27 June 2008

Thirty Seconds Over Doolittle

By Thomas Gangale
9 October 2006

With eight-term California Congressman John Doolittle sinking in the polls, key figures in the GOP (Greedy Old Perverts) recently flew into the Sacramento area on a rescue mission. Dozens of high donors turned out for the $2000 a plate event. About a dozen of those, who happened to be hungry and wanted some food on their plate, paid an additional $2000 for a smoked weenie on a toothpick. A cheese cube was 50 cents extra... if you pre-qualified.

"It's not about the money," famed lobbyist "Casino Jack" Abramoff told a cheering audience. "It's about access."

"Absolutely!" agreed fellow California Congressman Richard Pombo, who is facing his own tough reelection race. "John even treats his closest friends this way. Everybody has to pay for access. His own children have to pony up to get an appointment to see John." He shook his head in admiration. "By God, that's integrity!"

"Anyway, everyone knows you can't buy votes," former Texas Congressman Tom Delay grinned photogenically.

"I've known John since he first got into politics," said former Florida Congressman Mark Foley, principal cosponsor of No Child's Behind Left. "He was a cute kid. I'm here to give him a boost."

"I want the record to show that I am cooperating fully with this campaign," retiring Ohio Congressman Bob Ney declared to thunderous applause.

Former California Congressman "Duke" Cunningham, who was unable to appear in person due to a previous commitment lasting the next eight years, was patched in by video link. "We are here to lend our reputations to John. We want everyone to know that John Doolittle is one of us. Always has been. John will always have a place in our midst." Unfortunately, Cunningham's message suffered due to bad acoustics at his location.

"To call John 'Doolittle' is really doing him an injustice," Delay said. "As far as I know, John's done nothing at all." At that point, Delay covered the microphone while Ney whispered in his ear. After conferring briefly with Abramoff as well, Delay back-pedalled, "On the advice of counsel, I wish to retract my previous statement. I was making a joke, and I wouldn't want my remarks to be misinterpreted. There are a few things that John may have done, and for which he may be indicted."

The audience was also treated to appearances by members of the hastily-formed "Veterans Against Veterans" committee, who lauded Doolittle for having one of the worst voting records on veterans' appropriations. They also wowed the crowd with vague and unsubstantiated accusations against Doolittle's Democratic opponent. "I'd like to know how the hell Charlie Brown got his Distinguished Flying Cross... dogfighting with the Red Baron?"

"Charlie Brown can't even pronounce Vi-et-nam!" another member of the group shouted. "He calls it 'VEET-nam,' so that makes me question whether he was ever in-country. For all I know, he was stateside the whole time, ducking the Air National Guard and snorting coke with George W... well, as I was saying...."

With this, a sullen muttering rippled through the crowd. A third veteran quickly stepped into the breach. "Don't pay Slick much attention, folks! He's probably just having one of his PTSD flashbacks. Thanks to John Doolittle, VA services aren't what they used to be."

He was joined by a fourth brother-in-arms. "We had a saying in the military: 'There's always ten percent that doesn't get the word.' Veterans Against Veterans stands up for that principle. We're all ten-percenters, and we're damn proud if it!"

At this point, the mood began to lighten again. Julie Doolittle, the congressman's wife, supervised the serving of refreshments. Several people remarked on the fact that their glasses appeared to be precisely 85% full. "Well, there are the ten-percenters, and then there are the fifteen-percenters," she quipped breezily. "Don't you know? I always take fifteen percent off the top!"

John came over and put his arm around Julie. "That's right! In the old days, Julie used to cut my hair, and she always took fifteen percent off the top!"

Casino Jack joined in the fun. "This one always gets a few titters," he smirked, barely containing his glee. "Didja hear about the campaign consultant who decided to go to medical school and specialize in breast reductions? He always took...."

So the event turned out to be a huge success. How could it not? It probably won't save the Doolittle campaign, but John and Julie are laughing all the way to the bank. Seriously, folks.

25 June 2008

The Whole Man

By Thomas Gangale
Petaluma Argus-Courier
Petaluma, California
27 April 2006

In the Air Force, we used to joke about its four great myths: "the real Air Force," because wherever you were stationed was somehow unrepresentative of the service as a whole; "the regular crew chief," because anyone you went to for a solution was not in a position to provide it; "the big picture," because no matter the pay grade, no one was ever high enough to see it; and "the whole man," because no one had the requisite breadth and depth of skills and experiences to qualify for this description. It was axiomatic that you could serve an entire career and never come across any of these things.

A few days ago, I attended a campaign rally for Charles Brown, LtCol, USAF (Ret.), one of the "Band of Brothers," now 72 strong, veterans who are running as Democrats to take the Hill and win back Congress for the people of the United States. Also speaking at the event was Max Cleland, Capt, US Army (Ret.), former senator from Georgia. I had seen him only once on TV, when he had been head of the Veterans Administration under President Jimmy Carter, and I remembered the astonishing sight of a triple-amputee playing basketball. But on this day, I got to meet him and to hear him speak, and I was astonished several more times and on much deeper levels. The first surprise was to see Charlie lean over Max and put his arms around him, and my first thought was that Charlie was going to lift him out of his wheelchair... surely not! But no, it was a hug, a hug of comradeship, one Vietnam veteran to another.

The second jolt was when it came time for me to meet the senator, to shake his hand, and to mouth the conditioned-reflex platitude of what an honor it was, and he leaned forward and pulled my arm toward him, and I realized that I was about to hug him, too. Does your senator hug you? Driving home from the rally at the Fair Oaks VFW post and the fundraising reception afterward, it occurred to me that with only his left hand remaining to him as his primary means of touching the world, it makes sense that Max compensates by pulling the world to his breast and enfolding it with his soul.

But I have jumped ahead of my story, for it was an absolute joy to hear Max speak, and to spend some time becoming acquainted with him. Here was a man of great warmth, humor, compassion, and wisdom. Here was a man who had been blown to bits serving his country in a dubious cause, and who had never stopped loving it or serving it. Here was a man, who in the prime of youth and vigor, must have spent some time wondering whether he was going to live, perhaps some time wishing that he hadn't, then some time struggling to build meaning into whatever life he had left.

