Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Goes Out Like A Schmuck

Usually, New Years Eve is a time of lists and resolutions - of what was and what could be.

This blog won't be doing any of that nonsense....... :-)

As I write this, it's 39 degrees and mostly cloudy here in our Nation's Capital. The forecast calls for intermittent snow showers and "ice pellets". Ice pellets? What, no rain of toads? For a decade that started with Y2K and ended with "death panels", it would seem appropriate.

For the three of you out there who still frequent this site, you may have noticed my output has been spotty this month. Between work, a creeping flu that turned into a stubborn sinus infection, work, and a side project I was organizing against the Stupak amendment, life spiraled out of balance - this blog was one of only many casualties.

I don't know what 2010 will bring. My hope is that it will be better than 2009, or at least more entertaining. And with that in mind, let me leave you with this.

Flash — Washington, DC: The Federal Death Panel is currently meeting in emergency session to consider the case of Rush Limbaugh. Death Panel insiders tell the AP that in light of the number of right wing radio talkshow hosts currently on the air, Limbaugh has “little societal value” and the Panel is likely to vote against any further spending on his care.

“It’d be like spending $1 million on some injuried Mexican day-laborer, who are literally a dime a dozen,” said one Death Panel member, who added, “Yes, he’s popular with a few million listeners, but they’ll quickly switch to Beck, Hannity, Mikey Reagan, or some other talker. Talk radio is ’short attention span theater’ anyway, so we figure after 6 weeks off the air, it’ll be ‘Rush who?’ for most listeners.”

A Death Panel staffer also told AP that, while Limbaugh’s care likely will be limited to ice chips and Bayer, the young Dominican boy who was surgically removed from Limbaugh’s private parts will be given full coverage, including extensive pyschological help.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Give The Gift Of Life For Companion Animals Stricken With Cancer

This summer, our journey ended with our wonderful girl, Jonesy, after an 18-month battle with lymphoma. We were lucky - we could afford the treatments that kept her healthy, happy and cancer free for most of that time.

This holiday season, please consider giving the gift of life for pet owners who don't have the resources to provide care for their companion animals stricken with cancer.

Give a donation to the Magic Bullet Fund, which provides financial grants for treatments.

Happy Holidays everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chris Matthews on Progressive Critics of the Senate Health Care Bill, "I Don't Consider Them Democrats"

Today on MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews thought it might be fun to trot out the Obama administration's talking point du jour, that Democratic critics of the Senate health care bill are really just a bunch of irrational cheeto-eating surrender monkeys.
I don’t consider them Democrats, I consider them netroots, and they’re different. And if I see that they vote in every election or most elections, I’ll be worried. But I’m not sure that they’re regular grown-up Democrats. I think that a lot of those people are troublemakers who love to sit in the backseat and complain. They’re not interested in governing this country. They never ran for office, they’re not interested in working for somebody in public office. They get their giggles from sitting in the backseat and bitching.

Chris Matthews, surely you don't mean me? Of course, I do blog, and yes, I do get most of my news and information from blogs. Mostly because of pundits like you - who may or may not eat cheetos, but who surrendered their journalistic integrity a long, long time ago.

But Chris, if you're laughing at me, the joke's on you.

See, if you had been paying even the slightest attention, you'd understand that some of the most vocal critics of the Senate health care reform bill worked the hardest to get Barack Obama elected last year. We are Progressives, Independents, Decline-to-State, and Centrists. We vote religiously. We give generously. And we're scared to death that the health care bills making their way ever so slowly through congress are going to end up making the system worse rather than better.

At first we were patient. We held out hope that our President knew what he was doing, that he would keep up his end of the implied contract we entered into when we helped get him elected. We expected Change, we expected to be respected, empowered and included, we expected him to fight, and we expected to join him in that fight.

None of this has happened. And so we're going to speak truth to power. You may not like it, the White House may not like it, but you both underestimate our power at your peril. Because we're not troublemakers, we're organizers.

We know how to bypass the main steam media and the DSCC, co-opt OFA's resources for activism we believe in, raise money-bombs for Alan Grayson and to go after Blue Dog Dems who oppose real health care reform. We know how to canvass and how to phone bank. We can, and will, support a multitude of primary challengers against the entrenched corporate interests that just happen to call themselves Democrats.

The White House may not be afraid of us like they are big Pharma and the health insurance industry, but maybe, just maybe they should be.

VIDEO - Obama On Individual Mandates, "Like Forcing The Homeless To Buy Houses"

From FDL:

Progressives who have turned against the individual mandate in health care reform may want to highlight their one-time ally in that fight: President Barack Obama. Throughout the 2008 primary campaign, the mandate was one of the bigger debates between Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama won the election but Clinton arguably won that debate, since the President took up the mandate in his health care plan. But he was pretty adamant about why he didn’t think a mandate was useful in the past. Perhaps the best distillation of that comes in this interview to CNN from Febuary 2008:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BREAKING! Senate "Gang of Ten" Reach Health Care Reform Deal, PO May Be Dead

From TPM:

Health care reform may have gone from having a PO to being a POS. Time will tell.
Ten Democratic Senators emerged tonight from a long series of meetings having reached a tentative agreement on a public option compromise. None would comment on the actual provisions in the deal, saying they first want to hear back from the Congressional Budget Office, which will begin scoring the new package tomorrow.

"We've made a lot of progress," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE). Now, he says, Democrats will "take the next step and ask the CBO to score what we've been discussing...we don't expect them to respond to us within 24 hours. Apparently it will take a couple days."

Within the past week, the 10 liberal and conservative Democrats hashing out a compromise have discussed a number of potential alternatives to the opt-out public option in the current bill, including tighter insurance reforms, an extension of the competitive market that insures Federal employees, and, most notably, a measure that would allow certain people between the ages of 55 and 64 to pay into Medicare.

