Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Idea: get more election judges by letting them out of jury duty

We've got a problem: not enough election workers (called election judges in Illinois). Our elections are run essentially by volunteers and we have a lot of elections (four in a two-year cycle). Many election judges are senior citizens and they have to put in a 13 or 14 hour day. It's a challenge every election cycle to generate more volunteer election judges.

In a debate last week before the Los Angeles City Council on a motion to study instant runoff voting and several other reforms put together by rising star Eric Garcetti, President of the Council, Member Janice Hahn expressed a really interesting idea. (You can watch the debate here -- jump to Item #28 on the agenda).

She noted that election judges (called pollwatchers in California) are fulfilling their civic duty and serving the Republic. She also noted that lots of people would prefer not to serve in juries (they are hard to plan and many people get booted out of the jury pool). Council Member Hahn suggested that a great way to increase the number of election judges would be to release election judges from the jury pool, as serving on election day is as much a civic duty as serving on a jury of a defendants' peers.

I think it's a great idea and we ought to implement it in Illinois.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Live at YearlyKos with the presidentials (version 7)

Very funny moment. Edwards repeats that we need to swear off DC lobbyists money. Hillary gets asked directly whether she'd do the same. She smiled and said "John has certainly taken that position" and the audience laughs because it was such a ridiculous response. And she smiled as well because she seemed to know how ridiculous it was.

Obama then went on the attack to make it clear that the billion dollars the insurance industry spent on contributions had an influence. "I want to challenge the notion that lobbyists don't have disproportionate influence." "they aren't giving money for the public interest. They have an objective." Huge response.

Hillary defended lobbyists, many of who represent regular people like nurses and social workers or corporations who employ thousands of people. And, as a lobbyist representing progressive clients, I appreciate that. But, Barack's point that there's a lot we can do to clean up DC before public funding is implemented resonates.

Dodd: Our Constitution is at risk!

In the Obama White House, no one can lobby after serving. We need to stop the revolving door.

Clinton actually said we're safer because we are willing to take off our shoes before we go into airports. That's absurd.

Clinton then successfully attacks the unitary executive concept infecting our government and showing incompetence all over. But she then says we need a constitutional amendment to get public funding. She's just not a reformer.

Kucinich: Reminds us that 1 million innocents have been killed in Iraq and we need strength through peace.

Live at YearlyKos with the presidentials (version 6)

Barack: China is a competitor and as long as they are our banker and we are their debtors, we have less leverage. China is also manipulating their currency and closing their markets. In Africa and Latin America, the Chinese presence is as striking as the American absence. They are building roads and schools while we are obsessed with Iraq.

Dodd: Tragic sight of the adverTISEments (funky pronunciation) in DC newspapers asking for Arabic speakers after 911 to figure out what is going on. Wants a lot more global exchange.

Edwards: Pakistan is a problem. Unstable leader, nuclear power, anti-American population, Kashmir fight. Musharref said it would change everything if our kids had a public school education, USA should use soft power to educate 100M children. Opposed to 20B arms deal to Pakistan.

Richardson: Bush-Cheney policy to Musharref is one of appeasement. We won't force them to go after Al-Queda because it's domestically hard for him, We are so easy on him and we give him so much money. Richardson seems like he knows what's going on,

Interesting that

Barack: We need to change the political map together. We have got to expand the voter base. New people will let us go into Mississippi which is 40 percent black. Our rally in Atlanta had 20,000 people, 40 percent of whom were not registered to vote.

Hillary: We need to pay attention to the red parts of the blue states. Congratulates Howard Dean for the 50 state strategy.

Richardson: We need to push for same-day voter registration. (I like that!)

Live at YearlyKos with the presidentials (version 4)

Congressman Kucinich calls for universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care and notes that even the insurance companies want universal health care. He wants to put the money into health delivery. His new adjective is "not-for-profit" for the health care system we want. not bad.

Edwards: I will close Guantanamo. No illegal spying. No torture. And a transparent government. Calls to swear off all money from the Washington lobbyists and credits Obama for already doing it. Huge reponse.

