This quote is attributed to an aide to Secretary of State Condi Rice. To say that the situation in Pakistan is unstable fails to convey anything like the fragmentation taking place. Experts on the region have no idea what will happen within the next few hours, much less days.
I read about the crisis with a kind of prickly, obsessive dread because I've been there. In 1976, as a skinny impressionable college student majoring in Asian Studies, I spent several months in Pakistan, mostly in Lahore but also in Peshawar and Karachi. At that time Benazir Bhutto's father and the Pakistan People's Party were in power, but Islamic fundamentalists were openly advocating change and the relationship between the government and the real powers in the country (the military and a small coterie of wealthy families) was strained. Unless you have been in Pakistan it is difficult to grasp how tenuous are the structures of government and the rule of law. There is no sense of momentum or continuity to any of the societal institutions that we take for granted, except perhaps for the military.
There are 26 candidates for city council in Cincinnati, which is very intimidating to the outside observer, but the names are all in this hilarious satirical song and you can even dance to it (sort of):
Yesterday evening I drove to Bowling Green to have dinner with my friend and ODB front-pager Earl, and to attend a meeting of the Wood County Democratic Party Central Committee at the Bowling Green Simpson Park Building. Earl and I ate in a friendly and busy restaurant on Main Street, Sam B's (short for Samuel Beckett's, and known in its former location as Samuel Beckett's Sandwich of the Absurd). While Earl was Waiting for Yellow Dogot, he ordered me a juicy Reuben sandwich (which was Happy Days for me), but then it was Endgame because the meeting was about to start.
Earl's directions to the restaurant included the comment that it's in the only three-story building on downtown Main Street, so I confirmed this by looking to the left and to the right and whack me with a stick if he isn't right. We hustled over to the park building where committee members were gathering. I was pleased to meet such Democratic luminaries as long-time Wood County Commissioner Alvie Perkins, former county party chair Al Baldwin, and current chair Mike Zickar. Also on hand were Dr. Earl Campbell, briefly a Congressional primary candidate; Ohio House candidate Jeff Bretz; and Judge Dwight Osterud, among many others. Bretz and Perkins were circulating signature petitions. Zickar observed of Perkins' snazzy yellow sweater vest, "I see you've got that nice outfit, Alvie, you must be running for something."
The Columbus Dispatch has reported that Dr. Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin), widow of deceased Congressman Paul Gillmor (R), will announce next Wednesday that she is running for the open 26th Ohio Senate District seat of term-limited State Sen. Larry Mumper (R-Marion). A former two-term state senator, she says that she opted to run for the Ohio Senate instead of her husband's Congressional seat so that she can fulfill a pledge to raise their three sons in Ohio.
This district leans strongly Republican (PVI R+8) and all three house districts in it are Republican-held. A variety of potential candidates for this seat have been mentioned, including State Rep. Steve Reinhard (R-Bucyrus), City Councilman & former state rep. Rex Damschroeder (R-Fremont), Sandusky County Commissioner Brad Smith (R-Fremont), Sandusky County GOP Chair Adam Greenslade (R-Green Springs), and Mayor Terry Overmyer (R-Fremont), but Gilmorr is such a strong contender that I suspect few of them will actually enter the race.
Hat-tip to Dave at ProgressOhio.com.
Maybe saving the GOP some time and effort down the road, the campaign of former senator John Edwards (D-NC) has created an attack ad against Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) which, for the first time in this battle for the nomination, looks and sounds like a GOP ad:
This one isn't about issues in any sense, it's a character attack (flip-flopping, lack of candor, whatever), and I'm sure it's reminiscent a GOP ad specifically for the purpose of making you wonder if Clinton isn't just as vulnerable to such attacks as Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) proved to be.
It's a fair question whether Edwards, as opposed to Obama or Richardson or someone else, would be the beneficiary of raising such doubts. Edwards' favorability ratings took a hit from those ridiculous haircuts-and-big-house-hypocrisy attacks by the GOP. If Clinton were running behind instead of ahead, would she be tempted to parrot that kind of attack on Edwards?
This is the phase of the primary campaign battle where Democrats can really hurt themselves.
