Friday, October 28, 2005

Justice Modern Esquire???

Dear President Bush:

I just wanted to let you know that I have recently passed the Ohio Bar Exam, and am now as qualified as Harriet Miers was for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. At 30 years old, I would make a lasting legacy for your Administration for decades to come. Imagine, you could have the two longest serving nominees on the Supreme Court ever!

As a Bush nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, I will be a judge that applies the law, not create it. So the next time some accused terrorist is complaining about Geneva Convention violations, I will not create some new executive right out of thin air, but strictly interpret and apply the treaties and conventions that the Executive and Legislative branches have ratified.

Unlike Miss Miers, I do not present an executive privilege problem as I have never worked in your White House. In fact, since we've never met, you can avoid any sort of "Brownie" or Miers cronynism accusations. Also, since I have yet to let my Ohio law license lapse, I won't have those attention to detail problems like she did. Additionally, my classmates will tell you that I did well in constitutional law in law school, so I can handle the inevitable droning conversations with Arlen Specter about Youngtown Steel and its role in the War Against Terror (TM) for hours, much to the Chairman's delight.

Please let me know if you are interested in considering me for this position as soon as possible, so I can start creating my paper trail as to why you're "the bestest President ever." Thank you.

Sincerely,
-The Modern Esquire

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Candidate Coleman declares victory over Mayor Coleman!!!!

Gubernatorial candidate Mike Coleman wants you to know that he's against local politicians praising the work of televangelist Rod Parsely and his Reformation Ohio project to mobilize social conservative Christians to vote and be active in politics from the pulpit.

And he's already convinced one city politician to reverse course. Sadly, that politician is Coleman himself.

After promising to give the group, which is dedicated to getting evangelicals to elect Ken Blackwell Governor, a proclamation hand-delivered by his wife, Coleman's campaign angrily denied the allegation that Mayor Coleman's office was intending to praise the conservative spiritual movement.
On Thursday, Coleman's campaign issued a statement saying, "Mayor Coleman was never scheduled to participate in any Reformation Ohio activities and his wife will not either." The statement said that "for too long, faith and values have been manipulated to push political agendas by dividing our citizens."
Indeed, records obtained from the Mayor's office showed the office wanted no part in praising this religious/political pariah using faith to divide us. In reply to the request, the Mayor's office angrily said:
"Please indicate whether you would like the certificate mailed or ready to be picked up."
Well, I'm sure it was followed by: "I said 'Good day, sir!"

But in all fairness to Mayor Coleman, that was just one mayoral assistant who may not have been aware of the gravitas of the situation. Surely, someone else in the campaign can confirm that the Mayor never intended to praise a man who once said the teaching of Islam was inspired by demons. Perhaps someone in Coleman's staff that is more politically aware?
Danni Palmore, Coleman's political director and a member of Parsley's World Harvest Church, said the proclamation was promised and that Mrs. Coleman did plan to present it.
Um, okay, but just because Coleman's office almost issued a proclamation doesn't mean that Coleman is arm-in-arm with Parsley.

In reaction to Coleman's strong rebuke, of himself, what did the Rev. Parsely think about all this? Coleman's attempts to distance himself from Parsley were "contrary to what I know the mayor and his wife, Frankie, stand for and believe," Parsley said in his statement.

In fact, Parsley continued, Coleman called the pastor the day before he announced his candidacy, seeking advice and counsel. Coleman has been a guest in Parsley's church, presented him with a flag from the city and shared his own faith experiences, Parsley said.

So you can seek spiritual guidance from someone before you announce your candidacy, can award them with a city flag, but a proclamation is where Coleman draws the line?

I think Coleman has some explaining to do about what, exactly, is his relationship with Rod Parsley and why it's only been within the past week that Coleman has distance himself from Parsley.

But even more bizarre is this story from the Akron Beacon-Journal that claims that the proclamation, that Coleman never intended on issuing, wasn't issued because the Colemans didn't want to irritate the audience by criticizing the group's goals.

Yes, the resolution that was never promised and never written, but if it had been hand-delivered by the candidate's wife at the rally, it would have criticized the group for using faith and values to push political agendas by dividing our citizens, and that's why he didn't attend.

So to recap, Mayor Coleman wants you to know that the reason he didn't attend the conservative evangelical political rally that he was never scheduled to attend is that the proclamation that he never promised to give and was never written would have said something that would have upset a group wondering why a politician would come to an event he was never scheduled to appear to deliver a proclamation that was never promised and that, although never written, would have criticized them harshly.

Got that?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Camp Hackett in utter disarray

I was at the Warren County Democratic Party's Dinner with the Candidates last night, and besides the standing room only and larger than expected crowds, the bigger story of the night was the unfolding drama around the Hackett camp. The only thing that seems clear is that Hackett's footsoldiers still want him to run for Senate, Congressman Sherrod Brown notwithstanding, but they're faced with a relunctant candidate who may have a more realistic picture of the political landscape. Here's what we do know.

Hackett isn't going to run for Ohio Attorney General. He publicly endorsed Subdoh Chandra for Attorney General after Mr. Chandra gave a very enthusastic and well-received speech. I was somewhat bothered by Mr. Chandra's comments about unannounced candidates who may be considering the race as I thought this was kind of a pre-emptive slam against Hackett. The fact that Hackett later talked about people urging him to run for that race and his decision not to just seemed to solidify that impression.

Hackett's core supporters aren't unified as to what they want him to do. I talked to some very key supporters of Hackett's special election run, and there doesn't seem to be any consensus of what they expect Paul to decide to do. Some didn't even mention the Senate race and talked about the possibility of running for another Statewide office. Others, furious of Brown's announced enterance in the race before Hackett's, want Hackett to run against Brown in what looks to be a bloody, divisive primary battle. (The ol' blogsphere has been burning with accusations and counter-accusations by both camps. Neither have seem to be presenting themselves, or their candidates, in a respectable light.)

Hackett's supporters view him as Dean outsider, and he's presenting himself like that. Hackett's speech was very Dean-esque, minus the Iowa scream. His theme was an indictment against the D.C. party leadership, specifically, Hillary Clinton, who Hackett referred to leaderless leadership that merely walks around D.C. with their fingers in the wind and does nothing more than show up and vote.

At first, I thought maybe Hackett was trying to make a case against Brown, but on all the issues he mentioned, health care, education, Iraq, Brown was against the party leadership's position and has taken active steps to move the country in a different direction. Factually, I don't think Hackett's indictment of the D.C. leadership rings true when made against Congressman Sherrod Brown.

Hackett really isn't much of an outsider, and neither are his supporters. Of course, this is going to start a snark and flame war, but Hackett isn't an outsider at all. In fact, his speech last night acknowledged that it was the early involvement of Congressman Strickland who got the local party establishment behind Hackett that helped him do so well in the eastern part of the district (where he actually won.)

And actually, I don't know what "they in the Democratic Party" Hackett's camp is talking about given that they are the Democratic Party in this area. It's unusual to see an establishment campaign against itself.

Hackett realizes that 2006 isn't the same as a special election; some of his supporters act like they don't.
Hackett realizes he's got alot of street cred, but also knows he doesn't want to spend it foolishly cause it's hard to get back. Hackett and some of even his most diehard supporters realize that the results of the 2nd Congressional special election has limited applicability in 2006.

Taking the current 2006 Senate race for example. Unlike in the special election, Hackett isn't facing a primary of political novices in a low-key, discount retail politics campaign that will be only a few months long. Sherrod Brown has won statewide and has represented a Congressional district that is a significant chunk of the primary voting bloc. Hackett also realizes that his name-recognition is going to be a bigger challenge than it was even in the special election.

A year-long state-wide campaign requires exponentially more volunteers, resources and coordination than an eight-county campaign did that only had to go for two months.

The anger towards Brown seems rather inconsistent.
Some of the hard-core Hackett supporters are more angry at Brown than DeWine. Brown's sin used to be that he wouldn't give up his safe House seat for the good of the party. Now, his greatest sin is that he did give up his seat by changing his mind right when it looked like Hackett was going to become the anointed candidate. Hackett's coronation aside, the Hackett camp seems to forget that Hackett's nomination was becoming more the result of a process of elimination, than anything Hackett himself was doing. In fact, it's hard to criticize Brown for changing his mind when it publicly appears that Hackett himself has yet to make up his own.

Even more confusing is how the Hackett camp can blast Brown from changing his mind about running, but then give two standing ovations to Congressman Ted Strickland and enthuastically and offically endorse him last night. If Mike Coleman had been asked, I think he'd wonder what he did to get such different treatment.

This is why we have primaries Campaigns shouldn't be determined by which side flames the other the best, or who has the most support from those of us who blog. We have primaries so we don't have kingmakers. But if there is going to be a Hackett-Brown primary (which we have yet to hear from Hackett himself that is going to be the case), then both camps should start to conduct themselves in a manner that will unite us after the primary, not leaving us divided and some of us disengaged because we leave the primary unable to put our differences aside and come together behind whomever the nominee is and see that they are elected.

It's a naive hope that either camp will conduct themselves this way, but it's less naive than those who think flame wars and snarks on blogs will settle this primary battle.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bush to investigate his own incompetence

President Bush announced today that he will investigate the federal response to Katrina, but the White House added that "now is not the time for finger-pointing."

The President will likely form an executive commission to investigate the federal government's response to Katrina. Likely appointees to the commission to find the "real hurricane victim killers" include:
  • O.J. Simpson,
  • Michael Jackson (who has never been accused of killing anyone, but still...)
  • Jon Benet's parents, and
  • Robert Blake.

