Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I’m just going to go ahead and apologize right now. For many of you, this blog will get to be repetitious and, perhaps, boring.
But here’s the thing: the Republican Party is in a really crazy place right now. Virtually every member is beholden to the lunatic fringe of the right-wing. The real leaders of American conservativism are Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. There may have been a time when the Buckley’s and Hayek’s added something of value to the political conversation, at least to the extent that they challenged liberal orthodoxies and forced us to sharpen our policy arguments. But now, the country’s most powerful elected Republicans are led by vacuous entertainers, bereft of any serious intellectual heft. Limbaugh, Beck and the second and third tiers (Savage, Levin, Ingraham, Hewitt, O’Reilly, Hannity, etc.) of Republican leadership are meticulous when it comes to ignoring realities they don’t like and creating false realities that serve their agenda: building their audiences.
it is all so transparent. These folks are peddling lies and making a mint. Elected Republicans, sensing electoral peril, look more and more to the Idiocracy that is right-wing talk radio for policy direction.
There are only two viable political parties in this country. And one of them is nuts.
It may get boring, but I’m determined to memorialize the era in the most unproduced and unfiltered means possible. When the history of our time is written, I don’t want to allow future revisionists room for varnish or apologies. The plain fact is that – at the very highest levels of American government – elected Republicans are irresponsible, loony, and dangerous.
Our kids are going to want to know why we couldn’t address global warming, chronic disease, environmental catastrophe and gross inequality. Hopefully this blog will be useful to those looking for explanations.
So yeah, you’re gonna see several videos where the content is the same, only the faces change. Sorry if it gets boring for you.
Without further ado, here is Dan Lungren, (R, CA-3)
Funny how the world works sometimes.
I would have bled in 2006 and 2008 to get Darcy Burner into the House of Representatives. She’s a solid progressive and she strikes me as someone that is just a good person. Burner deserves more plaudits and accolades than that, but this post isn’t about her…
It’s about the guy that beat her twice.
I’ve actually come to like and respect Congressman Dave Reichert. He answers questions directly and seems to be the least insane person in his caucus.
I never thought I’d say this, but here it goes: Thank you David Reichert. Thank you for being a decent and responsible American.
My friend Cenk Uygur is so missing the point here…
That’s well enough to point out, but it’s also absolutely irrelevant to any sane conversation of media effectiveness.
Cenk’s article implies that the conservative media is a dinosaur on its way to extinction. He writes:
The bottom line is that most of these conservative media outlets don’t stand a chance. Sure, some will have staying power in representing a certain percentage of the population. Those are the ones that focus on opinions. But no one is taking their “news” operations seriously. On the other hand, a progressive colossus is rising on the web and the conservatives are powerless to stop it. That is not a future that bodes well for the Republican Party or the conservative movement in this country. We’re coming for them. They’re standing in front of a steamroller and they don’t even know it.
This betrays a profound degree of ignorance on Cenk’s part.
You see, the point is that the conservative benefactors of these media outlets use them strategically. By controlling “media,” the sugar-daddies of wingnuttia provide a crucial service to the regressive movement:
- they shape public opinion by providing legitimizing source material for otherwise discredited policy prescriptions.
- they expose and enlarge Democratic or “liberal” scandals to discredit otherwise legitimate progressive policies prescriptions.
- they serve as a “farm-team” that nurtures young regressive talent and prepares them for more influential roles as their careers progress
- they serve as conduits for regressive conventional wisdom. Sarah Palin didn’t learn her euphemisms in a vacuum; she has Bill Kristol and a bevy of Weekly Standard aides to thank for her rote regressivism
I’m sure I’ve missed many, many other reasons for conservative billionaire’s willingness to throw billions of dollars into these pet projects, but in the final analysis, these folks are largely responsible for making it very difficult for sane progressives to be heard in Washington. From the repeal of the estate tax to the trillions of dollars wasted on defense spending, to the corporate-friendly federal bench to the lack of accountability for Enron, S&L’s, BCCI, Tyco, Global Crossing, and the current financial crisis… well… their billions oinvested has returned to them a thousand-fold.
