Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why They Continue to Call It "Obamacare", I Don't Know.

A lot of people lately have asked me why I'm so pissed off about President Obama's handling of health care reform. It's a fair question. I'll answer the best I can.

Health care reform is an issue President Obama unilaterally decided to prioritize - over jobs creation, over EFCA, over climate change, over DADT, over financial regulation. We willingly joined the fight, knowing it was difficult, but confident in the belief that our President had a keen awareness of the challenges before him and a strategy to - as OFA so likes to put it - "Get It Done".

Nearly a year later - after defending health care reform at hundreds of town halls, asked to organize countless phone banks and make thousands of calls to lawmakers, told to wait patiently as the White House courted President Olympia Snowe and President Joe Lieberman, made to swallow the worst setback for reproductive rights in a generation thanks to Bart Stupak, watched helplessly as the public option was dropped and taxes on healthcare benefits were imposed on middle class Americans, we finally come within days of passing health care reform (craptacular, watered-down health care reform, but reform none the less) only to have President Obama abandon the fight he chose for us.

All it took was the loss of a single Senate election to make Congress and the White House implode. Because, apparently, Republicans now have a 41 seat majority. All hail President Brown.

It was predictable as nightfall that Democratic leadership would take exactly the wrong message from Coakley's defeat in Massachusetts. Look, there's a lot of reasons Coakely lost - she ran a bad campaign, there were rivalries inside the state party that sapped support and GOTV, not to mention a motivated Republican base.

But mostly, believe it or not, the people of Massachusetts are still voting for change.

That's right. Change. The thing that candidate Obama ran on and voters believed he failed to deliver as President Obama.

People still want it. They're hungry for it. It's not just that they don't see it happening fast enough, it's that they don't see the man they elected fighting for it.

Republican leadership, as venal and evil as they are, aren't stupid, and know how to exploit this desire by offering up false gods that the people will flock to, just as they did for the real deal in 2008.

In Obama, independents and swing voters now see someone who's more interested in compromise and capitulation than competent, decisive action. This may be an unfair assessment of his first year in office - I don't doubt President Obama has prevented this country from sliding into another Great Depression - but it's a narrative our Storyteller-And-Chief allowed to take hold.

So yeah, I'm pissed. As activists, volunteers, and citizens, we upheld our end of the contract. The White House and President Obama? Not so much.

Why the teabaggers even bother to call health care reform "Obamacare" anymore baffles me. Unless, of course, they're referring to 2010.

Because, as things stand now, Obama has pretty much taken "care" of Congress' willingness to govern, and our electoral chances in November.

As 2010 Election Year Heats Up, David Plouffe To Join White House Advisory Team

I'm not expecting any miracles here, but this does seem to be a step in the right direction.

David Plouffe, the man who managed President Barack Obama's campaign, will be taking on an expanded role as an outside adviser to the White House, according to sources familiar with the plan, a move that comes just days after a stunning defeat for Democrats in a Massachusetts Senate special election.

Allies of the White House cast the Plouffe move as less about the Massachusetts election and more about the fact that the election year is heating up and Plouffe has more free time following the publication of his campaign memoir late last year. Still, the timing is sure to stoke speculation that the White House is seeking to shore up its political operation.

After managing Obama's successful primary and general election races, Plouffe chose not to go into the White House -- as so many of his campaign colleagues did -- but rather return to the private sector and focus on writing his memoir of the campaign called "The Audacity to Win". The book was released on November 3, 2009.

Plouffe did stay involved with Organizing for America, the operation formed in the wake of Obama's victory to maintain the massive grassroots email and donor base built during the campaign. While OFA officials tout it as a success story there is increasing skepticism within the party about whether it has truly fulfilled its mission of bringing a grassroots army to bear on the President's top priorities.

