Live-Blogging the Indiana Dems JJ Dinner

Just a heads up - over at the All America PAC (Sen. Evan Bayh's leadership PAC) blog, we're live-blogging the Indiana Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner for the next few hours.

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Ok, Here's a Big Idea: Citizen Coupons and a Government By the People

Digby points to this diary by thereisnospoon on how the right-wing mainstreams their ideas and says we can learn from it.  I agree.  And I also agree that politics is about ideas.

So here's a big idea: Citizen Coupons.  Every government agency should dedicate a certain percentage of its payroll to non-employees who contributes to its work through criticism and identification of errors.  

There are two basic parts to this program.  One, there needs to be ombudsmen for every public agency who blog and track complaints and compliance.  These ombudsmen should serve single terms so as to be immune from political pressure.  Two, these ombudsmen should be allowed a 'bounty budget' where effective critics are rewarded with small amounts of money for answering relevant questions, coding necessary pieces of infrastructure, identifying security vulnerabilities, or coming up with cost-effective public improvements.

By creating a revenue flow from government to active citizens, you can effectively and instantly fund billions of dollars of citizen journalism, real citizen journalism that has an impact because it is designed to.  This also destroys the insiders who run government, because it empowers citizens to help bureaucrats and hold them accountable, and it will embolden trusted community leaders through their blogs to criticize insider lobbyists and bad legislation before it goes through the system.

You can also get around the lobbying problem, since these citizens will have strong incentives to weigh in against lobbyists who screw things up.

Anyway, the basic idea here is that the country doesn't need another think tank to help us run government.  What we need is a new approach to government, where revenue flows, ideas and work are shared among employees, citizens, political leaders, and media outlets that do public spirited work.  I bet I'm not the first person to come up with this.  And I'm sure there are a million reasons this is a bad idea.  But it is a big idea.

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Contact: Michael P. Capita IV - Campaign Manager

Committee to Elect David Slavick State Representative

Tel: 570-759-9436


Slavick Shows He Has Vision For Columbia County's Future

David Slavick the Democratic Party favorite for the 109Th Legislative District State Representative slot has proved he is a contender with his aggressive television commercial run.

Slavick a 2004 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law understands the important role television plays in reaching out to voters. He has used this important medium to get his message of reform out to the people of Columbia County. To learn more about David, visit his web-site at

"The people of Columbia County are ready for someone with vision to represent them in Harrsiburg. While on the campaign trail, I have talked to hundreds of voters and the thing I have heard over and over is that the voters are tired of politics as usual in Harrisburg. The voters understand that leadeship takes more than just being a nice guy and that without fresh blood in the legislature politics as usual will continue in Harrsiburg. I am using my commercials to introduce myself to the voters and to let them know I have the vision that it takes to bring prosperity to our district." Slavick said.

Commercial text:

My name is David Slavick. I am a Democratic Candidate for State Representative in the 109Th Legislative District.

I have fresh ideas for reviving our local economy and bringing higher paying jobs to our area to build and sustain a bright future, while helping our older citizens sustain a way of life we can all enjoy together.

I am looking forward to meeting with you to discuss my ideas, and would be proud to represent you in Harrisburg.

This message was authorized and paid for by the candidate.

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Are Little Dutch Boys Good for the Country?

Another day, another leak. It seems our society sprouts leaks faster than a hybrid Dutch Boy/bionic octopus could plug them. They come from all sides and each is controversial in its own way. Valerie Plame gets outed. Sherron Watkins tattles on Enron. CIA officers freelance leaks to dampen poor decisions. White House rats on CIA folks for revenge and so on.

This spurting swirl of leaks is full of classic moral questions. When's a leak justified? Does it matter if the leak breaks a law? What do we do when we find a leaker? Does ultimately being correct justify a lenient punishment? I'm here to tell you that even though I'm omnipotent, I' m not sure what the answer is. However, I do know that anyone who sees this as a black and white, merely academic exercise is driving around with the lights off and the blinders on.

The recent CIA leak is a case in point.

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The Folly of Impeachment

Several of the mailing lists that I'm publicize the prospect of impeaching the President (and as often as not, the Vice President, too) for "high crimes and misdemeanors". I've gotten into some pretty sharply-worded debates over the subject, because I happen to think that impeachment is the wrong solution, at least now, for two reasons: policy-wise and politics-wise. Rather than bore you with my take, however, I'm going to distill Josh Marshall's take that I saw in one of his Hill columns, since it's more elegant and pithy than what I could come up with.

It helps to remember that impeachment, no matter what kind of constitutional law construction you use, is inherently a political act. In essence, it's capital punishment for political crimes, since the only penalty for conviction of an impeachable offense is removal from office. We saw this in its rawest, most primal form during the Clinton impeachment. However, in the other two ocassions in which impeachment has been seriously discussed or brought to bear (1867, Andrew Johnson; 1973-74, Richard Nixon), the situation was clearly political as well.

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