While I’m raining on my friend’s parades, I might as well say something about a post I saw earlier in the week that I was initially excited about…
David Waldman argues that Twitter may replace Drudge as the go-to source for media types looking to stay on the bleeding edge of the news cycle. After the events in Iran, it seemed plausible at the very least.
But now Drudge has this on his home-page:
A BILLION THANKS FOR MAKING JUNE 2009 — TOP JUNE IN DRUDGEREPORT’S 14 YEAR HISTORY! PAGE HIT 675,406,736 VIEWS FROM 129,922,878 VISITS… TRAFFIC ROSE 21% FOR MONTH OVER YEAR AGO [+39% OVER JUNE 2007]…
Worse, there’s this:
FOX NEWS RECORDS UNPRECEDENTED TOP 10 OUT OF 10 PROGRAMS IN CABLE NEWS FOR 2ND QUARTER… ON PACE TO BE NETWORK’S BEST YEAR EVER…
THE O’REILLY FACTOR 3,191,000
GLENN BECK 2,053,000
ON THE RECORD W/GRETA 1,950,000
SPECIAL REPORT W/BRET BAIER 1,889,000
FOX REPORT/SHEP SMITH 1,783,000
THE O’REILLY FACTOR (RPT) 1,579,000
AMERICA’S NEWSROOM BILL HEMMER & MEGYN KELLY 1,399,000
YOUR WORLD W/NEIL CAVUTO 1,389,000
STUDIO B W/SHEP SMITH 1,169,000
The reason I’m commenting on all of this stuff is this: Progressives have to keep the clouds out of their eyes. We’ve got a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President and we are getting watered down, corporate-friendly progressive-in-name-only legislation every step of the way.
So whether it is believing that Obama is an aggressive progressive fighting for us every inch of the way… Or believing that 60 Democratic votes in the Senate is going to bring about the dawn of a new day… Or crowing about the financial and ratings successes of your progressive media product while mocking Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda organs…
Well… it’s all very dangerous delusional thinking. We need to spend more time fighting for progress and less time imagining that we’ve already won.
A little while back, I was pumping along on the cardio-machine at my gym, XSport Fitness, when Barack Obama came on the television attached to my Arc-Trainer. He was speaking to the AMA about his health care plan when he mentioned that we, as Americans, have to do more to take responsibility for our health and well-being. Specifically, he mentioned that people need to eat right and go to the gym more often.
His mention of the gym sparked an idea.
First… I love my gym. XSport Fitness has a great selection of equipment, there are enough machines to ensure that I’m never crowded out of doing whatever it is I want to do and the staff and trainers are uncommonly accessible and helpful. In short, it’s the best gym I’ve ever used.
Second, in addition to enjoying a good work out, I’m a struggling activist/blogger. Believe it or not, having your own access to the Huffington Post does not immediately translate into windfalls of cash. Getting your name in the newspaper or mug on the TV doesn’t necessarily make you rich. The truth is that over the course of four years of blogging and activism, I’ve probably netted less than $10,000.
A trip through the blogosphere will further underscore the “blogger’s plight”. Between the recession and the fact that this is off-election year, your favorite bloggers are struggling. Advertising revenues are wayyyyy down and fundraising appeals just just don’t get the results they did not too long ago.
So… As I heard Obama talk about the need for Americans to spend more time getting fit, I decided to marry fitness, blogging and advertising. I’m in Fairfax, VA – just outside of Washington DC. XSport Fitness has just launched a new gym in Alexandria. I suspect that DC/Northern Virginia residents are, relatively speaking, fairly frequent blog visitors. I decided to call XSport corporate headquarters and see if I could blog for them in exchange for free membership.
I ended up talking to their head of marketing and customer service. Overall, she loved the idea, but she was concerned that I might be labeled a “sell-out” or otherwise see my credibility compromised. I assured her that the disclosure ethic that has been embraced by bloggers should immunize me from that kind of criticism and we moved on. In the end, she told me that she didn’t care if I wrote about XSport or not, but that she’d like to use me as a sort of not-so-secret-shopper – I’d write her whenever anything seemed amiss or unusually excellent. In exchange, my membership fee would be waived.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Well, I guess I’m writing this for two reasons.
