not get, um, overwrought. The argument that she invoked the RFK assassination to justify staying in the race in case Obama is assassinated is just silly. After all, she doesn't need to be actively campaigning to be the obvious go-to should something terrible occur to the nominee. She mentioned the assassination as a temporal benchmark to reinforce her point that the campaign was still happening in June.

I don't have lots of sympathy for Clinton as the remark is misinterpreted. It's part of the game that if you say something stupid, you open yourself up. But nonetheless, it should be noted that suggesting Barack may be assassinated almost certainly wasn't her intent. We can take her at her word [grin.]

By the way: 1968, Dems at each others throats through the convention. Who won that year, anyone know?

Sadly, the furor over her assassination mention drowns out what is really outrageous in the talk -- her assertion that she is just perplexed as to why anyone would ask that she leave the race. And her dark mutterings about the "motives" that such people may harbor.

Hows this for motive, Mrs. Clinton: WE WANT TO WIN. We want to stop with this water torture campaign and start going after John McCain in earnest. We want to bring the party back together. We want the nominee's campaign to concentrate on putting together the organization for November.

You are in the way of all of that. You are in the way, despite the fact that you are not going to win, loser. And any time you crack that knowing grin and talk about how you won't speculate about "motivation" you drive the life forms on Planet Hillary farther away from the party. Does all of that clarify the picture for you? Are you less perplexed now?


The Rise of the Nanosites?

TechPres riffs on two new "nanosites" set up to answer the question "Is Barack Obama a Muslim?" This one simply says NO, while this one gives the same answer with some links. Perfect for anyone who can't do better than take him at his word.

Nanosites, as I glean from the TechPrez article, are simple, generally one page and convey a compact message. TechPrez notes that lately they have generally called to action. But reading all this brought to mind the first microsite to cross my radar:

The day after the first 2004 debate K-Pho emailed, asking in the subject line "How long does it take to set up a website?" The answer was a link to You Forgot Poland, a brilliant Bush satire, mostly in Photoshopped pictures. A quick Google search pulled up, something of a micronostalgia site in which the original creator offers the story, the images from the site, the backstory, and of course, the opportunity to buy a T Shirt. (The answer to K-Pho's question apparently is two hours)

Returning to the topic of nanosites as political campaign tools, the TechPrez post wonders aloud how effective something like IsBarackObamaMuslim can be against a viral email. Dunno and we'll find out. It certainly does offer a quick and easy way to send an email of one's own, (not to mention a blog post.)

Meet Bill Rausch, OPD Veterans Caucus Director and Obama Activist

The ODP dropped this in the ebag today:

    COLUMBUS - The Ohio Democratic Party today announced the hiring of former Army Captain, Iraq War veteran and Marengo, Ohio, native Bill Rausch as the full-time director of the newly formed Veterans and Family Members Caucus. The Ohio Democratic Party is now one of only two state Democratic parties in the country to employ a director of veterans and military family outreach, signaling the party's intention to aggressively fight for the votes of this historically Republican-leaning constituency in the 2008 election and beyond.
After past tragic experiences, we've learned to always Google those whom the ODP hires. That yielded this interesting video posted by the Obama campaign.

First off, Capt. Rausch is an excellent and sincere speaker and I look forward to watching his work as Caucus Director.

Second, the fact that ODP hired someone with his very public record as an Obama supporter suggests one of two things. Either they still aren't Googling their job applicants (certainly a possibility) or the party as a whole is sufficiently confident that Obama will be the guy that they aren't worried about pro-Hillary blowback.

Finally, I bet Rausch could beat the crap out of John Ettorre.

McCain Says "Hold the Parsley."

Yesterday McCain sought out the unendorsement of two fundamentalist clerics whose endorsement he had earlier sought: Pastor John Hagee of Texas and Ohio's own Rod Parsley.

ProgOhio notes that the statements from Parsley's church about his history of anti-Muslim statements were -- wait for it -- taken out of context, and that this is a big honkin' lie. Here's what World Harvest Church said:

    The church also said Parsley's comments were "in response to militant Islamic leaders" and not intended to single out the "vast majority of peaceful Muslims."

Hmm. Let's review. Anastasia Pantios wrote up Parsley's anti-Muslim rants in his book and I posted based on one of his televised sermons. In other words, this is all stuff out in the public domain.

Parsley, for example, says that Mohammed received the Qu'ran not from Allah, but from a demon who deceived him. (Was that the Qu'ran that only militant Islamic leaders use as opposed to the apparently separate Qu'ran of the vast majority of peaceful Muslims?) He also says that because Islam is a works-based religion as opposed to a grace-based religion, it inexorably leads some followers to violence in the name of the faith. He ultimately exhorts Christians to convert Muslims to Christianity as the only way to win the war on terror. (Hmm. Converting Muslims. Has anyone tried that before?)

This is all par for Parsley's course. In the confines of his congregation he makes outrageous, intolerant statements that seam likely to lead down some horror-filled roads. When called to account, he cleans it up for public consumption and, despite the extensive public record, the press goes along for the ride.

