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News and Notes on Politics and Public Affairs
Ohio Daily Blog will be offline for site renovation from 12:00 am on Sunday, September 30th until 9:00 am on Monday, October 1st.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich officially cancelled the idea of entering the presidentialrace today, after figuring out that he can't both explore a bid for president and remain as head of his tax exempt organization, American Solutions (for Winning the Future).
Today was the final day for filing election petitions in Wood County for the November 6th special primary elections in the 5th Ohio Congressional District. Subject to verification of petition signatures, the candidate list looks like this (h/t CQ Politics):
In a new national poll just out from Fox News, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has a big (and growing) lead over three major GOP contenders in head-to-head matchups (parenthetical numbers are from July):
I've been trying to keep track as the number of Democrats calling on Republicans to condemn Rush Limbaugh's reprehensible remark on Wednesday that U.S. military personnel returned from Iraq who criticize the war are "phony soldiers." (Limbaugh also called Vietnam veteran Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) "Senator Betrayus" back in January.) Here is a scorecard:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chair of the DCCC - "It minimizes the sacrifice our troops in Iraq and their families are making and has no place in the public discourse. Rush Limbaugh owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their service to our country."And the number of blogs calling for Democrats in Congress to introduce a resolution condemning Limbaugh is also growing:
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), a veteran of the Vietnam War - "[It is a] disgusting attack. ... [Limbaugh] is an embarrassment to his party, and I expect the Republicans who flock to his microphone will now condemn this indefensible statement.”
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq War veteran - "Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do."
Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) - "I wonder if Republicans who showed so much outrage towards MoveOn.org yesterday will hold Rush Limbaugh to the same standard, and I wouldn’t hold your breath," he said.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) - "It's ironic, if not remotely surprising, that Rush Limbaugh - who makes his living shooting his mouth off - would impugn the patriotism and service of American troops simply because they have voiced their opposition to this failed policy. It's clear that he has no idea what the brave men and women of our armed forces are ostensibly fighting for."
Yesterday the Senate joined the House in approving the compromise bill to extend and expand the SCHIP program, which in 2006 helped provide health insurance for 6.6 million children nationwide and 218,000 children in Ohio. The Senate vote was by a veto-proof 68-31, while the House vote fell some two dozen votes short of that goal. Industry groups such as American's Health Insurance Plans and the Federation of American Hospitals hailed the vote.
“Soon after moving into the White House, President Bush pledged to leave no child behind. What about uninsured ones? To do well in school and thrive outside of it, children need the right care, at the right time, from the right provider – and they need our president to do the right thing. If President Bush truly wants to leave no child behind, instead of vetoing this bill he will champion it.I searched the internet but could find not any statement from Sen. George Voinovich (R) explaining his vote against the legislation. I am waiting for a return call from his press secretary.
“I wish the president could meet the children and parents I talk to in Ohio. He wants private insurers to cover these children. So do I. But wishful thinking doesn’t cover kids, and neither does indifference. We have an opportunity to help millions of children to receive preventive care in the doctor’s office instead of acute care in the emergency room, and we should grab it.”
A screening committee of the Ohio House Republican Caucus has approved attorney Robert Mecklenborg (R-Green Township) to replace State Rep. Bill Seitz (R) in the 30th Ohio House District. Seitz will be appointed to the Ohio Senate on October 10th to replace retiring term-limited incumbent Patricia Clancy (R-Cincinnati), so that Seitz can run for the office in 2008 as an incumbent.
A few days ago Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Township) joined a group of 24 House members in signing a "bipartisan compact on the Iraq debate," which they call a pledge designed to reduce political infighting and promote a "bipartisan solution." Among other things, the document states that cutting funding for troops in Iraq would endanger service members, future military involvement in Iraq requires a "clearly defined and measurable mission," the Iraqi government must steer Iraq's future course, and U.S. troops must have adequate recuperation between deployments.
"I agree that bipartisan efforts are the only way we are going to get our troops out of harm's way. But this compact appears to be nothing more than empty words in lieu of action - an attempt to put a happy face on what has become a foreign policy disaster.
"It's hard to take Rep. LaTourette seriously when his record simply doesn't match up to his words.
"The compact requires that our troops have adequate recuperation periods between deployments. But last month Rep. LaTourette voted against a bipartisan bill that would have done just that (H.R. 3159). The compact requires a mission that is 'clearly defined and measurable' – and I applaud that goal. But Rep. LaTourette has consistently voted against measures to require accountability in Iraq.
"It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that defunding this war places our troops in peril. The truth is that funding without benchmarks is precisely what has placed our troops in peril over the past four years.
"This bipartisan compact is nothing more than a political stunt. And our men and women in Iraq deserve so much better."
The Ohio Domestic Violence Network has learned through focus groups around that state that personal finances are the most compelling reason preventing battered women from leaving an abusive situation. Finances made it harder for 89 percent of women to leave, compared to 77 percent who indicated they were concerned for the well-being of their children, and 67 percent who said they feared for the lives of themselves or others.
