Sunday, August 31, 2008

Marsha Pappas' Open Letter to Senator Clinton - and a present proudly worn


I am sure many readers of this blog have already seen this marvelous letter, written by Marsha Pappas, head of NOW NYS. It arrived in my email today, coinciding with the first day I had the chance to wear the wonderful shirt given to me by two generous donors to Senator Clinton who had the shirt to which they were entitled sent to me.




Ms. Pappas' letter, which I wholeheartedly endorse. (Click on text to enlarge.)

Loyal Democrat of the Day: Ed O'Reilly

Ed O'Reilly, running against John Kerry for the Democratic spot on the November ballot, is my pick for loyal Democrat of the Day. Ed gets it: loyalty to party does not mean blindly following commands from on high. Loyalty to the Democratic Party means true progressivism and an insistence on democratic and Democratic values, ideals, and principles. To that end, Ed has persisted in attempting to engage John Kerry in public debates. John Kerry, not so interested. But Ed has finally shamed Senator Kerry into some sort of debate, and for that I congratulate Ed.

Please consider donating to Ed O'Reilly's campaign. The Massachusetts primary is September 16. Ed needs funds.
You can one-stop donate to him and to other progressive candidates and causes here.

Message from The Denver Group: A straightforward request for contributions to Principle Before Party

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Democratic Party is my Party and I'm not giving it away without a fight

Today I received a very polite email inquiry urging to me to reconsider my personal position with regard to my intention to conscientiously abstain from voting for the Democrat at the top of the ticket this year. After receiving so many nasty anonymous jibes and digs, it was a great relief to read such an intelligent and careful piece of writing from a fellow Democrat. There were two main steps to his argument: that the country cannot withstand another four years of Republican policies in the Bush-Cheney mold; and that therefore I should be willing to defer my objections to the DNC's corruption in anointing a nominee and to the Democratic Party leadership's continuing unwillingness to immediately take affirmative steps toward making sure that this corruption within the Democratic Party will not be allowed to continue. The writer also pointed out that when it comes to corruption, there is plenty in the RNC and among Republican politicians. The writer appealed to issues like abortion rights and environmental issues as two among others that are too important to leave in the hands of Senator McCain.

For months, Senator Obama, Dr. Dean, Speaker Pelosi - along with Donna Brazile, Jesse Jackson Jr., and Bill Richardson - made it clear that they felt that my vote was not necessary for an Obama victory this November. They claimed that with the participation of independents, registered Republicans, and a newly minted crop of registered Democrats, they were sure they had plenty of votes - more than enough, in fact - to defeat Senator McCain. Somewhat paradoxically, they also claimed that in any event that they were entirely confident I would ultimately vote for Senator Obama -- indeed that I would do so no matter how they treated the candidate I preferred, Senator Clinton; no matter how much I made known my dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party's violations of its own rules and principles; and no matter how much I objected to the Party's toleration of and engagement in sexist and misogynistic rhetoric.

Those who preferred and promoted Senator Obama's campaign may turn out to be correct that he can forge a coalition of independents, Republicans, and freshly registered Democrats large enough to defeat Senator McCain. But I must inform the obviously sincere person who wrote to me that, while I will not cast a ballot for John McCain this November, neither will I cast one for Senator Obama. I agree with the writer that the RNC may well have corruption problems of their own. But the Republican Party is not my concern; long ago I decided that the Party that brought us Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and the idea of the "imperial presidency" would never be my party. When the Republicans stole Florida, depriving the country of a Gore presidency, I was outraged but it made no difference in my stance to that Party, which was already one of opposition.

But had I been a Republican and old enough to vote in the Carter/Ford election, I know I would not have voted for Gerald Ford, even if I could not bring myself to vote for Jimmy Carter. And the reason I could not have done so is because President Ford's pardon of President Nixon put an official Republican Party seal of approval on the internal corruption Richard Nixon brought to the Republican Party.

By the same token, even though I am an ardent Democrat, I cannot participate in the legitimization of the practices and procedures the Democratic Party used to arrive at its nominee this year. Repeatedly, Dr. Dean, Speaker Pelosi and other less famous members of official Democratic Party institutions put their seal of approval on these practices and procedures.

Fortunately for me, I can conscientiously abstain from casting a ballot for any presidential candidate this year and instead turn my political energy to another effort that I believe will ensure that our country moves in progressive directions on a host of issues, including guaranteeing reproductive rights, guaranteeing the civil rights of gays and lesbians, ending the war in Iraq, and protecting the environment. That effort is to make sure that the Democratic Party wins as large a majority as possible in both the House and Senate, with candidates who embrace progressivism and object to internal Democratic Party corruption. In our federal governmental structure the legislature can pass legislation and even constitutional amendments to further progressive causes; the legislature can override presidential vetoes of these measures. For example, a robustly progressive legislature could pass the Equal Rights Amendment; and an amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women's rights to control their own bodies; another to protect the civil rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation; another to rid this country of the death penalty. The legislature can enact statutes and create agencies to fund stem cell research, to promote space exploration, to attend to specific environmental issues such as global warming. The legislature can force a sane and reasonable withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by attaching requirements in this regard to appropriations for funding U.S. action in that country. The legislature can refuse to approve proposed Supreme Court justices unless it is satisfied with their integrity as jurists.

But the Congress can only exert its power for good if it is peopled by true progressives - in most cases that means Democrats - and progressives who are staunchly committed to civil rights and voters' rights in every political process in this country. So I will turn my efforts to identifying those Democrats and doing whatever I can to see them elected in November. With a legislature like that, I do not have to gamble on who wins the Presidency or even what sort of policies that President would prefer to see implemented.

I respect the right of each and every citizen to decide for himself or herself how best to participate in the upcoming November elections. I hope that regardless of Party affiliation citizens will realize that to secure a more perfect union we need to instantiate the measures I discussed above and that regardless of Party affiliation one can seek out and support progressives running for Congress.

For too long we as a people have let Presidential politics blind us to the possibility of achieving progressive goals via the legislative process. This has yielded an unprecedented expansion of power for the executive branch. I realize that many people therefore find themselves focusing on who will occupy this branch. But there is a vicious circle there: so long as we focus exclusively or primarily on who becomes President, the more we legitimize the imperial presidency.

So by opting out of casting a vote in the Presidential race this year, I give myself the freedom - and time - to devote myself to breaking that vicious cycle. Furthermore, I can work for progressive Democrat political power without condoning what I cannot condone, the undemocratic and anti-Democratic violations of the Democratic Party's own promulgated rules that yielded this year's Democratic nominee; the willingness to look the other way when there was caucus fraud; the unprincipled treatment of Florida and Michigan voters; and so on and so forth. To my fellow rank and file Democrats who either do not find the Party's conduct this primary season as objectionable as I do or who are going to vote for Senator Obama because they so fear the McCain alternative, I say that is your right. But I would urge you to spare some time and effort to pay attention to the down ticket progressive Democrats running for House and Senate, many of whom are running in districts or states where Senator Obama's coattails - however long or short they turn out to be - will not help them get elected. If you cannot spare the time or effort though, do not worry. I along with millions of other rank and file Democrats will be focusing our energy in that direction - and that should not threaten or alarm any Democrat.

Causes and candidates to which any good Democrat can feel good about supporting (a list in progress)
  • Principle Before Party from The Denver Group (donate here)
  • Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (donate to retire the debt or to the 2012 reelection fund here)
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's reelection to the House (donate here via link to Heidi Li's Potpourri Act Blue Page)
  • Ed O'Reilly's yeoman effort to bring serious progressivism back to Massachussetts (donate here via link to Heidi Li's Potpourri Act Blue Page)

The Denver Group: THE DENVER GROUP'S NEW MESSAGE: "PRINCIPLE BEFORE PARTY" AND WHAT IT MEANS.

The Denver Group: THE DENVER GROUP'S NEW MESSAGE: "PRINCIPLE BEFORE PARTY" AND WHAT IT MEANS.

In case anybody is in any doubt that the current DNC and DNCC have lost all track of what it means to be principled, try this fun little text. See if you can quickly get the answers to the following questions from the DNC or DNCC websites.

How would the roll call have gone if delegates were left free to vote as they were pledged to have done?
How does this compare to how they voted after the delegates were summoned to private tally sessions?
What are the complete results of all those tallies, which Senator Clinton formally moved to have counted?

Please take a look at the message The Denver Group wants to put into the MSM and if you can spare a few dollars, consider a donation. We are not giving up on our party; we are determined to clean it up.

RETIRE THE DEBT - A must see video from Geeklove

Watch here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ridicule, fine. Misogynistic ridicule, not so good.

As I have repeatedly said, I do not think vice-presidential picks make the difference in presidential elections. One thing does make this year different. This year the sexism and misogyny that seems embedded in the current crop of Democratic Party officials has alienated millions of men and women who expected better of the Democratic Party. John McCain has certainly capitalized on that by selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate. I personally would never vote for a McCain for president, and Senator McCain's choosing a woman as a running mate makes no difference to me. But I assure you that for millions of disappointed and outraged men and women who would ordinarily not vote Republican, Senator McCain's choice will carry weight.

Bearing this in mind, let us consider the Florida Democratic State Party's email blast sent out today, over the name of Florida's Democratic Party State Chair and Obama superdelegate Karen Thurman.

From: Karen Thurman, Florida Democratic Party [mailto:grassroots@fladems.com]
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 3:51 PM
To:
Subject: Heartbeat from the Presidency

Florida Democrats

Florida Democrats

Dear Friends,


John McCain rolled the dice with his VP pick today - in an attempt to woo women voters.

But we cannot gamble with women's lives.

Don't let your friends, family and co-workers be fooled: Alaskan Sarah Palin is a dangerous right-winger who lacks the judgment to lead.

In 2000, Palin endorsed Pat Buchanan for President. Yes, that Pat Buchanan.

In 2006, Palin ran for Alaska Governor on a message of change - and then turned out to be just another corrupt Alaska politician who's now under investigation in her own state.

She's no Hillary Clinton. She's Dan Quayle in a dress.

Women voters who care about equal rights, choice, family and other issues, will not see a partner in Palin.

Help us fight for these issues by electing Democrats up and down the ticket. Click here to donate today:


She is lockstep with Bush and McCain on issues important to women. Every one of them. That's scary.

The corrupt trio of Ted Stevens, Don Young, and Lisa Murkowski all raised campaign money for Palin.

John McCain claimed that Barack Obama lacked experience. Then he picked a VP who has just 20 months at the helm of a state with a population smaller than the city of Jacksonville, and zero foreign policy experience. Palin would be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Barack Obama is ready to lead. Last night he showed us what the next American President will look like. He and Joe Biden will deliver change we need.

The stakes are too high to risk another four years of the same. If you have $25, $50 or $100 to spare, please contribute today to the Florida Democratic Party's campaign to elect Democrats up and down the ballot. We're on the verge of major change in Florida, but we need your help.



Sincerely,

Congresswoman Karen L. Thurman
Chair, Florida Democratic Party



This email was sent to:


To unsubscribe, go to:

Paid for and authorized by the Florida Democratic Party, www.fladems.com.

What, you may ask, is wrong with this? Sarah Palin is indeed a conservative Republican; she is indeed under investigation for corruption. But note the sentence put in bold, where Thurman refers to Gov. Palin as "Dan Quayle in a dress." If Thurman wanted to criticize or even ridicule Sarah Palin's intelligence, fine by me. Ridicule is a tried and true political tactic. But a wiser ridiculer would not included the gratutious reference to women's attire. Because once that reference is added, it becomes ambiguous as to whether Sarah Palin is being ridiculed for lacking smarts or because she is female. And no, it makes no difference that this remark is meant to contrast Palin with Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton's intelligence is obvious to all the world. The appropriate contrast would have been between Senator Obama's chosen running mate, Joe Biden, and Sarah Palin, and if the basis of the contrast is that one v.p. pick is smarter than the other, then the gender of either has nothing to do with anything.

So, there it is again, the tendency of current state and national Democratic officials to display misogyny, at a time when such displays are very likely to cost the Party its best shot at the Presidency since President Clinton was reelected to office.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the burden to prove that he understands and will speak out against sexism and misogyny within the Democratic Party is upon Senator Obama. I recognize that he is in a bind because, not having spoken out previously, he might seem like he is merely being expedient in speaking out now. The challenge for him is how to walk that tightrope - it is one he and his advisers, with the help of Dr. Dean and Speaker Pelosi - set up. It is there and either Senator Obama will walk it with aplomb and grace; or he will try to pretend it isn't a real challenge for him; or he will fall off the highwire.

Action steps for Democrats' Democrats moving forward

The convention has been something of a strange time for us rank and file Democrats. But it is now behind us and for those of us seeking ways to make the Democratic Party everything it should be, for itself and for America, here are steps I suggest (and have already begun undertaking myself). Just my suggestions:

1. As we identify downticket Democrats who can carry forward the mantle of Stephanie Tubbs Jones, let's make sure they receive enough support to win in November.

2. Even better, let's make sure to support those Democrats who we know will work effectively with Senator Clinton to achieve the goals that over 18 million Americans endorsed when they cast their votes for her during the primary season.

3. When Senator Clinton's campaign releases information about which of her campaign funds (2012 reelection committee or the Hillary Clinton for President 2007-08 primary committee) most need our donations, let's donate.
4. Let's recruit and champion Democrats we believe are committed to restoring the party to a more functional, fair, and truly democratic institution to occupy local, state, and national positions within The Democratic Party.

5. Join Hillpac. No need to contribute financially to participate in its current petition drive, and if you agree with its mission statement and objectives and want to donate, learn more here.
  • Text of Hillpac petition:

    Dear Secretary Leavitt,

    The regulations now published by HHS raise serious concerns about women's access to family planning services. I strongly urge you to revise this policy that threatens to affect Medicaid and Title X programs that are important to millions of families, and would undermine the health of women across the country. I also call on the Department to issue final regulations that include an assurance that a woman's access to contraception will not be compromised.

    I stand with Hillary Clinton and women and men across America in speaking out against these proposed regulations. We've had enough of putting ideology over science and failed policies harming healthy families. [To sign, go here.]


In posts to follow, I will be elaborating on steps 1 -4. Step 5 is something anybody can do today.

On being a Democrat's Democrat

Many people misunderstand the concepts of commitment and loyalty. Many more misunderstand the idea that reasonable people of good faith can disagree about what constitutes commitment and loyalty.

These misunderstandings are making it very difficult right now for Democrats to treat each other with the civility and the respect that both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton worked hard to display toward one another at the Democratic National Convention. Anybody who is speaking about how to respond to the result of the Convention is surely receiving praise and criticism from fellow Democrats about the very same remarks. Some Democrats seem unable to accept that other Democrats will not respond to the race for the presidency in the same way. That is not the Democratic way, in my opinion. If the Democratic Party is to be a party that respects diversity and difference, Democrats themselves must tolerate diversity and difference in opinion about how best to work to strengthen the Party.

For my own part, I cannot imagine voting for Senator McCain because I entirely reject his policy positions and his world view. Nothing sad about that; this is why I have never been able to vote for any Republican presidential candidate. It is why I remain a happily remain a registered Democrat and will remain one.

What is sad is that the actions of the DNC and the DNCC have made it impossible for me personally to cast a vote for the Democratic Party's nominee. I cannot condone the multiple illegitimate practices used to arrive at the result of the Democratic Party's nominating convention.

But I defer to nobody when I insist that I am not only a Democrat, but a Democrat's Democrat. First, I will not insult those who choose to vote for Senator Obama. I assume, to paraphrase Senator Obama's acceptance speech, that these voters love their country, just I do. I also assume they will vote as they will because of their good faith belief that an Obama presidency is essential or necessary to the medium and longer-term well-being of the country and/or the continuing vitality of the Democratic Party.

As a Democrat's Democrat I can acknowledge and respect these beliefs quite easily although I simply do not share them. And as a Democrat's Democrat I hold out the faith that my fellow Democrats will be able to acknowledge and respect my beliefs even if they do not share them.

I believe that the best thing for the country and the Democratic Party this November is to ensure an overwhelming victory for Democrats in the House and Senate. This way, regardless of whether Senator Obama or Senator McCain wins the presidency the legislative branch of our government will be able to assert itself on behalf of genuine progressivism, to keep a check on any executive branch efforts to be anti-progressive, whether it be by injecting too much religiosity into our Constitutionally secular government or by carrying on a meaningless and tragic war in Iraq. A powerful and progressive House and Senate can protect and implement Democratic ideals and policies, regardless of who sits in the White House.

This is good news for all Democrats. Because whether one plans to vote for Senator Obama or not, he is not a shoo-in (nor would Senator Clinton have been one) for the Presidency. And if Senator Obama loses in November, I trust that he, as a fellow Democrat's Democrat, will go back to the Senate and work as hard as he can for the many of the policies he specified in his speech at Invesco Field last night.

Please contact the DSCC and tell them that we will only support them (and their candidates) once it has been made clear to us that the Senate Democrats will elect Hillary Clinton as their leader in January:

The Denver Group: Heidi Li on My Two Cents radio (second hour)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Well, Senator Obama's speech certainly is stunning

As I type this, I am listening to Senator Obama give his acceptance speech.

