Democrats

The Revolving Villains – Obama and the Democrats Will Eliminate Social Security Part III

By Jonathryn

That Was a Yes or No Question, Mr. President.

This is part II of a multipart series to demonstrate how everyone in Washington—and one-term President Barack Obama in particular—are telegraphing the fact that they will be gearing up for a major campaign to steal money from Senior Citizens by making drastic changes to “fix” the Social Security program. Part I can be read here. Part II can be read here. (Image)

Today at the top of Atrios’ (Duncan Black’s) website, he writes the question he asked about at a recent blogger conference with one-term President Barak Obama:

Q:   Mine is an easy question. Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

(more…)

Obama and the Senate Democrats Will Eliminate Social Security: Part I

By Jonathyn

Originally posted at The Agonist

Social Security Is Not a Campaign Issue?

This is part I of a multipart series to demonstrate how everyone in Washington—and one-term President Barack Obama in particular—are telegraphing the fact that they will be gearing up for a major campaign to steal money from Senior Citizens by making drastic changes to “fix” the Social Security program.

Why oh Why are the Democrats not making Social Security an Issue? Wonders Rachel Maddow (click here and search for “The Ad Democrats Need to Win” for the segment—will edit as avail). As admirable as she is for being quite possibly the most intelligent person on cable news, the incorrect rhetorical effect she seeks is to demonstrate that Democrats are really bad at politics. She points out that many prominent Republicans have plainly said that they will privatize social security or eliminate it altogether, which for obvious reasons is vastly unpopular with very large majorities of Americans.

If Democrats disagree, surely they will raise their voices.
(more…)

HARDBALL IN OHIO & THE LOST BALLOTS Democrats May Lose Big with Brunner Senate Bid

HARDBALL IN OHIO & THE LOST BALLOTS

Democrats May Lose Big with Brunner Senate Bid

Michael Collins

Also published at Scoop Independent News & American Politics Journal

“Democracy is mocked by the Senate candidacy of the chief elections official, Jennifer Brunner, who did absolutely nothing about the massive defiance by the 58 county election boards that lost or destroyed the legally mandated records of the 2004 presidential election.  Some champion of democracy, some Democrat.” — Michael Collins

Ohio election politics now rival the political hardball of Texas, Illinois, and Florida at their best.  As a result, the state’s Democratic Party may once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 2010 election cycle.  Through a bid for the open United States Senate seat, the self described election reform Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner puts two critical goals of Ohio Democrats at risk.

The first is the Senate seat held since 1999 by Republican George V. Voinovich who announced plans to retire at the end of his term this January.  This provided a short-lived advantage for a unified Senate candidacy by Democrats.  But the unity ended when the candidacy of Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, the party favorite, was challenged by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.

Election 2008 turned the tables on Ohio Republicans.  President Obama’s 51 – 48% win inverted the questionable 2004 outcome, the Bush 51% to 49% “win” over Sen. John Kerry (D-MA).  Obama not only reversed the 2004 results, his 2.9 million vote total is the highest ever in Ohio, a state with static population growth since 2000.

The Brunner candidacy threatens an Ohio Senate win by Democrats in 2010.

The absence of a contested primary is always preferred by either party.  Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) has the solid endorsement of top Ohio Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland.  Strickland and Fisher ran as a team to defeat the Republican Governor-Lt. Governor ticket 60% to 35%.

Brunner will divide the party in the primary election.  Those costs and efforts will reduce money for the general election.

Ohio currently has 18 members of Congress, with a ten to eight advantage for Democrats.  Had Brunner chosen to run for re-election as Secretary of State, Democrats would have been virtually guaranteed an advantage on the state Apportionment Board.  With her departure, control of the three member board would be up for grabs should Republicans win the Secretary of State contest.

Brunner offers up a slow pitch for any future opponent by holding onto her office as the chief elections official of Ohio.  She’ll be running in a primary and general election (if she wins the primary then resigns) that she’s preparing for right now as the chief elections official.  Former Republican Secretary of State Blackwell was severely criticized for massive conflict of interest when he did the same thing in 2006.

Brunner’s Record as Secretary of State and the Lost Ballots

Jennifer Brunner was a local judge before running for Ohio Secretary of State.  She ran for and won that office as a Democrat in 2006, part of a sweep of state executive offices for the Democrats.  She replaced J. Kenneth Blackwell, the most controversial Secretary of State in any state for decades.  The resolutely partisan Blackwell ignored multiple warnings that helped create a catastrophe in the 2004 presidential election.  This is well documented as was the pattern of election fraud throughout the country.

Brunner’s qualifications for the United States Senate seat depend largely on her record as Secretary of State.  How did she do?

Brunner promised a fair and open elections program if elected.  She was tested early.  When a federal judge ordered the collection of 2004 presidential ballots from Ohio County election boards, 58 of 88 failed to return some to all of their ballots.  The ballots were to serve as evidence of election fraud in a federal lawsuit underway in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio charging election fraud in  the 2004 Ohio presidential contest.

The defendants are J. Kenneth Blackwell, the 2004 state Republican Party Chairman, and major election officials.  After initiating the suit, attorneys for the plaintiffs got a court order mandating retention of all 2004 presidential ballots.  By Ohio and U.S. Code, these were to be retained for 22 months.  The court order extended those dates by telling election boards to preserve all ballots “unless and until such time otherwise instructed by this Court.”  Each and every county elections board received a copy of the order.  But when it was time to deliver, a majority of counties said they’d lost, “inadvertently” destroyed, or in some other manner discarded 1.8 million 2004 presidential ballots.  This compromised the law suit.

More importantly, it was a massive show of defiance by county elections officials.

Many counties simply reported the ballots were no longer available without any explanation.  Other counties offered a collection of excuses known as “the dog ate my homework letters.” The elections board in Allen County said the 2004 ballots were “compromised by water damage and subsequently destroyed.”  Water damage was a popular theme.  Holmes County said that the ballots fell on a coffee pot “and broken glass (was) strewn throughout the ballots.  These ballots were destroyed later that morning, as they were saturated and covered with glass.”  In Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), hundreds of thousand ballots were thought “lost.”  In an explanation letter to Brunner explaining the sudden appearance of the ballots, the acting elections director, in her own hand, said, “These ballots had been found (“hidden” crossed out) in Cuyahoga’s Canal Street warehouse,” she wrote.

The most instructive letter came from a County prosecuting attorney, not the elections board, who offered the following:

“Unfortunately, the actual ballot cards were inadvertently discarded and destroyed by the Ashtabula County Board of Elections just prior to the receipt by the Board of Judge Marbley’s Order and subsequent directive to your office.”  Thomas Sartini, Prosecuting Attorney, Ashtabula County Apr. 16, 2007

Did the prosecutor write this letter because federal and state laws were violated by said destruction?

This was a prime time opportunity for Brunner to open up an investigation into the sorry state of Ohio elections.  What did she do?  She offered this statement shortly after hearing of the lost ballots.

“If I had evidence of a cover-up, I would investigate,” Brunner said. “For me, the bigger question in 2004 was, ‘How many people were prevented from voting,’ (something) you can’t quantify.”  Jennifer Brunner, Cincinnati Enquirer, Aug 12, 2007

Brunner was never asked to explain how she could have any “evidence” without an investigation.  Brunner’s comment about “how many people were prevented from voting” makes little sense as an alternative pursuit.  It’s “something you can’t quantify,” she said.  What she failed to mention is that the widespread illegal destruction of ballots prevented a major election fraud case from answering that very question — how many citizens were prevented from voting or having their vote count?  If she wanted that question answered, she would have demanded a thorough investigation of the county boards of elections that didn’t do their job.

Mocking Democracy

The Democratic Party had a chance to live up to the meaning of its name when Jennifer Brunner was elected Secretary of State.  The events of 2004, the ballot measures election of 2005, the Hackett-Schmidt fiasco of 2005 and all the other well documented election disasters cried out for a comprehensive investigation.  There was a Democrat committed to democracy in charge.  Surely there would be some justice.

Yet when 58 counties defied a federal judge’s clear order to retain ballots and, in many cases, Ohio and federal laws on ballot retention, they got the endorsement of Ohio’s elected  defender of democracy.

A court filing in the federal law suit in Judge Marbley’s court by the Ohio Election Justice Campaign (OEJC) (pp. 54-63) elaborated on the cynicism of the ballot custodians.  This is an email exchange on Sept. 7, 2007 regarding the failure to preserve 2004 ballots.  These are actual board of elections executives:

One election official said: “Someone should tell them to give it up.”

Another responded: “I’m sorry. I’m just a little to busy trying to figure out how the government killed John F. Kennedy to deal with this.”

A third election official answered the question above:  “The Trilateral Commission did it.”  OEJC filing, Federal District Court, 07/10/08

OEJC continues to fight for recognition that ballot destruction is a bottom line issue by those charged with protecting the democratic rights of voters.’

Democracy was mocked in Ohio by those obliged by law to care for the election records when they lost or destroyed evidence in a federal law suit.  It was mocked by the ridiculous excuses offered by those election boards that bothered to explain their malfeasance.  Democracy was mocked when those who destroyed or lost ballots joked about it in emails.  It continues to be mocked by the Senate candidacy of the chief elections official, Jennifer Brunner, who did absolutely nothing about the massive defiance by the 58 county election boards that lost or destroyed the legally mandated records of the 2004 presidential election.  Some champion of democracy, some Democrat.

END

Permission to reproduce in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article

Destruction of Evidence   Ohio’s 2004 Ballots Oct. 20, 2007

Stealing Ohio 2004   The Case Heats Up Nov. 8, 2007

Complete collection of “the dog ate my homework letters” – County election officials explaining why they destroyed/lost 2004 presidential ballots

Seating Franken and Burris Memo to Congress

Seating Franken and Burris


Al Franken (D-MN) left and Roland Burris (D-IL) right
Image cc
Image cc

Memo to the U.S. Senate:
Try Following the Rules

Michael Collins

Originally published at American Politics Journal

We’ve seen what happens when people don’t follow the letter and intent of important laws, particularly those where there is a general consensus and an absence of moral ambiguity.  Consider our history from the implosion of Enron through stock market collapse.  This extreme damage was enabled by the deliberate defiance, evasion, and perversion of rules and laws, all in the service of personal gain for a very few.  Citizens lost $6 trillion in that episode of lawlessness.

President Bush and his administration consistently broke the laws of the United States by illegally tapping phones and emails, “selling” the Iraq invasion based on outright lies, and, in the case of six cabinet officials, participating in the “choreography” of torture sessions.  All of them found the Constitution a nuisance and rendered it meaningless by their actions.  The cost of these violations is incalculable.

A government gains legitimacy through the ascent to shared rules and laws by the vast majority of citizens.  No government can retain legitimacy, however, when the legislature fails to enforce and live by the very laws that they are sworn to protect.

Democrats and Republicans are now unified along party lines in their defiance of the laws.  Is this the new national unity we’ve been hearing about?

Yet this is exactly what is happening in the cases of the legally appointed Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, and the soon to be certified winner of the Minnesota senatorial election, Al Franken.  Republicans are threatening to delay the seating of Franken, even when he’s certified the winner of the Minnesota Senate seat.  Senate Democrats all signed a letter of implied threat to the governor of Illinois regarding his selection of Roland Burris as the U.S. Senator from Illinois.

The final vote count for Franken shows him winning by a narrow margin.  The same elections system that conducted the recount will recommend and likely receive certification of the election quickly by the authorized state authority.

Burris was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) according to the laws of Illinois.  There’s no provision that says a governor can’t make a selection if he’s been indicted for any crime.  The Illinois Supreme Court refused to remove the governor when the request was made by the State Attorney General.  The Illinois legislature could have impeached him but it didn’t.  He is still the governor of Illinois.

Senate objections to Franken and Burris show that the United States Senate has thrown out the rule book and is ignoring established law when it comes to plans for the “presumptive” Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, and the legally appointed Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris.

The Laws of the United States, Illinois, and Minnesota Were Followed

A candidate or appointee only has three requirements to be a legitimate Senator.

Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution states:  “No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.”  (Author’s emphasis)  Link

Both Al Franken and Roland Burris pass muster for these requirements.

The XVII Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlines the popular election of Senators and the authority and procedures required to replace them in case they leave for some reason.