Plouffe has also remained in regular touch with the President and his political team. The President talks fairly regularly with David," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "I know that it is somebody whose advice and counsel he both seeks regularly and
believes David is an exceptionally smart advisor who understands the type of anger and frustration that he's seen. "

In an op-ed set to be published tomorrow in the Post, Plouffe argued that finding a way to pass a health care plan is critically important to the electoral fate of the party in the 2010 midterms. Wrote Plouffe:

"Americans' health and our nation's long-term fiscal health depend on it. I know that the short-term politics are bad. It's a good plan that's become a demonized caricature. But politically speaking, if we do not pass it, the GOP will continue attacking the plan as if we did anyway, and voters will have no ability to measure its upside"

Plouffe's increased advisory role comes after three major defeats for Democrats in recent months. The party lost gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia in 2009 and watched somewhat helpless as state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) fell to Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R) in a special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

In each of those races, independents abandoned Democrats in droves; a new Washington Post poll shows that Brown won independents over Coakley by two-to-one margin on Tuesday, a huge reversal from the 2008 presidential election when Obama carried independents in Massachusetts by 17 points over Arizona Sen. John McCain.

Coakley's loss has stoked fears within Democratic ranks that the party is headed toward a major setback in November. Those concerns have led to considerable speculation that a number of wavering Members of Congress will choose retirement over the prospect of a very contested re-election race.

Since the Massachusetts race, however, no Senate or House Democrat has retired.

Your Moment Of Heath Care Reform Zen

Thursday, January 21, 2010

President Obama "All But Disappeared" From Health Care Reform Discussions

I'm so glad I volunteered my ass off for health care reform this last year. Aren't you?

President Obama, hammered for taking a hands-off approach on health care to begin with, has all but disappeared from the discussions as Congressional leaders attempt to figure out a way to finalize a health care plan now that they have just 59 Senate seats.

Our sources suggest to us the White House has been hands-off since the fate of the health care bill went from nearly done to unbelievably uncertain this week.

Obama's health care message has been to say he hopes Congress tries to "move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on," a signal many took as backing away to let leaders do what they think is most politically viable.

A White House aide insisted Obama is "engaged" on health care and that "active" discussions are happening in an around the Oval Office.

Obama has been speaking with Congressional leadership including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Leader Harry Reid.
I'm so glad I worked my ass off for health care reform this last year. Aren't you?

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel also is talking to members, though aides say he's not advocating for one position, but is listening to their thoughts on health care.

Administration officials said the White House view is to let the results of Tuesday's elections play themselves out so members can "digest" the political implications and figure out a way ahead.

The White House views it as a fluid situation and aides warned against jumping to conclusions based on what members say is the president's level of involvement.

The White House also is reluctant to come in and demand Congress take a certain path toward finishing health care in the aftermath of the Senate election in Massachusetts. Aides believe it makes more sense to allow some time to pass and give leadership breathing room to convince their caucus to support the more conservative Senate bill - a plan the administration began advocating for before the polls had even closed Tuesday.

But White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted today that Obama agrees with leadership taking a breather to let the "dust settle," adding that the president has a "full plate" he can concentrate on in the meantime.

Aides privately concede there are consequences to inaction and said the White House is firmly aware of that. They fervently pushed back on any suggestions that the fight has ended.

But pollsters close to the White House say officials there also are well aware they have lost the country's support on the two bills. Voters like individual elements of the bills but are far more concerned about unemployment.

That's one reason you've seen Obama pivot to a populist push this week, and tomorrow he'll be talking about jobs during an Ohio town hall.

Even opponents of the current bills aren't sure where to focus their attention. The Chamber of Commerce is still running ads against the plan, but keeping a close watch on Congress to see if health care will die and they can move on to other issues.

"Like everybody else we're still trying to figure out what policy makers are going to decide to do," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans.

Republicans are enjoying the Democratic scramble to figure out a plan for action, but have actually eased off their health care criticism.

Lanny Davis, a former Clinton White House special counsel who now writes a political column for The Hill, told TPMDC the fight among Democrats about the public option allowed Republicans to define the bill this summer.

Now the only option for Obama is to reach out to Republicans, he said. "He has a good excuse now that we lost. We have to decide is something better than nothing," Davis said.

