August 30, 2007

Is Harry Shearer right?

I was watching Olbermann last night and he interviewed Harry Shearer who said that none of the Democratic candidates were talking about Katrina recovery. Really? A quick perusal of the candidates' web sites shows he wasn't quite accurate.

August 28, 2007

Naomi Wolf: What we don't talk about

In today's Huffington Post, Naomi Wolf takes on the danger of leaving some topics of discussion of limits.

Even as I write those words, I understand I am breaching a major social taboo of our particular time and place. There is a general polite consensus right now that maintains two no-debate areas: 1) you are not, if you are a serious person, allowed to note in public that it is possible that this White House -- or any U.S. leader ever -- might conceivably distort or hype the terror threat for political purposes (though plenty of serious people discuss this possibility in private); and 2) if you are a serious person, you are not allowed to suggest in public that it is remotely possible that in America elections could possibly be deliberately thrown off course any more directly than, say, the vote recount of 2000.
Wolf then goes on to demonstrate that corrupt leaders often either make up a threat or hype one that does exist, and that U.S. history, even before this administration took over, is full of this sort of activity.
Finally, I am sorry to say, there is the fact that, historically, when leaders are seeking to close down an open society, the months leading up to an election are traditionally the most unstable time -- the period most likely to see reports of a frightening purported threat "just-foiled," an apparent awful breach "just-averted," or even a dramatic actual provocation -- which requires, then, a strong hand to restore "public order." Mrs. Clinton pointed out that even though it is a "horrible prospect," sometime you have to ask "What if?"
And you know, this is a question I heard so many of my fellow Democrats ask in the months leading up to both the 2004 and 2006 election. I was the naive one who said, "Oh, we can't worry about that. Let's just focus on Get Out The Vote." Right now I am glad to see at least one candidate admitting, in public, what we've ALL discussed amongst ourselves.

Wolf goes on to contrast our generalized nation-wide fear with how it's done in nations that have lived with terrorism for decades.
Anyone who has ever lived in Israel -- a country where, since its very birth, sophisticated terrorists have been targeting the civilian population day and night -- knows that you NEVER get the equivalent of broad-anxiety-inducing alerts in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem like the "red alert" or "orange alert" system here at home. At the most, in Israel, you get practical, low-key, usable information from the state -- for example, "avoid the Machaneh Yehudah marketplace this Friday afternoon" -- no matter who is in power. Israelis, consequently, experience, on the day-to-day level, the possibility of terror attacks as a specific, real danger -- but not as a state-produced existential condition, a matrix of helpless fear. (Indeed, avoiding national fear from terror attacks is a point of pride in Israel that transcends party lines).

Nor do Israelis get our regular-as-rain triumphalist narratives in the press about this or that terrorist's creepy bio, his sinister face, or this or that thwarted, grandiose attack on this or that cherished national monument. There is not a constant struggle between the Knesset and the party in power over the declassification of intelligence, comparable to our struggle here at home. Rather, when there is something the people need to know, Mossad lets the people's leaders -- whatever party is in power -- know it. Everyone in Israel understands that terror is too serious to mess with politically -- that intelligence about attacks is too important to disclose or to conceal for political purposes -- and that Mossad is always, very quietly, at work.

Anyone who has lived in the UK during the years of regular, bloody IRA bombings has experienced similar restraint. Nations that have long been primarily intent on tracking and thwarting terrorists -- rather than, perhaps, driving policy with fear -- just don't talk about terrorism in the same way (or nearly so much). Even now -- fighting the very same "bad guys" that we are fighting -- Gordon Brown has reminded his nation and ours that "terrorism is not a cause, it is a crime."
And finally...
Is it irrational to consider the possibility of a hyped threat or even a provocation before the election? It is, at this point, irrational to refuse to do so. If this White House had no actual major record of hyping a threat -- if the U.S. had no record of inflating various fears for political ends -- and if weakening democracies worldwide had no record of manipulating terror narratives to drive certain outcomes, it would indeed be illogical -- even paranoid -- to worry about a possible hyped threat or provocation that is politically driven.

But given the current administration's record of lying to Congress, the American people and the UN about such threats; given that it used fake documents to do so; given that it has often splashed out widely-reported terror charges that then vanish or subside during actual trials (the course corrections of which are seldom as widely reported); given our own nation's history of not being immune to the temptations on the part of leaders of using fear to drive a political outcome -- is it not, rather, almost criminally naive to REFUSE even to consider the possibility of a hyped threat or provocation close to the election?

[...]

Let's dare to release our immature fantasies of a magically faultless American system and a magically protected election process. We have been lucky, as a nation; but sometimes continued luck depends on action.

Hillary Clinton's rivals should back down; she was the first to dare to imply what we must all directly consider.

Sometimes collective blind spots -- agreements not to look -- are not a problem; and sometimes -- as in a dramatically weakening democracy -- such blind spots can become big enough to prove self-destructive indeed.

August 27, 2007

Alberto calls it quits

Breaking.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the resignation had not yet been made public.