Blogging Through the Motions

This is how blogging has been for me lately:

(If you have no idea, start here. And no, I do know why this clip is subtitled in Czech.)

Why? Dunno. Part of it is, pace Jon Stewart, The Long, Flat Bataan Death March to the White House. Partly it's just that I'm tired, mostly by some health-related stuff that hopefully will resolve soon.

Bottom line, apologies for the lapse in quality and a promise to continue to work through it all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hillary's Latest: She Leads the Popular Vote if You Count the Ballot Obama Wasn't On

Received from Team Hillary last night:

    I owe our 35-point win in Kentucky yesterday to your incredible support. So let me ask you -- do you think we should let the TV talking heads have the final say in this race? Or should we do what we have always done, and fight together for what you and I believe in?

    * * *
    I've won more votes than anyone running for the Democratic nomination in the history of our party. I've won states that will total 308 electoral votes in November -- more than enough to carry the general election. And it is critical that we make certain the more than 2 million voters in Florida and Michigan are heard.[emphasis added]
Well, has she? The statement she made is true, just misleading. Here's a vote breakdown from ABC's poll guy:
            With        Without      With FL,
MI and FL MI and FL Without MI
Obama 18,176,329 17,600,115 18,176,329
Clinton 18,214,506 17,015,211 17,886,197

Cl +38,177 Ob +584,904 Ob +290,132
So it's technically true that she has "won more votes" than any other candidate. But given that Obama wasn't on the Michigan ballot, it's a hollow statement. If he hadn't agreed to DNC rules and taken his name off, he would have gotten some share of Michigan -- certainly enough to tip the popular vote back to him. In fact, if you give him just one-fifth of the 238-odd thousand votes for "uncommitted" (a.k.a. NotHillary), he moves ahead in the popular vote again.

This is why it's "crucial" for Hillary to count Michigan and Florida. Not because it actually puts Hillary ahead by any responsible measure, but because it makes the result look close enough that she hopes the supers will entertain arguments in favor of overturning the popular will.

Hillary is for respecting the democratic process, until she is against it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hillary Proves Eric's Point

Eric and Jill have been trading shots in Eric's comments about the emerging phenomenon of Clinton supporters holding their breath until they get their way threatening to abandon the party in the fall. Eric's basic thesis (as I read it and apologies if my summary is off) is that
if Hillary supporters can be led back to the party, Hillary needs to take the lead. Jill's response is that Obama must take the lead in "building trust" among these voters.

I tend to side with Eric for a couple of reasons. First, because the hardcore Hillary supporters who make such statements seem to have closed their minds and hearts to Obama's overtures. As such, only someone who has their trust is likely to persuade them to trust Obama.

Second, Hillary hasn't just benefited from suspicions about Obama, she has encouraged them. The campaign emails to donors reek of a sense of entitlement, but the overt message is that Hillary is besieged by injustices perpetrated by powerful forces no one should have to contend with. For example, here's her latest missive about Kentucky:

    Every time we win another state, we prove something about ourselves and about our country. And did we ever prove something tonight in Kentucky.

    We showed America that the voters know what the "experts" will never understand -- that in our great democracy, elections are about more than candidates running, pundits commenting, or ads blaring.

    They're about every one of us having his or her say about the path we choose as a nation. The people of Kentucky have declared that this race isn't over yet, and I'm listening to them -- and to you.
This particular take on The Terrible Injustice -- that some cabal of elite opinion makers is trying to somehow cut off her glide path to sure victory by forcing her out of the race -- is a staple. So are whiny complaints about Obama's money, and strident advocacy for counting the Florida and Michigan results as is. The message throughout the correspondence from the campaign has been that the only thing between Hillary and the White House is the way the system is stacked against her.

Never mind that until she started losing primaries, she was the prohibitive favorite of the Democratic establishment. I get emails over the signature of Terry McCauliff, the former Dem party chair and one of the most successful money men of the past twenty years.

The longer this goes on, the deeper the distrust builds and Team Hillary actively stokes that distrust. There are reasons to believe the problem will not be as bad as it appears now. But if Hillary's voters put McCain in the White House, Hillary will have authored the catastrophe.

Cincinnati Black Blog Smacked Down by Google

If you haven't been following the embarrassing train wreck of Cincinnati Black Blog lately, you have probably lost your chance. As the Cincy Beacon notes, Google has taken the blog down to investigate "possible Blogger Terms of Service Violations."

All this started a few weeks ago when CBB blogger Nate Livingston repurposed his dormant blog to exact personal revenge on his antagonists in a custody battle involving some public and semi-public figures. You can get a sense of the ugliness from this Bill Sloat piece.

According to Livingston, in the course of the dispute information from his daughter's confidential Juvenile Court file was released. In response he promised to publish whatever confidential information he could lay hands on about his opponents in the dispute. And, embracing the Keyser Söze school of revenge, he moves beyond that:

    And so today I launch "Operation Heightened Contradiction." I'm going to collect and publish information -- including social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, financial information, employment information, tax records, medical records, court records and whatever else I can find -- on those people involved in obtaining and making public my daughter's confidential juvenile court records. And I'm not going to stop there. I'm going to publish the records of their family members as well.
While CCB on the web has gone dark, the posts remain in my Reader. Livingston has published the social security numbers of a number of his enemies and in his last post, promised to scan in and upload medical records.

