17 September, 2006

Newt's 11-Step Program For Republican Rehabilitation

Newt Gingrich has a plan. An 11-step program for Republican rehabilitation this fall.

On the National Review's Web site the other day, Gingrich had piece on his 11-step plan for the GOP to keep control of Congress in November.

It centers on (raise your hand if you've heard this one before) a "values" agenda.

Remember that very useful expression from days gone by. The one before the days of CDs and digital music downloads. Something about a "broken record."

(For those of you too young to know what I'm talking about, music was once played by placing grooved vinyl on a spinning platform and running a diamond "needle" over it to pick up the vibrations. When one of these pieces of vinyl, called records, would get scratched, the needle would stick and the same words of the song would be repeated over and over again until the needle was lifted off the vinyl. Hence the phrase "like a broken record").

Perhaps its time to lift Newt's needle?


Meanwhile, somewhere on the other side of the spectrum, The New Republic is running an editorial this week saying it's time for the moderate Republican to enter the dustbin of history (along with vinyl music makers perhaps). TNR says, rather than providing a voice of reason in Congress, moderate Republicans are being used by the right wing of their party, either wittingly or not, to carry the party's water.


Much is being said and written about whether the Democrats will be able to take over one, or both, houses of Congress this fall and the ebb and flow on that question has been changing a bit in the past few weeks, leaning slightly more toward "no."

But what about politics on the state level?

Political analyst Stu Rothenberg, on his Rothenberg Report site, says the Democrats have a solid shot at holding more than half of the governships nationwide when all is said and done in November.

The Republicans hold 28 governships right now, so the Democrats would have to flip at least four.

While such a win wouldn't have the same immediate clout for the Dems as a House takeover, Rothenberg points out that gaining control of the governors' mansions could be important in the latter half of any decade, when things like redistricting can be influenced by who's in control on a state level as the new governors' terms slide into the next decade and new census figures come in.

According to all recent polls, Democrat Eliot Spitzer holds a commanding lead over Republican John Faso in New York, where - as we all know - a Republican currently resides in the governor's mansion.


After the fiasco in Florida in 2000, Congress passed a law to help (re: mandate that) states upgrade their voting systems.

The required changes are being implemented nationwide this year (except in New York - which we'll get to later).

The Washington Post has piece today about fears of major problems at the polls in November, as electroinic voting systems are put to use for the first time in most places.

In a polarized political climate, in which elections are routinely marked by litigation and allegations of incompetent administration or outright tampering, some worry that voting problems could cast a Florida-style shadow over this fall's midterm elections. -- Washington Post

Probems have already been encountered during the primary season, in Maryland, Ohio and Illinois in particular, the paper reports.

Perhaps it's a good thing our government here in New York is as dysfunctional as it often seems to be. Because the state's elections board did not act quickly enough to sanction the types of electronic voting machines that each individual county could adopt, we'll still be using the old lever-and-curtain machines we all know so well.


In New York, the debate about voting machines centered whether the state should use scanners or touch-screen machines. Scanners electronically scan and count a ballot that is hand marked by the voter - and printouts are made to make the vote verifiable. The other machines, the most infamouse being the Diebold machine, work like ATM machines, where voters touch a computer screen to record their vote.

On Web site of The Nation earlier this week, one blogger posted a couple of examples (complete with video) of how these ATM-like machines have been easily "hacked." It's worth a look.


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