An article published yesterday by McClatchy Newspapers' Washington Bureau says that new voting laws in Ohio and Florida could dampen Democratic voting in 2008, and the part about Ohio contains a hair-raising warning from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D).
Backers of the new laws say they're aimed at curbing vote fraud. But the statutes also could facilitate a controversial Republican tactic known as "vote caging," which the GOP tried in Ohio and Florida in 2004 before public disclosures foiled the efforts, said Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief in the Bush administration who's now with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.Later it gets into the comments by Brunner:
Caging, used in the past to target poor minorities in heavily Democratic precincts, entails sending mass mailings to certain voters and then using the undelivered letters to compile lists of voters for eligibility challenges.
In Ohio, which swung the 2004 election to Bush, new Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner said in a phone interview that an election law passed last year and signed by former Republican Gov. Bob Taft effectively "institutionalized" vote caging.Just having a Democratic Secretary of State isn't going to prevent GOP attempts at voter suppression, not when she's constrained by an election law that helps them out.
The law requires that the state's 88 county election boards send non-forwardable, pre-election notices to all 7.8 million registered Ohio voters at least 60 days before the election.
Undelivered letters are public record, she said, meaning that effectively, "now the counties are paying for" the data needed to compile challenge lists.
In addition, Brunner said, the law toughened voter ID requirements and "took away rights of some voters to be heard about whether or not their registration was valid."
In the past, Ohio voters were entitled to an official notice and a hearing before an election board could declare them ineligible, but the new law says the board can make that decision without notice. A disqualified voter who shows up at the polls must demonstrate that he's fixed any eligibility problem or opt for filing a provisional ballot that may not count.
Brunner said the new law has left her feeling "like being in a sword fight with one hand behind your back."
She said she's sought, "while working within the framework of preventing fraud," to make it "as easy as possible for people who are eligible to participate."
The helpful blog Ohio Health Policy Review notes today that the Ohio Department of Insurance has created a new website to promote Gov. Ted Strickland's Healthcare Coverage Reform Initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to provide access to affordable health insurance coverage to all uninsured Ohioans, with an initial goal of providing coverage to 500,000 more Ohioans by 2011. To that end, Strickland has asked for a bi-partisan, inclusive, transparent process to develop reforms tailored to Ohio. From the OHPR blog:
"The website brings together the different work being done under this initiative, including Ohio's participation in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation State Coverage Initiative, which allows people from the Governor's administration, Ohio General Assembly, and key stakeholders to work with leaders and experts from around the country on how to cover Ohio's uninsured residents. Another aspect of the initiative is the Governor's Healthcare Coverage Initiative Advisory Committee, an advisory group to provide guidance in developing reforms.This initiative is the larger framework into which the expansion of SCHIP to provide Medicaid coverage to uninsured children fits.
"According to the Health Coverage Reform Initiative website, 'stakeholder groups are currently being formed to share information that will shape plans to cover Ohio’s uninsured residents.' Anyone desiring to join one one of these stakeholder groups should go the 'Public Input' section of the website and provide their contact information and group preference."
Kudos to Rep. Zack Space (D-Dover) and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) for continuing to take the lead on legislation to address the continuing mortgage crisis.
Salon's Washington Bureau Chief Walter Shapiro has an article out that explains in straight-forward terms why Democrats in Congress can't end the war -- they don't have enough votes to override a veto, and Republicans won't join them in opposing it. Here is the end of the article, the last paragraph of which really jumped out at me:
With Congress slated to adjourn in mid-November, the clock is fast running out on legislative efforts to reshape the war. Symbolic gestures like "sense of the Senate" resolutions and toothless withdrawal plans -- even if they survive a filibuster -- are unlikely to cow the administration, especially next year when Bush has less than a year left in the Oval Office. Democrats in swing districts will be even more reluctant to engage in a scorched-earth battle with the administration over war funding as the congressional elections draw near.
But the date that is most important to keep in mind is Feb. 6, the morning after the Super-Duper Party-Pooper orgy of primaries when both parties are likely to have de facto presidential nominees. The victorious Democrat in particular will want nothing to happen in Congress that could possibly jeopardize winning back the White House. And congressional leaders (along with most back-benchers) will be shrewd enough to understand that electing a Democratic president is the only surefire route to ending this debilitating war.
That is why angry antiwar activists should realize that their targets are no longer skittish congressional Democrats and Beltway insiders who are their counselors in caution. This is not the moment for guerrilla theater and mau-mauing the moderates. For the true struggle on the home front to end the Iraq war is no longer going to be waged in the chambers of Congress. The coming battleground instead is the familiar terrain of Ohio and Florida -- and the hearts and minds of the swing voters who will decide the 2008 election.
A reader in Wood County informs me that Tiffin University administrator Mike Grandillo (D-Tiffin) has decided against running in the special primary election. However, petitions have been filed by Dr. Earl Campbell (D-Perrysburg), and there are reports that George F. Mays (D-Norwalk) may also file, so it appears that there will be a Democratic primary.