Tha Dean at CincyBeacon gets all howling fantod about the fact that Google has taken CBB down. It's pretty much cut-and-dried. The Google Content Policy states:
    We do not allow the unauthorized publishing of people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, Social Security Numbers, and driver's and other license numbers.
Contra Tha Dean, this is something different than posting a phone number. Livingston posted information that any identity thief with a decent crawler can use to make someone's life miserable.

Plus, Google is allowed to set policy. People who howl censorship about such things really grate. As a private actor Google has the right to decide what goes up on its platform which, need they remind us, they provide free as part of their business model. As private actors we all have the right to decide what gets expressed using our property. I rarely delete comments, but when I do, it's because I don't want certain crap to be associated with my name. The right not to speak -- that is the right to decide whether certain expression may be associated with me -- is as basic as the right to speak.

Moreover, life in the Web 2.0 age can at times be scary. Regular people now have the tools to reach millions of people, and sometimes those regular people aren't screwed together too tightly. Google's policy is much looser than it could be. For example, Google sets no policy regarding libelous material which would put it in the position of being Chief Blog Cop. But they draw some sensible lines, one of which Livingston defiantly crossed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Akron Says No to Brennan

ABJ reports that City Council has turned down Brennan's "offer" that the city take a million dollar loss on a loan he wrangled for his downtown hotel. City Council's position drop dead position is that they have to get the principle back.

Let's review. Brennan is a conservative Republican on the tiny government genus. He not only spreads lots of campaign cash to R candidates, he was a prominent sponsor of the ill-begotten TABOR proposal.

And at the same time, his basic business model is to work the government to either pay the whole freight on his business ventures (White Hat, etc.) or as in this case, to subsidize and assume the risk. Mr. Freemarket owes much of his impressive wealth to his talent for drawing from the public trough.

Meanwhile, rich or not, he's happy to let his hometown eat the loss if he decides to send the hotel business into bankruptcy. Of course, the bankruptcy option is part of business. Just like lobbying.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ohio as a Bellwether on Religion and Poitics?

A Blogging Faith post leads to this article in Religious Dispatches by one Robert Jones -- among other things a Center for Amercan Progress guy. Jones' piece heavily overclaims whatever shift in faith and voting may have happened in Ohio. The story starts contrasting the "fortunes" of We Believe Ohio on the left and Bruce Johnson on the right. From there the author notes the result of the 2006 gubernatorial election, then draws broader points about the supposed crack up of the religious right and ascendancy of religious progressives. Here's a sample:

    In the meantime, Ohio Christians clearly voiced their preference for a candidate that shared all their values rather than a candidate running on a narrow divisive platform of opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. Blackwell was handily defeated by Ted Strickland, a Methodist minister who stumped as a “Golden Rule Democrat” and who, as a senator, insisted on paying for his own health coverage as long as his constituents were not covered. According to the 2006 NEP exit polls, Strickland gained fourteen points among voters who attended religious services once per week or more, compared to support these voters gave Senator John Kerry in 2004. And voters, including a majority (fifty-one percent) of weekly church attenders, overwhelmingly supported a long-overdue ballot measure to increase the minimum wage.

If this is our evidence that the tide has turned, I'm not moving down the beach just yet. Of course we can start with the elementary mistake -- Strickland was a Representative, not a Congressman.

More broadly, We Believe has a long way to go before it is anything more than liberal clergy talking to each other. They currently aren't a convenient bus ride from the stadium Rod Parsley et al play in.

And of course, one cycle does not a trend make. I'd love to believe that we just need to keep doing what we are doing and we never have to worry about intolerant ranters like Parsley again.
While not his intention, Jones in fact shows now much work we have to do.

Oh Yeah. I Have a Blog Somewhere

No, I haven't been updating the pages the past few days. You don't want to hear my excuses, so I won't bother. Here's what I can promise. I'm pretty much incommunicado tomorrow until after dinner. I have a little over two weeks before the kids are off school at which time blogging time is necessarily constricted. I'm working on doing something about that as well. In any event, I'll try to gear back up to get some decent content up starting tomorrow night

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cuy Co. Rs Response to O'Malley Mess, Annotated

The Cuyahoga County Republican Party sent a presser to the Carnival mailbox about the scandal surrounding disgraced County Recorder Pat O'Malley. Here it is, with some thoughts

    Chairman Rob Frost of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County remarked today on the guilty plea entered by County Recorder Patrick O‘Malley on federal obscenity charges. Chairman Frost stated, —O‘Malley‘s guilt on these disturbing charges comes as no surprise, considering his lack of leadership and disgraceful behavior as a public official whose career has been marred by corruption and brazen patronage.
Wha . . .? Not surprising? Because political corruption and pedophilia go hand in hand? Did anyone actually read this before it went out?