What Lessons Does Obama Need To Teach Us For The State Of The Union?

Paul Krugman: He Wasn’t The One We’ve Been Waiting For

Health care reform — which is crucial for millions of Americans — hangs in the balance. Progressives are desperately in need of leadership; more specifically, House Democrats need to be told to pass the Senate bill, which isn’t what they wanted but is vastly better than nothing. And what we get from the great progressive hope, the man who was offering hope and change, is this:

I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment because if we don’t, then our budgets are going to blow up and we know that small businesses are going to need help so that they can provide health insurance to their families. Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill. Now I think there’s some things in there that people don’t like and legitimately don’t like.

In short, “Run away, run away”!

Maybe House Democrats can pull this out, even with a gaping hole in White House leadership. Barney Frank seems to have thought better of his initial defeatism. But I have to say, I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.

BREAKING! Pelosi Says House Doesn't Have The Votes To Pass Health Care Reform

One of the scenarios proposed to pass health care reform in the aftermath of the Massachusetts election defeat was for the House to pass the Senate bill as is. Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just put the kabosh on that.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just told reporters that she does not believe she has enough votes in the House to pass the Senate health care reform bill as-is -- at least not yet.

"I don't see the votes for it at this time," Pelosi said. "The members have been very clear in our caucus about the fact that they didn't like it before it had the Nebraska provision and some of the other provisions that are unpalatable to them."

"In every meeting that we have had, there would be nothing to give me any thought that that bill could pass right now the way that it is," she said. "There isn't a market right now for proceeding with the full bill unless some big changes are made."

SCOTUS: Corporations Are People, Election Spending Is Speech

We're fucked.

In a long-awaited 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court of the United States has overturned its 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce which had allowed states to ban corporations from using treasury money to support or oppose candidates through independent expenditures. [Bans on direct corporate contributions to candidates were not at issue in this case; you'll have to wait a few years on that one.]

Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority in today's case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, with Justice Stevens penning a 90-page dissent on behalf of himself and Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor. The full decision is here (PDF)

Senator Russ Feingold, who co-authored McCain-Feingold campaign reform act, is worried.

“This would be in my view, a lawless decision from the Supreme Court,” says the senator who gave his name to the McCain-Feingold law. “Part of me says I can’t believe they’ll do it, but there’s some indication they might, and that means the whole idea of respecting the previous decisions of the Supreme Court won’t mean anything anymore.”

A lawyer who chairs the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feingold notes with regard to controls on corporate campaigning: “These things were argued in 1907, when they passed the ban on corporate treasuries. It was argued in 1947, Taft-Hartley did this. The Supreme Court has affirmed over and over again that it’s not part of free speech that corporations and unions can use their treasuries (to buy elections).”

If the court does overturn both law and precedent to advance a corporate agenda, Feingold says, “It’s just an example of activism, and legislating by a court, if they do this.

It is, as well, dangerous for democracy.

Says Feingold: “If they overturn a hundred years of laws, it means that corporations or unions can just open their treasuries (and) just completely buy up all the television time, and drown out everyone else’s voices.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From Their Lips To God Ears

Here's a Mass election reaction I can believe in.
Here's an unnamed "presidential advisor" quoted in Politico who should get a promotion: "The response will not be to do incremental things and try to salvage a few seats in the fall," a presidential adviser said. "The best political route also happens to be the boldest rhetorical route, which is to go out and fight and let the chips fall where they may. We can say, 'At least we fought for these things, and the Republicans said no."

Counter Republican Dirty Tricks - Keep Calling for Coakley

We still have an hour to go before the polls close. We need you to help counter Republican dirty tricks and GOTV this last hour.

GOTV For Martha Coakley - KEEP CALLING!

Polls don't close until 8pm Eastern tonight. These folks braved rain-of-toads weather to come out and phone bank for Martha Coakley. KEEP CALLING!!!!! Click on this link to make calls from home:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bring It Home - GOTV For Martha Coakley

As I write this, Nate Silver says the odds are 3:1 that Republican Scott Brown will defeat Democrat Martha Coakely in the Massachusetts Senate race tomorrow, effectively ending this administration’s ability to legislate anything meaningful for the remainder of Obama’s first term.

At this point, I know we really only have two choices.

Give it up or bring it home.

Let's bring it home.

For the next 24 hours, until the polls close in Massachusetts, I am going to bring it home for Martha Coakley, for Ted Kennedy, for the future of our country, and for us.

For the next 24 hours I will not give into fear, dire predictions, or defeatism. I will put my head down and do the work. I am asking you to do the same.


CA Phonebanks for Coakley
(click on the cities to get time, directions and to RSVP)

TUESDAY (E-DAY!!!!) – January 19

Sunday, January 17, 2010

ACTION ALERT! GOTV! Don't Let The Teabaggers Take Ted Kennedy's Seat!

Folks, tomorrow is Election Day in Massachusetts and voters will go to the polls and decide who will take Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. We need all hands on deck! Get on the phones, hit the pavement, and DO THE WORK.

Click here to make calls from home.

CA Phonebanks for Coakley
(click on the cities to get time, directions and to RSVP)

TUESDAY (E-DAY!!!!) – January 19

Studies have proven that the most effective way to GOTV is with voter contact. You are often providing the critical tools and support people need to vote. Finding out who needs a ride. Telling people their polling locations. Reminding them of when the polls close. Believe it or not I have talked to voters on Election Day who did not know where to vote, who did not know polls would be closing soon, or who had not realized the election was that day. Without me, those people would not have voted, even though they wanted to vote for my candidate. GOTV volunteers make a real difference.

Last, but not least: And there's one more thing you can do from anywhere in five minutes or less, which is donate money to the campaign. Yes, they can still use money! So if you can give, please do.

Act Blue for Martha Coakley

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Does This Protest Make My Ass Look Fat?

So Code Pink sent out a baker's dozen worth of protestors to confront Jane Harman and Lynn Woolsey at a low-dollar fundraiser at Danny's Deli in Venice, CA.

Based on the turnout I saw today, Code Pink stopped being relevant somewhere around 2007.

Woolsey had received a tremendous amount of blow-back for her support of Harman. Yesterday, the congresswoman responded:

Dear Tim, Mimi, Donna and Norman,

Thank you for the thoughtful letter and the opportunity to respond.

I will be attending the fundraiser on Saturday.

Jane Harman has been a strong ally on an issue important to progressives—health care reform.

From the early days of the debate, Jane has been an unwavering advocate of the robust public option, and on the Energy and Commerce Committee voted against the Blue Dog amendment that weakened the public option.

She also urged that the Kucinich amendment that would have given states the option of adopting single-payer health care plans be included in the final House bill.

I appreciate Jane’s support for “real” health care reform.

Since her election in 1992, Jane has compiled a solid progressive record on a number of issues.

Her first vote in Congress was for the Family and Medical Leave Act, and she has consistently opposed all efforts to roll back a woman’s right to choose. NARAL has given her a 100% pro-choice rating.

She was an original co-sponsor of legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and she was one of only 67 votes against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. The Human Rights Campaign gave her a 100% rating for the 111th Congress, and she has a lifetime rating of 80% from the ACLU.

Jane supports the rights of workers to organize and was an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act.

She refuses to cross picket lines, has marched with local janitors, health care workers, and others, and has opposed unfair trade agreements such as NAFTA and CAFTA. The AFL-CIO, SEIU, and AFSCME have all given her a 100% rating for the 110th and 111th Congresses.

Jane has a strong environmental record, having opposed all efforts to roll back clean air and water standards and drill off-shore California or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The League of Conservation Voters has given her a 100% rating for the 110th Congress.

Jane opposes eliminating the estate tax and voted against the Bush tax cuts.

On Iraq, Jane has publicly stated that the intelligence on WMDs was wrong and she was wrong to believe the Bush Administration’s claims.

Since then, she has joined me in opposing the surges in Iraq and Afghanistan.

With posts on the important Homeland Security Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee, Jane has proven herself to be a leader on Capitol Hill, and I join other Congressional progressives like John Conyers, Jim McGovern and Henry Waxman in endorsing her candidacy.


Lynn Woolsey

Friday, January 15, 2010

Don't Let A Teabagger Take Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat

This Tuesday, voters in Massachusetts will go to the polls to determine who will carry on the legacy of Ted Kennedy in the US Senate. The campaign there needs to fill 400 volunteer shifts to help get out the vote on election day. They simply don't have the infrastructure to do it alone, so they've ask us to make calls into Massachusetts to help recruit volunteers for them.

All you need to do is to go to this link at

If you already have an account with OFA, just sign in and get started. If you don't have an account, you'll be asked to create one. Once you're logged on, you'll be given numbers to call and a simple script to follow.

Unfortunately, recent polls show that the Democrat in the race, Martha Coakely, has only a 50/50 chance of defeating Republican (and teabagger) Scott Brown.

We can't let that happen.

Want to follow up this health care reform bill with another that sets up a public option?

Want a shot at even getting the existing health care reform bill passed to begin with? Want finance reform sometime in our lifetimes? How about a climate change bill? Clean energy? Or a jobs bill that does more than cut taxes for the super rich?

Because none of that has even a chance of happening if a Republican takes Teddy Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts on January 19th.

Go to this link at

If you already have an account with OFA, just sign in and get started. If you don't have an account, you'll be asked to create one. Once you're logged on, you'll be given numbers to call and a simple script to follow.

These are super easy calls to make - you'll be talking with registered Democrats who will want to help. They just need to know where to go and what to do. You'll be there to guide them.

Together, we can make a real difference. Please help us make sure a teabagger doesn't take Ted Kennedy's place in the US Senate.

Go to and get started today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


On his radio show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh said the earthquake in Haiti will play into President Obama's hands by allowing him to play up his "compassionate" and "humanitarian" credentials, and that the President will use this crisis to "boost his credibility with the black community."

Today, Limbaugh discouraged his listeners from donating to the Red Cross, saying that accessing the charity via the White House website would likely mean their email addresses would be captured by the administration.

Limbaugh also seemed to discourage his listeners from donating to any charity through any means, "We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax."

When asked about Limbaugh's statements, as well as controversial statements from Pat Robertson, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had this reaction:

Q: And just one more quick question. What did you think of Pat Robertson's comments yesterday that the Haitians brought this on themselves by making a pact with the devil?

MR. GIBBS: It never ceases to amaze that in times of amazing human suffering somebody says something that could be so utterly stupid, but it like clockwork happens with some regularity. What is -- well, I won't -- [...]

Q: Robert, Rush Limbaugh says that Americans shouldn't donate to Haiti. What do you say about that?

MR. GIBBS: Again, I'd refer you back to the -- again, I think in times of great crisis there are always people that say really stupid things. I don't know how anybody -- I don't know how anybody could sit where he does, having enjoyed the success that he has, and not feel some measure of sorrow for what has happened in Haiti. I think to use the power of your pulpit to try to convince those not to help their brothers and sisters is sad. My sense is that most people, though, because they understand we're part of an amazing world, won't listen, and instead will seek to help those that they know, because through no fault of their own, have suffered an unspeakable tragedy.

How You Can Help Haiti In Less Than A Minute

Haiti Earthquake

The next 72 hours are going to be critical for relief efforts in Haiti. The trapped can still be rescued, the injured treated, and those left vulnerable can still receive aid before starvation, disease and dehydration can take their toll.

Right now, Haiti is hell on earth. Tens of thousands feared dead. Hundreds of thousands - including over 40,000 Americans - missing or unaccounted for. Three million people left homeless, without access to safe water or a reliable source of food. And an unknown number still trapped alive under tons of rubble, still more injured without access to medical treatment.

But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, giving that aid has never been easier. Here is what you can do.