BTW, why announce an investigation if now is not the time for finger-pointing? If all the White House can do in response to this disaster is to craft a message to limit their own political damage, can they at least come up with a consistent message?

Is it just me or is Harry Connick, Jr. the best nominee to replace FEMA Head Mike Brown??

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Navy Ship, in Gulf at time of Katrina's landfall, complains about underutilization by FEMA

The USS Bataan can hold 600 patients, produce 100k gallons of drinkable water a day, and stations 1,200 sailors who could aid in the resecue and recovery efforts. Most of which has yet to be utilized in response to the disaster, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SHIP HAS BEEN IN THE AREA SINCE KATRINA HAS HIT.

Please read today's Chicago Tribune story on the Bataan and its C.O.'s frustration with being under utilized while several other Navy ships are still en route to get to the area.

1,200 sailors that can aid in cleanup and clearing of roadways. The ability to produce drinking water and delivering it (helicopters). A 600 bed hospital with doctors with nothing else to do.

Add this to the list of the indictment of the federal government's mismanagement of the response.

Note, unlike the Cmd. of the Guard who claims that reaching the area was all but impossible until now. This Navy commander believes he could get personel wherever they're needed.

Here's a quote from the story:

Then the Bataan was ordered to move to the waters off Biloxi, Miss., and LCU-1656 was ordered to return. The landing craft was 40 miles from New Orleans, but it wouldn't be able to deliver its cargo.

"It was a disappointment," Fish said. "I figured we would be a big help in New Orleans. We've got electricity, and the police could have charged up their radios. We've got water, toilets. We've got food."

Now sailing within 25 miles of Gulfport, Miss., the Bataan has become a floating warehouse. Supplies from Texas and Florida are ferried out to the ship, and the helicopters distribute them where Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel say they are needed.

The Bataan has also taken on a substantial medical staff. Helicopters ferried 84 doctors, nurses and technicians 60 miles out to the ship from the Pensacola Naval Air Station on Friday, and on Saturday afternoon 24 of the medical personnel were flown to the New Orleans Convention Center where they expected to augment the staff of an Air Force medical clinic on the center's bus parking lot. The medical staff had come from Jacksonville, Fla., Naval Hospital, and they covered a wide swath of medical specialties from surgeons and pediatricians to heart specialists, a psychiatrist and even a physical therapist.

"It's really a cross section of a major hospital," said Capt. Kevin Gallagher, a Navy nurse who was part of the group. "We haven't been told what to expect, but we're going to find out once we get out there."

Moving in, ready to go

On Friday evening the Bataan was edging closer to the Mississippi shoreline; until then, it had stayed well out into the gulf to avoid floating debris.

Closer to shore, it will be able to deploy the landing craft again, as well as Marine hovercraft that can ride up onto shore to deliver supplies.

LCU-1656 cruised 98 miles overnight Thursday with a failed electrical generator and broken starboard propeller to join up again with the Bataan, their mother ship. After repairs, it was to set out for the shoreline near Gulfport, Miss., Saturday with a 15,000 water tank lashed to vessel's deck, as well as pallets of bottled water.

The role in the relief effort of the sizable medical staff on board the Bataan was not up to the Navy, but to FEMA officials directing the overall effort.

That agency has been criticized sharply for failing to respond quickly enough.

Tyson said the hurricane was an unusual event that has left some painful lessons.

"Can you do things better? Always," Tyson said. "Unfortunately, some of the lessons we have learned during this catastrophe we are learning the hard way. But I think we're working together well to make things happen."
Unfreakin' believable.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ohio law schools opening their doors to Katrina-affected law students

My alma mater, the University of Cincinnati College of Law announced that it will allow Louisiana-enrolled law students from Ohio displaced by Katrina to enroll at U.C. Law as visiting students this semester.

The University of Dayton and other law schools have as well. Indeed, many have agreed to admit these students and waived tuition and fees for them.

If you, or someone you know, is a displaced law student, a full list of law schools accepting students and information about enrolling and costs can be found: here.

CSI Undone

In the criminal justice system, much has been said about the impact of popular crime dramas have had in shaping laypeople's perceptions of forensic science and expectations of investigations.

The "CSI Effect" Lately, several prosecutors have commented that juries have been more willing to acquit criminal defendants simply because there is no forensic evidence that tied the defendant to the crime, even in cases where forensic evidence would normally not come into play.

With the increased attention on forensic science, defense attorneys have been make significant headway in revealing long-used forensic science techniques as "junk science." With that, common forensic techniques like bite mark comparison, microscopic hair comparisons, and bullet lead batch comparison tests have come under more scientific scrutiny and revealed to be more questionable science than originally accepted.

Today, the FBI announced that they will no longer conduct bullet lead batch comparison tests as it is simply proven to be too unreliable. The test had been routinely done by the FBI since 1966 and has served as evidence in countless criminal convictions.

Essentially, the flawed theory behind the test was that by testing the amount of common trace elements and compare the compositions of say a bullet committed in a murder to unfired bullets in the possession of the accused. The FBI analyst would say whether the composition of the two different bullets of those trace elements were similar, thus implying that they were likely from the same batch made from the same manufacturer. You can see where I'm going with this.

However, study of the technique had revealed one critical flaw. Not every bullet in a manufacturer's package came from the same batch. Furthermore, studies also showed that bullets supposedly made in the same batch did not have the same composition of the trace elements.

Although only 20% of the FBI lead batch tests were admitted as evidence, the impact of a forensic science technique proven to be unsound can not be understated. Over 100 cases since the 1980s had lead batch testing evidence introduced as sound forensic science bearing the seal of approval from the FBI. And in hindsight, it's hard to quantify how much impact that forensic test alone had on the jury's decision.

Expect to see further forensic science techniques to come under increasing scrutiny. With that, several long-held assumptions about the results of some tests to be proven to be unsupported by science. Indeed, given the lack of a uniform standard of doing comparison analysis, even the use of fingerprint analysis has become questioned. And in some courts, expert handwriting comparison evidence is inadmissible as unreliable evidence.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The lawlessness won't end with the looting

With gas prices going up to anywhere to $3 to almost $5 a gallon in some areas, it's hard not to see the possible economic impact Katrina will have on our national economy. With daily images of the suffering, the human and psychological toll is just as inescapable.

But if you believe that the legal impact of this disaster will end once the looting stops, you're sadly mistaken.

Prof. Bainbridge reports on the legal impact Katrina has already had on the disaster. I've linked his blog entry so you can read it in its entirety. Consider:

  • 5,000 - 6,000 lawyers (1/3 of the lawyers in Louisiana) have lost their offices, their libraries, their computers with all information thereon, their client files.


  • Countless criminal and civil appeals pending in the state supreme court have likely been washed away as the state supreme court building is under water. And in most courthouses, records are kept in the basement or lower levels of the building.


  • The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals building is under some water - with the same effect. That one building houses all relevant records of every pending federal appeal in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. That doesn't include just attorney's legal briefs, but court records and evidence on matters on appeal. How can any inmate appeal a conviction when the entire record of their trial is washed away?


  • Locally, the city and district courts in as many as 8 parishes/counties are under water, as well as 3 circuit courts - with evidence/files at each of them ruined.


  • The law enforcement offices in those areas are under water - again, with evidence and investigatory filed likely destroyed.


  • 6,000 prisoners in 2 prisons and one juvenile facility are having to be securely relocated. We already have over-crowding at most Louisiana prisons and juvenile facilities. What effect will this have? And what happens when the evidence in their cases has been destroyed? Will the guilty be released upon the communities? Will the innocent not be able to prove their innocence?


  • The state bar offices are under water as are the state disciplinary offices - again with evidence ruined. How many complaints about unethical acts committed by attorneys will go unpunished?


  • Furthermore, and particular interest to me, there's the concern that the recent July bar exam tests were housed there. Prompting Prof. Bainbridge to ask, "Will all of those new graduates have to retake the bar exam?"
So, now you can see that the injustice and lawlessness will not end with the looters.

Simply beyond understanding.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Have the Statehouse Dems already endorsed Strickland?

Just as the President is the titular head of his or her party nationally, the Governor is (except Taft) normally considered the titular head of the state party. But during a contested primary election, most elected party members don't start taking their cues from a gubernatorial candidate. But given the statements and actions of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus, you have to wonder: have they already decided to support Strickland over Coleman? Consider the following:

On whether Gov. Bob Taft should be forced from office:

Strickland said he is "not prepared to call for (Taft) to step down unless something more damaging comes to light than already has been revealed- U.S. Rep. Strickland on 8/21/05 as quoted in Monday's Columbus Dispatch.

If there is evidence that Mr. Taft knew before April 3 about the rare-coin investment that Mr. Noe controlled and the governor says he didn't remember it, then "the drumbeat will grow louder and louder for the governor to take full responsibility for this scandal,'' Ohio House Minority Leader Chris Redfern said in today's Toledo Blade.

Amazingly, this is the view of some on the Republican leadership as well:

Ohio House Speaker John Husted (R): "Husted said, however, that unless new information is "brought to light, there would be no need for impeachment." Husted, in today's Dayton Daily News.

So while Coleman (and I) pushed our fellow Democrats to move for Taft's removal, the caucus seemed to follow Strickland's lead. But unless there is context I am missing, it appears it doesn't end there.

On what should be done in response to Coingate:

Coleman: There ought to be an ethics prosecutor (apparently ignoring for the moment the Office of the Inspector General).