AMENDMENT XVII

“Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

“Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

“When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

“This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.  (Author’s emphasis)  Link

This amendment provided for the popular election of Senators.  This is so simple.  Elected and appointed Senators should be immune from the actions by the any judicial, authority unless there are violations of state or federal law in the process of appointments.

But the Senate has one slim provision that can be invoked in the case of a real controversy or a contrived political event.

Article I. Section 5 states that:  “Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members” (continues) Link

This provides the Senate with the option of rejecting a prospective member.  In point of fact, there have been more than a few challenges to elections, mostly in the House.  No Senator has ever been denied a seat as a result of Article I, Section 5.

Seat Al Franken as the United States Senator from Minnesota

Al Franken lost the initial vote count by less than one half of one percent of the total vote.  That qualified him for an automatic recount.  Minnesota election law clearly specifies a recount process and even states that the recount vote will be different than the initial reported election result:  “Once the recount is over, the state elections board certifies the election.  The election is over at the point the results are certified.”

“The final results as modified, if necessary, by the recount are considered the final results of the election and are certified as final by the canvassing board.
Minnesota Election Recounts: Federal, State, and Judicial Offices

The Uptake.Org reported late Saturday night that final recounting is finished and Franken has a 225 vote lead.  The Minnesota Secretary of State commented at a post recount conference Saturday night that any election contest challenging the recount would be futile.  He praised the openness and fairness of the recount.  At a post recount press conference, Coleman’s representatives said they’d recommend a challenge in the form of a Minnesota election contest but indicated that the former Senator (his term expired Jan. 3 at noon) had not reached a decision.

The recount proceeded in an open and transparent way.  Results were reported by the Secretary of State and in the states major newspapers daily.  Controversies between the campaigns were handled by the appropriate courts and decisions were made in a very timely fashion.

Franken followed every single rule.  He did what many candidates fail to do.  He fought for the right of Minnesota voters to have their ballots counted and the right of all citizens of that state to have a Senator elected by a majority of the voters.  Norm Coleman, the initial winner, chided Franken for taking the option of a mandatory recount.  Franken didn’t back down or complain. He simply followed the rules and will very likely be certified as winner and therefore U.S. Senator from Minnesota.

But Republicans are now talking about making up their own rules.  They don’t want Franken seated until the conclusion of an anticipated appeal of the election through an “election contest.”  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, threatened “chaos” if the Democrats tried “to jam this issue through the Senate and seat a senator who has not been determined to be the winner of the election” StarTribune.com, Jan. 3, 2009.

Wait a minute!  The canvassing board is the duly impaneled body that “determines” the “winner” of the election.  Franken will most likely be certified Monday, Jan. 5.  Coleman’s term expired at noon Saturday, Jan. 3, 2009.  Does this mean that any certified winner of a Senate race can be denied his seat by a legal challenge of the final decision?

It’s absurd.  Cornyn can object all he wants.  The rules are clear.  Franken should be seated if certified the winner, as anticipated.  There is no valid precedent in any of the election contests in the past to deny him that seat (See Appendix B).

Should a contest be brought against a senator-elect prior to his being sworn in, the chamber’s custom has been to seat the individual contingent upon his credentials being in order. (10) Thus, the precedent has been that a senator-elect has a “prima facie” right to the seat, while the contest brought against him is being investigated.  Moreover, the individual is considered seated “without prejudice” to himself or to the office. This pseudo-legal arrangement allows the Senate to remove the individual by a simple majority vote, should a subsequent investigation find him not to be entitled to the seat. Otherwise, the Senate’s only course of action would be “expulsion,” which would require a two-thirds majority (12).”  Partisanship and Contested Election Cases in the Senate, 1789-2002, Jeffery A. Jenkins, Northwestern University.  Studies in American Political Development, 19 (Spring 2005), 53-74, Cambridge University Press. (Author’s emphasis)

This is outlined in a report by the Senate outlining the election contests to date.

If Coleman pursues a post certification election contest, the Minnesota canvassing board certification becomes “provisional” by state law indicating that a contest is under way.  It may take three months to resolve the election contest.  The citizens of Minnesota will be denied representation should the Senate refuse to seat the declared winner after certification.

Seat Roland Burris Now

Roland Burris, the former Illinois Attorney General and Comptroller, was selected by indicted Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the term of President elect Barrack Obama.  The day after the governor’s arrest, Illinois senior Senator, Richard Durbin (D-IL), appealed to Blagojevich to call for a special election rather than make an appointment to fill President-elect Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

“Please understand that should you decide to ignore the request of the Senate Democratic Caucus and make an appointment we would be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 5, to determine whether such a person should be seated.

“We do not prejudge the outcome of the criminal charges against you or question your constitutional right to contest those charges. But for the good of the Senate and our nation, we implore you to refrain from making an appointment to the Senate.”

Signed by the entire Senate Democratic leadership and all members of the Democratic Caucus.  Sen. Richard Durbin, (D-IL), Dec. 10, 2008

In the first paragraph above, Sen. Durbin says that the Democratic Caucus “would be forced to exercise its “Constitutional authority” to review the appointment.  This is a reference to Article I, Section 5 above.  The “Senate Democratic Caucus” has no authority under the United States Constitution.  It isn’t even mentioned.  The Senate does have the authority to “be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members.”  But no Senator or group of Senators is “forced” to do this.

Doesn’t this sound like an implied threat? ‘We want a special election not an appointment by you, Rod.  Go right ahead and we’ll invoke that section of Article I, Section 5 on Qualifications.’

How would they proceed?  Will they reject this fully qualified man as a United States Senator because the governor filling the vacancy, unlike all other citizens, is judged guilty as charged without the right to a trial by a jury of his peers.  Gov. Blagojevich has been charged, not convicted.  Is it is still possible to say this:   the governor is innocent until proven guilty.

How does it look when the Senate throws away the presumption of innocence by threatening to obstruct a legal appointment based on the presumed guilt of the governor making the appointment?

Why didn’t just one Senator stand up and point out that the appointment of Roland Burris was made by a sitting governor according to the laws of the State of Illinois, as the Constitution provides?

Will just one Senator on the Republican side take Sen. Cornyn to task for his obstructionist threat regarding Al Franken?

Why are they so special that they don’t have to follow the rules?