1) To let y’all know about a new gym in town called XSport Fitness. They are a growing gym – they are all over Illinois (they started out in Chicago and now have 22 gyms across Illinois – with more coming), they just opened a second gym in Northern Virginia (in Alexandria, about 10 miles from their other gym in Merrifield) and they have a location in Garden City, NY. If there is one in your neighborhood and you are a fitness buff or thinking of becoming one (and as far as I’m concerned, if we’re going to have a public health option, it’s your patriotic duty to at least make an effort), I really recommend that you check them out. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I know you’re going to love ’em. They really are fantastic;
and, as importantly…
2) If you are a struggling blogger, go make some things happen for yourself. Got a favorite restaurant? Offer to blog about it… Know a great hair stylist? Why not see what you can barter? After all, even if we aren’t getting rich, we are talking to a lot of people. And $50/month saved is $50/month earned, right? The idea is similar to what happened when television first got its start. Shows would be interrupted in mid-stride so the host could pitch his favorite motor oil. Today, with product placements, celebrity endorsements, corporate sponsorships and slick commercials, well… we look back on that model and think it’s quaint. And, I guess it is. But that was the state of advertising; the broadcasters took what was available and made it work. Maybe we need to start doing the same sorts of things…
Certainly can’t hurt.
Scarborough is quickly replacing O’Reilly as my favorite buffoon. I’ll give you a couple of seconds to retrieve your jaws from the floor before explaining.
Ok, here’s the deal. Colbert, Stewart, the blogosphere, Sarah Palin, the tea-baggers and the wingnuttosphere-at-large have all done an fairly effective job of marginalizing O’Reilly. He’s been reduced to entertaining a bunch of somnolent incontinents that are probably better off with him in their lives. At least for 60 minutes a day (maybe even 120 if they forgot they already watched the show and tune in for the repeat), they are busy not being victimized by “roofers” that “noticed an emergency repair that needs to be done right now.”
The point is, O’Reilly is mostly irrelevant.
But Scarborough has found his stride, I fear. First, he lives on the “liberal network”; that lends him a certain air of credibility as a non-ideologue. More important, however, is his penchant for criticizing Republicans. In “telling it how it is,” Scarborough is setting himself up as the reasonable Republican. You know… the kind of “principled conservative” that is OK – even desirable – to associate with.
Look… The Republican Party continues to marginalize itself by playing to its radical base. The 30% or so of Americans that still proudly align themselves with Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh is courted by virtually every single nationally elected Republican. But these folks are merely a base. And while it’s important to have a strong element of unwavering support, you need a big chunk of the middle too.
That is why Scarborough is dangerous. In “manning-up” to his party’s failures, he shrouds the failed conservative worldview with a veneer of reasonableness and respectability. He’s found a way to capture the ears of those in the “middle”.
After all, American’s haven’t stopped hating “welfare queens”. We still loves us some Blue Angels, NASCAR and country music. Fundamentally, the same fears we had 10 years ago are present today. Moreover, Americans don’t seem to be any more politically engaged or astute – we’ve just decided to “throw the bums out”. As a practical matter, as this recession deepens, Democrats may find their electoral dominance short-lived.
Especially if Scarborough’s approach catches on with the Republican elite. After all, where is that 30% base going to go?
So yeah, I’m going to do what I can to expose this fraud whenever I can. Check this call out:
Now let’s unpack it.
I called because Scarborough had suggested Obama’s spending was just as bad as Bush’s. My take is that there’s a difference between George Bush’s spending on horrendously expensive elective wars, ineffective ideological programs (abstinence-only education), hare-brained schemes (Star-Wars) and cronyism/corporate welfare (Medicare drug benefit) and the Democratic spending on infrastructure, health care, green energy, and stimulus-related job-creation. Bush’s spending was wasteful; Democratic spending is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run – with dividends.
As you heard, Scarborough found that to be outrageously funny. He begins by asking me if every penny spent by Democrats has been productive. Of course, I never read the colossal budget bill and I don’t know how every penny of the federal budget is spent. In fact, I’m virtually positive we are wasting billions of dollars in Pentagon earmarks, fraud and government waste, but honestly, his question was stupid. Of course anyone can point to discreet budget dollars and find something to complain about. That’s not the question, but Scar knew that… He was looking to derail the point I made and I was determined not to let him do it.