Strickland: There ought to be a bipartisan commission with equal partisan representation and subpoena power to investigate Coingate.

Ohio House Minority Leader Redfern: "Mr. Redfern continued to push for a legislative commission - with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans - to investigate the scandals swirling around Mr. Noe, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, and the governor's office." In today's Toledo Blade.

In the same article, Senate Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss said a "Watergate-like" commission should investigate the "pay-to-play" culture in the State.

Has any Democratic member of the General Assembly endorsed, let alone, introduced Coleman's legislation?

Republican House Speaker Husted seems to be willing to consider such a commission:
"Husted said he and Redfern are discussing a new committee that would examine ways to craft legislation that would make it easier for lobbyists and legislators to comply with ethics laws." today's Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Although Coleman's campaign boasted when the Akron Beacon Journal endorsed his anti-corrupt plans, it chose Strickland's response to Taft's conviction over Coleman's when in today's editorial it said:
Michael Coleman, the Columbus mayor and a Democratic candidate for governor, has called for Taft to resign. He cited the confusion about when Taft learned that Thomas Noe (Republican bad boy) invested rare coins for the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, the governor saying one thing, Noe another. U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland (the second Democrat in the governor's race) noted the lack of concrete answers about what the governor knew. He rightly resisted playing the resignation card. Democrats would also be wise to dump the talk of impeachment.

It's nowhere close to the primary season, and it seems that Strickland has taken a position acceptable by both parties, showing the ability to govern. But more troubling for the Coleman campaign, it looks like the Democratic members of the Ohio General Assembly are already starting to play from the Strickland playbook.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Rep. Redfern: Let the Sunshine in & Impeach Taft


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.

--Art. II, Sec. 24 of the Ohio Constitution
Dear Ohio House Minority Leader Redfern:

Contextually, there is no question that impeachment is a discretionary power of the legislative branch, as no situation requires the legislature to impeach a public official. Furthermore, there is no question that Gov. Taft's recent criminal conviction is sufficient grounds for impeachment. The constitution says that the Legislative may impeach members of the Judiciary or Executive branches whenever such a member commits a misdeed in office. The framers use of the term "misdemeanor" was likely meant to mean "misdeed" as opposed to the more modern legal definition that means all categories of crimes not constituting a felony. It would be axiomatic to say the Constitution permits impeachment when the Governor commits a misdemeanor, but not a felony. Regardless there is no question as to whether the Governor's criminal acts constitute a misdeed committed "in office" as the offense could not be committed outside the scope of his official capacity.

For the following reasons, the Ohio House of Representatives should publicly debate articles of impeachment against Governor Bob Taft:

What does the Democratic Party stand for?
If the Democratic Party has any interest in being a governing party again, it must show Ohioans a vision for governing, especially for the legislature. My biggest complaint about this early process is that it is being done in closed doors with a small segment of the legislature attending (a closed-door caucus meeting I believe). I have no qualms or am naive to believe that caucus meetings should not be conducted by closed-door, but on this issue, I think it's misguided.

Let the Sunlight in
What issue is more important to the State than the seemingly endless ethics problems of the State leadership? As part of the opposition, we have seen press quote after quote about how the GOP's practice of closed door dealing has hurt Ohio. Let this be an opportunity to show how differently Democrats would govern by being public and deliberative. Let's show that the House of Representatives is not just a voting body, but the deliberative body it was intended to be before the first stone was laid on Capitol Square. Of course, the issue as to whether the Governor's actions should constitute an impeachable offense is a debatable issue. But good governing requires that debate to be had on the record and in the open public. I believe that's why we built y'all a House chamber and gave you those microphones, t.v. cameras, and nifty electronic voting machines with the cool screens showing the roll call on each side. I'm still trying to figure out the laptops, though....

Failure is not introducing an article of impeachment and having it fail. Failure is the status quo. Let the issues regarding impeachment be discussed on the floor of the House, with members of both parties discussing it, and let the decision be rendered by a roll call vote for all of Ohio to see. That is democracy, and that is where our party name derives.

Impeachment v. Resignation
Several members of the other party have suggested that Taft should step down. The Governor has indicated an unwillingness to do so. One cannot make the case that a public official should resign for misconduct, but if that official refuses, then nothing further should be done. One cannot argue on one hand for resignation but then vote against impeachment. Like resignation, impeachment is a declaration that a public official's misconduct has caused that official to lose their moral authority to act on behalf of the State. That should be the standard in which the Governor should be judged.

Are the gifts Gov. Taft failed to disclose any less than what former Connecticut Governor John Rowland received? At least most of Gov. Rowland's gifts came from state employees, not campaign contributors who were government contractors (although some of them did.)

Distinguish yourself from the opposition
The Speaker's comments regarding your request to the LSC to present information regarding impeachment was telling. It shows that the majority leadership of the House has completely abdicated its responsible as officers of the House to enforce the Ohio Constitution or display any leadership for Ohio whatsoever. His "wait-and-see" attitude gives the House Democratic caucus a prime opportunity to show that while Republicans issue lofty press releases deploring the Governor's actions, the House Democrats are ready with a serious mind to discuss forcing the House to live up to its constitutional obligation to take action.

If the Republicans refuse to show any real leadership, why shouldn't the Democrats? What better opportunity to show Ohioans the contrasting leadership ability of the two caucuses?

Gov. Taft has genuinely done much to try and set a moral and ethical tone for his administration. But it is obvious that his ethical leadership has been woefully (or should I say, Noefully) inadequate. By forcing a debate on impeachment, the Democrats have an opportunity to set the ethical bar higher than it's been for over a decade, indeed higher than it has ever been. That can never be a bad thing.

Think history, not the future
This is a historic moment, but only if action is taken. The issue should not be whether the Governor is more of a political asset for the Democrats in office until 2006 or not. The issue is about setting the record straight for history. It's about setting a precedent, even if that precedent is to decide against impeachment.

Let's force the Republicans, and ourselves, to go on the record on this issue. Let's debate it thoroughly. And then let's take that debate to the people of Ohio. Our state is strong enough to handle a little democracy now and then.

Sincerely-
The Modern Esq.

P.S.- I commend you for making the House Democratic Caucus more available and open for outside input through your website. I hope you can reveal details about the meeting publicly tomorrow.

Why are our soldiers dying?

It's a simple question that deserves a straight forward answer. Cindy Sheehan is a mother who has ignited a firestorm with that question based on her single-minded mission to get an answer from the only person in the world who can answer it: President Bush.

As we all know now, Cindy lost her son, U.S. Army Spc. Casey Sheehan on April 4, 2004 while he served our country in Iraq. While the President has been enjoying his five-week long vacation in Crawford, Ms. Sheehan has been there, along with other members of Gold Star Mothers for Peace, to ask the President one simple question: Why did soldiers like her son have to die?

In all the partisan bickering and posturing in the nation, it's the one unanswered question that hangs over the debate over Iraq. Even today, the President was in Utah attempting to give the same rote answer to that very question. His answer is Sept. 11 and terrorism. Increasingly, the American public, like Cindy Sheehan, has been demanding a better answer.

As part of her peace vigil, Ms. Sheehan and her fellow demonstrators have erected a memorial to all of the fallen soldiers in Iraq. A simple, makeshift wooden cross, painted white with an individual soldiers name hand painted on each cross. The crosses don't stand as an endorsement of Ms. Sheehan's political views by the deceased service men and women of Iraq. They are a reminder of the over 1,800 brave men and women who gave their own lives in service of the country in Iraq. Each pure white cross ask the purest of questions: We know why our children were willing to go, but only you, Mr. President, can answer why they were sent.

We all know why they went. They went because they believe in freedom, and they wanted to defend it with their own lives. Now, the price for freedom they paid is being passed around like a bad check.

Unable to give an answer to Ms. Sheehan's question, and after numerous attempts to discredit her, from calling her a peacenik, attention whore to belittling her loss (Rush Limbaugh astutely pointed out that we all "lose things,") they are left to deconstruct her memorial that was ironically created in memory of those who valued and understood freedom more than those left behind.

Today, on a radio talk show, I heard a conservative host gleefully and profusely thank and praise a father of a killed serviceman who called down to the police in Crawford, Texas to demand that the police there remove any cross with his son's name on it. Let me say that again, he wanted the government to remove any reference of his son from a memorial created by peaceful and lawful demonstrators exercising that most valued of freedoms- the free exercise of political speech.

While protected by our First Amendment, the right to free speech was not created so people could watch porn and millionaires could donate as much money to their personal politicians. The right of free speech was born out of a simple revolutionary thought. If the leaders are to lead the people, then the people should have the right to always ask, "why."

Don't get me wrong. Nobody likes the idea of a dead relative being used in political speech that deceased may have vehemently disagreed with, but nobody bats an eye when the pro-life movement erects memorials for aborted fetuses without the permission of those who have had abortions. Nor do we consider whether the families of slain police officers gave their permission before the memory of their family member's sacrifice is used to pass a new gun control or crime bill.

Freedom of speech requires the ability of society to express ideas different from your own, no matter how repugnant to your own they may be. No reasonable person would view that memorial as an endorsement of Ms. Sheehan's political views by our fallen heroes. There's no false light or invasion of privacy claim here. The names of our dead soldiers is, and should be, public information. For far too long, this Administration has tried to hide images of flag-drapped caskets and mourning families. It's time we take a hard look and ask ourselves- why?

What right does any police officer have to disturb this peaceful and lawful demonstration, and what right does any private citizen have to demand the police do so?