Recess appointment????

Monday Morning tidbits

If you are awake tomorrow morning at 2 a.m., there's going to be a full lunar eclipse.

As someone who often negotiates this intersection, thank goodness.

Yep, the packed vehicles are making their way down I-80. We'll see you in a week, covered in playa-white.

Kirk Caraway talks about picking ones friends wisely in this August 26th op-ed.

If you missed this article in the Sunday NYT about the Countrywide mess, I highly recommend it, but take your blood pressure medicine first.

Another solution for the primary debacle

A letter writer in this morning's New York Times offers another solution to the front-loading problem.

Re “Michigan Joins the Race for a ‘Me First’ Primary” (news article, Aug. 20):

I have an idea for a primary schedule that would put an end to the bickering.

Primary elections would be held by states in alphabetical order, with five states holding elections every Tuesday for 10 weeks, beginning the first week in March and ending in mid-May. Every four years, the bloc of states that voted first in the previous election would rotate to the end of the order.

Over the course of 40 years, each state would get to vote first and last.

Joyce McCusker-Schaal
Herndon, Va., Aug. 22, 2007
What really gripes me about all of this is that what these state legislatures are doing is not what their citizens want. My goodness, they are all acting like kindergarteners in line on a playground when the teacher's back is turned.

The fact of the matter is that this front loading of the primaries and caucuses short changes all the states. None of them will get a good look at any candidate and our democracy suffers.

Krugman does it again

From the 8/27 New York Times (behind the firewall:)

A Socialist Plot
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Suppose, for a moment, that the Heritage Foundation were to put out a press release attacking the liberal view that even children whose parents could afford to send them to private school should be entitled to free government-run education.

They’d have a point: many American families with middle-class incomes do send their kids to school at public expense, so taxpayers without school-age children subsidize families that do. And the effect is to displace the private sector: if public schools weren’t available, many families would pay for private schools instead.

So let’s end this un-American system and make education what it should be — a matter of individual responsibility and private enterprise. Oh, and we shouldn’t have any government mandates that force children to get educated, either. As a Republican presidential candidate might say, the future of America’s education system lies in free-market solutions, not socialist models.

O.K., in case you’re wondering, I haven’t lost my mind, I’m drawing an analogy. The real Heritage press release, titled “The Middle-Class Welfare Kid Next Door,” is an attack on proposals to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Such an expansion, says Heritage, will “displace private insurance with government-sponsored health care coverage.”

And Rudy Giuliani’s call for “free-market solutions, not socialist models” was about health care, not education.

But thinking about how we’d react if they said the same things about education helps dispel the fog of obfuscation right-wingers use to obscure the true nature of their position on children’s health.

The truth is that there’s no difference in principle between saying that every American child is entitled to an education and saying that every American child is entitled to adequate health care. It’s just a matter of historical accident that we think of access to free K-12 education as a basic right, but consider having the government pay children’s medical bills “welfare,“ with all the negative connotations that go with that term.

And conservative opposition to giving every child in this country access to health care is, in a fundamental sense, un-American.

Here’s what I mean: The great majority of Americans believe that everyone is entitled to a chance to make the most of his or her life. Even conservatives usually claim to believe that. For example, N. Gregory Mankiw, the former chairman of the Bush Council of Economic Advisers, contrasts the position of liberals, who he says believe in equality of outcomes, with that of conservatives, who he says believe that the goal of policy should be “to give everyone the same shot and not be surprised or concerned when outcomes differ wildly.”

But a child who doesn’t receive adequate health care, like a child who doesn’t receive an adequate education, doesn’t have the same shot — he or she doesn’t have the same chances in life as children who get both these things.

And insurance is crucial to receiving adequate health care. President Bush may think that lacking insurance is no problem — “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room” — but the reality is that the nine million children in America who don’t have health insurance often have unmet medical or dental needs, don’t have a regular place for medical care, and frequently have to delay care because of cost.

Now, the public understands the importance of health insurance, even if Mr. Bush doesn’t. According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, an amazing 94 percent of the public regards the fact that many children in America lack health insurance as either a “serious” or a “very serious” problem.

So how can conservatives defend the indefensible, and oppose giving children the health care they need? By trying the old welfare queen in her Cadillac strategy (albeit without the racial innuendo that made it so effective when Reagan used it). That is, to divert public sympathy from people who really need help, they’re trying to change the subject to the supposedly undeserving recipients of government aid. Hence the emphasis on the evils of “middle-class welfare.”

Proponents of an expansion of children’s health care have, as they should, responded to this strategy with facts and figures. Congressional Budget Office estimates show that S-chip expansion would, in fact, primarily benefit those who need it most: the great majority of children receiving coverage under an expanded program would otherwise have been uninsured.

But the more fundamental response should be, so what?

We offer free education, and don’t worry about middle-class families getting benefits they don’t need, because that’s the only way to ensure that every child gets an education — and giving every child a fair chance is the American way. And we should guarantee health care to every child, for the same reason.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

August 25, 2007

In other news

Out There

On the Home Front

More on Hillary quote

Media Matters takes on Fox "cropping" of Hillary quote. Thing is, some in the blogosphere have done the same thing.