So I played dumb and said, “Well, I know Bill Clinton balanced the budget.”
And this is where Scar exposed himself as a fraud.
“I was there from January 4, 1995 until September of 2001 and I can tell you that budget was balanced in the 1990’s because we shut down the government… because we forced Bill Clinton to sign those budgets.”
Uhm… the government was shut down because poor Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House at the time, took it as an insult when he was seated in the rear of Air Force One on a trip with the President. His petulance turned American opinion against the new Republican majority.
Scar was right about the budget being cut though. What he doesn’t tell you is that Clinton had committed to balancing the budget through a combination of budget cuts and tax increases in his 1993 budget – the first he passed as President. That budget – which required some real sacrifice – passed without a single Republican vote. They just ouldn’t stand the tax cuts.
In the next portion of the call, I suggest to Scar that if he’s going to take credit for the budgets, he also needs to accept responsibility for “decimating the military” and making it difficult for the United States to invade Iraq. Yeah, I used a Republican talking point, but there is some validity to the argument – we really weren’t prepared to invade Iraq.
Scar would have none of that. He goes on to say that Republicans increased military spending while cutting the budget – that it was the first George Bush and President Clinton that “cashed the peace dividend” and slashed the military budget.
At that point he cut me off. Good thing, because he simply could not have answered my follow up: 1) so what did the Republicans do with the increased military spending? Because as far as I can tell, the troops still didn’t have armored humvees or body armor when they went into Iraq. You can spend money on defense, but if all you are doing is buying the latest and greatest high-tech toys from the defense contractors that keep your campaign coffers full, you aren’t really helping, are you? Armored vehicles and body armor just don’t provide the political payoff of a brand new PATRIOT missile system.
But they keep troops alive. So Scar, whose fault was it we weren’t ready for Iraq?
Sounds great, right? Appropo to the post preceding this one, it’s amazing how much Democrats can resemble Republicans when special interests wrap their grubby tentacles around them.
Adam Seigal has the definitive post on this:
In short, the bill is promised to target selling 1 million more vehicles before the end of the year and support these three policy priorities:
* Reduce dependence on foreign oil,
* Reduce air pollution, and
* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The bill does this via “cash for clunkers”, vouchers to owners of old vehicles to encourage them to go shopping for a new vehicle and scrap the old one. As an example, when it comes to light passenger vehicles, owners (at least one year registered) of a car rated at less than 18 miles per gallon can receive a $3500 voucher (tax free) for a new car if it gets at least 22 miles per gallon and $4500 if it gets at least 28 mpg.
Why is this a bad bill, on both basic policy and basic analytical reasons?
1. The fuel saving requirements are absurdly low.
2. The actual oil demand reduction per tax dollar invested is absurdly low.
3. The bill, as structured, is overly restrictive in a counter-productive way.
4. There is a basic question as to equity.
5. This is structured poorly, using “mpg” which provides less visibility on impact than the better “gpm” (gallons per mile).
Adam’s full post explains 1-5 in detail and is worth the read.
But I think the critique misses an important point. I emailed the following to Adam after reading his post:
what about the cost of production of the replacement vehicles? Smelting all that steel isn’t all that environmentally friendly, is it? Think about all the diff’t components of a car… from the oil-based plastics, to the environmentally expensive tires, to the mining required to get at the platinum in the catalytic converter…
So if I bought a vehicle 13 months ago that gets 18 miles per gallon, I can trash it for a brand new car that gets 22 mpg? It’s not that I think that will happen all that often under this bill, but it might… For example, are car rental agencies excluded from this bill, or is this a windfall for them?
Even if the bill doesn’t end up incentivising obviously wasteful trade-ins, it is unclear to me whether or not the cost of production was taken into account. From the looks of the rest of Adam’s criticism’s, I’m skeptical.
I put this up at Kos earlier today:
Things were very different in 2003. George Bush and Tom Delay dominated politics; every day brought some new outrage. Media sycophants wrote love poems to Karl Rove. Worst of all, Joe Lieberman seemed to be the only Democrat that didn’t hate himself. For that, he and his ilk became the voice of the party.