No amount of Clint Black concerts, yellow magnetic ribbons, or invocations of past "great" wars and past great horrors, like Sept. 11, can justify the loss of one U.S. soldier. Even if the President never talked to Ms. Sheehan again, I hope he comes back for his vacation with an answer to as to "why." It's the only thing that can truly be done to honor the sacrifice so many have made.

But no matter what happens in Iraq, only one thing can happen that can truly mean these soldiers died in vain, and that is if we begin to lose sight of the very freedoms they readily agreed to risk their lives to protect. And there is no greater insult to their memory than trashing those freedoms in their name.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Some GOP legislators call on Taft to resign; Dems decline to call

At least three Republicans have publicly called for Taft's resignation: state Rep. Jim Trakas of Independence, Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Greg Hartmann and state Sen. Jay Hottinger of Newark. Trakas and Hartmann have shown an interest in running for secretary of state next year.

No Democrats have publicly sought Taft's resignation. The issue was discussed in party circles and most thought it was a bad idea, said Gabrielle Williamson, spokeswoman for the Ohio Democratic Party.

"It's our feeling that it should be up to Taft and his own conscience," Williamson said. "The other reason is there are enough Republicans demanding his resignation."
I just found that quote from the Ohio Democratic Party funny. You can tell they are enjoying this moment of political relevance.

Of course, State Rep. Trakes, as a member of the House, could introduce a resolution for the impeachment of the Governor. It seems the fair question is: If Taft declines to resign, would State Rep. Trakas seek his impeachment? It doesn't seem consistent to say yes to resignation, but no to impeachment.

For those of us involved in observing statewide politics for the last ten years, it's amazing to see the unbreakable party discipline created by Bob Bennett (who, despite being a Republican, is an unquestionably talented state party chair) crumbling.

We haven't really heard anything from the GOP Gubernatorial candidates on what the party should do regarding Taft. I'm amazed they haven't been pressed on the issue more. But then again, it's only been two days since the criminal charges have been made.

Will they simply say, "Gov. Taft made a mistake, which he has acknowledged and taken full responsibility for, and has 'paid his debt to society?'" Or will they sing, "Hit the Road, Taft?"

While it may look like the Governor will be able to weather this political storm, it could be premature to diagnosis the body politic of the Governor as fully recovered. If, as is expected, more members of the Governor's inner circle are charged and more revelations emerge from the BWC investments, Taft's now admitted transgressions could lay the groundwork for his premature outster.

Judge Roberts: Misogynist who wanted national ID cards in the 1980s

"Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide." - Judge Roberts in a July 31, 1985 memo as assistant White House counsel.

Judge Roberts also called the idea of pay equity for women "anti-capitalist."

Judge Roberts earlier writings also indicated that he supported a national ID to prove U.S. citizenship as a means to deal with illegal immigration.

Judge Roberts' writings also indicate a heartfelt desire to overturn the Court's precedents of the last 60 years regarding the separation of church and state and indicates a hostility to affirmative action.

Roberts' comment about homemakers startled women across the ideological spectrum. Phyllis Schlafly, president of the conservative Eagle Forum who entered law school when she was 51, said, "It kind of sounds like a smart alecky comment," and noted that Roberts was "a young bachelor and hadn't seen a whole lot of life at that point."

Schlafly said, "I knew Lyn Arey. She is a fine woman." But she added, "I don't think that disqualifies him. I think he got married to a feminist, he's learned a lot."
Well, if Phyllis Schlafly says he's married to a feminist now, I guess that should change everything??

Oh, and did I mention, possibly racist? I wonder how this is going to go over with the Latino vote:

In a Sept. 30, 1983, memo, regarding an upcoming presidential interview with a newspaper, Spanish Today, Roberts suggested that the president, in answer to a potential question concerning illegal immigrants, note that proposed immigration reform legislation would allow some immigrants to be legalized.

"I think this audience would be pleased that we are trying to grant legal status to their illegal amigos," Roberts wrote.
On religion, Roberts believes that the Court's rulings regarding posting the Ten Commandments in schools demonstrates a policy of hostility to religion that Roberts said is "not demanded by the constitution."

There are even more writings of Judge Roberts, but the White House will not release them. Please consider this and sign the DNC's public records request for those documents.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Congressman Strickland Reacts to Taft Plea on Ethic Charges

I think this just about sums it up as best as it can be:

"Ohioans deserve state leaders who will put the interests of the people ahead of the interests of their golfing partners. I am fighting every day to provide that leadership to rebuild our economy, revive our schools and restore honor and integrity to our government."

"Those of us honored to serve this state must never forget that we're here to respond to the hopes and dreams of Ohio's families, not the moods and whims of high-dollar donors. The depth, breadth and magnitude of this scandal show that the majority party is failing that test."

"I continue to believe we need to establish a completely bipartisan commission to investigate and hold public hearings on this growing scandal in order to restore Ohioans' trust in their state government," said Strickland.

Please sign Congressman Strickland's petition for an independant commission, today!

Taft pleads "no contest" to all four counts, fined $4,000 with no jail sentence

So, ends the shortest lived criminal case against a sitting Governor. Now the question is, what, if any, will be the political price?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Taft to be charged with four counts

All are the same charge and are misdemeanors in the first degree (the highest severity of misdemeanor before you get into felony-land).

Also, according to Art. II, sec. 24 of the Ohio Constitution, "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." (emphasis added)

So unlike with the case of impeaching the President, textually you could make the argument that the standard of conduct triggering the impeachment of the Governor is less severe than the misconduct necessary to impeach the President.

Since I just recently realized this, it may change my take. Taft is so unpopular with Republicans right now, they may jump on this opportunity to publicly disavow themselves with what they view as their biggest political liability going into 2006. Nothing purges the impure political soul like impeachment of a member of your own party. Although the GOP still paid an election price after Nixon resigned.

If impeachment does occur, it's very similar to the federal process. It must begin in the Ohio House of Representatives which must approve articles of impeachment by simple majority vote. Then it takes over 2/3 of the State Senate to convict. There are 99 State House members and 33 State Senate members, both chambers have significant Republican majorities.

Bob Taft: Governor or Criminal?

According to media reports, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien will announce this afternoon his decision as to whether to formally criminally charge Ohio Governor Bob Taft for violation of Ohio's elected officials' ethics laws by not disclosing gifts such as golf outings, etc.

If charged, the offenses would only be a misdemeanor with little chance of jail time. But, it would be the first time a sitting Governor in Ohio has been charged for committing criminal acts in scope of his official office.

I'll post more thoughts on the case later today if a decision to prosecute is announced. For now, I will say that with Taft's low approval rating, nearly unanimous high disdain among Republicans for Taft, and with Democrats energies about the 2006 Governor's race, Taft is probably going to find this molehill turn into K-2 quick.

With support like his, any reason to push him out early will do.

Taft is going to find the friend cupboard woefully hollow soon.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Internal GOP poll shows Strickland as our next Governor

Over at the conservative-community blog RedState.org (not to be confused with Michael Meckler's Ohio political blog, RedState.com, which covers Ohio politics, I found an interesting post regarding the GOP's take on the upcoming 2006 Ohio Gubernatorial race.

Now, remember, there's been no real advertisements, we haven't had a debate, and we haven't even had the primary elections yet, so it's too early to say for sure.

However, according to the conservative diarist at RedState.org, he has seen some internal GOP polling data on the race. And it shows Congressman Ted Strickland, as an "old style pro-gun, union-loving economic populist Democrat would win almost any contest in a walk right now."

Surprisingly, some of the comments suggest on the post that the Democrats cannot win again until they have a strong candidate from Cleveland. Ironically, I've argued since 1994 that Democrats need quite the opposite.

Despite the sage advice of the Portsmouth Daily Times, it seems that the Hackett race does show a political storm brewing for Republicans in 2006.

If true, the fact that Strickland is polling better than GOP candidates who have served in statewide offices for the last 12 years is remarkable. Ted Strickland probably doesn't have much name recognition yet outside of southern Ohio, but the GOP candidates should be largely well-known. If Strickland can neutralize the GOP fundraising advantage (with $1 Million in the bank he is one his way) and run his usually well-disciplined and hard-working campaign, he's likely to be the first Democrat to win a statewide election since 1992 (save Clinton).

And the Republican's strategy to pull off a victory? Well, if the diarist is any indication, they want to redraw the state lines. Permanent majority, indeed.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ted Strickland for Governor website launches

The official Ted Strickland for Governor website has finally been launched. I've also added it to the list of links on the left.

Portsmouth Daily Times: What happens when rookies try to act as politicals sages

In case the link expires before you have a chance to read this post, here's the editorial at issue in today's Portsmouth Daily Times, a daily newspaper in the Second Congressional District:

Race has little impact
PDT Editorial Staff
The Issue: Schmidt’s victory in 2nd District race
Our View: Race not necessarily barometer for mid-term

Republican Jean Schmidt’s victory over Democrat Paul Hackett in Tuesday’s election for Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District seat is sure to be dissected and overanalyzed.

Republicans will claim Schmidt’s victory is a clear indication that the values of people in Ohio more closely reflect those of the Republican Party. Democrats will claim Hackett’s near upset in the traditionally strong Republican district is an indication of a desire for change.

Baloney.

There is no question Hackett benefited from an investment scandal that has reached the governor’s office and has consumed the Republicans. Likewise, Schmidt clearly won the race because registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats by about a 3-to-1 margin in the 2nd District.

So what does all that mean when it comes to next year’s mid-term elections? Not much.