Mindful that we live in a time not only when, as George Orwell predicted, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength, but under the malevolent manipulations of Karl Rove and the like, falsehood is truth, courage is cowardice, and loyalty is treason, I can do no more than to let Max Cleland's record of service speak for itself. As to the man himself, I can say that as I got to know him, my dominant impression was of a man whose strength of spirit has healed his soul and triumphed over the loss of much of his body. Incredibly, the more time I spent in his presence, the less noticeable became his physical disability. At length I realized that there really had been only three myths, for I had finally met "the whole man."

Welcome home, Max.

24 June 2008

Southern Strategy

By Thomas Gangale
12 June 2003

If you’re one of those whose eyes glaze over the moment someone starts to tell you about his dream, skip on to the next item without reading further.

I've been cautioned not to work too hard at this international relations and political science stuff. Perhaps, when the alarm wakes you out of a dead sleep at 5am and a few seconds earlier you were been riding around in the back of a limo with Richard Nixon, it's time too heed that advice.

In my dreams, as the saying goes, I was engaged in conversation with Tricky Dick, still alive but looking a hundred years old (which would be about right), and several other dignitaries in the limo. At one point, Pat Nixon, who was riding up toward the front, turned around to ask me if the president was still smarter than a Marine guard and his dog, alluding to an intruder incident that had been mishandled by the official security.

I responded, "I wouldn't care to comment on the Marine, ma'am, but the dog still has a way to go."

There was an awkward silence.

I had tried to make a joke, putting the Marine's intelligence below that of the dog. No former Air Force officer would have missed a chance to disparage the Marines, I'm sure. But in the process I had also implicitly compared the president's possibly waning mental faculties to the dog's intelligence in a manner that was certainly less than a ringing endorsement.

Thus the awkward silence. If Nixon doesn’t think it's funny, it isn't funny.

I had to come up with something to recover gracefully, so I continued, this time with a hint of a drawl, "Howevah, as a yellah dawg Democrat, Ah'd still vote foah the dawg."

The ancient Nixon laughed. He knew a Southern strategy when he heard one.

22 June 2008

An orderly presidential election process

By Todd Rokita
Indianapolis Star
22 June 2008

Although Americans have turned their attention to the heated race building toward November, we still have many lessons to learn from the history-making 2008 presidential primary.

For such a nation-shaping decision, the method through which we select our candidates for commander in chief is in dire need of improvement. Our primary process is too front-loaded -- 34 states plus the District of Columbia voted in January or February, more than three times the number that did so in 2000. This not only creates a prolonged campaign, our current primary schedule also runs the risk of disenfranchising almost half the population.

In recent years, a number of plans for reform have emerged, such as a national primary, the "Delaware Plan" or a graduated random presidential primary system. Each strategy shows promise, but none provides a comprehensive solution that will ensure an equitable way to select hopefuls for our nation's highest office.

As president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, I'm an advocate of our own solution to the problem -- the NASS Rotating Regional Primaries Plan.


19 June 2008

American Plan Support

By Dwayne Hunn
People’s Lobby Executive Director

In 2008 almost every state played an interesting and, in the Democrats race, significant role in determining our presidential candidates. Excepting maybe Iowans and New Hampshirites, most Americans, who follow how we determine who will be the last suits standing to be CEO of what was once the world’s most respected power, do not think we have a fair, logical nominating process.

So how do we devise a better nominating process?

Well, for balance you’ll probably need someone who is a registered RepubDemoInde, or at least who has been registered with the Republican, Democratic, and Independent parties. He or she should also have some military training, so as to develop and stand by a disciplined approach to problem solving. Then, he/she should also be heavily trained in the math and sciences, so as to support a fairer nominating plan with math and graphs.

And guess what? Thomas Gangale, author of From the Primaries to the Polls: How to Repair America's Broken Presidential Nomination Process fits all those criteria. He Has Been an Independent, Republican, and Democratic. He is a scientist who loves math. He produces plenty of graphs.

To fix the nominating process, Gangale warms us up as he mixes it up. In each nominating stage, he juggles the small states and different regions to get as close as possible to fair and even. Consequently, an unknown with little money has a chance to establish himself and perhaps move up into the medium-sized juggled states to see whether he can compete there too. Gangale has brought common sense, fairness, science, and math to give us a much fairer process.

Just because you may have enjoyed the 2008 nominating process doesn't mean we shouldn't fix a nominating highway that is dated, dented, and needs more than just pothole repair.

Read Gangale’s book. Then write your Congressperson, so that they can vote to bring a saner nominating process to your hometown next time. With all the challenges our political process has lined up on our horizon, America needs all the common sense it can garner in its nominating process.

18 June 2008

Bush's Fun House Mirror Vision for Space

by Thomas Gangale
18 June 2008

Monday's Office of Management and Budget statement opposing H.R. 6063, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, is as full of deliberate distortions as a fun house mirror. Naturally, it sticks up for the President's "Vision" to end the Space Shuttle program as quickly as possible, despite the fact that the Administration never came up with a plan to keep American astronauts commuting to the mostly-American International Space Station during a five-year gap while a new manned spacecraft is developed. It also sticks up for the President’s decision not to fly an already-built billion-dollar instrument.

Congress intends to restore three Space Shuttle flights. Since the bill anticipates that the three flights will occur in 2010, it is not "effectively superseding the 2010 Shuttle retirement date that is a critical step to enabling successful development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle." The OMB statement is clearly false, given that throughout 2007, NASA's schedule held firmly to a retirement date of July 2010, and this year NASA actually pulled that date ahead to April 2010. What are the odds that in the remaining eight months of 2010, NASA could get three "additional" missions off the pad?

Not bad, I'd say... especially since two of them have been on the launch schedule for four years.

NASA's Consolidated Launch Manifest lists ULF-4 and ULF-5 as contingency flights, under review, to establish a six-person crew capability on the ISS. Gee, might it make sense to fly a couple of shuttle missions to double the size of the ISS crew from 2010 to 2016 and beyond, and do a lot more science during that period than three people can do? I guess so! Also, there's nothing new that Congress is adding in this bill... except money; it is only restoring what Bush's "Vision" forced NASA to roll back from "no foolin', we're gonna fly 'em" missions to "contingency" missions, meaning "it sure would be nice if Congress would give us the money." These two missions were part of the baseline flight manifest at least as far back as 2004, around the time that Bush was off somewhere having his "Vision." So, just what exactly are the risks of turning contingency missions that were originally baseline missions back into baseline missions again, other than to the Administration's credibility? The bill provides new money to fly these missions, rather than robbing the Orion program to pay for them, so why would this delay "the operational capability of the Orion CEV?"