Text "HAITI" to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts

Text "YELE" to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti's Earthquake Relief efforts

Text "HAITI" to 20222 to donate $10 to U.N. relief efforts

Forward this email to your friends and family.
The need is great and time is short.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do You Want A Republican To Take Ted Kennedy's Senate Seat?

Want to follow up this health care reform bill with another that sets up a public option?

Want a shot at even getting the existing health care reform bill passed to begin with? Want to repeal DADT sometime in our lifetimes? How about a climate change bill? Clean energy? Or a jobs bill that does more than cut taxes for the super rich?

Because none of that has even a chance of happening if a Republican takes Teddy Kennedy's seat in Massachussets on January 19th. And according to the latest polls, there's a 50/50 chance the Democrat, Martha Coakely could lose this race to Republican Scott Brown.

Time to get off our asses, get on the phone, and do the work.

Here is what we need to do.

Go to the OFA website - either sign up for an account or sign in with your existing account.

If that link doesn't work, try this one, scroll about half way down the page and you'll find another link to start making calls.

Once you're signed in, a page will come up with a list of numbers for you to call. You'll also see this script:

Hi is ________ home? My name is _________. I'm a volunteer with Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America, and I'm calling for Martha Coakley's campaign for Senate. There's a special election on Tuesday, January 19th, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Can we count on your support for Martha Coakley, on Tuesday January 19th?

Yes No/Uninterested Undecided
[If Yes] Great!

Do you know what time you will make it to the polls? They are open from 7am to 8 pm.

Before Work Morning Afternoon After Work Evening

Do you know how you'll be getting to the polls?
Car Public Transportatio Other Don't Know

[If don't know:]

Do you need a ride to the polls?
Yes No

[If they need a ride] Great. You can sign up for a free ride to the polls at: 800-485-0444

Please make sure everyone in your household votes as well. Thanks so much for your time and your vote!
[If they mention voting absentee] Town halls are closed on Monday, January 18 due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. You can go to your town hall any other weekday and request an absentee ballot form and turn it in right there. Also, the form can be found on line at If you will be absentee voting after Tuesday, January 12, you should go to your local town hall in person instead of mailing in the absentee request form.

[If No] Thank you for your time.

[If Undecided/Needs More Info] Martha will fight to create more jobs and better health care. Her track record shows that she will protect children and the elderly and will take on Wall Street, the way she has as Attorney General. Right now, the national Republican Party and extreme right wing groups are pouring money into Massachusetts hoping to derail critical programs that protect seniors, children and working families. That's why we need your vote on Tuesday, January 19. You can also get more information at

[If not home, leave this message:]
My name is ____________________ and I'm a volunteer on behalf of Martha Coakley's campaign for Senate, calling from Organizing for America, the successor organization to Obama for America. I'm calling to make sure you're planning to vote on Tuesday, January 19. That's the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The polls will be open between 7AM and 8PM. The national Republican Party and extreme right wing groups are pouring money into Massachusetts hoping to derail critical programs that protect seniors, children and working families. That's why Martha needs your vote on Tuesday, January 19th. You can go to for more information. Thank you!

Start calling, enter your results on the site as you go.

Lather, rinse, repeat until January 19th, election day.

Not happy with Obama's legislative agenda in 2009? Guess what, me neither. But here's the thing, I don't think things will really improve all that much if a Republican takes Teddy Kennedy's seat in Mass. In fact, I think it would be fair to say, you can kiss not only any semblance of health care reform goodbye, but any hope of passing even a mildly progressive agenda for the rest of the year. Maybe even for as long as Obama is President.


We can't blog our way out of this. Making endless comments on Daily Kos about how it serves the DSCC right won't do a damn thing except make Republicans extremely happy on January 19th.

I hate to be this blunt, but let's be honest. If some of you could just bring yourselves to spend as much energy phone banking to Mass as you have been debating who's progressive enough or who's sold their soul to Jane Hamsher, you might actually make a difference here.

Folks, let's be less concerned about teaching lessons than learning them.

If Coakley loses, can Rahm Emanuel take over the seat? Can he break a filibuster? Can he get us the health care we deserve?