The Schmidt-Hackett race was overbilled as an indicator for what may lay ahead. It was really just a race with its own dynamic and all the mid-term elections will have their own dynamics.

Although there may be some shift in attitudes about Ohio’s Republican Party, it comes about because of the widely publicized scandal and state’s dismal financial condition. It does not have anything to do with Jean Schmidt or Paul Hackett.

It cannot be determined with any certainty that Hackett voters gave him the nod because of those factors. They may have simply believed he was a stronger candidate.

What the race did indicate is that Democrats are going to take full advantage of the Republicans’ vulnerability and may not utter a single sentence during the campaigns without the words “investment scandal.” Gov. Taft is clearly a political liability and the Republicans will struggle to offset the scandal’s impact.

And that was going to be the case regardless of who won in the 2nd District.


Apparently, the fine editorial staff doesn't know what it means when a race is called a barometer for future elections. In case any of them read this, a barometer race is one whre the result shows a public attitude to larger issues and perceptions beyond the candidates themselves. So a result which shows a shifting attitude about the Republican party because of the financial scandals in the state IS, by definition, a barometer race.

Editorial writers should know that when you write, you should express an opinion, not multiple, contradictory ones. Right after saying the race had nothing to do with the candidates, then the Times apologists attempt to say the race actually had more to do with the dynamic of the candidates themselves.

Sadly for the Times, their opinion is not the view taken from significant segments of the Republican Party. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said, "Clearly, there's a pretty strong signal for Republicans thinking about 2006 that they need to do some very serious planning and not just assume that everything is going to be automatically OK."

But maybe that's just the out-of-touch, long distance view of national Republicans. Perhaps, the Times has the view of the Ohio Republican Party in mind.

"To the extent that voters in that district were sending a message to the Republican Party at the state or national level, we have heard that message and we will continue to listen to their concerns," said Ohio Republican Party Political Director Jason Mauk.

Since every GOP statewide candidate is currently and unescapably tied to the Taft Administration, the special election was indeed a warning bell. After all, these same Republicans used special elections in 1993 to claim a forecast of a brewing political storm in 1994. They were right, then, yes?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hackett for U.S. Senate '06

As I was helping my Republican friend move today, he had 700 WLW on which is one of the largest AM talk radio stations in the nation and just happens to be here in Cincinnati. Andy Cunnigham, the voice of the (conservative) American people was on. And what he said shocked me:

He endorsed Paul Hackett for U.S. Senate against U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine.

Of course this reveals two things:
1) Wow, conservatives really hate Mike DeWine...., and
2) Hmm, conservatives really seemed to take a liking to a candidate like Paul Hackett as a Democrat.

I also learned later:
* Taft, the Republican brand name of Ohio politics, is now as toxic as candidates named OBL.
* Schmidt even said Taft was toxic and brazenly tried to say that linking her to Taft is like trying to link Hackett (a Marine) to Abu Ghraib.

I mean is it really unfair to link a state legislator to votes she made IN FAVOR of the unpopular Governor's even more unpopular tax plan? Is that really like linking every serviceperson to the horrors of Iraqi prisoner abuse? Give me a break, Congresswoman. My conservative friend also remarked that he, too, thought the DCCC ads were very effective and was surprised at the result. I'm surprised the few precincts left in Clinton County affected the result so drastically. But then again, it was her home base. What isn't getting commented on is how Hackett picked up the majority of the counties in the district including Adams and Brown counties which are generally considered reliably Republican (Scioto leans GOP; Pike is probably the most Democratic county in the 2nd Congressional District.)

Of course, Hackett and his family deserve some time in privacy. They have been through a very grueling ordeal. Also, Hackett faces the prospect of returning to Iraq on the heels of the news today that 20 Marines from Ohio have been killed in the past 48 hours. So, Hackett has more pressing concerns in his life right now than a statewide campaign next year. I wish him and his family the best, and my gratitude and prayers are with the families of those Marines. May God be with them as they deal with their loss.

This race should vindicate Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke. Some in the area blogged that Burke was wrong to have the county party endorse Hackett before the primary. However, by forming a consensus on a candidate, the party was able to spend what little time there was in the special election introducing Hackett instead of the noise of countless candidates, one of which is the why Portman had been receiving 70% of the vote in his past few campaigns.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Paul Hackett for Statewide in '06?

Even though the result is not yet official, there is enough to say this:

Tonight, Paul Hackett shocked the nation.

Jean Schmidt has pure conservative creditals. She is a solid pro-lifer. She ran in one of the most solidly Republican districts in Ohio. The primary was supposed to be the election. The GOP nominee was supposed to run away with the election. And with a special election, the turnout was expect to heavily favor GOP. After all, the primary election had a 3-to-1 GOP to Dem ratio.

Tonight, Paul Hackett came close to pulling a huge upset. In a district that twice elected President Bush with a larger than statewide number, Hackett called the President a SOB. Tonight, Hackett won four of the seven counties. While Schmidt may win, it was far closer than anyone expected to be.

Hackett's loss is not an empty or pyrrhic victory. Although not victorious, what Hackett did tonight is going to have national implications. And the most upset person has to be Ohio GOP chairman Bob Bennett. The only reason this race is this close is because the poor job the GOP has been doing in the state. Hackett was an unknown, Coleman and Strickland are not.

So, what's next for Paul Hackett? Well, first, he needs to spend time with his family and thank his volunteers. Then he can consider the next step. Rematch in 2006? Or take his new found politically celebrity and run for statewide?

Hackett for Secretary of State?

Strickland-Hackett in '06?

We'll just have to see.

Watching Jean Schmidt's victory speech. You'd almost think the result was a resounding endorsement of President Bush. I wouldn't say that. With only a few points victory, Jean Schmidt is now instantly a vulnerable incumbent.

Ohio Democratic governor hopefuls fundraising strong

When Bob Taft ran for re-election, the Democrats nominee only raised $1.5 million during the entire course of the election. Both Coleman and Strickland have raised over a million, and it's still almost a year away until the primary election. Strickland outraised Coleman over the 80 days since he joined the race. None of that money came from Strickland's congressional campaign.

However, both Democrats lag behind the financial warchests of the Republican candidates. Blackwell, the late entry of the GOP race, raised $100k more than Strickland over that same period. State Auditor Betty Montgomery has $1.5 million on hand; AG Jim Petro has $3 million on the hand.

Blackwell is largely viewed as the frontrunner. Despite being one of the longest statewide office-holders, Betty Montgomery is the Rodney Dangerfield of the 2006 GOP Gubernatorial primary. She can't get any respect.

"She's weak on the issues, and she appears to be weak in fund-raising," [Petro] spokesman Matt Cox said.
Although Strickland cannot transfer leftover funds from his congressional campaign fund to his gubernatorial campaign, all of the other candidates can. No word yet on how much, if any, of those leftover campaign funds are padding the candidates figures.

Final Thoughts on Paul Hackett

Tonight we learn the results of the 2nd Congressional District. Tomorrow, the results will be debated.

I'm not going on a limb to say that Paul Hackett will not win tonight, but he has secured himself as a regional player and given some hidden hints on how to make strides in traditionally Republican areas. Generall, I loathe to use anything in the conservative Cincinnati Enquirer as a source, but they might have been onto something in their editorial endorsing Jean Schmidt.

If there was any weakness to the Paul Hackett campaign, it was that he seemed larger than the district. His platform was largely a national platform on Iraq and provided a necessary dialogue to that issue. The drawback was that most Ohioans look for their Congressional representatives to be district workers. Apparently, Schmidt sold herself to the Cincinnati Enquirer as not just sharing Congressman Portman's partisan philosophy, but also his representative philosophy about using the position to aid the district. This model is hardly novel, and is very bipartisan. Indeed, as Ted Strickland can attest, a Democrat can do well in a Republican district by paying attention to the district needs of your constituents that the federal government can address.

One district's pork project, is another district's strong representation in Congress. Indeed, the biggest problem Congressman John Boehner has had, if any, is that some in his district resent that he has not used his political influence to better aid the district. Other Ohio Congressional representatives are able to keep their districts happy with services while not living in their districts.

The fact that Paul Hackett forced the national GOP to pay attention and pay money in the race is an amazing achievement. For national Dem bloggers to characterize Hackett as a blog-born candidate that forced a hesitate DCCC to support him is yet again another example of liberals who rather fight other members of the party rather than Republicans. While Hackett definately benefitted from the national bloggers, to say they are forced the DCCC to do anything is ego run amok.

Instead, some of those very bloggers should go back and read some of the local blogs back during the primary. If they did, they'd find local blogging activists criticizing the party leadership and DCCC for pushing Hackett as the anointed candidate.

Ironic, ain't it? For once, it seemed both the top and grassroots level of the party focused making a contest out of the race. But Jean Schmidt is a candidate runnning in a district where just having the word "Republican" gets you a win. To add that she has been a high-level activist of the right-to-life community in this district and a former elected official makes her almost impossible to beat by anyone.

Regardless of the result, I congratulate Paul Hackett and his supporters for a hard-fought campaign. They stood against the odds and made a race out of a non-race. In a perfect world, he would be in Congress tomorrow. But then again, in a perfect world, Bush would have lost in 2000.

I'm back

So much for posting like mad the second I got out of the Ohio bar exam. (Sorry.)

Now, it's only 87 days until I find out if I passed. I don't want to bore you with details about the bar exam, except to say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Although apparently I was more stressed about the exam than I realized as my body was still recovering until today. That, and after two months of amazing self-discipline, I decided to spend some quality time on the coach playing the X-box, watching bad television (why did I watch even half of an episode of the Lifetime-esque reality show "Starting Over"?), and eating even more poorly than usual.