We’re witnessing the beginning of the 111th Congress engaged in the wholesale disrespect of the law in favor of partisan bias.  There is no regard for the law, no regard for process, and no indication of even the slightest degree of insight on the part of those flaunting the laws.  There isn’t even one objection to the violation of process, rules, and law from any Senator.

The majority of citizens are subject to the laws as they stand.  If you steal an iPod, that’s a felony in most states.  You’ll do some time if you can’t afford an attorney.  If the felony stands, you’ll lose your right to vote in many states.  In all instances, a felony places huge barriers to gainful employment, including a career in any of the professions.

Yet when it comes time to obey the Constitution that they’re obliged to honor and protect, what do the Senators do?  They allow their personal bias and political interests to trump the Constitution without any noticeable objection from the legislative body.

This type of disregard for the law by lawmakers is not only unacceptable; it impedes citizens from implementing their own “bailouts” and “recovery” programs by denying them access and positive influence on the government in this critical period of our history.

Memo to Congress:  Try following your own rules, precedents, and, most importantly, the Constitution of the United States.  The laws and rules that Congress should follow are fairly straight forward and the underlying principals are clear — respond to the will of the people and respect their right to representation.

END

NB:  The obedience to what I characterized as ” important laws, particularly those where there is a general consensus and no moral ambiguity” in no way diminishes the utility of civil disobedience for morally repugnant laws like those resisted by Martin Luther King, and others.

This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

See this link for Appendix A (Minnesota election law) and Appendix B (Senate precedents and history on election challenges to U.S. Senators)

Bush – Clinton 2008

Ambition Gone Wild or the New “New World Order”
Poised in the Wings?

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, D.C.

The 2008 presidential primary has been a close race. It should be over by now except for the shouting. There is “virtually no chance” that Hillary Clinton can claim the delegates needed for nomination. We should be witnessing Barack Obama’s triumphal march to the Democratic convention in August.

But much like Michael Myers in Haloween, Hillary Clinton has picked herself up off the canvas every time she seemed down for the count. She lost Iowa, reanimated her campaign by winning New Hampshire, but then failed in 9 of the next 23 official state contests. At the same time, spectacular turnout increases showed that the Obama movement was pulling Democrats to the primaries in record numbers.

Clinton’s Ohio win was negated losing the delegate race in Texas while splitting the popular vote. Before these two contests, Hillary needed to win 60% to 75% of remaining delegates. She failed to meet that goal in both Texas and Ohio. The word went out – there is no way you can win. Only a scorched earth campaign offered any hope for Hillary.

Yet Hillary will not stop despite the virtually insurmountable odds, the recent high profile endorsements for Obama, and her overwhelming rejection by 61% of the voters in both Mississippi and Wyoming just after the Ohio win.

The vulgarity of her campaign created rare agreement by some in the mainstream and alternate media. Clinton’s tactics are particularly vicious and her charges and sound bites appear to be an “intelligent design” for the Committee to Elect John McCain President.

Two Vipers at Obama’s Throat

The nastiness started when the Clinton campaign chair in New Hampshire wondered why the media wasn’t focusing on alleged drug use by Obama in his youth. Clinton was forced to fire the operative and then suffer through the humiliation of a public apology to Obama.

There were other cheap shots by Clinton’s campaign, all of which seemed within the realm of the typical nasty campaign. Then these weapons of mass distraction were launched.

“I think that I have a lifetime of experience that I will bring to the White House. I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House and Senator Obama has a speech that he gave in 2002.” Sen. Hillary Clinton Mar. 3. Is she endorsing McCain? Better yet, is it possible to interpret this statement as anything other than as a McCain endorsement?

“I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who love this country and were devoted to the interest of this country, and people could actually ask themselves, who’s right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.” Bill Clinton, Mar. 21 North Carolina

The former president riffed on the Rev. Wright controversy. What was the former president’s reference for “all this other stuff”? Obama? Clinton’s cheap shot had a clear target; Obama’s patriotism. The reference to “our politics” is interesting. How many fingers would it take to count the members of that club?

At the moment he became a viable contender, Obama had two vipers at his throat. Their message was simple: he’s less qualified to lead than McCain and he doesn’t love his country.

Why is Hillary doing this if she can’t win the nomination? What’s husband Bill up to?

There are two theories that capture the imagination.

Entitlement

The first is a conventional explanation that claims Clinton knows that she’s lost the nomination. By continuing to tear down Obama, Hillary helps assure a McCain victory and all that implies (the “100 years war” policy). She’s then positioned to take the nomination and the White House in 2012.

This casts Hillary as totally indifferent to the struggles and suffering that a McCain presidency would bring to citizens. His sole purpose so far has been to advocate for an imperial United States occupying strategic oil depots in the Middle East in perpetuity.

When asked about the economy, he said, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” That’s hardly the level of skill required if the chief executive is to successfully navigate the economic storms faced by 300,000,000 citizens.

If this theory is correct, Hillary Clinton would have us endure four more years of Bush policies just to serve her ego driven ambition.

Rule by Proxy

The alternate theory is that Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush have formed some sort of political alliance or clan. In this scenario, Hillary is at the service of these two schemers, a critical functionary in their post-presidential quest for power and influence.

Is this possible? How could these two have the unmitigated ambition and skills necessary to pull off a master plan that invokes nearly every conspiracy theory over the past few decades? Where’s the evidence?

There’s no need for a conspiracy theory. In fact, if true, this can’t be the type of shadow conspiracy associated with behind the scenes manipulation because it is all so very public.

Husband Bill was adopted, as it were, by the elder Bush given the status of his two political heirs? This combination would serve the purpose of perpetual power for the backers of both ex presidents. United, the two would be a living symbol of continuity by the “center” and an assurance to the incumbent ruling class that policies in dire need of change will stay the same.

The raw ambition theory is easier to believe. After all the time she’s done, Hillary may have thought, “Screw him! It’s my turn.” It’s the rawest form of entitlement mixed with the unrealistic persistence of an embittered loser.

If the Clinton campaign were a brute force scheme combining the Bush and Clinton political factions to preserve established wealth, why would they be this obvious?

Clinton proposes Greenspan lead foreclosures group

Reuters
Monday, March 24, 2008; 9:30 AM

WHITE PLAINS, New York (Reuters) – Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and other economic experts should determine whether the U.S. government needs to buy up homes to stem the country’s housing crisis, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will propose on Monday.

END

Also see: The Money Party (5): “Us versus Them”

Permission granted to reproduce this article in whole or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

Democrats Pass on Challenge to Secret Vote Counting in SC

Democrats Pass on Challenge to

Secret Vote Counting in South Carolina

This is the place to affix the STAMP. Link

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, DC

South Carolinians mounted a serious protest to the onerous “Stamp Act” imposed on the colonies by British rulers. The act levied a tax to pay for the “Seven Years War” which established Great Britain as the world’s dominant colonial power. South Carolinians resisted funding their own domination through payment of the tax.

Today, the Palmetto state faces a challenge beyond the Stamp Act. Their state constitution is clear, if not elegant, in its definition of the basic elements of elections:

All elections by the people shall be by secret ballot,

but the ballots shall not be counted in secret.

Touch screen voting machines like those used throughout South Carolina are inherently private. Citizens and officials are barred form accessing the fundamentals of the voting machines. As a result, meaningful information on errors or fraud is off the table.

Once a voter touches the box next to their candidate, the machine takes over turning the vote into an electronic ballot that cannot be examined, even with access. This voting machine right of privacy is written into agreements signed by election officials all over the country. It’s called “faith based voting.” We vote and then have faith that the machines will do their job.

That adds up to a clear case of “ballots … counted in secret,” direct defiance of the prohibition of counting ballots in secret referenced above..

Challenging the Privacy “Rights” of Voting Machines

The obvious contradiction of the state law and the state’s privatized voting systems spurred voting rights, judicial reform and media activist Mark Adams of Florida to object strenuously. He began by writing John Edwards an open letter asking him to oppose the process. Absent a favorable response, on Wednesday of this week, he sent letters to each of the democratic candidates.

In his plea to Clinton, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich, and Obama, Adams argued this point:

In case you are not aware, Article II, § 1 of the Constitution of South Carolina states, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” No one can see a computer count, and therefore, computers count in secret and using computers to count votes in secret violates South Carolina’s Constitution!

Will you take legal action in South Carolina to require that its upcoming Presidential primary is conducted in a manner which complies with the plain language expressed in South Carolina’s Constitution and with all Americans’ rights to make sure that our votes are counted accurately? Will you take action, or will you stand by and allow our votes to be counted in the equivalent of a secret smoky back room? Complete set of Mark Adams letters to the candidates.

Democrats Say No Go but Paul Supporters Know the Score

The letters informed, but they didn’t move any Democratic candidates to file suit for injunctive relief. There was real interest among Paul supporters in South Carolina. In general, the Paul campaign watches the voting process closely and with a skeptical eye.

In South Carolina, there were anecdotal reports of sudden increases in precinct vote counts at the last minute impacting Paul’s votes and after the fact reductions in vote totals for their candidate. But a Paul suit to stop a Democratic primary lacked the weight necessary for a serious hearing.

Will South Carolina remind Obama of New Hampshire? Image

Faith in the False Idol of Voting Technology

When voting machines are sold, the manufactures include a privacy clause that prevents in depth inspection of the machine software and methods of operation. You can buy it but the only people who can look inside are manufacturer representatives.

Kim Zetter of Wired Magazine reported on a comprehensive study done for Ohio on the iVotronic touch screens, the very machines everywhere in South Carolina. She noted that “the ES&S tabulation system and the voting machine firmware were rife with basic buffer overflow vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to easily take control of the systems and ‘exercise complete control over the results reported by the entire county election system.'”

The study discovered that a hacker with just an infrared enabled Palm Pilot or cell phone can hack any of these voting machines with infrared ports. Once in, the hacker could alter memory, “ballot handling,” and manipulate other machine processes.

This news should have rocked the nation given the presence of touch screens in almost every state.

The iVotronic machines are the very same voting equipment that dropped a carefully estimated 14,000 votes for just one candidate for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional district in 2006. The problem was characterized as “machine malfunction” in the election contest filed with Congress in behalf of Democratic candidate Christine Jennings. Apparently, this was the type of “malfunction” that produces consistent results in just one direction, for just one candidate.

Maybe these recurring problems and design concerns are the reason voting machine vendors are reluctant to guarantee their products. Zero Guarantee from Vendors for Voting System’s Performance, P. Lehto)

Will Common Sense and the Law Prevail?

Not a chance! It’s not at all difficult to determine the clear intent of the South Carolina Constitution. The law means what it says, “the ballots shall not be counted in secret.” But doesn’t the U.S. Constitution state that “Article 1, Section 8. The powers of Congress. To declare war”?

So much for the English language and the law. We’re at the mercy of a justice system that genuflects before power and politics and embraces convenience. Will we be saved by judges who’ve created their own code, just like those Florida voting machines: “flip-flopping” every time in the direction of power and control, by the few against the rights of the many in a relentlessly consistent pattern that strips us of our most fundamental legal protections.

New Hampshire and South Carolina are just previews of February 5, “Super Tuesday” when primaries will be held in 24 states.

These states have voting and vote counting that is conducted in secret by machines made and serviced by private firms; and voting that cannot be easily and quickly verified. The citizens’ right to know is casually surrendered to e-voting manufacturers by the officials sworn to serve those very citizens.

Almost all of the states have restrictive recount laws that require a very close election, a 1% or less difference in some cases. This effectively bars recounts unless “malfunctions” or vote stealing is marginal. Even if election fraud or “machine malfunction” is suspected for very good reasons, the right to recount is limited to only elections where mistakes or stealing produce a very thin margin.

These touch screen “ballots” are nothing more than a computerized record (not a ballot). After the election, citizens almost always lack the right to examine that computerized records and are typically barred from reviewing the paper forms they mark for optical scan voting machines.

How can those elected claim to rule when they’re unable to prove the first and most fundamental requirement of an election – that they have the right to serve by having legitimately claimed a plurality or majority of the votes cast.

END

This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article in “Scoop” Independent News.

Collins: “Chain, chain, chain …” The Texas Primary

Forced Loyalty Oath Locks Kucinich out of Texas Primary

Image

“Chain, chain, chain …” The Texas Primary

Michael Collins
“Scoop” Independent News
Washington, D.C.

