Thursday, January 28, 2010

Festivalin' (#sundance)

Off to Sundance for the second time.  Probably won't be posting much, but will try to "tweet" myself crazy.

Get your mind out of the gutter.

Follow along here.

Oregon Voters Slay Corpse of Reagan

Oregon voters, one of several states to reject a previous attempt by TABOR proponents to impose a "no new taxes no matter what happens GRRRR!" ballot initiative, have now voted to dig themselves our of budget trouble by taxing those who can afford it.

I'm jealous of their common sense.

Meanwhile, here where I live...

From the National Tea Party Convention Speaker List


ANA PUIG-“Correlations between the current Administration and Marxist Dictators of Latin America & MARSHA BLACKBURN, “Leadership” 9:00-10:00am
And it's only $500 to get a seat?  Bargain!

You could of course just stay home and watch Glenn Beck, but who would see your witty t-shirts and signs?

UPDATE:  It looks like this is quickly becoming the Sarah Palin Convention, as even MN's own tea-bagger extraordinaire is jumping to a slightly less crazy ship.

Insider Baseball of Obama's "Teachable Moment" SOTU

I don't have much to say about the SOTU that hasn't already been said 100 to 1,000 times (and I definitely have nothing as "witty" and "moronic" to ad that would trump Chris Matthews' observations), but I thought this note from TDS was something a lot of political strategists and pundits seem to be missing:

A number of the digs at Republicans were clear to people who watch Washington closely, but not so much to people who don’t. For example, the president was clearly taunting congressional Republicans when he said he’d be glad to consider any ideas they had that met his list of criteria for health care reform. To someone watching who didn’t know how ridiculous contemporary conservative “thinking” on health care has become, this may have sounded less like a criticism than like a decision to reopen the whole issue to many more months of wrangling in Congress, even as he tried to urge congressional Democrats to get the job done and “run for the hills.”

Yes, the president has to walk a fine line in dealing with public and media perceptions that both parties are equally responsible for “partisanship” and gridlock. But at some point between now and November, he needs to better connect the dots, and explain exactly whose “partisanship” is an obstacle to “progress.”
It was a great speech, and that's not a surprise.  Obama will get a moderate bump for it.  But if it isn't followed up be some clear, decisive action (the forward kind, not the run for the hills kind), and if he doesn't continue this line of messaging to it's natural end (Republicans = Nothing more than grandstanding hyperbole slinging obstructionists without a clue... or something like that), there will be no change in public perception that will endure into the 2010 campaigns just now revving up.

It's a great start, in response to the messaging war Democrats have been losing grip on.  Now it needs a finish.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Cabinet Speaks

I still get a giddy lil' thrill every time I see something like this put into play.

Faced with these unparalleled challenges, the President and his Cabinet got to work. The Administration took bold steps to rescue the country from a potential second Great Depression; to rebuild the economy for the long-term -- so businesses can thrive, the middle class can grow and all our families can be more secure; and to restore America’s leadership in the world, as we wrestle with the global challenges of the 21st Century.

In short videos, members of the President’s Cabinet report back to you on their progress this first year and outline what lies ahead for their departments and agencies to keep America moving forward.
And these videos aren't your typical devoid-of-content warm and fuzzy politico hot air, either.  Check them out (just click on the the cabinet members mellon, here).

Celebrating Conservatism

Well if this doesn't just about say it all...

A group of nearly 200 "extremely concerned citizens" in a small Montana county are demanding that local leaders fill out a "questionnaire" pledging to form a local militia, prohibit mandatory vaccinations, boot the EPA out of town, allow citizens to bear any type of gun, and require federal government employees to get written approval before approaching "any Citizen."

Organized in part by a group called Celebrating Conservatism, which is lead by a woman who quit the state GOP after complaining of "fake" Republicans, the questionnaire was presented this week to the county commissioners and sheriff of Ravalli County, according to the local Republic newspaper.

Celebrating Conservatism's worldview appears to be rooted in the militia movement. Last year it hosted Jack McLamb, head of the Idaho-based Police and Military Against the New World Order, which agitates against "world government rule."

Conventional Wisdom Bust

WaPo/Kaiser/Harvard poll of MA voters reveals only 11% want to "stop the Democratic agenda."

- 70 percent of voters think Brown should work with Democrats on health care reform, including 48 percent of Brown voters.
- 52 percent of voters were enthusiastic/satisfied with Obama administration policies.
- 44 percent of voters believe “the country as a whole” would be better off with health care reform, but 23 percent believe Massachusetts would be better off.
- 68 percent of voters, including 51 percent of Brown voters approve of Massachusetts’ health care reform.
- 58 percent of all voters, including 37 percent of Brown voters, felt “dissatisfied/angry” with “the policies offered by the Republicans in Congress.”
The most intriguing aspect of the MA special elections has been seeing how the media, repeating the same little supported talking points, can influence even Democratic lawmakers.

Sign the CREDO petition.  Tell Democrats not to give in to village idiocy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

2010 Utah Legislature: Day One

Le Cirque de Utah.  58th edition.

Not much to speak of on day one.  A lot of wrap ups and previews and tea leaf reading, with the general consensus being that 1) we have money troubles, and 2) we should stop the legislature from yanking the rug out from under every government service in order to save face (read: raise fees, not taxes!).

Gehrke pens one of my favorite previews:

While ethics issues sizzle, Utah's budget crisis has simmered all year, as the state's economy staggers to regain its footing and tax revenues continue to slump.  Nearly $1 billion has been cut from the budget in the past two years, and as lawmakers convene Monday they again find themselves with a new gap of about $920 million.  Nearly half of that is the result of expiring federal stimulus money that was used to balance last year's budget.

Damn that federal spending... why isn't their more of it (to hate sooooo much!)?

Carl Wimmer will be contributing his traditional bit of lunacy, of course (would it be a legislative session without it?).  Chris Buttars has already picked a fight with his own mouth, just a few hours in.  Waddoups wants kudos for a balanced budget while you dumpster dive for education and food.  I don't even know what No. Ogden's Sen. Allen Christensen has been smoking, but he hates him some wildlife.

But there's life still.  Cantrell and Crew @ The Senate Site are already running strong with online access to the festivities.  Curtis @ BIRZ has been running through the most prominent "bills to watch" here.

We're going to try to focus more on what happens each day here than we have traditionally (partly because I'm sick of talking about health care... for now... and partly because what happens in this session could effect Utah's economic landscape for years to come), but for today, there's not much to recap but what's already been recapped.  So here's a list of what we've been reading, in warm up:

States (Not Utah) Investing in Long-Term, High Value, Recession Proof Jobs

PSN, in the inbox, with a bit of something our newly kicked off 2010 legislative session should take into account:

In fact, well-over half of the Fortune 500 list of top companies and just under half of Inc. magazine's list of top small firms were founded during recessions or bear markets on the stock market, according to a 2009 Kauffman Foundation study.  Unemployment often encourages people to found their own firms during recessions, so making sure they have the support to thrive is critical.  New immigrants are an especially strong source of such job creation-- thirty-one percent of the engineering and technology companies founded from 1995 to 2005 had an immigrant as a key founder.

Innovation Economics versus Neoliberal Economics:  Notably, innovation and entrepreneurship in states seems to have little to do with low taxes or weak regulatory protections for workers and consumers.  While the same right-wing economic pundits who supported the bubble economy continue to promote the low tax, weak regulation line for state economic development, the reality is that innovation in states actually requires high state investments and engagement for success.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation compiles a State New Economy Index to measure how much states have moved towards generating high-value "knowledge jobs" likely to survive in global competition, built export-oriented manufacturing and services, sustained fast-growing "gazelle" firms and moved their people and firms into the digital economy with a high percentage of jobs in high-innovation technology sectors.  States ranking high on the index included high revenue, high state-investment models such as Maryland, Washington, and Massachusetts, which generally had higher growth in state per-capita incomes between 2002 and 2006 than many supposed "low tax" states that often fail to create long-term high-value jobs.
An argument can be made that a "balanced budget," while not a bad idea, isn't enough in the long term. 

You listening, Michael?

Leading Economists: Stimulus Saved/Created 1.2 Million Jobs

But public opinion still pans it.  Washington Independent:

Here are two coinciding stories that indicate just how far removed public opinion is from economic reality. (1) The Democrats’ $787 billion economic stimulus bill has saved or created 1.2 million jobs, USA Today reported today, a median figure based on a survey of 50 leading economists. And (2) 74 percent of Americans think that at least half of the stimulus money has been wasted, according to a new CNN poll.
The gap between economist opinion and public opinion isn't surprising or hard to understand.  With unemployment so high, saying "it would've been much worse without the Stimulus," while completely true, isn't an opinion changer for those still without work.

It's worth noting the consensus among economists, still, if only to combat right wing talking points.

America, Unrestored

The ACLU has issued a -- fairly damning -- report on just how much of Bush's assault on the Constitution the Obama DOJ hasn't undone.

Infuriating stuff.

(Aside: It's too bad we don't see the MikeLee/C.Eagar/Bridgewater/EveryoneElse behemoth of Constitutiony-Goodness and tea-baggery fun talking a little about this aspect of Constitutional challenges.  It would be much easier to take them seriously.  Unfortunately, that isn't as politically convenient or talking point friendly for them as hyperbole.)

Google: Finance Clean Energy, Mr. President

Google Public Policy Blog on CEDA:

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee adopted bipartisan legislation to create CEDA last year. This pending Senate proposal would establish and fund CEDA to provide various types of flexible credit support for the development and deployment of clean energy technologies throughout the economy. CEDA would be affiliated with the Department of Energy, but have largely independent operation.

A critical feature of CEDA, as created in the Senate bill, is its focus on innovative technologies. We believe the availability of CEDA financing will help America’s emerging clean energy technology companies cross the so-called “valley of death” between the invention of a technology and its commercial deployment, and substantially accelerate and increase private sector investment necessary to position the U.S. as the global clean energy leader. In short, CEDA will help finance the scale-up of precisely the kinds of innovative technologies that will create new, 21stCentury American jobs and position the U.S. to capture the economic benefits of the global transition to low-carbon energy infrastructure.
I know that this type of talk doesn't have the same ring to it as manufactured smoking guns, or pointing out that you shoveled snow off your driveway, so obviously there couldn't be climate challenges in our future, but these types of discussions are happening, and should continue to happen.

Investing in new technologies -- green technologies -- is two birds with one stone.  Maybe three, if you count relaxing our dependency on fossil fuels, and the not-so-bright-future that offers.

In short, investing in new technologies for energy development has as much to do with economic rebound and a more robust job market as it does responsible environmental policy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Obama-Voting Independents Want More Change, Not Less

DFA, in the inbox:

We need to act fast and back up our message of the last few days by calling on leaders in Congress to publicly state support for passing bolder healthcare reforms -- including the populist choice of a public option -- using reconciliation which requires only 51 votes in the Senate.

Call the Democrat that represent you (if you have one in your district) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi right now.


Democrats are dangerously close to learning the wrong lessons and repeating the same mistakes they've been making all year. Senators like Joe Lieberman are calling on Congress to do less, drop healthcare, and act like Republican-Lite.

It's time to stop pandering to Joe and listen to the American people instead.

The 2010 Swing Voter -- the Stay-At-Home Base and Obama-Voting Independents -- want more change, not less. That's what our Research 2000 poll of Massachusetts voters taken immediately after polls closed on Tuesday proved.  

This seems to be the one poll (and a sound poll, at that) that Democratic leadership wants to pretend doesn't exist.  But it does, and it's not going away.

Time for Democrats to stand for something more than winning elections (especially when the two are probably one in the same, going into 2010).

To GOP Or Not To GOP?


In Florida, one Tea Partier who's active with his local GOP organization is suing a Republican political consultant and his ally after they registered the Tea Party as a third political party in the state, then asserted rights to the Tea Party name. Both sides are bitterly accusing the other -- with some justification -- of having ties to the Republican party.

And even the Tea Party Patriots, perhaps the organized faction of the movement that most loudly proclaims its political independence, can't escape the party's reach. In putting together the rallies that brought tens of thousands to Washington last year, it worked closely with FreedomWorks, the conservative advocacy group run by former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey.

But many of the rank-and-file Tea Partiers whose energy helped launch the movement last spring -- and among whom a more libertarian ideology often prevails -- remain deeply wary of getting into bed with the GOP. And lately, they've started speaking out.

Read more:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Curling into a defensive crouch?

Nate Silver asks why we haven't seen a single Democratic rep. making this argument.

Maybe we shouldn't wait for them to make it?

Shut it, Feinstein.  You're not helping.

For the first time ever in our state...

Exciting news, in the inbox:

Dear Fellow Blogger,

Utah Fair Boundaries is making available to the public the opportunity for people to sign our petition electronically, effective immediately. I am asking for your assistance in this endeavor by posting about this event as soon as you are able on your blog.

Petition signers will have the opportunity to read the proposed bill before confirming their signature and have the option to exit out if they do not desire to support our petition.

It is fair to say that this is a watershed moment for our democracy. For the first time ever in our state, regular citizens have the opportunity to voice their opinion anywhere and at anytime, without having to go though the sometimes difficult task of finding a petition. The most rural of locations are now just a click away from the halls of power.

Fair Boundaries already has the support of the citizens.  In a recent Dan Jones/KSL poll, 67% support the measure, 18% oppose, and 15% are still undecided with a margin of error of +/- 5%.  With the new e-signature campaign, we will be able to reach citizens in small towns just as well as we are able to reach them in big cities. After all, every citizen deserves to have their voice heard.

With your help, Fair Boundaries will reach its goal of gathering 95,000 signatures by April 15th with months to spare. We are hopeful and confidant that we will succeed in bringing democracy back to the people and prove to law makers that the citizens have had enough.

The online petition can be found at, and I invite you to sign as well so that you are familiar with the process.

Curtis Haring
Director of Operations - Utah Fair Boundaries
Author and Creator of Blue in Read Zion

Killpack Questions

Any patrons or bartenders at the Millcreek club Liquid Joe's last Thursday night where Killpack and friends went to see Metal Gods, an '80s hair band tribute act, who want to tell us who was there?

A Final Note on MA-Sen: Young Voters Stayed Home

The same voters who preferred Obama 5:1 in 2008, 30 and under crowd, preferred Coakley 3:1.

Unfortunately, only 15% of them came out to vote in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

I'd guess a general impatience with DC, a GOTV effort that ignored them, and general disapproval with the continued influence of Lieberman/Neslon types in policy making contributed to this.

It's something Democratic leadership needs to recognize.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scott Brown and ME?

Michael Steele sends me email.  Always inviting me to a tea party or an armed insurrection or something or other.  Quite the social butterfly.

Today he threw a real whopper at me, titled Scott Brown and You.  In the (apparently obligatory since the "successful" McCain campaign) P.S. of the fundraising ask email, there was this tidbit:

P.S.: Jason, Scott Brown's victory in the special election for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts shows our Party can win anywhere in the country when we have a principled, conservative candidate backed by the RNC's network of grassroots supporters.
Now if by principled you mean he ran away from the tea baggers and wingnuts as fast as he could and if by conservative you mean voted for universal health care and supports a woman's right to choose, then I guess you have a point, Mr. Steele.  But if you invoke those words in the way most other do, I think you're full of shit.

Mr. Brown is more liberal than Dede Scozzafava ever dared to be, and your "grassroots network" cheered at her loss.  This is getting confusing!

It, like your "movement," just doesn't make any sense.

Honestly, Mike, does anyone there at the RNC know what's really going on?

MA-Sen Was a Rebuke of Everything Teabaggers Disagree With (You Betcha!)

Nothing substantial to say about this really.

Just find it annoying, the media circus and opportunist politicos frenzy, post special election, determining for us all WHAT IT ALL MEANS.

It means there was a special election, and the candidate running the stronger campaign won, and that Democrats are scared of their own shadow.  Period.  And the Democrats still have a majority (though it appears someone should remind them).

If you'd like something more intelligent to wrap your head around than the talking points, check out John Judis's long-but-worth-the-read article on the challenges Democrats currently face.

GOP Rep: MA Election Was A "Divine Intervention"

Crazy still rules their world.  Rawstory.

"How could you possibly ... spend enough money and take away enough liberty, that the three-and-a-half to one Democrats-to-Republicans in Massachusetts would elect a Republican to come down to the United States Senate and vote against cloture, so that the Harry Reid bill could be killed in the Senate?" King asked on the House floor Tuesday night, in comments picked up by TalkingPointsMemo.

"How could you ever spend that much money? I didn't believe it was possible, Mr. Speaker," King said. "But I -- some would say a miracle has taken place tonight, and I wouldn't disagree with that. I believe there has been intervention, and I'm grateful for it."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Duck and Cover

Creepy relics from the cold war heyday:
This wall-mounted flyer titled IN CASE OF NUCLEAR ATTACK was produced by the city of Portland, Oregon, some time between 1981 and 1985. Thanks to step #7, I now know the international stick-figure symbol for "Comfort the dying." Those were the days, eh?

Scalpers Beware

One bill for the 2010 legislative session that is flying waaaaaay under the radar...

The bill prohibits selling a ticket for a sports event or concert for more than the original price plus a “reasonable service charge,” defined as $10 or 15 percent of the price. Each scalped ticket could result in a Class C misdemeanor, similar to a traffic ticket. Hemingway says working people can’t wait in line for tickets, and shouldn’t have to pay scalpers’ inflated prices.

“I got to thinking about people going to things, big-time deals, like the Disney on Ice, or things like that, and not able to get to a place to buy a ticket,” Hemingway says. “You know, line up at midnight and wait until they start selling the tickets, and having to buy a ticket from someone for twice the price and the possibility of disappointing their kids.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Just Health Care

This is a great example of the BS that is the "corporations will self correct to protect the competition they so respect" meme conservatives cling to.

No, they won't.  Not if it's more lucrative for them to squash it instead.

Wake Up

FDL's David Dayen parses all the "what does it all mean" hand wringing over the MA special election, and the President's approval numbers and concludes what I've been thinking:

Progressives need to get off their asses and start forging a narrative.

Sitting back and waiting for the economy to improve, or disengaging out of frustration at the lack of perfect legislation is self defeating.

You can burn the President, or you can sit it out.  But if you do, expect even less to happen in 2011 that you like.


Lot of talk about the Massachusetts Senate race.

Coakley can't seem to keep it together, and Brown is shipping in support from out of state fast as he can.  Polling trends don't look good for Coakley, but I think those saying this is a done deal are jumping the gun (not that I blame them).  The GOTV efforts are being pwned by progressive activists.  Whether their efforts started early enough to have the desired influence will be seen.

But let's stay real about what this election means.  And what it means is that there was a special election in MA.  Period.

This isn't a referendum on health care, or a vindication of tea bagger popularity.  Coakley isn't a weak candidate, and Brown isn't a strong candidate.  Coakley waited far too long to start campaigning aggressively, and Brown has run away from the tea parties, and even being a Republican. 

The most one could read into this election is that national Democratic leadership needs to get their shit together on messaging (and having a few strong pieces of legislation that didn't take six months of pandering to Ben Nelson would make it a little easier, dontchathink?), and that Republicans running as moderate Not-Republicans can dupe voters either frustrated with lackluster Democratic accomplishments in 2009, or who believe they're voting for an independent.  As for the future of the health care bill, obviously it will be easier with Coakley's vote, but it's passing one way or another, and there is a little evidence progressive positioning could have greater influence if the bill needs to be shoved through without a traditional vote.

Even taking that away from this single election is a stretch though.  Just like NY-23, and VA a few months ago.  I don't blame people for trying, but it's endlessly annoying to hear every special election parlayed by the media as a 'statement' on this or that.  It ignores the complexities of campaigning.

Activists on both sides of the isle would do a service to themselves to remember this.

That said, I've been making calls for Coakley from "the office" all morning with the OFA tool.  You can too.

Fun with Zogby Polls

For years I've enjoyed fudging my answers to Zogby online polling.  It's my little contribution to keeping the polling world sane.

Which is why this question from The Monkey Cage caught my eye.

Why don't more people lie to pollsters?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Signature a Day (Fair Boundaries)

Great ask from the Fair Boundaries team (via email):

Did you know that if everyone receiving this email committed to getting just one signature a day, just one signature, we would reach our goal with plenty of time to spare?

 [...] Did you know that each signature brings us one step closer to changing our state?

Did you know that you, along with your fellow supporters, could have such a real impact

Please join us in committing yourself to one signature a day, become one of our 100 for 100 heroes.  If you are shy or can’t walk, please click the donation button so that we might be able to give our signature gatherers the resources they need to succeed.

To sign up to be one of our 100 for 100 heroes that put elections back in the hands of the voters email us at or call Justin at 801-824-4073.

To pick up or return petitions please stop by 2261 S. Redwood Road #L. If you cannot come to the office, we have leaders and locations throughout the state.

Shurtleff's HCR Lawsuit Threats

Not much question why John Bircher Patrick Henry Caucus wingnut Carl Wimmer is so excited about the AG's lawsuit against the federal health care bill -- which no one has even seen yet -- talk.  That's tea party mana (and the less logical the better, as I understand their tactics).  But why would Shurtleff be so willing to spend taxpayer dollars on a pointless lawsuit that will do little more than position him where he wants to be positioned?  Well, it seems it's an exchange.  He's hoping to trade your money for more of their money.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff ~ $9,500
- Selecthealth: $5,000
- Pfizer PAC: $2,500
- Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah: $2,000
Shurtleff's credibility is beyond rescue.

It's this, or he got his law degree from the Nick Riviera Upstairs School of Law.  Wimmer has proven his naivety and lack of legal acumen again and again.  Hatch, Bishop just don't want to be tea bagged like Bennett.  Chaffetz hasn't met a vapid talking point he couldn't make love to on camera.  But Shurtleff?  He knows better.  He's just hoping you won't.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tweet Up, Thursday

A Tweet Up is where a bunch of people (that would be you) that use social media (like Twitter or Facebook) or who are curious and want to know more about social media, all get together at a restaurant to network, eat, laugh, get to know people with similar interests in their area and take away some great swag!

For this tweet up we will have complementary Pepsi products provided for everyone by Cafe Sabor, swag bags and will also be giving away some great door prizes like gift certificates to Borders and Best Buy and one lucky attendee will go home with the newest model of the ipod shuffle.
Thursday @ 6:30, Cafe Sabor (map).  Free to all.  A veritable who's who of social media will be on hand: Loralee of Loralee's Looney Tunes, all of us @ KVNU's For the People, Jill Parker of Bear River Health, everyone here @ The SideTrack, some folks from Hard News Cafe / Utah Statesman, Marshall Thompson of Advent Creative, members of USU PRSSA, and many many more.  We'll discuss the growing importance of social media in politics, business, health and human services, promotion, public information, or just keeping in touch with family and friends.
We (the SMC board of directors) have put a lot of work into planning this event with the help of the folks at and  It's guaranteed to be a lot of fun. Come tell your story, share best practices, or just to get free stuff.

All the cool kids are doin' it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

This is just fun to watch

Steele: STFU or fire me!

(Please don't fire him... he's comedy gold!)

@UtahGOP vs @UtahGOP

I guess sometimes you get so caught up in the excitement of tweeting nonsense that the nonsense just takes over.

UtahGOP on Twitter today, within minutes of... well, themselves:

Indeed. RT @PoliticalMath If green tech is so promising, why does it need $2.3 billion in federal tax credits?
RT morganphilpot  Not good. NYT: "U.S. Job Losses in December Dim Hopes for Quick Upswing" #tcot #utpol #itstheeconomystupid

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Change, Under the Radar

But one that is extremely refreshing for me, personally.

President Barack Obama on Thursday took responsibility for a "systemic failure" that allowed an alleged terrorist to board a flight to the U.S.

The president made the announcement at the White House after his national security team concluded the initial reviews Obama ordered after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate a plastic explosive aboard a Detroit-bound plane.

"Ultimately, the buck stops with me," Obama said.
Wingnuts appear to be near ecstasy in promoting Al Qeada's agenda.  I've heard suggestions that we launch more invasions in response to what people may or may not  have in their underpants.  Jim Duh-Mint thinks that the President is failing us because he doesn't say "terrorist" enough.  Their rhetoric may be less intelligent than what they offered in the health care reform debates (that's debatable, of course...).

But all of this is only distracting us.  Disappointments with other issues aside for a moment, it's nice to once again have an adult in the White House, taking responsibility, and being more direct with the American public.

Treating us as if we were adults ourselves!

What a novel concept.  (And of course the last thing the GOP wants to have happen, having no adult contributions to the narrative.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Uniting the Base and Swing Voters


[...] Democrats win by uniting their base with swing voters, not by playing the two off against each other. I am not one of those progressives who argue that you can win only by motivating progressives, but I do know it's essential that Democrats have them fighting hard on their behalf, as opposed to fighting with Democrats trying to win elections in a challenging year.

President Obama should be the President who gets this instinctively. He won by energizing volunteers and small donors hungry for change, people who gave and raised hundreds of millions of dollar and knocked on millions of doors. Those progressive activists successfully reached to swing voters in neighborhood after neighborhood, and with a message of hope and change won the Presidential election by the most decisive margin in 24 years. By taking on the big issues progressives have been passionately wanting to take on, he should have been able to keep that dream, and that fire, alive. But Democratic approval ratings for Obama have been dipping, online donations are down, it was very tough recruiting volunteers for campaigns last year, and Democratic base turnout was way down in the off-year elections. Most dangerous of all, the passion progressive activists have for helping and defending Obama in water cooler and neighborhood conversations with their friends is missing.

How did it come to this? Yes, expectations were too high to be immediately fulfilled. And some of the policy decisions have gone the conservatives' way, such as Afghanistan, banking policy and some of the compromises in the health care bill. But I think the paradox of a President working for universal health care and regulation of Wall Street and a huge new government role in climate change and comprehensive immigration reform finding himself with big problems with his base is too complicated to be easily explained away.
The explanation probably lies somewhere between "hungry for change" and "expectations too high."

Anyone who voted for Obama thinking there would be a vast redrafting of political institutions and procedures in the first year of his administration is probably feeling a bit disappointed right now. But was that ever a real possibility? No. Is it a goal worth voting for then and still? Yes.

Progress sometimes comes much slower than we would all prefer, and there is something deeply and justifiably frustrating at seeing certain things squandered to the likes of Lieberman and Nelson with health care, hypocritical "fiscally conservative" Blue Dogs with the stimulus, and Wall Street with the bank bailouts, etc. Corporatism and careerism hold the Democratic Party back, and no President was going to change that in a single stroke.

There is room for criticism, of course. Some concessions made have been unnecessary, at best, counterproductive at worst. But had Obama lost the election, or had the GOP kept control of the House, we would not even be having this discussion. We would not be debating the loss of the public option, because reform would not even be on the table. We would not be discussing the economy and job market on progressive terms, we'd be trying to stick a little stimulus into a GOP/Reagan love-fest of a tax-cuts-and-no-more "stimulus" akin to the policies that got us in the mess in the first place.

I understand "baby steps" isn't a winning message for engaging the base, but I think progressives need to acknowledge what transition has occurred. We may be disappointed with the policy being generated, and who is or isn't still getting a bullhorn to influence the debate, but we shouldn't lose the forest for the trees.

Instead of fighting bad policy, we have the opportunity now to influence mediocre policy. That's a baby step. And a choice between this situation -- frustrating as it may be -- of fighting to make policy better, rather than just fighting to stop bad policy is endlessly preferable. Progressives need to keep fighting for a voice, and Obama needs to rediscover his spine.

But in 2010, the "base" (how do you even define that?) and progressive activists have every reason to fight, even if we're only fighting for the opportunity to push for change, not for the change itself. That's not to say we should ever settle for what's "possible" as opposed to what is "best." But baby steps forward are at least still a forward movement.

Sitting this one out would be backward (in every sense of the word). Jim Duh-Mint and John Boehner are still out there. A President and a House we may be disappointed with is still a step above an administration and a House dominated by tea party politics.

That's enough to get me fired up, despite my various complaints about the lack of change.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

UT GOP: "Don't Tea-Bag Me, Bro!"

UDP's Wayne Holland, on Shurtleff's latest offering to the tea-bag gods:

Not only does Holland say there's nothing unconstitutional about health care reform, he also claims republicans like Shurtleff are drinking the, “..."Glenn Beck Kool-Aid."

Monday, Shurtleff's Chief Deputy told ABC 4 his boss was seriously thinking about filing a lawsuit to stop the health care reform effort in Congress.

But Tuesday, what Holland said Shurtleff should stop is his "wrongheaded" effort.

ABC 4 News: "Do you think he should drop this?”

Holland: “Absolutely."

Holland feels that republicans like Shurtleff will try anything in the next few weeks to stop health care reform from becoming law.

And Holland is not shy about saying so.

Holland: "Right now, they see a political opportunity. They're jumping on the bandwagon. They want to be in the limelight and they find anyway they can to do that."

Holland isn't surprised Shurtleff is threatening a health care lawsuit.

But he worries the attorney general's efforts may do a lot more harm than good.

"There's always a danger when you use public office to trumpet things that are meant to elevate your political status with a small group."
Fightin' words!  I like it.

Shurtleff has proven himself a self serving opportunist above all else.  And having Carl Wimmer on board doesn't exactly lend this effort much credence.

The lawsuit is a waste of time.  We know it.  And I'd be willing to bet Shurtleff knows it.  But Carl Wimmer and the Tea-Baggers don't know it, and that's what Shurtleff hopes to play on.  But Carl Wimmer also thinks that since he shoveled snow out of his driveway once in 2009, Global Warming cannot possibly be real.

If Shurtleff's antics are any barometer of things to come (and my guess is they are), the UT GOP has willingly reduced their own message to "Don't tea-bag me, bro!"