However, none of the senators speaking to reporters tonight would confirm which, if any, of these items would be part of the package going to CBO.

Lawmakers have suggested in recent days that the compromises under discussion were meant to replace the national public option that's currently in the bill. The Associated Press as the New York Times are even reporting that the public option is gone. Tonight, though, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested that might not be the case. "All the things you've read in the newspapers...'the public option is gone,'--it's not true," Reid said at an impromptu press conference after tonight's meeting broke.

Reid wouldn't elaborate further--and it's worth noting that in recent days, aides and members have tried to characterize some of the ideas on the table as a form of "public option" when in fact none of them are. But it looks like we'll know definitively by the end of the week--and maybe sooner.

"I already know that all 60 senators in my caucus don't agree on every piece of the merger," Reid said. "I know that what we've sent over there to CBO--will send to them tomorrow--not everyone's going to agree on every piece that we've sent over there, but that doesn't mean that we disagree on what we've sent to them."

Emerging from the meeting, public option stalwart Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) told reporters, "You're going to find nobody who's happy with everything."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One Voice For Choice: Don't Let Stupak And Nelson Hold Health Care Reform Hostage


Yesterday, Venice For Change and FDL Action PAC announced "One Voice For Choice", a unique phone bank effort that will call into the districts of Democratic lawmakers who voted for the Stupak amendment. We are targeting likely voters who are pro-choice and asking them to tell their member of Congress to vote for a final health care reform bill that's free of the Stupak ban.

The response has been tremendous. In only 24 hours, over half a dozen phone banks have popped up in my home state of California, and one in the heart of liberal Texas - Austin!

Will you volunteer to call them and explain that Stupak is much, much worse than any Federal law currently on the books?

Powwow points to two important posts by Pricilla Smith at Balkanization which outline just how bad Stupak is, and what is at stake (Part I and Part II).

And guess what, Ben Nelson is introducing Stupak in the Senate. And he's threatening to filibuster the health care bill if he doesn't get his way. Folks, this is crunch time. If we don't hold the line in the House, Stupak could very easily become the law of the land.

Join one of the phone bank efforts already going, or if there’s not one in your district, start one of your own!


"One Voice For Choice" has phone banks set up all over California. Don't see one in your area? Sign up to host your own! Please be sure to bring your cell phone and a charger.

Friday, December 4

9AM - 1PM

Saturday, December 5

9AM - 2PM

Sunday, December 6

10AM - Noon

Noon - 5pm

Saturday, December 12


Noon - 3pm

Sunday, December 13



You can follow us:

on the web at

on Facebook at

on twitter @OneVoice4Choice

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Excerpts of the President’s Address On Afghanistan

Hot off the White House presses. Excerpts from tonight's speech.

“The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.”

“Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what’s at stake is not simply a test of NATO’s credibility – what’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.”

“Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.”

Ben Nelson Devoloping Stupak-Like Amendment For Senate Health Care Bill

From Congress Daily:

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said today he is crafting an amendment to prohibit federal funding of abortions that will be the same as the controversial proposal added at the last minute to the House healthcare overhaul bill.

"It's as identical to Stupak as it can be," Nelson said, referencing the amendment drafted by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.

Democrats and Republicans have expressed interest in supporting the amendment as part of the healthcare overhaul debate in the Senate, he said.

Sen. Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa., said today he will support Nelson's effort.

"I think it's likely to be one of the amendments we'll vote on," Casey said

Neither Casey nor Nelson knew when that vote might come. Casey noted he is unsure whether the amendment has the votes to pass or whether it would have to meet a 60-vote threshold or a simple majority. But he added he is not drawing lines in the sand if it is not approved.

Just when any amendments will come up for votes was unclear. A spokeswoman for Majority Leader Reid said at presstime there was no time agreement with Republicans.

Stupak's abortion amendment prohibits any public option from covering abortions. The prohibition would also apply to private plans offered through an exchange in which individuals can purchase coverage in part using federal subsidies.

The Senate bill attempts to maintain the prohibition on federal abortion funding by requiring insurance companies to segregate subsidy dollars and use other revenue to cover abortions. It also requires HHS to determine if and how any public option would cover abortions.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said today that White House Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle and Deputy Director Jeanne Lambrew agreed Monday to provide her with actuarial estimates of cost-containment amendments she plans to propose. One of those amendments, Collins said, would impose a penalty on reimbursements to hospitals that have high infection rates.

She said the bill still needs substantial changes to win her vote. "I certainly hope that will be possible," she added. "I think there's unease on both sides of the aisle about specific provisions of this bill and that it's possible that we can come up with alternatives that will garner bipartisan support."

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy said today he plans to file his amendment to repeal the health insurance and medical malpractice insurance industries' exemption from federal antitrust laws. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said he would join Leahy in offering the amendment.

Lieberman said today he is encouraged by a CBO report Monday that estimates the majority of Americans' health insurance premiums would go down or remain untouched under the legislation.

"I was concerned about the impact. ... I was worried that some of the taxes, for instance, and maybe some cost-shifting might increase premiums more, but the report shows, and you've got to accept CBO ... that most people will see their premiums either stay where they would otherwise be or be reduced. And I think when you consider the fact that Senator Reid's proposal covers 30 million more people with insurance than are covered now, it's quite an accomplishment to be able to do that without raising premiums," he said.

Lieberman said he has not changed his opposition to the public option.