Dennis Kucinich may not win the Democratic nomination for president, but he’s leaving a pro-democracy legacy across the country. To begin with, this candidate actually discusses critical issues demonstrating his respect for voters. With regard to the voters’ right to know, he just asked for the first recount in memory for a presidential primary simply because it makes perfect sense. The New Hampshire results need a serious second look.

Kucinich struck another blow for democracy by challenging the restrictive loyalty oath required by the Texas Democratic Party to get on the primary ballot. He actually reads the contracts he signs. When presented with the loyalty oath required to run as a Democrat in the Texas primary, Kucinich prudently edited the document to reflect the requirements of free citizens living in a democracy:

“I, ______________ of __________________, __________ County/Parish, _____________, being a candidate for the Office of President of the United States, swear that I will support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States. I further swear that I will fully support the Democratic nominee for President whoever that shall be.”

Rules of the Texas Democratic Party

Kucinich filed the marked up loyalty oath on Dec. 28 but wasn’t informed that it was “defective” until Jan. 2, 2008. His campaign received verbal notice that he wouldn’t be placed on the ballot unless he signed a clean copy of the oath. The new loyalty oath had to be faxed that day or no deal, according to the campaign. Rather than compromise, Kucinich said no. (Video at 3:59)

In his initial Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief, Kucinich was joined by a Texas “qualified elector,” Willie Nelson (Image). The complaint argued that the requirement violates both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment“1. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Image)

“5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Sections 1 & 5 Fourteenth Amendment

The concern expressed by Kucinich was simple. If the eventual Democratic nominee supports the Iraq War, signing this oath would require Kucinich to support that nominee and therefore the war. To make matters worse, supporting the war would negate his duty as a Member of Congress to protect and uphold the Constitution. Like a few others, Kucinich knows that this is an unconstitutional war since it was never declared by Congress (See Article I, Section 8, “To declare war”). What other choice did he have but to reject the loyalty oath? What justification did the other candidates have to accept the oath?

The complaint failed in the lower Federal courts and was immediately appealed to the United States Supreme Court on Jan. 17. A day later, the court refused any intervention leaving Kucinich off of the Texas ballot.

Democracy’s Champion among the Candidates

Dennis Kucinich is the one consistent advocate for expanded democracy and measures to fight election fraud among all of the presidential contenders. Kucinich has a strong record as an advocate for working men and women by promoting civil rights, voting rights, and human rights at home and abroad. He’s never shied away from taking both principled and practical positions on elections. These are, after all, the essential element to achieve his goals.

His call for a recount in New Hampshire was without rancor or negative speculation. He simply recognized the problem, invoked the right to recount, and paid the bill.

In Texas he’s fighting a loyalty oath that would clearly restrict his free speech after the election. While the Texas Democratic Party leaders did their best imitation of apparatchiks, Kucinich answered with the simple truth in essence saying: You will not obligate me to support an illegal war by making me support a pro war candidate.

In the 109th Congress, Kucinich provided a solution to the problems of chaotic and highly questionable elections when he introduced a bill requiring the hand counting of paper ballots for the 2008 presidential election. The Paper Ballot Act of 2006 was elegant in its approach but profound in impact. Had it been adopted, we would not likely have the problems and questions we have right now:.

SPECIAL RULES FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS:

‘(A) The State shall conduct the election using only paper ballots
`(B) The State shall ensure that the number of ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location which are placed inside a single box or similar container does not exceed 500.
`(C) The ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location shall be counted by hand by election officials at the precinct, and a representative of each political party with a candidate on the ballot, as well as any interested member of the public, may observe the officials as they count the ballots. The previous sentence shall not apply with respect to provisional ballots cast under section 302(a).’

From his first days on the national stage, Kucinich has stood for the people and against the interests of greed and exploitation. In return for his efforts, he’s been ridiculed and marginalized. Most recently, MSNBC went out of its way to make sure he couldn’t take part in a televised presidential debate.The network simply formalized the increasingly obvious rule of network and other mainstream media outlets: the closer a candidate is to truly progressive positions, the greater the media blackout. The corollary to this rule entails limiting what little national exposure occurs to only those reports that ridicule and demean the candidate.

When an intellectually honest history of the Great Bush Decline is written, the role of the Kucinich platform and campaigns will stand well above the rest as the path of reason that the “leaders” were afraid to walk.

END

Zogby – Top 3 Dems All Lost Ground

Say What!

By Michael Collins
Washington, D.C.

John Zogby is one of the most accurate pollsters in the history of modern politics. However, his headline below hides the real meaning of his poll comparing the ‘big three” Democratic contenders in match ups against their Republican counterparts. The results are from May 17, July 14, and Nov. 26, 2007.

Zogby Poll: Obama, Edwards Strong but Clinton Slips Against GOPers

General election match-ups show the New York Senator would lose against every top Republican (11/26/2007)”

Hillary losing to all the Republicans is not the big news.

The big news is that in almost every match up, all three leading Democrats are down from their May 17 levels. They were polled against four Republicans candidates for a total of 12 match ups. In 10 of the 12, the Democrats lost ground from May to November. Edwards showed the only improvements and those were by 1% against the struggling McCain and Giuliani tarnished by his strange associates.

Why are the leading Democratic contenders all losing ground since May? Could it be a public comment on the marginal effort of Democrats to get the United States out of Iraq? Or maybe the people are simply fed up with the tepid campaign? Blockbuster issues like accelerating climate change and health insurance are rarely discussed in a serious way. Without any doubt, most of the mainstream media seeks the lowest common denominator. It’s as though they wish to divert attention from the many Bush – Cheney disasters. But the candidates control the agenda. They can choose the topics of focus and debate.

The public may be fed up with the poor performance of both parties. How else do you explain the Thompson phenomena? Rank and file Democrats aren’t quite with gadfly Democratic candidate, former Senator Mike Gravel, when he said to Clinton and Obama: “Some of these people frighten me!” But they’re “trending” in that direction.

Given the Bush – Cheney nosedive and the quality of the Republican candidates, the Democrats should be soaring. The fact that they’re not may reflect an across the board weakness on key issues. Apparently quite a few people read this article from Associated Press, Sept. 26, 2007.

Hanover, N.H. – The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night that they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.

