DEBATING VOTE BY MAIL. The Prospect put out a special report this month on Oregon's system of all-mail voting, which is serving as a model for efforts to spread mail voting in other states across the country. We then invited six experts and advocates, including former Oregon secretary of state Phil Keisling and avowed mail-voting opponent Curtis Gans of American University, to debate the issues raised in the report. The ensuing exchange was both lively and, given the subject matter, remarkably heated.
THE COLBERT QUESTION: MADAM LEADER SPEAKS.TNR is to be commended for reviving the epic Stephen Colbert funniness debate for another week. But as James Wood puts it, "[i]t is time -- it is always time -- for some literary criticism." Wood's take is insufficiently pro-Colbert by my standards but insightful nonetheless. (See this post at Matt's place for a choice excerpt.) The Colbert debate living on for another day gives me the excuse to finally mention Nancy Pelosi's comment at a breakfast meeting with journalists that the Prospect held on Friday.
MORE ON DEAN.Kevin Drumaccuses me of coming down on the Rahm Emmanuel side in the great Dean-Emmanuel showdown. That's not quite true. I was just pointing out that, if Democrats lose in a couple crucial seats for lack of money, the ground has been laid for Dean to take the blame. In fact, my position, laid out when Noam Scheiber (who's got more current thoughts on this subject here) wrote this story in April, is the same as Drum's: This is the wrong story.
DURBIN DOES HEALTH. I just got back from hearing Dick Durbin talk health care at The Center for American Progress (which has really stepped up the quality of its free sandwiches). His speech was something of a eulogy for Bill Frist's "health care week," which saw the GOP try to score a few "doing something" points on health care by debating, and then defeating, a variety of misguided bills, from tort reform to Mike Enzi's attempt to destroy all state-based insurance regulations. As for Durbin, he's allied with Blanche Lincoln to craft legislation creating a Small Business Health Benefits Program modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
NO MORE 269-269. To follow up on Matt�s post, The Hotline (subscription only) notes that the expansion of the House to 437 seats would also mean that the Electoral College would grow by one, bringing its total to 539 (the Electoral College now counts D.C. as having one representative and two senators, for some reason). This would put an end to the dreaded 269-269 scenario, whereby the House would decide who the next President would be. All in all, this plan sounds like a good idea.
BETTER AND BETTER. I'm glad that the U.S. House of Representatives looks like it will consent to giving me and my fellow Districters some representation in their fine halls, but I'm in some ways even more excited about the details of the plan. The general idea, long floated, has been to give DC a member and also add a member to the Utah delegation, thus preserving the partisan balance. But there was concern about opening up Utah for redistricting mischief. So the plan calls for the addition of an at-large member just on top of Utah's existing three congressional districts.
AUTHENTICITY IS STUPID. It's worth adding a more general point to Greg's post on today's awesome David Broder-Joe Kleintwofer: Authenticity is a pointless thing to care about in politics. Obsessing over the personal motivations and supposed core beings of individual political actors is, in fact, close to the opposite of what politics is actually all about.
NON-DENIAL DENIALS. "Bush Denies Massive Spying on U.S. Citizens" -- good headline. So maybe everyone in a tizzy about this morning's USA Today blockbuster is all worked up over nothing? Maybe the liberal media got it wrong again? But no. Bush didn't actually deny massive spying on U.S. citizens. He said the government isn't "mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans," but as the article goes on to note, he "did not directly address the collection of phone records."
TODAY IN CORRUPTION.The New York Times' big piece on the FBI's myriad public corruption investigations makes the interesting observation that 9-11 actually helped to shift the bureau's focus more toward public integrity, as it was an area for which the FBI had almost exclusive authority and provided the agency an opportunity to maximize impact at a time when personnel all across federal law enforcement bureaucracies was being shifted to counterterrorism.