It is stunning. It is audacious. It lifts word-for-word and paragraph-by-paragraph from Senator Clinton's stump speech. When Senator Clinton is not being quoted directly (without attribution), almost every idea Senator Clinton advanced during her campaign.

It would be one thing if Senator Obama had been quoting Senator Clinton with attribution and using her ideas throughout the primary season. Then, this speech would not be stunningly breathtakingly audacious. It would be a speech given by the person who would have been the better person to run against John McCain, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton; possibly it would have been given by Senator Clinton's running mate, who might have been Senator Obama. And it would have been a speech that would have been not only inspiring but more importantly credible.

Hillary Clinton For Senate Majority Leader - one fabulous idea

Check it out, either by clicking the title or clicking here.

The Denver Group: WHAT'S NEXT

The Denver Group: WHAT'S NEXT

Check it out, please.

A must-read

As printed in Rasmussen Reports:

Hillary Can't Fix What Her Party Broke
A Commentary By Froma Harrop

Hillary Clinton just gave the last major speech of her 2008 campaign. Or perhaps was it the first of her 2012 campaign. She said vote-for-Barack enough times and at enough volume to protect her from accusations of trying to sabotage Obama's chances in November, not that she won't be accused.

But the address at the Democrats' convention was a campaign speech -- for her. It was about health care, women's struggles and other signature Hillary issues. To her diehard supporters who have yet to come home to Obama, she said: "I want you to ask yourselves. Were you in the campaign just for me?"

That's the giveaway line, because for Hillary's angry backers, the issue is no longer what was done to her. It was about what was done to them.

Democrats had turned on fellow Democrats, and although the arrows flew in all directions, the nastiest of the invective fell on the ladies who loved Hillary. That these loyal Democrats had been targeted made them nuts.

I spent the morning at the Denver headquarters of PUMA PAC, perhaps the best known of the anti-Obama Democratic groups. PUMA stands for People United Means Action, according to the acronym's polite version. It was founded by Darragh Murphy, a 39-year-old blogger from Boston, who had been flamed once too often while praising Clinton on the left-wing Daily Kos Website.

How strange that anyone writing for a political site would be smeared for backing a candidate of the same party. If the Democratic leadership had any sense of self-preservation, it would have shunned creepy bloggers and those who provided their forum. Instead, it hailed them as voices of the new generation.

"What will your members do when Hillary tells them to vote for Obama?" I asked Murphy.

"They will not vote for Obama," she replied. "I can tell you that."

Whether they will vote for John McCain is another matter. Murphy herself has not decided what she'll do in November.

PUMA spokeswoman Shannon Rains is closer to going over to McCain. "I've been voting for 20 years," the 39-year-old from Salisbury, Md., told me. "I've never ever looked at a Republican candidate. I am now."

The Democrats clearly have a hooligan problem. It was as though their left-wingers suffered a kind of Karl Rove envy. They wanted to go on the attack, demonize a Clinton and hurl abuse at the Clinton's friends. Only a year ago, Vanity Fair ran a cover story on how Clinton hatred had infected much of the right wing. The left seems to have grabbed the baton. And it apparently did not dawn on the Obama shock troops that they were offending the very people their man might someday need.

The Rovian right never made that mistake with non-candidates.

It reserved its thuggery for people who would never vote for a Republican.

No, sexism didn't doom Clinton's campaign. Sexism may have even helped Clinton in the later primaries as the outrages turned her into something of a martyr. But that didn't excuse it.

Hillary is not about to abandon her power base. She ended her speech by exercising her impressive talent for bonding with the women who adore her. And anyone who listened closely could tell that there was no room in that relationship for Barack Obama.

"You allowed me to become part of your lives, and you became part of mine," she said. And: "To my supporters, to my champions, to my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you, because you never gave in, and you never gave up."

Her story continues.

COPYRIGHT 2008 THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL CO.

Keep going

"If you are tired, keep going; if you are scared, keep going; if you are hungry, keep going; if you want to taste freedom, keep going."
attributed to Harriet Tubman

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Warning: what you are about to see is not a real vote

Denver, Democratic National Convention, August 24 - 3:30 Mountain Time

In the previous post on this site, I discussed the private delegate sessions held during the day before today's Convention officially convened. Apparently, the delegates were required to sign ballot sheets in those sessions, and it seems that it is these ballot sheets that will be tallied in the next couple of hours during the official "roll call vote". In my previous post, I noted all the ways delegates themselves could, in principle, object to what happens on the floor, including basing an objection into being forced to participate in these private meetings under duress.

But I doubt that will happen - not for lack of delegates who would want to do so - but because such tremendous acts of political courage in the face of oppression are exceedingly hard to muster.

If delegates do muster the will to fight today on the Convention Floor for a democratic Democratic party, they will, I have no doubt be quashed by Speaker Pelosi who long ago gave up on democratic procedures and principles or even showing enough integrity to have her Party abide by its own Rules.

Regardless of what people see on their televisions over the next hour or so, do not be fooled. No ritual that is preceded by private balloting can be understand to be a genuine or authentic vote. When Americans go to vote in the general election, for example, they will not be rounded up beforehand and asked to sign documents stating how they will vote before hand. If we were, the documents would not count as votes anyway. That is because, messy and imperfect as federal elections can be, the one thing the government does is at least try to do is to make the elections that occur on Election Day be genuine decision making making mechanisms, a chance for those eligible to vote to cast ballots according to a previously established procedure to use that procedure to decide the question at hand.

Quite the opposite has occurred at the Democratic Party convention this year. Every effort has been made to ensure that today's televised proceedings NOT be the actual mechanism to decide the Democratic Party's nominee, to turn what could and should have been a vote into a "vote".
What we are watching today more closely resembles closely Iranian parliamentary elections than U.S. federal elections.

A "vote" is not a vote. It is a sham, a fake, a show.

A respectful recommendation: a contribution to The Denver Group, an organization that will keep on fighting for democracy in the Democratic Party regardless of whatever spectacles are on display this particular week in Denver.

Noon Denver time update: Democratic Party Convention roll call vote

Based on a review of a wide number of sources (some off the record, most on) here is my best understanding of what is taking place before the Convention is called to order today and the roll call held. Go here for the official schedule of the day. According to that schedule, the roll call will be held in the first hour of the first session of today, between 3 and 4 p.m. mountain time.

The schedule does not disclose what is happening this morning and early afternoon with the delegates. As best as I can judge, what is going on is that the delegates are being rounded up state by state for a caucus-like (?!?) process, headed by Obama campaign staff it seems. At these sessions delegates are being required to express their preference for Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, with the understanding that these preferences will then be disclosed on the floor of the convention.

There is no Party rule that I can find that specifies this procedure, so it appears to be another improvisation. The question then arises, does this improvisation violate Party rules or are the rules silent on the matter?

The procedures from the 2008 Call to the Convention that would seem to be most relevant are reprinted below, with the most directly significant ones emphasized in bold color. My own annotations as to how the specified official procedures relate to the reported sessions being held now are in italic color.

Summary: There are specified procedures for dealing with almost any contingency that could arise during an actual roll call vote. The delegates can force a roll call vote if they so choose. The caucus-like sessions I believe are taking place now would appear to violate the specific rule against "secret ballots".

From the Call to The Convention:

7. Roll Call for Presidential Candidate:

a. After nominations for presidential candidates have closed, the Convention shall proceed to a roll call vote by states on the selection of the presidential candidate. The roll call voting shall follow the alphabetical order of the states with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and the territories treated as states for the purpose of the alphabetical roll call. [Still no word as to whether this order will be followed and a full polling of all states completed]

b. A majority vote of the Convention’s delegates shall be required to nominate the presidential candidate. [I would have thought the simplest way to determine a majority vote would be simply to vote, on the floor, as specified by the Call to the Convention.]

...

d. Balloting will continue until a nominee is selected. The nominee shall become the candidate of the Democratic Party of the United States for the Office of President upon the conclusion of his or her acceptance speech.

8. Acceptance Speech by Presidential Candidate: Immediately after the selection of the Democratic nominee for President, the Permanent Chair shall invite the nominee to
deliver an acceptance speech to the Convention.

....

F. Voting:

1. Secret Ballot: No secret ballots shall be permitted at any stage of the Convention or its committee proceedings. [The improvised caucus-like sessions certainly seem like "secret ballots" if one interprets "secret" as nonpublic, not conducted during officially convened sessions, and/or not accessible to press coverage. I would so interpret "secret" but I am confident that others would give the word some other definition.]

2. Proxy Voting: Neither delegate nor alternate delegate votes may be cast by proxy.

3. Roll Call Votes:

a. Voting shall be by voice vote or, when prescribed by these rules, by roll call vote. The roll call voting shall follow the order as specified in Article VIII.C.7.a. A roll call vote shall also be had if the Chair is in doubt or upon demand of any delegate supported by twenty percent (20%) of the Convention’s delegates as evidenced by one of the following methods:

(1) A petition submitted to the Chair indicating support of the demand by delegations which comprise not less than twenty percent (20%) of the Convention’s delegates. In the case of the petition in support of a demand for a roll call vote, a delegation shall be taken to support the demand if a majority of its delegates have signed a petition to do so.

(2) By the rising in support of the demand by not less than twenty percent (20%) of the delegates present.
[Taken together, it would seem that a roll call vote will have to be held, because even if Chair Nancy Pelosi does not regard herself as "in doubt", a demand by 20% of delegates suffices to force a roll call vote and from what I have learned at least that many delegates want a free, fair, and honest roll call - but of course whether they stand up to demand that lies in their own hands at this point.]

b. When a roll call vote is ordered, the roll call shall be called by states, and the Chair of each delegation or his or her designee shall report the vote of his or her delegation and shall send to the Convention Secretary a tally showing the vote of each member of his or her delegation indicating whether such vote was cast in person or by an alternate. Such roll call votes may be conducted by having the Chair for each delegation report by telephone, or electronic voting mechanism, the vote of his or her delegation to the rostrum, provided that the telephone poll shall not be used in the balloting for the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees. Business shall be permitted to proceed during the telephone roll call and votes may be conducted by electronic mechanism. After each official vote, the Delegation Chair shall record and tally votes of the delegation on official roll call tally sheets provided by the Convention Secretary. All official roll call tally sheets shall be turned in to the Convention Secretary at a specified location not more than thirty (30) minutes after the close of each voting period.

c. All delegates to the National Convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.

...

e. On a roll call vote by states, the vote cast on behalf of a delegation may be challenged by communication to the Convention Secretary by telephone or other means by any voting member of that state’s delegation within ten (10) minutes after the Convention Secretary’s announcement of the state’s vote. The votes of that delegation shall then be recorded as polled without regard to any state law, party rule, resolution or instruction binding the delegation or any member thereof to vote for or against any candidate or proposition. The Convention Chair may send a parliamentarian to the delegation to conduct the poll. At the discretion of the Convention Chair, the roll call may continue instead of waiting for the result of the polling.

f. On a roll call vote conducted by telephone or other electronic voting mechanism, the vote of a delegation as shown on the video projection system may be challenged by communication to the Convention Secretary by telephone or other means by any voting member of the delegation within ten (10) minutes after the delegation’s vote is shown on the screen.

g. A demand to poll a delegation may be withdrawn at any time before the actual polling has begun.

4. Interruption of Vote: When the question has been put, the vote thereon may not be interrupted for any purpose other than a demand for a roll call vote or a point of order directed to the conduct of the vote.
5. Determination of Question: Except as otherwise provided in these rules, all questions, including the question of nominations of candidates for President and Vice President of the United States, shall be determined by a majority vote of the delegates to the Convention.

The last straw - by The Denver Group


Click on image above to enlarge.

Following a true leader's example - and answering a question from one very important friend

I had the good fortune to be in the Pepsi Center tonight while Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed the Convention. Senator Clinton was at the top of her game. She hit all the important notes she struck throughout the primary season. And then, a woman of her word, she encouraged and asked all Democrats to vote for Senator Barack Obama. Senator Clinton promised to help Senator Obama win the presidency in June, and she keeps on keeping that promise. That's integrity.

After I returned from the Pepsi Center, a very important friend asked me why I am not willing to work to get Senator Obama elected, since somebody I admire so much - Senator Clinton - is herself willing to do so. I replied that I thought I could help the Democratic Party more by focusing on making sure that it earns back all the credibility its current leaders have cost it.

And I do think that. But when an important friend asks me a question in good faith, integrity demands a better response.

Having reflected on the question, here is a fuller response, and one that I think is better. I have offered in the past to actively advise Senator Obama. His campaign has not approached for my advice, and that's natural enough since I am sure they have no idea who I am. But for what it is worth, here is my best effort to advise Senator Obama on how to win in November, assuming that whatever process takes place on August 27th yields him as the Democratic Party nominee.
  • Immediately and publicly demand Dr. Dean's resignation as DNC Chair.
  • Ditto for all other top DNC officials.
  • Ask President Clinton to take charge of seeing who might be willing to run for and accept the office of DNC chair.
Were Senator Obama to take these steps, and assuming that Dr. Dean et al. would indeed resign, Senator Obama would thereby accomplish a number of things that would, in my opinion, up his currently not so hot chances of winning in November. First, he would make it clear that he appreciates the dire need for change in DNC leadership. Second, he would reassure all Democrats the health of their party is among his top priorities. Third, by seeking President Clinton's leadership in the quest for successors to Dr. Dean etc. Senator Obama would demonstrate that he understands the appropriate way to treat a former U.S. President - the only two-term Democratic President of Senator Obama's life-time - that is, by clearly demonstrating respect. Fourth, Senator Obama would demonstrate that he is smart enough to ask somebody who so successfully revitalized the Democratic Party before to play a large hand in doing so once again.

So, there my important friend, is my best shot - as of this writing at least - at helping Senator Obama win the White House, assuming he becomes the Party's nominee.

The Denver Group: celebrating in Denver, moving forward

Two reads from The Denver Group: tonight's celebration and next steps.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For every person who is supporting Senator Clinton today..and every day


Many of Senator Clinton's supporters have learned lessons about the power of working together toward the common good; and many of us have learned that while our individual efforts may vary in focus, loose coordination - sometimes even unplanned or accidental coordination - packs a lot of power. One organization that I have become familiar with in recent months is the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Today, when Senator Clinton, who was inducted into the NWHF in 2005, will be addressing the Democratic National Convention, we might consider supporting the NWHF, possibly by purchasing the print pictured here, a print commissioned especially to support the NWHF. Information provided by the NWHF below.
Participate in a unique opportunity to help the National Women’s Hall of Fame continue telling the stories of outstanding American women. Limited edition signed and numbered prints of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Seed of Consciousness, created by acclaimed artist Katherine Pfeffer Pross, are now available for purchase. Each print is only $200.00, and $150.00 of the purchase price goes directly toward the rehabilitation of the Hall’s future home – the former Seneca Knitting Mill in Seneca Falls, NY.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Seed of Consciousness was inspired by a well-known photograph of Elizabeth Cady Stanton taken in 1870, and fuses both paint and words to inspire its viewers. In the print, Stanton is pictured at a table painted to represent the one on which she wrote the Declaration of Sentiments. Jet stone beads, worn at the time as a symbol of mourning, hang around her neck to show the grief she carried for the great losses in women’s struggle for equality, and a red and white striped flag with one gold star hangs behind her as a representation of the 1870 suffrage flag. A compilation of thought-provoking quotes adorns the right side of the print and keeps the viewer engaged with the work for a longer period of time.

The artist, Katherine Pfeffer Pross, and her husband, Jack, own and operate Heirloom Picture Framing in Seneca Falls, NY. Pross attended the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan and took classes at the University of Michigan, where she studied under several great artists. She has owned and operated picture framing shops and galleries for over thirty-five years, and her work hangs in various organizations throughout the country. The limited edition print, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Seed of Consciousness, with a remarque of Susan B. Anthony, hangs in the national archives at the White House. Also in the permanent collection at the White House is a Christmas ornament that Katherine recently completed depicting the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. As an artist, Pross strives to use her work as a teaching tool with the hope that it will inspire equality through education.
Contact the National Women’s Hall of Fame via telephone at 315.568.8060 or via email greatwomen@greatwomen.org to purchase your print of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Seed of Consciousness today!

To purchase a print with a remarque or to learn more about custom framing options, please contact Katherine Pfeffer Pross via telephone at 315.568.5454 or via email at katherinepfefferpross@yahoo.com. For more about Pross and Heirloom Picture Framing, visit www.heirloompictureframing.com.

USA Today covers The Denver Group

Click the title or go here to learn more.

Monday, August 25, 2008

That pesky problem: actual reality

The DNC, Dr. Dean, Speaker Pelosi, et al. are learning, the hard way, that faux unity is no unity; that when you try to create your own reality, real reality tends to get in the way.