Summary: On Your World, Neil Cavuto brought up Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's comment that "[i]f certain things happen between now and the elections, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again," and asked radio talk-show host Ben Ferguson, "So, Ben, your take on this is that she knows in her heart of hearts Republicans are tougher on terror?" But Cavuto did not mention that Clinton criticized Republicans' handling of national security in the very same statement.
AP article on the backyard house party.
At a backyard gathering of supporters, Clinton was asked why she has the best chance of defeating the eventual Republican nominee. She argued that her long history of coming under Republican fire as first lady and now a New York senator makes her the most prepared for a general election fight.

"I've been through it and I understand their tactics. I have been subjected to them for 15 years and I have survived them," she said. "There's something to be said for that, because I understand what they will do."

She said the goal of Republicans will be to "drive up the negatives" of the Democratic nominee.

"It will all be fresh information. It will all be, 'Oh, you didn't know? Let us tell you. Let us create a caricature. Let us give you this picture.' Whereas I have the somewhat mixed, but rather fortunate blessing of already starting with those negatives. For me that's a plus."

August 24, 2007

The blogosphere is all a-twitter

Oh no! According to chumley et al over at DailyKos, Hillary has ceded the terror issue to the Republicans.

Except when you listen to what she said IN CONTEXT.




Hmmm. That "what if, what if" in context doesn't sound like she's talking about a terrorist attack, per se. She's saying that there are all sorts of things that you could "what if" yourself to death over that could come up between now and November 2008 that could affect the election, including something related to terrorism (you know, like a video from Osama bin Laden, or another series of well-timed "terrorist alerts" or even, god forbid, a terrorist event). And Hillary believes that she is the best Democratic candidate to handle these unexpected scenarios because she's been in the rightwing noise machine's cross-hairs for years. She gets how they operate. And she's best equipped to handle them.

From The Trail at the Washington Post:
Addressing voters in Concord, N.H. yesterday, Clinton said her experience would help her "handle things I have no control over" in the general election. "It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself 'What if? What if?,' " she went on. "But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world. So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well."

The R's know how to play the fear card. And they spin it to their advantage. I know it. You know it. And Hillary definitely knows it.
As it happens, Clinton herself has warned in the past about Republican attempts to use the terror threat as a cudgel against Democrats. At a labor convention in February 2006, she said that Rove's strategy boiled down to this: "'Here's your game plan, folks. Here's how we're going to win. We're going to win by getting everybody scared again.' Contrary to Franklin Roosevelt, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. This crowd is, 'All we're got is fear, and we're going to keep playing the fear card.'"

In now predicting an inherent "advantage" for Republicans in the event of another attack, Clinton may just have been keeping up on the latest academic literature. A group of psychologists has been making waves with extensive research suggesting that the Sept. 11 attacks, and subsequent evocations of the attacks by Bush and other Republican candidates, provoked in many voters a subconscious fear of their own mortality and a "worldview defense" that made them more likely to vote Republican in 2002 and 2004.
On Edit: Here is a fuller account of the context of the remarks above. (Concord Monitor)
...Years of political attacks have hardened Clinton and given her insight into Republican tactics, she said in response to a question about how she plans to beat a Republican in the general election.

Republicans "will go after anybody we nominate. Anyone who thinks that this election will be a runaway because it's so self-evident that we have to have a Democrat I don't think understands the intensity of the campaign that they will run," Clinton said. "It is important that our nominee have no illusions about the difficulty of this race. I have none."

[...]

It's "fair to say that the tactic used effectively will be to drive up the negatives of whoever our nominee is, and it will all be fresh information. It will all be, 'Oh, you didn't know. Let us tell you. Let us paint a caricature,' " Clinton said of Republican tactics. "Whereas I have the somewhat mixed but rather fortunate blessing of already starting with those negatives. And for me, that's a plus."

Apart from Republican attacks, Clinton argued that her political experience would equip her "to handle things I have no control over" in the general election.

Her remarks peeled back the curtain, ever so slightly, on the possible scenarios Clinton is considering in her general election strategy.

"It's a horrible prospect to ask yourself 'What if? What if?,' " Clinton said. "But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again, no matter how badly they have mishandled it, no matter how much more dangerous they have made the world. So I think I'm the best of the Democrats to deal with that as well."

August 23, 2007

Investing in our future

Interim Lyon County Manager Bob Hadfield says farewell in a grim document. Nancy Dallas writes:

In a memorandum to Lyon County commissioners –dated August 14, 2007 – Interim County Manager Bob Hadfield details his thoughts regarding the county’s current economic status and his vision of the future. He has alluded to theses issues a number of times during reports at commission meetings.

Hadfield sees no immediate end to the stagnant economy and said voter approved tax increases are the only viable solution to enable the County to enhance services and expand the workforce to meet growing needs.

