Monday, November 30, 2009

Utah could use health care reform

Via SLTrib:

Utah could use health care reform

As the health care reform debate began Monday in the U.S. Senate, a look at the Utah numbers revealed a dismal picture for a state that prides itself on self-sufficiency, prudence and family values.

(Read more)

Smells like polarization

Ezra klein:

Smells like polarization

United, to a point - washingtonpost.com_1259611816505.jpegAccording to the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a plurality of Republicans consider Sarah Palin the "one person [who] best reflects the core values of the Republican Party" and a full 76 percent of Republicans do not think Barack Obama "stand[s] for traditional American values." And thus does America spin off into the brink ...

Sent from my iPhone

NY-23: Hoffman Will Run Again

NY-23: Hoffman Will Run Again: "This is probably good news for Bill Owens. Roll Call:

Accountant Doug Hoffman is seeking a re-match against Rep. Bill Owens (D) in 2010, after losing a Nov. 4 special election in upstate New York by approximately 3,000 votes.

In a lengthy message on his campaign Web site, Hoffman wrote he is moving 'full speed ahead to 2010,' after deciding not to contest the election results, which were finalized Monday. [...]

Hoffman will likely pursue the Republican Party nomination in 2010 after running on the Conservative Party ticket in the special election.

There's no word yet whether or not Hoffman will face any competition for the nod, but there's plenty of time for this one to shake out.

RaceTracker Wiki: NY-23


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Enthusiasm Gap

Numbers from the latest DK/Research2K tracking poll on "likely" (first number) and "unlikely" (second number) voters by party ID:

Republican Voters: 81/14
Independent Voters: 65/23
Democratic Voters: 56/40
And fundraising numbers, via a USA Today report:
The Democratic National Committee, along with the fundraising arm for House Democrats, outraised Republican committees last month. Overall, all Democratic committees ended October with nearly $38.8 million cash on hand, compared with $21.3 million for Republicans.
The first set of numbers point to a rough 2010 for Democrats. I'm hearing a lot of explanation, but the two most prominent and logical seem to be a combination of disappointment over delays on health care reform, Gitmo closings, and stalled cap-and-trade legislation, paired with a general sense from less dissatisfied Democrats that they "got the job done" in 2008, and are now resting back.

But the second set of numbers paints a different story. 2010 will be a GOTV midterm, assuredly. And Tea Baggers will be out in full force, but so far, they aren't opening their wallets or inspiring other Republicans to do so. They'll come out to cast their angry, irrational votes, babbling nonsense and debunked conspiracy theories while they pull the lever, but if they stay at the forefront of Republican Party messaging, they may serve as a boon, not boost. The parity and detachment from reality they embody can be used to waken "resting" Democrats, still riding the 2008 victory high. The "likely" voter numbers should cause concern, but contrasted with the fundraising numbers and the likely 2010 rhetoric of GOP candidates nationwide, there's no reason to panic. Yet.

If the GOP keeps Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin in an increasing spotlight, dumbs down their own candidate field with purity tests and head stomping the moderates, we may see that 3-to-1 fundraising advantage for Democrats manifest as a voter turnout advantage. Disappointment over reform delays and weak cap-and-trade legislation won't keep Democrats from the polls if candidates and state parties can tie turnout to combating tea-baggery.

We can call it the "Vote Against Crazy" movement.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Senate Health Care Debate (To Have a Debate)

Several ways to keep tabs on the Senate debate on having a debate over the health care bill today (if you're just reading this, you've already missed Franken, Lincoln and Landrieu -- a last minute hold out, but now on board supporting a floor debate -- but there's a lot more to come).

CSPAN2 is streaming here.

Follow Howie Klein @downwithtyranny and Think Progress' @wonkroom on Twitter for some great play by play.

Or you can just turn on CNN, who are (this time) treating it like it was a more important story than celebrity gossip. (Wish I could say the same for Fox... who are covering it thusly: Vote? What vote? Hey look over there... Sarah Palin!!!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Displaced Journalists

Editors and Publishers:

NEW YORK A Web site for citizen journalists is extending a helping hand to professional ones. has announced a program for displaced journalists who want to continue their craft and get paid for it. The San Francisco-based Web site is building a professional network of journalists to cover key beats.

Allvoices will pay up to $250 per story to journalists who are selected to participate in the "Provoices" program based on market and beat. If the story generates a lot of traffic, the writer could be eligible for more money.

Former Boston Globe correspondent and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynda Gorov has been tapped to oversee the program as chief of correspondents.

"We recognized that these are tough times for many journalists as news organizations downsize," Amra Tareen, Allvoices' CEO, said in a statement. "We're providing a platform for the best of these journalists to continue to cover their beats, communicate with a global audience and earn money doing it."

Where Were the Tea Parties?

Something the 'Baggers can never explain is the odd timing of their "movement."

Ahem: (via Oliver Willis)

NY-23: Tea Baggers' Norm Coleman?

Failed wingnut candidate Doug Hoffman revokes his election night concession after a visit with Glenn Beck. The election was now "stolen," he writes on his website. And you won't even be surprised who's ruining democracy for everyone:

As evidence surfaces, we find out that reported results from election night were far from accurate. ACORN and the unions did their best to try and sway the results to Obamacare supporter Bill Owens.

I was forced to concede after receiving two pieces of grim news - - down 5,335 votes with 93 percent of the vote counted on election night - and barely won my stronghold in Oswego County.

On Election Night, the information we received was far different from what we received this week!

Rest assured, they will not succeed, and I am therefore revoking my statement of concession.

That is why I am writing you today. Recent developments leave me to wonder who is scheming behind closed doors, twisting arms and stealing elections from the voters of NY-23.