So now here we are in Denver and Dr. Dean's and Speaker Pelosi's preferred candidate is dead even with John McCain in the polls; it is quite clear that delegates to the convention - especially those who have organized a nominating petition to be filed if the DNC reneges on its previous commitment to put Senator Clinton's name in nomination - understand their rights and responsibilities and want to have the opportunity to elect Senator Clinton as the Party's nominee; the DNC seems to be in a panic over its decision to enter Senator Clinton's name in nomination; the DNC and DNCC still will not confirm that they will hold a straightforward, transparent, regular roll call vote as specified in the Call for The 2008 Democratic National Convention, the Party's own official convention governance document.

Forget about making it seem like the Party is unified. At the moment, Dr. Dean and Speaker Pelosis cannot even make it seem like the Party - or at least its top officials - are honest.




Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breaking press coverage of The Denver Group

Click the title or here for the scoop.

Confusion and illusion: the DNCC and DNC continuing efforts keep pretending that the convention is a done deal

News has arrived that Florida and Michigan will be seated, literally seated in prominent places in the Pepsi Center.
As a measure of a party united, the Florida delegation will be seated just off to the left of the Delaware folks, the Michigan delegation just off to the right from Illinois. There was a time, during the contentious party primaries, when none of those delegates might even have been promised a seat here. [source]
What is not clear from these early news reports is whether the delegations are being seated as the voters in Michigan - that is with no Michigan delegates going to Senator Obama, who was not on the ballot there and with Senator Clinton's 4 add-on delegates in place.

At least one news source is falling for the party line:
a tightly scripted convention geared to the outcome party leaders keep saying is a done deal, an Obama-Biden ticket for this fall. McClatchy News writes:
The step won't make any difference in the outcome, even though most of the delegates' involved are pledged to Hillary Clinton; Barack Obama already has enough delegates to win the nomination.
But Senator Obama does not in fact have enough delegates to win the nomination. He is in the same position as Senator Clinton. Neither won enough pledged delegates during the primary season to qualify as the automatic nominee, presumptive or otherwise. Since the party is allegedly holding a roll call vote with both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama's names in nomination, superdelegates - who will decide the contest and who may vote for either candidate on the first and any subsequent ballots could treat the press, the public, and the DNC Party leaders themselves to surprise. Sure, a Clinton nomination would be an upset, but elections have produced upsets before.

Meanwhile, the DNCC official press releases do not discuss the roll call nor the specifics of the Michigan/Florida seating. Instead we learn that a tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy will take place - but no word from the DNCC on whether Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones will get any sort of recognition - and that the DNCC and Obama campaign have announced Women's Caucus speakers in a press release that makes nary a mention of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Pretending that Senator Obama has won the floor vote smacks of trickery. The other measures being taken all point to the Party's misguided efforts to downplay Senator Clinton, her top surrogates, her delegates and her rank and file supporters. The DNCC, Senator Obama, and the DNC are of course free to try to confuse and deceive people with such measures. But even if they manage to put on a boring if predictable TV series next week, the best that can do is create the illusion of consensus in the Party. I continue to believe in and fight for the procedural measures that I think might actually bring about the sort of durable, real consensus that could land a Democrat in the White House in November.

News from The Denver Group - August 24

Click the title or here for the latest.

From one gorgeous woman with a doctorate to another; a request for help in reaching the merry Speaker Pelosi

Dear Jill Biden:
Although we have never met we apparently have three things in common: we are Democrats, we are gorgeous, and we have doctorates. One big difference between us is that you might actually be able to get some information from the lighthearted Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, whereas I seem unable to. The information I am seeking pertains to the details of the upcoming roll call votes to be held this August 27th, one of which will, it seems, include your husband's name in nomination to become vice-president of the United States of America.

I have been trying for weeks to ensure the integrity of the roll call votes for both the Democratic candidate for President and for Vice President. We all know that voting procedures must be handled with care if the they are to be resistant to tampering or error. Every time I inquire of the DNCC or the DNC what steps are being taken to ensure that the roll call is appropriately resistant to these problems, I get the same same answer: the mechanics of the roll call votes are being "worked out." Not only do I keep getting this answer, so do reporters who have been trying to learn the mechanics and get information about what needs working out.

Since you are well educated - with a Ph.D. in education from the University of Delaware - and yourself an educator - an English professor at Delaware Technical and Community College - I think you will understand the importance of disseminating detailed information about the measures that will be used to make sure that the Democratic Party's nominating elections will be truly free and fair.

If you are able to contact Speaker Pelosi, I respectfully suggest that you explain to her that the continuing vagueness with regard to the details is rapidly enforcing the impression that the DNC and the DNCC have no interest in holding genuinely free and fair elections. You may also wish to tell Speaker Pelosi that I do not think the details of the voting mechanisms for such elections need that much working out. I am happy to volunteer my services to my Party if they need help in arranging properly tamper and error resistant voting mechanisms.

Yours in lighthearted merriment,
Heidi Li Feldman

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One kind of limbo: a party's nominee becomes unavailable after the party's convention but before the Electoral College meets

As we learned this week from the sudden loss of Stephanie Tubbs Jones, people can be struck by illness or encounter other difficulties that make them unavailable even for highly important future events. Whether Republican or Democrat, and regardless of which Republican or Democrat, I certainly hope that whoever becomes his or her party's official nominee after the respective party conventions will remain available to serve as President if elected freely and fairly by the voters of this country.

That said, it is entirely reasonable to be asked, as I have been, to explain what happens if, between the time of actual nomination but before the Electoral College meets, a presidential candidate becomes unavailable to hold office. (For general information about the Electoral College, I recommend this site.)

Remember: when voters vote in the general election, they do not vote directly for any Presidential candidate. They vote for electors from their states. These electors then meet to determine the President-Elect who, in recent time times, takes office in January, assuming availability.

So, the question on the table for this post is, what happens if after the Democrat Convention this coming week or after the Republican Convention in early September, the official nominee of either Party becomes unavailable before a President-Elect is elected by the Electoral College? My best informed understanding of the answer follows.

The Constitution does not address this issue directly nor does any federal law of which I am aware. Presumably then, the DNC or RNC would have to select an alternative candidate. Again as far as I know, neither DNC nor RNC rules provide for this situation, so the matter would become one of the leaders of each to decide how to proceed to name a new nominee.

An example: Suppose Senator McCain becomes the Republican Party nominee at the Republican National Convention. Then assume he withdraws or becomes otherwise unavailable to run in the general election, or after running in the general election he withdraws or becomes otherwise unavailable, prior to the Electoral College vote. The RNC leadership would then have to decide whose name to put before the Electoral College, perhaps first deciding upon a process by which to make this decision.

The same holds for the DNC and the Democratic Party's winning nominee after this week.

Free facts: About Joe Biden

Bearing in mind that The Democratic Party does not yet have even an official presumptive nominee and that delegates to the convention may decline to elect the vice-presidential preference of the presidential nominee elected at the convention on Thursday, one of the candidate's names who will be in nomination has text messaged his preferred vice-presidential pick. At about 3 a.m. last night (early this morning), Senator Obama sent word that he would like to run with Senator Joe Biden.

As I have said repeatedly, vice-presidential candidates do not win or lose presidential elections. Rightly the American public understands that a vote for the President of the country is a vote for the person running for President. But since the mainstream media is already busy covering this announcement, I thought it appropriate to highlight the facts about Joe Biden that I think would be most relevant were he to actually end up Senator Obama's running mate against John McCain this November. The facts I regard as relevant for these purposes pertain to how the Republicans will portray Joe Biden.
  • Senator Biden, aged 65, has served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, representing Delaware, one of the wealthiest states in the country (ninth according to per capita income). Senator Biden is in his sixth term.
  • He launched unsuccessful bids for the Democratic party's nomination in both 1988 and 2008, but backed out early in both campaigns.
  • In 1988, part of why Biden had to pull out of the race was that he was caught plagiarizing in his campaign speeches, lifting passages without attribution, from British Labour leader Neil Kinnock and Robert F. Kennedy.
  • In 2004, Senator Biden urged John Kerry to choose Senator John McCain as Senator Kerry's vice-presidential running mate (yes, this true.)
This list is not exhaustive. But it does make me wonder about the wisdom of this particular pick. I realize though that Senator Obama did not have many options, since so many senior Democrats had announced that they would not run on the ticket with him even were a spot offered.

Update FROM Denver - From The Denver Group

Click the title or here to see what The Denver Group is doing in Denver right now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The press, misogyny, racism and political leadership

This week, as many of us are preparing to go to Denver for the Democratic National Convention, Slate magazine decided to publish one of the more misogynistic pieces of journalism related to Senator Clinton's supporters - not Senator Clinton - that I have yet to read. Offered up by Senior Editor Dahlia Lithwick, this piece is entitled "The Madwoman in the Blogosphere: The disturbing Rise of the 'Hillary Harridan.'" If you find the title inviting, you can read the story here.