Tom Noe is probably the most corrupt figure to afflict Ohio politics in a generation. Yet, if he had kiddie porn on his computer I would be genuinely surprised. And I would go around saying "Well, there go those corrupt Republicans again."
    Whatever the federal authorities expose, it is obvious that the Democratic Party has embarrassed and failed Cuyahoga County citizens, in particular through the unethical behavior of County Prosecutor Bill Mason in supporting and shielding fellow Democrat O‘Malley for years. It is clear that Mason could not protect his old college roommate from the FBI and federal prosecutors who are willing to do their jobs.
Well, Bill Mason is on his own. This annotation isn't going to carry his water. The investigation will reveal what it reveals and, if it drives him out of office, the House of Pho won't exactly be hanging a mourning wreath
    O‘Malley‘s resignation was both necessary and welcome, yet it is disappointing to realize that any appointee to fill a vacancy in the Recorder office will most certainly be another Democrat collaborator,which would only perpetuate the current reality of deceitful and corrupt leadership that has failed our county over the past 20 years.“
Yes, and truly disappointing to consider that the Republican Party hasn't had the chance to fail Cuyahoga County like it did the rest of Ohio. And shocking to think that with a communications strategy like this, people in Cuy.Co aren't buying what the local party is selling.
    Two-term former North Royalton Mayor Cathy Luks, who is slated to run against O‘Malley in this year‘s election, commented on the breaking story today, —Regardless of my opponent, I am focused on the need for reform of our county government. It is time for effective change in Cuyahoga County, and I am the only candidate who can bring ethical leadership to the office and restore public confidence in our government.
OK, this is how to respond to this kind of scandal. Mayor Luks brings the discussion back to reality. It's a shame her well-drafted comments had to appear side by side with the embarrassing driven put out by her party.

By the way, in the ProgOh story linked above, O'Malley expresses the hope that he won't go to prison. Um, pack your toothbrush, Pat. The sentencing guidelines say you must go, and a cantankerous former prosecutor like Judge Dowd isn't going to buck the guidelines on your account.

California S. Ct. Overturns Gay Marriage Ban

Happened this afternoon. Some unsorted thoughts.

  • Let us all recite The Great Progressive Conundrum which goes like this: I hate to see something like this in an election year with so much riding on it. On the other hand, it's hard to ask our gay allies, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. to disproportionately bear the burden for the sake of broader progressive goals. On the other other hand, one can question whether a court challenge is a more effective way to move toward equal marriage rights than the long slog of building a new political consensus. On the other other other hand, it's hard to fundamental rightness of the marriage advocates. Etc.
  • The case was decided based on the California Constitution. As such it won't get to the U.S. Supreme Court, and doesn't "endanger" the marriage definition of any other state, given DOMA and the proliferation of state-level DOMAs. Shear logic alone won't keep it from being used as political fodder, of course.
  • Gay marriage opponents have a Constitutional amendment initiative in the works. It may pull enough otherwise residents of Wingnuttonia to make the election closer.
  • The language describing the decision in the LA Times piece is heavily reminiscent of Loving v. Virginia which overturned anti-miscegenation laws and about which see here and the links therein.
  • The justices on the California Supreme Court are all Republicans, by the way. That won't keep conservatives from making the argument that Obama's court nominees will be favorably inclined toward gay marriage but it would undermine the contention that these decisions only come from moonbatty outliers, if logic had any sway.
  • Which, again, it does not.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Watching the Strickland/Dann Press Conference

No sooner did I post the following, than Plunderbund noted that Marc Dann and Gov. Ted Strickland are giving a joint press conference today at around 4:45. Right now it's 4:50 and ONN is standing by for the presser.

UPDATE: After some technical difficulties ONN cuts into Dann's statement just as he is announcing his resignation. The speech is a good one; probably the best shade of lipstick for this pig.

No wife in the background, but he drug his daughter along as the family support.

Now Ted is speaking. Hopefully he will address questions about what quid brought about this quo.

Brief statement -- Dann is doing the honorable thing. Then questions.

Q1: Was the threat of impeachment overstepping. My the MSM loves this narrative. Ted says no, "we've been consistent."

Q2: Any concessions: A: Absolutely no deal made between "Me and my administration." We met and he "expressed certain concerns." E.g., his employees. He wants his successor to treat them in a "professional manner."

Q3: Reports about Dann being concerned about the investigation. Was that discussed? A: I've said all along there should be an outside investigation. I signed the IG bill yesterday. My duty now as governor is to

Q4: Appointment? Ted is reading the Revised Code section. Right now Tom Winters, the First Assistant AG is assuming the duties. Ted mentions either interim appointment or appointment of an individual to stand for election in November. He hasn't made the decision yet.

Q5: What was Dann's attitude during the meeting? First meeting last Sunday night he insisted he did nothing warranting resignation. Last couple of days he's been realizing the seriousness of the situation.

Q6: What is the walk-off thought you'd like people to have: A: People will decide. I think it was handled appropriately. Etc.