“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.

“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“I cannot make that commitment,” said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Associated Press Sept. 26, 2007

Difference in May versus November numbers for key candidates

From Zogby Poll Released Nov. 26, 2007
Democratic candidate in blue

Permission to reproduce in whole or part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

 

 

Democracy Florida Style – State Dem Convention

 

“Scoop” story link

2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 3


 

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

The 2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 3

Earlier parts this series…
2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 1
2007 Florida Democratic Party Convention, Part 2

Sunday morning starts with an information session in the Grand Ballroom about Family Values and the “Marriage” Amendment. On the same ballot as the presidential primaries there might be a proposed amendment to Florida’s State Constitution saying: “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”

www.floridaredandblue.com

As this panel came to an end, the same venue was filling up with more delegates and guests coming for “Winning Florida in 2008”, a discussion moderated by Florida’s Democratic CFO, Alex Sink. I relocate to the media table over to the side of the venue, and the Trojan horseflies begin. First, I get an email saying the video of John Russell being banned from Disney World has been posted on the internet. Then I get a phone call from someone who has a similar bone to pick with the FDP for not supporting a candidate she was campaign manager for.

Then John Russell calls to ask if I’ve seen the video and I say No, I don’t have my laptop with me. Not surprisingly—and to my great chagrin at being used in this manner—about a half-hour later, coming towards me with his eye on the empty chair between me and an Associated Press reporter, is someone I’d met the previous night who had identified himself as the friend of a Scoop contributor.

He has a laptop and seats himself between me and AP, and tries to connect it to the convention center’s wifi. By the time he’s unsuccessfully exhausted all options, it is lunchtime.

AP’s story on the rah-rah session is here:

http://www.fladems.com/content/w/florida_democrats_still_called_influential

::Off with her head!::

Now we’re getting to the action! The promised palace coup! After lunch, I’m introduced to George Maurer, the FDP Executive Committee member who has a motion on the afternoon’s Central and Executive Committee Meetings agenda to remove Karen Thurman as State Party Chair “for cause including but not limited to, malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, incompetence”. I suggest we go into the now-empty (so I thought) ballroom so I can get his side of the story on tape. Unbeknown to me, because I have my back to them, a couple of press guys are still at the table on the other side of the room writing their stories, which explains why Maurer is talking so loudly. At the end, he even called over to them, “Did you hear that? Was I shouting loud enough?” More mug me. Still, I do later see Mr. AP at the committee meeting. He just doesn’t report it.

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The Central and Executive Committee meetings are listed on the Convention Schedule as being from 1pm to 3pm on the last day, the very last things on the schedule. They are “Open to all registered Democratic voters. Only committee members may vote.” Before the Central Committee meeting begins there’s an announcement that the last round of buses to take people to their cars will soon be arriving, so throughout the meetings there’s a sense of “hurry up and get this done as quickly as possible or we’ll miss the buses home.” People have to line up and show their credentials as committee members before the Central Committee business is heard, and then again before the Executive Committee business is heard so they can be issued with a paper ballot to vote on the Thurman motion.

As fast as the convention center workers wheel out stacks of chairs from the meeting room, people are bringing more back in from the ballroom across the hall. Someone goes by with a stack of papers that look like an agenda. Is that the agenda for the meeting? I ask. The staffer eyes my green media badge, clutches the papers print-side to her bosom so I can’t see and says, “No.” Someone comes around handing out Maurer’s motion and its attached supporting document. The Central Committee business is dealt with, everyone goes out and signs in again, and Thurman begins chairing the Executive Committee meeting, excusing herself from the chair, but staying in the room, when the motion to remove her is heard.

::Wiley Coyote::

I’m sitting by the door on the far side of the room from where the committee members are sitting and the acting chair is dealing with the business. So I’m in with the general mass of delegates and guests who are there to show their support for Thurman but have no vote on the motion. When Maurer begins his motion he gets booed, and shortly thereafter a group of staffers—identifiable by their red badges—march in and stand behind Thurman, for all the world like the palace guard. Other staffers move to stand by the doors. When one opens I can hear someone, a woman, shouting out in the lobby.


FDP Chair Karen Thurman, in the orange dress, sits at the side of the meeting room, beside Florida Senator Steve Geller (obscured, but with his hand on his forehead). Standing behind her are staffers.

Maurer is asked by the acting chair (First Vice Chair Diane Glasser) to cut his speech short because everyone has to catch buses. He asks for five minutes, and is booed down, so follows the VC’s request to keep it short. The Vice Chair neglects to ask for a seconder. Someone asks for the motion to be stated. There’s a seconder. Someone who is against the motion gets up to speak to the motion and VC Glasser interrupts him three times before he can get started. When he speaks, Jon Ausman from Leon County says that he respects Maurer’s right to do what he’s doing but that he thinks he’s exercising very poor judgment.

“I consider myself—I proudly consider myself—a member of the rational results-oriented wing of the Democratic Party. I believe, I don’t know for sure, but I believe that 95 percent of the people in this room feel the same way. They’re members of the rational wing with me. I believe that 95 percent are the members that work very hard in their counties, hours, untold hours, knocking on doors, making phone calls, without compensation, to try to build their local counties and try to the build the credibility about how Democrats are the right choice for leading this state forward.

“I also believe that 95 percent understand the time and effort that our FDP Chair Karen Thurman and the FDP staff have put into this convention. We’ve generated a lot of goodwill this weekend, a lot of goodwill. No candidates, but I can tell you this has been a great weekend, a great weekend. Now, what I don’t want to have happen is have that goodwill squandered, that goodwill undermined by opening up my newspaper tomorrow morning and reading about the George Maurer Show.”

Ausman gets a standing ovation, during which a male voice shouts “Call the question.” It’s unclear to me in the noise of the continuing ovation if VC Glasser actually does call the question. Someone moves to commit the matter of removing Thurman to a special committee of three convened by Alex Sink. There’s a kafuffle about whether it’s the right parliamentary procedure to have two motions on the floor at the same time.

“Where’s the parliamentarian?” someone asks. “Oh, man. He left an hour ago,” another voice replies. Someone waves their copy of Roberts Rules of Order in the air and the FDP’s former parliamentarian–from about 10 years ago—steps up to take charge of the meeting. It is none other than Senator Steve Geller, who has been sitting at Thurman’s side all this time.