The other "additional" mission isn't really an addition, either. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer cost a billion dollars to build, so maybe spending a few million dollars to actually fly the thing would be a prudent use of taxpayers' money, huh? How much science are we getting out of it while it sits in a clean room?

Back in December, the Fox Business Channel brought me into a San Francisco studio at 4am to have a goofy debate with Ed Hudgins, formerly of the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, now the executive director an Ayn Rand cult called the Atlas Society. I wonder how long this guy can keep stepping to the right before he falls off the planet. The occasion was the scheduled launch of STS-122, which at one time was intended to carry the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the ISS. Naturally, it being "fair and balanced" Fox, it was an ambush. The moderator let Hudgins rant repetitious slogans about the grounding of the spectrometer as an example of government waste, and as I was gearing up to verbally beat Hudgins' arguments to a bloody pulp, what do you know, Fox was suddenly out of time. Even the studio technician was startled. "Man, that was a hard 'out!'" Anyway, I confidently predicted on-camera that Congress would come up with the money to fly the spectrometer, and it has made a brave beginning to do that. Gangale 1, Hudgins 0.

Of course, the NASA authorization bill has only been reported out of the House Science Committee, so it has a long way to go before it reaches the President's desk. Still, if these courageous provisions survive in the bill, a presidential veto of a NASA bill would be a shocking historical precedent. I say to Congress, hang tough, you're doing the right thing with the people's money, call his bluff.

However the NASA authorization bill ends up, funny thing about these "government is the problem" libertarians... if the government writes off a billion-dollar spectrometer, they call it waste; when the private sector writes down a hundred billion dollars in sub-prime loans, they call it a business decision. Could this be why Atlas shrugged?

17 June 2008

Well-Regulated Arms

By Thomas Gangale
17 June 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to see a gun nut rant about the Second Amendment passed around via email. It was little more than a string of sound bites thrown together in no particular order, which is a poor substitute for a logical progression of statements in support of a conclusion. In any case, one of these slogans was the less-than-clever rhetorical question, "What part of 'shall not be infringed' do you not understand?" I forwarded this and the whole set of goofiness to a few people, with my own commentary.

I would like to ask, "What part of 'well-regulated Militia' does the NRA not understand?" Conveniently ignored is the concept of regulation, which is explicit in the Second Amendment. Furthermore, there is the premise of a "Militia being necessary for the security of a free State," which defines the context of "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." The Second Amendment establishes the right of a free state to maintain its security by providing for itself the capability for organized use of force in the form of a "well-regulated Militia;" it says absolutely nothing about individual citizens providing for their own security through the use of force. To claim that an assault rifle is necessary to the security of a free citizen is a ludicrous misconstruction. It should also be understood that the Second Amendment, along with the other nine in the Bill of Rights, were written and ratified with the intent of limiting federal power over the states; accordingly, states reserve the right to regulate their militias, and to regulate the conditions under which its citizens may keep and bear arms for the purpose of maintaining the state militias.

Rights must always be understood in a specific context; they are never absolutes, because each government--federal, state, and local--and each citizen is a sovereign, and if sovereignty were absolute, there would be anarchy. Anyone who fails to understand this is most certainly unarmed in the intellectual sense, and ought to be disarmed in the interest of the security of a free state. Anyone who does not wish to be considered in this category can begin by reading and comprehending one complete sentence in its historical and legal context: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

One response I received was, "I've been educated and proud to be a gun owner. I believe you forgot 'Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People!'"

Great, I thought. Here's a guy whose only reading material is on the freeway at rush hour.

Yes, you certainly dazzle me with your intellect by repeating what you read off of someone's car bumper. I'm happy for you that you are a gun owner and that you are very proud of that! I happen to own a firearm as well, but I don't go around patting myself on the butt about it, I simply exercise my constitutional right quietly. What you apparently fail to understand is that this right, like all rights, has limitations, because other people have rights as well. Their rights end where yours begin, don't they? Then the reverse is also true.

But really, there's nothing like a nuclear weapon for home defense. I separated from active duty at the end of the Cold War, when a number of strategic arms treaties were negotiated. I found it incredibly easy to convince neighbors that I, a former air force officer, had been entrusted with basing a nuclear warhead in my garage to avoid it being reported as required by the treaties. If you ever saw the clutter in my garage, you would immediately realize that there was no possibility of either verifying or falsifying this claim. It was my grandparents' house, so there was stuff all the way back to the 1930s. No one threw anything away during the Great Depression, nor afterward either. The Site Selection Team's inspection report gave it an "outstanding" rating. For some reason, during training for the program, we didn't refer to the warheads themselves, but to the keys, I suppose because it sounded so innocuous. During the Cold War, the nuclear strategy was called Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD. The program I participated in to clandestinely re-base warheads was called Basing Of Nuclear Keys to Evade the Reporting System, or BONKERS. I recall that my neighbors accorded me a certain deference. You see, security is not necessarily a matter of firepower, but of deterrence.

Have a nice, bright day.

Then a neighbor wrote, "Tongue in cheek, right?"

I mulled this over. "Could have been, in which case I own him an apology. I took him seriously... seriously stupid."

"No, I meant to ask if your answer was tongue in cheek --- basing a nuclear warhead in your garage, etc."

Not to worry. The site was inactivated several years ago and the "key" was relocated. When I was debriefed from the BONKERS program (and, for that matter, when I was briefed into the program), I was not required to sign a nondisclosure statement. "Tell anyone anything you want. Most people will think you're having them on, but eventually your story and those of others who are participating or who have participated in the program will get picked up by our potential adversaries, and it will introduce an element of doubt in their minds." Sun Tzu wrote, "All war is based on deception." Make the enemy think you are in his front when you are not, make him think you are elsewhere when you are in front of him. Always give him cause to doubt your capabilities and intentions. Perhaps this was the real "key" to the BONKERS program. It could be that the program gave me no warhead at all, just an empty reentry vehicle. After all, in a number of strategic weapon systems there are decoys that deploy among the actual weapons to ensure their survivability, so it makes sense to me that some BONKERS sites were decoys. I suppose that we will never know for certain until the program is declassified someday and someone files a Freedom of Information Act request for program documentation.