Q7: Re: AG recognizing the seriousness. A: I would be speculating. But [then he speculates] that over the past several days the groundswell of opinion may have contributed to the decision he made today.

Q8: Damage to the Democratic party? A: Shouldn't damage the party. It's not the failing of a party, the party responded quickly and appropriately.

In terms of retaining the office in the Fall, I'm sure there will be a contested race but given the circumstances of

Q9: Affect on the Presidential election? A: Don't want to turn this into a political discussion, but (anecdote about (Obviously Ted doesn't read right-wing blogs.)

Q10: Unintelligible but Ted laughs about it. Seems to be about replacement but causes Ted to note that he doesn't have much influence w/r/t the Presidential primary.

Q11: Find it ironic that Tom Noe's former lobbyist is now the acting AG? A: Not ironic, it's just how the statute works.

Q12: How long will Winters stay in office, given that he was A: AG resigned about an hour and fifteen minutes ago. I'm dealing with one thing at a time.

Q13: Unintelligible, but seems to be about whether he's concerned about the overall quality of the workforce of the AG's office. A: AG employees number in the hundreds and many are career people. One reason I did what I did was to prevent just that -- the diminishing of the work they do.

Q14: Seems to be about how he feels about sexual harassment. He's agin' it.

Q15: Did Dann ask him to kill or delay the investigation. A: Never to me. Yesterday he asked Lt. Gov Fisher to speak to Sen. Harris and Spkr Husted. Fisher did that, but was simply conveying the message. Told them that the admin didn't support Dann's position.

Q16: Did Dann express concerns about his future financial situation? A: Yes, couched in terms of concern about his "three wonderful children."

Q17: What specific qualifications are you looking for. A: Maturity! (you can actually hear the exclamation point.) Also experience, administrative ability, etc.

Q18: Do you have a list? No. People have been suggested.

Q19: Lee Fisher? A: Would consider him but he's doing a great job at the Dept. of Devolopment and I'd hate to have him leave. I have a great deal of respect for Fisher and would consider him for anything.

Q20: Did you ever take Dann aside and say "we're hearing things, clean up your act." A: To begin with, the other Constitutional offices are occupied by individuals who have been independently elected who are office holders in their own right. Not part of my administration. Don't think the Gov office should assume the right to interfere with those offices.

Having said that, had I known any of the things that have come to light, I would have spoken to him.

Q21: Were the AG's misleading statements the reason we are here today? A: I believe I sa

Q22: What's next for Marc Dann? A: Heading back to Ytown to be with his children. Reiterates how wonderful Dann's children are.

And out.

I'm Back. Did I Miss Anything

Ninety final grades, a catch-up nap and a working lunch later, I'm more or less back on the job. Just a quick look at the Google Reader and -- Holy Sh!t.

So elsewhere with you if you haven't been keeping up on the Dann drama. A few quick, and fairly obvious takes. Apologies for anyone who has said the following elsewhere; I'm not entirely caught up on blog reading:

  • Dann's offer to resign if the IG doesn't investigate pretty much confirms that there is something worth investigating.
  • It also confirms that Dann's overriding concern is to soften his landing. Rumors have been circulating about Dem politicos shopping him to big law firms (who, funny thing, aren't interested in acquiring a foul-mouthed, ill-tempered colleague with zipper problems and an outsized sense of entitlement. Huh.)
  • Dann's most likely concern now is his law license. He can be impeached for grossly mismanaging the office and failing to correct violations of Federal fair employment laws, but none of that is likely to get his ticket punched. Whatever the IG finds on his computer might.
  • The other side of this is the rumors that Dann is threatening to reveal where other bodies are buried if the fading chimera of a soft landing fails to materialize. That's pretty much the only hole card he has at this point. Time will tell if it's enough to motivate the Dems . . .
  • And regardless of whether it does or not, the R's have a lot to say about all this and it's in their interest to see this drag out, unless Dann has maps of some of their bodies as well.
A couple other bits. Hearty congrats to Jeff Coryell for being named to the Democratic convention's State Blogger Corps.

Good analysis of Hillary's West Virginia blow-0ut and what it means from John Dickerson.

I'm up for the Carnival this week and am already way behind schedule, so better get to it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Missouri Considers Requireing Proof of Citizenship to Register

There are many good reasons to oppose voter ID laws. One is the sense that the advocates for such laws are less interested in responding to real concerns about voter fraud and more interested in throwing up a thousand tiny barriers to discourage voting. So this report from NYTimes is distressing:

    The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.

    The measure would allow far more rigorous demands than the voter ID requirement recently upheld by the Supreme Court, in which voters had to prove their identity with a government-issued card.

    Sponsors of the amendment — which requires the approval of voters to go into effect, possibly in an August referendum — say it is part of an effort to prevent illegal immigrants from affecting the political process. Critics say the measure could lead to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal residents who would find it difficult to prove their citizenship.
And yes, I still need to write the promised break-down of Crawford v. Marion County. Now there is another consideration to add in the mix.