I'm sure you are as dismayed as I am to learn of the mischief that took place in Oswego and neighboring counties. We know this would not be the first time for the ACORN faithful to tamper with democracy.

ACORN! Irrational Grrrrrr! Is there nothing they can't ruin?! I don't care that they weren't actually involved in ballot counting at all in the district, I'm angry anyway! No no, don't tell me anymore, I don't want to know. I want to stay mad and with 1/10 of the related information, that's how we Tea Baggers roll!

Tea Baggers are quickly becoming the political equivalent of people who buy Britney Spears albums: If you'd quit buying it, they'd quit filling the airwaves up with bullshit!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making "Matheson Angst" Productive (Avoiding the Tea Bagger Trap)

It's exciting to hear a little energy in the voices behind the primary Matheson talk. I love primary challenges. And no one is as disappointed in Jim's health care vote, and small minded strategy since the '08 election. But I have another idea for all those experiencing a little conserva-Dem angst:

Forget Jim.

Let me explain.

Matheson's future is pretty obvious. By 2013, one way or another, there will be no more "Congressman" Matheson. Maybe that will happen due to "Senator" Matheson, or "Governor" Matheson, or "Guy Who Got Less Votes in All Three" Matheson. And on the national level, Democrats don't need him. He may regret trying to fight an agenda he's going to own either way in 2010 when the base can't get out for him, but that is his problem, not ours.

To recap my thoughts so far: Primary talk for one vote (health care) is tea bagger territory, and we shouldn't go there (spend a little time on the #tcot #utgop hashtags on Twitter if you need convincing). Primary talk for a voting "trend" is more reasonable. A Democrat campaigning on Fox News in opposition to key party votes, definitely justifies primary talk.

But then there is reality. Take a look at this (unfortunately worded) quote from State Party Chairman Wayne Holland in today's City Weekly:

Utah Democratic Party chairman Wayne Holland chastised Matheson's critics as creatures of the Internet who do not understand the district well-enough to offer sound strategy. Supporting a more liberal challenger for Matheson “sounds nice at 2 o'clock in the morning, but it doesn't play out in reality. .... [Matheson] wins by high 50s or low 60s in a district that is in the top 12 most conservative districts in the county. To not have a moderate in that seat would be suicide for the Democratic Party.”
Wayne is right. And no matter how angry we are with Matheson's votes (and I would argue strategy, as it still seems short-sighted to me for him to oppose an agenda he's going to own anyway... why not at least energize your base if you're going to take a hit one way or another?) we have to admit that yes, a primary challenge in 2010 would cost Utah Democrats the seat.

But there are two other messages in Holland's quote that -- for me -- illuminates something much more important than Jim Matheson to Utah Democrats. The idea that the loss of Matheson, for whatever reason, would be "suicide" for the Democratic Party (assuming Holland means the Utah Democratic Party), and the idea that disagreement with Matheson -- either from an ideological, or from a political strategist's point of view -- is propelled solely by "creatures of the internet," and the implied attitude toward these same "creatures of the internet."

That is what those frustrated with Matheson's vote should be working to change. If those fed up with the direction Matheson takes himself have enough energy, time, money, and (most importantly) candidates to run primary challenges against Matheson, or other down ticket "conserva-dems" we disagree with ideologically, why not write District 2 off until 2012, and focus that energy on District 1 (which is not that different from District 2, if ballots cast can be any indicator). Run your challenger there, and just wait Jim Matheson (and redistricting) out, rather than toss the seat like the tea-baggers in NY-23 did.

If we didn't just pop out of the woodwork every time Jim Matheson casts a Republican vote -- even if that is increasing in frequency since November 2008 -- but instead pointed these disagreements toward working inside the state party to increase our influence, we could gain much more. Within a few years, we will have our "better" Democrat. And as much as we have to accept our own realities, the party will have to also accept a future without Jim. That's where our real opportunities lie.

So forget Jim.

Those who want to take Matheson on directly should pause for a minute. What if, instead, we took this energy and put it toward reminding Mr. Holland that we "Creatures of the Internet" are volunteering and staffing county party efforts many times over, and in many counties even serving as county party officers. And also making that increasingly the case. Influencing the party from within through involvement will do more for Democrats in Utah, and the future of Democrats in our federal delegation than a 2010 challenge for Matheson ever could. Stop pretending a blog or a Twitter account is enough.

So forget Jim. His future is predictable and if he can't get the base out for him in 2010, that's a political choice he's made (I think he'll be okay, one more go round). What isn't set in stone is the future of the state party, and the "machine" that fosters the candidates who will replace people like Matheson in coming years.

That's where we "Creatures of the Internet" can have real influence, and avoid the trap that the Tea-Baggers have fallen into.

More on this later.

Fruits of Wingnuttia

Sure there are crazies on all sides. Take 9/11 Truthers and Cindy Sheehan (please). But sometimes, the crazy concentrates in one particular faction a little too quickly and a little too completely to be circumstance. And oh is it concentrated...

"A 60-year-old Port Huron woman threatened to take a gun to the newspaper and 'do what they did at Fort Hood,' according to police," the Times-Herald reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper says the woman's alleged threat came over an editorial that ran last week which described US House Rep. Candice Miller's participation in the anti-health reform protest as "shameful." Miller, a Republican who represents Michigan's 10th district, reportedly made herself very visible during the November 5 protest on Capitol Hill, organized by Republican firebrand Michele Bachmann.

Among other things, the protest featured a sign that compared Democrats' health care reform efforts to the slaughter of Jews in the Dachau concentration camp.

Stay classy, tea baggers!

Adopt a Swing State


Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have each been targeted by the opposition to join a Republican filibuster. If that happens, health insurance reform will not move forward.