The interesting thing about yesterday's 60-34 vote in the U.S. Senate on SCHIP Expansion 2.0 was that this time the Republicans accelerated the vote, hoping to cut off negotiations that might lure just enough House GOP members to create a veto-proof majority:
On Thursday, Senate Republican leaders objected to Democratic requests to allow more time for the bipartisan negotiations seeking a compromise. The purpose of the talks was to win over enough House Republicans to override the veto promised by the president.
In an interview, Representative Judy Biggert, Republican of Illinois, said, “The talks were making really good progress.” But, she said, “everything changed” after the top two Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Trent Lott of Mississippi, “objected to postponing a Senate vote” on the bill.
This confirms my sense that the negotiations reported this week may be a very positive thing, changing the bill not very much in order to draw just enough additional GOP support to thwart the president. No wonder the GOP leadership has their knickers in a twist over it.
The possibility of negotations is not extinguished; look for a veto followed by a short-term extension of the existing program and then more talks.
Meanwhile, a coalition led Americans United For Change and AFSCME is out with a powerful new TV ad, slamming Republican leadership over SCHIP, a local version of which will be targeted at Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) of the 1st Ohio Congressional District:
I am a prisoner of my inbox and cell phone today, but this important item on two races has come to my attention, reported by the invaluable Marc Kovac at Capital Blog:
Sen. Ron Amstutz, a Republican from Wooster, has decided to run for the Ohio House of Representatives. He was considering a run for retiring U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula’s seat (state Sen. Kirk Schuring and Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller, both Republicans, and state Sen. John Boccieri, a Democrat, already have thrown their hats into that race). Looks like Amstutz will face Charles D. Hardman in the Republican primary for the District 3 seat currently held by Rep. Jim Carmichael, who has decided to run for Wayne County Commissioner. Amstutz served in the Ohio House from 1980 to 2000 before his current stint as state senator.
The 3rd Ohio House District is composed of Wayne COunty in northeast Ohio. It leans strongly Republican (PVI R +12.5). Carmichael was unopposed in 2006 and won 65.55% of the vote in 2004.
OH-05: Latta (R) Considering Complaining to FEC Over Alleged Buehrer (R)-Club for Growth Coordination UPDATEDSubmitted by Jeff on Fri, 11/02/2007 - 8:54am.
In the latest chapter of the exceedingly ugly saga that is the GOP primary in the 5th Congressional District, the Toledo Blade reports that State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) intends to request a Federal Election Commission investigation of State Sen. Steve Bueher (R-Delta) and Buehrer's principal PAC supporter, the Club for Growth.
At issue is the Buehrer campaign arranging for a Buehrer volunteer from the Bowling Green State University College Republicans to forward tax records from Mr. Latta’s tenure as Wood County commissioner to a consultant for CFG. (The volunteer was never paid by CFG for his work, as had been promised. He has now switched allegiance to Latta.) The Latta camp contends that it constitutes illegal coordination between the candidate and the PAC. Buehrer's campaign managers says it is legal because the volunteer and PAC were put in touch the day before the PAC's endorsement was announced, not after. Latta's attorney Scott Pullins contends that the decision to endorse could have been made in advance of the annoucement, and therefore before the coordination. An expert on federal election law comments in the story that coordination claims are difficult to prove.
What's easy to see is the depths of negativity to which the campaigning has sunk:
“Now when I help out, I need to watch out in case there’s anything weird going on,” said Mr. Hooser [the volunteer], 19 ...
By selectively dissecting each other’s records, Mr. Buehrer and Mr. Latta are battling over who is more committed to lowering taxes, limiting government, and upholding conservative values. An FEC inquiry might cause the battle to spill past the Nov. 6 primary election. ...
Jeff is on the road right at this moment (in Fremont on his way to the Turnpike) so I just wanted to make a quick mention, before it gets any later. The sordid story of Jeff's firing is featured on the front page of the Huffington Post with an article by Jeff called "On Political Contributions, Partisan Blogging, and my Firing from the Cleveland Plain Dealer"
Please drop by there and leave your comments.