Senator Geller acting as parliamentarian.

By way of background for non-US readers, Roberts Rules of Order is the bible for running meetings of boards and committees. There’s no law saying they have to be used by organizations, but on the other hand there is a profession of “parliamentarian” in the US – people who are hired by organizations solely to rule impartially on matters of meeting protocol – and they usually adhere to Roberts Rules.

It is a reasonable expectation that a state-wide organization such as the Florida Democratic Party, with a multi-million dollar budget—not to mention having several controversial matters on its plate—would have hired a professional parliamentarian to be present at its state convention. At the very least, one would expect the FDP’s own parliamentarian to have been present. When I asked Senator Geller as he left the meeting, “Do you always hold meetings where there’s no parliamentarian present?” he replied, “I don’t know why he wasn’t at today’s meeting. I don’t think he was at the convention this weekend. I haven’t seen him. At all.”

SCOOP: I can’t believe that a party, that an organization as big as the Democratic Party doesn’t have a parliamentarian at its convention.

GELLER: It’s a volunteer position. It’s Dr. Wayne Bailey. I think he’s been the parliamentarian since I left. I was the parliamentarian of the party for 14 years, Dr. Bailey has been the parliamentarian for the last 10 or 12 or 14 years. Something like that. He was unable to attend this convention. It’s a volunteer position.

SCOOP: How often do parliamentarians not attend conventions?

GELLER: It’s a volunteer position. They have family…

SCOOP: How often do they not come?

GELLER: I give up. I don’t know.


Click for big version

Senator Geller being congratulated by Thurman supporters as he leaves the Executive Committee meeting after the Maurer motion is heard (but before the Executive Committee meeting ends).

::Stand and be counted::

Now, it may be that I’m just lack the imagination not to do things by the book, but it seems to me that the most egregious thing that happened at this convention was the way Maurer’s motion was handled by Geller once he had taken it upon himself to act as parliamentarian. He started off by saying the second motion—to commit the matter to a three-member special committee—couldn’t be voted on because the question of the first motion had been called. However, when someone then stands and moves that they hold a standing vote, Geller says: “Mr, Maurer, to cut through, because we’re all tired. Mr. Ausman has suggested a standing vote. Would you be willing if you see the overwhelming [unclear], would you be willing to withdraw your motion?”

A standing vote? Since each Executive Committee member’s vote is weighted according to which county the committee person is from, how can a standing vote be considered binding, let alone appropriate to the atmosphere in which the vote is being held? Have I been transported back to Mao Tse Tung’s China where people have to declare their fealty to the Chairman in public? Geller is trying to find a way for a proper vote NOT to be taken on Maurer’s motion to remove Thurman, and you have to wonder why, since he seems so confident of it not passing based on his reading of the “overwhelming” pro-Thurman sentiment in the room.

Maurer objects to a standing vote, and Geller continues: “Okay. Guys, we can spend more time on doing this the correct parliamentary method, or we try and short-circuit it if we can, with the consent of the group. If there’s objections raise your hand. I don’t see any.” [Said so quickly that the room bursts into laughter.] Geller then recommended a standing vote, because he thinks the idea “made a lot of sense” and says, “I will ask everybody to stand up first if you are in favor of the motion [to remove Thurman as Chair], and then I’ll ask you stand up if you are against the motion. And then you won’t have to worry about the paper ballots.”

A woman calls out: “Only those who are eligible to vote in fact do vote. Only those who are holding ballots in their hands should be allowed to vote.” Geller replies, “Good point. It’s still not going to be scientific. Stand up for either side. Please hold your ballot in the air so we can observe it. Is that okay with everybody?” At which point, someone stands and says he doesn’t think that Geller gave Maurer enough time to withdraw his motion. Quizzed by Geller, Maurer says he’s willing to withdraw the motion now, “subject to further consideration.”

Geller then announces that the motion is withdrawn. He continues, “Let me be clear, anybody… I mean, Mr. Maurer, even if the issue was voted down today, can always file another motion at another point in time. Mr. Maurer, whatever rights you have under the Democratic Party by-laws and rules, you will continue to have. The fact is that at this point in time the motion is withdrawn. There’s nothing in front of us. There’s no special privilege. I mean, when you say, ‘subject to bringing it up another time’, the motion was withdrawn. At any point in time, and whoever [unclear] the rules can tell you, can he bring it up at another time or can any member bring up a motion at another time? Subject to the discretion of the Chair. We’re done, we’re on to the next matter.”

Crikey! Now we’re in Stalin’s Russia! A motion to remove the Chair can only be brought up “subject to the discretion of the Chair”?! Now, shave me beard and call me Trotsky, but Roberts Rules of Order, in its Table of Rules Relating to Motions, definitively and without any annotation, says that any main motion or question can be reconsidered. Of course, not being a member of Florida Democratic Party, I don’t have access to their by-laws and rules, which might conceivably differ from Roberts Rules.

Well, I don’t suppose you get to be Minority Leader of the Senate in Florida—as Steve Geller is—without knowing how to stack decks, waive rules at your discretion, and use methods that are not “scientific”, but to not give somebody within his own party a chance to have their voice heard and voted upon in the proper manner was just mind-boggling to watch.

I don’t know how many of the people in that room were executive committee members, but certainly none of the people where I sat had ballots in their hand. What happened was tantamount to having the folks sitting in the gallery at the House of Representatives decide how a vote should come out by the loudness of their boos or cheers. I’m sure it would make debates more interesting, but would anything that resulted really be considered a legitimate outcome, even if it were the one the majority of voting members would have chosen?

::No information please, we’re Democrats!::

Thurman resumes the chair and asks for a quick treasurer’s report to be given in order to address one of Maurer’s charges in the motion that she doesn’t give financial reports, pointing out as she does so that her line of reporting goes directly to the Democratic National Committee, implying the Florida Democratic Party’s Executive Committee has no automatic right to that information.

I guess the “rational” wing of the FDP have rationalized that right away, too. But wouldn’t you be worried that the money you’re busy raising with your voluntary time and efforts should be accounted for to you, the rank and file of the Democratic Party, not just to the DNC? Whose party is it, anyway?

*************

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

–END OF STORY—