“I firmly believe that the Lyon County economy will continue to be stagnant with an occasional gain with a new business from time to time, as statewide sales growth and local businesses struggle, the revenues the County relies on the most, the consolidated tax revenue, will not achieve this necessary growth we need to enable the County to enhance services and expand our workforce in the foreseeable future without voter approved tax increases.”
The dirty little secret is that this has been acknowledged by the powers-that-be for some time. But good luck on selling this to the average Lyon County voter. After decades of being told that ANY tax is bad, that government is the problem, and looking at which political party is in charge of our county, I can't imagine a single one of them walking up to a voter and being able to make the case that they will need to make.

More from Hadfield:
“As a historically conservative County, the ad valorem tax rate has been sparingly used and County government was based on a rural model that did not foresee the demands for service concurrent with rapid urban growth along two major highway corridors.

“As a county with few retail outlets these one shot housing related revenues comprise a significant portion of our sales tax base which makes it more difficult to have a stable tax base to rely on when growth slows.

“Therefore it is my belief that until Lyon County achieves a balanced economic base with more industrial, commercial and related development, we will be unable to meet the needs concurrent with residential growth. We will need to continue to rely on others for financial stability.”
And:
“Without voter relief our fiscal condition will only worsen over time……….in addition, most of our revenue needs will only be achieved by a County-wide tax levy which will compete with other entity’s current tax rates and perceived needs. To achieve the level of revenue required we will need to acquire room under the combined tax rate cap. This can only be achieved by convincing one or more other taxing entities to reduce their current ad valorem rate. To accomplish this Lyon County must be able to convince residents or [sic] each and every area of the County that they need to financially support County government to receive services that benefit them.
Like I said, good luck with that.

August 22, 2007

She's still standing

Taylor Marsh says a lot in this post regarding Karl Rove's remarks on Hillary's 'negatives' and 'electability.' And she takes on the press too.

Here's a snippet:

Seen any coverage at all about what happened in the 1990s and how the wingnut juggernaut attacked Clinton and her husband his entire presidency all the way to impeachment, starting with the '92 campaign, which continues on Fox "News" today, compliments of Sean Hannity and Dick let me suck your toes Morris?

Seen any coverage about what negative publicity for 20 years can do to a person, especially a woman who not only is the first First Lady senator, but the most investigated woman on the political landscape who just happens to be the first viable female candidate to run for the presidency in American history? How would Mr. Obama do after 20 years of all those swiftboating general election Republican operatives teeing off on that middle name nonsense, or the madrassa slur started by Fox? There's his minister, but also the nasty nugget about Malcolm X that was floated by Politico.com's Mike Allen. Can Obama fight back and win against wingnut thugs? Look at what the noise of the corporate hack pack, plus Fox and O'Reilly have done to Edwards over a ridiculous haircut. What would 20 years of that crap, plus the latest financial nonsense look like? Tune in to Fox "News" because they're going at Edwards yet again. These guys destroyed Kerry and they did it in three months.

Seen any coverage about Ken Starr targeting the Clinton's with our tax dollars then releasing a pornographic report on the Internet?

Clinton's not only standing, but she's a senator from the great state of New York, not to mention running for president. She beat them all. Rove knows it and is worried, because he's on a legacy tour, Bush's legacy that is and he's got to plant the seeds, because a Clinton presidency would obliterate his boy Bush, and Rove knows it.

But what's at the bottom of the press grabbing on to Karl Rove's rhetorical turds? A couple of things, as far as I can tell so far, but clearly Clinton's performance since March has delivered a collective shock wave across the press landscape. She's not strident! She's articulate! She's not the dragon lady of wingnut lore! And oh my gosh, maybe she doesn't need Bill to make her case after all (though he's certainly a huge plus). And she's actually working for votes? Nah. Fuhgettaboutit.

Clinton is surprising a lot of people with her campaign. No one was more surprised than me when I saw her at the health care forum earlier this year. [cls: ME TOO! Though for me it was the Carson City AFSCME Forum] She blew her opponents off the stage. She's been doing it ever since, except when she's holding steady, which gets no comment at all, except that somebody else "wins." However, now that her campaign skills have been proven and her ability to woo voters tallying up, the corporate hack pack doesn't know quite how to react. So they need an anti Hillary, someone who can take her down and Obama is the closest guy they've got right now, because Gore isn't running. Chris Matthew (sic) said it succinctly recently. To paraphrase, I cover politics so I want this race close. In Iowa, it's a three-way dead heat. But nationally it is not. In New Hampshire, it is not. South Carolina, Obama is up. However, in California and Florida there's only Clinton. But Obama has a lot of support and money, so just maybe he can do it. Maybe he can, but he's going to need some help.

August 19, 2007

Primary Madness

Hmm. Even the New York Times agrees with me regarding regional primaries. My previous posts can be found here and here.

This shortening of the selection process doesn't do the voters any favors.

