A great blog and some idle musing for the thought leaders among us

I met and talked with Chris Savage, the owner of Eclectablog, at Netroots. I read Eclectablog for Michigan politics but the site does national issues, too. Full disclosure – I also have donated to the site, will donate again, and have emailed them on public school issues. I set up the meeting with Chris, so this wasn’t a chance encounter.

I love state-specific blogs because I firmly believe Democrats and liberals don’t spend enough time and energy on state law and policy, and Eclectablog is a great one.

Eclectablog is ten years old this year. Chris started with a different blog, but he “revealed too much personal stuff” on that initial outing, had some blow-back regarding the work he does for a living so shut down the first and started a second, presumably older and wiser. He doesn’t consider himself a journalist although he has done some original reporting on the site, MSNBC has picked up his work, and he pays his writers.

On that subject, I know we do a lot of media criticism on this site, but the truth is I love newspapers. I pay for three (national, state and local). I think journalism is good, important, difficult work and believe journalists should be paid for doing that work. I get a little uncomfortable with the media criticism too, because I think it can veer into Palinesque “lamestream media” sloganeering and I don’t think that’s fair or accurate. Most working journalists don’t make anywhere near what the tippy-top celebrity tier make, and that is also true of doctors and lawyers and novelists and musicians and many other kinds of workers.

Chris and I also talked about the Michigan governor’s race (after my detour into blogospheric navel gazing and the nature of work.) Chris says Governor Snyder can be defeated but voters in Michigan are going to have to decide if “running government like a business” is working out for them. The polling seems to show the race is pretty much tied up. Winning in Michigan (and Ohio and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Florida) would do a lot towards repairing some of the damage the 2010 Tea Party wave did at the state level. Governor Snyder isn’t a Tea Partier, but either is Governor Kasich and in many ways the corporate wing of the GOP are doing much more lasting damage at the state level than the Tea Party could ever do.

PPP’s newest Michigan poll finds a tied race for governor this fall between incumbent Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Mark Schauer, along with a close race for the open Senate seat between Republican Terri Lynn Land and Democrat Gary Peters.
In the Governor’s race, Snyder and Schauer are tied at 40% apiece despite Snyder’s highly negative job performance rating. 37% of Michigan voters approve of Snyder’s performance while 54% disapprove. However, while voters have a negative opinion of the incumbent, they tend to have no opinion at all on Schauer. Among those that do, Schauer has a slightly positive rating with 27% favorable and 24% unfavorable. 49% of voters have no opinion either way. Schauer actually leads Snyder within every age group except older than 65, where Snyder leads with 49% to Schauer’s 38%.

Expand and loot

Good news (via Politico) for Pennsylvania:

Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is planning a Monday press conference to throw his support behind a version of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, industry and legislative sources tell POLITICO.

Corbett’s eyeing versions of expansion that rely on private-sector health plans rather than adding to the public Medicaid rolls, similar to approaches being considered in Iowa and Arkansas, according to the sources. The approach would bring in billions of Obamacare dollars marked for states that back expansion and use them to buy private insurance for the state’s poorest residents.

Medicaid expansion is a good thing for the working poor in Pennsylvania.  The Oregon study strongly indicated that Medicaid significantly improves health and quality of life for its recipients.  Pennsylvania is one of the last Obama voting states that had been holding out  and it is a large hold-out.

The bad news on this probable announcment is that the expansion is being done in a cockamanie manner designed to prove that government can’t work.  Simply expanding state Medicaid elibigibility rules would be faster and cheaper (as Medicaid pays a low reimbursement rate) than sending people to exchanges for products that have yet to be designed.  Two steps forwards, one step back and then a piroutte towards social justice…..

Always a pleasure to see their brilliant tactics end up… maybe not so brilliant

A dilemma arises:

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday continued his critical talk of his successor, wondering how current RNC chair Reince Priebus can mesh the organization’s much-ballyhooed minority outreach with the GOP’s push for tougher voter registration laws widely viewed as discriminatory.
“How does Reince Priebus reconcile his approach and his agreement with voter registration policies that many in the black community view as anti-black, racist, whatever the term happens to be,” Steele said. “You’ve got to reconcile how people feel about your policies, not just the fact that you’re going to show up. You can show up any time. It’s what you say and what you do when you get there that matters most to people.”

I’m always gratified when a short-term conservative political and procedural tactic to win elections comes back and bites them in the ass, longer term, and threatens their ability to win elections. As I’ve said here before, I agree with Michael Steele. They have a problem with their position on voting.

I don’t think Republicans are actually reaching out to minority voters, so I disagree with Steele there. I think Republicans want to appear less bigoted and backward so they appeal to a larger, younger group of more tolerant white voters. But there is a real, practical and political problem with that. They’ve sold these voter ID laws so successfully the last 10 years that now the GOP base completely buy that voter fraud is a huge problem. They have an additional political problem along with their voting laws at the state level, and that’s the court cases brought by libertarians joining with conservatives. The Voting Rights Act is the most high profile case but there’s another case on the voting laws that target Latino voters.

Decisions in the Supreme Court won’t immediately become part of the discussion at the ground level, but these are important cases for voting rights advocates as a practical matter and those advocates will bring those decisions down to ground level. They’ll be doing that in the midst of the GOP minority outreach campaign.