An OEC panel deadlocked 2-2 on whether to send the second complaint by State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) against State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) over the latter's prayer/ten commandments in school mailers to a hearing, as reported by the Toledo Blade. That means that Latta will face only one such charge at the OEC hearing on Monday, the day before the election.
The Ohio Supreme Court has denied the request by proponents of the ballot initiative to overturn strict new requirements on strip clubs to order Secretary of State Brunner (D) to put the measure back on next Tuesday's ballot. This was the last possible way that the referendum could be resuscitated.
This is heartfelt. I am an admirer of Bill O'Neill (D-South Russell) and do not support Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township), especially now. Courtesy of Jerid Kurtz of Buckeye State Blog, this is my video appeal for support for O'Neill:
Make your contribution here.
As reported in the Toledo Blade here, State Rep. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) will run for the open 2nd Ohio Senate District seat of term-limited State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green):
He has the blessing of Mr. Gardner and said he has the support of fellow Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green). Until Paul Gillmor's recent death created a congressional vacancy, Mr. Latta was presumed to be the front-runner to swap seats with Mr. Gardner as they did in 2000.
"This is an opportunity I wasn't thinking of two months ago. The passing of Congressman Gillmor has changed that," said Mr. Wagoner, a 36-year-old attorney.
Also in the article, Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern (D-Catawba Island) confirms that he will not seek Gardner's seat, although he says it is one of the Democrats' "prime opportunities" and notes that Gov. Ted Strickland (D) carried the district. "There will be an imminent announcement from a terrific candidate with wide name recognition, a tremendous campaigner," said Redfern.
As to what will happen if Latta does not win the special election in the 5th Ohio Congressional District, Wagoner said "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I have all the confidence that Bob is going to win that congressional race, and he is supporting me in my Senate race."
The 2nd Ohio Senate District is in Wood, Ottawa, Lucas Counties in north/northwest Ohio. It includes the 6th House district (Latta), the 46th House District (Gardner), and 80th House district (Redfern). It leans somewhat Republican (PVI R+5).
Just before the election last year, a federal lawsuit challenging provisions of the new voter identification law was filed against the Secretary of State on behalf of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, NEOCH v. Brunner, No. C2-06-896 (S.D. Ohio). After vigorous advocacy in court, the elections were conducted under procedures set out in a temporary consent decree agreed between the parties.
With Democrat Jennifer Brunner having won election to the post of Secretary of State to replace Ken Blackwell, one might think that the consent decree would simply be made permanent by general agreement and the litigation would be over. What has happened instead is that the new Secretary of State issued a directive about voter identification procedures [.pdf format], which is mostly but not completely in accord with the consent decree, and the litigation is ongoing. When I called the Secretary of State's office to inquire about the status of the case, I was referred to the directive and told that since the matter was in litigation her spokesperson could not otherwise comment.
Yesterday, pursuant to an order of the court, counsel for the plaintiff filed a letter brief describing the amendments to the directive that the plaintiffs request in order to resolve the remaining issues in the case. A copy of the letter is available here [.pdf].
Per Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion, the widow of Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) and two-term state senator Dr. Karen Gillmor (R-Dublin) will announce on Wednesday, the day after this year's general election day, her plans concerning the open 26th Ohio Senate District seat:
“Next Wednesday, I intend to announce my plans regarding Ohio’s 26th State Senate seat. I am proud of my record and the history of public service which is a tradition in the Gillmor family. However, out of respect for my husband Paul’s memory, I have chosen not to make a formal announcement regarding the race for Ohio State Senator until after the November 6th primary for Paul’s long-held Congressional seat.”
Extensive coverage on the E-Media Tidbits blog at Poynter.com:
Dubail confirmed that within about a week of Wide Open's launch, LaTourette's office complained about Coryell's inclusion in the blog to The Plain Dealer's editorial page editor. Said Dubail, "Of course, people make threats like this all the time. It's not uncommon for people to say 'I'm never going to talk to you again.' Any responsible news organization will check whether there's any truth in what those people say. But even if important people stop talking to us, that doesn't mean we stop covering them."