Gravel gets asked about his support for the fairtax. But he gets a little odd. Maybe I'm not sure whether he adds a lot of value or not. He's a little Andy Rooney. But ends up with a somewhat coherent call for statutory power by referendum.

Next question is on Kucinich's idea to use the power of the purse to get out of Iraq. Clinton explained that Senate rules really hurt Dem attempts to pass legislation. Basically says we need more Senate GOP support in September.

Kucinich says the way to deal with Cheney is to impeach him for lying. And if the President won't withdraw from Iraq, impeach him too.

Dodd: The policy has been a failure but the troops have not been.

Richardson: I have a one-point plan: Get Out. Leave no residual forces behind. Create an all-Muslim peacekeeping force. De-authorize the war with a six-month withdrawal. We did it in three months in Kuwait.

Gravel: Vote on cloture every day. Get the votes from the GOP any way we can.

Obama: There's no excuse for the act of evil of 9-11 and by the way they were not in Iraq. And we have absolutely fanned anti-American sentiment by invading an innocent nation and helping to trigger a civil war. now, end the occupation of Iraq and win the war against Al-Queda that is stronger now than they were before. We have had a pattern in the past in the Middle East where we act unintelligently where we are interested only in oil and our own interests. Pretty close to telling the truth.

Edwards: Simple formula. Less allies, more terrorists. We should not accept Bush's framing.

Live at YearlyKos with the presidentials (version 3)

The first statement from any candidate was Bill Richardson and he said "I screwed up on that one."

That was cool. The moderator (Joaninmd by her kos moniker) asked about Richardson's statement on Byron White as his ideal justice. And she's got a bit of a lisp, interestingly enough.

Dodd says the Administration is trampling over the Constitution. And he said he thinks we should not approve any more Supreme Court Justices until 2009. I buy that.

It is striking that Hillary is the only woman candidate. She pointed out that all candidates are for universal health care. Her three lessons: 1) Have a political strategy 2) Build a coalition and 3) Get ready for the drug companies, insurance companies and ideologues to attack.

Barack's question is on budget discipline. 1) Stop spending 275M every day on Iraq war. 2) Don't extend Bush tax cuts on highest income brackets and 3) Institute PAYGO. But he also says that "we've got to make some investments." And the biggest fiscal threat we have is Medicare and Medicaid and we need to control costs through universal health care for long-term fiscal discipline.

Edwards said we need big changes, not small changes. And he dodged his question and instead said the insurance, drug and oil companies will never give up their power. So you need someone who will fight them, has fought them and will continue to fight them to take the power back.

Richardson: These are fine speeches but I have balanced 9 budgets. He wants a balanced budget amendment and got booed. (Edwards got a great response).

Live at YearlyKos with the presidentials (version 2)

It works. Cool. So, in the spirit of liveblogging, here we go.

The feel of the convention is a lot less hacky and a ot more earnest than the national convention. Almost all the people here are essentially good citizens: they care about the Republic and are trying to improve it. It's refreshing.

There are about 1500 seats and a dozen or so cameras. It's got a professional feel.

The weird celebrity vibe of incoming presidential candidates is in the air. It must be tough for candidates to stay grounded when they becom famous. I'm sure @ld have a hard time staying humble if people were genuinely excited just to be in the same room as me. I don't anticipate that happening. Maybe if I get a dog.

I wonder whether we're on the cusp of a New Deal. There does seem to be a big change in the air.

I like that a forum of presidentials is pulled together because of the netroots, not because of any interest group.

And I like that Mike Gravel gets to participate in the discussion. It's like the opposite of the corporate-funded, ham-handed Commission on Presidential Debates.

The crowd just sang Happy Birthday to Barack after Matt Bai announced it's his birthday. That was fun.

Here we go.

Live at YearlyKos with the presidentials

I'm sitting in McCormick Place in Chicago with 1000 other progressive bloggers waiting for the presidential leadership forum to begin, My company, Progressive Public Affairs, had a booth so we've all been here since Thursday mixing it up with the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

I've got a new Treo 700 that I'm trying to use for a liveblog, so let me see if it works....