Friday, November 17, 2006

Thoughts on the Majority Leader Election

First let me say that I realize that what I'm about to write might get me kicked out of the Democratic Party for failing to show consternation and dismay at everything the Democratic Party does. Nonetheless, it seems to me that in the just completed selection of Speaker of the House and Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi has just shown that a) she has some 86 more supporters than does Steny Hoyer and b) she will fight for her position, even if she knows she will loose. Therefore, I conclude that whatever the talking heads of our oh so wise commentariat might conclude, she has just demonstrated to the actual members of the Democratic caucus that in the future it will be much better to work with her than to just oppose her. She can and will work with the caucus, but she will also fight. For the new members who want to have a future in the House of Representatives, fighting is probably not a good thing, so they can see that cooperation would be wise.

Let me put this another way. It is pretty clear from the actual actions of Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Jack Murtha and the rest of the Democratic caucus that the outcome of this election was not critical for the Democrats. Nancy Pelosi will be able to work well with either of the candidates and no great animosity exists here. Given that, she has just shown that she will fight over issues that are of no great importance and where the votes are strongly against her. Therefore, only a fool can doubt that she will fight over issues that are of great importance and where the vote is much closer. Therefore, if you are a new member (or an old member) from a reddish district such that a fractured and divided caucus will mean your stay in the House will likely be short lived, your best bet will be to compromise with the Madam Speaker and not oppose her. She. Will. Fight. Finally, and again for junior members of the caucus, and considering her popularity in San Francisco, the likelihood is if you decide to fight her a lot, is that in 2009 she will still be a member of the United States House of Representatives and you will be seeking employment elsewhere. That is the upshot of this weeks election.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Return to Oversight

Oversight being absolutely essential to having good government, this is a good thing. Read the article linked below:

Democrats Aim to Save Inquiry on Work in Iraq - New York Times

It does an excellent job laying out the Democrats' likely approach to investigations. It looks to be thorough and sober. This will be good.

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Democrats Long Term

The Reality-Based Community: The Long Term

Go read what Steven Teles has to say, he makes a very important point and does it well. The Democrats need to focus on the importance of social insurance as a means of reducing risk among the general populace. I would go further than what he said. I believe that the essential function of government is to do exactly this, reduce risk among the general populace by pooling resources, that creating a kind of insurance. National Defense and law enforcement are both functions in which risk (that is to say cost) is spread among the population primarily to insure the security of larger concentrations of property and wealth. This is appropriately <i>the</i> essential function of government. The Democrats have been, and need to continue to, push policies that expand that role toward securing the bulk of the population against the greatest risks they face, health problems and economic dislocation. My point is that these policies are in no way an expansion of government into new areas where government does not belong, but rather an expansion of the proper role of government to provide its advantages to a greater portion of the population. All but the highest income Americans (really those with very large property holdings) pay inordinately to support the functions of government, those people deserve to enjoy those benefits that government provides.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's in a Name?


I have to say that I'm with Mark on this. Of course, the devil is in the details, but I think that any effort to try and define this election as a victory for conservatism can easily be played to our advantage. If the policies being pursued are a minimum wage, lower taxes on the middle class, restoration of sensible tax rates on the wealthiest, general social libertarianism, a respect for the results of science and a general concern for the environment, then I can put up with them being called 'conservative' or 'moderate-conservative', especially in a nation where much of the population considers itself to be 'conservative'. If we can then get the current policies of the Republican leadership to be labeled as radical, we're set.

The one fly in this ointment though (or the devil in these details to keep my metaphors straight) is this; what is the Democratic leadership actually thinking? If they are buying this election is a victory for 'conservatives' so that they can buy into yet more tax cuts for the wealthy, or privatizing social security or some other bad policy, then we need to stop that thinking now. I would recommend therefore that you contact your representative and tell them how happy you are with this victory and <i>what policies you would like to see enacted, and which policies you do not want to see supported</i>. You have made your voice heard, make it heard again.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Poll Watching In Progress

Just a quick note on the current status. Everything has gone very smoothly here in the Maryland precinct where I am poll watching. The folks running the show are doing a great job. They have done this before and are quite good at it. Also, I want to say that the chief judge is a Republican and I could not be more pleased with the job she is doing. I must remind myself that the problem is a faction of the Republican party, and it's ideology, not with all Republicans. Also, the voter turnout so far is very high. It is running a steady 100 voters per hour, which is quite good. If this precinct is typical, this will be a high turn out election here in Maryland, which should be good for Martin and Ben.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Republican Playbook in Maryland

I found a link to the Maryland Republicans plan to supress the vote. It is linke to by Free State Politcs, not surprisingly. That is, by the way, a great source for all politics Marlyand.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Canvassing in Maryland

I spent part of today canvassing in Maryland. I went door to door to known Democrats, just to give a quick reminder to go to the polls. It was a real GOTV effort. I spoke in person to about twenty people, give or take, and most were quite enthusiastic and happy to see me, no one was hostile or rude. The experience gives me a good feeling about Tuesday even if current polls are not encouraging.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

This years Republican Voter Supression Program

I just wanted to put here a link to the WaPo article on the Republican voter supression effort. It's a must read.

Update A couple more links on how to safeguard the vote:
12 ways to safeguard your vote
How to stop election fraud

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Maryland Phone Banking

Well today I spent some time making some calls for the Maryland Democrats. It went pretty well. I got a lot of people just hanging up, of course, all unsolicited calls face that. But those who did speak with me were overwhelmingly for supporting Cardin and O'Mally and were quite enthusiastic. And by overwhelmingly, I mean that only a few people were undecided or noncommittal. Many were quite strong in their support. So today's calls give me a bit more confidence that we Democrats will win both the Maryland governor's mansion and the Maryland Senate seat.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Poll Watching

Well, I've signed up to be a poll watcher here in Maryland. I've had my orientation tonight. This is my first time doing anything like this, so this is a very new experience. I'll try and record what happens as I experience it.

Now here in Maryland the Diebold machines are ubiquitous, so I'll get first hand experience with the whole Diebold phenomenon. So far I've only voted on them. I'll have to be at the voting location before 6:30 to see the machines get set up and be there until after the polls close to make sure that all the votes are properly collected and sent in to the county board of elections. The role of the poll watcher is to be a free representative of, in my case, the Democratic party, to make sure that all is done according to the rules.

One thing that we will be doing to help the process is to collect voting tallies at several points during the day and sending them in, by phone, to an automatic collection system. This way a record of the voting totals is being kept throughout the day. One sign of the times thought is that the number we will call in to will not be given to us until election day. This is to prevent phone jamming.

One other thing of note is that we were definitely directed to not do anything to interfere with people voting. There was an article in the Washington Post today on a booklet that the Republicans have produced on how to harass voters. At the Democratic orientation I attended it was made clear that we were only there to assist voters and insure the integrity of the process.

Well I'm looking forward to seeing how it all goes. I'll report more as the election proceeds.

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