Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for January 2008

A message to you, Rudy

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Wed, 01/30/2008 – 7:19am

Stop your messing around,
Better think of your future

In case you don’t remember that song from The Specials from 1979, the lyrics seem extremely appropriate this morning as Rudy Giuliani.

The campaign that was (and wasn’t) is over. Time for Rudy to decide what to do next.

Though in the race for several states, since he concentrated himself in Florida, it feels like a one-and-done.

He was, in many eyes, the frontrunner for the Republicans. It’s difficult to think of this now, but the words “President Giuliani” scared a lot of people and increased research into the possibility of moving to Canada.

But Rudy, you did mess around. Your strategy, which was either genius or madman-esque, turned out to be well, Dr. Jekyll, if nothing else.

We confess it would have been curious if someone could have skipped Iowa and New Hampshire and used that strategy to be effective. Unfortunately, given your incompetence, we won’t know now. The way you ran the campaign offers no proof either way whether the strategy could work.

To borrow the next line from the song, “Time you straighten right out.” Let’s hope your retirement helps you to do that, and that your retirement is permanent.

Written by democracysoup

January 30, 2008 at 7:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Will the DNC’s actions in Michigan and Florida cost the Democrats the White House in 2008?

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Tue, 01/29/2008 – 11:03am

If Michigan or Florida had scheduled its primary before New Hampshire, I might understand the Democratic National Committee’s harsh punishment.

But we are at January 29, three weeks after New Hampshire, and Florida is being punished for what reason? It’s not even the first primary in the South.

What’s worse is that the delegates might count but we’re not sure. They should count, but it’s the ambiguity where I object. When voters go to the polls, they should know the power of their vote, and not wait for some administrative decision in the late summer.

Short of a miracle, no Democrat is going to the White House without winning Michigan or Florida and ideally both.

And my outrage at this isn’t new. When Michigan voted (again after New Hampshire), about half the names weren’t on the ballot. How do you expect democracy with only half the names on the ballot?

The Republican National Committee handed out a punishment by halving its allotment of delegates to 57, and those might get reinstated.

But the Republican candidates get the spotlight this week in Florida. Republican candidates are all over Florida, shaking hands, kissing babies, giving speeches, and getting TV coverage. Democrats are invisible and don’t exist. When it comes time to campaign in the general election, the Republicans will have a huge advantage in two vital states.

Ultimately, this isn’t so much about delegates but the average voter. I know far more people in Michigan than Florida, and the Democrats I know are pissed off at the Democratic Party. As hard as it is to believe, there may be Democrats who stay home in Michigan and Florida in November. That is something we can’t afford to let happen. And if it does, it will completely be the DNC’s fault, 100%.

Written by democracysoup

January 29, 2008 at 11:03 am

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Running the presidential primaries like a beauty pageant

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Mon, 01/28/2008 – 11:26am

The presidential debates are just another TV show to some voters. Like TV shows, executives make notes to try and improve the show.

There are plenty of ways to compare the 2008 presidential primary race to Saturday night’s Miss America pageant. Fake, non-confrontational answers designed to pacify a family in Kansas. Superficial, quick-snap judgments made about candidates. And smiling regardless of how well you do.

But there was one element from the pageant that the presidential primary debates can use. For the first time, the eliminated contestants sat on risers on stage after they had been eliminated. Traditionally, the “losers” (aren’t they all truly winners) are whisked away not to be seen until they all mob the winner.

But it would be fun to see the candidates who have dropped out sitting off to the side, being able to see their reactions to the questions and answers from the remaining candidates. And perhaps, like other reality shows, we can get their reactions during breaks in the debates.

Now the threshold to qualify for this is getting to Iowa before dropping out. So Mike Gravel would make it, but Sam Brownback would not.

Once people drop out, their voices get removed from the campaign. But unlike the pundits we do hear from, these people know what it’s like to run for president. I’d rather hear that commentary than the pundits.

Written by democracysoup

January 28, 2008 at 11:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Grab your popcorn and sit back: Presidential race may last a lot longer

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Thu, 01/24/2008 – 11:31am

Good news for those voting beyond Super-mega Tuesday: your vote may still count. In the year where almost every state wanted to move up so the nominees would be set before Lent (the day after Super-Mega Tuesday this year), the huge primary day won’t likely decide the winner on either side.

This piece exemplifies the fun that could be had by uncertainty.

Then again, the Republicans definitely won’t come out of Super-Mega Tuesday with a “winner.” The Democrats likely won’t, but it’s clearer on this side.

So are you rooting for a broken convention? On both sides or just one side? And who do you want to spring out of the broken convention?

Written by democracysoup

January 24, 2008 at 11:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Religion should be factored in to allow everyone to vote in caucuses and primaries

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Thu, 01/17/2008 – 10:20am

We do believe in the separation of church and state, yet we believe in freedom of religion. For some that’s a dilemma, for us, it’s pretty clear cut.

We also believe mightily that everyone should have a chance to get out and vote, and the rules should be set up to make voting as easy as possible. This is why we were excited to see some Saturday caucuses and primaries – we figured it was a great way to increase democracy.

Unfortunately, the way the Nevada caucus is set up on a Saturday may actually hinder democracy.

For Jews who observe the Sabbath, the day of rest lasts from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. If you have a primary on a Saturday, you are set. The Jews can vote after sundown. Today’s sunset in Las Vegas is schedule for 4:51 p.m., plenty of time to vote if the polls close at 7 or 8. But the caucuses are being held Saturday morning.

According to this article, other Saturday caucuses (Nebraska, Washington, Wyoming, and Kansas) are scheduled to start after the end of the Sabbath.

Scheduling a Saturday morning caucus also is disruptive to the Sabbath of Seventh-day Adventists.

Ironically, for most Christian religions, their Sabbath would allow them to caucus on Sunday, even Sunday morning. Catholics, for example, can go to mass on Saturday night to fulfill their Sunday obligation.

In a primary, Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and any other group we haven’t mentioned can vote by absentee ballot. But in a caucus, if you aren’t there, your vote doesn’t count.

If there are exceptions built into the Sabbath rules for Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, or any other group, we aren’t aware of them. In some religious situations, fasting may be optional if one’s health can’t handle the fast. So maybe voting could be labeled as an essential task.

Not that this is particularly a great example, but American Catholics faced a moral dilemma on Friday, March 17, 2006. Corned beef and cabbage is a staple of the St. Patrick’s Day diet in America, yet the Friday fell in Lent when Catholics aren’t supposed to eat meat. So bishops handed out various dispensations, allowing Catholics to enjoy corned beef even though it was a Friday.

Not to be sacrilegious, but if we can make an exception for corned beef, can’t we make an exception for voting for the next president of the United States?

So how should we settle this issue? Adjust caucuses to non-religious days? Make Saturday activities primaries only? Or not make any adjustments at all?

Written by democracysoup

January 17, 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Taking a stand and not posting anything from a TV show affected by the writers strike

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Thu, 01/17/2008 – 9:31am

As BuzzFlash readers are well aware, there is a writers strike going on. So some of the fun things we post have disappeared from the pages of BuzzFlash.com. This especially includes links to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report.

We certainly have missed their contributions to our pages. They provide a slant on politics and social issues that can’t be found anywhere else.

When Comedy Central forced them back, Stewart and Colbert were reluctant to come back without their writers. Yet they are back. Even though they aren’t supposed to be technically writing for their shows (since after all, Stewart and Colbert are members of the Writers Guild), if you watch the shows, clearly some writing is being done.

To be completely upfront, we did post a couple of post-strike links. But as we posted them, our stomachs were churning a bit. It didn’t feel right, not with the writers strike still going on. So we have taken those links off BuzzFlash.com, and we won’t post anything from any striked show until the writers strike is completely settled.

This also applies to Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno, not that Leno has done anything ever worth posting.

We should point out that if David Letterman and Craig Ferguson do come up with something worth posting, we would gladly do so since their shows have union writers working for them.

We realize that, in doing so, the wisdom that Stewart and Colbert are currently doing will be missing from our pages, and that readership may suffer as a result. But the truth is that their current wisdom is tainted, and there are principles at stake.

If somehow BuzzFlash were asked to be on The Daily Show or the Colbert Report, and they even agreed to fly us to New York City and put us up in the grandest hotel with room service and a Swedish massage, we still wouldn’t cross the picket line. So we see the proverbial picket line and will honor that.

Some of our readers may disagree with this policy; other readers may love it. But quite frankly, we don’t think we are doing this for our readers. We think we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do, and it lets us sleep better at night, even without the Swedish massage.

We would like to hear from you; give us your comments below. Is this a principle worth standing for? Will you spend less time with BuzzFlash.com as a result?

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT

Written by democracysoup

January 17, 2008 at 9:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Changing the rules not good for democracy

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Originally published on BuzzFlash.com on Tue, 01/15/2008 – 10:35pm

I never had a shot to be an NBA basketball player. But I did like playing and I tried out for 9th grade basketball. We were told at one point that everyone who had made it this far would make the team. Fair enough. If that wasn’t the case, and you got cut, it probably would be because you weren’t good enough. Also very fair.

Well, before the season started, the coach comes into the locker room and says that, oh, there will be cuts after all, and here they are.

As you have probably guessed, I was one of the cuts. Getting cut wasn’t what sucked; it’s the changing of the rules.

Well, I could relate to Dennis Kucinich last night. He was invited to the MSNBC Democratic Party debate in Las Vegas. Everyone agrees on that point. The cable channel wanted to take the top 4 and Kucinich is one of the top 4.

NBC Democratic Party debates consultant Jenny Backus wrote,

“Congratulations on another hard-fought contest. Now that New Hampshire is over, we are on to Nevada and our Presidential Debate on Tuesday, January 15. This letter serves as an official invitation for your candidate to participate in the Nevada Presidential Debate at Cashman Theatre in downtown Las Vegas. You have met the criteria set by NBC and the Debate.”

Then MSNBC changed its mind and said, no, only the top 3 would make it. And Kucinich was asked not to come.

When we got cut, parents complained to the school and we got reinstated. But the coach didn’t treat us well. After a few games, I quit. And this was in a small town where people didn’t just quit basketball. But this coach was such a jerk that several others quit, too. I think he ended up with 7 players at the end of the year, and they only stayed because they were good and needed the experience.

Kucinich sued for the right to be reinstated. He did get a lower court ruling, but unfortunately shortly before air, the Nevada Supreme Court stepped in and claimed the move violated MSNBC’s First Amendment rights. What about our rights as the voters to hear from the presidential candidates?

Turns out based on my own observations and others (including the great P.M. Carpenter), Kucinich would have been a breath of something other than bland monotoned words.

Should MSNBC have stuck with the original rules and let Kucinich back into the debate? Or do you think changing the rules served a higher purpose?

Written by democracysoup

January 15, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized