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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Ohio Recount Recount Reconsidered? 

OK, I thought I'd make a clean getaway for the holiday, but then I saw this one final thing before the turkey thermometer popped. Keith Olbermann writes that the Kerry campaign and the Ohio Dems are getting tepid about the reaction to the recount there.

Apparently, local officials are aghast that anyone might actually MAKE them recount the votes...even if it's the law when requested and paid for (see the Greens website, they raised the money).

Remember Claude Rains in Casablanca, "I'm shocked, shocked to hear that gambling is going on here. Round up the usual suspects."

Well, Ken Blackwell and the Ohio Republican Party would like to just say, "We're shocked, shocked that you want every vote counted--even those crazy PROVISIONAL ballots?"

Unless you weigh in. Count Every Vote, Dammit. Happy Thanksgiving.

Ohio Governor Bob Taft
30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215-6117
Phone 614-466-3555 or 614-644-HELP

Ohio Senator DeWine, Mike - (R - OH)
140 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2315
dewine.senate.gov

Ohio Senator Voinovich, George - (R - OH)
317 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3353
voinovich.senate.gov/

Ohio State Senate President Doug White
Statehouse
Room #201 Second Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
614/466-8082

Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper
Managing Editor
Tom O'Hara
Tohara@plaind.com
216.999.4737
politics forum- http://www.cleveland.com/forums/politics/

A Couple of Thoughts Before Hitting the Road... 

A couple of Thanksgiving thoughts as we think about hitting the road, going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house... It's great to see people in Kiev taking control of their destiny. Let's hope and pray they can take back their government without violence. It was especially heartening to see our government urge their Ukrainian counterparts not to certify the election results until investigations of irregularities are complete (nod, nod, wink, wink).

These are the guys who came in second here the last time, right?

Let's all remember the men and women in Iraq over the holidays too. Both ours and theirs. Peace.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg 


Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg
Originally uploaded by jarednevans.


My dad and I would pass this lake in central Massachusetts regularly and every time we would, he'd always say,

"There's Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg."

I thought he was probably making up the pronounciation. Turns out, he wasn't.

Over the weekend, the NY Times published a front page feature on the longest placename in America.

Guess where it is...

An Open Letter 

In an open letter from Kevin Sites blog, the NBC cameraman tells the Dirt Dogs of the Marine unit he's embedded with why he had to report the shooting of an unarmed man in their capitivity in Falluja.

The pain in his letter speaks to the pain we all feel, seeing Americans in harm's way, inevitably made hard by war, yet bound by our higher responsibilities to tell the truth.

This is from the letter:
"...I interviewed your Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Willy Buhl, before the battle for Falluja began. He said something very powerful at the time-something that now seems prophetic. It was this:

"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here -- because we don't behead people, we don't come down to the same level of the people we're combating. That's a very difficult thing for a young 18-year-old Marine who's been trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and close combat. That's a very difficult thing for a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel with 23 years experience in the service who was trained to do the same thing once upon a time, and who now has a thousand-plus men to lead, guide, coach, mentor -- and ensure we remain the good guys and keep the moral high ground."

I listened carefully when he said those words. I believed them.

So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility.

The burdens of war, as you so well know, are unforgiving for all of us.

I pray for your soon and safe return."

Apologies Accepted 

Most of you have seen sorryeverybody.com. I must admit, I was feeling that it was a little whiney to 'apologize' and yet simultaneously say, "Hey, don't blame me, I didn't vote for the guy."

All hard feelings are wiped away by the international response site Apologiesaccepted.com. Check out the gallery and take heart.

Ohio Update 

This linked item appears as of yesterday on the Ohio Democratic Party website. Apparently, there is more movement within the Party's mainstream to hold Ohio Secretary of State Blackwell's feet to the fire over election administration issues and his footdragging in the recount.

The Dems are now seeking volunteers to assist in the recount effort alongside the Greens.

'Values' Voters Revisited 

A New York Times poll, commissioned since the election, should shed some new light on the supposed 'values' revolution for Bush.

You'll recall the 'values' voter being the largest issue group in the exit polls, but that the quality of the numbers was questioned by many in the field, because of the vagueness of the question.

The Times reports their methodology was different:

"In this poll, when allowed (respondents) freely to name the issue that was most important in their vote, 6 percent chose moral values, although smaller numbers named issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. On a separate question in which voters were given a choice of nine issues, 5 percent chose abortion, 4 percent chose stem cell research and 2 percent chose same-sex marriage.

The top issue was the economy and jobs, which was cited by 29 percent of respondents."

So let's call a moratorium on the values voter, OK?

I think time will tell that Rove softened Kerry up generally about 'values' early, claiming he was not really a war hero by proxy (with the Swifties), calling him a flip-flopper, etc. The 'value' voters were looking for was steadiness in a time of terror and they were sold on the man at the helm as the steady hand- with the help of a lot of chicanery and mendacity.

You see a public in this poll that didn't see Bush as better than Kerry on ANY other issue than terror and yet still narrowly chose Bush.

Monday, November 22, 2004

New Hamphire--Vote Free or Diebold 

Check out Russ Baker's article in The Nation about the New Hampshire recount. The hand count in a state that Kerry won could resolve-- or widen-- questions about Diebold's Accuvote systems.

The article also explains why Ralph Nader agreed to ask for the recount in the first place. Baker touches upon many of the electoral administration issues that have arisen during the campaign. It makes powerful note of the leverage 'amateurs' (we used to call them citizens) have exercised in the political process this year too.

Good Enough for Iraqi Democracy, But... 

You gotta love this...one solution proposed to overcome threats to voter registration in Iraq is to allow same-day registration and voting for the January 30 elections just announced.

