Archive for November 2nd, 2006

Remember all that outrage when the DCCC ran advertising showing flag-draped coffins? Guess what! There are at least two ads featuring flag-draped coffins out right now, both funded by Republicans, including one by the NRCC.

This is what Dennis Rehberg said then:

“This video is horrifying,” Rehberg said in a statement. “Using fallen soldiers as a political fundraising tool is an insult to the families of those soldiers and to our military personnel who are currently serving in harm’s way.”

This is what he has to say now:


Well, so far. We’ll see what his campaign staff has to say. Here’s the email I just sent to his office:

Hon. Rehberg,In July, when a DCCC-sponsored ad featured flag-draped coffins of American war dead appeared, you denounced the ad:

“Using fallen soldiers as a political fundraising tool is an insult to the families of those soldiers and to our military personnel who are currently serving in harm’s way.”

It has come to my attention that the NRCC has recently sponsored its own such ad in support of Republican House candidate Max Burns. Burns himself has asked the NRCC to stop airing the commercial; they have refused.

Could you please let my know your position on this advertisement? And what actions have you taken to influence the NRCC from exploiting our war dead?

I also left my home phone number in the email. Maybe I’ll actually get a phone call! I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.

Posted by touchstone


The latest polls shows Jon up by just one. The race is getting tight, but with a good final effort, we can – and will — win this thing. At least Larry Sabato thinks so. (He’s also predicting a Democratic takeover of the Senate.)

Conrad Burns made it to the Daily Show! It was for his secret plan for the war in Iraq. Hilarious.

Shane thanks Max Baucus for watching Jon’s back.

New West’s Bill Schneider claims the NRA’s endorsement of Conrad Burns only further proves that it doesn’t represent hunters. H*ll, I’ve gone further than that! The NRA doesn’t actually represent gun rights, it’s a Republican PAC. Period.

Idaho Republican Bill Sali: “The taxpayers of this state don’t have to pay for abortions just so a girl can have a nice bikini figure.” And more lovely quotes there, too!

So the Republican GOTV efforts are going to save the day for the GOP, right? Not so fast.

Another conservative endorsing a Democratic takeover because of the GOP’s relentless negativity.

Vague and mysterious “secret” intelligence show a shadowy plot by evil-doers to topple a sovereign nation. Right before an election! Does anyone trust this administration anymore?

And, of course, Iraq is everybody’s fault but the President’s.

Speaking of the President, the New York Times destroys him in its editorial today: “As President Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he’s settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can’t defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Mr. Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.” And that’s just the opening.

Isn’t that odd? Florida voting machines seem to prefer Republican candidates. Hmmm…

Lieberman caught violating campaign laws.

Do I have to say that Jon Stewart got to the bottom of the real issues surrounding the Kerry brouhaha? I don’t, do I?

Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan agree about the joking, and both consider the President and the administration “unhinged.”

Olbermann also comments on the Kerry brouhaha.

The Missoula County City Local Government Study Commission wants to return to partisan elections. As I understand it, an understanding that I was led to by questioning the commissioners about the plan, this would not be a move to partisan primaries. It would simply be a change by which candidates would be required to identify themselves with a political party or declare their independence.

The proposal to return to partisan elections was not a major topic of conversation for the LGSC. It wound up in the recommendations at the last minute, when Bob Oaks spoke up at the conclusion of the March 15, 2006, meeting during which the LGSC’s recommendations were set, after the recommendations had been set, and said, according to the minutes, “When I ran for this [LGSC] I ran on supporting partisan elections. I don’t how to get that on our work plan but would like to try and make it so.” Well, the LGSC carved out some time during an ancillary meeting on April 24, a Monday meeting at an unusual location that attracted two members of the public, one reporter and the cameraman from MCAT in addition to the LGSC members. (By contrast, the March meeting calling for public comment on potential recommendations attracted dozens of people.) According to the minutes of April 24, the LGSC adopted a return to partisan elections recommendation by a 4-3 vote, with the fourth yes vote expressing a good deal of ambivalence about the move. There was hardly a groundswell of support for the partisanship recommendation.

And I can’t say that I see the merit in the proposal. The logic offered by its proponents is two-fold. First, voter participation in municipal elections has declined five percent in the decade since municipal elections went non-partisan on the recommendation of the previous LGSC (which voters endorsed by a two-to-one margin). A return to partisan elections, the logic goes, would increase turnout. Second, the first thing people want to know about a candidate is his or her party affiliation, and people are using the lack of identification to disguise their positions, so candidates should be forced to identify themselves.

The first argument assumes that partisan elections should be the baseline against which non-partisan are judged. Further, it maintains that lower voter turnout is attributable solely to deviation from that baseline and that the observed decline in voter turnout–which I have not been able to verify–is a significant result and not merely statistical static or attributable to, say, antipathy toward politics deriving from a general malaise. It strikes me as specious, logic discovered to support a position that had already been adopted rather than an overwhelming pile of evidence pushing to an evident conclusion.

As for the second argument that people want to know party affiliation and candidates should therefore be required to list one next to their names, it too rests on premises that are not self-evident. Primarily, it assumes that party affiliation is a meaningful label. (I realize that even questioning whether this is so might be heresy to bloggers battling for the soul of the Democratic Party, but I haven’t been one to believe in essences since I decided the voice in my head was just that.) In a two-party system, however, parties are less vehicles for a trenchant ideology than amorphous coalitions trying to be just big enough to get power and hang on to it. Further, I don’t see how anyone who wants to know party identification can’t find it out simply by asking the candidate–they’re in the phone book, after all–unless the person isn’t wondering until they see the names on the ballot for the first time upon showing up in the voting booth. At that point, the political decision-making process has been reduced to product labelling.

So what’s behind those labels? Well, in local politics, there’s a central committee. A return to partisan elections will put a great deal more power in the hands of a very few people involved with the local party organization. Candidates who seek the patronage of the central committees will have significantly greater financial and organizational resources at their disposal. In return, they will owe some allegiance to the central committee. That won’t necessarily be abused, but it certainly opens the opportunity.

Further, requiring partisan identification puts true independents at a significant disadvantage. I would not want to identify myself as a Democrat or Republican if I were to run for city council. It’s not because I don’t have sympathies with one party or another, but because those sympathies change as parties change their priorities. In the past, I have voted for Republicans, Libertarians and Democrats. For the last five years or so, I haven’t had much choice but to support Democrats because the Republicans have careened into religious and ideological fanaticism with disastrous results. But there’s no guarantee that Democrats won’t similarly be corrupted by power if they can stop aborting their attempts to get it. Party identity is fluid over the long term and identifying with a party is an invitation to be carried along by the organization rather than staking out principled grounds and defending them.

Now, if we had an election system like instant runoff voting, in which voting for a less-than-majority ideology didn’t mean supporting an opposite view, I would have less of a problem with partisan elections. Party identity would likely mean a lot more. But with two major parties and a system that offers significant advantage to someone identifying with, and therefore owing allegiance to, one or the other, partisan elections do more to benefit organizational insiders than the public good.

–posted by readbetween

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