Monday, June 29, 2009

Stupid Has a Price

Here's to Michele Bachmann paying it in full.

Nixon's Gift That Keeps On Giving

The tapes.

Just take a look at the most recent harvest from the tapes that the Nixon Presidential Library has released from the early months of 1973. The impressive thing is that even in the smallest details, the obsessive nastiness and criminality of the bigger picture is further delineated. The foulness of Nixon's mind was not "compartmentalized" between one issue and another. For example, like most "family values" Republicans, he was distressed by the Supreme Court's finding in Roe v. Wade. But, like almost anybody, he could imagine an exception where abortion might be excusable or even desirable. "There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or a rape." The association of ideas between the first mental picture and the second one is so clear as to be—if it were not so hideous—pathetically laughable in an individual, and really quite alarming in a president of the United States.

As so often, his remarks about black Americans are crude and often sexual, while his innuendoes about his Jewish fellow citizens are more sinister. And, as ever, the worst interludes of anti-Semitism occur when Nixon is chatting to his friend Billy Graham. This time—February 1973—the two cronies are discussing Jewish opposition to the evangelical Campus Crusade movement. What the Jews don't seem to get, observes Nixon, is that they bring dislike on themselves. Why, just look at the record—disliked in Spain, disliked even in Germany. It could be America next. "What I really think is deep down in this country, there is a lot of anti-Semitism, and all this is going to do is stir it up." To this aper├žu (incidentally suggesting that anti-Semitism "in this country" is not located all that "deep down," since it's being vented in the Oval Office), he adds, "It may be they have a death wish. You know that's been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Health Care Reform Proposals

Brought to you by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Friday, June 26, 2009

1.5 Million with One Tweet


The president’s semi-active Twitter account just sent out this message:

The House is voting on a historic clean energy bill today. Have you called your representative about it?

Twitter has been burning up with conservative and Republican messages telling followers how to call to ask their representatives for “no” votes on the bill. This is notable because the Obama account has more than 1.5 million followers. The far-more-active Republican accounts can’t compete.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Health Care "Free Market" No One Wants

UDP's Todd Taylor:

The net of our current "free market" system is a tacit agreement between insurers and care providers. The insurers take the premiums and profits from statistically healthier groups while providers financially squeeze the uninsured and underinsured remainder into poverty or bankruptcy. The result is that nearly two-thirds of U.S. bankruptcies are health care-related.

Such a market allocation would ordinarily violate restraint of trade laws. Yet, our very laws and regulations are used as a shield to protect insurers and providers when coverage is denied and exhorbitant individual payment later extracted.

For example, in this past Utah legislative session, laws were passed with respect to insurance coverage requirements and exclusions for selected illnesses, thus legislatively allocating and regulating risk. In addition, the rules on patient record confidentiality allow insurers to obtain access to confidential patient information providing a basis for coverage exclusion. Yet, when coverage denial is challenged, these very "confidentiality" rules are used as a shield to deny accountability.

And in a continued effort to continue that denial, conservatives like Orrin Hatch have memorized the Frank Luntz talking points like trained monkeys. Luntz is a smart man. He's had success crafting vapid bullet point messaging strategies before. But this time around his sound bytes, repeated ad naseum, are falling on a majority of suspicious ears. Why? I think Iglesias explains it best:

This stuff is all red herrings. The main health reform ideas will not cause anyone to lose the insurance they already have and will not do anything to change people’s relationships with their doctors. Its about changing people’s relationships with their insurance companies, and about providing some subsidies so that everyone can afford insurance. Free market health care is about letting people die of treatable ailments if they don’t happen to have the money to pay. As Kyl says, it’s not a very compelling message.

Multiple public opinion polls (even when answering loaded questions in a GOP poll) show a majority support reform that includes a public option. Conservatives (and a few Democrats, alas) are again fighting tooth and nail for maintaining the status quo while calling it reform, much like they did during the stimulus debates, the original TARP bailouts (where they opposed the oversight they now urge unhinged Tea Baggers to rally against), and -- most recently -- the financial industry reforms the administration recommended.