There have been four or five potential Republican candidates under discussion in the comment thread to this post, but meanwhile the Toledo Blade has reported that on two new announced candidates, neither of them a familiar name. Michael J. Reynolds (R-Columbus Grove) is a retiree who misspelled the deceased Congressman's name as "Gilmore" in his campaign announcement, and Mike Smitly (R-Van Wert) is a business consultant who is actually a Libertarian.
What's going on today in the state whose width (220 miles) is the same as its height (220 miles):
“Our board believes the governor’s proposal is in the best interest of Ohio’s farmers, households and businesses,” said John C. (Jack) Fisher, OFBF executive vice president. He added, “We appreciate Governor Strickland’s willingness to listen to our members’ ideas as he created a plan to address many of the important energy issues that face our state and nation.”Marc notes that hearings on the plan start today.
Of immediate concern to Farm Bureau is that Ohio’s electric rate stabilization plan expires at the end of 2008.
Democratic primary challenger Rosemary Palmer (D-Cleveland) lost no time in lambasting Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) for his mystifying vote against extension and expansion of SCHIP health insurance coverage for children:
I was appalled by Congressman Kucinich’s vote against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program on the House floor tonight. This bill would have expanded an already successful program to provide health insurance to millions of children across the country. It takes some twisted logic for someone who claims to support health care coverage for all to oppose this necessary and overdue move in the right direction.
On one hand, President Bush vows to veto the bill, and on the other, Dennis Kucinich votes against it because he doesn’t think it is perfect. This is a perfect example of what is presently wrong with Washington decision-making. Polarizing positions work against functional compromise resulting in a government that cannot serve in the nation’s best interest. While fringe politicians like President Bush and Congressman Kucinich rant like petulant children, the nation remains stagnant and desperately needing effective leadership. Unfortunately, children in Northeast Ohio and around the country will pay the price for their obstinate actions.
The House-Senate compromise bill to extend and expand SCHIP (H.R. 976, House Vote #906) passed tonight by a broad bipartisan majority of 265-159, with 45 Republicans voting "Yes" and 8 Democrats voting "No." Unfortunately, that is 24 votes short of the 2/3 majority needed to override the threatened presidential veto.
Some interesting news items from the state whose highest point is Campbell Hill, 1550 feet above sea level:
When I came to Congress one of the things we were focusing on was trying to make life better for the people we represent. This legislation is an important opportunity for me to cast a vote that will do just that. I think that we have a moral imperative to make sure that children regardless of economic situation have the health care they need so they don’t start their lives on the wrong foot or, God forbid, they run the risk of not ever reaching adulthood.Dann Pressuring Facebook on Child Safety - I received an email last night from Attorney general Marc Dann (D), confirming that he has been investigating Facebook.com:
Passage of this bill means that we’re one step closer to ensuring that, just in Ohio, the existing 145,000 children who are covered will not lose coverage at the end of this month.
One thing that should be noted is that this compromise bill contains no changes in Medicare payments, it is simply about children.
The President has announced his intentions to seemingly veto this legislation once it’s passed. I find that not just disappointing, but disgraceful. He is threatening, through his veto, to eliminate coverage that currently exists now for 6.6 million children. The President’s proposal, which is to invest 5 billion into this program, if that were enacted, would take insurance away from almost a million children that are currently covered, 800,000.
He’s turning our children into a political issue and again I find it both disgusting and unconscionable.
As I have made clear, those running Web sites that are marketed to children and teen-agers had better do so responsibly. If Web sites put our children at risk, I will pursue every available avenue to stop them.Bill Sloat at the Daily Bellwether has more, linking Dann's efforts to those of New York Attorney Andrew General Cuomo (D). The Daily Briefing also has more, including quotes from former blogger Chris Geidner, now Dann's counsel.
For the past month, my staff has been investigating the Facebook Web site, culminating in a meeting last week with representatives of Facebook and several attorneys general’s offices [at which I] expressed serious concerns about the current availability of inappropriate material on Facebook, as well as the dangers of sexual predators seeking out children on the site. At the same time, I also expressed my hope that we could work with Facebook to seek creative solutions to protect our children."
"Everybody knows the global trading system is broken. Last November, my constituents and the American people across the country cast their ballots seeking a new direction on trade. They are counting on this new Congress to fix this broken trading system so that it no longer leaves American workers and businesses at a disadvantage. The American people are counting on this Democratic majority to provide a trade model that will truly allow for fair competition, because we know that if given a fair playing field, we'll excel in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, passing the Peru Free Trade Act is not consistent with our responsibility as a Congress and it is not consistent with the needs of the people who elected us.”Oh, The Irony: Comparing Chabot and Schmidt Fund-Raising - Howard Wilkinson has a post up at the Cincinnati Enquirer political blog Politics Extra that compares the fund-raising situations of Cincinnati-area House members Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) and Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland). Chabot has no primary opponent and is sitting on a campaign fund of $413,932 (as of June 30th), but he is charging $1,000 per ticket for his fundraising breakfast at the Queen City Club next Monday. Schmidt is facing GOP opposition from Phil Heimlich (and perhaps others) and has only $85,169 in the bank (and $309,126 in debts, both as of June 30th), yet tickets for her Queen City Club fundraising breakfast on Friday are going for only $250.