"Matter of fact, it strengthens my position, because my feeling is that the public option doesn't support any of the major goals that we've always, I've always, had for healthcare reform: cover more people. ... long-term cost containment, better cost containment and adopt some consumer friendly reforms of insurance industry practices," he said.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dean, "You will have a revolt in the party." about health care reform

One of the leading progressive champions of healthcare reform is pessimistic about the state of the debate in the Senate, saying he sees virtually no path to passing strong legislation and predicting potential congressional losses for Democrats as a consequence.

Former DNC Chair Howard Dean told the Huffington Post on Monday that Senate Democratic leadership was "in deep trouble" on health care, even after Majority Leader Harry Reid cobbled together over the weekend the 60 votes needed to get legislation to the floor. The problem was as much about politics as policy.

"I think if you passed the Senate bill tomorrow it would be OK. But then the problem is they don't have any defense for their members in 2010," Dean said, noting that the public option would not become operational until 2014. "On the other hand, if they drop the public option [to placate moderate members], I think they lose seats."

"So this is really tough. I didn't anticipate being in this position. I thought it would pass. Maybe Harry has some magic up his sleeve. But I don't see how he gets those four votes [Sens. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.)] without compromising the bill," Dean concluded.

The former Vermont governor warned that if the party allowed the four moderates to further water down the bill (or defeat it altogether) it could lead to primary challenges or a drop in fundraising from the party's base.

"If you have members refusing to vote for Reid on procedural issues you will have a revolt in the party," Dean said. "What is the point of having a 60-vote margin? This is going to be death for the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee]. Why would anyone donate to them if they're supporting candidates who defeat the Democratic agenda?"

There was, he insisted, an out clause. Reconciliation -- the budgetary maneuver that would allow portions of reform to be considered by an up or down vote -- "looks better every time," Dean said. "Someone has to say, at some point, we need to pass a bill." Reid has hinted that reconciliation is an increasingly unlikely proposition.

One of the loudest champions of a public plan, Dean has rarely expressed such pessimism about the state of play in the Senate. But even aides on the Hill admit that the path forward to gathering the 60 votes needed to stop a Republican filibuster is immensely challenging.

That said, Dean wasn't ready to read health care reform its final rites. And others who work on the progressive side of the debate said they are more bullish about the prospects of passing strong legislation. Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now, said he noted that progressives in the Senate have been remarkably united in asserting their positions to Reid and indicating "that they won't be rolled by their more conservative members."

"Reconciliation is one of those things that is always there," Kirsch added. "It might not be the topic of conversation now. But it might go that way if four senators decide to wag the tail of the dog."

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has worked with HCAN and others on health care reform, was similarly upbeat. The goal, she said, was to keep the ball moving, pass legislation out of the Senate and then improve on its policy prescriptions once in conference committee with the House.

"The issue is to ensure that something is decent," said Lake. "I think the other thing is we need the president to weigh in, and I suspect he will weigh in very heavily in the conference committee."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trading Away The Public Option For Fun And Profit

Amid the drama today regarding the Senate cloture vote (It passed 60-39. Yay, us!), was another, more insidious drama taking place behind the scenes.

A Senate Democratic aide tells me that folks aren't too happy with the news that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is negotiating a public option "trigger compromise" with members of the caucus.

"He went on his own to talk to Landrieu about the trigger option," the aide says. "That's rather unseemly, especially for Schumer to have reached out to Landrieu before we had the vote. It's very inappropriate."

Obviously there are plenty of reasons for plenty of people to say they're upset about this. But the fact that Schumer began these discussions before today's vote does seem notable, given that Harry Reid was supposed to be negotiating for the votes.

A Schumer spokesperson later denied the Senator was pre-negotiating for a triggered public option.

But then at a press conference held shortly after the vote, Senate Majority Leader had this to say:

Q: Senator Lincoln today made it very clear that she’s not going to support any kind of public option. Senator Lieberman has said the same. What do you see as the chances it will be in the final bill.

Reid: First of all, I support a strong public option. I welcome Senator Schumer, Landrieu and Carper, who Senator Landrieu said are working together to find a public option that is acceptable to all Democrats….

Q: Did you just say that you’ve tasked Senator Schumer, Carper and Landrieu or …

Reid: No. It’s my understanding that Senator Landrieu said today that she’s working with Senator Schumer and Carper to come up with an alternative.

Finally, just a few minutes ago, Schumer's PAC sent this fundraising letter out:

Dear Marta,

Moments ago, the Senate voted to begin its full debate on historic health care reform legislation instead of obstructing it with a filibuster.

Tonight's vote marks the biggest victory to date for our grassroots effort to pass health care reform with a public option. We cannot give enough thanks to the over 100,000 signers of our petition at for helping to fundamentally shift the momentum towards meaningful reform.

Not long ago, a few loud opponents of reform armed and organized by the insurance industry dominated this debate. Now the American people, the majority of whom support a public option, have spoken out and gained the upper hand.

Not long ago, the public option seemed like little more than a pipe dream. Now it's part of health care bills in both the Senate and the House.

Not long ago, members of our own Democratic caucus weren't sure they could even support an up-or-down vote on health care reform legislation. Tonight they voted to end the Republican filibuster.

But despite this good news, the fight for meaningful health care reform is not over. As we debate amendments to this legislation in the coming weeks, we will work with our colleagues to ensure it continues to address the "Three C's" of meaningful reform: competition, choice, and cost reduction. And we will firmly oppose any effort to eliminate the public option.

Tonight we celebrate a milestone no one thought we could reach just months ago. Tomorrow the fight continues. We will not let up until the President signs a bill we can all be proud of.

Thank you for your support.


Senator Chuck Schumer
Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Patrick Leahy

Trading away the public option for fun and profit. Nice.

