October 27, 2007

Rural Democrats Engage High School Students

Rural Democrats are stepping up and moving in their communities!

Churchill County:

High school students learn about the election process (Lahontan Valley News)

About 75 Churchill County High School seniors learned about the presidential caucus process on Tuesday in the high school cafeteria.

The Churchill County Democrats were in charge of holding the mock caucus with the high school seniors.

Cynthia Trigg of the Churchill County Democrats told the students that most of them will be 18 or older by November of next year and will be allowed to vote for the next president.

[...]

Shane Groover, a CCHS senior, said he was looking forward to the election because he will be old enough to vote.

"I think it is interesting. I got to help choose the nomination," he said of the mock exercise. "I kind of learned how delegates are chosen with the math."

Maggie Nelson, another high school senior, said she enjoyed learning how the Nevada caucus works.

"I knew there were different precincts, but I did not know there were different stages," she said.

Nelson said the mock caucus has encouraged her to take part in the actual event in January.

Alicia Perazzo, a high school senior who is a Republican, said she now knows how the process works. She said did not know how the process worked before taking part in the mock caucus exercise.

"We were organized into different groups and got to voice opinions and elect delegates," she said.
Lyon County:
Senior students developing "candidates" for mock caucus (Fernley Courier)

Students at Lyon County public schools will be involved choosing their "favorite candidates" for President as part of a mock caucus being conducted next Wednesday, Oct. 24, in Silver Springs.

The mock caucus involving senior U.S. government students is scheduled from 9-11 a.m. at the Silver Stage High School gym for the five high schools in the Lyon County School District.

The mock caucus idea was initiated by the Lyon County Democratic Central Committee although the mock caucus (called mockuses in some instances) will be nonpartisan and involve fictional candidates developed by the high school students and Republican Party officials could also participate.
I'll be on the lookout for Keith Trout's follow-up article, but word is that the event was very successful and helped our future citizens to understand the process and the vital part they play in it.

October 22, 2007

Read this post by Jamison Foser at Media Matters. I’ve provided just a snippet below. The whole article is a case study in how the media works.

Snippet:

In the week since former Vice President Al Gore became Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, The Daily Howler's Bob Somerby has written extensively about news reports and commentary about Gore's win that have failed to note the brutal and often false savaging Gore experienced at the hands of the media during his presidential campaign. Looking at the first news reports about Gore's award, a similar thought occurred to me: so many of those reports focused on whether Gore would again run for president, yet they made no mention of the primary reason he is not president today -- years of news reports (led by The New York Times and The Washington Post, not Fox News) that falsely portrayed Gore as a liar and childishly mocked him for his clothes.

It's a story that has been told many times, by countless people. And yet we keep telling it, and we sometimes criticize others for not telling it. Why? Simple: because it is important, because horrible media coverage of progressives didn't stop with Al Gore, and because not enough people are aware of it.

[ . . . ]

Between the media's treatment of Gore and their handling of the run-up to the Iraq war, how can Democrats have so much faith in the media and Republicans so little? There are probably a large number of factors that play a role, but two seem obvious: The American people are rarely told about the media's peddling of conservative misinformation, and they are frequently told that the media are "liberal."

The October 16 edition of MSNBC's Tucker provides an excellent, if infuriating, case study. Host Tucker Carlson and his two journalist guests peddled a steady stream of conservative misinformation -- and at the same time suggested that the very cable channel on which they were doing so is biased against conservatives.

[ . . . ]

But what makes the Tucker segment noteworthy is not that it featured false, misleading, and oversimplified claims about a prominent progressive -- that happens all the time on cable news. What really makes it noteworthy is that at the end of the segment -- a segment in which three journalists had discussed at length an allegation against Hillary Clinton that appeared, based on a single anonymous source describing a 14-year-old event, in a factually flawed book that at least two of the three had not read -- Carlson and his guests agreed that the media is giving Clinton a pass on the allegation.

[ . . . ]

Later in the same show, Carlson made another comment that, while not directly accusing the media of bias, likely led some viewers to conclude that the media inaccurately portray Republicans as the party of the wealthy. Carlson claimed to speak a simple truth that "nobody ever, ever mentions":

CARLSON: OK, but here's the fact that nobody ever, ever mentions -- Democrats win rich people. Over 100,000 in income, you are likely more than not to vote for Democrats. People never point that out. Rich people vote liberal. I don't know what that's all about.

The reason that "people never point that out" probably has something to do with not wanting to be thought of as a fool or a liar. Carlson's claim that people making more than $100,000 a year tend to vote for Democrats is simply false.

Much, much more at the link.

October 21, 2007

Leadership 101

What Brian says (hat tip to Desert Beacon at Blue Sage Views)

Troubled Minds

A friend of the family has killed himself. Drove his motorcycle to the top of H-3 in Hawaii and jumped off. My mother-in-law and her husband are beside themselves. Sweetie and I met him while vacationing there in November 2004. Nice guy with an incredible talent for carpentry. He was the chief force behind Mom and George's remodel. But, more than that, he was family. He lived with them, ate with them. Mom and George took care of him in too many ways to number. He was a 40+ year old adult, but he struck us all as an impulsive child.

From what I know of Nick he was a very likable and caring person, though in his own life he never really could get it together in the usual 'welcome to the adult world' we think of. He was a talented carpenter, but his life seemed chaotic and he just sort of drifted. Mom and George probably provided him with as much stability as he had ever known. George's doctor says he may have been undiagnosed bi-polar.

Anyway... my heart is breaking for Mom and George. And as always, when I hear of something like this, the icy finger of dread pokes at my own heart, because like many, mental illness is a fact of life for me. My only child battles her own mental wars and can depart reason at a moment's notice. Like Nick, she's good at putting up a cheerful and competent front while all the while awash in despair and grayness. Is it just a matter of time? I hope not.

October 20, 2007

How is she doing it?

How is it that Hillary Clinton, long demonized on the right (and the left) is doing so well? How did she win over even ME? This Judith Warner Op-Ed in the NYT helps explain...

Snippet:

The “we” world of Tucker Carlson knew what they knew about Hillary Clinton — right up until about this week, I think — because they spend an awful lot of time talking to, socializing with and interviewing one another.

What they don’t do all that much is venture outside of a certain set of zip codes to get a feel for the way most people are actually living. They don’t sign up for adjustable rate mortgages, visit emergency rooms to get their primary health care, leave their children in unlicensed day care or lose their jobs because they have to drive their mothers home from the hospital after hip replacement surgery.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters, it turns out, do.

[...]

More and more people are being priced out of a middle class existence. Because of housing prices, because of health care costs, because of tax policy, because of the cost of child care, The Good Life – a life of relative comfort and financial security – is now, in many parts of the country, an upper-middle-class luxury.

Given all this, you would think that Clinton’s big policy announcement this week on improving life for working families would have been big news.

[...]

The American middle class, it seems to me, is looking to politicians now to satisfy a pretty basic – and urgent – level of need. Yet people in the upper middle class — with their excellent health benefits, schools, salaries, retirement plans, nannies and private afterschool programs — have journeyed so far from that level of need that, it often seems to me, they literally cannot hear what resonates with the middle class. That creates a problematic blind spot for those who write, edit or produce what comes to be known about our politicians and their policies.

Last night Sheila Jackson Lee was on Real Time with Bill Maher. Sheila Jackson Lee. She of the lone vote against going into Afghanistan. She who has opposed the Iraq War/Occupation from the start. Sheila Jackson Lee is supporting Hillary. As Lee put it last night, as my sweetie sighed and squirmed in his seat and I nodded in recognition and agreement, is that Hillary connects with people, and especially with women. And while part of it is that she is a woman, they get that Hillary gets it. She gets our lives. She sees what we and our families need, and she is coming out with solid proposals for every leg of the middle-class stool. Jobs, health care, retirement, education, energy, etc. And they believe she has the experience and ability to get the job done.

On a related note, John Edwards was a guest on Bill Maher last night as well, and for a presidential candidate, he spent an awful lot of time talking about Hillary instead of himself , but I digress. My biggest bone of contention was how he mischaracterized her health care plan and implied that the only people she had brought to the table when formulating her plan were the private health insurers and corporate lobbyists. And that's just not true. She brought ALL parties to the table to help craft her health care plan, because, like it or not, this country is not going to convert to single-payer overnight. Even John Edwards' plan acknowledges that and includes (gasp!) private insurers. So for him to imply that Hillary is solely in the pocket of the private health insurers is disingenuous at best.

October 14, 2007

Is Hillary really a Corporatist?

In Michael Moore's movie, SiCKO, he makes a claim that Hillary is the number two recipient of campaign cash from the health care "industry." On Air America, liberal blogs, and elsewhere, it's an article of faith that Hillary is the "corporate candidate" and that she has their backs, not ours.

I got into a rather passionate discussion this past weekend with someone regarding just this assertion and challenged him to give me proof (links to voting records, etc) that she votes with the corporations over regular Americans. He came back the next day and let me know that he had gone out to try and find evidence for his assertion. Funny thing, what he found instead was a voting record completely at odds with the "conventional wisdom." I suspect he may have stumbled on this post by eriposte at The Left Coaster which begins:

This post examines the allegation that Sen. Hillary Clinton is a "Corporate Democrat" - namely, a person who is beholden to "Corporate America" and who is more likely to support "corporate interests" as President than the interests of average or middle-class Americans.