Substantively, we watched as the Iraq war steadily spun out of control. We watched a Republican Congress twist arms until they got enough votes to pass a wasteful god-send to big-pharm in the new prescription drug benefit. Republicans strong-armed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security without providing its employees with civil service protections. Valerie Plame – the CIA operative – saw her name published in Robert Novak’s syndicated column. If you were one of the few reading blogs back then, every single day seemed to bring some new outrage.
But something else happened in 2003 as well. In March. In San Francisco.
Some dude got up before a bunch of Democrats and started saying some shit that was, for the time, pretty bizarre.
What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq?
What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts, which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?
What I want to know is why the Congress is fighting over the Patient’s Bill of Rights? The Patient’s Bill of Rights is a good bill, but not one more person gets health insurance and it’s not 5 cents cheaper.
What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us, joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in providing health insurance for every man, woman and child in America.
What I want to know is why so many folks in Congress are voting for the President’s Education Bill — “The No School Board Left Standing Bill” — the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our educational system!
As Paul Wellstone said — as Sheila Kuehl said when she endorsed me — I am Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
Dean concluded his “coming out “ speech with:
We are not going to beat George Bush by voting with the President 85 percent of the time. The only way that we’re going to beat George Bush is to say what we mean, to stand up for who we are, to lift up a Democratic agenda against the Republican agenda because if you do that, the Democratic agenda wins every time.
I want my country back! We want our country back! I am tired of being divided! I don’t want to listen to the fundamentalist preachers anymore! I want America to look like America, where we are all included, hand in hand. We have dream. We can only reach the dream if we are all together – black and white, gay and straight, man and woman. America! The Democratic Party! We are going to win in 2004! Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Stand up for America, Stand up for America, Stand up for America!!
The reason I bring this up now is that it seems as if many of us have lost that fire. But I’m not sure if is that, exactly. In fact, I doubt that it is.
Instead, I fear that the blogosphere has been co-opted. We’ve become a casualty of our own success. What’s happened is that the vainglorious power-seekers inside Washington… the same folks that thought Joe Lieberman was the future of the party 6 years ago… the people that cut their teeth watching Bill Clinton sell policy in the Lincoln Bedroom… the communications “gurus” that told John Kerry to ignore the Swift Boat smears… well, these folks have seen the power of the blogosphere. They are a key faction now. They are the folks telling progressives to shut the hell up and be happy we have Democrats in power… That we should just pipe down and settle for whatever scraps the grown-ups in Congress and the White House give us. And, oh yeah… we should send a check.
Of course, that doesn’t explain everything. There are an awful lot of people really excited to see Barack Obama in the White House. They want to give him every chance to succeed and see every criticism or demand that he keep his promises as undermining his chances for success. To some of these folks, progressives should support Obama no matter what he does because he’ll always be better than a Republican. To others in this camp, Obama should be supported because he’s just fantastic. It’s difficult for these folks to accept the argument that, in politics, nobody ever gets anything for free. It’s always the squeaky wheel (and usually the squeaky wheel with the deep pockets) that gets the grease. Giving a politician license to ignore you is political suicide. You just can’t do it.
Look. We’ve got the House. We’ve got the Senate. Commanding majorities in both branches. And we’ve got the most charismatic and capable President we will probably ever see in our lifetimes.
So why is it that when we look around, we see legislation – legislation that should long have been fait accompli – stalled, watered down, ignored, or even defeated? Why isn’t there a single payer plan on the table? Why do we need to weaken EFCA? We admit this country tortured, and we can’t even get a truth-commission? If cap and trade ever passes the House and Senate, we might more accurately call it “crap, delayed.”
Well, I’ve got an answer for you.
A couple weeks ago, I did a lot of chatting with progressive leaders at the Our Future Now Conference hosted by Campaign For America’s Future. I cannot even begin to tell you how much you can learn when you are given the opportunity to frankly converse with movement leaders in an informal setting. Simply ask and you get answers.
With that said, right now progressives are playing from a weak position. If you say the wrong thing, the power-brokers won’t hesitate to marginalize you further. Progressive just can’t afford to make needless enemies. For that reason, I won’t be identifying the movement leaders that shared so much with me.