Dubail says he mentioned LaTourette's complaints to Coryell in September, but made no requests at that time. Then, on Oct. 16. The Plain Dealer published a campaign finance story that disclosed Coryell's contribution to LaTourette's current opponent.
"That's when [Plain Dealer editor] Susan Goldberg got concerned about how the paper would be received," said Dubail. "She worried about about having someone on the payroll -- even a freelancer -- who has taken sides in a partisan dispute. After some discussion, she indicated a strong belief that Dubail [sic, should be Coryell] needed to recuse himself from covering that race."
The author of the blog paid genuine attention to my attempt to exlain why a "no contributions" rule may be fine for reporters but makes no sense as a requirement for partisan political bloggers:
Coryell believes such retroactive policymaking is not only unethical and unfair, but -- at least in this case -- deeply misguided. "If you're going to have a rule about campaign contributions, have it at the outset and don't adopt it in response to a complaint," he said. "But it's a bad policy. I was specifically hired as a partisan, to argue my side. If you want partisans to blog, it's absurd to rule out campaign contributions. Conceptually it doesn't fit the situation.
Tom Blumer is very disappointed that I did not confer with him and Dave last night before going public with the LaTourette story, which probably would have been a good thing to do, but he has wished me well (and I him) and has posted a piece at Wide Open acknowledging that the experimental project is effectively at an end.
Bill Sloat of The Daily Bellwether doesn't quote Rep. Latourette directly, but instead "Capitol Hill insiders," who insist that LaTourette did not exert any pressure on the Plain Dealer. I do not believe it for a minute. I was on the ultimate receiving end of the pressure and heard much about it in the weeks before my firing.
Just up at the Mother Jones Mojo Blog a few hours ago:
On Wide Open, the online editor is saying, "Our concern was that since Jeff and the other Wide Open bloggers are paid, his views might be taken as those of the paper, which could raise legitimate questions about our fairness." Which is nonsense, because no one would expect a blog, that features two liberal posters and two conservative ones, to stand for the views of the paper on each individual post. Moreover, the Plain Dealer could have simply put a disclaimer at the top of the blog reading, "The views of this blog do not represent the views of the Cleveland Plain Dealer."
In the end, the newspaper valued its relationship with a congressman more than it valued one of its employees. Simple as that.
Update: The second liberal blogger on Wide Open has resigned.
Here is a new TV commercial from the campaign of State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) responding to Club for Growth calling Latta a liberal three times in one thirty second ad:
This is incredibly irritating. Democratic legislators have good ideas for bills, which never come up for a vote. Then Republicans introduce identical bills that sail through the process, so those legislators get to brag about them in the next election cycle.
Jim Siegel reports two examples today on The Daily Briefing, both involving veterans benefits bills copied by Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield). A year and a half ago he stole a proposal by Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D-Toledo) to extend free tuition to the spouses of fallen soldiers. Now he's put together one idea taken from bills by Ujvagi and another idea lifted from a bill by Rep. William J. Healy II (D-Canton). The result, which exempts military pensions from the state income tax and eliminates probate court fees for cases involving soldiers killed in action, is expected to pass the House next Wednesday.
Marc Kovac at Capital Blog alerts us to another hijacking that looks to be coming down the pike. This one involves three freshman legislators, folks who are especially anxious to take credit for getting legislation passed. Rep. Stephen Dyer (D-Green) and Rep. Matt Lundy (D-Elyria) have each introduced bills to create a sales tax "holiday" in August for back-to-school shoppers, an effort to spark retail sales. Rep. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) immediately followed with a nearly identical bill. Now guess which one will wind up with a feather in his cap?
That is just plain mean.
UPDATE: The GOP has done the civil and added Ujvagi's name to McGregor's veterans benefits bill as co-sponsor. Bravo, they did the right thing.
I'd appreciate adding any additional links in the comments. Thanks to Eric Vessels for starting the list. No particular order:
Plunderbund: Wide Shut: PeeDee Fires Lefty Blogger
Psychobilly Democrat: The Meddling of a Congressman
Callahan's Cleveland Diary: Plain Dealer fires Wide Open blogger to appease LaTourette
Left of Ohio: The Plain Dealer Shoots Itself In The Foot
At 10:00 a.m. today (in about 45 minutes!), Barbara Anne Ferris will officially announce her primary campaign against incumbent Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the 10th Ohio Congressional District.