August 17, 2007

Consequences of putting all your eggs in one basket

Nancy Dallas reports on Lyon County budget shortfalls and quotes Interim County Manager Bob Hadfield, who says, despite the entrance of Lowes and Walmart into the equation, the decline of the housing market spells trouble:

“Within the housing market, it does not look like we will be receiving a growth boom in the near future. Based on that, we can’t expect the sales tax revenue to increase. A large portion of that in the past was driven by the housing boom.”
And:
“This is a beautiful area. It will still be attractive. We have some very nice developments on the drawing board. We are still building some houses in some areas. But we have got to get some jobs in this county to support this workforce because we cannot survive on houses alone. It will not work. We cannot be just a housing area for the rest of the region.”
Yep. That just about says it all.

Republican Strategy: When you can't win by the rules, change'em

Change the rules, move the goal posts, whatever it takes. And that's just what's going on in California right now. Barbara Boxer lays it out over at Huffington Post.

If you haven't heard already, Republican strategists recently announced plans to begin raising money for a dangerous initiative that would radically change the way California apportions our electoral votes in presidential elections. Rather than awarding all of California's electoral votes to the candidate that wins the popular vote -- the way it works in every single state except the small states of Maine and Nebraska -- their scheme would divvy up California's electoral votes based on thenumber of Congressional districts each candidate wins.
First of all, it's questionable if this can even be done as the US Constitution says that state legislatures determine the methods for allocating presidential electors. But, hey, when has the Constitution ever stopped this bunch?

So, go ahead, and sign the petition. But really, Californians, we can sign petitions until we are blue in the face, but its going to be up to you to stop this cold.

Barbara says:
If America wants real election reform -- and I know I do -- we need to elect our President directly by the national popular vote, plain and simple. Then the candidate who receives the most votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia would be elected President. That's the fair thing to do.
Now that's something I could get behind. Once the Constitution was amended to limit the number of Senator and Representatives (hence Electors), we already lost the original intent of the framers and states with large populations saw their votes diluted as even the least populous state is guaranteed three electors, giving smaller states' votes a proportionally higher level of representation. California is awarded one electoral vote for every 662,865 residents, Wyoming gets one electoral vote for every 171,668 residents. This ballot initiative does nothing to address this disparity. Nor are its proponents calling for it across the country. Just in blue California. It's an attempt to rig the system in their favor,pure and simple.

So, let's just elect the President by popular vote and get it over with. And not on electronic voting machines. Paper. Hand-tallied. Period.

August 16, 2007

She slices, she dices

Oh man, Hillary takes this guy to town. She doesn't let him get away with any of his BS right-wing talking points. Thanks to The Divine Democrat for the link. Game, set, match. This guy didn't stand a chance.

The Internet is the "new Afghanistan???"

Are you freakin' kidding me?

I clicked on this link while perusing NVMojo's blog. Unbelievable.

The Internet is the new battleground against Islamist extremism because it provides ideology that could radicalize Westerners who might then initiate home-grown attacks, New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly said on Wednesday.

"The Internet is the new Afghanistan," Kelly said, as he released a New York Police Department (NYPD) report on the home-grown threat of attacks by Islamist extremists. "It is the de facto training ground. It's an area of concern."

The report found that the challenge for Western authorities was to identify, pre-empt and prevent home-grown threats, which was difficult because many of those who might undertake an attack often commit no crimes along the path to extremism.
Oooh! Be afraid, be very afraid.

Further into the article it says this:
"Much different from the Israeli-Palestinian equation, the transformation of a Western-based individual to a terrorist is not triggered by oppression, suffering, revenge or desperation," it said.

"Rather, it is a phenomenon that occurs because the individual is looking for an identity and a cause and unfortunately, often finds them in extremist Islam," said the report "Radicalization in the West: The Home-grown Threat."
But later still in the article it quotes the report as saying:
"Individuals who have been radicalized but are not jihadists may serve as mentors and agents of influence to those who might become terrorists of tomorrow," said the report, which analyzed five home-grown U.S. attack plots.

It says Europe's failure to integrate second and third generation immigrants into society, both economically and socially, had left young Muslims more vulnerable to extremism.

While economic opportunities in the United States are better and the country's Muslims are more resistant to Islamist extremism, they are "not immune to the radical message."
Which is it?

Doesn't this just feel like another ploy to eviscerate our civil liberties even further?

My coming out party...


Tonight

August 15, 2007

Bill Clinton in Reno, Bill Richardson in Fernley

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak at a Hillary for President campaign rally this Friday evening (August 17th).

Location: Reno-Sparks Convention Center (4001 S. Virginia Street, Reno).
Time: The doors will open at 5pm.
Admission is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.
Admission is available on a first-come basis, so get there early as they are expecting a heavy turnout.
You may RSVP by calling the Reno campaign office at 333-6655 or by visiting www.hillaryclinton.com/reno.

Be advised: The event is standing room only, that is: No seating except for disabled attendees.

********************************************************************************

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will be in Lyon County next Wednesday, August 22nd
This is the first visit by a presidential candidate to Lyon County.

Location: Fernley High School
Time: Doors open at 6:30 pm
Volunteers needed to help distribute flyers and to assist with the event.
Please call the Lyon County Democratic office at (775) 575-1133 or reply to this email if you can help out or to RSVP.

Big Tent Democrat Nails It

Chris Dodd supporter Big Tent Democrat at MyDD says it well:

I personally feel that political reasons can be just as, if not more, valid as reasons for supporting a candidate than issue reasons in this race. But let's argue those political reasons. Let's respect the fact that all of the candidates are pretty solid progressive Democrats.

Let's stop pretending that Hillary is a secret Republican operative. You merely come across, to me at least, as a blithering fool. Let's stop pretending that the fact that Edwards and Obama do not take money directly from lobbyists but do take money from spouses and CEOs and hedge fund managers means something substantively. It can mean something politically, but do not act as if you have an actual issue concern here.

Let's be honest. And falling short of that, let's at least not pretend we think Hillary or Edwards or Obama or Dodd are not progressive Democrats. You know they all are. Prefer who you prefer, but do so within the bounds a some decency and honesty.

August 14, 2007

My candidate's better than yours!

Well, at least according to Turkana and DH fromMD over at DailyKos. Fun stuff! And the comments rock!

Look to the French?

This may not go over well with Bill O'Reilly, but this description of the French health care system seems like a good fit for us here in the old U.S. of A. (IHT)

Many advocates of a universal health care system in the United States look to Canada for their model. While the Canadian system has much to recommend it, there's another model that has been too long neglected. That is the health care system in France.

Although the French system faces many challenges, the World Health Organization rated it the best in the world in 2001 because of its universal coverage, responsive health care providers, patient and provider freedoms, and the health and longevity of the country's population. The United States ranked 37.

[...]

An understanding of how France came to its health care system would be instructive in any renewed debate in the United States.

That's because the French share Americans' distaste for restrictions on patient choice and they insist on autonomous private practitioners rather than a British-style national health service, which the French dismiss as "socialized medicine." Virtually all physicians in France participate in the nation's public health insurance, Sécurité Sociale.

[...]

National health insurance in France stands upon two grand historical bargains - the first with doctors and a second with insurers.

Doctors only agreed to participate in compulsory health insurance if the law protected a patient's choice of practitioner and guaranteed physicians' control over medical decision-making. Given their current frustrations, America's doctors might finally be convinced to throw their support behind universal health insurance if it protected their professional judgment and created a sane system of billing and reimbursement.

French legislators also overcame insurance industry resistance by permitting the nation's already existing insurers to administer its new health care funds. Private health insurers are also central to the system as supplemental insurers who cover patient expenses that are not paid for by Sécurité Sociale. Indeed, nearly 90 percent of the French population possesses such coverage, making France home to a booming private health insurance market.

The French system strongly discourages the kind of experience rating that occurs in the United States, making it more difficult for insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or to those who are not in good health. In fact, in France, the sicker you are, the more coverage, care and treatment you get. Would American insurance companies cut a comparable deal?
More at link.

See also this New York Times editorial published on Sunday regarding the current state of American health care. It compares many facets of our health care system with other countries and ends thusly:
With health care emerging as a major issue in the presidential campaign and in Congress, it will be important to get beyond empty boasts that this country has “the best health care system in the world” and turn instead to fixing its very real defects. The main goal should be to reduce the huge number of uninsured, who are a major reason for our poor standing globally. But there is also plenty of room to improve our coordination of care, our use of computerized records, communications between doctors and patients, and dozens of other factors that impair the quality of care. The world’s most powerful economy should be able to provide a health care system that really is the best.

August 11, 2007

Senator Reid to hold Energy Independence Town Halls

Here are the details for Pershing and Humboldt Counties:

Pershing County
Monday, August 20, 2007, 10:30 am
Pershing County Community Center
820 6th Street, Lovelock

Humboldt County
Monday, August 20, 2007, 1:00pm
Humboldt County Senior Citizens Center
1480 Lay Street, Winnemucca

And speaking of energy, The Sustainable Living and Renewable Energy Roundup is happening this weekend in Douglas County at Bently's Ferris Park and Western Nevada College. Details can be found at their web site: www.cvsustainables.org.

(cross-posted at the Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus blog)

August 9, 2007

This is really getting ridiculous

From the WaPo:

South Carolina's Republican Party will move its 2008 presidential primary forward to Jan. 19, sources said yesterday, a decision almost certain to spark a cascade of calendar changes that could push the start of voting to New Year's Day or even to before Christmas.
I wonder what the Nevada Republican Party thinks about this?

And really, considering this is a national election, is it time for Congress to step in? Just thinking out loud here...

You have GOT to be kidding me

The Pentagon Sends Messengers of Apocalypse to Convert Soldiers in Iraq

"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."

[...]

But behind OSU's anodyne promises of wholesome fun for military families, the organization promotes an apocalyptic brand of evangelical Christianity to active duty US soldiers serving in Muslim-dominated regions of the Middle East. Displayed prominently on the "What We Believe" section of OSU's website is a passage from the Book of Revelations (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15) that has become the bedrock of the Christian right's End Times theology: "The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, shall be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

With the endorsement of the Defense Department, OSU is mailing "Freedom Packages" to soldiers serving in Iraq. These are not your grandfather's care packages, however. Besides pairs of white socks and boxes of baby wipes (included at the apparent suggestion of Iran-Contra felon Oliver North, according to OSU) OSU's care packages contain the controversial Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game. The game is inspired by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' bestselling pulp fiction series about a blood-soaked Battle of Armageddon pitting born-again Christians against anybody who does not adhere to their particular theology. In LaHaye's and Jenkins' books, the non-believers are ultimately condemned to "everlasting punishment" while the evangelicals are "raptured" up to heaven.
(links within the article)

August 8, 2007

Is 'Lobbyist' a dirty word?

Gee, to hear John Edwards and Barack Obama talk, all lobbyists should be painted with the same broad brush. (Isn't this what the right wing does to us?) When Hillary Clinton defended taking lobbyists money, she said that many lobbyists represent people like you and me. And you know what? It's true. There are lobbyists for autistic children, seniors, the disabled, union workers, women, and on and on. Thomas Edsall over at The Huffington Post in his article "Who Is The Purest of Them All?" sheds a little more light on this controversy and takes a closer look at who Obama and Edwards get their donations from. They may not get them from "Washington lobbyists" but they get plenty of high dollars from industry bigwigs and have their own ties to lobbyists.

Edwards and Obama may not be taking contributions from federally registered lobbyists, but that does not mean that their money is as pure as they'd like us to believe.

Edwards' 2004 campaign manager, Nick Baldick, who is currently a senior adviser to the 2008 campaign, is a founder of the Washington lobbying firm Avenue Solutions, which includes among its clients Aetna, Northwest Airlines, the Healthcare Leadership Council, Medco, Travelers Cos. Inc., and the Financial Services Roundtable.

Baldick left the firm in 2006 to found Hilltop Public Solutions which, according to its website, has "managed winning campaigns for clients that have included the nation's largest financial services firm, one of the nation's largest airlines, a major fast food retailer, the world's largest healthcare provider, and numerous additional industry leaders." It generally performs these services at a state level and is not federally registered.

At least three staffers on the Obama campaign were registered as federal lobbyists, although two worked for such pro-Democratic clients as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Environmental Defense Fund. The third, Emmett Beliveau, worked at Patton Boggs LLP, which includes among its clients Giner Electrochemical Systems, the Offshore Marine Service Association, ABT Associates, and Preferred Communications Systems.

In addition, the campaign web site Opensecrets.org reports that Edwards has received $6.5 million from lawyers, many of them trial lawyers; $668,590 from employees in the investment banking industry; $254,297 from officials of the health care industry and $218,290 from operators of hedge funds.

Obama has been no slouch in this territory, according to Opensecrets. Employees of investment banking firms gave him $3.2 million; real estate companies $1.3 million; health companies, $701,993; and hedge funds $652,105.

Clinton's contributions fit much the same pattern.
Oops.

Edsall ends with this:
The reality is that CEOs, managers and officers of companies with large stakes in public policy are major sources of campaign contributions. Except for mega-rich self-funders like Steve Forbes and Ross Perot, every serious contender for the nomination has tapped into the same general universe of donors.

At the Kos debate, a number of the candidates, including Clinton, agreed that the only way to resolve the issue of special interests and campaign contributions is public financing of campaigns.
So Hillary's challenge to us to look at her record vs her donors is really important . And it's just as important to do the same with every other candidate.

August 6, 2007

Nickel and Dimed

I caught a portion of this on my TiVo of Bill Moyer's Journal from August 4th. It features Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, a really great book. This is a clip from the movie, The American Ruling Class.

Not ready to give up

For those of you who listen to Thom Hartman on Air America, he constantly reminds us of this when our "leaders" fail us, as they did with the FISA "modernization" act. Our leaders never have been leaders, we the people form the parade, and, eventually, they get in front of it. Over at DailyKos, Cugel discusses this idea from a slightly different angle, and I agree.

Since I haven't got a crystal ball the best way to look forward, is to look back -- to the era of Richard Nixon. Yes, that's Nixon -- in many ways the worst President of the 20th century, and yet there's a lesson here worth knowing!

The key question is what can we expect to accomplish with such useless patsies as we've currently got in Congress and why should we work to elect more of them if they're only going to stab the American people in the back? But, history shows us that there is a WAY FORWARD! Republican conservatives once faced the same dilemna (and to an extent still do), and yet they overcame it.

[...]

The wing-nuts have been in the ascendant since Reagan's election in 1980, but that triumph was SIXTEEN YEARS in the making! It didn't happen overnight and any victory over the present ultra-reactionary politics of Reagan, Bush and Shrub will not happen overnight either!

[...]

Let's be clear about this: Richard Nixon was NOT a liberal! He simply governed within the liberal consensus of his times which meant that the "obvious" and politically popular solutions to problems tended to be things that today would draw outrage about "Socialism" from the right, and ideas that are simply not on the agenda at all, such as anti-poverty programs.