Did you know that the House Progressive Caucus, with 71 Democrats, constitutes nearly 1/3 of the Democratic majority? Did you know that members of the Progressive Caucus chair 11 of the 20 standing committees of the House? By the numbers, progressives should be dominant. Of course, we hear a lot more of the Blue Dogs, but their membership totals only 52. What gives?
Well, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer need to be put on the record and asked this question: how do you keep the Progressive Caucus from running the party? And why is it that Blue Dogs so often set the agenda?
If what I heard at the conference is correct and the leaders answer truthfully, these are the answers you’ll get:
1) How do we keep the Progressive Caucus from running the party? This is what we say to members of the progressive caucus: Hey – you! Yeah, you piece of shit! (this used to be Rahm Emmanuel’s job) You want your that bridge fixed in your district? That grant for the Senior Community Center? Well, FUCK YOU! You get shit until you kiss this ring, you obstinate fuck! Oh… and that committee assignment you put in for? Can’t do it. Instead, you’ll be the junior member of the “save the tsetse fly” sub-committee. And hey… your office can be a broom closet if that’s what you’d like. Oh, and you want some help raising some money for next cycle? Heh. You better pick up your phone and call your Mom. Cause you ain’t getting shit from us. Listen here, you pissant progressive… I don’t know who you think you are, but nobody is bigger than we are, and we set the agenda.
2) Why is it that Blue Dogs so often set the agenda? This is what we say to the Blue Dogs: Awesome man! You got Exxon to pony up another $5K for your PAC? So you made your DCCC numbers for the month! Fucking-A, man… You’re a champ! Oh… cap and trade… c’mon man, you know we were never serious about that… Just keep milking your boys. You still got Texaco on the hook? Check’s coming next week. (shaking head) You really are a star, kid. Keep this up and we’ll put you in the conference committee – you can personally make sure your friends at Shell get what they need.
So… What is my point?
Let’s get back to Howard Dean.
In the summer of 2003, Dean routinely drew crowds that numbered in the thousands. Out of nowhere (where the hell is Burlington, anyway?), Dean moved in to the front-runner’s seat and saw his mug plastered on the covers of Time, Newsweek and any number of other periodicals. Volunteers flocked to his campaign by the thousand. And the blogosphere virtually knighted him.
The speech he gave in March was great, but it wasn’t enough to make him the front-runner all by itself. Dean sustained that momentum with a slogan. He ran around the country reminding us all, “You Have The Power!!”
What he was saying was that George Bush and Tom Delay and Karl Rove and George Allen and Norm Coleman and John Sweeney and Virgil Goode and Richard Pombo… well… the only reason they could do the despicable things they were doing is that we had ceded our power to them. Howard Dean was reminding us that we control our own fate when it comes to what our government does in our name.
So yeah… look… It’s not pretty. And at first glance, you may be thinking that Howard Dean’s mantra, YOU HAVE THE POWER!! was hopelessly naive.
But it wasn’t. Let me repeat that: it wasn’t. “You have the power” still rings true. We just have to make it so.
And how do we do that?
We get smart.
First, we pinch ourselves, because we really need to wake up. After this past election, the bad guys didn’t fold their tents and give up the fight. To the contrary… The big money is fucking petrified right now and pulling out all the stops to limit the damage a Democratic Congress and President might do to their agenda. Insurance, bankers, oil and gas… they are flooding the zone with lobbyists, money and Astroturf pressure. They have their propaganda machine fired up and spitting lies the way Jay-Z spits rhymes. And from a look at the results (or lack thereof), they seem to be the only players on the field. We aren’t even showing up.
So what are we to do?
We need to make ourselves a force in the Party. We need to let our leaders know that we ARE the Party.
Look… I’ve every bit the Obama fan as any of y’all. I think he’s a fantastic President and a thoughtful and astute politician. His rise has been meteoric – that just doesn’t happen without killer political instincts. So Obama is constantly considering the grand game – the art of the possible. I think he’s misfired on certain judgments; I think he could have chosen a number of more progressive paths… but I’m willing to defer to his expertise.
