Friday, October 30, 2009

The Future of the Newsroom

Adapt or face extinction? From E & P:

Ask Jeff Leen of The Washington Post about the state of investigative reporting at his paper and he'll tell you it's as strong as ever. Even after more than 100 news staffers — some of them Pulitzer-minted — took buyouts last year, Leen, the paper's assistant managing editor/investigations, says he still has the seven full-time reporters he's had for the last six years. "We may get squeezed a little bit here and there, but we still have our unit and the ability to pull people from other staffs," he says. "I think you will find that as things squeeze, people will see investigative reporting as the high ground. We have basically held the line."

Rex Smith, editor of the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., says his four-person investigative unit remains, even after his news staff was cut from 127 to 98 this year. He trimmed other things, including the features section Monday through Wednesday, along with television listings and a handful of reporting positions and geographic beats. "We decided that investigative reporting that touches the whole community is more important than what affects a small area," he adds, citing several recent projects including an Albany city parking ticket scandal that led to a state investigation.

"The No. 1 thing readers tell us they want is watchdog reporting," says Randy Lovely, editor of The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, which dropped from 400 news staffers to 325 in the past year but kept its 12-person First Amendment investigative team intact. "I will not cut it. You have to see where else you can nip and tuck."

For Lovely, that has meant fewer copy editors and some upper-management reductions: "The ratio of reporters to editors is higher than it used to be, which I don't love, but I had to do it."
Also described in the article is the collaborative rather than competitive relationship between newspapers and outside sources such as the non-profit ProPublica.

With cutbacks, closing doors, slumping stocks, and reports of intent to bury content behind nail-in-the-coffin online pay walls, reading this article paints a different picture of the future of investigative journalism.

A little creativity and coalition building can keep "watchdog" journalism alive and independent from the bleak future of print journalism. My guess is that those who weather the changing times well will be those who respond to it with new ideas and cooperation with other sources, not those who hope only to maintain the exclusivity of their newsrooms. Milking content for every available dollar may impress your accounting staff, but ignoring the "socialization" (someone organize a TEA party!) of media and dissolving barriers to access is a death sentence.

The commodity of information is evolving, and too many newspaper CEO's are clutching the "intelligent design" approach with a business plan of preordained entitlement. Information flow suffers with each disappearing newsroom (especially local), but something is always poised to fill that gap, as long as people crave news.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Circular Firing Squad

Trouble a-brewin' for Texas GOP.

It's the Palin vs. Cheney endorsement smackdown.

Should be even more fun than NY-23's Tea bagger vs. corporatist Republican skirmish.

What's the matter with California?

The Monkey Cage might be on to something when it comes to understanding the breakdown of California's legislative process.

MyDD's Charles Lemos takes a more serious approach.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Twitter Shuts Down Conneticut GOP

In response the CT attempt to "tweet" as their Democratic opponents by setting up accounts in the Democrat's names (brilliant strategy, huh?), Twitter has shut down the CT GOP for TOS violations. The GOP response is worth framing. From DS:

There are lots of valuable ways in which Twitter can be used in political communication, and there's no doubt that we've only just begun to see the new directions to which campaigns and candidates take this service as they innovate.

But reading and understanding terms of use has to be a basic threshold for utilizing any Internet tool. That's just as true for individuals as it is for political parties.

Which makes the Republican response to the Twitter take-down all the more ridiculous:

"That's unfortunate," was state Republican Chairman Chris Healy's response when told of Twitter, Inc.'s decision. "I'm not quite sure what the issue is, other than that the Democrats were successful in stopping free speech."

Again, Twitter's rule about impersonation is simple and short enough to be written as a Tweet:

You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others.

When you're unclear about an issue as transparent and indefensible as this, perhaps it's best if you step away from the Internet.

The GOP in this country may be toning down the crazy, but the stupid is still in full swing. And this type of behavior wins voters (outside of student body elections), how?

This isn't political strategy, it's a temper tantrum. A very entertaining temper tantrum.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Support Reid's Public Option Vote Roundup

Bold progressives in the inbox.

Urgent news: Multiple media reports say that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is very close to rounding up the votes needed for a public health insurance option, but "the White House is pushing back against the idea" in order to get the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

Tell the White House that the support of one Republican isn't worth a bad bill.

PLEASE SIGN OUR EMERGENCY PETITION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA TODAY:

"Every day, insurance companies deny care and let people die. Getting one Republican senator's vote is not worth delaying reform -- too many real lives are at stake. We need you to fight and state clearly that anything less than a strong public option is not change we can believe in."

Click here to sign the emergency petition. Then, please send this to others.

The Washington Post confirms that the White House "wants Snowe on the bill" and is seriously considering Snowe's proposed "trigger" -- which would delay, and effectively kill, the public option.

As Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) recently said, "Olympia Snowe was not elected president last year."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Medicare +5

Good news from the House today.

It's now the Senate's game to lose for the Democratic Party.

The debate within the Democratic Party over health care reform generally, and the public option specifically, raises several bigger questions about the party. These questions predate the health care debate, but the controversy surrounding the extent of the Democratic Party's commitment to extend health care to as many Americans as possible brings this into sharp focus. If the Democrats do not pass a meaningful health care bill, with a public option it will be hard to answer the question of what the purpose of the Democratic Party is.

The Democratic Party has not been burdened by a unified ideology, or even vision, for quite some time. The last major legislative victories by a Democratic president occurred during the mid-1960s during the Johnson administration. Even the accomplishments of the Clinton presidency, the most successful Democratic administration in at least a generation, were products of good management and small scale legislative changes, not sweeping reform or major new programs.

During most of the last 40 years, the Democratic Party has defined itself primarily through opposition to the ascendant Republican Party.
Now the party needs to carve out it's own definition. Read more @ HuffPo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Birds of a Feather

I can't think of any two Reps. better suited to be supporting each other into the history books. Chapter 7: Bat-shit stew.

If they breed, we're screwed.

Lobbyist Food Chain

The Monkey Cage's Lee Drutman discusses a seldom considered aspect of the Rep-to-Lobbyist cycle in American politics.

In my interviews with lobbyists, I noticed a pretty standard career path. Most started out in government. But at some point they realized they need to make more money – and also work a little less, so they could spend time with their kids. One lobbyist put it this way:
The Hill’s very interesting place to work. A lot folks do that in 20s and 30s. But by the time they get into their 40s, they decide it’s time to get a real job.
I think the implications of this are actually potentially somewhat profound.

It’s not just that these lobbyists have access. It also means there is a constant transfer of experience and expertise and rolodexes and process know-how from the public sector to the private sector.

These people are then replaced by somebody less senior, with less experience (possibly their former subordinate). This hasn’t been well-studied, but it ought to be. It is, I would venture, a very important source of lobbyist influence.
It's easy to demonize lobbyists, and most times politically expedient to do so. But the lobbyist is a part of our political machine, and I doubt one that will fade anytime soon. If ever.

I can also sympathize, somewhat, in the desire to "move on" from representation to an "actual job" as one ages.

But the idea of older, experienced representatives "retiring" into the lobbyist world, replaced by younger inexperienced representatives who may also be in the pocket of their "senior" who helped them along eludes to a cycle of indentured servitude that begs three questions. How do we balance representation, public opinion, and lobbyist agendas? At what point does this cycle reach critical mass, in which the entire process, from election to representation to retirement happens at the behest of lobby groups with undue influence? And what, if anything, can be done to slow or stop the cycle?

Maybe it's not the end of the world, and representation is simply "evolving." But those are still questions worth exploring.

Colorado Governor, Senators Declare Support for Public Option

The letter (via Huffington Post):

Dear United States Senators,

As Colorado's elected officials and concerned Americans, we urge you not to filibuster the public option.

A public option is a crucial part of real reform. It would inject choice and competition into our health care system, both of which are lacking now. Moreover, it is backed by a majority of Senators, Representatives, and the American people.

Even if you oppose a public option, we urge you not to hold it hostage with the threat of the filibuster. Stand up for the people, not the insurance industry, and give the public option the up-or-down vote it deserves.

Sincerely,

Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. Bill Ritter, Sen. Mark Udall and the Undersigned
Meanwhile, here in Utah...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Note on Long Legislation

One of the most superficial, yet prevalent attacks from conservative Republicans on health care reform legislation has been the (gasp!) length of the bill. It's ridiculous, and WaPo's Ezra Klein provides one of the most clear explanations of why:

But that's not because it says anything substantially different than the original Senate Finance language. Rather, writing laws is not like writing blog posts, or newspaper articles: It requires an archaic, clunky vernacular that spends a lot of time explaining how one piece of text amends another piece of text, and expends a lot of words clarifying the most technical matters at the most granular level. Legal language requires more words than plain English, just as Chinese uses more characters. When people complain that legislation is slightly longer than a very long book, they're saying something about their understanding of the difference between legal language and plain English, not about the law in question.
It's slightly understandable, though no more valid a complaint to lodge, coming from right-wing bloggers and conservative activists. When the same complaint is coming from both state and federal representatives, who simply know better than the very words coming out of their mouths, it's just laughable and insulting.

This has been another edition of They're Either Morons, or They Think You Are. You're welcome.

Trailer: "8 - The Mormon Proposition"

Trailer for a documentary submitted to the Sundance Film Festival (and others). Via Pam's House Blend:

Monday, October 19, 2009

American Family Association's Randy Sharp is a Perv


Rawstory:

A conservative pro-family group is slamming 7-Eleven for choosing to stock the November issue of Playboy, which will feature cartoon character Marge Simpson on the cover.

"Most American dads know the dangers that porn represents to young males," American Family Association Special Projects Director Randy Sharp said in a press release. "It’s irresponsible of 7-Eleven to display porn in front of boys who pop into 7-11s for a hot dog or a Slurpee."
You know what is more twisted than "cartoon porn?" The man who considers a cartoon porn.

Randy Sharp needs a therapist.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Conservative for Higher Taxes

Interesting discussion via bloggingheads.tv:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Democracy Corps Bravely Goes Inside the Mind of the GOP Base

Political Wire:

These base Republican voters dislike Barack Obama to be sure -- which is not very surprising as base Democrats had few positive things to say about George Bush -- but these voters identify themselves as part of a 'mocked' minority with a set of shared beliefs and knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority in the country. They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a 'secret agenda' to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. They overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country's founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Scurrilous

Local Moveon.org group, in the inbox:

Hey "scurrilous" folks,

So, we knew the fight whould be hard and long... but it's begun to really heat up now...

On MSNBC this afternoon, Andrea Mitchell asked Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) about a MoveOn-organized protest outside his Salt Lake City office, where protesters criticized Hatch for allegedly being beholden to the insurance industry because it donated a lot of money to his past campaigns.

"I'm supported by people all over the health care system," Hatch said, "including doctors, including hospitals, including insurers, including liberal people, conservative people and moderate people. Everybody knows how much money you have to raise to run for the Senate."

Then Hatch turned his fury to MoveOn and George Soros.

"MoveOn.org is a scurrilous organization," he said. "It's funded by George Soros. He's about as left wing as you can find in this country. And they're up to just one thing, and that is to smear good people. And frankly, they're not gonna smear me without getting kicked in the teeth by me."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/33330046#33330046

(This from the Deseret News.)

MoveOn.org executive director Justin Ruben responded that when Utah members of his group questioned the money Hatch took from insurance interests, "What did he do? Go on national TV and threaten to kick them in the teeth. Apparently this was easier than defending his ties to the insurance companies."
He added, "Hopefully whoever Sen. Hatch kicks in the teeth is independently wealthy, in case their claim is denied by one of the insurance companies who've been funding his campaign."

[...]
There are nearly 23,000 MoveOn.org members in Utah.

Senator Hatch’s remarks can be viewed at (1:30 mark):
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/33330046#33330046

WHAT: Rally Outside of Senator Hatch’s Office
WHO: MoveOn members
WHERE: Federal Building, 125 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT
WHEN: 12:00 PM, Friday, October 16th, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Filibusta Rhymes

So ridiculously entertaining, I'm stealing the whole thing from Sadly No.

I’m sure some focus-group weasel will force them to take this down soon, but for the time being, this is actually the title of Michael Steele’s official blog at the GOP website:

WOOOOOORD!!! You down with GOP? Yeah you know me!

UPDATE: It occurs to me that if he’s going to remake the Republican Party in a hip-hop image, Steele needs a hip-hop name. My nomination: Filibusta Rhymes.

Reminds me of a another song I haven't heard in years.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mark Shurtleff: AG, Senate Candidate, or Infomercial Spokesperson?


It's getting to be a hard distinction to make. But we're going to try.

Shurtleff on Twitter:

Last day use #Nomorebailouts and be entered to win an ipod touch http://bit.ly/2Q9lVS #utpol #utgop #tcot 4:50PM Oct 10 from the web

Tomorrow at noon - Trivia Tuesday! 1st to correctly tweet the answer gets an autographed hat http://bit.ly/15vOyz #utah #tcot #utpol #sgp 15 minutes ago from the web
Shurtleff's campaign blog:
#NoMoreBailouts
October 03, 2009

To commiserate the one-year anniversary of the enactment of Senator Bob Bennett's $700 Billion dollar bailout plan, one lucky user of the hashtag #NoMoreBailouts wins an iPod Touch.

Here's how it works: [...]
From the utah.gov AG site:
The Utah Identity Theft Tour is coming to Ogden to provide free document shredding service to the public (up to 8 legal boxes), plus tips on how to protect yourself against ID theft. Mark Shurtleff will discuss the efforts the Attorney General's Office is taking to try to stop the scourge of identity theft.
The site fails (I think to the detriment of the "Tour") to mention with excitement that the AG will be traveling complete with a gimmicky over-sized shredder, for added effect. How cool is that?! How could you not support this guy for any office?!

So, Attorney General, Senate Candidate, or the too-tan fella' on TV who is about to pitch you the wonders of the ShamWow?

Conclusion after closer inspection? All three, with a dash of circus barker (#TCOT #TCOT #TCOT #AngryMobs!!!).

The choice between Eager's Joe the Plummer stunt, Bridgewater's... well whatever Bridgewater is doing, and Shurtleff's #TCOT-iPods-for-Votes-#TCOT strategy is going to be enough to have GOP delegates bustin' their gourds at who to pull the lever for!

Somewhere, Sen. Bob Bennett is thinking "You have got to be kidding me... Is there more pointless yet wing-nutty legislation I could sponsor quick?"

And unfortunately, Bob, no, and no. That made you look stupid, these clowns are serious.

Where are you, Sam? No reason to be so quiet when all you have to do is sound like the sane one not trying to sell the public a Garden Weasel in the "As Seen on TV" Senate race.

Conservatives No More Informed Than Your Average Tweet

Texas wingnut, inspired by Glenn Beck, develops iPhone app to "inform." Hilarity ensues. Newshounds:

The App was written by a Texan, John Deans, who said ""Glenn Beck inspired me during the April Tea Party Protest event in San Antonio to create Conservative Talking Points as a way to save our country from socialism and financial ruin. Looks like we may have had the same idea."

The App features 50 irrefutable talking points such as the "Global Warming-Climate Change Hoax". That's the one where rogue climatologists began, 40 years ago, to make up mathematics, physics and computer models warning of a change in CO2 concentration affecting the climate, and then enlisted the aid and active cooperation of thousands of scientists worldwide to not refute this fake science, but to develop more supporting studies. They have even gained the cooperation of walrus-loving NASA satellites to produce fudged telemetry data and photo-shopped images of melting sea ice. And all for the purpose of subjugating America by forcing us to eat raw food and drive electric Yugos.

Another of these talking points is "Demonstrations- Debate vs Anarchy", which I assume explains how carrying guns and shouting down opposition at town halls conveys important information to an "informed electorate," yelling "You lie" is an aid to meaningful dialogue, and in any case it's certainly better than what the liberals do.

But wait, there's more. Included in the App are over 250 FACTS, drawn from such sources as Fox News, Canada Free Press, Town Hall, World Net Daily, and, last but not least, Glenn Beck. Under the combined weight of all these luminous sources, how can any liberal argument prevail? We're "do diddily doomed!!"

So the next time you're arguing with a conservative, and you feel tempted to yell "You're just repeating talking points! You couldn't process more information than contained in your average Tweet!," know that they might just respond with "You're right, and I'm damned proud of it."

Glenn Beck's Friends

WaPo:

Carney-Nunes, who writes children's books and was a year behind Obama at Harvard Law School, watched as strangers posted her personal information on the Internet. She read, "You're a dirtbag commie propagandist trying to infect children with your failed Marxist ideology." And "your Obama chant is right out of Africa." And "get ready for a massive attack!!!" And "my friend GLENN BECK will also shove this in your face until justice is served." She made copies (which she shared with The Washington Post) and then deleted the messages, hoping the tornado would set her back down.

"I was fearful," she said. "I was looking over my shoulder." The disrespect for the office of the presidency disturbed her. "I won a contest in college and President Reagan gave me an award, and that signed letter is still hanging in its frame in the foyer of my mother's home. We are very proud of that letter, even though my mother didn't vote for him."

After a few days, with the outcry expanding to calls for the school principal and district superintendent to be fired, Carney-Nunes issued a statement through a publicist saying that she "did not write, create, teach or lead the song about President Obama in the video," and that "the song was presented to her by a teacher and students as a demonstration of a project that the children had previously put together." The district superintendent gave the same account in a letter sent home to parents.

Carney-Nunes said an associate of hers videotaped the children's performance and later uploaded it, along with video and photos from other of her readings, to Carney-Nunes's YouTube account.

An e-mail to Malkin Saturday seeking comment was not answered.

Carney-Nunes spends a lot of her free time teaching children how to bridge divides, but she has no idea how to build a dialogue with those who attacked her.

"How can I talk to those people?" she said. "These are people who persist in believing that Barack Obama is a Muslim, that he isn't a citizen of this country. You tell me: Where is the beginning of that conversation?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

GOP Brand, Still Tainted

The GOP has been in a bad spot for a while now, and it looks like their solution to a brand problem is only worsening that same brand problem. PPR, via Democratic Strategist.

...In the past week, both the AP and Gallup...have released surveys showing a significant decline in opposition to President Obama’s health care plan, with Gallup showing the plan favored by a 51 to 41 percent majority... Recent public polls show Americans weary of both the status quo in health care and Republican obstructionism: overwhelming majorities say Republicans lack ideas and put politics ahead of the nation’s needs. This extreme partisanship is contributing to the continued stagnant and unimpressive standing of the Republican brand and threatens to further isolate Republican leaders from the American political mainstream.
If political parties were stocks to trade, it would be a great time for Democrats in red states to reinvest in themselves before the bubble bursts.

Growing Irrelevance of National Marches, Vigils, and "Sit Ins"

An article in The American Prospect asks:

This weekend's National Equality March will draw thousands to Washington for workshops, speeches, and "dancestravaganzas." But will the event really do anything to advance gay rights?
No. But why "no" is an interesting read for future activists in waiting. And I think this extends beyond the gay rights movement as well.

Once awareness has been raised (a hard thing to quantify, no doubt), you've got to proceed with coherent organization, goal and unifying strategy. (And this by no means restricts your maintenance of "awareness." This was a great idea, locally. What happened to it?) Otherwise, in today's rapid fire media, you're just more noise voters are learning to ignore.

UPDATE: A perfect quote on the upcoming march:

"The only thing they're going to be putting pressure on is the grass."

-- Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

Friday, October 9, 2009

GOP Hissy Fits and Independent Voters in 2010


"I want to be on whatever team isn't doing that..."

It's an old Greg Giraldo joke, in which the comedian asserts that we often make decisions not because we see something we like in the team we join, but because we see something that makes us uncomfortable in the team we shun. He says it more humorously.

But it's also a great way to understand independent voters.

Last week, we didn't get the Olympics. Republicans cheered. This week, the President gets a Nobel peace prize, and Republicans can't step on their own heads fast enough to throw a hissy fit. Limbaugh went so far as to come right out and say he's with the Taliban on this one. And Fox News is just pure comedy today in reaction. Rep. Jason Chaffetz stated that the awarding a Nobel Prize to the President of the United States of America cheapens the credibility of the award itself. What kind of message do these people think they are sending? The base is eating it up, but the base isn't enough to win elections.

End result? Health care reform passes with a public option, Obama maintains or even gains a noticeable chunk of credibility and new political capital, and independent voters -- who are trickling from the Democratic Party now without reassigning themselves to the Republican Party... preferring limbo you could say -- find more reason to cast a Democratic Party vote in 2010 because, frankly...

They don't want to be on the team doing that.

Conservatives might find the most recent rhetoric and talking points witty, but it's not exactly smart strategy when your challenge is getting out of the woods, not wandering further in. It's a primer for 2008, redux.

Not that I mind.

So, About That Tort Reform

Wow. I mean just Wow. 0.2% Huzzah!

With a cost reduction like that, it's just unbelievable no one was listening to the guy at the back of the townhall yelling about it.

0.2%. Imagine what we couldn't do with that.

And of course Orrin Hatch, who couldn't praise the CBO enough two months ago, is now questioning their analysis.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Root and Branch Reform

The Baucus Bill just isn't.

Ezra Klein looks at the CBO analysis of the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill and concludes the proposed new health care system "will look a lot like our old health-care system."

"Unless you're uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you. CBO estimates that 29 million Americans who would've otherwise been uninsured will be covered. That's a very big deal. Five million Americans who would otherwise have been left to the individual market will find a better option. And 3 million Americans who would've otherwise been in employer-based health insurance will be on the exchanges or, in some cases, on Medicaid. The insurance exchanges are projected to serve 23 million people come 2019, and 18 million of the members will be low-income and on subsidies."

The bottom line: "It makes a lot of things a bit better, but it's not root-and-branch reform."
Two problems with this. Mediocrity entices Senators. They can say the supported the reform, and cost cutting and in the end still happily roll in large piles of money from the insurance industry. But mediocrity doesn't bring voters to the polls. A lukewarm public reception over something as 'big' as 'health care reform' spells electoral trouble.

Not to mention little change to our ballooning health care costs.

Baucus isn't leading, so why are so many eager to follow?

Old School Activism

Fax for Rep. From the inbox:

Yesterday I asked you to spread the word about the insurance industry's criminal actions. Today, can you fax that message to your Members of Congress?

Click here to send a fax to your Members of Congress and let them know that you consider the insurance industry to be engaged in criminal behavior.

It's important that we not only tell our friends, but get the message to Washington, DC.

Thanks for taking action.

--Levana Layendecker
Health Care for America Now

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunshine as Disinfectant

I'm with Todd. Don't see what all the hoopla is about.

So, it is reviews of products and services that are the stuff of concern. Our advice to bloggers: Tell the truth about your experience and how that experience came about. Then you will have nothing to worry about with this FTC regulation. (NOTE: If a blogger can’t bring themselves to tell the truth, label your commentary as satire, fantasy, tragedy or as some other literary device. This is probably a sure-fire way to gain the safe harbor.)

All the FTC is demanding is for a little more disclosure into the murky area of blogging for pay. Sunshine is a good disinfectant, and a few more words at the end of a review aren’t a big burden.

This commentary was written by Todd Taylor who is paid to occasionally be a pain in the @ss!

The Grayson Lesson

It seems so common sense, it's almost unbelievable Democrats needed to learn this one through actual experience.

Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida, a self-proclaimed "Democrat with guts," appears unlikely to be subject to a resolution of disapproval for suggesting that part of the Republican health care plan is for Americans to "die quickly if you get sick."

The Associated Press is reporting that a spokesman for Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who drafted a resolution of disapproval against Grayson and threatened to introduce it on the House floor, is suggesting that Price does not plan to do so.

Let's hope it takes this time (since 2006, 2008 elections didn't seem to cement the notion of standing up and being... well... Democrats). And this isn't simply about pride, or the important but more esoteric notion of party identity and definition. There are electoral downsides to bet hedging as well.
This has gone on just long enough.

And sometime soon -- assuming the lesson has been learned this go-round -- let's give this a trial run in Utah too, huh?

Cherilyn Eager Brings Stupid to Utah


Literally.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher -- better known as "Joe the Plumber" -- is scheduled to visit Utah next month to stump for U.S. Senate candidate Cherilyn Eagar.

Eagar's campaign announced the planned visit today as part of her "Eagar to Clean Up Washington Tour of Utah."

Beginning in mid-November, Wurzelbacher and Eagar will hold several events in locations from Logan to St. George, including a planned rally at the State Capitol on Nov. 18 and a fundraising dinner that night at the Salt Lake Marriott hotel.

I've never actively used this blog or my volunteer time to campaign against a candidate personally. Only for a canddiate, if I can find a for to be for. In this case, I'm thinking of making an exception. We could really do without this infusion of anti-intellect in our state politics.

Thanks, Cherilyn. We'll be returning the favor. And somewhere Mark "win a free ipod by voting for me" Shurtleff is angry he didn't come up with this himself. That's where they've set the bar.

This senate race is going to be one for the history books (of political comedy).

More of the Same on Patriot Act and FISA

Disappointing.

The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut today produces an extreme piece of government-serving, stenographic "journalism," publishing a dubious administration press release masquerading as a lengthy news article on Obama's approach to Terrorism and civil liberties. The Post depicts Obama as heavily and heroically engaged in disrupting the alleged Najibullah Zazi domestic terrorist plot and -- repeatedly highlighting that success -- claims "the White House has been charting a delicate course as it attempts to turn the page on Bush-era anti-terrorism policies," whereby "the Obama administration is increasingly confident that it has struck a balance between protecting civil liberties, honoring international law and safeguarding the country." Here are all of Kornblut's cited sources for the article -- every last one of them -- in the order she cites them:

Obama aides pointed . . . administration officials said . . . a senior administration official said . . . officials said . . . a senior administration official said . . . senior Obama officials stressed . . . a senior administration official said . . . aides said . . . officials said . . . one senior administration official said. . . . one senior official said. . . . The official said . . . a senior administration official said . . . a senior administration official said . . . administration officials said . . . . a senior official said.
Not a single named person is cited, and there's not a syllable of quoted dissent in any of it. Virtually every sentence in the long article does nothing but praise Obama and depict him as stalwartly safeguarding America's civil liberties (unlike Bush did) even as he protects us from the dangerous Terrorists, so why is anonymity needed for that? It's nothing more than what Robert Gibbs is eager to say every day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Liberal Bias in the Bible Translations?

Just gets under Conservapedia's craw.

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

That famous line, attributed to Jesus in Luke 23:34, could well apply to the folks at Conservapedia -- the "conservative version" of Wikipedia -- who have embarked on a project to rewrite the Bible.

In an effort to rid the Good Book of "liberal bias," the group has set up the Conservative Bible Project, which aims to rewrite the Bible from a modern, conservative perspective.

"Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations," the project's Web site asserts.

And the line quoted above is one of the group's targets for deletion in a truly "conservative" Bible. The "forgive them father" quote "is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible," Conservapedia states.

They've got their work cut out for them. And I expect some 'sploding heads when they get to the SOCIALISM! in the New Testament.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rep. Craig Frank's Ethics Misdirection: Booga Booga Booga CZAR!

The argument legislators are making isn't surprising, nor is it surprising that Rep. Craig Frank is the first to parrot it as insight into the initiative. When I was first handed a printed rendition of this same argument at the public hearing in Logan by Sen. Hillyard with the words CZAR! in caps and bold, I knew it was only a matter of time. Partake of the pretzel logic spewed forth:

“CZARS” Quoting from the Initiative: The Commission may”…do all things …which are necessary or convenient…” [36-27-201(7)] and “there shall be no judicial review or agency review of any commission action.” [36-27-501(2)] Once appointed, the Ethics Commission is not accountable to anyone, including the Courts, not the Attorney General [36-27-201(7)], not the Legislature [36-27-201(4)(b)], not the Judicial Branch [36-27-501(2)]. Members of the Commission are removable only upon death, voluntary resignation, or the end of their terms [36-27-201]. The Commissions budget cannot be cut [36-27-501(7)], and they may increase their agency staff at their discretion [36-27-501(7)(b)].

“SUPER CZARS” The sponsors of the Initiative attempt to give themselves lifetime privileges unavailable to other citizens, in violation of the Utah Constitution. Who are these SUPER CZARS? Chase W. Peterson, Carole E. Peterson, Jordan Tanner, Cassie Dippo, and Karl Snow. These five individuals give themselves, for the duration of their lives, the “…absolute unconditional right to intervene in any…litigation” on the constitutionality of this initiative [36-27-505(6)]. If legislative leadership fails to unanimously agree on Ethics Commission members, these five SUPER CZARSwill select the commision themselves [36-27-201(4)(a)].

So, in a nutshell: BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA!

The best you can say about this argument is that at least they are responding. The worst that can be said is that unfortunately the legislative body's response on this (assuming Frank is just first witless representative in what I predict will be a long line of legislators shouting CZAR!) is to hope you don't notice the blatant hypocrisy of the argument because the word CZAR! is in caps and bold.

The disdain for the intellect of voters inherent in this tactic should be reason enough for anyone to support an independent commission to tackle ethical issues.

Rep. Craig Frank thinks you're stupid enough to not see that. And he's only the first to say it out loud.

Voter Registration Deadline Today


Are you registered?

Is everyone you know?

Well?

The GOP's Trickle Down Idiocy

Nate Silver:

For Obama to have gone to Copenhagen to pitch the event may have been a mistake -- a few phone calls from Washington might have had 98 percent of the impact for 2 percent of the exposure. But he went in his capacity as an American President, and not as a partisan. That the conservative intelligentsia reacted giddily to news of the Americans losing is telling. It's telling of a movement that was long ago knocked off its intellectual moorings and has lost the capacity to think about what people outside the room think about. Sometimes -- certainly on the health care debate, very probably on the bailouts question -- conservatives back into something approaching mainstream American sentiment and can cause Obama and his allies a lot of problems. But any movement which also criticizes the President for giving a speech to schoolchildren, which cheers when the United States loses its Olympic bid, is mostly just engaged in the business of throwing a bunch of Kak√° at the wall and seeing what sticks. I don't know whether it's unpatriotic -- but it's pretty freakin' dumb.
Here in the unchecked conservative wonderland of Utah, local mouthpieces can't help the idiocy trickle down fast enough. Utah's most obvious political prostitute can't wait to jump on this bandwagon. And Carl Wimmer is starting to look like a moderate (shudder).

There are pockets of leadership still fighting for the relevance of the GOP, but overall this is a party in full on meltdown.

Republicans spent years perfecting a strategy to define not only national political narratives but also the opposition, and elections reflected their success. Democrats didn't begin fighting back until 2006, and didn't begin truly redefining themselves against the image created by the GOP until 2008. Now the GOP is responding like a 13-year-old throwing a tantrum at being denied a trip to the mall.

The longer Beck and the TEA baggers stand as the loudest spokesmonkeys of the party, the further the party gets from relevance and the closer it gets to irreparable implosion. The longer you have no more than concerted efforts to drive out moderates and ideological purity tests (forgive the incivility, but what the fuck is wrong with Rep. Craig Frank... anybody?) defining right-wing representation, the more you'd better hope your base is enough to get you elected alone (and it never is). And we're a long way from having a 3rd party contender to step into place should the GOP completely implode.

Watching it would be comedy gold, but overall we are better off with two viable parties and a revived national debate that is above the ridiculous rhetoric conservative leaders can't help themselves from repeating these days.

I'm going to enjoy the next few years of actual progress nationally, but eventually it's going to be better for our politics if the GOP puts the big boy pants back on, and gets back in the ring.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"We're now living in the post-Chicago Olympics rejection era."

Seriously, my wingnut friends...

So. Damn. Reactionary.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act

Become a citizen co-sponsor, via Chris Dodd:

Last year, Congress made a grave mistake when it passed a bill granting immunity to telecommunications companies that allegedly aided the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

It's up to you and me to fix that mistake.

Many of you worked with me as we fought hard against telecom immunity in 2008. Now I need your help again as I work to repeal the provision that Congress passed and George Bush signed into law.

This week, I introduced a bill repealing telecom immunity. Will you sign on as a citizen co-sponsor today to declare your support of my bill?

Help me repeal telecom immunity. Sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of the Retroactive Immunity Repeal Act today.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Interactive Book Banning Map

Book banning is probably one of the oldest and most pointless manifestations of stupid still being practiced in the modern age. Now, you can find out were the stupid is concentrated with this interactive map of the where/who/what of book banning requests throughout the country.

Proud to say not a single one on the map from Utah. But then Gayle has been very busy.

Grayson Teaching Democrats How to Neutralize a GOP Hissy Fit

Hullabaloo:

This just does not compute for Republicans, who are supposed to wail and moan and collect their scalp for their hissy fit. They don't understand a Democrat taking ownership of his actions and throwing it right back at them. Incidentally, most of the Democrats I've seen today, including members of Congress, haven't backed away from his remarks even a little bit.

Teaching Democrats how to neutralize a hissy fit is all the more reason to support Alan Grayson.
And Ed Schultz ads:
I wish Grayson were a speech writer for Obama... This is what liberals have been missing for two decades.
It's called standing for something. More of this, please.

Utah Legislators' Anti-Ethics Reform Roadshow

The Ethics Reform Public Hearings are getting a lot of coverage from several local blogs (I've dropped the ball on the hearing in Logan, as I've written nothing about it until now -- but I have video coming soon!). What's most striking about the hearings is not that legislators seem to be attending as many possible, but that they are attending with a consistent message and set of objections that seem organized and pre-planned. From The Standard Ex's Doug Gibson:

Three Top of Utah lawmakers were there. Republicans Brad Dee and Brent Wallis and Democrat Neil Hansen. They all offered comments afterward. Wallis argued that full disclosure of gifts and campaign cash is better than a ban. He said if the voters aren’t satisfied, they’ll vote him out. Wallis also blasted the independent commission saying it would add another layer of bureaucracy. Dee also argued that full disclosure was significant ethics reform. He insisted that legislators are making progress on ethics reform and urged those in attendance to read the entire initiative before signing the petition.

Democrat Hansen wondered why the initiative targeted only the Legislature and not other branches of Utah government. Burningham agreed with Hansen that it should and added, perhaps a bit truculantly, that he hoped the Legislature would pass a law doing that after the initiative passes.

I asked attorney Smith if he was anticipating and preparing for a legal challenge if the initiative qualified for the ballot or passed. I’ve heard of much grumbling from current legislators that the initiative is “unconstitutional.” Smith said they are prepared to successfully defend the initiative if it is challenged.

Both Dee and Wallis are off target when they link election wins as a signal of approval — or disinterest — in legislative ethics. Don’t worry guys, we like you. We’re even proud of the hard work you do on Capitol Hill. But the institutions that comprise our state and national political bodies are as unpopular as they have ever been. The pervasive influence of lobbying, gift-giving, back-slapping, campaign cash-trading, partisan internal ethics committees, post-legislative insider influence jobs, etc., looks exactly like what it is — money-grubbing and a perceived allegiance to the biggest donor, rather than those constituents who don’t have money to burn.

At the hearing in Logan, Sen. Lyle Hillyard and Rep. Ben Ferry were present, and presented not only the same arguments -- while Hillyard offered the additional objection that "any 3 people could file a complaint he would then have to respond to..." -- but in the exact same language. Hillyard even gave me a copy of a flier he'd produced calling the proposed independent commission nothing more than a set of "czars." Ferry spouted one of the most misleading descriptions of how PAC money is spent claiming that voters were better off seeing a $5,000 contribution from a corporation indisclosures than 50 $100 contributions from individual names no one would recognize (yeah, Huh? was my response to that too). I challenged Ferry on what I called "a gross oversimplification of how PAC money works," and he declined response.

I presented the idea to both legislators there that night that this initiative petition drive exists simply because the legislature has failed to do what the public -- if polling is accurate -- wants done on ethics reform. Both Hillyard and Ferry responded that they had made great strides in the last session (former GOP legislator Kim Burningham disagreed, calling their moves "toothless") and repeated that voters could vote them out if they found them unethical. Hillyard did surprise everyone by noting he does support an independent commission, just, apparently, not this one.

It's a rare occasion that I agree with Gibson on anything, but he's right with this one. It's not that we don't like them. It was implied at the hearing that this was little more than a "witch hunt" targeting legislators. It isn't. But as Gibson writes, money-grubbing and perceived allegiance to the biggest donor will not be resolved in an election cycle also dependent on that same money grubbing and allegiance building.

The consistency of the legislators making their way to these hearings, and their fear laden opposition to the simple idea of an independent ethics commission to maintain the credibility of the legislative institution overall is revealing.

They're frightened of losing even this amount of control over the body the make up, and they're launching an all out campaign against the initiative.

Find out where you can sign or volunteer to fight back here.