How do you feel in almost all US states about Iraqis having better access to the voting booth than you do? Almost no US states have enacted same-day registration. By the way, in two US states that do, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, John Kerry won come-from-behind victories on the strength of same day registrants' votes.


Herbert on American Poverty 

Bob Herbert has written today about the dirty little secret of American life: poverty.

Look anywhere around you in a major American city and you'll see the people both the Red and the Blue States heard nothing about in the last election. People who need two jobs to pay the rent have no time to spend 8 hours on a line in the rain (remember Cuyahoga County?) unless they stand to gain a lot from it. No one's raised the minimum wage in seven years.

With twelve million people in the world's richest country struggling to feed themselves, you'd think ther'd be more embarrassment about that than outrage over gay marriage. Think anyone busy in the Capitol today prioritizing the new legislative agenda is concerned about that?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Soft Money Binge for Bush Preceeded November 2 

The Center for Public Integrity Reports that, “527 organizations supporting President Bush spent nearly $30 million on broadcast ads in the final three weeks of the election —from Oct. 13 through Election Day— triple the amount spent by similar groups supporting Sen. John Kerry.

This late surge in advertising was led by two anti-Kerry or pro-Bush groups—Swift Boat Vets and POWS for Truth and Progress for America Voter Fund—which together spent $23 million. Much of their money went to key battleground states including Ohio, which received at least $6.6 million in advertising expenditures and ultimately won Bush the election.”

While most readers are probably familiar with the Swift Boat Vets, Progress for America has kept a lower profile. It’s an outfit founded by Karl Rove confidante and operative Tony Feather. In 2001, Feather founded Progress for America, a GOP soft-money conduit. In the fall of 2003, he put DCI colleague Chris LaCivita in charge of PFA because of concerns that he couldn't legally run the 501(c)(4) while working on the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign.


Their late ad, showing President Bush putting his arm around the shoulder of a 9/11 victim’s wife, ran relentlessly in swing states during the final week of the campaign, just as the bin Laden video surfaced.

Falluja as Scarecrow to Sunnis 

In a column that will appear in the Nation's upcoming issue, Jonathan Schell (scroll to Schell- the second article in link) writes about the cold calculus behind the invasion of Falluja. It's not so much about wiping out the insurgency (which it didn't), it's an object lesson to Sunnis unsure of how serious the Americans are about a scorched-earth policy.

Ohio and ACT 

Matt Bai, has written about the ACT GOTV campaign in Ohio for this week’s New York Times Magazine.

It’s a piece that’s sure to stir the pot about ACT strategy and the Kerry campaign. It’s worth reading for many reasons.

In the end, however, Bai appears to reach a final conclusion with the words of ACT’s CEO, Steve Rosenthal. He quotes Rosenthal as echoing the lesson-flavor of the moment, saying, “The Democratic Party has built this values wall between itself and a lot of voters out there, and the Republicans took advantage of it. The rude awakening here is that I always thought there are more of us out there. And this time, there were more of them.”

Well, I wondered about that last comment…at least in Ohio, where the article was focused, and where a 135,000 vote difference was all that stood between the candidates and the Presidency.

“…and this time there were more of them.”

So, in an effort to explore the strength of the raw power of Republican 'values' voters as a theory, the Ohio Secretary of State’s website has the following information to offer.

There are 7,537,822 total registered voters in Ohio

total Democratic registration 1,021,214
total Republican registration 1,422,767
the total remaining voters registered come to 5,093,841
(minus a couple of thousand in minor parties)

In Ohio, it seems there ARE more Republicans than Democrats, but LOTS more Independents than either party can claim. If you take all the Republican counties with a substantial (I figured over 54%) majority for Bush in the 2000 election, you see that in 2004, these counties had a greater than 71.5% turnout—huge.

In the safely Democratic counties, you also had a big turnout, but slightly lower at under 69.75%.

But let’s also look at one huge county, Cuyahoga (Cleveland, where lines extended to 8 hours in some precincts-another issue). Turnout there was 66.15%. The rest of the heavily Democratic counties combined voted at over 72%, better than the turnout in my 'safe' Republican counties.

If Cuyahoga County had come out at the same rate as the rest of Ohio’s heavily Democratic counties, there would have been 59,852 more votes cast in heavily Democratic counties. If one figures Kerry picks up well better than half of the provisional ballots cast as well, we get into the region of practical dead heat in Ohio.

Are we talking about a significant victory, based on ‘values’ or a win based on tactical politics, turnout and election administration? Maybe a little of both, along with a Republican effort well coordinated with the “Amway” style local control of small groups responsible for their precincts, while the Democratic effort was top down and splintered by the necessary arm’s length distance between ACT’s 527 and the Kerry Campaign.

By 2008, one imagines the Democrats could learn a lot from the mistakes and lessons of 2004. The lessons of local organization, under local ward leaders, should be apparent. The need to continue the work of reforming and working the election and registration systems should also be clear. They paid off well this year, even in the face of a campaign of fear and mendacity, capped by a broadcast from the world’s #1 fugitive at the eleventh hour.

Another effort needed badly in the Democratic Party is the kind of participation on the micro level-- school boards, town councils, state representatives, etc.—that the Republicans and right wingers have worked for the last three decades, since Watergate. If one of the lessons of this loss is for people to take this long-term task on, it’ll be worth the pain.

Personally, I hope one of the lessons isn’t to “move to the center.” I think the Democratic Party occupies the center on most of the really substantive issues. Right now, the Republicans are in the process of proving that by paying back every right wing and neocon group, as well as the fundamentalists it hid away throughout the campaign. They're proving the Republican Party is far more about mammon than morals. They're also in the process of reminding the public how far out the religious groups it is indebted to really are, with the payback they're insisting on.

Let’s hope the Democrats keep an eye on the prize and not an eye on fighting one another to affix blame.

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