Add to this their latest meme that Iran is "benefitting" from our so keeningly exacted indefinite occupation of Iraq, and comparing the Iranian protests to "tea parties" it's getting very difficult to take any of them seriously on any issue, let alone something as important as the future of our health care.

UPDATE: Have you signed Dr. Dean's public option petition?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fox News, Unethical or Incompetent?

Take your pick.

If this were the first time -- or anywhere close to it -- we might be able to chalk this one up as an inadvertent mistake. But this isn't the first time Fox News has tried to label a Republican facing a tremendous scandal a Democrat. Back in 2006, during the heat of the Mark Foley scandal, Fox labeled the embattled Republican "D-FL" -- the same type of "mistake" they made with regards to Sanford today. No, Mark Sanford is not a Democrat. Get it right.

The SideTrack @ Netroots Nation

Just got word from Democracy for America that I've been granted a Netroots Nation scholarship to attend.

The conference (formerly known as YearlyKos) will be in Pittsburgh, PA, August 13th through the 16th.

Only a partial agenda of events is available currently, but I'd welcome feedback from the Utah blogosphere and politicos on what events to attend. From what I am told, it's impossible to see it all, and the training available is overwhelming. I have several "must sees" myself already, but if there are events on the Netroots Nation agenda you think would be important or just interesting to hear more about, please shoot me an email or leave a comment.

I'll post more information as they send it to me.

And thanks to everyone who endorsed my scholarship application (can you spot the two Republicans? Heh) It was quite an ego boost to read them all, and I'd like to return the favor, if only by making this as much of a community experience as possible.

Socialist Gnomes

Swing State Project (emphasis mine):

UT-Sen: Democrats nailed down a candidate in dark-red Utah, not a likely place for a pickup but somewhere we want to be standing by to clean up in case the Republican primary turns into an insane bloodbath: Sam Granato, the head of the state Liquor Control Board.

Speaking of which, a third challenger just got into the GOP primary against long-time incumbent Bob Bennett: businesswoman and activist Cherilyn Eagar, who's never run for office before but seems connected to some of the fringier members of Utah's legislature, such as state Senator Margaret Dayton, who praised Eagar in that: "She's a very impressive woman in her looks, intelligence and presentation." Eagar's rationale is that, in her words, "Utah's conservative principles are no longer being represented in the U.S. Senate and no conservative has entered this race," which seems bizarre considering that AG Mark Shurtleff and former Utah County GOP chair Tim Bridgewater are already challenging the very conservative Bennett from the right. Eagar also offered up this very strange mix of literary allusions: "Gulliver has been tied down by socialist gnomes for many years, but he's starting to wake up."

Please oh please oh please let Eager win the primary!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Centrist Dems, Right of Center

On the far right of the public opinion center, to be exact.

[...] in effect voters support the health care plan jointly released by three House committees last week, which relies on a combination of subsidies and regulation to achieve universal coverage, and introduces a public plan to compete with insurers and hold down costs.

Yet it remains all too possible that health care reform will fail, as it has so many times before.

I’m not that worried about the issue of costs. Yes, the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary cost estimates for Senate plans were higher than expected, and caused considerable consternation last week. But the fundamental fact is that we can afford universal health insurance — even those high estimates were less than the $1.8 trillion cost of the Bush tax cuts. Furthermore, Democratic leaders know that they have to pass a health care bill for the sake of their own survival. One way or another, the numbers will be brought in line.

The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by “centrist” Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

Utah State Democratic Party Organizing Convention 2009, Video

Utah State Democratic Party Organizing Convention 2009
Murray, UT

Opening Remarks, Chairman Wayne Holland, Jr

Welcome, Convention Chair and Outgoing Vice-Chair Rob Miller

Congressman Jim Matheson

Welcome to Murray City, Murray City Mayor Dan Snarr

Welcome from Salt Lake County, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon

Democratic National Committee Member Reports: Patrice Arent & Joe Hatch (Coming Soon)

Summit County Chair Glenn Wright on Fair Boundaries

Candidate for State Party Treasurer: Kathy Snyder (Coming Soon)

Candidate for State Party Secretary: Colt Smith (Coming Soon)

Candidate for State Party Vice Chair: Karen Hale

Candidates for State Party Chair:

Jeff Bell Part One and Part Two

Incumbent, Wayne Holland, Jr.