16 June 2008

Obama: Inspiration Lost in Space

by Thomas Gangale
16 June 2008

According to Senator Barack Obama, "NASA is no longer associated with inspiration." If so, I wonder why NASA websites have scored billions of visits while the rovers Spirit and Opportunity have traveled across the surface of Mars.

Senator Obama has also said, "I do think that our program has been stuck for a while - that the space shuttle mission did not inspire the imagination of the public."

What could be more uninspiring than a program that boldly goes where hundreds have gone before? What's the mission we're flying next? STS-124... STS-125... or is that the number of sheep I've been counting as the space program has been putting me to sleep? Yes, the space shuttle program is boring, but it was designed to be. It was supposed to provide routine access to space, and except for the losses of Challenger and Columbia, it's been pretty routine. STS-126... STS-127.... are we inspired yet? The most famous astronaut in recent times is Lisa Nowak.

The space shuttle program was so uninspiring from the very beginning that NASA wasn't even inspired enough to give it a name like Apollo. But then, the American public was already bored with the Apollo program by the time an oxygen tank exploded on the third lunar landing mission. As Marilyn Lovell remarked when the Apollo 13 crisis erupted, the media hadn't cared that her husband was going to land on the Moon, but suddenly cared that he wasn't going to land on the Moon. And Jim Lovell was one of the men who had captivated the world by reading from Genesis on Christmas Eve only a year and a half earlier as Apollo 8 orbited the Moon.

So, I can forgive Senator Obama for sounding like Kurt Cobain when talking about the space program: "Here we are now, entertain us!" It's not just a Generation X thing.

However, it's curious that Americans are looking to him for inspiration while he is looking to the space program for inspiration and not finding it. It's also curious that his proposed cure is to make the patient sicker. He plans to delay Project Constellation--a space program with a real name and real destinations to the Moon and Mars--for at least five years, putting the saved money into a new $10-billion-a-year education program. President Bush has already killed the space shuttle program to help pay for the Constellation program, and with a President Obama, we may not have that either. This is of special concern to California in view of its large aerospace industry, including the prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft, Sunnyvale-based Lockheed Martin.

With space shuttle flights ending in 2010, and the first Constellation mission not scheduled until 2014, American astronauts face a planned four-year gap during which they'll be forced to hitch rides with the Russians--or even the Chinese--to get to and from the International Space Station, which is mostly American. That's a bad plan to begin with because development programs always slip a couple of years. As a new program, the space shuttle was supposed to fly in 1978; its first mission wasn't until 1981. So, I'll bet that even if fully funded, Constellation will fly no earlier than 2016. An Obama administration would add another five years to the delay, so it could be eleven years between the last space shuttle mission and the first Constellation flight.

The only thing more uninspiring than the space shuttle program would be no manned space flights at all, and on the Obama plan, that's what the next generation of American youth will get. We're already calling them Generation Z. Zzzzz.

Getting back to education, let's do some math. Senator Obama proposes to fund a new $10-billion-a-year education program by cutting back the $2.5-billion-a-year Constellation program. OK, and I suppose I can pay my $10,000 federal income tax bill with a check for $2,500? People's eyes glaze over when hearing about billions of dollars, so let's scale down to everyone's everyday experiences. Today, the federal government will spend $26.21 of my taxes. The entire NASA budget will cost me $0.16. I can afford that.

In an era of secretive government, the best-kept secret is how inexpensive the space program is. Polls taken over the decades consistently show that a majority of Americans overestimate NASA's share of the federal budget at anywhere from five percent to 25 percent. Would you believe it's only six-tenths of a percent? It's the best deal in the solar system.

I hope that this won't be viewed as a hit piece against Senator Obama, but as a friendly nudge, and I hope that he will understand that nothing could give a bigger boost to education than an inspiring space program. In the Apollo years, the number of students graduating with advanced degrees skyrocketed (no pun intended), and the nation has reaped the benefits of that Apollo inspiration throughout the decades of their productive lives.

Let's give the next generation something other than violent video games and other virtual-world fantasies for their entertainment. Let's inspire them to excel with a vision of the future that promises peaceful adventures on many worlds.

14 June 2008

Dumbed Down Democrats

By Thomas Gangale
Berkeley Daily Planet
12 June 2008

One of my international relations instructors at San Francisco State knew the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of Massachusetts, and characterized him as a raging alcoholic. OK, I’m Irish on my mother’s side, that goes with the territory. But, he also said that Moynihan was smarter dead drunk than most of his colleagues were sober. Would that we had more Democrats like him these days.

I’ll fess up: I just lost the election to the Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee. Hell, I haven’t won an election yet. Now, you can chalk up my attitude to sour grapes. I don’t care. Jesse Unruh said, “Winning isn’t everything, but losing is nothing." Right, so why should I cry over nothing?

And, what a nothing the Central Committee is. I was in the office of one of our senior ranking elected officials the week before the June election, and a staffer declared loudly, “The Central Committee is a joke!”

How much of a joke?

One of last week’s winners is someone who a couple of years ago got the Central Committee to pass a resolution to ban from the committee’s sponsorship lists any local Democratic officeholder who “has publicly endorsed or supported non Democratic Party candidates or incumbents for an elective office, including non partisan offices,” or “has supported the appointment of a non Democrat to any commission, agency, committee, or other group." Shortly after I was appointed to the Democratic Central Committee a couple of years ago, I paid a courtesy call to the Republican Central Committee headquarters. They told me that this individual was the greatest gift that Democrats had ever given Republicans in Sonoma County. And, since he’s been reelected, he’s the gift that keeps on giving.

This guy seems to be mostly about restricting what other people do. Late last year, he threatened to bring a motion before the Democratic Central Committee to enjoin me from advertising my book in the signature block of my own email messages. So much for freedom of speech. Last month, he got a majority of the Central Committee members present to agree to restrict the number of resolutions that its Issues and Legislation standing committee can report each month. That standing committee has been far too productive, and it has thrown more issues at the Central Committee than it can stand to think about.

And he calls himself a “progressive.”