Before I go any further, time to explain what misogyny is: fear and hatred of women. Ms. Lithwick's headline and column certainly display both. And yes, women can be misogynists too.

Ordinarily I would ignore this piece of writing. But as more and more questions arise about whether Senator Obama is in fact a progressive, is in fact interested in representing the voices and interests of all who stand against misogyny, I am drawing attention to it because Senator Obama ought to be speaking out against this sort of characterization of Democratic voters who simply support a different candidate and seem to be drawing fire from a bigot like Dahlia Lithwick because these voters are women.

There was another period in American politics when hatred and bigotry were commonplace in the press. During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s as people fought for the civil rights of African-Americans, newspapers, especially in Mississippi, regularly published news items and editorials that displayed true racism: hatred and fear of African-Americans because of the color of their skin. So their is nothing new about the press being party to vile attitudes. The question is, how do would-be political leaders, especially those who claim to be progressive, respond? Do they stand idly by? Or do they speak out and say, that while the First Amendment guarantees absolute grant people the right to express these attitudes, they are, nevertheless, reprehensible and should be resisted.

Here are some headlines and quotations from the Jim Crow era, from newspapers that at the time were regarded as at least as reputable as Slate is today. [All quotations come from the excellent and comprehensive reference book, In a Madhouse's Din: Civil Rights Coverage by Mississippi's Daily Press, 1948-1968]

For example, in the 1940s as Harry S. Truman proposed anti-lynching legislation, The Laurel Mississippi Leader newspaper columnist Ms. Gibbons wrote: "The Leader is now and forever opposed to lynching. But the the anti-lynch law is aimed at the South and 'this is not fair'"

Another Mississippi journalisms wrote, "Anti-lynch, anti-poll tax, and anti-segregation are all aimed at negro votes and the death of white supremacy..These measures do not better the condition of the negro. They place them in in greater jepardy for they will certainly inflame and alienate the very people who for decades have been the negroes' best friend." Another newspaper published an editorial, "For Fight-We Must!," railing against anti-lynch and anti-poll tax laws.

I could reprint more disgusting examples, but my point would remain the same. A leader like Harry Truman made it clear that people who wrote with hatred and fear about African-Americans were not people whose ideas he respected and he repeatedly introduced legislation opposing this sort of bigotry.

I know that Senator Clinton is paying attention to misogyny and to women's rights. I wonder if Senator Obama is. One way he could make it clear is by specifically addressing somebody who would call voters "harridans" simply for supporting a candidate they prefer. "Harridan", by the way, is an epithet along the lines of certain racial ones that I for one will not use.



Watch the Democratic Party turn into the Republican one

In previous posts at this site I have pointed out the rather Nixonian aspects to some of Senator Obama's decisions and actions. In recent press interviews, I have highlighted the ways in which the Republican Party has aimed for decades to create an "imperial presidency". Richard Nixon's efforts to subvert the Constitution and his success in taking over the Republican National Party and putting it to his own purposes were key moments in this effort.

The current DNC, along with Senator Obama, seem just as interested in top down, lock step control as any Republican president has been, including of course our current president. Now even the Los Angeles Times is noting similarites between Senator Obama and President George W. Bush. The LA Times story compares the qualities Senator Obama would need in a vice-president to the ones President Bush found in Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Dick Cheney is widely regarded as one of the key architects of the "imperial presidency" - an approach to the power of the Executive Branch that has brought us the war in Iraq, the current turmoil in the financial sector especially with regard to the housing and energy markets, the claim that torture is not torture, ever increasing encroachments individuals' abilities to vindicate their constitutional rights.

Dick Cheney and Karl Rove worked closely together on the election tactics that brought George W. Bush to the White House in the first place.

I do not know for certain whether Senator Obama will win the roll call vote in Denver this group - despite what the mainstream media would have people think this is not a foregone conclusion - but I do know that thus far Senator Obama's approach, aided and abetted by Dr. Howard Dean and the rest of the DNC leadership, smacks of the sort of rigid, top down control so beloved by folks like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. If Senator Obama becomes the Democratic Party nominee, I hope he will make it clear that his approach to the Presidency would be radically different than his approach thus far to campaigning for that office.

George Washington rejected the title "King" for the executive branch leader of this country; he also stepped down after his second term to demonstrate that the U.S. presidency is not a job with life tenure. Let us hope that whoever our next president is, she or he takes seriously the difference between a federated republic and a centrally controlled state.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Update from The Denver Group

Click the title or here to read it.

The difference between state law and party rules

Some confusion appears to have arisen over the law in some states that requires party delegates to vote as their constituents elected them. These laws override the party procedural rules that permit delegates to use their own consciences with regard to how best to serve their constituents. Kudos to the Georgia State Attorney General for making it clear that Georgia is one of the states where, by law, delegates must vote as they were elected.

A video I recommend wholeheartedly

From GeekLove and Guilda, in memory and honor of Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Rules and procedures for delegates voting on Democratic Party vice president nominee

Although it is usual, at least in recent times, for delegates to defer to the Party's presidential nominee when voting for the Party's vice-presidential nominee, this deference is not an automatic matter. At this point the Democratic Party does not have a presidential nominee - that will be determined according to the roll call vote on August 27th. The winner of the roll call vote may express a preference for a running may. Anybody who anticipates winning the roll call vote may express such the preference she or he has at any time. But announcing a preference, when you are the official nominee or when you are not, does not mean that your pick automatically becomes the running mate.

This post highlights and explains the relevant rules from The Democratic Party's 2008 Call to The Convention.

This post has nothing to do with my own views as to who I would like to see Senator Clinton choose as a running mate, should she win the roll call; nor who I would like to Senator Obama choose should he win; nor whether I believe either candidate should be willing to be the other's running mate in the vice-presidential slot.

From VIII. PROCEDURAL RULES OF THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

9. Nomination for the Democratic Candidate for Vice President: The selection of a nominee
for the Office of Vice President of the United States shall be conducted in the same
manner as that heretofore provided for the selection of the nominee for President of the United States except that a request to nominate must be delivered to the Convention Secretary at a location as specified by the Secretary not later than 9:00 a.m. of the day designated for the commencement of Vice Presidential nominations. [annotation: a delegate wishing to submit such a request should contact the DNC immediately to find out precisely how to do this]
10. Roll Call Ballot for Vice Presidential Candidate:
a. After nominations for Vice Presidential candidates have closed, the Convention shall proceed to a roll call vote by states on the selection of the Vice Presidential candidate. The roll call voting procedure shall be conducted in the same manner as that heretofore provided for the selection of the nominee for President of the United States.
b. A majority vote of the Convention’s delegates shall be required to select the Vice Presidential candidate. Delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not the name of such candidate was placed in nomination. [IMPORTANT annotation: a vote for a name not in nomination simply counts as "present"; just as with the Presidential nomination roll call a person can only be elected as the Vice Presidential nominee if his or her name is placed into nomination] Balloting will continue until after a nominee is selected.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Stephanie Tubbs Jones - a truly democratic Democrat

This evening, August 20, 2008 we have all learned that Representative Tubbs Jones died today. Over the past ten years, I learned much about the relationship between law, politics, and democracy by observing Representative Tubbs Jones' political career. Below I reprint in full a press release from her office, put out in January 2005, in which Representative Tubbs Jones explained her call for an investigation into alleged election tampering in Ohio during the 2004 elections. This press release is but one of many instances of political courage Stephanie Tubbs Jones brought to her country and to her Party.

January 6, 2005


Washington, D.C. –Today, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, along with Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), entered a formal objection to the certification of the State of Ohio's Electoral Votes. Her prepared floor statement, in part, was as follows:

"I, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a representative from Ohio, and Ms. Boxer, a Senator from California, object to the counting of the electoral votes of the State of Ohio on the ground that they were not, under all of the known circumstances, regularly given.

"I, thank God, that I have a Senator joining me in this objection. I appreciate Senator Boxer's willingness to listen to the plight of hundreds and even thousands of Ohio voters that for a variety of reasons were denied the right to vote. Unfortunately objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate avenue to bring these issues to light.

"While some have called our cause foolish I can assure you that my parents, Mary and Andrew Tubbs did not raise any fools and as a lawyer, former judge and prosecutor, I am duty bound to follow the law and apply the law to the facts as I find them.

"It is on behalf of those millions of Americans who believe in and value our democratic process and the right to vote that I put forth this objection today. If they are willing stand at the polls for countless hours in the rain as many did in Ohio, then I can surely stand up for them here in the halls of Congress.

"This objection does not have at its root the hope or even the hint of overturning or challenging the victory of the President; but it is a necessary, timely and appropriate opportunity to review and remedy the most precious process in our democracy."