I find that the existing evidence, based on her Senatorial voting records compiled by Progressive Punch, Americans for Democratic Action, AFL-CIO and SEIU, does not really support this allegation. Indeed, the evidence suggests that Sen. Clinton's voting patterns are substantially and surprisingly progressive (ranging typically from 90-100%), including on corporate or labor issues. There are certainly serious issues where Sen. Clinton has unfortunately taken anti-progressive positions (e.g., her vote for a version of the Bankruptcy Bill in 2001), but the data reviewed here suggests that overall, she is far more progressive than corporatist. In the absence of additional or new data, I have to conclude that the label "Corporate Democrat", as applied to her, is inappropriate and extraordinarily misleading. In other words, while it is true that she has strong links to corporate America and corporatist interests, there is little or no evidence that she systematically votes in lock-step with those interests or even significantly in line with their positions. I provide a few plausible explanations for this dichotomy in the conclusions of this post.
Remember that claim that Michael Moore makes in SiCKO? Not so much:
3. Eli Lilly and the Pharmaceutical/Healthcare Industry

Penn's client list included Eli Lilly. Berman also adds:

Since the healthcare reform disaster of 1993-94, [Sen. Clinton] has rarely stuck her neck out on contentious issues. "She votes the issues that come up, rather than take the leadership role," says Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "We tried to do too much, too fast twelve years ago," Clinton told the Federation of American Hospitals last year, "and I still have the scars to show for it." She's now the number-one Congressional recipient of donations from the healthcare industry.

Let's first make one correction, via Media Matters:

A Newsday article on Sen. Hillary Clinton's health care reform proposal repeated an assertion made in a 2006 New York Times article that the health care "industry contributed more than $850,000 to her re-election campaign, the second highest level of contributions to any senator." But Newsday did not note that the number includes donations from individual health care professionals, such as nurses and doctors, and neither newspaper reported that if only health care PAC donations were considered -- that is, donations from the actual health care "industry" -- Clinton drops off the list of top 25 congressional recipients of health care industry money entirely.

That said, how is Sen. Clinton's voting record when it comes to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare?

Category Progressive Punch -
Progressive Score
Corporate Subsidies
(Overall)
100%
Corporate Subsidies
(Pharmaceutical Industry)
Not Available
Corporate Tax Breaks
(General)
96%
Corporate Tax Breaks
(Pharmaceutical Industry)
Not Available
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Overall)
95%
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Pharmaceutical Industry)
100%
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Doctors)
100%
Government Checks on Corporate Power
(Hospitals)
100%
Healthcare 98%
Access to Health Insurance 100%
Aid to the Chronically Ill 97%
Aid to the Disabled 100%
Aid to Veterans 100%
Aid to Seniors 98%
See, the thing is, when you give a donation to a political candidate, they ask who your employer is. If you work for a hospital, you work for the health care industry. So, when it comes time to lump all the money together under an industry label, and if care is not take to distinguish between campaign contributions received from health care industry PACs and campaign contributions received from, say, a union nurse, we run right up against that old adage: "There are three types of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics."

October 3, 2007

Raising campaign cash in Europe?

I had a nice chat with an older woman and her son (who appeared to be about my age) today at Borders in Reno. I kept overhearing him mentioning that Hillary had been in England raising money and he indicated that she was raising foreign money. It piqued my interest and I asked him about it. He said he had heard it on the BBC that Hillary had been in England with, as he put it, "her tin cup out" raising campaign cash. I asked him how that was possible since FEC rules require that cash donated to federal campaigns be from US citizens or resident aliens (green card holders). He insisted that she was working some angle and that the Brits were fully expecting all the other American candidates to do the same.

Well...not so fast. It turns out that the Clinton campaign is planning a fundraising trip to Ireland. But it is to raise money amongst expats there. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "expat" is short for expatriot, in this case meaning an American living abroad (outside the borders of the United States). See Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad.

From the BBC article:

He first came to help bring peace to Northern Ireland, but the next time Bill Clinton visits Ireland will be to help raise the estimated £249m his wife needs for her presidential campaign.

. . .

The Clinton campaign aims to hold a fundraiser targeting Democrat supporters living in Ireland.

Irish-born publisher Niall O'Dowd, who is on the finance committee of the Clinton campaign team, believes Hillary has a lot of support among ex-pats in Ireland.

"I know there is a plan by the Clinton campaign to hold a fundraiser in Ireland for American citizens and green card holders," he said.
So there you go. No, Hillary hasn't been to England. They DO plan a fundraiser in Ireland. But it will be Bill going. And it will be perfectly legal money they will be raising.

Man, people have just got to stop, think and examine before they go and believe the worst.

Gotta say though, once we got past this part of the conversation we had quite a nice time discussing the US political scene, campaign finance reform, the lack of civic knowledge amongst the general population, the decline of civil liberties, the trials and tribulations of trying to get a green card for a spouse, etc. Me the Dem, he the Libertarian, and she the Republican. And you know what? We tended to see eye to eye on many of the topics we touched upon. Pretty grand what can happen when we all treat each other with respect.