Let's get it done.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rachel Maddow, Obama "Most Accomplished First Year Of Any President In A Generation"

For anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly (all 12 of you), you know I've had my fair share of criticism of #44. But hey, credit where credit is due. Rachel Maddow has the down low. If you missed her on David Letterman, here's your chance to catch up. Watch it:

Friday, January 8, 2010

Note To Dems in 2010: Run As Democrats, And You'll Win

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), the freshman Congressman best known for his bombastic attacks against the Republican Party, had a very good fundraising quarter in the last three months of 2009, taking in $850,000.

The last three months have really been the period when Grayson's fame took off among the liberal blogosphere, and much of his money came from online. His fundraising immediately picked up after he declared that the Republican health care plan was for people who get sick to "die quickly," which happened just as the third quarter was about to end. He also heavily promoted a one-day "money-bomb" fundraiser in November, which brought in over a half-million dollars.

Grayson now reportedly has roughly $1 million cash on hand. Grayson's re-election is not assured, as he represents a swing seat that narrowly voted in 2008 for Grayson and Barack Obama after years of favoring Republicans.

Will other Democrats learn the right lesson from this? We'll see.

Cartoonist Get Death Threats Over "Learn To Speak Teabag" Cartoon

Mark Fiore gets a taste of the American Taliban's "Death Panels" after he ran this cartoon:

From his blog:

“Learn to Speak Tea Bag” ran on my usual client sites, including NPR, which really set off the guys over here, here (note Condi giving child flowers down by "donate" button), here, here and here. Before you could say, “due to a pre-existing condition, your health coverage has been denied,” there was a full-fledged viral campaign by right-wing media outlets and blogs to jump, scream and shout about this animation. Which, to me, is just great!
I say that not because I get some thrill out of receiving emails that are in all capital letters or have more exclamation points than letters in the alphabet, I say that because one of the most important functions of a political cartoon, or political animation, is to foster a discussion. With thousands of comments posted, loads of emails and tweets, discussion was definitely fostered, and then some. It’s the “then some” that worries me.

Of course discussion on the web is not known for its civility, but it finally dawned on me the strangeness of receiving death threats at the same time a crazed Somali extremist tried to kill cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Muslim extremist, meet Tea Party extremist. Tea Party extremist, meet Muslim extremist.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jeremy Bird - OFA Deputy Director - Respect, Empower, Include, "Unfriend" UPDATED!


So I'm at yoga class tonight when my cell phone rings. When I go to check who it was after the class was over, the call was listed as coming from 202-863-8000. No message was left. When I called the number, I got the after-hours switchboard for the DNC headquarters in Washington.

When I get home, I see an email message from Jeremy Bird, "Please call."

Evidently he tracked me down through one of the OFA CA staff. He's asked to re-friend me and said the un-friending was a "mix up" by a staffer. We had a brief, but friendly discussion, most of it off the record.

Let's say we agreed on some things, disagreed on others. He was respectful. He listened. Now, I don't see the conversation significantly changing my concerns about OFA, but I absolutely give him credit for reaching out to start a dialogue. And I believe I was able communicate to him that my criticism is meant to be constructive. And I'm cautiously optimistic this will open the door to more communication.

And yes, I'll re-friend him.


Micah Sifry at Tech President, picks up the story here.

During the Obama campaign in 2008, the one phrase you heard relentlessly was "respect, empower, include". It meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but at it's heart, it meant that every member of the campaign organization - from State Directors to phone bank volunteers - was a valued member of the team whose contribution mattered.

In 2010, Jeremy Bird, Organizing For America's Deputy Director, has added his own twist to this mantra - "Unfriend".

Mr. Bird is one of about 1,200 "friends" I have on Facebook. I actually have very few friend-friends on Facebook, but I do have a lot of political contacts, since I use it primarily for political organizing.