We can't sit on the sidelines while this political drama unfolds. And right now, you can have no greater impact than adopting a health care "swing state" as your own. Adopt-a-state, and begin recruiting now:

Join Team Connecticut (Sen. Lieberman)

Join Team Louisiana (Sen. Landrieu)

Join Team Arkansas (Sen. Lincoln)

Join Team Nebraska (Sen. Nelson)

The AP reported today that opponents of reform, led by the U.S. Chamber, have poured $24 million into an advertising onslaught in the last month alone. The fact is, we will be outspent by corporate special interests. But we can do something corporate American can't - we can talk to fellow voters, and have personal conversations about health care.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Taxes on the Hat Were Too High

David Waldman, channeling Rep. Jason Chaffetz and his "Prejean would make a great GOP candidate" meme does a flawless breakdown of GOP recruiting standards:

They'll just take any famous person. Issues and message never mattered. Not since GOPAC developed the campaign in a box.

Balloon Boy. Octomom. The band guys. The shiniest nickel you ever saw. Whoever. Whatever.

Got a rich sugar daddy to buy you some fake boobs so you could compete in a beauty pageant? Boo! Where's your dignity?

Filmed yourself masturbating? Pervert! Get lost!

Oppose gay marriage? Welcome to the GOP! Wanna run for something?

We've got airport bathroom toe tappers. Page sex chatters. Diaper wearers. And now, sex tape makers. Whatever! We'll take anybody! We're thinking of talking to a guy who got a lot of hits for a YouTube video of himself shitting in a hat, cuz he says the taxes on the hat were too high.

Revolution in '10, baby!

Conservatives unite around... well, does it really matter? You're angry and organized, who needs sensible rationale?

Bennetts TARP Gambit

Hey look, the Tea Party influence. From unintelligent message to unintelligent legislation in less than a year. SLTrib:

A group of Republican senators, including Utah's Bob Bennett, filed a bill Tuesday to stop the Treasury Department from extending the Troubled Asset Relief Program for another 10 months.

They argue the Obama administration has used TARP for purposes far beyond what Congress intended and they want the unused money -- about $300 billion -- to go toward the national debt.

"The financial crisis has passed," said Bennett. "The usefulness of TARP is therefore over."

Bennett and five of the bill's other sponsors originally voted for the $700 billion TARP program saying they felt the country was on the verge of an economic disaster. Bennett is up for reelection in 2010 and has been criticized for that vote by Republican challengers.

This is moronic. And those who think it's a good idea are morons subscribing to the moronic. No matter how much the tea baggers hates them some spending, a bank rescue was necessary. If they banks are still in trouble, additional rescue is going to be necessary. Plenty of room for criticism at the lack of TARP oversight (something conservatives played the largest role in, ironically), or where the funds were directed, but anyone who argues we should've just let our largest banks fail displays a peculiar lack of understanding about our economy and how it functions today.

I'd wager that if those sponsoring this legislation thought for a second it had an actual chance of passage, they wouldn't submit it if their life depended on it.

But since it won't pass, and since they're all facing pressure from low-information wingnuts, they send it up to pad their conservative creds.

How is this a good thing? Shouldn't we expect useful, thoughtful, and -- most importantly -- good policy from our elected officials? The tea party influence over these GOP reps afraid to stand up and call stupid stupid is a complete waste of time.

But, then again, it's entertaining to watch them scramble, so... carry on, Tea Baggers!

Huntsman Quote of the Day

Via Political Wire:

"It's a good time to be in Beijing."

-- Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), the current ambassador to China, when asked about the current ideological fight in the Republican party.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tea Baggin' Bennett vs. Putting Pressure on Matheson

Personally, I'm a fan of primary challenges. Sometimes even the threat of a primary challenge is enough to get an elected official -- especially a congressional representative, always more responsive to public opinion and pressure -- to rethink their positions. We should never assume a representative is casting votes purely to represent his or her constituency. Sometimes representatives do lose touch, and a primary challenge can be one hell of a wake up call.

But I'm also a fan of surveying the landscape of electoral possibilities and political realities, as opposed to "ideological purity tests" similar to what we are seeing from the Tea Bagger crowd in opposition to Sen. Bob Bennett and every other Republican who has ever once voted against the lock-step (also hypocritical, inconsistent, and for the most part imagined through "red state eyes" agenda of the wingnut) conservative agenda. I believe the tea party "movement" will prove to be the best thing to happen to Democrats in 2010, and I think there is a lesson there for those of us who find ourselves -- justifiably -- disappointed with Jim Matheson.

This isn't an argument for moderation. Moderation is overrated and, like bipartisanship, a vague goal employed more often as an excuse than as a route to good policy or representation. There is too much at stake to pat ourselves on the back for the "big tent" and hope that that alone will maintain the popularity of the Democratic Party. The party needs to show leadership, and poll after poll tells us that. But there is an argument to be had for intelligent strategy. Tea baggers hates them some Bob Bennett sooooo much, and why? A TARP vote and maybe some 2005 vote against constitutional bans on flag burning. The horror! So what are they going to do? Their going to send up Eager (with Joe the Plummer!) and Tim Bridgewater. Brilliant! An Eagle Forum jack-boot, and a John Bircher! All in the name of ideological purity.

With that in mind, the idea of a more liberal primary challenger for Matheson raises several important questions, and "pros" and "cons" of challenging the seat from the left. Con: A more progressive Democrat could win the primary, but would most likely lose the general if the Utah GOP stood up to the tea baggers and ran a moderate Republican. Pro: Matheson isn't necessary to the national majority, and on several key issues has voted like a Republican anyway. Con: Matheson's vote may be more important with a slimmer majority post 2010, and therefore worth hanging onto. Pro: On key issues, he's voted like a Republican. See where this is going?

Outside of these questions, we have "internal" questions to ask. Is Matheson a boon or a boost to the state party? What is Matheson doing to "turn" his district, if anything? (Assuming we aren't willing to accept the status quo forever).

Watching the damage Club for Growth, Freedomworks, and tea baggers are doing to the future of the GOP, we should be wary of implementing a similar strategy within our own party for the sake of ideological purity alone. That said, we shouldn't be willing to "settle" for the votes a representative casts simply because "he's our only Democrat," and a primary challenge is one sure way to tell a representative enough is enough. Has Matheson crossed that line? He voted for the Stimulus, and supported -- over the years -- countless good legislation in vote and in sponsorship. But he also opposed cap-and-trade legislation, pushed for oil-shale exploration, and not only opposed health care reform legislation in the House, but actively campaigned against it on Fox News more than once. Progressive punch gives him a 70+ "lifetime" rating, yet on several key issues, a moderate Republican and a conservative Jim Matheson would play the same role for a Democratic "agenda" over the next few years. But Republicans aren't running moderates in 2010, and that matters. So how many key votes crosses the line? 1? No, that's tea bagger territory. 2? 3? 4? Maybe somewhere in there.

Another "matter" to be considered here is Matheson's influence on the state level. If his influence nationally is marginal for a Democratic agenda, even sometimes working against, his role in the state, we are told, is the converse. But is this true? What did Matheson's vote against health care reform gain the state party? Could health care reform be used as a boon to base fundraising in a year that has for the most part been dry? Could threats from tea baggers screaming about death panels be used to galvanize Democrats in the state? With Matheson in opposition roughly 2/3 of the time since the election, could fighting for White House be employed as an energizing tactic for volunteers and activists going into 2010? Not without at some point crossing messaging with Matheson. How does this help down ticket Democrats who will own health care and cap-and-trade just as much as Matheson, whether they support it or not?

I want to say that again: We are going to own the White House's agenda in 2010, whether we agree with it or not.

So we assume all the negative, and cannot capitalize on the positive, all in the name of standing behind "our only Democrat"? In a nutshell, yes.

I'm oversimplifying greatly here, and with the help of the rest of The Sidetrack, we'll dig a little deeper into Matheson on the Federal Level and Matheson on the State Level in the next few days, but as a prologue to those posts, I throw all this out.

I'm as frustrated by Matheson's opposition to the House health care bill as anyone. But my frustration stems more from a feeling that it's simply bad strategy, and comes at too high a cost to the state party than it is ideological differences with Jim. And while I'd probably volunteer in a primary challenge campaign, even offer up a donation or two, I'm not convinced it's the best way forward. Giving up the seat just to maintain ideological purity is too close to having a tea party for my taste. But ignoring bad votes, bad strategy, and pretending everything Jim does is good for Democrats in Utah is just as unappealing.

More on this tomorrow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Cancer in the GOP

Tea baggers, or Sarah Palin. Or is there a difference?

Her political celebrity is so powerful that it has reduced a large part of the Republican Party to irrationality and civic incoherence. According to Gallup, Republicans are more likely to say they would seriously consider voting for Palin for president (65 percent) than to say she is qualified for the job (58 percent). At the moment she is promoting a book. But she is also, inevitably, promoting a distinctive political sensibility."

"What Obama advisers privately refer to as 'Palinism' has created a climate of ideological purity inside the GOP. To deviate from the anti-Obama line at all -- that is, to acknowledge that politics is the art of compromise -- risks the censure of the party.

Rep. Chris Herrod vs. Science

The representative loses.

This is one of the most irritating aspects of the climate debate. So many willing to speak empirically when there is no clear consensus (at most you could say there is a consensus that leans toward man-made influence over the climate, it most definitely doesn't even lean in Herrod's direction).

I'm tired of asking this question, but here goes again. If we can't ever know "for sure" until it may be too late to really do anything about it, and if we are capable of solving this problem -- if if it's on a "just in case" basis -- well, what would an intelligent species do?

Herrod, joined by every "climate expert" Sutherland has ever brought into the state for "Earth Week," will not be representing the "intelligent" side. Don't try to confuse them with all your hippie elitist big words like "science" and "data" and "prediction models."

There's is a world of convenient talking points and oversimplifications.

And they'd like it to stay that way, thank you very much.

News flash to Democrats who voted against the health bill...

TDS Contributor Robert Creamer (via HuffPo) presents a list of 10 blunders behind the choice of those Democrats who cast a "nay" vote in last Saturday's health care bill circus.

All of them are great points, and many of them are nuggets of thought Rep. Jim Matheson should be pondering.

But there were two sentences that I think perfectly summed up my feelings on why Matheson made a mistake opposing the bill. (emphasis mine)

News flash to Democrats who voted against the health bill: not one of the "tea party" gang is going to support you in 2010. Whether you voted yes or no, they are all going to work their hearts out for your opponent.
To be fair, Matheson will get another chance to be on the right side of this issue, morally, and from an electoral future perspective. But without an energized base, and with his assured ownership of whatever bill passes regardless of how he votes, Matheson is digging down, not up.

Obviously I disagree with Matheson from a policy point of view on this one. That's not the argument I'm trying to make.

I'm just pointing out that he's practicing some very short sighted, even self-defeating strategy running right on an issue he's going to own either way in 2010.

Health Care Subsidies vs. a Public Option

Another no brainer.

The fight for the public option is inseparable from the fight for better subsidies and affordability. The weaker public option selected by the House saves the government $25 billion. If the House had been able to pass the public option tied to Medicare rates it would have saved $110 billion. To give you an idea, only $602 billion will be spent on exchange subsidies and related spending. Including the weaker public option basically allowed Pelosi to increase subsidies by 4%. If progressives had been successful in getting the robust public option it would have increased subsidies by 18% — a sizable increase.

Despite some incorrect reporting to the contrary, just over half of the people on the exchange will get affordability tax credits. Some people on the exchange will make over 400% of the FPL and roughly a third will be getting employer provided vouchers, not government subsidies, to buy their health insurance on the exchange. Increasing the size of subsidy levels will not help them. A public option, which the CBO said will reduce premiums across the board, will help them. (I suspect CBO is underestimating the ability of the public option to reduce all premiums on the exchange, but that is a different matter.)

The issue of subsidies is important but it is not as important as the public option.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No Brainer

From the inbox:

Where Are the Real Deficit Hawks?

By David Sirota
Creators Syndicate, 11/13/09

Let's say you're a congressperson or tea party leader looking to champion deficit reduction -- a cause 38 percent of Americans tell pollsters they support. And let's say you're deciding whether to back two pieces of imminent legislation.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the first bill's spending provisions cost $100 billion annually and its tax and budget-cutting provisions recoup $111 billion annually, thus reducing total federal expenditures by $11 billion each year. The second bill proposes $636 billion in annual spending and recoups nothing. Over 10 years, the first bill would spend $1 trillion and recover $1.11 trillion -- a fantastic return on taxpayer investment. Meanwhile, the second bill puts us on a path to spend $6.3 trillion in the same time.

Save $110 billion, or spend $6.3 trillion? If you're explicitly claiming the mantle of fiscal prudence, this should be a no-brainer: You support the first bill and oppose the second one.

Yet, in recent months, the opposite happened.

To read the full newspaper column, go to:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Perry Challenges Bachmann for Crown

The bat-shit crown, that is.

“This is an administration hell-bent toward taking American towards a socialist country," Perry remarked. "And we all don’t need to be afraid to say that because that’s what it is.”

Perry praised tea party activists, who have challenged Democrats' moves on healthcare, while demanding reductions in government services.

“If you all think those tea parties didn’t work, then let me tell you something,” Perry continued. “When they all came home in August for those town hall meetings, they got an earful. Then they went back to Washington, D.C. and the Senate voted that public option down in committee with a majority of Democrats in the Senate.”

He also said Obama was punishing Texas by sending them immigrants.

(emphasis mine)

Comedy gold.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Dawg on Health Care Reform Bills

Political Wire:

"We need to put a bill on the president's desk and he needs to sign it, so at the State of the Union he's not explaining why we haven't done health care."

-- Bill Clinton, quoted by the Wilmington News Journal, to Democrats at a Delaware fundraising dinner.
Why? Well, there's this. And this.

Oh and this.

Take your pick.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Journalism in 10

The Nation magazine has been posting weekly videos from their "Journalism in 10" (years) series, with thoughts from media insiders on what the field of journalism will look like in 5 to 10 years. From the description of the series at The Nation dot com.

It's no secret that American media is in turmoil, with many longstanding fixtures in print journalism either folding or contracting. So what will the media look like in five years? Ten? Each Sunday through the end of 2009, is featuring an exclusive new video series, "Journalism in 10," in which media insiders weigh in on the future of journalism. The series starts this week with The Nation's John Nichols, and includes exclusive videos with Dan Rather, Jane Mayer, Victor Navasky, Marcy Wheeler, Ana Marie Cox, Nick Penniman and Mark Luckie, among many others. Videos are posted each Sunday at and
Worth the watch. Here.

Tough GOP Choices: When Lying, Foot-Stomping No Longer Works

Tim F. @ Balloon Juice on the GOP's antics during Saturday's health care debate:

If it was not the most embarrassing display of bad behavior in recent government history, it is only because of everything else Republicans did lately. When lying didn’t work (they want to euthanize granny!) they tried hyperbole (health insurance reform is LITERALLY THE SAME THING AS STALIN TIMES THE HOLOCAUST!). Then they tried lying again. Then lying plus hyperbole, stamping their feet and shouting.

Normally the side that doesn’t have the law on its side, and doesn’t have the facts either, recognizes that you just lose twice if you throw your credibility and reputation into a losing fight. This fight was clearly different for Republicans, and you know what? They’re right. If the GOP had not pushed the Overton Window way to the right compared with where we started when Single Payer was still on the table (ish), Democratic moderates would have no problem supporting the watered down “moderate” compromise that the House finally passed yesterday. The bills would have steamrolled both houses of Congress with decent support from swing-district Republicans if the party had not made it a hill to die on with an emphasis on die.

Bill Kristol had it right in 1994. If Democrats effectively fix health care then Republicans are screwed. Any health care reform that does not suck even worse would effectively be written in stone as soon as it passed. Realigning their issue set to stay relevant could be quite awkward since Democrats already claimed most of the issues that Americans don’t hate. To stay alive Republicans would need to tack somewhere less crazy, but that would motivate Michelle Bachmann’s twenty-some percent of crazy people to go third party. Those two factors would effectively doom Republicans to share a shrinking back bench with the conservative fruitcake party and their pet schmuck Joe Lieberman.

So yeah, Republicans pulled out all the stops on this one.
The question conservatives who support this tactic should be asking themselves is "Ok, so what if this doesn't work?" If you have pinned your reputation on a message that isn't speaking to a majority of voters, isn't winning you elections, and isn't contributing to the creation of policy you can then tout as successful influence of governance, are you still a political party?

No, you're the "fringe." And what happens to the "fringe"? Well, people get tired of hearing from you. The excitement of crazy wears thin. And eventually, voters start expecting you to have something serious to say, or sit down and shut up.