Hillary Hitting the Creative Math Again

Got this All Hands on Deck notice in the ebag from Terry McCauliff:

    Dear Pho,

    The West Virginia primary is just a few days away, and we need you on the phones!

    Hillary is within striking distance of winning the popular vote nationwide -- a key part of our plan to win the nomination. That means we need every last vote we can get in West Virginia on Tuesday and in the races to follow.
Striking distance of the popular vote? That sounds odd, given that she most recently lost North Carolina by double digits and won Indiana by only a fistful of votes. The answer, probably, comes from Larry Sabato. An article on Sabato's Crystal Ball discusses the many different ways one can calculate the popular vote. As you look at the chart reproduced below, bear in mind that Hillary's reasoning for both prolonging the primary and seating the Michigan and Florida delegatins is that every vote should count:

Given TeamHillary's strategy of dismissing the legitimacy of caucuses, the number McCauliff is looking at is no doubt the top one. In the end game, the actual tag line will be "Every vote should count except those votes in caucuses But if we get to within an arguable statistical dead heat, only the votes in swing states should count."

She should be congratulated for one thing. No matter how many times she makes the argument, the magnitude of the intellectual dishonesty remains stunning.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Marc's Mess: We Have to Wait for Fifth Street

Despite the promise in the letter to serial screwup AG Marc Dann, articles of impeachment will be some time in coming. The House Republicans have Rep. Bill Batchelder looking into it and some comments from the Dem leadership reported in the Dispatch sound equivocal. Bloggers on the left and right are getting bent about backtracking.

Since summer is approaching, the World Series of Poker will start up soon. It's a good a time as any to review a couple truths about Texas Hold 'Em. If you bet big based on your hole cards and your opponent folds, the hand is over. If you bet big and your opponent calls, the hand goes on. If your opponent continues to call, the hand will go on until the dealer lays down the fifth common card ("The River," or "Fifth Street.")

And if you've been called on a big bet, you should think twice about betting big again until you have an idea what your opponent has.

As it is in poker, so it is in Marc's Mess. When Strickland bet big after the Espy report he wasn't exactly bluffing. He has a strong hand. The report outlines improprieties that led not only to a hostile environment for women, but a hostile environment for anyone with an unblackened soul. Dann meanwhile looks like he's holding about a nine high. But you never know. . .

While it offers a solid starting hand, the Espy report only begins to build the case against the AG himself. No pair of aces here. Thanks to his throwing Ed Simpson under the bus, Dann has a colorable argument that he was negligent in failing to prevent the excesses of his cronies, as opposed to actively complicit in those excesses. Based on that report alone, impeachment is a hard sell. Notwithstanding Connie Schultz's argument, the legislature is unlikely to embrace the standard that sex with a subordinate is per se impeachable. Too many legislators, erm, know someone who has gone there before.

The more salable candidates for a bill of impeachment run along two lines. The first is that Dann was far more in his friends' misdeeds than he's admitted. Somewhere in the blizzard of paperwork and subsequent reports is the allegation that complaints against Gutierrez were forwarded to Dann's office and pretty much disappeared into a void there. Mix an ongoing effort to violate workplace discrimination laws (even where those laws aren't technically criminal) and/or to cover up those violations along with everything else, and this starts to look more impeachable. Similarly, if evidence surfaces that Dann knew of Gutierrez's penchant for playing bumper cars with state vehicles and did nothing, we can sell that to the Legislature.

The second line of inquiry is whether Dann lied under oath when interviewed by Espy. In at least two spots, I am suspicious. First is the question of whether he lied about Jessica Utovich spending the night at the now-infamous condo1. To review, Dann initially says he doesn't remember, then in a subsequent sworn statement, amends that to say that he now remembers she did spend a night or two, though at that time couched it in terms that still preserved deniability about the affair.

It's all well and good for a witness to say he doesn't remember most of the time. Most of the time, that will work even if not actually true. And if it is true that Utovich only stayed the night a couple of times because it was late, it's at least conceivable that Dann wouldn't remember. But if she spent the night because that's when they engaged in the inappropriate part of their "inappropriate relationship," he certainly would remember that. To say he doesn't remember at that point puts us in Steve Martin territory.

A second possibility is that he lied in minimizing his involvement with the Gutierrez hire. I've outlined that case previously.

At this point we have limited information, but probably not enough to say unequivocally that Dann's transgressions are or should be impeachable. We need a few more cards on the table. We need, for instance, to hear from the Shiny-Faced Scheduler herself, and under oath. We need to drag Ed Simpson out from under the bus and see what he has to say. Open questions remain not only about what people know but also whether they are willing to divulge it. And until there are a few more cards under the table, an elected official speaking without reservation about impeachment does so recklessly.

Watching poker offers, among other things, an entertaining way to study how people make decisions based on incomplete information. So does the Dann drama.