"They Need To Come Down Here And Stand In These Lines"

Senator Blanche Lincoln, meet one of your constituents, Steve Maitlan, of Little Rock, Arkansas. Steve's a hardworking American who hasn't been to a doctor in over 5 years. While you threaten to derail health care reform this afternoon on the floor of the Senate, he waits patiently in line at a free health care clinic sponsored by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and organized by the National Association of Free Clinics.

He has a message for you and all your fellow Senators on Capitol Hill.

"They Need To Come Down Here And Stand In These Lines. If it takes them two hours or four hours, they need to stand in these lines and talk to the people. If they can live without health care for five months like I have for five years they'd get a little bit better perspective what it's like."

Watch the whole thing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Big Vote - Tomorrow 8PM EST

Set your clocks, kids, for tomorrow, 8:00 pm EST. After a day-long debate, the Senate will vote wether or not to allow a debate on health care reform to proceed to the floor of the Senate. In layman's terms, this means the Senate is voting wether or not to talk about maybe voting on health care reform......sometime later.

Ah yes, the Senate, moving at the speed

For an idea of what's being debated, check out this handy chart of the Senate bill vs. the House bill, which passed two weeks ago.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reid To Unveil Senate Health Care Reform Bill Today At 5pm EST

From TPM:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will unveil and discuss his health care bill to Democrats at a special 5 pm caucus meeting tonight, leadership sources say. Reid hopes to brief the caucus before the bill is publicly unveiled, and that could happen late tonight. A CBO analysis of that legislation is expected to be unveiled publicly somewhat earlier in the day, and despite some last minute road bumps, Reid is very pleased with the report.

Reid may give the public 72 hours to review the bill before holding a cloture vote on a motion to proceed this weekend, though he may call for that vote slightly earlier.

Republicans, led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) are expected to call for the entire bill to be read aloud before debate can begin in earnest after the Senate returns from a week-long Thanksgiving recess at the end of the month.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where's My Detachable Penis?

Damn. Where'd I put my elective penis? Must be up the attic somewhere. Sigh. Looks like I'll have to dust it off and strap it on if I want any kind of adequate healthcare under the bill just passed in the House and the bills up for consideration in the Senate.

None of the bills emerging from the House and Senate require insurers to cover all the elements of a standard gynecological "well visit," leaving essential care such as pelvic exams, domestic violence screening, counseling about sexually transmitted diseases, and, perhaps most startlingly, the provision of birth control off the list of basic benefits all insurers must cover. Nor are these services protected from "cost sharing," which means that, depending on what's in the bill that emerges from the Senate, and, later, the contents of a final bill, women could wind up having to pay for some of these services out of their own pockets. So far, mammograms and Pap tests are covered in every version of the legislation.
Not really thrilled about this. And since the language is the same in both the Senate and House versions of the bill, it's highly unlikely this will change. Thanks again Planned Parenthood for looking out for my interests on Capitol Hill!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seat Warming Corporate Shills

Here's a list of Democrats in the House who voted FOR the anti-abortion Stupak amendments and AGAINST the healthcare reform bill.They might as well be Republicans. I hope they're knocked out of office in 2010, even if it brings down our numbers in the house.

Jason Altmire (PA-4) 202-225-2565
Bobby Bright (AL-2) 202-225-2901
John Barrow (GA-12) 202-225-2823
John Boccieri (OH-16) 202-225-3876
Dan Boren (OK-2) 202-225-2701
Ben Chandler (KY-6) 202-225-4706

Travis Childers (MS-1) 202-225-4306
Artur Davis (AL-7) 202-225-2665
Lincoln Davis (TN-4) 202-225-6831
Bart Gordon (TN-6) 202-225-4231
Parker Griffith (AL-5) 202-225-4801
Tim Holden (PA-17) 202-225-5546

Jim Marshall (GA-8) 202-225-6531
Jim Matheson (UT-2) 202-225-3011
Mike McIntyre (NC-7) 202-225-2731
Charlie Melancon (LA-3) 202-225-4031
Collin Peterson (MN-7) 202-225-2165
Mike Ross (AR-4) 202-225-3772

Heath Shuler (NC-11) 202-225-6401
Ike Skelton (MO-4) 202-225-2876
John Tanner (TN-8) 202-225-4714
Gene Taylor (MS-4) 202-225-5772
Harry Teague (NM-2) 202-225-2365

BREAKING! Healthcare Reform Bill Passes! 64 Democrats Side With Republicans To Pass Anti-Choice Amendment

In an historic vote, tonight the House passed the most sweeping health care reform bill since Medicare was enacted. The vote was largely along party lines - 220 to 215. Interestingly enough, a Louisianna Republican, Joseph Cao, voted for the bill as well.

As expected, enough Democrats crossed party lines to also pass a draconian anti-abortion amendment sponsored by Blue Dog Democrat, Bart Stupak. That it passed is no surprise, that 64 Democrats joined with Republicans to forbid private insurance companies from offering abortion coverage is.

Three California Democrats voted for the anti-abortion amendment, Costa (CA-20), Cardoza (CA-18) and Baca (CA-43)

Here is the entire list of Democrats who voted against the healthcare bill. Below that is the list of Dems who voted with Republicans for the anti-abortion amendment.

Adler (NJ)
Davis (AL)
Davis (TN)
Edwards (TX)
Gordon (TN)
Herseth Sandlin
Markey (CO)
Murphy (NY)

Here is the entire list of Democrats who voted in favor of the Stupak amendment.