So when I saw that Mr Bird had posted a Huffington Post article defending OFA against recent criticisms, I took the opportunity to comment on his post. When I saw no replies - which is odd considering what a high profile he has on Facebook - I went back a couple of hours later to see what was up. I was surprised to find that not only had I been "unfriended" by Jeremy Bird, but that I could no longer even find his profile on the FaceBook search engine.

At this point you're probably asking yourself what the hell did I say that he felt the need to execute the FaceBook equivalent of "wishing me into the cornfield"?

Well, take a look below. And then tell me how responsive we can expect OFA to be to it's organizers if it's leadership is this thin-skinned.

For the record, I was a Regional Field Organizer for CA-36. I, and my co-RFO, ran many dozens of phone banks from August 2008 to election day. Cumulatively, we had around 1,500 volunteers who made over 500,000 phone calls to swing states all over the country. California made over 10 million phone calls over the course of the election.

OFA as an organization has been a profound disappointment, but the volunteers are not, and the contacts and relationships that came out of the campaign have been amazing. I continue to work with the activists I originally knew from the Obama campaign on marriage equality and on California budget issues. The video I created on the CA budget crisis was produced with the help, and starred, California Obama organizers.

Over the summer, I was able to organize my own phone banks targeting the constituents of CA Blue Dog Dems on health care reform, completely independent of OFA, with the help of former Obama organizers and new volunteers who didn't want to list build for OFA. We made over 10,000 phone calls to Costa and Cordoza's districts in central CA. Calls that OFA didn't even start making until the Fall. More recently, we were phone banking against the Stupak amendment. Again, with former Obama organizers.

The thing I find completely heartbreaking about is to watch such an opportunity squandered right before our eyes. I literally watched it happen. When I look back to how eager our vols were this time last year, those sea of faces in both Denver in 2008 and the Inauguration in January and know that whatever movement there was is gone, gone, gone. Rising from it's ashes, there's another one - smaller, more tentative. The bigger problem is there's no other large orgs like MoveOn or DFA really picking up on this and running with it. The smaller orgs like FDL PAC and PCCC are ad hoc and completely dependent on the whims of their founders. There's a lot of activity, but very little forward momentum. It's all triage and no planning. So yes, it's frustrating.

Nobody knows where to go from here. How do you constructively push an administration you helped elect that isn't always working for the agenda you want? And do it effectively with extremely limited resources?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

URGENT! Should Prop 8 Trial Be Televised?

From our friends at Courage Campaign:

This is extremely urgent and extremely important, and will only take a moment of your time.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker -- who will be overseeing a federal court challenge to Prop 8 starting this Monday (January 11) -- is considering whether or not to open the court room to TV cameras.

The court just announced that it is seeking public comment on the proposal to televise the trial -- and that all comments must be submitted to the court by a Friday deadline.

The interest in this case is unprecedented. And not surprisingly, supporters of Prop 8 -- who eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry -- do NOT want the trial to be televised.

Opponents of Prop 8 -- led by attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson -- are seeking to televise the case in the interests of full transparency. They want this historic trial to be watched by as many Americans as possible. And, of course, we agree.

We have just this one chance to make our voices heard -- thousands of Americans calling for equality, transparency and accountability. That's why we're teaming up with CREDO Action to collect as many signatures as possible asking Judge Walker to televise the case. We need your signature now:


Together, along with our friends at CREDO, we will hand-deliver your signatures to Judge Vaughn Walker on Friday before the deadline.

This case presents issues that are very important to the public, and will affect millions of people. However, if the case is not televised, only a tiny fraction will ever be able to watch the trial in person.

By televising the trial, the public will be able to see for themselves the arguments and evidence presented by both sides, and will therefore have more confidence in the outcome of the trial.

That's why we think the Prop 8 court case should be televised and we're collecting as many signatures as possible to submit to Judge Vaughn Walker. Click here to sign now and say "YES -- the Prop 8 trial should be televised." SIGNATURE DEADLINE: FRIDAY 9AM.:

If you know other people who believe the Prop 8 trial should be televised as well, please forward this message to them ASAP.

Thank you so much for making your voice heard at this critical time. We will update you as soon as further news develops.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign Institute