She will be broadcasting on WTAM (Cleveland) Radio 1100 AM. You can also listen live at www.wtam.com. The call-in number is 216-578-1100.
It seems like the Plain Dealer hopes to make this story go away by making it seem complicated. It's simple. Here's what happened:
1. Four bloggers were hired to be bloggers, NOT reporters. The whole idea was for us to vigorously advocate our respective positions. We were carefully balanced between liberals and conservatives. Nobody asked if we had made poitical contributions or supported candidates, which would have seemed silly anyway.
2. LaTourette complained to the Plain Dealer about me participating. He talked to Editorial Page Editor Brent Larkin at least once and to reporter Sabrina Eaton once. Eaton told him to take his concerns to senior levels, which I assume he did. He did not raise any issue about the other liberal blogger, who has made contributions to Democrats, just me.
3. I was fired because LaTourette complained. It would not have happened if LaTourette did not exert pressure. My fellow blogger Jill has made donations and did not get fired. Online Editor Jean Dubail brought up LaTourette's complaints at least three times in talking to one or all of us. He told me the day I got fired that Editor Susan Goldberg told him to fire me two weeks before, but Dubail held her off.
Ms. Goldberg doesn't deny that LaTourette exerted pressure, she is trying to deny that the Plain Dealer bowed to it. She now says that they would not have hired me if they had known that I had made contributions to LaTourette's opponents.
This is simply not credible. No pressure, no firing. There was no policy against paid bloggers making contributions until they needed it. Now that they say it is their policy, they have to deal with the fact that it was selectively applied (nobody else got fired) and that it doesn't make any sense (unlike reporters, I was paid to express my partisan views).
Edited to fix links -- Paul
Thanks Paul. I'm used to handcoding HTML--Earl
Jeff is far too modest and self effacing to say this, so please allow me to make some suggestions:
When something makes me this angry, I can’t get to sleep without taking action.
So I went to Bill O’Neill’s ACTblue page and donated what I could afford and added “.69” just to let the world know how I feel. Of course, if you are from another part of the state and want to contribute to any of our OUTSTANDING Democratic challengers for U.S. House seats, that’s great!
If you have a blog of our own, I certainly hope that you will take the time to post about this outrage. When the PD staffers come into work tomorrow, I want them to get hit with a TON of Google alerts. And please remember to provide a link to this site, it will boost our ranking with search engines and build our traffic. That’ll show ‘em!
Please visit DailyKos and recommend Jeff’s post. Be sure to leave your comment as well. I know that when Jeff gets time to read them, it will mean alot and , frankly, he deserves it. If you have time, also visit MYDD and the SwingstateProject. Or for that matter, any of the blogs that have picked up the coverage on this issue.
If you are, in fact, a PD subscriber, well you know what to do... At least give them a call or send them an email to express how you feel.
IMHO, the greatest strength of the progressive blogging community is when it can translate talk into action, RAPID action!
I hope that you will report in with your results and suggestions in the comments.
Here are emails sent out by Cleveland Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg tonight, regarding my firing earlier today.
We didn't bow to any political pressure. Had we known that he had contributed to the opponent of a person he was writing about, we wouldn't have hired him in the first place. Once we learned of the issue, we asked him not to write about the congressman he opposed. When he refused, we decided that we couldn't pay him any longer to blog for us. That said, he is of course welcome (along with every other blogger in the universe) to say whatever he wants about anyone he wants. But the standards are our's - not imposed on us by any outsiders. We, and everyone else, continue to wade into this, learning new things every step of the way.
This is nonsense. At least
two one of the other bloggers involved in Wide Open have has contributed to candidates - for confirmation as to one see here. [NOTE: Dave says that he has never made political contributions, and the link must be to someone else with his name.] They She did not get fired.
I have contributed to other candidates, but only my contribution to LaTourette's opponent seems to be an issue.
In WHAT ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE did anyone at the PD think that a political blogger would not have contributed to political candidates?