Oh, and did I mention that I'm moving this weekend? Of course, I hadn't done really any work before the move. And I did absolutely nothing yesterday but attempted to figure out a way to mail back my Barbri books back so I can get my deposit without getting off my couch.

Today I was more productive. I booked movers, changed all the utilities, contacted every business, bank, and civic group that mails me to give the new address. I even notified the BMV, 'cause Ohio is crazy like that. Of course, now I worry that they might try to call my new phone number before it's activated next week and they freak.

Not only am I moving, but the firm is opening a new office for us as well. On the way back to the bar, I stopped by and got to see my new office. Although it's not the first time I had an office (of the non-cubicle variety), this is the first time I have a window office, or one this size. Now if we can do something about the mint-green walls, which the senior partner said I could have it painted. Any color suggestions?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Goodbye blog/Hello bar exam

I won't be posting the rest of the week. Tomorrow, I leave for Columbus to take the Ohio bar exam. I appreciate the kind words of support and patience during this down time with the blog.

I promise I will be blogging much more frequently after this week. Of course, you can expect every other post until November to be "When will I learn I failed the bar exam?"

To any of my readers taking the bar exam: I wish you good luck!

Strickland avoids DLC like the plague; Coleman embraces

If anyone attends the DLC conference in Columbus, I'd love to post your observations. Personally, I think Strickland is making a shrewd play. First, in a contested primary, you never want to appear like your second billing to your opponent. If Strickland went to an event that essentially Coleman is hosting, it belittles Strickland's stature while inflating Coleman's. Second, I can't imagine Strickland has anything to gain there. Sounds like most of the participants are out-of-staters dedicated to getting a moderate, Democrat elected governor. And I imagine any centrists Democrat will do.

I would be shocked if Hillary Clinton or anyone else from that group is going to actually ENDORSE Coleman over Strickland during the conference. I imagine Coleman will get the usual praise for being a host of a fine conference, but I would expect most will avoid going much further than that.

Furthermore, I think Coleman will learn to regret aligning himself so closely with the DLC. Strickland doesn't need to align himself with the DLC to branish his moderate creditials. For Coleman, being in the DLC seems to be his sole basis to claim he's a moderate (on fiscal issues, I do believe Coleman is more of conservative. But he's fairly liberal on social issues such as gun control.)

Moderates don't know anything about the DLC, and I don't know of a single moderate voter who considers membership in the DLC as a criteria in supporting a candidate. For conservatives, all you have to say is that it's a group that Hillary Clinton belongs to and you can raise $10 million and paint the candidate as a hippie liberal. And for liberals? Well, the only thing I've seen most liberals hate more than the Bush Administration is the DLC. Therefore, neither candidate has much to gain, but does have much to lose by aligning itself to the DLC. Coleman may rue his membership come primary election day.

It will be interesting to see how the DLC responds to the Ohio Gubernatorial Democratic Primary next year. If it decides to make a power play and endorse its member, Coleman, it runs the risk of appearing irrelevant if Strickland wins handily. However, if it supports Strickland, then it must do so over someone who is a member.

My prediction: The DLC is irrelevant for the primary, but may be a source for support for the eventual nominee. If it's wise, the DLC will let the primary play out for itself. Coleman will actively look to distinguish himself from what the activists don't like about the DLC. But after this event, that will be difficult.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

GOP quotes on Berger (Why not Rove, then?)

As a follow-up to my earlier post today, here's some GOP quotes on Sandy Berger that seem applicable to Rove. (Also, remember, that with the Berger situation, no classified information was ever made public.)

"I think it's gravely, gravely serious what he did, if he did it. It could be a national security crisis," DeLay said.

"What information could be so embarrassing that a man with decades of experience in handling classified documents would risk being caught pilfering our nation's most sensitive secrets?" House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said. "Mr. Berger has a lot of explaining to do."

"It's always good to hear Democrats assure us that one of them isn't a traitor."- Ann Coulter

No, I don't want to study for the bar exam today, thank you for noticing...

Just how confusing are things in Iraq getting?

Read the story. As described on Fark.com, U.S. medic is shot by sniper, shoots sniper, then tracks sniper to render first-aid to sniper that just tried to kill him.

In other news, those armored vests are finally getting distributed...

BTW, most disturbing point is that it was all caught on video and sent to his mom.

Bush's (Not So) Shockin' New Legal Standard

Today, we learned from the WSJ (liberal rag) that the U.S. State Department memo warned that Valerie Plame's identity and anything regarding her role in getting her husband to do the Niger inspection was sensitive intelligence.

Since I've been busy with the bar (which begins next Tuesday, btw,) I have been surprised that more people aren't commenting on something the President said at his press conference. While the hypocritical shifting standards is amusing, nobody can really say he's surprised. 'Member the book "Bush's Brain?" As much as the President is dangerous with Karl Rove in the picture, sometime I wonder if a Bush sans Rove could actually be worse.

However, this is what I thought was really shocking. When the President was asked if he planned on talking to Rove about it, he said not while the criminal investigation was ongoing. Now I understand not wanted to get in the way of a criminal investigation, but doesn't this seem to be reckless delegation? Fitzgerald is looking to build a criminal case, he's not really charged with investigating if Karl Rove, et. al should continue to have security clearance.

Is the White House policy that an employee cannot, under any circumstances, have their security clearances revoked while employed until they have been convicted for revealing classified information? For anyone with any knowledge about the intersect of criminal law and intelligence, you know that sometimes prosecutions are not brought because the risk of a public trial revealing or drawing attention to classified information (and the means in which it was obtain) harms or impairs national security more than criminal offense itself. In those cases, do those employees continue to keep their jobs?

Having a standard where only a conviction for leaking intelligence leads to employment termination is not only a politically bad policy, it's just plain simple, dumb, unworkable policy. Bush's press conference shows that the team that was going to "restore integrity in the White House" has drawn a bold, new ethical employment standard: Incarcerated felons cannot telecommuting while working for the White House. Bravo, a new renaissance of morality and ethics has risen like a phoenix from the ashes, indeed!

Anyone remember last year what conservatives were saying about former Clinton NSA Director Sandy Berger when he was accused of taking classified files out of the office in his socks??

Anyone, NOT think those conservatives are having yet another unprincipled flourish of hypocrisy with Rove?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

On Rove and the Supreme Court

The bar exam is less than two weeks away, so I have been in a not-so-undisclosed location trying to get ready. Therefore, I've been in quite a bubble and not able to blog in awhile. You can expect this blog to go dark for the rest of this month sometime next week. But I will be back and blogging regularly in August.

Bar News: About two weeks ago, I took a sample BARBRI test for the multiple choice section of the bar exam. According to BARBRI, had it been the actual exam, I would be able to pass it now. Also, I'm significantly above the national median of other BARBRI students who took the same exam. My hubris know no bounds.... Now, I'm just now studying for the essay portion which is 2/3rds of my total score. Until now, I really haven't paid the essay section much attention. If I fail, that's why....

On Rove and the Supreme Court: Anyone who predicts what will happen with the Supreme Court is either psychic or simply crazy. I think it's simply too unpredictable for anyone (WH included) to know exactly what will happen. Supreme Court nominations are a breed unto themselves. Unlike Cabinet appointment (which are not lifetime or under the President's authority), Senators are not necessarily party loyalists to whomever the President nominates. Much like the filibuster, Senators take their traditional role in Supreme Court nominations very seriously. Lately, the President has gotten less deference from even Senators' of his own party because the Senators realizes the new justice will outlive the present administration.

Also, Supreme Court nominations can both costs and accumulate political capital for the President. The President has little choice but to nominate someone that will be popular with social conservatives. The question is if the Senate Republican moderates will put party loyalty over principal. My guess is any Senator running for tough re-election in 2006 will prove to be a critical tough sell depending on where their biggest threat is coming from. If moderates like DeWine and Chafee feel their biggest political threats are in the primary, then it's "ra, ra, Bush!"

This will be yet another test for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN.) The fact that the White House has apparently put former Tennessee Senator (and "Law & Order" DA) Fred Thompson in charge of shepherding the nominee through the Senate has been a slap-in-the-face few have commented on. If the moderates are perceived as running the nomination show, Frist may not survive long as Majority Leader, let alone as a presidential candidate.

The White House needs to use this opportunity to gain political capital with its base because it simply has none in its account after Iraq and Social Security. The developing Rove fiasco (for the record, I actually was one who thought the idea that Rove was responsible was too far-fetched and fortuitous to be true) only makes things worse. The President's polling is terrible, so he can no longer take the "my way or you're a terrorist" approach anymore.

The Rove fiasco also attacks one of the President's strongest positive attributes with the American people. Correctly or not, the President has been regarded as a honest, straight talker But the White House is not living up to that image in how it's handling the revelations about Rove. (Note: A recent poll has found the number of Americans who regard the President as honest and trustworthy is at an all-time low. What's startling is that this poll was before the Rove revelations.) When a White House is under an ethical/criminal cloud, it seeks to collect friends and attack the enemies. No doubt the White House views a protracted Supreme Court nominee fight as an opportunity to win back its base and paint the Democrats in a negative, obstructive light. Whether that is the actual perception the Senate moderates and the American people will see is another story.

On Bolton: Today, the President began an unusual defense of Rove when he said he refuses to judge someone solely based on media reports until the investigation is complete. Nevermind that the veracity of those reports are unquestioned and the source is the aide's personal attorney. However, the President's defense got me to think about the Bolton nomination: Why should the Democrats be required to offer their judgment on Bolton when the investigation on him is still ongoing and incomplete?

Bush's statements leave a huge amount of wiggle room. You could argue that a conviction is the only point an investigation is truly complete. But politically, I can't see how the President could keep Rove if he is ever indicted. The President's comments would seem to suggest that the White House is very comfortable in betting that such an indictment will never happen.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Coingate Watch

Sorry, I haven't posted in awhile. The bar exam is three weeks away, so you can expect fewer postings until August.

I did want you tell you to watch NBC Nightly News tonight. They're doing a Coingate story as part of its regular "Fleecing of America" stories. Be sure to catch it!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

50% of Americans think Congress should NOT impeach Bush if he lied about Iraq

Not a misprint. According to John Zogby's polling, one half the country believes that Congress should not institute impeachment proceeding against the President if it finds he lied about his reasons for declaring war against Iraq.

IMPEACHMENT! Um.... good gawd y'all, what is it good for? (Absolutely nothing!) Say it again!

Less than half think Congress should. Anyone know what the numbers were for the Monica-Clinton impeachment?

In other obvious news, a majority of American disapprove of how partisan the political parties are and wish the parties would put compromising over tending to their extremist bases, according to Zogby. No word yet how many Americans think puppies are cute and Hell would be a bad place to spend eternity.

Friday, June 24, 2005

McClellan: "If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that's their business"

For McClellan to say that in response to the outrage to Karl Rove's baseless, partisan smear is about the most ironic thing I've seen.

I'm glad to see that some conservatives are honest in saying the whole "Rove meant liberals, not Democrats" defense is hogwash. (Hat tip: Daily Kos)

Several have said something similar, and I'd like to add this message to the President and Mr. Rove:

When Democrats were pushing for a Department of Homeland Security, Republicans were talking tort reform.

When Democrats wanted commissions to examine intelligence failures that allowed 9/11 to happen and mislead us so drastically wrong in Iraq, this President adopted what he calls "the philosophy of the stop sign."

It wasn't just liberals who pointed out that the administration was wrong about Saddam's intent to acquire WMD and his capabilities, but the President's hand-picked inspectors in the Iraqi Survey Group.

It wasn't just liberals who said your administration was naive to think that Iraqi oil could pay for the reconstruction and American forces would be out no later than six months.

It wasn't just liberals who said that your "enemy combatant" policies would harm America's image and violated international law, we know now that attorneys in the U.S. State Department said so.

It wasn't just liberals who have criticized your policy on torture as violation of international law and a risky scheme that puts American soldiers' lives at risk, but those who have worn the stars and bars and served in combat zones defending American interests.

While you've been talking about bankruptcy reform, Democrats have been pushing for better protected borders and ports.

For a party that supposedly is wrong on terrorism and national defense. It sure seems like the Democrats have been proven correct time and time again.

OBL is alive and free today, nearly four years after 9/11, not because of liberals, but because of you, Mr. Rove. You allowed the trail to go cold by pulling needed military manpower out of Afghanistan to prepare to invade Iraq. The resurgence of the Taliban there is your failure, not the Democratic Party's.

When this nation called on you at its time of dire need to defend its interest, Mr. Rove, you hid.

Now you mock those who have different political beliefs than yours but are willing to put themselves in harms way to defend this country, to implement the policies you've created. And to add even further insult, because of your failures and your budgetary policies, the Department of Veterans Affairs is facing a $1 billion shortfall in funding to care for these veterans.

Mr. Rove, have you no shame, no sense of decency?

And Mr. McClellan, when the White House would rather engage in personal attacks, instead of defending its policies, that's everyone's business.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

DNC issues report on voting problems in Ohio

The headline links to the Executive Summary which is a much quicker read. If you are interested in reading the full DNC report: click here.

In short, the report doesn't tell us much more than what Ohioans largely observed themselves. African-American voters in much larger numbers experience much larger waits in line to vote in 2004. 3% of Ohio "voters" said they left the line without voting due to the wait and never returned (should they really be called voters, then?).

Despite this and a number of problems, the researchers say that while there was problems the data does not support any basis to believe that widespread fraud misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.

While this should put to rest any lingering doubts whether Bush "stole" the election in 2004, that doesn't mean this report is irrelevant. The fact that any voter, white or black, Democratic or (yes, even) Republican, was dissuaded from voting by intimidation, misinformation, and inadquate polling place and voting technology should be no less troubling.

It seems that the general consensus is preference for optical scanners with a printed receipt (can you refund an election?). Touchscreens, surprisingly, took more time than punch cards (I spent five minutes doing delicate micro-surgery to my ballot to make sure any hint of a "chad" was gone alone.)

The touchscreen technology machines were pushed particularly by Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell. If I find a thoughtful reaction from him on the topic, I'll be sure to post it.

Strickland for Governor released this statement from Congressman Strickland regarding the DNC's report:
“There’s nothing more fundamental in our democracy than the right to vote. The disparities detailed in this ground-breaking report should shock the conscious of every Ohioan. More important, this report should move us to action. As governor, I’ll work my heart out to ensure that no Ohioan is denied their voice at the ballot box.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Strickland for Governor Update

The Ohio Democratic Party has gone so long without a state-wide elected officeholder, I forgotten what an impact a Democratic governor would have on the party. Much like the President, a Democratic Governor would serve as the titular head of the party. A Strickland Administration would most likely lead to the "ruralization" of the Ohio Democratic Party. And that is probably the best model for the Democrats to gain even further influence in state government.

The Strickland for Governor campaign has been busy setting up its organization. I don't have all the information, but I can tell you that Strickland is getting Democratic political operatives with a national reputation for working for successful Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the South. The ability to win over rural voters will be key for Strickland to win the election, and having people with that kind of experience will help.

I've also been told that the official Strickland campaign website will be up in roughly four weeks (so patience people, it's still nine months until the primary.)

Also:
  • Is the Coleman campaign wilting? Last week, former Ohio AG/'98 Gubernatorial nominee Lee Fisher announced that he would not run for Governor in 2006. At least one observer (besides myself) has theorized that Fisher realized there just wasn't enough support for him to be a credible primary candidate in an already competitive field. Michael Meckler of RedState.com (not to be confused with the national conservative blog, RedState.org) noted that the Strickland campaign suddenly, and (to him) unexpectedly, energized Democratic activists, thus sucking the oxygen out of the race for Fisher.
    Meckler further theorizes that Coleman, too, is starting to feel a little light-headed from the lack of oxygen and may need to seek shelter by running for another state-wide office such as State Auditor. You can read Meckler's post: here. It appears that Coleman has yet to dispel Democrats unease about his candidacy since the much overblown Glenn Beck interview. While Coleman is well-respected and considered a rising star of the Ohio Democratic Party, his candidacy was received more with acceptance than the enthusiasm I've seen with Strickland. Indeed, it's rare on sites like DailyKos to see people even mention Coleman anymore.

    • Strickland gains county party endorsements: Only 40 days since announcing (and nine months before the primary), Strickland has been endorsed by eight Democratic Party County organizations. (The counties are Brown, Clinton, Columbiana, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Pike, and Ross County.) Strickland has represented all but Brown County during his tenure in Congress. The chair of the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Organization is Susan Gwinn, Chair of the Athens County Democratic Party, and a long-time ally of Strickland's. 8 counties down, 80 to go!

    • For any Deaniacs out there, there's a Strickland MeetUp group in Columbus. There's also one in Cincinnati in the works. If you're in the Columbus area, sign up.

    As I learn more, I'll share what I can. BTW, next Wednesday, the Strickland MeetUp is hosting a fundraiser in Columbus at the Metro Bar and Grill at 6 p.m. You can get more information once you join the group!

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Rhetorically Wrecked

    For a week now, conservatives have been foaming over a Senate floor speech by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in which he said that an FBI agent's reported observation of Gitmo sounded like something you would have heard in describing the Russian gulags or the Nazi's concentration camps. For Durbin's passe use of Hitler, reasonably minded conservatives and conservative-leaning commentators (such as the Drudge Report, Rush, and oh, the White House).

    Today, during a floor vote on a Democratic amendment requiring the Air Force Academy to develop a plan to prevent coercisive and abusive religious proselytizing, something that the Air Force has admitted is a problem (the culture at the academy had gotten to the point where cadets felt it was proper to call a fellow cadet "Jesus killer" because that cadet was Jewish.)

    In response to Democrat's proposal to have Congress encourage the Air Force to fix a profound problem it itself admits it has, U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) added this contribution to the national dialogue:

    "[T]he long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."

    Fortunately, the Congress still has some rules to promote decorum and to try to prevent the dialogue you expect on rant-wing talk radio and not the deliberative legislative body of the most powerful democracy on the planet.

    Facing an uproar of Democratic disgust, Hostettler retracted these statements when he was told the sanction he faced if he did not: he wouldn't be allowed to talk the rest of the day.

    Jon Stewart is right; we're governed by children!

    Jon Alter dittos my thoughts on Gov. Bush and makes an interesting parallel to one of the lowest acts in Rev. Al Sharpton's career. Click here to read the Alter's Newsweek article.

    Saturday, June 18, 2005

    DeLay: Alone no more

    When the FBI announces it is "very interested" in some of your business activities, you know you've royally screwed up. The last time the FBI opened an investigation into a sitting Congressman, um, well, it was Jim Traficant.