1ModernEsquire is right to a point when he says that a deponent has the ability to review a deposition, but that's only part of the story. First, one generally reviews the transcript for errors in transcription. You can't change the record, only correct how it was recorded. Second, if Utovich spent the night on inappropriate-relationship-related business, his second statement suggesting that she did so only because it was late and she was there on actual AG business doesn't cure the deception, it perpetuates it.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Are Dems Close to Resolving Florida and Michigan?

Taegan Goddard flags this from MSNBC's First Read:

    Everything we're hearing is that a deal over Florida and Michigan could be cut in the next few days. The Obama campaign apparently realizes they have plenty of room to give. The hurdle isn't Clinton and Obama anymore, though; it is folks in the DNC who believe those two recalcitrant states still need to be punished in some form, so states realize there are consequences to doing this in 2012. The latest offer from Michigan is a 69-59 split, with supers going however they want. The two state parties don't want to be halved, meaning their delegate votes become .5, a la Democrats Abroad. But it's clear to us that DNC types want some flesh on this issue. Many hate the idea of Florida and Michigan getting full delegations simply because now it appears their delegations won't make a difference in the process.
Hillary's end game strategy appears to be 1) argue for seating Florida and Michigan under the theory that every vote should count, 2) note that she is by some measure in shouting distance of Obama as a result and argue that it's essentially a tie and 3) press the supers to give her the nod on the theory that only votes in the swing states count.

(If that sounds like a steaming pile of hypocricy, well you just don't understand).

Another Goddard post points the way to a couple of articles on the latest iterations of that strategy, and reports that Dems central wants nothing to do with it. If the Dems are able to resolve Michigan and Florida, and in particular if they minimize Hillary's gains in doing so, what rationale does she have to continue campaigning?

Dann Catch-Up Notes

A few stray bits I missed in the flood after the Dann break. (Sorry about that.)

The ABJ has run not one but two editorials telling lawmakers to essentially to cool their jets, and a third suggesting that he may be able to pull it out of the fire. Interestingly, Monday, the day he released the email saying that he was working hard for the people of Ohio, Marc Dann was driving up I-71 (with his sleeves rolled up, of course) to meet with the Beacon ed board. Hardly the people's business, but given the tone of the ABJ ed page this week, Dann certainly took care of his own business.

This bit from the articles following the Monday letter confirmed a point:

    Strickland, one of seven Democratic leaders to sign a letter requesting resignation, said he talked twice to Dann on the telephone Sunday and each time implored him to step down.
I had mentioned that calling Dann out publicly would just make him dig in. I'm happy that Strickland did the smart thing and back-channelled him first. If nothing else, Ted is a damn fine political strategist.

Or maybe he was just waiting for advice from PolSci 216.

I had also missed the story about why Leo Jennings asked Deborah Urban to lie until I saw it recounted in the TPM piece on the scandal. There was a lot of, er, love in that office. And the most incriminating texts are from Urban rebuffing Gutierrez's advances. Is there a woman in the Greater Columbus area under the age 70 that Gutierrez didn't lech at?

Finally Blue Bexley has two posts up making the point I've been waiting for. Bottom line, this is not an Affair-with-a-younger-staffer scandal. This is a Hiring-friends-who-are-completely-unqualified-and-doing-nothing-as-they-act-a-ass scandal.

Carnival #116 Posted

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is Jill posting this week's Carnival with a Shakespearean theme.

Just the remedy we need for our Spring of discontent.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Light Posting Ahead

It's finals week at the U. I have tests to write and tests to grade, so posts will be even lighter than usual the next few days.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Boccieri Reverses Field on Dann

H/t Swing State Project which hosts a cross-post from Boccieri's campaign blog. Here's Sen. Boccieri's statement:

    "I am outraged that the Attorney General of the state of Ohio has neglected the duty and honor of public service," Senator Boccieri said. "The cronyism and lack of attentiveness to protocol and detail in Attorney General Dann's hiring practices has led us to this tragic moment in Ohio's history. I feel for his wife Alyssa and his children, who must endure the embarrassment he has caused to them, and the people of the state of Ohio.

    "We support the ongoing investigation to determine whether any criminal lines have been crossed. However, after combing through the sordid details of the investigation transcripts, it is clear that ethical and moral lines have been disregarded. For this reason, I call upon Marc Dann to resign immediately."

Boccieri will take a hit from this as it's a sharp departure from his equivocal statement Friday, reported here. (By the way, the Repository evidently changes urls when moving stories to the archives, so you can find the original story here now.) The blow isn't fatal; Boccieri can say he hadn't read the report yet. Still it's a blow to a candidate in a tough election.

There will be plenty more collateral damage before this is all over.

Dann Replacement: Jeff Has the Cordray Scenario

Jeff Coryell reports hearing the following scenario:

    * Strickland's Chief Legal Counsel Kent Markus will be appointed interim Attorney General following Dann's resignation or removal but will not run for election in November;

    * Treasurer Rich Cordray will run for Attorney General in the special election without giving up his current post; and,

    * If Cordray wins the special election he will then give up his seat and Strickland will appoint a replacement, presumably a high-profile county treasurer and/or an officeholder with statewide campaign experience. From my northeast Ohio perspective, Cuyahoga County Jim Rokakis and Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher come immediately to mind but there are many others who would fit the bill.