All their eggs are in one paper mache pinata shaped like Sarah Palin's head, and though many of us on the left are enjoying the prospects of the next several years in power, the mere thought of a single party political arena similar to what we have here in Utah happening on a national scale should scare the shit out of even the most die hard of ideologues.

Here's to hoping the GOP outgrows tea-baggers and Club for Growth (who are still campaigning for Democrats, it seems) soon. But not too soon, we've still got a few more 2,000 pg -- gasp! -- SOCIALIST! takeover bills to push through.

Monday, November 9, 2009

OFA's Utah County Listening Tour, Saturday

(h/t UtahDemocrats via Twitter)

Organizing for America:

Organizing for America, the grassroots effort that grew out of the Obama campaign will be holding a listening tour in Provo to hear from members of the community about what issues are of most concern to them and develop a strategy for organizing in the local community. This will be an opportunity to talk about the issues that are important to you and give Organizing for America State Director Nikki Norton input about the best way to organize for change -- on issues including health insurance reform, energy, education and other important issues -- in your community. Join the conversation and help decide what OFA’s role will be in your local community.
Sign up to attend here.

Health Care Bills and Getting Democrats to the Polls for Matheson in 2010

Tom Jensen @ Public Policy Polling offers some takeaways from polling in NJ and VA regarding final passage of a health care bill and the effects it would have on Republican and Democratic voters.

In short, the damage is done with Republicans. The debate so far has them motivated to come out in opposition to Democratic candidates, whether a bill passes in the end or not.

But the "likelihood" of Democrats coming to the polls seems to depend greatly on final passage.

[...] Democrats might stay at home, like they did this year, without one. Democratic voters need to see that getting control of Washington accomplished something for them to be motivated to get out there next year and keep control of Washington.

At this point the political fallout for Democrats from not passing a health care bill is worse than the fallout from passing one.
To fire Democrats up, they need to see a return on their "investment" in 2008. They need to see that getting control of the House, Senate, and White House actually led to some sort of productive change in direction.

What does this mean for Jim Matheson? Continued opposition to a health care reform bill gets him no where as a congressman, but may benefit him in a future Senate run. He's going to own and face a fired up Republican base whether he supports a final "Senate-ized" bill or not. But by supporting a final bill, he could rally Democrats to support him in greater numbers. He's going to own health care and the Democratic Party's agenda either way, when it comes to opposition in 2010, if this is any indicator (and I think it is):

Instead of thanking Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, for voting with them against his party's health care reform bill, Republicans are lambasting him for also voting against their alternative health bill.

"Jim Matheson proved that he is satisfied with being part of the status quo that includes runaway deficits and rising costs," said a press release by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

That is no thanks at all for Matheson being one of 39 moderate Democrats who opposed his own party's bill, along with all House Republicans but one.
Hard-line voters, activists, and those talking primary challenge will be faced with a decision not so different from past cycles: give up the seat -- or at least risk it -- with a primary challenge, or by letting it all rest on Matheson's name and voting record on less polarizing issues alone, or come out (in smaller numbers) just to keep a "D" in our federal delegation. Philosophically, I think primary challenges are always a good thing, but if one it mounted, it should be understood that giving up the seat to a Republican for the sake of Democratic Party ideals could be the end result. In the end, a decision to primary will rest on activists decision to back Barack Obama's agend, or Jim Matheson's agenda. And to be fair, Matheson's agenda is in sync with Obama's on more issues than when it isn't (in number), but diverges on issues that may be too "key" to the party for hard-liners to accept. But is Matheson dependent on hard-line Democrats? So far, he hasn't been.

Matheson himself faces a decision. Facing the predictable Republican attacks with an energized Democratic base, or "going it alone" with a reputation that has worked for him well so far.

To me, it seems like an needless risk for him to take (again, assuming his challenges will be the same whether he supports the bill or not) on the issue of health care. He's employing a tactic that has worked well for him under Republican administrations. How it will play out when he owns his own party's agenda, regardless of how he himself votes, is another ball game altogether.

Thank Those Who Supported Health Care Reform

AFL-CIO has a tool online for sending a quick message of thanks, or disappointment, depending on where you're reading this from:

On Saturday, 220 members of the U.S. House of Representatives showed they are on the side of working families, not big insurance companies, when they voted for quality, affordable and accessible health care. Today is our chance to thank them. Click here.
Enter your zip, and speak up.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Melodramatic Conservatives, and their "Convenient Constitution"

Last night, as results of the House health care vote came through, I was treated to a tweet from a fellow Utah blogger, a conservative, in response. Before opining, I want to apologize for singling Holly out this way (don't take it personally, Holly) to make my argument, and recommend that you all stop by her blog, where there is always a discussion to be had. That said, her tweet, upon news that the House had passed a health care reform bill:

And so dies liberty - to thunderous applause.... I was there to witness more shredding of our Constitution. #utpol
This was a common theme on the #tcot and #iamthemob Twitter threads, and overall one of the most laughable aspects of the "rebirth" of Constitutionally aware and "principle" guided conservatives in the age of Obama. The blatant hypocrisies and over-the-top rhetoric. And too often those of us pointing out their hypocrisy fall too easily to convenient (even if true) arguments such as "where were you when Bush was in office?" So let me point to a few more current examples where liberty was really trampled on, which most conservatives have been silent on.
  • The Stupak Amendment. This is one of the most common areas of "liberty" hypocrisy from social conservatives. Not only did they support this amendment blocking federal funds for low-income women seeking an abortion, but they would take it a step further, and support a full on reversal of Roe v. Wade. How is making abortion illegal not sacrificing liberty? Even if you stick to the "protect the unborn" argument, you are still taking liberty from one person (the pregnant woman) in order to bestow it on another (the fetus). Spin it any way you wish, it's what social conservatives would like to see. And it's not an across the board defense of liberty.

  • Gay marriage. There is absolutely no way to spin this one. Social conservatives wish to deny "liberty" to a certain group of people, while ensuring others get to enjoy that same "liberty." All in Jesus' name of course. Regardless of where you fall on the issue, or how a conservative chooses to justify their willingness to deny liberty to another, there is no way to define it otherwise.

  • FISA revisions, recently extended. Conservative were silent when Bush signed this into law (with the help of a spineless Democratic House, admittedly), and they were silent when Barack Obama supported the "warrantless wiretapping," "blanket warrant," and "dragnet domestic surveillance" provisions added into FISA policy during his campaign, and recently when the House debated and approved extensions of the Patriot Act. How is remaining silent on such unconstitutional policy a "defense of liberty," even if you are justifying it in the name of "fighting terror"? Well, it isn't. It's simply remaining silent as liberty is taken away. Both Bush and Obama have supported such policy, and from bloggers like Holly? Not a peep. Many even still defend the suspension of habeas corpus, setting a precedent for additional loss of "liberty" down the road.
These are just two examples, of many (let's not even get started on Dick Cheney's personal obsession: the expansion of executive powers since the Nixon years), but two examples of issues that most definitely embody the sacrifices of liberties protected in the Constitution, without a single complaint from these glorious, noble defenders of all things "liberty." These are also two examples that occurred in 2009, to avoid any notion I'm making a Bush vs. Obama argument. These are Bush provisions that Obama as re-certified with his support. Did you see a single sign at Glenn Beck's 9/12 rally that even mentioned warrantless surveillance? Yeah, neither did I.

It makes it impossible to take them seriously. If you're going to defend "liberty" above all other principles, then more power to you. I think the world is a bit more complex than such idealistic world-views can account for, but I'm always a supporter of one who stands on principle. But if you're going to simply pick and choose what "liberty" you're going to defend and decry the loss of, well, then you're little more than a partisan hack, complaining when things aren't going you're way, and remaining silent when they are. And all the while, you are perverting what is a noble notion (the defense of the Constitution) with your half-assed observation of when "liberty" has and has not been forsaken.

To declare the death of liberty when something you philosophically oppose (health care with a public option) passes the House, and yet remain silent when the House approves the NSA's ability to record your phone calls, email, and shopping habits without even obtaining a post-facto warrant from an oversight court makes you a hypocrite. I'm not arguing the "right or wrongness" of differing points of view, I'm simply saying that if you are Pro-Life, Anti-Gay Marriage, or supported The Patriot Act, you cannot say that you would never, ever, ever support measures that would dilute "liberty" for the individual. Obviously, you would, but only the one's you agree with in philosophy.

It's impossible to take you seriously. Plain and simple.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The GOP Health Care "Debate"

Nice (freedom killing job killing illegal immigrant protecting! Grrrr!) "mash-up" video that illustrates the hissy-fit GOPers invoked to cover for their intellectual bankruptcy so far in the health care debate.

House Vote on Health Care Reform

I'm trying to follow the goings on in the House as closely as possible.

You can follow along via The SideTrack on Twitter.

Many more are doing the same via hashtag #hcr.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Walk the Plank

Friday night comedy. New ad from the ever-so-in touch American Future Fund.

Astro-turfers Targeting Matheson, Add Your Voice

Matheson seems to be listening to them too. Utah Health Policy Project in the inbox:

Congressman Matheson and his colleagues will be called to the House floor for a rare Saturday vote on the most far-reaching health care reforms in more than 40 years!

Call Congressman Matheson TODAY and urge him to support H.R. 3962. You can call him toll-free at 1-800-828-0498. Leave him this simple message:
“Please vote in favor of H.R. 3962. This is an historic opportunity to ensure quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, and Utah needs a voice--your voice--at this critical stage of the process. As a constituent, I will support you when you cast this important vote.”

Rep. Matheson is getting way too many ‘astroturf’ (fake) calls from the opposition, we just learned. To counter this, we need YOU to call him now.

For small business owners, H.R. 3962, brings immense benefits such as cost containment (get more talking points on cost concerns below), insurance reform, tax credits and a robust, competitive health insurance exchange. For all Utahns—whether insured or uninsured—H.R. 3962 ensures affordability for Utah families, provides security for our seniors, does not add to the deficit, and ends discrimination by insurance companies against Utahns with pre-existing conditions. While this bill is not perfect, it is an historic step forward that Rep. Matheson should support.

Saturday’s vote will be historic and we need Rep. Matheson to truly represent his constituents! Call Congressman Matheson TODAY and urge him to support H.R.3962. You can him call toll-free at 1-800-828-0498.

Also tell him “All I want for Christmas is comprehensive health reform." Supporting H.R. 3962 puts us one step closer to giving all Utahns the gift of security and peace of mind that comes with quality, affordable health coverage.

Overestimating the GOP


Just got an e-mail from the party that they're bringing in Doug Hoffman to speak at their Hall of Fame dinner in a couple weeks. The same Doug Hoffman of course who managed to blow a Congressional seat the party had held for over a century.

If the Hoffman model is what they want to emulate they may just find a way to screw it up in a political climate that appears to be very favorable for them. Democrats have kept power in recent years despite one corruption scandal after another because voters in North Carolina think the Republicans are just too extreme and incompetent. You'd think they'd try to learn from those lessons and put a different face forward that could actually appeal to voters in the center but I may have overestimated them.
The question remains is this a duel of strategies within the party, or an inability of GOP leaders to contain and productively direct the tea-baggn' monster they've encouraged since January 20, 2009? TPM has a nice quote that answers the question:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) resists NRSC chairman John Cornyn big-tent strategy on candidate recruitment: "He's trying to find candidates who can win. I'm trying to find people who can help me change the Senate."
Isn't winning elections kind of the first step in that plan, Jim? The GOP seems stuck in the Underpants Gnome plan for success, still. Step 1, recruit the tea bagger. Step 2: ? Step 3: Change the Senate. Meanwhile, Club for Growth, refusing to learn from days-old history and a 20 for 29 special election losing streak, is planning to lose another election in the name of ideological purity.

Genius strategy, if you ask me (the Democrat).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Unexcited Youth Vote

Charles Lemos:

The importance of getting the young to turn out cannot be overstated. In New Jersey, 66 percent of those under 30 voted for Governor Corzine. Just 25 percent voted for the Republican Chris Christie. In Virginia given 11 point drop-off and the lack of excitement for the Democrat Creigh Deeds generally, the youth split nearly evenly with Deeds capturing 51 percent to McDonnell's 49 percent.

This is not to blame our poor performance yesterday on the young because there were other factors involved. In Virginia, 15 percent of African Americans turned out compared with 20 percent last year. The bigger factor was both drop-off in the number of independents and their swing to the GOP. Independents made up the smallest part of the electorate turnout in both states - contributing 29 percent of the total vote in Virginia and 28 percent in New Jersey. McDonnell received 62 percent of the independent vote, while Deeds managed only 37 percent. In the Garden State Christie took 58 percent of the independent vote, while Corzine received only 31 percent. This more than anything did Corzine in.

Still, I think this statistic is pretty telling. If the Electoral College vote had been determined by only those 29 or younger, Obama would have trounced McCain 475 to 63. Obama carried this demographic in states like Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina, Arizona, Kentucky, Tennessee, Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota. Clearly, it pays off electorally speaking to engage the young and make them "part of something."
Part of something like, say, real health care reform? Real climate legislation? Real immigration reform? Changing direction in economic policy? The achievements of this administration are no doubt understated and flying under the media radar, but we are lacking a cohesive goal and definition that existed in 2008, going into 2010.

Stated (over) simply, the youth vote came out for Obama in '08 because the campaign machine itself included them in something that at least in theory stood for something they could get excited about.

What's to get excited about in watching corporate interests water down the reform you helped campaign for? What's to get excited about in watching the leaders you supported make concessions to Olympia Snowe?

The youth vote will come out again if Democrats can give them a reason, tangible and clearly defined, to call themselves activists for Democratic candidates.

More Election Tea-leaves: Anti-Tax (TABOR) Initiatives Lose Big

More "under the radar" results from Tuesday's election:

Out of all of the election results from yesterday, the anti-tax ballot measures in Maine and Washington (known as TABOR) provide a better political tea leaf into voter attitudes going into the 2010 election cycle than anything else. The good news is, progressives won big on a topic that will likely define the nature of the midterm election.

A central tenant of the right-wing agenda has been rejected with the defeat of TABOR (known deceptively as the "taxpayer bill of rights") in these two states - states that are diverse from each other in almost all respects. Maine's measure went down with a resounding defeat, 60% to 40%, while Washington's campaign came from behind with a 55% to 45% rebuff.
I understand the political convenience of Republicans championing the VA and NJ races as a win, and Democrats wearing NY-23 as a badge of victory. None of those races will predict the sentiment of voters going into 2010, however. These ballot initiatives, though, might give a little more insight (and bad news for tea baggers) into the demeanor of voters, the majority of whom see themselves as moderates living outside of intra-party power struggles.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Turnout will Decide 2010

Much of the discussion over the Democratic win in NY-23 and the GOP taking the NJ and VA governors races has centered around Barack Obama, and a "repudiation" or "endorsement" of his policies. If anything, the turnout of all three big attention getting races tells us that Barack Obama's 2008 popularity isn't enough for a Democrat to run on in 2009. Not exactly earth shattering news there. In fact, Democrats finished with a win over the trumped up "TEA party" candidate in NY-23, and a net gain in the House. Hard to spin that as a growing "anti-Obama" national sentiment, thought Michael Steele really really really hopes you won't notice that.

But there is an underlying message here for Democrats much more worth the scrutiny. DS:

[...] there is no denying the McDonnell and Christie victories will hurt with redistricting, and of course, the msm will give them 90 percent of the ink and air time. Although niether win was a referendum on President Obama, they do indicate that his coattails have frayed away with time. More to the point, Democrats have a lot of work to do in figuring out how to mobilize turnout in off-year elections -- and wherever they don't have a charismatic candidate leading the charge.
GOTV will be the most important factor for the Democratic Party on a national level. It won't be the TEA parties, or Dick Army. It won't be conservatives running right of conservatives that tips the balance of power in the House. A continued Democratic majority will depend almost entirely on our own ability to get our own out to the polls.

Like a Lead Filled Tea Bag (NY-23)

Heh. NYT breaking news update, in the inbox:

A staunch conservative conceded defeat to a moderate Democrat early Wednesday morning in a hard-fought contest for New York State's northernmost Congressional seat, a race that exposed divisions among Republicans over how far outside the party's base they should reach as they look to rebuild.

With 88 percent of precincts reporting, the Democrat, Bill Owens, was leading with 49 percent of the vote, while the Conservative Party candidate, Douglas L. Hoffman, had 45.5 percent.
So the wingers run their candidate, undermine the Republican (who isn't wing nutty enough for them), cost the GOP a lot of money defending the Republican against not only the Democrat and the wing nut, and in the end?

The Democrat wins.

Tea Parties. Good for Democrats.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


If you don't, you can't complain later.

Find out where to go.

Then go.