The political and media side of the conservative movement set this voter fraud lie in motion, then they wrote it into law. I’m pleased it’s now headed back to the political side, no longer an effective rhetorical and political and procedural tactic, but a potential liability. Full circle.


Commenter Bella Q took a field trip to testify in favor of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion, and she was kind enough to send me an account. Here’s part of what she wrote and agreed to share with us:

The interesting highlights include the testimony of government affairs personnel of assorted chambers of commerce, in support of Medicaid expansion. Strange bedfellows indeed, though the straightforward argument is that it will cost businesses more by way of increased premiums if Medicaid expansion is not adopted. The most remarkable, slightly surreal, moment of those presentations is not in the public record as it occurred in response to a question. The government affairs VP of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce stated that employers don’t know what their employees make. I verified with my nearby colleague that I’d heard correctly. The audience in our section looked at one another, puzzled, as none of us could quite believe he’d made that statement. It was quickly stepped on by a tangential question from another committee member, which appeared to be asked in genuine discussion rather than by design.

An additional interlude of note was the appearance by an Ohio Liberty Coalition board member. Her appearance itself was remarkable for her attire: a slightly short and very tight knit skirt and pumps with what appeared to be 5” heels. The blouse was white and nondescript, but she wore no jacket. Her glasses were stylish and rectangular. My colleague and I both noticed the apparent reference to a heroine of liberty for regular Muricans everywhere; even the voice was reminiscent. Her presentation concluded unsurprisingly, and I excerpted this from the public record:

“We were all very happy when Governor Kasich decided not to involve Ohio in implementing federally mandated Healthcare Exchanges because that would have committed our state’s resources to expanding federal power over healthcare in Ohio. Little did we know, a few months later that he would choose to pledge Ohio to a federally dictated expansion of Medicaid by agreeing to go along with the false promises of federal funding for it. I say false because our country is 16.4T in debt and counting. Whether you realize it or not, we have already gone over the fiscal cliff and now it’s a matter of how hard or softly we hit the bottom. By expanding Medicaid, I imagine we’re going to hit very hard.
I’m asking all true statesmen that we have in Ohio who are willing to stand up for our state, our country, all the elderly and handicapped through no fault of their own, that depend on Medicaid, and voters who helped vote all of you into office. I’m asking you to stand strong with the other states that are refusing to accept the expansion of Medicaid. Help us rid ourselves of this Obamanation in healthcare. With the expansion proposed by our Governor, the people of the state of Ohio will be burdened with heavy taxes and crushing debt, and Ohio’s truly needy children and disabled citizens will be trapped in a medically failing and bankrupt Medicaid system. Please vote no on the expansion of Medicaid. There has to be a better way of tackling the issue on healthcare than this. Thank you.”

My impression from observing the subcommittee is that there are representatives who are open to passing Medicaid expansion, as well as some who will not be persuaded. But the swing votes must hear from constituents in favor of Medicaid expansion, as they are hearing early and often from its opponents.

Here is some polling from redstate on how the Tea Party (re-branded GOP base) feel about their elected representatives, because feelings are important. I’m not sure the poll reflects the redstate write-up but none of that matters to conservatives anyway. They could have saved some money, invented numbers, and used those:

The Ohio Liberty Coalition (OLC), whose membership includes many of the state’s tea party and liberty-minded groups, has warned Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly that voting for the PPACA Medicaid expansion may invite a primary challenge. The Hill poll found a distinct partisan divide on the question of Medicaid expansion, with results suggesting Republican primary voters strongly agree with OLC.

A majority – 60 percent – replied that they would like to “give new people a chance” when asked, “Have your legislators, your members of the Ohio state House and Senate, performed their jobs well enough to deserve reelection, or do you think it’s time to give some new people the chance to do better?”
Asked the same question about Governor Kasich, 52 percent indicated they would prefer to “give a new person a chance.”

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas…

I went to the OFA organizing meeting in DC today. We’re staying in Baltimore and the original plan was to just roam around among the crowd in DC for the inauguration tomorrow, but then we got tickets for the swearing-in and a ball and that all led to the OFA meeting.

Here are some pictures:

final ofa 2

final ofa

My usual impression at these Democratic political gatherings is that the people from southern states are the most enthusiastic and that was true in this room, too. The North Carolina contingent was really celebrating.

Here’s the official description of the preliminary plan. I edited this some:

I’m Jon Carson, the new executive director of Organizing for Action…

And the way we’ll get it done can be summed up in one word: local….
That means each city or region will have its own OFA chapter, and you’ll decide the issues your community cares about most, the work you want to do to make progress on them, and the kind of support you’ll need to get it done…
At a neighborhood and regional level, OFA members will grow their local chapters, bringing in new leaders and helping train a new generation of volunteers and organizers to help fight for the issues at stake.
There’ll be times when we pull together at the national level to get President Obama’s back on passing major legislation, like reducing gun violence or immigration reform. And we’ll all work to help transform Washington from the outside while strengthening our economy and creating jobs.
But for the most part, the direction our work takes will be completely in your hands — with the support of this organization behind you every step of the way….

If I had to give you the one word I heard most often from the people on the stage as far as administration policy priorities the word would be “immigration.” So Rick Santorum is wrong, again.

I don’t know what I think about the OFA organizing plan yet. It takes me a while to figure these things out, so I’ll just leave you with what Messina told the group this morning:

“We played too much of an inside game in 2009 and 2010 and got away from what we’re good at.”