That is consistent with the rumor I've heard, reported here. It's also amazingly good politics as Cordray is an unassailably solid candidate and the Dems risk only one seat instead of two. The only unfortunate aspects are A) that Cordray won't have six months or so to clean up Marc's Mess and B) Subodh isn't part of the mix.

Can Dann Be Impeached?

The short answer to the question posed is "yes." But you should know by now that this blog does not deal in short answers.

Impeachment in Ohio is governed by two constitutional provisions. The mode of impeachment is set forth in § 2.23:

    The house of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment, but a majority of the members elected must concur therein. Impeachments shall be tried by the senate; and the senators, when sitting for that purpose, shall be upon oath or affirmation to do justice according to law and evidence. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the senators.
And § 2.24 describes who may be impeached.
    The governor, judges, and all state officers, may be impeached for any misdemeanor in office; but judgment shall not extend further than removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office under the authority of this state. The party impeached, whether convicted or not, shall be liable to indictment, trial, and judgment, according to law.
Modern Esquire and the Dispatch each point out that "misdemeanor" in this context means any misdeed in office. This is true for two reasons. First, that's the general understanding of what that language meant at the time. Second, there is essentially no judicial review of impeachments. An impeachable offense is whatever 2/3 of Senators say it is, with no appeal.

How can that be? Welcome to an obscure little pocket of constitutional law called the political question doctrine. The U.S. Supreme Court treats some issues as political questions and therefore outside the Court's jurisdiction. The Court set out a multi-part test for political questions in Baker v. Carr, but the most important one you need to know about is that the matte is one fully committed by the Constitution to one of the other two branches. The theory regarding impeachment is that the constitutions, both state and Federal, explicitly commit the question of impeachment to the legislative branch.

The U.S. Supremes stated unequivocally in Nixon v. U.S. (ironically not about President Nixon who resigned before being impeached but a judge named Nixon who objected to being impeached) that even procedural questions about impeachment are beyond the Court's reach. The current Ohio Supreme Court is likely to follow suit. It's generally a conservative court at political question is a generally conservative doctrine. A number of members of the Court has also spoken fondly of the more general principle of justiciability, most notably in the various dissents and concurrences of the various DeRolph decisions.

Having said all of that, we hope that the Senate will proceed with some caution on this matter. The nightmare scenario is the House Republican caucus writing articles of impeachment with some sort of poison pill that makes Democrats hesitant to vote on them. The articles should include the full scope of Dann's misdeeds -- simply impeaching him for boffing a subordinate would be a bit out of bounds, for instance.

They should also include misdeeds inimical to good government. If, for example, Dann is found to have lied about Utovich spending the night,1 that by itself is an awfully thin reed. I believed during the Clinton impeachment and believe today that perjury to cover up an affair to avoid embarrassment, while bad and illegal, is not the sort of misdeed that should bring about impeachment. It's a closer call here since his affair is a key part of the porn-set-minus-wiling-females milieu that was the Dann Attorney General's office.

Still, one hopes that Dann will be impeached based on a stronger list of misdeeds.

1No small number of pixels have been burned on this question already, but here's how it would go. Dann stated in his first statement that he did not recall Utovich spending the night. Then he "amended" that statement later and stated that she did on occasion. Fine, but if the evidence shows that she spent the night routinely because they were sleeping together, his first statement that he didn't remember isn't simply a slip of memory, it's a lie.

Monday, May 05, 2008

R.I.P Mildred Loving

Mildred Loving, who along with her husband Richard challenged their arrest under Virginia's miscegenation law and eventually saw the law overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, died May 2 at 68. Her daughter announced Mildred's passing today.

Mildred did not set out to be a revolutionary. When she and Richard married in DC, then moved to Virginia, she did not know her marriage was a felony because she was black and Richard white. After some time living in Virginia a neighbor notified the police and they were arrested and jailed.

While Brown v. Board of Education gets most of the attention as the major case of the civil right era, Loving v. Virginia is a close second. In Loving the Court rejected the state's argument that the law did not violate equal protection because it treats whites and blacks the same (i.e. neither can marry the other.) In so doing the Court reaffirmed the principle announced in Brown that laws separating the races violate equal protection when their clear purpose is to perpetuate the view that one race is inferior.

More than that, Loving struck at the very heart of segregation -- the fear of intermarriage. Back when the Court first fumbled Equal Protection clause jurisprudence in Plessey v. Ferguson, it cited the traditional acceptance of anti-miscegenation laws as one supporting argument. Throughout the Jim Crow era intermarriage was frequently listed as one of the potential horrors desegregation would bring. In Loving the Court said once and for all that the fear of intermarriage was not a legitimate basis for policy.

On a day such as this, it's not a bad thing to think about the best the law can be. Repeatedly in the history of Constitutional law we find instances where absurdly ordinary people bring argumets before before the highest court in the land and change the world.

Godspeed, Mildred.

H/t Bitch Ph.d. for the heads up.