[...]

Remember too that Nixon and Ford ran as ostensible "conservatives" during their campaigns, only to move to the center once elected.

They in short reflected the still governing, but frayed "liberal consensus".

Wing-nuts during this era endlessly organized, wrote articles, founded "think-tanks" and attempted to popularize their ideas. They organized at the grass-roots level only to see their candidate, Reagan, defeated at the 1976 Republican convention!

I can vividly remember the fear I got watching them chanting with fury after Ford's nomination "Four more months! Four more months!" They reminded me then of Brown-shirts and I couldn't help fearing what would happen if these fanatics managed to put Reagan in power in 1980. Well, we all know what happened!

Reagan won office and propelled by an activist base managed to totally subvert American democracy. We've barely begun to recover from the damage he did!

The problem is that after every set-back the Democratic base's tendency is to withdraw and sulk. Many are tuning out because of disappointment with the Democratic Congress's refusal to fight Bush!

I feel the same way, but really, it's going to take a LOT longer than one or even two elections to beat the Democratic party into shape!

And in the comments Cugel says:
It's not the MAN or WOMAN! It's the governing political culture we have to change, and that's NOT going to happen just by electing a few Democrats (or Radical progressives for that matter).

Try and imagine what would happen if someone like a Ralph Nader actually became President! There simply isn't a governing base for most of his ideas. If he tried for instance to largely dismantle the military industrial complex and radically change the tax code and transfer resources to the poor, how far would he get before he was impeached?!

The media would be screaming for his blood 24/7 and people all over America would be standing up and calling him a traitor, etc. There would be a mass-movement to get rid of him because the governing consensus doesn't exist to do any of these things.

It takes a lot of organizing and putting forth ideas into the public consciousness before people are ready to support new ideas. It's happening a bit quicker because of Iraq right now, but there's a LOONG way to go!

Saying "I'm going to take my ball and go home" doesn't accomplish anything.

Betrayal is an essential part of politics: learn to live with it and get off your high horse! We can expect LOTS more betrayals before this is done!
I suspect I will draw a lot of fire from this. But really people, we cannot give up and go home. It's just not an option.

August 1, 2007

RIP WSJ

Meteor Blades over at DailyKos says what I've been thinking ever since I heard about the attempt (and now success) of Rupert Murdoch's buy out of the Wall Street Journal.

Those pages are well-respected for good reason, not least of which has been the inclusion of some of the finest long-tailed English-language journalism to be found anywhere.
Yes, its editorial page aside, the WSJ provided some of the best writing I've had the pleasure to read. I am in mourning today. The Wall Street Journal, as we've known it, is now dead. It may take time, or it may happen quite quickly, but understand this: Murdoch will kill any journalistic integrity that the WSJ now enjoys. Everything written there will now be suspect.

Meteor Blades quotes Keith Olbermann's interview with Air America's Rachel Maddow who says:
This is getting, I think, to the really big issue here, the really big story. Because this is not just about media consolidation. It’s not just about supporting Republican candidates or conservative policies. The big issue here is, and the big agenda here, I think, is to just make news worse. To undermine the idea of a discoverable truth about information that can be researched, and conveyed and believed in.
Yep. Whether its government or the news, it seems to me that the right-wing power brokers' whole aim is to disenchant us with being vigilant and active so that they can go about achieving their objectives with nary a whimper from the populace.

Caucus questions and transparency

NVMojo asks in the comments from the preceding post:

cls, There are a few of us who are wondering what type of machines are going to be used by the State party during the caucus to count the votes? Do you know? I know you've talked about attending these caucus prep meetings. Have you heard anything about them?
I thought I'd move my answer out of the comments section because I think this is a really good question.

Answer # 1:
The votes at each caucus are tallied at the caucus. The caucus chair then has the results signed off on by any attending campaign representatives/supporters indicating that the result is in accordance with the rules of the caucus and that they are reliable and true. After that the numbers are called into the central tabulating command center in Las Vegas. So, there will be a precinct by precinct paper trail and I am sure that if there are any discrepancies between what a precinct votes and what is shown in the final result there will be hell to pay. Beyond that, if you are asking if I know what machines will be used for that central tabulation, I don't know, but I don't think it's going to be anything super techie. Probably just be tracked on a spreadsheet. But, I will do my best to find out and report back.
Answer # 2:
On Edit: After publishing my first comment I think my first sentence isn't very clear. Remember that January 19th is the date of our caucuses...that is, precinct meetings wherein we caucus to award delegates. We tend to say caucus (singular) when we really should be saying caucuses (plural) since these are precinct level caucuses (meetings).

Have you attended a mock caucus yet? If you haven't, check with the Washoe Dems as they will be having them all over Washoe County in the next months and have scheduled standing monthly mockuses at the Dem office. Attending one really helps people understand the process and how open and transparent it is.
I have led a few of these mockuses and will be doing more, and it's amazing to me how many times I see the light of understanding switch on in attendees' eyes.