    The main allegation facing U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) is that he sold his California home to a defense contractor for $700,000 more than what it's worth. Did I mention that Duke is a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and has helped the contractor's company win millions of dollars in Pentagon contracts?

    Cunningham defends the sale of the house as being "aboveboard" by claiming the sales price was reasonable. Rep. Cunningham points out that the sales price was reasonable based on comparative estimated sales price of surrounding homes in his area that was independently calculated and provided to the defense contractor. However, the sales price calculations were made by a woman who had long been a significant and longtime campaign contributor of Cunningham's. Furthermore, Duke hired the woman to be his realtor in the subsequent purchase of a $2M home (nice commission.)

    The defense contractor later sold the home at $700k less than what he had paid for it, and every realty expert consulted has concluded that the purchase price initially paid was inflated. Maybe Duke's defense would be better if he simply said he learned to make such deals from this guy.

    Duke is accused of living on the defense contractor's D.C.-docked yacht without paying reasonable value (he claims he is gathering the necessary documentation showing otherwise).

    When Duke lived on his own yacht in D.C., he used his Congressional committee position to earmark $3M to refurbish the waterfront where he lived. Oh, and he once gave a WWII vet the finger at a speech of prostrate cancer patients.

    So how did the Congressman respond to the allegation that he has made himself too influenced by this defense contractor?:

    Cunningham denied that he is a particularly good friend of MZM owner Mitchell Wade, saying last week, "No more than I am with (Qualcomm founder) Irwin Jacobs or (Titan Corp. founder) Gene Ray or any of the other CEOs."

    Here's a lil' advice for the ol' Duke-

    Having more than one John doesn't make you any less of a whore.

    The Dishonorable Governor Bush Part II: The Weasel Rises

    If you're going to use your official bully pulpit to accuse someone of being responsible for the severe disability and death of their own spouse, at least be man enough to admit that's what you're doing.

    According to the AP wire story:

    "Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay," Bush wrote. "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome."

    But the person Gov. Bush asked to "look into this case" was a county prosecutor, who only has jurisdiction to investigate crimes, which makes this Bush quote seem rather inconsistent:

    Bush said his request for the probe was not meant to suggest wrongdoing by Michael Schiavo. "It's a significant question that during this ordeal was never brought up," Bush told reporters.
    If Bush's request was not meant to suggest criminal wrongdoing by Michael Schiavo, what, then, WAS it meant to suggest? I guess, yet, again the liberal media jumps to the illogical conclusion that when the Governor asks a county prosecutor to investigate a particular person's actions during the event, they mistakenly presume that means the Governor suggests that person may have committed a crime. And, maybe I'm just spitballing here, the reason it was never brought up during this 15-year long terrible ordeal was that it is not a significant question, but a shameless political smear?

    What a spineless slime weasel.

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    The Dishonorable Governor of Florida Jeb Bush

    After an official, independent autopsy revealed that Terri Schiavo's brain was so severely damaged that it had half the expected mass of an average brain, and that it was impossible for her to have any visual function at all (therefore, the "tracking" her parents' claims was the very involuntary, unconscious act a vast majority of the medical experts in the case said it was.) Furthermore, the autopsy said (yet again) that there was absolutely no medical evidence whatsoever to indicate that her husband ever physically abused her, let alone in a manner to cause her medical state.

    What does Florida Governor Jeb Bush do in light of this strong medical evidence that everything he has publicly said about the case was false, or at best, grossly misleading? Unlike Bill Frist's "let's move on from this" response, Gov. Bush contacts a state prosecutor and demands an investigation into the cause of her collapse and whether her husband failed to immediately call 911 to get her medical assistance.

    Bush's baseless and grotesque allegations has to mark the lowest blow an elected official has ever leveled against anyone, especially a private citizen with no bully pulpit in which to respond. Prosecutors don't investigate anything but crimes, and given the tone of the letter, it's hard to characterizes Bush's letter as anything but an allegation that Terri Schiavo's husband murdered his wife. If anyone can give me an alternative rationale interpretation of what Bush is alleging, I'd be happy to hear it.

    But Bush's own letter (attempting to cite some basis for this scandalous criminal allegation) demonstrates how baseless his allegation is. The central theory of his allegation is that, according to the husband's prior statements over the past 15 years regarding the incident, Bush believes they indicate a 40-70 minute difference between when he discovered Terri's collapse and calling 911.

    But one of the sources Bush relies on is a deposition the husband made in the medical malpractice case regarding his wife's care prior to her collapse. It was the verdict award in this case that lead to Terri's husband and parents falling out and also provided the monetary support for her care until her death.

    Had the husband committed a crime that was the cause of her permanent vegetative state, then the medical provider would not have been found liable. Surely, such a defense, if at all plausible, would have been used by the medical provider.

    Bush apparently is hell-bent to appease those radical right-wingers who are still upset with him that he refused to disregard his oath of office, the constitutions of the U.S. and Florida, and the rule of law and instead use state agents under his authority to kidnap Terri Schiavo.

    How popular does a term-limited, lame duck Governor need to be with the extremist elements of his party that throwing whatever slime he can throw to a private citizen with little means to defend his reputation is politically justified?

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Modern Esquire's PSA: NGA's Medicaid Reform Plan

    Yesterday, the National Governors Association presented it's bipartisan proposal for Medicaid reform. Despite all the bluster and attention regarding Social Security this year, Social Security will be the longest "solvent" of the big three entitlement programs. Medicare and Medicaid have far more extensive problems with solvency. But since you cannot "solve" the problem by a trillion dollar privitization give-away to Wall Street, the Bush Administration have been absolutely silent on the issue of Medicare/Medicaid reform. To be fair, Congressional Democrats have been largely silent on this issue as well.

    (Attn: Strickland and Coleman people) Because it's largely managed by the States, Medicaid has been a particular budgetary fiscal nightmare for state government. But some Governors have gained tremendous national prestige for their plans to reform their states' Medicaid system. Besides being an statewide-elected Southern Democrat, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has been mentioned as a possible '08 Presidental Candidate for his handling of the state's TennCare program.

    While I don't mean to sound dismissive of the CoinGate scandal (especially since it may be criminal and shows a sorry state of Ohio's current government management), the difference between the self-dealing waste of tax dollars in the BWC pales in comparison to the overcharge Ohio has been paying for prescription drugs in Medicaid. Health care, not Taft's scandals, will be one of the major issues motivating voters in 2006 to one candidate over another (particularly in the primaries.) To present a bold plan on Medicaid could provide a candidate with a double whammy: it shows the candidate is concerned both with health care and fiscal conservatism. That's just my thoughts.

    Although only a measly 16-pages, I haven't yet had time to review this report, so I'll post my thoughts on the NGA plan presented by Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday later. To read more about their testimony, click here. Also, please feel free to e-mail me or post your comments as well! I think this is the kind of issue we should be debating in the 2006 state elections.

    What did I say about Congressional polling? (or why it may be looking like 1994 after all)

    Remember in my last post I mentioned that the most important poll number is an incumbent's re-elect/someone else numbers. Granted, this poll has obvious bias issues, but the GOP response to this story makes me think they don't have much to dispute it. For those interested in the full story, click here.

    In short, a poll conducted in the district of seven Republican congressional districts shows that voters are ready for a change.

    "While Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) did not name the members, who are from districts 'around the country,' he said all polled at 43 percent or less when voters were asked if they would vote today to reelect their congressional representative, sources at the meeting told The Hill."

    Indeed, two of the districts polled a re-elect number in the low 30s. Those are polling numbers worthy of Gray Davis (ironic since one of the low 30s came from a California Republican district.)

    Normally, the obvious bias of a poll commission by the DCCC should be easy for a spinmaster to handle. But how's this lukewarm spin strike you?:

    "Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, questioned the validity of the Democrats numbers. 'I'm not sure we have any that are polling at 43 percent or below,' he said."

    I'm not sure we have any that are polling that low? Does that mean you need to look in the back or ask the store manager first? If the GOP had polling saying otherwise, I believe you would have a much stronger defense. The article attempts to do the NRCC's work for them by pointing out that in the latest ABCNews/WashPo poll Congressional representatives had a 60% approval rating by their own constituents. But the article fails to note that the very same poll had Congressional re-elect numbers in the low 40s.

    Of course, one of those districts might have been California Republican "Duke" Cunningham who is embroiled in a growing scandal about a sweetheart real estate transaction with a defense contractor (and receiving other luxurious perks below costs.) Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been covering that story well for the last few days and its worth a good read.

    Back in March, "Lord of Darkness" Robert Novak wrote about growing complaints about Sen. Elizabeth Dole's lackluster recruiting efforts on behalf of the NSCC. (Sorry, I can't seem to locate a full copy of the Novak column.) And while Democrats have largely cleared the primary field for their top-tier recruits, Republicans seem more interested in recruiting candidates to face other Republicans than taking on Democrats.

    So on general public mood and candidate recruitment, the Democrats hold an advantage over the Republicans at this point in the 2006 Congressional races. However, Republicans have a significant (and I believe, larger than usual) fundraising advantage in both the House and Senate. At this time, the campaign message is a dead-even draw: Republicans have a clear, pronounced platform that nobody likes, and Democrats have little of a message other than "I told you so."

    Unfortunately for Democrats, if they are going to attempt the difficult task of a democratic legislative coup in 2006, they need to neutralize the GOP $$ advantage and begin presenting an articulate governing philosophy to win over frustrated voters, something Democrats have failed to do in every congressional election since 1994.

    At best, we presently can expect some Democratic pick-ups, but neither chamber of Congress will switch hands.

    Of course, it's still the pre-season.