I was chair of that Issues and Legislation Committee, for which I became much disliked. Among my many transgressions was to ask the Central Committee to take positions on a couple of proposed amendments to the California Constitution. I met with vehement resistance. They were too much for the former mayor of Sebastopol to handle. “These issues are too complex and confusing for us to take a position on!" The issues in question were Propositions 98 and 99, which appeared on the June 3 ballot. Never mind that any high school dropout who was registered to vote could take a position on these. She likes to impress her colleagues on the committee by claiming to have a master’s degree from Harvard. Well, so does George W. Bush. I take it that Harvard isn’t what it used to be.

And she calls herself a “progressive.”

But this last one takes the cake. This weekend, another of the recent winners asked me about a Central Committee member who won reelection, but who has accepted a job as a Department of Defense contractor and who will soon deploy either to Iraq or Afghanistan. Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Flores couldn’t find a job in academia in this state, so in her mid-50s, she is going to war, to be embedded with troops one-third her age. But she’s tough; 35 years ago, she was the Army’s first female infantry soldier trained for arctic and mountain combat. I said, “She’ll do all right. After all, she served under Norman Schwarzkopf.”

The newly-elected Central Committee member, no spring chicken herself, replied, “That doesn’t mean anything to me." I looked at her with astonishment. When I saw the deer-in-the-headlights glaze in her eyes, I realized that she wasn’t being rude or flippant.

“You know, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded American troops in the Gulf War?”

“I wasn’t paying attention." I might as well have been talking about Caesar’s campaign in Gaul. She says that she wants to work on issues that are important to Sonoma County residents, and she calls herself a “progressive.”

I suppose “progressives” might support our troops... if they knew where they were.

When one loses to people of this caliber, it really is nothing. Well, perhaps it’s a bit of a repressed grimace, followed by an unrestrained belly-laugh. I take it as an article of faith that the democratic process works in the long run, but neither have I any doubt that in the short run it produces sub-optimal outcomes. Just look at who’s in DC and Sacramento. In any case, I never really lose; if a path before me closes, there are still so many others that are open. I have some more books to write, and perhaps the Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee has furnished me with some useful material.

Meanwhile, I’ll drink a toast to Pat Moynihan. Maybe two.

13 June 2008

The Race Is Over... Now What?

By Thomas Gangale
13 June 2008

Now that the Clinton-Obama drama is over, in the calm before the national conventions and the kickoff of the autumn campaign, pundits will cast about for some other presidential election issue to fill up air time and column space. Some will reflect on this year's nomination process and schedule, on what went right and what went wrong, and on what changes might be made for 2012. There are a lot of voices out there for changing the process, and I'm one of them, but each of us has his own set of assumptions and conclusions.

The front-loaded schedule, with so many states voting on the first Tuesday in February, should have determined the nominees of both major political parties very early. In part, the schedule was actually designed to do that, although it is also true that the schedule is in part a "tragedy of the commons" result of states pushing and shoving to the front of the calendar. So, regardless of one's opinion on front-loading, this year's calendar was a partial success and a partial failure. John McCain sewed it up early, Barack Obama didn't. Why such different outcomes?

A quick victory like McCain's has become the norm over the past 20 years; it was the Obama-Clinton saga that was the fluke. No one predicted that the Democrats would have two such evenly matched candidates. But, removing the element of random chance, what made the difference was the winner-take-all contests in the Republican Party, which magnified McCain's advantage over his rivals. In contrast, the string of victories that Obama racked up wasn't enough to put him over the top early, for in every state that she lost, Hillary Clinton took a big bite of delegates. As a result, there is some grumbling among top Democrats about going back to winner-take-all contests, which the party began phasing out in 1972. In other words, the solution is for the Democratic Party to operate more like the Republican Party. That's not the Democratic Party I would want.

On the other hand, some Democrats have concluded that the system worked well this year, that the protracted struggle between Obama and Clinton was good for the party, and that no changes are necessary for 2012. They stayed in the media limelight while McCain was relegated to the shadows. They rained punches on each other and got into condition for the main event, while McCain has yet to take a hard blow. I agree, but after March 4, Clinton and Obama were really just sparring partners. With most of the primaries and caucuses behind them, barring a catastrophic gaffe or scandal, Clinton had no chance of overtaking Obama in the dribble of remaining contests, so the next two months were an empty charade.

So, a structural change in the nomination system is necessary, but Democrats don't need to revert to winner-take-all. In a way, the calendar needs to be inverted, "back-loaded," if you will.

One good feature of the present system is that it begins with a few small states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. In theory, this would allow small, underfunded campaigns to take on the big dogs in small venues where money is less of a factor than in mass media markets. However, there is no good reason why it should be these four particular states leading the pack cycle after cycle. Other small states are just as deserving, so the selection should be by lottery. Also, a Super Tuesday on the heels of the first few small states magnifies their importance. Landing one-two punches in Iowa and New Hampshire virtually assures victory on Super Tuesday, so that's where the big money gets spent, and the underfunded candidate is blown off the field. So, let's put Super Tuesday at the end of the calendar rather than near the beginning. This would allow for true "retail politicking" at the beginning of the calendar, giving small campaigns an opportunity to grow from early victories and compete with the well-financed campaigns in later, bigger states. Also, a protracted contest would have real meaning right up to the end, when the big prize of delegates would be waiting to be taken. Again, the states participating in Super Tuesday should be determined by random selection, as should all of the states at the beginning and in the middle of the calendar. This way, over several cycles, the advantage of one state of another cancels out, and voters across the nation are treated fairly.

12 June 2008

The Feinstein Censure Resolution Is Alive, But Is It Kicking?

by Thomas Gangale
12 June 2008

Last November, a resolution to censure Senator Dianne Feinstein was brought to the Executive Board meeting of the California Democratic Party. The resolution cited the senator's vote to confirm the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey as United States Attorney General, "thereby elevating to the highest position in law enforcement a man who refused to renounce the right of the President to resort to torture and who refused to recognize waterboarding as a form of torture." Also cited was her vote to confirm Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit "despite his clear record of racism and gender discrimination."

The resolution was late in terms of that particular CDP E-Board meeting, thus according to the party rules, the resolution required the unanimous consent of the Resolutions Committee for it to be considered by that body. It didn't get anywhere near unanimous consent. There was some shouting and shoving over the next couple of days, including a classic "blocking the camera" cameo appearance by Bob Mulholland in the meeting's general session, but party rules provided no procedure for bringing the resolution to a floor vote.