Altmire, Jason PA-4
Baca, Joe CA-43
Barrow, John GA-12
Berry, Marion AR-1
Bishop, Sanford GA-2
Boccieri, John OH-16
Boren, Dan OK-2
Bright, Bobby AL-2
Cardoza, Dennis CA-18
Carney, Christopher PA-10
Chandler, Ben KY-6
Childers, Travis MS-1
Cooper, Jim TN-5
Costa, Jim CA-20
Costello, Jerry IL-12
Cuellar, Henry TX-28
Dahlkemper, Kathleen PA-3
Davis, Artur AL-7
Davis, Lincoln TN-4
Donnelly, Joe IN-2
Doyle, Mike PA-14
Driehaus, Steve OH-1
Ellsworth, Brad IN-8
Etheridge, Bob NC-2
Gordon, Bart TN-6
Griffith, Parker AL-5
Hill, Baron IN-9
Holden, Tim PA-17
Kanjorski, Paul PA-11
Kaptur, Marcy OH-9
Kildee, Dale MI-5
Langevin, Jim RI-2
Lipinski, Daniel IL-3
Lynch, Stephen MA-9
Marshall, Jim GA-8
Matheson, Jim UT-2
McIntyre, Mike NC-7
Melancon, Charles LA-3
Michaud, Michael ME-2
Mollohan, Alan WV-1
Murtha, John PA-12
Neal, Richard MA-2
Oberstar, James MN-8
Obey, Dave WI-7
Ortiz, Solomon TX-27
Perriello, Thomas VA-5
Peterson, Collin MN-7
Pomeroy, Earl ND-AL
Rahall, Nick WV-3
Reyes, Silvestre TX-16
Rodriguez, Ciro TX-23
Ross, Mike AR-4
Ryan, Timothy OH-17
Salazar, John CO-3
Shuler, Heath NC-11
Skelton, Ike MO-4
Snyder, Vic AR-2
Space, Zack OH-18
Spratt, John SC-5
Stupak, Bart MI-1
Tanner, John TN-8
Taylor, Gene MS-4
Teague, Harry NM-2
Wilson, Charles OH-6

BREAKING! Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) Votes AGAINST bringing House Health Care Bill Up For A Vote

Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) was one of only 10 Democrats to vote against the House "rule" that would allow the final bill to come up for a vote later today. Sanchez's staffers were unable to tell me why the Orange County representative voted no on the rule, and were unable to say how the Congresswoman would vote on the anti-abortion Stupak amendment and the final bill itself. Officially, Sanchez remains undecided on both.

Please call and fax Sanchez's office now and tell her to vote NO on the Stupak amendment and YES on the healthcare bill.

Phone: (202) 225-2965
Fax: (202) 225-5859

Friday, November 6, 2009

Blue Dog Dems Break Out The Coat Hangers

In a stunning betrayal of women's rights, Democratic leadership in the House will allow a vote on an amendment that would ban insurance providers from covering abortion services.

House Democratic leaders agreed Friday night to settle an impasse over abortion by letting the entire House vote on a proposed solution, a risky decision that could determine the fate of their trillion-dollar overhaul of the nation's health care system.

Under the agreement, anti-abortion Democrats will be permitted to offer an amendment on the House floor to the health-care overhaul bill. The amendment would prohibit a new government-run insurance plan created by the health-care bill from offering to cover abortion services, congressional sources said. It would also block people who received federal subsidies for the purchase of health insurance from buying policies that offered coverage for abortions.

The deal clears the way for the dozens of Democratic lawmakers who oppose abortion to lend their support to the health care package, the most dramatic expansion of health coverage in more than 40 years. It also satisfies the demands of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had threatened to oppose the House bill.

If the amendment from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) passes, said Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops conference, "we become enthusiastic advocates for moving forward with health care reform."

The amendment is expected to pass with the combined support of more than 40 anti-abortion Democrats and virtually every House Republican. That likelihood meant that leaders of the much larger group of Democrats who support abortion rights were not happy to learn of the deal.

"There will be no abortion, not just with public funds, but with private funds under the public option, and that's not acceptable," said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

I am beyond outraged. Beyond angry. I worked for nearly a year, hosted dozens of phone banks in my home, canvassed and tabled countless weekends, all to support Obama's health care plan, and this is what we get? A return to back alley abortions and coat hangers for all but those lucky few who can foot the bill themselves?


Call your reps and tell them to vote NO on this healthcare bill if the Stupak amendment passes. 1-877-851-6437, 1-800-828-0498, or 1-800-614-2803. Ask for the office you would like to speak to.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Proposition 8 - One Year Later

I could have gone to an Obama election one-year anniversary party tonight. This is how I chose to remember November 4, 2008 instead.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One Year Ago Today

I have a tiny, 750 square-foot house. But I’ve somehow made room for one of those enormous Obama "Hope" posters. You know the one – you’ve seen it a million times. This one sits framed in my kitchen – on it are the signatures of many of the volunteers I worked with on the Obama campaign last year.

Every day I am reminded of the miracle we pulled off. Every day I’m reminded how, in our congressional district alone (CA-36), 1,500 volunteers made over 600,000 phone calls to swing states all over the country, and sent hundreds of volunteers to Nevada and New Mexico to get out the vote and turn those states blue.

Every day I am reminded that change can only happen when citizens stand together and take ownership over their government, their country, their communities and themselves. Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign, but rather begins with a new President, a new government, and a new day.

Tonight, as I write this, Republicans have taken the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, yet in NY-23 Democrat Bill Owens beat out "Conservative Party" candidate Doug Hoffman, and Democrat John Garamendi easily defeated Republican David Harmer in CA-10 by running as a staunch progressive in what had previously been considered a "moderate" democratic district.

And in a heartbreaking reminder of Proposition 8 in California, another marriage equality proposition hangs in the balance – this time in Maine.

Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

Our President inherited a shit sandwich from one of the most venal and incompetent administrations our country has ever known. It is all he and his administration can do keep our country from sinking into another Great Depression or stumbling into WWIII.

What’s left of the Republican party is becoming the American Taliban right before our eyes while Conservative Democrats threaten to derail health care legislation at every turn.

President Obama won the Nobel Peace prize this year, and we are poised to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan. My brother-in-law will be returning to Iraq for his third tour of duty this month, leaving a wife and three children behind. He joined the Army 15 years ago because when his wife got pregnant with their first son and they couldn’t afford health insurance. They still can’t.

Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

I believe in my President. But I don’t expect him to "rescue" us. We entered into an implied contract when we helped get Barack Obama elected. We expected Change, we expected to be respected, empowered and included, we expected him to fight, and we expected to join him in that fight.

That contract, in many ways, has only been partially fulfilled.

As way of example, I take Obama at his word when he says he believes the public option is the best way to reform our health care system. But here’s what I’ve never heard him say:

While the public option may be the best way to bring reform to our health care system, it’s not the easiest or surest road to passing health care reform through congress – in fact it may be the most difficult. I understand this risk and willing to take it, because together I believe we can make this dream a reality.

Instead, I believe the President and his advisers have chosen a different path, one they hoped was less risky, one that would more likely give them a victory that’s eluded every President since Roosevelt. They chose triggers. They chose Olympia Snowe. They have, all along the way, chose to manage expectations for the public option instead of drawing a line in the sand and fighting for it. Not because they’re corrupt, or deceitful or because they don’t believe in efficacy of the public option, but because they don’t believe the system would allow it to happen.

They say politics is the art of the possible.

This is what they believe is possible.

I believe they’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and by doing so, have made the possible finite.

Every day I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

If the American people want the president to be more like the Barack Obama they elected, maybe they should start acting more like the voters who elected him, who forcibly and undeniably moved the political establishment to where it didn’t want to go.

So it’s up to us – all of us – to hold our President accountable. To support him when he needs it, but also to hold his feet to the fire when he chooses the merely possible over the audacity of hope.

We have to make sure the path against the public option, against withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, against the climate change bill, against repealing "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell", and against federal marriage equality is more difficult than the path for it.

This is our end of the contract. We have to understand what the issues are, and understand that merely "supporting the President’s agenda" may not be enough.

Every day, when I walk by my kitchen wall and see that poster and see my volunteer’s names scrawled across its face, I am reminded our work does not end with a campaign.

We did not ask permission then and we do not need permission now.

We will be the change we seek and we will move our country towards the possibilities of the infinite.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Trick, Not Treat" For Health Care Reform

From FDL:

As part of the nationwide “Treat, Not Trick” effort yesterday, AMSA medical students Connie Chen and Rebecca Mitchell organized a visit to Anna Eshoo’s office in Palo Alto. Eshoo’s biologics legislation is a huge gift to PhRMA that will keep important new cancer drugs from ever becoming affordable generics. Their passionate advocacy on behalf of their patients is really inspirational. Watch the video — it will make even he hardest cynic smile.

Eshoo’s staff doesn’t want them to film in the office, and responds by handing them a Xerox copy of Eshoo’s talking points.

Eshoo wigged out yesterday in the Hill and the Huffington Post and launches a bitter, personal attack in response to my article on her PhRMA-friendly legislation — and Nancy Pelosi’s daugher helps her promote it. Which is surprising — I said I was “disappointed” in Pelosi because I thought she was just bowing to the will of the caucus, but I guess she’s endorsing Eshoo’s efforts. (I know Christine, she’s very cognizant of how this stuff reads and doesn’t do things like this in a vacuum).

I’ll have a more detailed rebuttal later, but in the mean time, I invite you to read the Pelosi-endorsed Eshoo melt-down and watch the video of these wonderful young students and compare.

As medical student Sha Ali says, the government is already paying money for the research and development of these biologics, so to make the health care system absorb enormous costs for drugs the public already has an interest in is deeply corrupt — and the cost in human life is completely immoral.

Eshoo’s demand for “data exclusivity” (patent monopoly) to protect “innovation” (blockbuster pharmaceutical profits) is wound around such a shameless pack of lies it’s amazing that it only cost drug companies $712,983 in campaign contributions. As the students say, this is a $71 billion boondoggle for PhRMA. They are paying Eshoo pennies on the dollar for the privilege of raking in enormous profits on government-sponsored research.

POP is joining with these wonderful students to help them fight Eshoo and Kay Hagan, women who are willing to impose a huge financial burden on the health care system and cut off access to the newest drugs that could save the lives of breast cancer survivors. These young people shouldn’t have their hands tied by such corrupt, protectionist legislation that puts corporate profits over access to health care for their patients.

Special thanks to our good friend Jim Ehrlich, the Hippy Gourmet, who went to Eshoo’s office with the students and produced the wonderful video.

If you are someone you know are on any of these biologic drugs and are having to foot the bill, or should be taking one but can’t afford to, please let us know.

Friday, October 30, 2009

BREAKING! Gavin Newsom Drops Out of CA Governors Race

In a statement released late Friday afternoon, Gavin Newsom announced that he will no longer be seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2010 California Governor's race

It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to and should be done.

This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

When I embarked on this campaign in April, my goal was to engage thousands and thousands of Californians dedicated to reforming our broken system and bringing change to Sacramento.

I would like to thank those supporters, volunteers, and donors who have worked so hard on my behalf. I have been humbled by their support and am indebted to their efforts. They represent the spirit of change and determination essential to putting California back on the right track.

I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply - universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens.

Welcome To Day 4 Of The Public Option Beauty Contest

Jane Hamsher on how the Senate is really just like a badly run beauty pageant. It's going to take me a while to get this image out of my head.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Politics Of The Possible - How The Grassroots Can Co-Opt OFA And Win The Public Option

There's been a lot of hand-wringing lately over health care reform and Obama's support - or lack thereof - of the public option. This former Obama volunteer and current Community Organizer would like to offer her perspective.

I have a tiny, 750 square-foot house. But I've somehow made room for one of those enormous Obama "Hope" posters. You know the one, you've seen it a million times. This one sits framed in my kitchen. On it are the signatures of many of the hundreds of volunteers I worked with on the Obama campaign last year. I am reminded every day of the miracle we pulled off.

I believe in my President. But I don't expect him to "rescue" us. And in a lot of ways, that's what this internal fight over the public option is all about - it is not about policy. It's a proxy for the implied contract we entered into when we helped get Obama elected. We expected Change, we expected to be respected, empowered and included, we expected him to fight, and we expected to join him in that fight.

That contract has only been partially fulfilled.

I take Obama at his word when he says he believes the public option is the best way to reform our health care system. But here's what I've never heard him say:

While the public option may be the best way to bring reform to our health care system, it's not the easiest or surest road to passing health care reform through congress - in fact it may be the most difficult. I understand this risk and willing to take it, because together I believe we can make this dream a reality.

Instead, I believe the President and his advisors have chosen a different path, one they hoped was less risky, one that would more likely to give them the victory that's eluded every President since Roosevelt. They chose triggers. They chose Olympia Snowe. They have, all along the way, chose to manage expectations for the public option instead of drawing a line in the sand and fighting for it. Not because they're corrupt, or deceitful or because they don't believe in efficacy of the public option, but because they don't believe the system would allow it to happen.

They say politics is the art of the possible. This is what they believe is possible. I believe they've created a self-fulfilling prophecy, and by doing so, have made the possible finite.

So it's up to us - all of us - to make sure the path against the public option is more difficult that the path for it. This is our end of the contract. We have to understand what the issues are, and understand that merely "supporting the President's agenda" may not be enough.

If the American people want the president to be more like the Barack Obama they elected, maybe they should start acting more like the voters who elected him, who forcibly and undeniably moved the political establishment to where it didn't want to go.

Sometimes that means working outside the political establishment. Sometimes that means working an inside game. Take Organizing For America, the Obama campaign turned political machine. The New Republic takes an unvarnished look at OFA; It's an article sure to raise the hackles of activists who remain in the OFA fold or have gone on to become OFA staff, but to me it's a spot-on assessment of what the organization is now, how it came to be, and what direction it's likely to take from here.

Before I go on to the article, which I'm reprinting here in full, a few thoughts.

I have always believed, and continue to believe, that OFA can be an effective organization to help advance a progressive agenda, especially if you understand that OFA is a tool, not the whole tool box. I remain convinced that we would not have gotten this far in the health care fight if it had not been for the work of both OFA and outside pressure groups and netroots activists like FireDogLake, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee,, DailyKos, the Courage Campaign and Open Left (to name just a few). The two forces compliment each other by combining the heft of a massive membership base and institutional support that comes with it, with savvy and aggressive advocacy of smaller outside groups which can strategically target specific "pressure points" to leverage their effectiveness.

Last week was a perfect case in point.

  • On Monday, Oct. 19, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched an ad campaign targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. They raised nearly $60,000 in just a few days to run ads in his home state of Nevada urging the Senator to use his power as majority leader to bring the public option to the Senate floor for a vote.

  • On Tuesday, Oct. 20th, OFA organized over 340,000 phone calls to Congress to support the "President's agenda" on health care reform. There are reports that 4/5's of the callers specifically mentioned the public option as their preferred choice, even though that language was not included in the OFA call script (it is included in on their website).

  • Then Monday, Oct 26, Harry Reid, who is running for reelection in 2010 and is behind in the polls, did what %77 of his Democratic constituents in Nevada wanted - he announced he would be bring a trigger-free public option to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Reportedly, this was over the objections of the White House, which was still trying to get Olympia Snowe's vote.

So what's the take away from all this? It's simple, and it comes right from the Obama campaign.

You are the change you are waiting for.

I'm reminded of that every time I walk in my kitchen and see that poster and see those names scrawled across its face. We did not ask permission then and we do not need to ask permission now.

We will be the change we seek and we will move our country towards the possibilities of the infinite.

- Marta Evry
Community Organizer

Tea partiers, townhall protesters, Texas secessionists--for the past few months, grassroots organizing has seemed to be mostly the domain of the right. And for a period this summer, they (okay, not the Texas secessionists, but the others) appeared to be successfully tugging the national debate in their direction. As conservative activists, organized by groups such as FreedomWorks and encouraged by the likes of Glenn Beck, poured into the streets, moderate senators began to waver on health care, President Obama's approval ratings dipped, and momentum for reform seemed to stall.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The reason was Organizing for America. Last year, after winning the presidency, Obama decided to keep intact the backbone of his stunningly efficient, innovative campaign. Previous presidents had outsourced their activism to interest groups; Obama was going to create his own. OFA was supposed to be a new kind of permanent campaign: a grassroots network wielding some 13 million email addresses to mobilize former volunteers on behalf of the administration's agenda (and keep them engaged for 2012). "We've never had a political leader who has continued their organizing while in office like this at this scale," Tom Matzzie, former Washington director of MoveOn, told NPR in January.

As right-wing protesters dominated the news this summer, it would have seemed the perfect opportunity for Obama's much-touted organizers to drown out the conservatives with some coordinated agitation of their own. But they barely made a ripple. Where were they? And how could such a formidable grassroots operation--having just put Obama in office--fall quiet so quickly?

The morning after the election, some 10,000 organizers dialed into a conference call with President-elect Obama, who told them that they would be needed for fights to come. But within the Obama camp, there was disagreement about how, exactly, their services ought to be used. OFA could become a freestanding organization that would advocate independently for the president's agenda. Or it could be folded--along with its formidable fundraising potential--into the Democratic National Committee. Steve Hildebrand, Obama's deputy campaign manager, favored the independent option: It would allow the group to "pressure anybody who we would need to build a coalition of votes in the House and Senate," he told the Los Angeles Times in mid-November. David Plouffe, the campaign's mastermind, disagreed. He had won the election through a precisely directed field operation combined with iron message discipline, and wasn't about to give it up.

A few days before the inauguration, Obama announced, in effect, that Plouffe's view had prevailed: Organizing for America would be securely housed within the DNC. (Hildebrand returned to his consulting firm in Sioux Falls, and would later become vocally critical of the administration's incremental approach to issues such as gay rights. Plouffe stayed on as an adviser, and his firm raked in $376,000 this year from the DNC.) The bulk of the DNC's new hires have gone to support OFA, which takes up about half the square footage at party headquarters inside a putty brown stucco building south of the Capitol.

It got off to a sluggish start. "Just at the moment when the base would have been most interested in rolling up its sleeves and doing something, they were basically asked to wait, that someone else was going to decide what was going to happen, and, in the meantime, please buy this mug," says Micah Sifry, editor of, which has closely tracked the progress of Obama's online organizing since the 2008 primaries. "They built this very muscular organization and, for three to six months, let it lie relatively fallow."

The group largely sat out the stimulus fight, holding house parties and continuing to fundraise, while gearing up for Obama's signature policy initiative. "I think we all knew that health care would be the big one," Jeremy Bird, the organization's 31-year-old deputy director, told me. But when the health care debate arrived with a fury this summer, OFA ran into problems.

The first was timing: Staff were still filtering into the states in July--and, because the Senate Finance Committee hadn't produced a bill yet, OFA had little concrete to advocate for, even as conservatives found plenty to argue against. The second was tactical: Obama's campaign had never used the kind of in-your-face antics the tea-partiers embraced, focusing instead on story-telling and canvassing. "What you see on the right is an organizing model that's based on grandstanding in front of cameras, in August for example," Bird says. "That's not what we ever did on the campaign. Our organizing was the nitty gritty. I mean it really was the real, hard-core organizing work that we think moves folks and wins elections and changes peoples' lives and is based on person-to-person conversations."

But the biggest problem was built into OFA's very structure--the structure that Plouffe had wanted and Hildebrand had warned against. Obama's people had created something both entirely new and entirely old: an Internet version of the top-down political machines built by Richard Daley in Chicago or Boss Tweed in New York. The difference (other than technology) was that this new machine would rely on ideological loyalty, not patronage. And that was a big difference. The old machines survived as top-down organizations because they gave people on the bottom something tangible in return for their participation. By contrast, successful organizations built mainly on shared philosophy tend to be driven by their memberships. Marshall Ganz, the legendary United Farm Workers organizer-turned-Harvard-professor and godfather of the Obama field strategy--he helped orchestrate Camp Obama, a grassroots training program for staff and volunteers--sees the command-and-control nature of OFA as a crucial flaw. "It's much more an instrument of mobilizing the bottom to serve the top than organizing the bottom to participate in shaping the direction of the top," he told me.

It isn't a coincidence that, historically, effective grassroots movements have usually come out of losing campaigns, not winning ones--circumstances that better lend themselves to a bottom-up approach. Supporters of Adlai Stevenson's failed presidential bids in the 1950s went on to run democratic reform efforts in New York and California. Barry Goldwater's followers went on to reshape conservatism after 1964. During the 2004 primaries, the Howard Dean campaign trained a generation of online organizers, and spawned Democracy for America--now a 1.1 million-strong organization that spends money on campaigns its members choose. "With OFA, that's not the direction of that relationship," says Arshad Hasan, DFA's executive director. "They also have to be responsible to the White House. They can't take quite as many risks. … It's the ability to take risks and be ambitious that's allowed us to grow."

The difference between the two approaches has been on display during the health care debate. Dean's group has been using the public option as a clear rallying cry. OFA--aware that Obama might have to bargain away a strong public option in order to get a health care deal at all--has not pushed the issue nearly as fervently.

Furthermore, being part of the DNC has neutered Organizing for America when it comes to pressuring moderate Democrats. Over objections from the White House, outside groups like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn, and the Health Care for America Now coalition--which is spending $35 million this year--have been running hard-hitting ads that target foot-dragging congressmen. When OFA itself ran ads aimed at key Democratic senators, they were gauzy and positive, mentioning no one by name.OFA didn't have a choice: The White House couldn't deal with Max Baucus in good faith if its ground operation was hammering him in Montana.

Recently, OFA has sharpened its pitch--behind-the-scenes movement building wasn't much use in the here and now. In January, Plouffe had told The New York Times that OFA was "not a ‘call or e-mail your member of Congress' organization." But on October 20, OFA sponsored a massive day of calls to Congress on health care, creating the kind of media buzz the group had failed to generate over the summer.

Still, strategic tinkering aside, the group faces a serious dilemma over the long run: Can a grassroots organization run in the top-down style of a political machine really accomplish much--let alone change the terms of political debate on any given issue? On OFA's website,, I found Brenda King, a travel agent in Cincinnati who's been running a one-woman p.r. shop for health-care reform. She sends people placards to put on their cars and is publicizing a nationwide "honk-and-wave" on October 31. "I'm saying, well, somebody's got to do something on our side," she told me. "And nobody was doing anything." Looking for help, she talked to her state OFA chapter, which voiced support but couldn't provide material assistance without clearance from higher up. "The problem with OFA," she says, "is they have a strict thing that they have to follow."