"I raise this objection neither to put the nation in the turmoil of a proposed overturned election nor to provide cannon fodder or partisan demagoguery for my fellow Republican Members of Congress.

"I raise this objection because I am convinced that we as a body must conduct a formal and legitimate debate about election irregularities. I raise this objection to debate the process and protect the integrity of the true will of the people.

"Again, I thank Senator Boxer for joining me in this objection to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes due to the considerable number of voting irregularities that transpired in my home state.

"There are serious allegations in two lawsuits pending in Ohio that debate the constitutionality of the denial of provisional ballots to voters (The Sandusky County Democratic Party v. J. Kenneth Blackwell) and Ohio's vote recount (Yost v. David Cobb, et al.). These legitimate questions brought forward by the lawsuits, which go to the core of our voting and Democratic process, should be resolved before Ohio's electoral votes are certified.

"Moreover, as you are aware, advancing legislative initiatives is more challenging when you are in the minority party in Congress. However, this challenge is multiplied when you are in the minority in the House of Representatives because of House rules, compared to Senate rules.

"Voting irregularities were an issue after the 2000 presidential election, when Democratic House initiatives relating to election reform were not considered.

"Therefore, in order to prevent our voices from being kept silent, it is imperative that we object to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes and debate the issue of Ohio's voting improprieties.

"There are just over 1 million registered voters in Cuyahoga County - which of course includes the Greater Cleveland area and the 11th Congressional District which I represent. Registration increased approximately 10 percent.

"The beauty of the 2004 election was that more people were fully prepared to exercise their right to vote - however on Election Day hundreds and even thousands of individuals went to the voting polls and were denied the opportunity to have their vote count.

"In my own county where citizen volunteers put forth a Herculean effort to register, educate, mobilize and protect the vote there were people who experienced irregularities.

"Poor and minority communities had disproportionately long waits - 4 to 5 hours waits were widespread. Election Protection Coalition testified that more than half of the complaints about long lines they received “came from Columbus and Cleveland where a huge proportion of the state’s Democratic voters live. One entire polling place in Cuyahoga County (Greater Cleveland) had to “shut down” at 9:25 a.m. on Election Day because there were no working machines.

"Cuyahoga County had an overall provisional ballot rejection rate of 32 percent. Rejection rates for provisional ballots in African American precincts/wards in Cleveland, Ohio averaged 37 percent and ranged as high as 51 percent.

"Thousands of partisan challengers - concentrated in Cuyahoga County’s minority and Democratic communities - effectively served to intimidate voters and confuse poll workers. There were both inconsistent and illegal requests for photo identification.

"There were problems with absentee ballots including incorrect information provided to voters by the Secretary of State and, consequently, the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections telling voters they could not vote in their precinct – effectively disenfranchising hundreds and more likely thousands of voters.

"This objection points out the inadequacy of a great election system which permits 50 Secretary's of State to administer a federal election and impose so many different state laws regulating the election.

"In Ohio, the Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell who served as Co-Chair of the Bush re-election campaign, issued a bizarre series of directives in the days preceding the 2004 Presidential election that created tremendous confusion among voters in Cuyahoga County and across the state of Ohio.

"For example; on September 7, 2004, Secretary Blackwell issued a directive to local boards of elections mandating rejection of voter registration forms based on their paperweight – 80lb text weight. Mr. Blackwell’s issuance of this directive – which he ultimately reversed by September 28, 2004 - resulted in serious confusion and chaos among the counties and voters.

"My objection points to the need to implement across this nation standards that apply to all states. We need to enact legislation that will:

* Allow all voters to vote early - so that obligations of employment and family will not interfere with the ability to cast a vote.
* Establish a national holiday - Election Day to bring attention to the importance of the vote.
* Require those who work in the voting booth to be fairly compensated, adequately educated and sufficiently supported such that the job importance will be elevated.
* That will provide equipment - whether it is the traditional punch card or the more modern electronic machines that are properly calibrated, fully tested for accuracy and provide a paper trial to ensure a verifiable audit of every vote.

"What happened in Ohio may well have been repeated in counties across this country. Yet that is no excuse for us to push the irregularities behind us and go on with the business of the day. These incidents are a call for us to clean up, clear up and implement policies and procedures that will protect each citizen's precious right to vote.

"If in fact we see it is our obligation to secure democracy around the world to monitor and oversee free and fair elections in other countries surely we must ensure, protect and guarantee the right to vote right here at home."

Update from The Denver Group

Click the title or here for announcement of where TV commercial is scheduled to run.

The stated procedures for a roll call vote at the Democratic National Convention

In response to questions from delegates to the Democratic Party National Convention, this post identifies the relevant provisions in the 2008 Call to the Convention regarding the specified mechanisms for the upcoming roll call vote on August 27th. Before turning to those provisions, I must note two questions that I cannot answer. NOTE THAT I HAVE PRESENTED A SHORTER LIST OF PROVISIONS with NEW ANNOTATIONS because of the focus on the roll call procedures.
  • According to one prominent Democratic Party Leader the current "magic number" - the number of votes on a ballot that a candidate must receive to gain a simple majority and thereby become the nominee is 2211. The calculation of any such number is complicated under ordinary circumstances and is further complicated this year by the fact that it remains unclear whether and how the Florida and Michigan delegations will be seated. (Given the credibility crisis the Democratic Party is facing, one would hope that the Convention Credentials Committee will seat Michigan without awarding any pledged delegates to Senator Obama, who voluntarily removed his name from the Michigan primary. That was his choice, and I respect his freedom to have so chosen. But Party rules specifically state that a candidate whose name is not on a primary ballot cannot win delegates in that primary.) Bottom line: in typical fashion, Howard Dean, Chair of the Party and Temporary Chair of the Convention, has not given any official word on the current "magic number". Between the calculation difficulties and this silence, the 2211 number may be correct and/or the one that will used at the roll call, but it may not be.
  • The timing of when superdelegates vote is not addressed in the 2008 Call to the Convention. It would clarify matters greatly if Dr. Dean would publicly speak to this question, even if only to say that this will be resolved on the floor as part of parliamentary process under the general rules governing the roll call vote or by the Rules Committee which meets before a permanent Chair has been selected and may have the authority to rule on this matter.
On to an annotated analysis of relevant provisions from Section VIII. PROCEDURAL RULES OF THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION.

VIII. PROCEDURAL RULES OF THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
The following Procedural Rules shall serve as the Temporary Rules of Procedure for the 2008 Democratic National Convention and are recommended to the Rules Committee and to the Convention as the Permanent Rules of Procedure for the conduct of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. [annotation: it is because of the clause beginning with "recommended" that these Procedural Rules can consistent with themselves be ignored by the Rules Committee and Chairs at the Convention.]
[...]
B. Temporary Roll: [annotation: this created so that the next two steps, reports from the Credentials Committee and the Rules Committee, respectively, can be submitted and voted upon]

1. The Secretary of the Democratic National Committee shall determine a Temporary Roll of delegates to the Convention which shall consist only of those persons selected and certified as delegates in accordance with the Rules and pursuant to this Call, unless a credentials contest shall have arisen with respect to any such person(s), in which case the Secretary shall include on the Temporary Roll the name of the credentials contestant recommended for inclusion by the Credentials Committee in its report. [annotation: because this step is taken before the report from the Credentials Committee is addressed, it is unclear whether delegates from Michigan and Florida will be part of the Temporary Roll]
2. Persons whose names are included on the Temporary Roll of delegates shall be permitted to vote on all matters before the Convention until after the adoption of the report of the Credentials Committee; provided that no person shall be permitted to vote on his or her credentials contest.

C. Order of Business: The order of business for the Democratic National Convention shall be as provided in these rules and in any special order of business adopted under Section D. of these rules. The Chair of the Convention may, at appropriate times, interrupt the order of business provided for in these rules for introductions, announcements, addresses, presentations, resolutions of tribute and appreciation, or remarks appropriate to the business of the Convention.

1. Report of the Committee on Credentials: The Report of the Credentials Committee shall be acted upon before the consideration of other business.

a. The Temporary Chair [annotation: Howard Dean] shall recognize the Chair of the Credentials Committee for up to thirty (30) minutes to present the committee’s report unless a longer period of time shall be provided in a special order of business agreed upon by the Convention. The Chair of the committee may present committee amendments, yield part of his or her time to others and may yield for the presentation and disposition of minority reports without losing the right to the floor.

b. The Temporary Chair shall arrange for the orderly presentation of amendments and of minority reports offered at the direction of the committee. Twenty (20) minutes shall be allowed for the presentation of each committee amendment or minority report unless a longer period for any committee amendment or minority report is provided in special orders of business agreed to by the Convention. Time shall be allotted equally to proponents and opponents of each committee amendment or minority report. The questions shall be put on each committee amendment or minority report immediately following its presentation without intervening motion.

c. Upon conclusion of the consideration and disposition of committee amendments and minority reports, the Temporary Chair shall put the question on the adoption of the report of the Credentials Committee with amendments previously adopted, if any, without intervening motion. A favorable majority vote of the Convention delegates eligible to vote shall constitute adoption of the report.

d. In the event that the committee’s report shall not be adopted when the question is put, the committee shall immediately reconvene to reconsider its report and shall present a new report to the Convention as soon as possible.

