Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Kerry campaign comes to its senses:
It looks like smarter heads have prevailed over at the Kerry campaign: ["Sen. Flip-Flop does it again!: Now Kerry will accept nomination in Hub"]. As I said earlier, while strategic, it was stupid for Kerry to even think about delaying his nomination: ["Kerry's starting to get foolish"]. Especially after local and federal taxpayers are spending tens of millions of dollars on "the party" and the Boston metropolitan region will be disrupted because of the convention.
In the Herald story, Rep. Meehan makes a good point: The DNC can spend some money during the five week period where Kerry believes he will be at a disadvantage. After all, it is the DNC's fault: They chose to hold their convention in July so they wouldn't have to compete for air time with the Summer Olympics. The GOP moved their convention to be closer to the Sept. 11 terrorist attack anniversary - a reprehensible move to exploit the deaths of thousands of people for political reasons.
In the above post, I also noted some other strategic moves Kerry could make. On one of the WBZ talk shows Monday, a caller mentioned that Kerry [or any Democrat] could file legislation to tweak the FEC law which requires candidates to spend no money other than the $75 million in public financing after accepting the party's nomination. The change in the legislation could be based on not when a candidate accepts the nomination, but a specific date, like Sept. 1 or the day after both candidates have officially accepted their party's nomination. It was a good point by the caller. A larger point is that this has never been a problem in the past. Both parties over the last 30 years have adhered to the rules as currently written. So why was Kerry complaining in the first place?

A needed distraction?

Zogby points to sweeping Kerry leads in swing states.

One of the reasons this whole Kerry/convention thing is such a distraction might be this graph released by pollster John Zogby in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal. Zogby, you may recall, recently came out with a prediction that Kerry would win. He got lambasted all over the Web for saying such things so early. So in response, Zogby released some of his numbers which led to his conclusions. And no wonder Bush and the Republicans are freaking out - these Kerry numbers are frighteningly high! Granted, it is really early in the process - and Gore had a huge lead in late-September 2000 before losing the election in a squeaker. The same could happen to Kerry. However, if this holds up, Kerry will shatter Bush in the election, Nader or no Nader. With a populist or progressive vice presidential choice, Kerry should be able to hold this lead. If he picks a conservative Democrat or the climate in Iraq gets worse, Nader could be more of a factor than he is right now. If Nader picks Jesse Ventura for his VP slot - look out!

Serious reforms are needed:
What has become clear from all of this Kerry/convention nonsense is that the conventions no longer matter in the scheme of things and there needs to be serious discussion about reforming the entire process, including proposing Constitutional amendments to alter the way our political process works.
In reality, the conventions only exist so that a bunch of political insiders get free meals, drinks, and gifts - often funded by large corporations. All the real work of the presidential process goes into winning the primaries. By shifting the primary process from winning delegates to say, winning points for each state, you wouldn't need conventions at all. Essentially, the candidate with the most points wins. As well, candidates could combine their points, creating joint tickets, to knock off a front-runner. How fun would that be? John Edwards and Howard Dean could have formed a joint ticket early into the Kerry surge and cut him off at the pass. In my opinion, an Edwards-Dean ticket would've been a much stronger ticket for the Democrats than Kerry.
Advocates will say the convention helps iron out a party's platform. But the platforms of both parties are essentially bogus. None of the candidates follow the platform when elected and most of the planks in the platforms don't matter to the bulk of the American people. Sure, it is all interesting to us political junkies. But it really doesn't matter to most people.
Like a university graduation or a state party convention, the national party conventions could be held over a day [maybe two if needed] during a weekend in a large stadium with news clip highlights of the speeches compiled on Sunday night during prime time on the three major networks. You could still keep the delegate process in place with this change and people could still come to Boston, or any other city, for a weekend of boozing and bickering on the corporate dole. The minor parties manage to do it in a day; why can't the other parties get it done in a day? As well, equal coverage should also be granted to the minor third parties - like Libertarians, Greens, and Conservative parties - something that does not occur right now. In fact, none of the minor parties get any money from the federal government to run their conventions or fund their candidates, so why should the big two get funds? Let them have a potluck picnic lunch in a cornfield like the Greens do!
Ideally, the conventions should be held in June. The summer months would make up the bulk of the campaign season. The general Election Day could be held on a Saturday in late September, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The weather is still pleasant for most of the nation in late September and switching the day to Saturday would encourage voting turnout and allow people who work on Tuesdays to be more participatory. Those people would don't want to vote on Saturday for religious reasons would be allowed to cast absentee ballots.
The election dates we currently live with were written hundreds of years ago during an agrarian society based on farming the land, blacksmithing steel, blowing glass, and scripting the news by ink and quill. The general election is scheduled in November because it was the end of the farming season. Most Americans had already taken care of the harvest and had time to go down to the pub and elect the citizen legislature.
Times have changed drastically - shouldn't our political process adapt to the changes? Some will contend that most people are thinking about their vacations during the summer. But the reverse argument is true: Political candidates would have to work harder for votes. They would have to do more than just broadcast endless television ads which scare people into voting a specific way. Is this such a bad thing?
With these changes, some sort of instant run-off voting system should also be implemented to allow voters to rate their choices by preference. This would eliminate the "spoiler" arguments and empower voters with second and third choices. After the polls close in states over a period of time, based on the daily time shifts, the task of compiling the votes would occur. While this process might take longer than the current system, the entire election could be wrapped up by Sunday morning or afternoon and be broadcast thoroughly on the networks Sunday night or daily newspapers on Monday morning. The inauguration could also be shifted, maybe to sometime before the holidays or it could be left in January.
Whatever happens in this election, it is clear that changes need to be made. The system we have isn't working. It is denigrating and devious. And it would be nice to see some more serious discussion about the issue.

This is real girl power:

Panty protests to pickle party.

You gotta love this prank waiting for Republicans at their NYC convention: ["Women Plan 'Pom Pom' Protest"]. The group's site - with all kinds of other panty slogans - is located here: [""].

Nichols guilty: But are we closer to the truth?:
Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols was quickly found guilty yesterday in the deaths of over 160 in the Murrah Federal Building bombing: ["Oklahoma Bomber Nichols Convicted of Murder, Faces Death Penalty"]. This doesn't really come as a surprise. However, did Nichols get a fair trial? One has to wonder after reading this:

The defense contended that others helped McVeigh carry out the bombing and that Nichols was the fall guy for a wider conspiracy. Witnesses testified that they saw McVeigh with others, including a stocky, dark-haired man depicted in an FBI sketch and known only as John Doe No. 2, in the weeks before the bombing. Authorities later concluded that the mystery man was an Army private who had nothing to do with the bombing.

And this passage:

Defense lawyers had planned on bringing up evidence that a shadowy group of conspirators, including members a white supremacist gang, helped McVeigh with the bombing. But Judge Steven Taylor refused to allow that evidence, saying the defense never showed that such people made any overt acts to further the bomb plot.

Why? Why was Nichols' legal team not allowed to put on a vigorous defense? While I am not a lawyer, this seems like a window for an appeal.
In the end, Nichols will get fried - just like Timothy McVeigh did. And despite my opposition to the death penalty, I can understand why some people want him to fry. However, it would be more constructive if the American people could get to the truth about what really happened and who was involved. Unfortunately, we will probably never know.

No comments: