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October 31, 2007 02:51 PM UTC

Wednesday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

Well, John the Baptist after torturing a thief
looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief
saying “Tell me great hero, but please make it brief
is there a hole for me to get sick in?”

The Commander-in-Chief answers him while chasing a fly
saying, “Death to all those who would whimper and cry!”
and dropping a barbell he points to the sky
saying “The sun’s not yellow–it’s chicken!”

–Bob Dylan


43 thoughts on “Wednesday Open Thread

  1. Former Denver Post Columnist Jim Spencer writes about the Public Insight Network

    They call it the Public Insight Network, but it ought to be called real people journalism.

    For months, Colorado Public Radio has been using the Internet to construct a data base of thousands of regular folks to find out what they think about everything from the environment to the Rockies in the World Series.

    and what have the found so far:

    For instance, early results of Public Insight’s political networking show some people switching parties. If enough people in the network seem to be doing that, Meyers and company will check the Secretary of State’s records to measure the actual impact.

    Interesting. Looks like Debbie Stafford is not alone, and the personal attacks on her didn’t attract any to the Cons party.

    1. Apparently, requiring stamps for a mail-in ballot is not considered a poll tax – it is the norm for mail-in ballots across the country.  The argument being that you don’t need to buy a stamp, you can just drop it off at the designated drop-off point(s).  Addressing the point on your blog, people worried about the cost of a $0.41 stamp aren’t going to be driving their SUV to the courthouse – they’ll be walking or taking public transit.

      As to the legality of businesses providing stamps for the ballots, that’s a tougher issue.  It probably falls under “GOTV” efforts, which have looser regulations than some other political actions.  Regardless, 41Вў isn’t exactly a significant “bribe”, and most courts would probably pass on the opportunity to prosecute.  I have much worse nightmares about the possibilities of having people filling out ballots under the “guiding presence” of their employer or other person/organization-of-influence.

    2.   You can walk it down to the clerk’s office for free, you can drive down to the clerk’s office (pay for gas and parking, whnich would be more that $0.41), or you could take the RTD (which also would be more than $0.41).
        And next Nov., you could take half the day off from work and wait four hours in line at a voting center.
        Paying the $0.41 is looking like a bargain.

      1. My wife always has stamps around so no big deal for me. But before I was married? I never had stamps in the house. I was lucky if I remembered to pay the electric bill (I’m terrible on details). So pre-marriage I could have easily have ended up not getting my ballot in because of this.

        It’s not the $0.41 – it’s having a stamp in the house…

        1. I think the big thing about the poll tax was that it was designed to be prohibitively expensive. The 73Вў (or whatever it is, I don’t think it’s as cheap as 41Вў) is an amount any interested voter can scrape together.

          1. Granted, that would be about $10.00 today but it was not something that priced out the poor.

            But yes, it’s voter supression of households where everyone is disorganized. You might be able to argue it supresses the male vote which makes it Dem friendly – take that Ann Coulter 🙂

            1. Mississippi poverty was a lot deeper for blacks in the 1950s than for anyone in Denver today. $2.50 might have been the cost of a day’s worth of groceries for a whole family then. I’d have to do some analysis (requiring research I’m not willing to do right now, so take this for what it’s worth) but I bet that $2.50 had a much bigger impact then than $10 (or whatever it’s worth today, adjusting for inflation).

              And that tends to support my argument anyway – we’re talking about a price that’s 4-7% of what you’re talking about, and that’s if we use the $10 figure as accurate.

              But you’ve stuck it to the Coultergeist again, and for that you deserve a medal.

              (BTW, I think you and some others here might have finally persuaded me to give up my long time unaffiliated status and register as a Dem. They’ll go easy on the noob, won’t they?)

    3. There’s already been discussion on this, but here’s my take:

      The optional cost of the stamp to mail the ballot is like any other cost that might be incurred incidentally when voting.  If a voter happens to pass one of the 20 or so (in Denver) drop-off locations when they are open, they can vote for free.  These locations are going to be open for a week or more.  If they can’t get to one of those, they can choose to mail the ballot.  Anyone voting absentee by mail would be required to pay the postage as well (e.g. shut-ins who can’t make it to the polling place).  Don’t forget that traveling to any polling place and waiting in line is a cost, certainly in time, and possibly in money due to lost wages, child care, etc.  Having said all that, I wouldn’t be opposed to a law requiring the post office to deliver returned ballots for free.  Or maybe mailing out the ballots could include a surcharge paid by the entity holding the election to pay for their return.  Then all the taxpayers would be subsidising the election equally.