Election Report and Wayne Holland Acceptance Speech

It's Finally Here!!!

That's right, the Michele Bachmann comic book is finally out. TPM has a review.

And just in case you're not familiar with Bachman, here's a little background.

Oh, ya, here are some of here votes and statements.

RNC Chairman Supports Public Option

The Man of Steele, via Political Wire:

"So if it's a cost problem, it's easy: Get the people in a room who have the most and the most direct impact on cost, and do the deal. Do the deal. It's not that complicated. If it's an access question, people don't have access to health care, then figure out who they are, and give them access! Hello?! Am I missing something here?"
No shit, Mike. You wanna know what who is the obstacle to doing exactly that? Your party!


Saturday, June 20, 2009


Adam Gregg, internet and publication designer for the Utah State Democratic Party kicked our very butts (all except Bob, maybe) on tweeting, blogging, and staring intently at a laptop throughout the majority of the convention. We could not keep up.


I tried to get a picture of the party's communications guru slash convention volunteer chair slash Deputy Director slash whatever else needs doin' person on the move, Craig Axford, but never got one that didn't come out like this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Footage of Iran Protests Hits YouTube

Google PPB:

Video clips that capture the chaos and rioting in the streets of Iran's capital, Tehran, have been streaming into YouTube for the past four days. Even though YouTube appears to be blocked in Iran -- the site is experiencing a small fraction of the traffic levels it normally receives from Iran (around 10%) -- we continue to see videos being uploaded to the site that document city streets crowded with angry demonstrators, violent clashes between protesters and state police, and visceral scenes of mass unrest.

In essence, YouTube has become a citizen-fueled news bureau of video reports filed straight from the streets of Tehran, unfiltered. Because the Iranian government is cracking down on local and international media coverage, these citizen-generated videos are providing an exclusive look at the developing violence.
One of the videos that really grabbed my attention:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dangerous Laziness

Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman:

In Goodman's program, as well as in her column and the three bestselling books she has co-authored with her brother, David Goodman, she also accuses the mainstream media of dangerous laziness in its reliance on so-called "pundits."

"We need to bring out the voices of people who think outside the box, [and include] creative thinkers, [and] people at the grassroots, who know exactly what they're talking about, because they've experienced policy in a very real way," she says. "These are the stories we have to tell until they can tell their own."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rob Bishop Again Supports Torture Investigations

Not to be confused with supporting integrity, despite his use of the word.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, argued a second time Tuesday that the House should appoint a special panel to investigate what Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew of alleged torture techniques and whether the CIA lied to her as she claimed.

But Bishop's resolution calling for a probe -- similar to another one he tried in May -- failed on a strictly party-line vote of 247-171.

Republicans have hammered Pelosi on comments she made in interviews and publicly claiming that intelligence officials misled her on the enhanced interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists. At one point, the speaker said the CIA misleads Congress "all the time."

Bishop charged on the floor that her comments have tainted the reputation of the House.

"It is the integrity of the House that is in question here, and needs to be answered so decisions of this House will be considered without any other kind of question or implication," Bishop said.
Again, this is a very stupid move (twice now) on Bishop's part, assuming he hopes Republicans again one day win an election or two. Unless, of course, you are a Democrat hoping to see investigations into the authorization of torture.

Being one of those Democrats, I support the congressman in trying to score a few cheap political points against Pelosi. It's a baby step to a full investigation. And if we could trade Pelosi for the PR hit the GOP will take should a full investigation happen, it would be an investment in not only the rule of law, but future electoral gains for Democrats.

Go, Rob. Go.

Belated Endorsement

I had planned to write something on this since Jeff Bell announced his candidacy for state party chair, but never gotten around to it. I have blogger ADHD. To be honest, my real reason is that, while I enjoy and encourage other bloggers to endorse, it always seemed pretentious to do it myself. Jeff (Presser), Craig, and myself are but three political junkies working collectively inside but one meager blog. We try not to forget that.

That said, it comes as no surprise to anyone reading, or any of my friends at the state party office that I fully support Mr. Bell's candidacy, and I've confirmed that I speak on behalf of the other 2/3's of The SideTrack crew when I say so.

Wayne Holland and I have talked many times. I have a great deal of respect for him, and I have also been openly critical what I feel are missed opportunities for the Utah State Democratic Party. But let me also say that the response to that criticism has always been met with a productive reaction. Rather than a defensive approach, I have been invited into the conversation more fully each time I speak up. And they are, indeed, stepping it up. I think that is something that distinguishes Democratic leadership in Utah from that of the GOP (I've met with nothing but resistance there the few times I've tried to start the same conversation, Ric Cantrell and his crew aside, of course). I've even discussed my support of Jeff with them openly, and you know what? They still let me into the office to bug them with my latest idea. Regularly! That's integrity.

But political challenges are good. Disagreements in the form of campaigns are some of the most productive. And nothing keeps us on our toes and far from the complacent status quo as effectively as being reminded that in politics, nothing is guaranteed.

That's why all of us here at The SideTrack have thrown our support behind Jeff Bell's candidacy.

I have known both Wayne and Jeff for a long time, and I respect the skills of both for many different reasons. But to say Jeff has a skill for creative problem solving is an understatement. He can make what is technically impossible to most of us happen in five minutes, and his wealth of knowledge when it comes to politics, campaign messaging, and new media is unmatched in Utah. And it's my belief that aggressive messaging and the influence of technology for voter/volunteer engagement are what we have lacked in our plan for the future.

We're at a time when the question isn't what direction the party should go, but how to get the party pointed to where it needs to be. We are faced with opportunities unrealized that can take the Utah State Democratic Party to a new level of success. And if the past legislative session and budget cuts have reminded me of anything, it's the need for us to get there. Not just for the party, but for Utah.

Jeff Bell has the skills to do it.

Listen to both Wayne and Jeff via the Politics Up Close series, and several of their convention speeches are still viewable on our YouTube page.

See you at the convention.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Making Economic Policy Interesting

Sort of.

This exchange between Craig and Cameron is probably one of the most substantial debates on our economic policy I've seen in quite some time.

If this were happening in the House and Senate, imagine the progress possible.

Or maybe I'm just saying that because it's fun to watch my co-SideTracker hand a winger filled to the brim with the predictable talking points a good, ol' fashioned schooling in the science of money related thingamajigs and ideas.

Cameron too often reduces himself to the debate tactics of one out of his league of understanding, who has bitten off more than he can chew, but he's also presenting a adequate example of the "framing" on this issue that has become so conventional since Reagan that even liberal Democrats enjoying a majority status are still comparing themselves to it.

Democrats are still pitching their policies with "tax cuts" just to sell them, rather than working to redraw the definitions, and allow Americans to -- quite simply -- grow up and recognize the necessity, and even occasional benefit of taxation.

That's another rant, I suppose. For now, just enjoy this conversation.

Tables, Flipped

Nothing in politics can be predicted with 100% accuracy. But many things in politics play out with a sense of comic justice. Like this.

To reread the major political books from the years around Bush's reelection is to be plunged, as if into a cold pool, back into a world of Democratic gloom and anxiety. Those books were linked by the common belief that Republicans had established a thin but durable electoral advantage that threatened to exile Democrats from power for years, if not decades. Many books from that time assumed Democrats could avoid that eclipse only by adopting the tactics used by Republicans in general and Rove in particular...

In fact, by the time most of these books were published, the Republican 'fortress' looked more like a crumbling sand castle. Bush's reelection proved the high point of Rove's vision, and even that was a rather modest peak: Bush's margin of victory, as a share of the popular vote, was the smallest ever for a reelected president... By the time Bush left office, with Democrats assuming control of government and about two-thirds of Americans disapproving of his performance, his party was in its weakest position since before Ronald Reagan's election. Rather than constructing a permanent Republican majority, Rove and Bush provided Democrats an opportunity to build a lasting majority of their own that none of these books saw coming.

5 Decades of Election Trends: Public Supports "Activist" Government

What? Shouting "free market" and "SOCIALISM!" doesn't address real issues Americans care about?

Imagine my surprise.

So the next question here is "who" exactly is Mark Shurtleff "taking back America" for?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Standard's Trentelman: Hatch needs to get back to defending the Constitution.

Charles Trentelman responds to Senator "Hit and Run" Hatch's book report predictable op-ed on Guantanamo (insert standard talking points, and you've got the gist):

Sen. Hatch seems to forget that the protections of accused in the Constitution are not the result of some liberal cabal at the original Constitutional Convention trying to introduce weeny liberal ways for the guilty to get out on a technicality. They are the deeply conservative result of the very well founded fear by the Founding Fathers that government will, if given the opportunity, throw its enemies into dark holes and lose the key. Certainly Vice President Dick Cheney and President Bush saw nothing wrong with that. The Power to toss some poor schmuck into jail is very heady, the Founding Fathers knew, which is precisely why the put so many restrictions on it.

History tells us that the first thing every power-drunk megalomaniac says is ”trust me, I’ll only do this to really bad people.” He/she then proceeds to toss all his/her political opponents into jail. Richard Nixon clearly wanted to do just that in assembling his “enemies list” during the Watergate scandals, and it lurks constantly.

That’s really my main problem with Sen. Hatch. Even if he were right about these prisoners (and I have no way of knowing if he is) he expects us to support the continuation of an enterprise that confounds that most basic of American rights: The right to not be imprisoned unjustly by government.

Sen. Hatch expects me to believe that these men need to be held just because he says they need to be. That is not a power I trust Sen. Hatch, or President Obama, or anyone else to have.

Guantanamo represents an astonishing abuse of power and needs to be shut down. Sen. Hatch needs to get back to defending the Constitution.
And how.

The only thing I object to here is the implication that defending American principle above all else has ever been a goal of the Senator who ran on term limits and then never went away. Or any of our Republican delegates for that matter. Constitutional principles coming from these mouths has become no more valuable than smoke being blown up the proverbial ass.

Despite Industry Decline, Some Newspaper Salaries Up

E & P:

In its annual salary survey, the Inland Press Association reported that newspaper wages increased an average 2.1% from 2008 to 2009.

The Newspaper Compensation Study (NICS) takes into account information from more than 400 newspapers throughout the United States and Canada.

According to NICS, people working in online positions and in graphics experienced the largest salary gains. Interactive producers realized a rise in salary by roughly 13%, Inland reported. Salaries jumped 5% for positions focused on new and alternative business development.

Beginning reporters and editorial page editors were the newsroom jobs singled out with no salary increase, according to NICS.
Additional good news comes in an isolated but significant report that journalism graduates are still finding jobs in journalism fields.

The future of printed papers is still very uncertain, but these are some early signs that online news outlets and trained journalists may share a common future.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Classified Space Rocks?

Cue the ominous sci-fi movie music...

For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth's atmosphere – but no longer.

A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, has learned.

The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.

The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.

"It's baffling to us why this would suddenly change," said one scientist familiar with the work

Court: Norm Coleman Owes Al Franken $95,000

Not just justice, but karmic justice.

A court ruled that Norm Coleman (R) owes Al Franken (D) $95,000 for the U.S. Senate trial, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

"Coleman owes the cash because Minnesota law dictates that the loser pay the winner's court costs in an election contest. Because Coleman sued to overturn Franken's lead, he owes Franken's costs."

A Coleman spokesman said the campaign "wouldn't pay the costs until the state Supreme Court rules on the appeal. That decision means the $95,000 will tick up for each day it remains unpaid."
In addition, Coleman's bull-headed attempt to drag this out, and leave the Senate short another Democrat has helped to raise over $150,000 for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC with the "$1 A Day Until Norm Coleman Goes Away" fundraiser.

Thanks Norm.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gallup Poll: Limbaugh, Gingrich, Cheney Speak for GOP

This is there new way forward? Heh.

PRINCETON, NJ -- Asked to name the "main person who speaks for the Republican Party today," Republicans across the country are most likely to name three men: Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Cheney. Democrats are most likely to say Limbaugh speaks for the GOP, followed by Cheney. Both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly say Barack Obama is the main person who speaks for the Democratic Party, although Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to mention Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Yeah, good luck with that in 2010, 2012, etc.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Torture Filibuster

Sen. Lindsey "I'll hold my breath" Graham is having a conniption fit, claiming the Lieberman-Graham bill offered to permanently block the release of detainee photos, stricken down by progressive push-back, is a "life or death" bill. Lemos:

To Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, it's a "life or death bill." Upset that the torture photo suppression amendment he and Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had jointly offered has now been stricken from the War Suppemental, Senator Graham is saying that a filibuster is on the table. Our dynamic duo are threatening to hold up any and all legislation in the Senate until Congress passes their legislation to prohibit the release of photos showing detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. Beyond the sheer display of childish petulance, this begs the question, what are they trying to hide?
Good question.

SC Gov: Washington Engineering Federal Takeover

Eeeegads, Mildred! DailyKos:

Yesterday, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford officially applied for stimulus funds as he had been ordered to do by the state's supreme court in a decision upholding a vote by the state legislature requiring Sanford to use the funds.

After requesting the funds -- as ordered by both the state court and state legislature -- Sanford did the only natural thing for a guy in his position: he went on Glenn Beck's show to complain that President Obama was engineering a federal takeover of his state.

"I mean, why have a state legislative body, why have a governor," Sanford asked, "if Washington is deciding it all?"

Sanford is also now officially a hero to tea-baggers (and Mark Shurtleffs) everywhere, and will of course be a regular on Beck's show.

It's getting stupid. Really, really stupid.

Utah HHSC: Interim Meeting on Comprehensive Sex Ed, Tomorrow, 9am

More from the Inbox.

The Utah Legislature Health and Human Services Committee will hold an interim session meeting to discuss comprehensive sex education next week. The bill up for discussion will allow teachers to provide our children with vital information on how to protect themselves against becoming one of these staggering statistics.

Utah’s focus on abstinence-only has continued largely because our legislators do not believe there is sufficient public support for a comprehensive option, BUT YOUR PRESENCE AND RAISED HAND CAN REVERSE THAT. So please join PPAC on this important date!

WHEN: Wed. June 17, 2009

TIME: 9:00AM

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 250

Obama vs. Transparency

It's difficult to have a real discussion about the disappointments of the Obama administration, so far. The Tea Parties, Birthers, Birchers, and Newt kind of drown it out. But it's still there to be had, and this is one that really digs into my side.

Yesterday, there was a potentially temporary though still quite significant victory for those who believe in open government and transparency: as Jane Hamsher first reported, House leaders and the White House were forced to remove the Graham-Lieberman photo suppression amendment from the war supplemental spending bill, because widespread opposition to that amendment among progressive House Democrats was jeopardizing passage of the spending bill. Readers here and those of various blogs who bombarded House members with opposition calls on Friday obviously played an important role in forcing the withdrawal of this pernicious amendment. Successes of this sort are rare enough that -- even if fleeting -- they warrant some celebration.

Whether there is value in disclosing these specific torture photographs is a secondary issue here, at most [though in light of the ongoing debate in this country over torture and accountability, as well as the irreplaceable value of photographic evidence in documenting government abuses (see Abu Ghraib), the value of these sorts of photographs seems self-evident]. A much more critical issue here is whether the President should have the power to conceal evidence about the Government's actions on the ground that what the Government did was so bad, so wrong, so inflammatory, so lawless, that to allow disclosure and transparency would reflect poorly on our country, thereby increase anti-American sentiment, and thus jeopardize The Troops.
It's nice to see the progressive House members are able to etch out some influence (finally stifling the meaningless litany of the now irrelevant Blue Dog Caucus), but it's disappointing -- if not surprising -- to see a continuation of bad policy on openness and accountability from this White House, like the last, under the unquestionable umbrella of "protecting the troops."

It misses a larger point, which we were just recently reminded of: The pictures/documents/tapes will come out. They always do. And there is much that can be gained -- not only domestically, but also in avenues of foreign relations -- from simply opening the doors to air out the dirty laundry of the Bush years. Is there no merit to the idea that another way to protect the troops could be actually getting ahead of the terrorists a bit, and showing potential recruits that America has integrity of character to be admired, not hated? No one thinks this might be a winning strategy in the unending "war on terror"? Really?