But it’s my job – and yours – to do what we can to shape his judgments. If he doesn’t think an aggressive progressive initiative is possible, we should be working on changing his mind.
The quickest way of doing that is to go through Congress. That is where we have our greatest leverage.
What do I mean? How can we pressure Congress?
Well, I’ve been fortunate to know several people – key players in the progressive insurgency – for several years now. And they each have demonstrated a tremendous amount of skill, energy and political savvy. And they each now run organizations that will be key to yanking Congress by its ear and pulling it to the left. Your collective support of these organizations will get Congress’ attention. And, as you will see, the results driven by your donations will be the pincer that grabs Congress’ ear and drags them, kicking and screaming all the way, to the left – where they should have been for a long time now.
Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher: founded AccountabilityNow PAC after the FISA debacle. They looked around at the flow of telecom money, saw the usual suspects and decided that something needed to be done. After about 1.2 seconds of intense thought, the idea of primarying bad Democrats took hold. They recalled what happened when Jane Harmon and Ellen Tauscher faced the prospect of a tough primary: their voting habits and public behavior changed in a big way. Call it a “Political Makeover”. Tauscher was once as outspoken as Lieberman about supporting the war. She did a 180. Harmon was a Bush-dog to the extreme. Today she’s not perfect, but she’s better than she was. And all it took was the threat of a challenge. Of course, Al Wynn can tell you why politicians hate primaries. Donna Edwards just barely missed ousting him in 2006; by 2008, he was gone. And Donna Edwards is one of our best Congresspersons.
The other dynamic that works really well is that when you replace a BlueDog or conservative Democrat with a real progressive, you win on so many levels. So when Donna Edwards replaced Al Wynn, we got a reliable vote for choice, EFCA, the environment, LGBT and race issues, corporate accountability, health care and ethics in government. That one race helped out GreenPeace, Sierra Club, NARAL, NOW, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP, labor and every other allied organization. The implication is clear: electing progressives is one stop shopping for a better America. I’m not saying that outside groups aren’t critically important – they are. But AccountabilityNow will benefit their agendas across the board.
Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Michael Snook: founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee to elect progressives to fill Republican seats. These folks are truly inspired. They realized that there is a lot of money wasted in politics. Consultants lose race after race, but seem to bill more and more every cycle. Nobody should be paying $20,000 for a YouTube video, but if a candidate follows the Party’s dictates, that’s exactly what could happen. Green and Taylor are building a database of effective campaign staffers, identifying best practices, farming new talent (so many creative people want to break into campaign politics but can’t because of the Party stranglehold… the incest is rampant) and identifying candidates to work with. An example of their work: Tom Perriello, VA-5. Nobody thought he’d win Virgil Goode’s seat. Virgil was adored throughout the rural southern district. People thought his homophobia, racism and Islam-bashing worked well for the constituency of the district. Tom Perriello thought otherwise. He hired Stephanie Taylor to run his field operation and Michael Snook to do database work. Then, with the skeleton of what was to become the PCCC, he ran a progressive, cost-effective campaign. And he shocked the world. In 2010, the world will be shocked again – the PCCC has found its stride…
Chris Bowers, Matt Stoller: Although Stoller has left to work for one of the most progressive members of Congress (Alan Grayson), BlogPAC continues apace. Now run mostly by Bowers, it has served to fund all sorts of innovative programs centered on growing the progressive voice on the internet and beyond. What’s amazing about the netroots is its constant pace of creative bursts. There just doesn’t seem to be any end to the flow of previously unknown activists launching amazing new projects. And BlogPAC is constantly looking for new ways to support the medium and its activists. From its 50 state blog project (it paid hosting fees for state and local blogs) to its individual grant programs, BlogPAC has been a constant support for on-line progressives.
Howie Klein, John Amato, et al: Blue America PAC is the mainstay fundraiser for progressive candidates. Nobody knows the Hill the way Howie Klein does; more improtanly, nobody can match his district by district knowledge. Klein understands how to most effectively use money to achieve progressive results.
I’ve created an ActBlue page that you can use to direct money to any or all of these groups. Please go visit, drop a few dollars in their hats and feel good knowing that your generosity is growing the progressive movement.