      Mail elections seem to have worked well in places like Oregon.  I doubt they are a panacea, but they don’t seem to have the dire problems sometimes predicted (e.g. rampant voter fraud).

    4. From Hillary Hall (Boulder County Clerk):

      The CRS (Colorado Revised Statutes) 1-1-13-720 does not allow for any person (natural or business) to provide anything of monetary value (stamps included) free to electors.  CRS 1-7.5-107 4b states it is the responsibility of the elector to provide postage.

      So it’s a state law implementing the postage poll tax requirement.

        1. But here in Boulder there are just 3 locations for the entire county. What bugs me about this is the assumption that everyone has stamps at hand. Yes I do as do most well-off families.

          But many singles, students, poor, etc don’t. I remember when I was in college and sometimes a week would go buy after I wrote a letter (back before the Internet) and when I finally went to get a stamp.

          I wish the people who created and implement this would realize that not all households run like theirs. It’s not the $0.41 – it’s the fact that many won’t get a stamp in time who would otherwise vote.

          thanks – dave

          1. Ballots are delivered to the Election Divison even if they do not have adequate postage….but that fact is not widely publicized nor was the amount of postage necessary included in the materials sent out by the Election Divison……..

            The race is not to the swift…etc…but that is the way to bet…

    1. How many charges of illegal fundraising will be made in this political season?  Dozens, at least.  If you want to make this an issue, at least wait till it is an issue.  Wait to find out if the charges are valid or, as you stated simply “…a partisan attack”.

      I’m sure you didn’t intend it but some people might make this kind of comment as a passive/aggressive attempt to cast doubt on a candidate but appearing to be supportive.  Sort of troll behavior.

      1. I posted it.  I think the LA Times is a pretty good source, If it had been the NY Post I wouldn’t have posted it.  The FEC action is based on information in that article.  It is a real issue if what the Times reported is true.

        As to the Troll issue.

        I am not a Hillary supporter (Obama maybe edwards-I like Joe too), I have never claimed to be, but I would vote for her before I voted for any republican in this election.

        that said I would hate to get through the primary season with this not being an issue only for it to pop up as an october surprise.  When combined with her lobbyist cash, Hsu and some of the fundraising problems during her husband’s administration, it makes a powerful narrative and takes away one of Democrats best lines of attacks against GOP corruption.  If she is the nominee we have already given up the Iraq issue (she wants to continue Bush’s policies–only smarter according to Chris Mathews), and the Iran issue (She believes in supporting Bush and the neocon hyper militant foriegn policy).

        On issues of trade and immigration I don’t even know what her view is.  I bet they are fairly pro business (so are mine) and not in line with the mainline of the party, but she hasn’t really told us what they are.  Healthcare–hmmm she failed the first time, did little on the issue since 1993 and takes tons of money from the healthcare industry, the drug companies and insurers seem to know where she stands they don’t spend money unless they are buying something.

        Experience? How can she claim experience derived from being first lady if she doesn’t release papers reflecting how she influenced policy.  She doesn’t have to of course, but then she doesn’t get any credit for having experience.

        I’m no troll I just am concerned she will run the table in the primary without a serious test and then get killed in the fall.  Though I do not relish her as president–the supreme court teaters on the brink of ChistianoFascism (turnabout is fairplay-I don’t like the term, but how do think Muslims feel about Islamofascist) and I would vote for a dead golden retriever with a D behind their name before I voted for the GOP on this go around.

    1. I wish I could verify the provenance of this tape.

      If this is accurate and we are only going to leave when the Iraqi’s can take care of their own security–we are never going to leave.

    2. you can get a fighting force like that too !  My god, if these guys can’t master jumping jacks I hate to think of what they’d do in armed combat.  Good to know the fiscal hawks at the W admin are squeezing the most out of each tax dollar.