It's not cathartic notions, or vengeful politics that should drive us to do so, but the idea that we need to restore the principles we have built upon for centuries, and show the rest of the world (especially those terrorists are eager to recruit) that America owns up to it's mistakes, comes clean, and learns from the transgression.

The message we send now, to the advantage of terrorist recruiters and others feeding anti-American sentiment, is that we are no different than North Korea, China, or even Saddam Hussein himself when it comes to burying our mistakes in the name of national security. You and I know America is better than that. The 17 year old Pakistani, solicited aggressively by terrorist organizations with a heated rhetorical message and promises of power and glory, cannot see it so clearly.

Health Care Live Chat with Howard Dean, Tonight 7pm

From the Inbox.

Recently, in addition to my role here at Democracy for America, I was honored to join the Board of Directors of the Progressive Book Club.

To kick it off, I want you to join me tonight, Tuesday June 9 at 9pm Eastern, for a live online chat.


You'll also be one of the first to hear about my new book: Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform. After the call, you'll get an exclusive sneak peak and can download the first chapter free.

I won't just be talking about the book. I'll also have the most current news from Washington. We'll chat about what we can expect to see from the Senate this week. Who the leaders fighting for a public option really are and who aren't. And what's next in the Stand with Dr. Dean Campaign.

This won't be a one way conversation. I'll be answering your questions live, starting at 9pm Eastern.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Historic Environmental Lawsuit You Are Hearing Nothing About

Big Oil still gets a pass from the mainstream.

Hold Polluters Accountable

Sign the petition.

It's 2009. Democrats have ample majorities in both houses of Congress. President Obama campaigned on the promise to tackle climate change and boost our economy by investing in clean energy.

So why on earth is Congress considering an energy bill that:

  • Would weaken current law, repealing President Obama's authority to crack down on dirty power plants,1 and
  • Doesn't actually require the creation of new solar or wind power? (The Union of Concerned Scientists has concluded that the clean energy standards won't make power companies produce more clean energy than is already in the works.)2

Why? Because Big Oil and Coal have teamed up with conservatives in both parties, and they've been successful in weakening the bill.

These are major flaws, but the bill has a lot of really good provisions, too. The key thing is that Congress can still strengthen it—if there's a public outcry. But we don't have much time: Congress is expected to vote on this bill in less than three weeks.

Can you sign this petition to Representative Rob Bishop today? Eighty thousand MoveOn members have already signed. We need to double the number of signatures by Wednesday—that means we need 7 more signatures in Hyrum. MoveOn members will personally deliver this petition to many congressional offices the next day. Click here to add your name:

The petition says: "We need a stronger energy bill to fulfill Obama's vision of a clean energy economy. Congress should strengthen the clean energy standards and restore Obama's authority to crack down on dirty coal plants."

Congress must change the energy bill to require power companies to produce more clean energy for America. Wind and solar create more than twice as many jobs as coal and oil.3 And Congress needs to hold polluters accountable by restoring President Obama's current authority through the EPA to crack down on global warming pollution from power plants.

Hey Look Over There, It's Russia!

Now quick, hold a fundraiser while she's distracted!

After being invited -- for a second time -- to speak to the annual joint fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Palin was told abruptly Saturday night that she would not be allowed to address the thousands of Republicans there after all."

"The Alaska governor may now skip the dinner altogether, and her allies are miffed at what they see as a slight from the congressional wing of the Republican Party.
How poorly thought out must your strategy be when those you made the face of the Republican Party mere months ago are the same people you now can't run far enough away from? The Democrats learned this lesson the hard way with John Kerry's "Meh" presidential run. Republicans have an opportunity to learn from that mistake rather than live it. It seems, though, they are determined to follow this one all the way down.

Speaking of which, where did all the Tea Baggn' politicos go? Is Shurtleff the only one still heading up this wonderfully thought out "movement"?

Wikio's Top 100 Political Blogs

(h/t Newshounds, #84)

Blog influence was weighted primarily by "links to" influence.

See the list and/or subscribe here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Complicated Juggling Act

The punditocracy has really got their work cut out for them.

Evidenced in reaction to Obama's Cairo speech, they have two messages.

1) See, he's exactly like Bush, you can vote for Republicans again.