However, a resolution that is late for one meeting is automatically timely for the next one, and the next CDP E-Board meeting is this weekend. The Resolutions Committee resolution will consider the resolution, and it will probably vote it down. The CDP rules provide a recourse for a timely resolution that has failed in the Resolutions Committee: 135 Executive Board members, or 40% of the members, whichever is fewer, may sign a petition to bring the resolution to a vote in the general session of the meeting. So, this is the next hurdle that the resolution must pass.

The question is, should it pass?

The resolution has the support of the Courage Campaign, MoveOn.org, Progressive Democrats of America, at least three caucuses of the CDP, at least three county Democratic central committees, and more than 30 Democratic clubs. These censures sent a strong message to Senator Feinstein. She appeared to get the message. While the storm was brewing last November, she reversed her position on a bill that would have given telecom companies retroactive immunity when complying with warrantless federal government spying on Americans. She took the next available turn to the left.

A lot of California Democrats believe that Senator Feinstein should make a number of additional left turns, and we certainly need to hold her accountable for her votes in the Senate. However, seven months have passed since the censure resolution was first brought to the E-Board. Has it served its purpose? Does it make sense to continue scrapping with an elected Democrat as we march toward the autumn campaign season with the purpose of electing many more Democrats? Is it time to move on? E-Board members should reflect on these questions as they consider signing the censure resolution petition this weekend.

11 June 2008

A Letter to Lynn Woolsey on the 2008 NASA Authorization Act

Dear Representative Woolsey:

Thank you for seeing me in your Santa Rosa office a couple of weeks ago. As you pointed out during our discussion on space policy, in principle we are not so far apart, rather it is a matter of emphasis and priority. Once again, I urge you to consider that, given wise programmatic decisions, NASA funding returns far more to the American people than the outlay, and it is an investment in our future. It deserves high priority because it augments many other positive goals. In the military, we have the concept of key war-fighting technologies as "force multipliers." I see key space technologies as "future multipliers." They provide us with more and better options as to how we will continue to exist on our own overburdened planet.

In reading the 2008 NASA Authorization Act that was just reported out of the House Science and Technology Committee, I was particularly gratified to see that it provided funding for a Space Shuttle mission to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station. Last December, on the Fox Business Channel, I confidently predicted this during a discussion with Ed Hudgins of the Atlas Society (formerly of the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation), who was decrying the grounding of the spectrometer as another egregious example of government waste. When the government writes off a billion-dollar spectrometer, they call it waste, and when private enterprise writes down ten billion dollars in sub-prime loans, they call it a business decision.

I hope that you will add your name as a cosponsor of the 2008 NASA Authorization Act. I will continue to do my utmost to articulate a progressive vision of human space exploration.


Thomas Gangale
Executive Director, OPS-Alaska

10 June 2008

Primary Reforms

New York Times
8 June 2008

The strange ritual of the Iowa caucuses, the fight over the Michigan and Florida delegations, the battle over the superdelegates ­ it has been a colorful nominating season, but not the most democratic one. It takes nothing away from the achievements of Barack Obama and John McCain to take note that the system for choosing the parties’ nominees is seriously flawed.

The Senate is planning hearings on the subject, and both parties are talking about reform. We hope a better system will be in place by 2012.

A guiding principle behind American democracy is "one person, one vote." All voters should have an equal opportunity, regardless of who they are or where they live, to affect the outcome. The process should be transparent, the ballot should be secret, and there should be no unnecessary barriers to voting.

Tested against these principles, both parties' systems fall short.

Dianne Feinstein, the chairman of the Senate rules committee, which has jurisdiction over elections, says she wants to hold hearings next month on rotating primaries and related issues. Ideally, the parties would fix the process themselves, but insiders do not always have the interests of ordinary voters at heart. Whoever takes action, the goal should be a new and improved nominating process that reflects the will of the people.


09 June 2008

Florida-Michigan Fight Not About Clinton v. Obama

By Paul Hogarth
28 May 2008

But the more important question is what comes next …

Already, efforts are underway to plan the 2012 primary schedule in a way so that we don’t have these problems in the future. There are different ideas in the works, but all involve some national co-ordination of the primary process. If we respect that process, no state will get to hi-jack the schedule for its own benefit. My favorite is the American Plan, which creates a mathematical formula that selects each state at random on who gets to go first – but other solutions should be actively discussed.

But if the DNC Rules Committee doesn’t enforce its own rules on Saturday, any future effort at reforming the primary process down the road will be pointless.


08 June 2008

Ruminations on reactions to my "CounterSpin" appearance: parties need a fair schedule

By Rob Richie
27 May 2008

Last week I taped a short radio segment with CounterSpin, produced for national distribution by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. My subject was how many journalists have over-hyped recent Democratic primary results, not recognizing how predictable they largely have been in a race whose basic outlines were established by February 6th

During the broadcast, I commented matter-of-factly that the Obama-Clinton race is very close, but that Obama is ahead by several different measures, including the national popular vote. For me, this is a simple fact, as the only way Obama can be said to be behind in the popular vote is to count all votes cast in Michigan and Florida in January contests that the party had rejected months before. The only way Clinton can be said to lead in the popular vote is to count all votes cast for her in Michigan and keep Obama’s Michigan total at zero, given that he was not on the ballot. You can see all the ways of counting the popular vote tallied helpfully at Real Clear Politics

Perhaps I should have realized that this comment would draw some reaction, but I still was surprised at some of the vitriol in some blogs. My comment had no partisan intent, but this debate is a hornet’s nest.

This got me to thinking about why the Obama-Clinton contest has gotten as ugly as it has in recent weeks, with tensions mounting. What reinforces for me is the value of the major parties having a schedule of contests that ensures all states and territories have a crack at a meaningful contest, particularly if the nomination race is close.

Polls consistently show that Democrats want this contest to cover all states, but since March 4, Clinton has mathematically had no real chance to win a majority of pledged delegates barring a massive shift in voting patterns — there simply weren’t enough states left. With three more months of contests and most Democrats wanting a 50-state nomination, Clinton had every reason to keep campaigning hard. But to justify her candidacy her campaign has had to make arguments that can get both sides riled up — fighting over seating delegates from Michigan and Florida, for example, and starting to highlight the symbolis national popular vote.