    3. and I can’t recall one situation where I needed to do calisthenics to repel an enemy. 

      The ethnocentrist bigotry exhibited in these comments is a better indicator of why we are failing in Iraq. 

      1. The truth is, it’s a cluster**** over there, and it’s not all ethnocentrist bigotry over here. The calisthenics, I’m sure anyone who went through boot camp will tell you, calisthenics are part and parcel of police, army and/or security forces training. Now, there’s the army, the police, and various “third force” training going on by both U.S. military trainers and private security trainers.

        “It is like raising a crocodile,” Saad Yousef al-Muttalibi, told the Washington Times when asked about the various “third force” training schemes. The Al-Maliki cabinet member, who is in charge of negotiating reconciliation agreements, continued: “It is fine when it is a baby, but when it is big, you can’t keep it in the house.”

        There’s a great article here:http://www.corpwatch… that I found very credible and disturbing.

        Bottom line…..the cluster**** will continue for a g_dawful long time! Thanks Bush and all his enablers.

        1. I do not know whereof I speak;
          the following is just me guessing. 

          But my guess is that
          the Jaish al-Mahdi does not put its soldiers through this sort of exercise,
          nor would I expect the peshmerga to emphasize “jumping jacks.” 

          They have a rather different culture. 
          We are trying to make these guys into American soldiers,
          and that is both futile and inappropriate. 

          What’s really important for a military force ?
          Be able to move, shoot and communicate. 


          We train our military forces for global power projection. 
          Calisthenics make sense in that context. 

          Iraqis are being trained to protect their own local province. 
          Their training needs are different. 


          And yes, I have pulled DI duty at Camp George West,
          back when it belonged to the COARNG. 
          I got the concept about breaking recruits down
          before building them back up again. 

          Not applicable to the MNSTC-I mission. 

          1. That, jumping-jack ability aside, there are Iraqi units that we’ve been training (and feeding) for almost 4 1/2 years now, and Sir Robin would definitely *not* like to have them knock on his door at night.

            That’s not all Iraqi forces, to be sure – it’s not even close to a majority.  But it’s proof of concept.  Enough so that anyone who takes a lesson not from *that* proof, but from some silly youtube video of recruits and imbues upon *it* some greater meaning and prescience is either a hack or an idiot.

            Or an ignoramus.

                    1. Certainly not about Iraqi police that are mostly ineffective in more time than we won WWII.

          2. “What’s really important for a military force ?
            Be able to move, shoot and communicate.”

            Hence the calisthenics!  If they are doing jumping jacks, push ups, marching, etc. does that not put them in better shape to move faster ?

  2. What if they built the biggest, most expensive (though apparently not habitable in the foreseeable future, like everything else contracted to the war profiteers) embassy on the planet and nobody came?

    1. .
      one astute FSO pointed out that,
      if this were anywhere else,
      at the current levels of violence and chaos,
      the embassy would be closed and the staff withdrawn. 

      Foreign Service Officers are not in Iraq to conduct diplomacy.
      They are there to tutor bureaucrats in the various Iraqi government ministries and Prime Minister’s office,
      and to provide mentoring to provincial and local governments. 

      So, these FSO’s think they should not be put at risk for chores that ought to be contracted out. 

      1. The perfect example of why the State Department sucks so bad and is set to lose at the wars we need to fight and win in the modern world.

        Everyone claims to encourage and support diplomacy to further our international goals – yet when you actually *ask* the diplomats to do just that, they wet themselves like the bureaucratic weenies they are.

        They’re instruments of national power.  It’s time they grow up and act like it.

        1. what’s going on in Iraq right now is combat.
          Its a war.

          Its silly to have the State Department or USAID even in the country. 

          There’s no diplomacy going on,
          and if there were,
          why not conduct it in Amman ?

          1. Only in the broadest use of the term.  The Battle of the Bulge this is not.

            Indeed, the “soft power” is far more important at this point than the “hard power.”  The military’s done its job – Al Qaeda is done.  Now is the time to help the Iraqi government rebuild its country to maintain the regime’s legitimacy.  Which is the whole key of a counterinsurgency.

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