2. Report of Rules Committee: The Temporary Chair may then recognize the Chair of the Rules Committee to present the committee’s report for the Rules of the Convention and minority reports, if any, in the same manner as that provided for the presentation of theReport of the Credentials Committee. However, the Temporary Chair may, in the interest
of conducting an orderly proceeding, opt to place before the Convention the election of the Permanent Chair, the Co-Chairs and the Secretary, prior to the presentation of the Rules Committee report. [annotation: note the likelihood that Dr. Dean will hold an election for the Permanent Convention Chair BEFORE any votes on the Rules Committee reports occur]

3. Convention Chair: The Convention shall proceed to elect the Permanent Convention Chair in the following manner:

a. In accordance with the requirements of the 1984 Democratic National Convention Resolution which calls for alternating the Convention Chair by gender, the Permanent Chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention shall be a female. [annotation: the DNC and DNCC have announced that it is settled that the only person who will nominated is Nancy Pelosi but the rules permit other names to be entered as possible permananent chairs, so long as the permanent chair is a woman]
b. The Chair of the Rules Committee shall be recognized to offer a nomination for Convention Chair as recommended by the Committee on Rules. Nominations from the floor shall then be received. [annotation: nominations "from the floor" presumably can come from any accreditied delegate]
c. When there are no further nominations or upon adoption of a motion to close nominations, the Temporary Chair of the Convention shall conduct a vote for Permanent Convention Chair. [annotation: the biggest question mark at this juncture: will the Temporary Chair take nominations from the floor befor adopting a motion to close nominations?]
d. A majority vote of the delegates present and voting shall be required to elect the Convention Chair. Balloting shall continue until a Chair is elected. The Permanent Chair shall then take the gavel.

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6. Nomination of the Democratic Candidate for President: [annotation: at this point it is unclear whether these provisions will be used to enter Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's names into nomination or whether their names shall be entered at the discretion of the DNC Chair, Dr. Dean] The Permanent Chair shall receive nominations from the floor for the Democratic candidate for the Office of
President of the United States in the following manner:
a. Requests to nominate a presidential candidate shall be in writing and shall have affixed thereto the written approval of the proposed nominee and the name of the individuals who shall be recognized to make the nominating and seconding speeches on behalf of a presidential candidate and shall be delivered to the Convention Secretary at a location as specified by the Secretary no later than 6:00 p.m. of the day preceding the day designated for the commencement of presidential nominations.
b. Each such request must be accompanied by a petition indicating support for the proposed nominee signed by delegates representing not less than 300 or more than 600 delegate votes, not more than 50 of which may come from one (1) delegation. A delegate may not sign more than one (1) nominating petition for president and for vice president.
c. The order for nominating presidential candidates shall be determined by the National Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, the Permanent Chair of the Convention and each presidential candidate, or his or her authorized representative, who qualifies to be nominated pursuant to this section.
d. Each presidential candidate shall be allowed a total of twenty (20) minutes for the presentation of his or her name in nomination by nominating and
seconding speeches, the time to run without interruption from the recognition of the nominator.
e. Delegates and alternates shall maintain order during and following nominations for the Office of President and demonstrations shall not be permitted.

7. Roll Call for Presidential Candidate:
a. After nominations for presidential candidates have closed, the Convention shall proceed to a roll call vote by states on the selection of the presidential candidate. The roll call voting shall follow the alphabetical order of the states with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and the territories treated as states for the purpose of the alphabetical roll call. [annotation: no word on when the superdelegates will be polled]
b. A majority vote of the Convention’s delegates shall be required to nominate the presidential candidate. [annotation: this provision reflects a change made after the 1932 Democratic Nominating Convention, when a 2/3 majority was required and that led to a need for the four ballots it took to nominate Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr.]
c. Delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice whether or not the name of such candidate was placed in nomination. Any vote cast other than a vote for a presidential candidate meeting the requirements of Article VI of this Call and Rule 12.K. of the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules shall be considered a vote for “Present.”
[annotation: assuming that Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's names are both in nomination and no other candidate's name is, the only votes that shall register for a particular candidate, rather than as "Present" will be votes cast for either Senator Clinton or for Senator Obama.]
d. Balloting will continue until a nominee is selected. The nominee shall become the candidate of the Democratic Party of the United States for the Office of President upon the conclusion of his or her acceptance speech.

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D. Special Orders of Business: It shall be in order at any time for the Rules Committee at the request of the Chair of the Convention, or pursuant to its rules, to report a resolution providing a special order of business for debate of any resolution, motion, committee report or minority report or for the consideration of any matter.
E. Powers and Duties of the Chair:

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F. Voting:
1. Secret Ballot: No secret ballots shall be permitted at any stage of the Convention or its committee proceedings.
2. Proxy Voting: Neither delegate nor alternate delegate votes may be cast by proxy.
3. Roll Call Votes:
a. Voting shall be by voice vote or, when prescribed by these rules, by roll call vote. [annotation: as of this writing the Party has committed itself to a roll call vote; if the Party changes its position a roll call vote can be demanded by delegates via subsections 3a(1) and 3a(2) below]
The roll call voting shall follow the order as specified in Article VIII.C.7.a. [see annotation above for the unclarity regarding when the superdelegates will vote] A roll call vote shall also be had if the Chair is in doubt or upon demand of any delegate supported by twenty percent (20%) of the Convention’s delegates as evidenced by one of the following methods:
(1) A petition submitted to the Chair indicating support of the demand by delegations which comprise not less than twenty percent (20%) of the Convention’s delegates. In the case of the petition in support of a demand for a roll call vote, a delegation shall be taken to support the demand if a majority of its delegates have signed a petition to do so.
(2) By the rising in support of the demand by not less than twenty percent (20%) of the delegates present.
b. When a roll call vote is ordered, the roll call shall be called by states, and the Chair of each delegation or his or her designee shall report the vote of his or her delegation and shall send to the Convention Secretary a tally showing the vote of each member of his or her delegation indicating whether such vote was cast in person or by an alternate. Such roll call votes may be conducted by having the Chair for each delegation report by telephone, or electronic voting mechanism, the vote of his or her delegation to the rostrum, provided that the telephone poll shall not be used in the balloting for the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees. Business shall be permitted to proceed during the telephone roll call and votes may be conducted by electronic mechanism. After each official vote, the Delegation Chair shall record and tally votes of the delegation on official roll call tally sheets provided by the Convention Secretary. All official roll call tally sheets shall be turned in to the Convention Secretary at a specified location not more than thirty (30) minutes after the close of each voting period. [annotation: these procedures must be implemented properly]
c. All delegates to the National Convention pledged to a presidential candidate shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them. [annotation: traditionally, this has meant as pledged delegates were elected; this year, Senator Obama with the assistance of the DNC has been urging pledged delegates to vote for Senator Obama regardless of this tradition; if tradition is ignored than Senator Obama's delegates may well decide that their good consciences call for them, in some cases, to vote for Senator Clinton]
d. In the case where a pledged delegate is not on the floor of the Convention Hall at the time a vote is taken, an alternate may be designated according to the rules tocast the vote. In no case may an alternate cast a vote for a delegate allocated under I.F., I.G., I.H. or I.I. of this Call.
e. On a roll call vote by states, the vote cast on behalf of a delegation may be challenged by communication to the Convention Secretary by telephone or other means by any voting member of that state’s delegation within ten (10) minutes after the Convention Secretary’s announcement of the state’s vote. The votes of that delegation shall then be recorded as polled without regard to any state law, party rule, resolution or instruction binding the delegation or any member thereof to vote for or against any candidate or proposition. The Convention Chair may send a parliamentarian to the delegation to conduct the poll. At the discretion of the Convention Chair, the roll call may continue instead of waiting for the result of the polling.
f. On a roll call vote conducted by telephone or other electronic voting mechanism, the vote of a delegation as shown on the video projection system may be challenged by communication to the Convention Secretary by telephone or other means by any voting member of the delegation within ten (10) minutes after the delegation’s vote is shown on the screen.
g. A demand to poll a delegation may be withdrawn at any time before the actual polling has begun.
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