In a better scheduled system, the pledged delegate contest would have not have been decided with three more months of voting in such a close contest. There would have been enough states voting at the end of the process for the race to be in play.

There are various ways to structure such a process, although they all require that states play by the rules that the party establishes. See our FixThePrimaries website for different proposals; my favorite continues to be the American Plan or some variant (such as ending with a national primary between the top two candidates or possibly top three candidates using instant runoff voting.)

07 June 2008

Democratic nomination rules debate shows value of National Popular Vote plan

Rob Richie
12 May 2008

Former president Bill Clinton’s one-time chief of staff Leon Panetta is among those suggesting that Democrats would be better served by going to winner-take-all primaries where the candidate who wins a state takes all of that state’s delegates no matter how close the contest. As Bill Clinton himself has pointed out, Hillary Clinton would be far ahead with this rule, given her victories in states like Texas, California and New York.

Setting aside the debate over allocating delegates by proportional representation versus winner-take-all for the primaries (a debate where I think proportional representation wins hands down, as previously argued) and other issues like the impact of the Democrats’ schedule of primaries, consider the lessons for how winner-take-all would have played out in the Democratic primary for how best to elect the president in general elections.

In general elections, we currently have winner-take-all, state by state rules (Maine and Nebraska allocate delegates by winner-take-all in congressional district, but have never divided their electoral votes since adopting their approach and are highly unlikely to do so this year either). As we can learn from appplying this rule to the Democratic nomination contests, winner-take-all rules means that:

* The winner in the national popular vote is more likely to be defeated: HIllary Clinton wouldn’t need delegates out of Michigan and Florida to win if winner-take-all had been used even though she’s behind in the national popular vote and behind by more than 2% in the national vote without Michigan and Florida.

* Big states count more than small states: Barack Obama has won nearly twice as many states as Clinton, but she has won more of the big state. That helps explain why contrary to what some misinformed people contend, the current Electoral College system doesn’t help small states. It in fact makes the swing voter in big popular states far more important than anyone else.

* Close states count far more other states: The current Democratic system is essentially a national primary contest unfolding state by state. Getting more votes in every state matters, no matter how close, even if the media likes to obsess over who wins states as if the results were winner-take-all. In contrast, if winner-take-all rules were in place, the candidates would completely ignore states they couldn’t win or were sure to win. That’s sadly just what they will do in general elections this fall, as revealed over the weekend in the New York Times. Our Presidential Election Inequality report presents powerful data from 2004 about 99% of campaign resources going to 16 states in the campaign’s peak season.

* Recounts are a far bigger problem: When Hillary Clinton won Indiana by fewer than 20,000 votes, some in the media started hyperventllating about a recount. That was absurd. If Obama had won Indiana in a recount, he would have gotten only one more delegate. But winner-take-all makes artificial crises out of close results in states like Florida in 2000. The odds of a national recount being impactful with a national popular vote plan are minuscule, as demonstrated in our 2007 report on recounts.

Some might wonder why I don’t support proportional allocation of electors in the Electoral College as the Democrats use in their nomination contests. That approach would be better than winner-take-all if applied to all states, but it’s not nearly as sensible as every vote being equal in general elections. See chapter four of Every Vote Equal, the book I co-authored about the National Popular Vote plan, and our 2007 report Fuzzy Math.

Fortunately, we should have the National Popular Vote plan in place for general elections in November 2012 to correct all these defects in the current Electoral College system — the plan has passed in four states and will be debated in all other states in the coming year.

06 June 2008

Washington Post Outlook: Proportional representation a big success in Democratic nomination process

By Rob Richie
11 May 2008

This is a theme to which we’ll be returning, as debate is rising about whether Democrats or Republicans have had a better nomination process, with a focus on the winner-take-all rules for allocating delegates that gave John McCain such a big boost to the Republican nomination compared to the proportional representation allocation rules that have extended the Democratic nomination.

FairVote is firmly on the side of proportional allocation of delegates, although there are ways it could be improved. For one, it has ensured that the delegate results more accurately reflect the popular vote in contests, making the Democratic race more like a national primary unfolding state by state. If winner-take-all had been used and and the popular vote had been the same in every state, Hillary Clinton would be far ahead despite trailing Barack Obama in the overall popular vote and being swamped in number of states won — a questionable result no matter what one might think about the relative merits of Clinton and Obama.

Echoing and amplifying arguments (such as here and here) I made on this blog, see Alan Wolfe’s ode to the Democratic nomination process in today’s Washington Post Outlook. Included in his piece is this quote:

For the Democrats, proportional representation, rather than producing chaos, underscored the party’s commitment to inclusion. Democrats are more likely to speak about equality, social justice and fairness in election campaigns than Republicans, and proportional representation is more compatible with those themes than a winner-take-all method. We live in democratic times in which people get to choose the churches to which they belong and the television stations they want to watch. Under such conditions, a party that opens itself up to its members invests them in its decisions — not only in the election coming up this fall but in future contests as well. More people became Democrats in 2008 than became Republicans, and more of them were younger. Exciting and open contests can do that sort of thing.

02 June 2008

A Dialogue on the Presidential Nomination Process

At 10:40 PM 6/1/2008, Jeanie wrote:
>Thank you for this posting. I have been reading comments on Hillary's blog site. I've been listening to Obama supporters. I'm VERY concerned.
>First, let me say that I've been a Hillary supporter since 1993, when she presented her proposal on health care reform. I've said many times since then that she was right, and we're paying the price now as a nation for not listening to her. I voted for Hillary in the California primary, not because I don't like Barrack Obama - I like him a lot - but because I felt she was the best qualified, most knowledgeable of the two. That said:
>I am deeply troubled by the feverish, angry loyalty that is being displayed on her website blog. It's great for people to be inspired by a candidate, and to work for that candidate's election. And I'm sure the more involved one gets, the more emotional it all becomes. However, it is a problem for our party and our nation if people are only committed to individual candidates, and not to the principles of the Democratic Party itself. We are supposed to be choosing OUR nominee here - whichever one it is. I'm starting to feel like a lot of people are hijacking our party for the sake of their own candidate, and no one else - in both camps. The length of the divide, in terms of time, may not be a factor at all. I think it is just making the problem visible. Someone needs to get to these people, and soon. Someone they'll listen to. They need to understand that the venom in each camp is going to lead to yet another pathetic Republican administration, against the values and life's work of both Clinton and Obama.
>All right. So good luck with that! (I'll try to do my part in San Benito County. But there needs to be a national effort.)