2) He's going to get us all killed.

The cognitive dissonance is astounding.

The impossible contradictions are embarrassing.

Still a good time to be a Democrat.

Chuck Norris is Outraged!

And there is nothing more dangerous than an angry moron.

"Outside Groups" and The Price of Inaction

DFA in the inbox:

Reporters for Politico-com say the White House is leaving it to "outside groups" to carry the fight for a public healthcare option. Why does the President need DFA to get the job done? Because the President can pressure Senators in D.C., but he needs people on the ground in their districts proving he has America's support to get the job done.

Sign up for a delivery right now and you can download a handout with the President's statement, add your info in support and locate the Senate office closest to you. All you need to do is stop by their office during your lunch break, on your way home, or first thing tomorrow on your way to work. Most Senate offices even have a place you can leave your message if you stop by after hours -- so there's no excuse to not take action today.

The email reminded me of something I read at CAP yesterday, regarding the costs (both fiscal and social) of our current system, tying health care reform into deficit reduction.
Our analysis shows that the broken health care system will cost us between $124 billion and $248 billion in lost productivity this year alone due to the almost 52 million uninsured Americans who live shorter lives and have poorer health. In fact an analysis by the Institute of Medicine found that, “the estimated benefits across society in healthy years of life gained by providing health insurance coverage are likely greater than the additional social costs of providing coverage to those who now lack it.”

These findings are based on a 2008 analysis by the New America Foundation, which found that the national economic cost from lost productivity in 2007 was between $104 billion and $207 billion. Economic costs from lost productivity have increased by about 20 percent during the two years since the New America Foundation conducted its analysis. The low bound of this estimate represents just the cost from uninsured Americans’ shorter lifespan.
The CAP site is a great resource for more information, should you want to make yourself an "outside group" of one in this fight.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Print Your Own News

Colorado Independent:

Denver MediaNews Group’s “Individualized News” product was reportedly scheduled to begin printing in 25 Highland neighborhood homes this morning. By now readers have been roused by the sound of a desk-top printer churning out an eight-page I-edition of the news. This version of your morning paper is not affected by the weather. It is six regular-size sheets printed on both sides with stories on topics tailored to your liking along with two sheets of local business coupons.
I'm not sure what to think of this experiment. The challenge remains for newspapers that there is a huge draw for news online, but no revenue stream to match that draw. It's at least nice to see a little creativity coming through, but is an "al a carte" print edition the cash cow newspapers need to stay afloat?

People Powered Internet

The FCC is taking public comments for drafting their national broadband strategy plan. Speak up. Via FreePress:

The crafting of a national broadband plan is one of the most important things the Federal Communications Commission has ever done. But it must do it right, and create a blueprint that puts a people-powered Internet first. The FCC needs to hear from you right now. Please submit the comments below, or add your own.

(You are filing a comment on proceeding 09-31 [In the matter of a "National Broadband Plan for Our Future']. More information from the FCC on this issue can be found at
Submit your comments here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

If It Weren't for Those Medling Bloggers...

Jeffrey Rosen enacts the Scooby Doo Villain defense. Greenwald:

NPR has a thorough examination today of the controversy surrounding Jeffrey Rosen's New Republic anonymity-driven smear attack on Sonia Sotomayor's intellect and character. The audio news report, for which I was interviewed at length, will be posted online at NPR later today.

The one trait that defines establishment pundits more than any other is a pathological inability ever to accept blame or admit error. That's because they work in the most accountability-free profession in America, where people like Bill Kristol (with a record like this) and Jeffrey Goldberg (with a record like this) get promoted despite no retractions or remorse, and establishment media stars in general can pretend that they bear no responsibility for enabling the abuses and crimes of the Bush years. And all of that is simply an extension of the prevailing ethos that political, financial and media elites should be immunized from accountability in general -- which is why the Beltway elite class collectively scoffs at the very notion that there should be any consequences at all when our highest political leaders commit the most serious crimes.

In that grand accountability-free tradition, Rosen blames everyone but himself for what he did, but then melodramatically announces that he will no longer "blog" -- as though it's the medium, rather than his own standards and choices, that are to blame for what he did