Dear Jeanie,

You raise some excellent points. I took a long time to decide on a candidate. I decided for John Edwards shortly before the California primary, and within an hour of mailing my ballot, I learned that he had just withdrawn from the race. I am not emotionally tied to either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, but only emotionally tied to the victory of one of them in November. Also, as a political scientist, I tend to focus more on the political process than on the candidates and the issues.

So, as to process, having been disenfranchised by Edwards' withdrawal, I suddenly saw the utility of having a ranked ballot for presidential candidates. There are two good reasons to support this. Increasing numbers of citizens are voting by mail, so what happened to me is likely to become a more common occurrence. Also, even if there were no voting by mail and everyone cast their vote on election day, many people would be disenfranchised because the Democratic Party requires a candidate to reach a certain threshold percentage of the popular vote, below which, no delegates are apportioned. If your candidate doesn't reach the threshold, your vote is not counted toward the allocation of any delegate, and effectively, your vote is thrown away.

The Democratic Party has another mechanism for restricting democracy in its presidential nomination system: superdelegates.

I am often asked why these antidemocratic mechanisms exist, and I think that it is important to understand the history of how we got to where we are today. As I explain in my book, it started in Chicago in 1968. When the party nominated Hubert Humphrey, a man who entered not a single presidential primary, and a riot erupted outside the convention, the party concluded that its nomination system needed a massive overhaul. The party tapped George McGovern to chair a commission to study and to make recommendations. McGovern saw where the commission was heading before it issued its report, and he left the commission to declare his candidacy for the 1972 nomination. He based his campaign strategy on his insider's knowledge of the new rules that the commission was likely to recommend and that the party was likely to adopt, thus he stole a march on all of the other candidates who were playing by the old rules and whose strategies were about to become obsolete. As McGovern foresaw, the commission recommended that states abandon caucuses and institute primaries, in order to reduce the influence of state and local party bosses and empower the rank and file party members. Also, the winner-take-all system was abolished, and from that time on, all delegates were to be allocated according to the percentage of the popular vote, with low thresholds. The modern era of presidential nomination was born, and 1972 was to be the most democratic process by which the Democratic Party would choose its nominee.

The result, of course, was an unmitigated disaster. McGovern easily captured the nomination, and lost to Richard Nixon in one of history's biggest landslides. The Democratic Party went back to the drawing board, concluding that too much democracy was not a good thing. A new commission, chaired by Morley Winograd, made a number of problematic recommendations. First, it enshrined the "first in the nation" status of the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Second, it permitted the dwindling number of caucus states to raise their thresholds to 20 percent, and primary states to 25 percent. Third, it created superdelegates as 10 percent of the total number of delegates required to nominate a presidential candidate, so that party leaders would have voting power at the national convention and exert some influence over the nomination outcome.

As an aside, I should mention that a consequence of the proliferation of primary states is that campaigning is more expensive, and candidates must create huge, ad hoc political machines to compete for the nomination, and the party machinery is barely in play; thus, activists' principal loyalty is to their candidates, not to the party. So, when you say that you feel that "a lot of people are hijacking our party for the sake of their own candidate, and no one else - in both camps," this is a phenomenon that has been building for several decades, but has only now become apparent because, in a system designed to produce a nominee before most people know what's going on, we accidentally have a truly competitive nomination race in 2008.

There have been other commissions that have tinkered around the edges in the course of the intervening 40 years, lowering and raising the threshold and superdelegate percentages, but that is essentially the system we have today. Often, this tinkering has been done on the basis of the perceived self-interest of the moment, or on an incomplete and faulty analysis of the most recent election outcome, with the result that the party often bumbles from one disaster to the next. A case in point is that now, because of the protracted struggle between Clinton and Obama, party elites are grumbling about going back to winner-take-all primaries, which the Republican Party never abolished. For those who are all stoked up about one candidate or the other, my advice would be to watch what the party is going to do to the process for 2012. Is the party going to go back to the past and become more like the Republican Party? Is the solution to have an even less democratic process than we already have? I believe that such knee-jerk ideas are likely to produce future disasters for the party. I believe that the solution is more democracy, not less, an intelligently-designed system rather than a few timid ideas kluged onto a successively kluged process. The McGovern revolution solved a huge set of problems for the party, but it also produced a set of unintended consequences that the party has never dealt with in a scientific manner. I believe that the democratic solution is to return to the principles of the McGovern revolution and to craft a process that will permit these principles to be fully manifested. Let's believe in democracy, and let's practice it for change.

Best regards,

01 June 2008

Florida, Michigan delegates will get half-votes

I called it in March:

At 06:28 PM 3/13/2008, Thomas Gangale wrote:

Regarding Florida and Michigan, tell everyone to split the difference and settle. The Republicans only took away half their delegates, why should Democrats be more bastardly than they?

And again a couple of days ago:

At 07:22 PM 5/30/2008, Thomas Gangale wrote:
If it were up to me, I'd be Solomonic: let Florida and Michigan have half of their delegates, and move on to more pressing matters. This is also how the RNC Rules Committee dealt with them, so in terms of inter-party political calculation, there would be parity. Can the DNC afford to have these two states still pissed off in November?

By Nedra Pickler and Beth Fouhy
Associated Press
31 May 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) ­ Democratic Party leaders agreed Saturday to seat Michigan and Florida delegates with half-votes at this summer's convention with a compromise that left Barack Obama on the verge of the nomination but riled Hillary Rodham Clinton backers who threatened to fight to the August convention.

"Hijacking four delegates is not a good way to start down the path of party unity," said adviser Harold Ickes.

Clinton's camp maintains she was entitled to four additional Michigan delegates.

The decision by the party's Rules Committee raised slightly the total delegates Obama needs to clinch the nomination. Clinton advisers conceded privately he will likely hit the magic number after the final primaries are held Tuesday night, but said the ruling threatened to dash any hopes of a unified party.

"Mrs. Clinton has told me to reserve her right to take this to the Credentials Committee" at the convention, said Ickes, who is a member of the Rules Committee that voted Saturday.