Archive for the ‘blog entries’ Category

clinton working california

November 1, 2007

It’s been a while since I entered something on this site, largely because I’ve started another blog that’s more about my profession. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time there. It’s about local economic development in California’s Central Valley. As part of that blog, first thing in the morning every day I browse over 30 newspapers in California’s Central Valley, from Elk Grove in Sacramento County in the north to Bakersfield in Kern County 265 miles to the south.

One thing I’ve been struck by is Hillary Clinton’s presence in the Central Valley — and the absolute lack of presence by Edwards, Obama, Richardson, etc. Whether it’s Bakersfield, Modesto, Fresno, or even tiny Selma, Team Hillary has been working the ropes like no one else.

Clinton’s doing well in statewide polls because, of course, name recognition; but also because she and her camp are working hard. Not just in LA or the San Francisco Bay Area, but the great Central Valley of California as well.

Now, to Edwards, Richardson, Obama etc, this might not matter because maybe they are thinking, “Let’s get over New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina and then make a mad dash for California in late January.” If so, I think they are dreadfully miscalculating.

While election day in California is the first Tuesday in February, many Californians will have already voted absentee via mail since you can send in your ballot twenty-nine days before election day.

“So what?,” you think. “That’s old news,” you say.

Ah . . but here’s the kicker. In my experience in analyzing polls using that rudimentary “standard deviation” approach I’ve written about before, I’ve noticed that you can predict the winner three weeks before election day. What this tells me is that enough minds will be made up in California not three weeks prior to February 5 but up to three weeks prior to January 7 — sometime in mid-December.

And . . . in order to convince voters, each candidate will have had to really work the phone banks and the crowds into an election frenzy weeks, if not months, before mid-December. Yes, Edwards and Obama are coming to the Bay Area or LA for this or that chit-chat meet-ups — but they are not really taking it to the people as if election day is tomorrow.

Only Hillary is doing that, in California’s Central Valley at least.


“youtube good for democracy” – edwards

March 14, 2007

dem’s and health care : a youtube virtual debate

March 12, 2007

Democratic presidential candidates are seeking to connect with middle class families squeezed by rising medical costs with promises of universal health care. Health care consumes over 15 percent of Gross Domestic Product, and as costs continue to soar, businesses that provide coverage are requiring workers to share a greater burden of health care costs, if not eliminating it altogether.

At 45 million Americans, 16 percent of the nation is uninsured, and, of these, many are employed by small businesses unable to provide coverage. An important challenge in reforming the health care system is doing so in a fiscally sound manner that does not sacrifice quality, and in varying degrees, the Democratic hopefuls below offer plans to relieve the middle class from the burdens of rising cost of health care.

This blog will post and summarize candidates’ videos (particularly ones in which candidates are speaking extemporaneously) on healthcare and other issues as they become available. For a TV newscast that discusses Joe Biden’s healthcare approach, along with other issues, click here.


Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich spars with George Stephanopolous who, at a Nevada forum, framed the universal health care debate as “raising more taxes on the American people.” Kucinich came out of his corner fighting, calling Stephanopolous’ equation “one of the biggest frauds that’s been put on the American people.”

If elected, the Ohio candidate would pay for universal health care by reducing health care administrative costs, resulting in a savings that according to Kucinich could finance universal care. The Congressman touts a plan that eliminates for-profit health insurance industry altogether, a line that received strong audience applause.

Dennis Kucinich (03:39)

Hillary Clinton
In front of a large Iowa gathering, Hillary Clinton re-affirmed her commitment to universal health care. Indirectly, the Senator underscored the point that while other candidates can speak eloquently about this or that aspect of policy, she led previous efforts; she has been in the trenches and understands that reforming what amounts to 15 percent of the national economy requires intellectual depth, political acumen, and a inner resolve laced with a dose of outward humility. Such is the meaning of Clinton’s comment, “I remember all too well back in 1993 and 1994. . . and I understand how hard it is.”

Hillary Clinton: (03:04)

In her talk, the New York Senator exhibits a Bill Clinton-like ability to articulate policy minutiae in clear easy-to-follow terms. According to Clinton, many insurers are “penny-wise” and “pound foolish” by refusing to cover preventive medicine for treatable diseases such as diabetes, which alone represents 20 percent of Medicaid spending. Instead, insurers provide coverage on an after-the-fact basis, which is more expensive than preventive care. Yet, insurers remain whole as they simply transfer cost increases to consumers in the form of high deductibles, co-pays and premiums, suggests Clinton.

John Edwards
John Edwards outlines key elements to his detailed plan in a talk to Iowa residents. If elected, he will require employers to cover workers, or pay into a fund. There will be government-operated “health care markets” throughout the country in which consumers will have choices in a system the overall costs of which are lowered as a result of better use of technology and lower administrative costs. These “health care markets” will compete with private insurers. He draws inspiration and a sense of urgency from the experience of his wife, who recently survived breast cancer. “What would it be like for the millions of women who’ve gone through what Elizabeth did . . what if you had no health care coverage?”

John Edwards (04:09)

Barak Obama
In a rally in Southern California, Illinois Senator Barak Obama takes a populist aspect in discussing the underlying causes to the crisis in health care, seeking to light a fire under the feet of his followers. Like Clinton, Obama speaks about diabetes and how the system favors more expensive after-the-fact procedures over less-expensive preventive solutions. “We know in terms of diabetics, if we got a case worker and paid him $150 to make sure they got [early] treatment, we wouldn’t have to spend that $30,000 on an amputation.”

Barak Obama (02:32)

ouch . . . .

March 7, 2007

I hope Hillary’s team keeps their wit and don’t lose their cool over this or any other video anonymously posted on Youtube. Likewise for the other candidates who, sooner or later, will get their Youtube moment. . . . Yes, the advertisement is a clever take on my generation’s big TV ad, and, taken at face value, it is humorous in a sly way. And, yes, I did notice the emblem on the shirt.

What troubles me about this is the ease with which we can dehumanize someone and, in so doing, replace thoughtful discourse with images that appeal to our base instincts. Nothing new about that, you might say. After all, Republicans cornered this market. But we’re not them, and we don’t want to be like them. All candidates should make an impassioned statement against the kind of politics this video represents and for a kind of politics that elevates through enlightened discourse in which ideas and policies are debated in an atmosphere of tolerance, respect and fair play.

Our Party’s mantra going forward should be to agree or disagree without being disagreeable, because, come November 2008 after all the primaries and caucuses are done, we’re going to need each other.

Postscript: A number of people have posted the above video on Youtube but, judging by the number of viewers of “Parkridge47’s” version of the file, I’m guessing this person might have originally posted the video. I read several books about Hillary (“Rebels with White Gloves” is a great book), so “Park Ridge” sounded vaguely familiar. A quick Google search confirmed my hunch; Park Ridge is Hillary’s Illinois hometown. I’m guessing she was born in 1947. I wonder if Parkridge47 is officially affiliated with any campaign.

edwards swings and misses

March 6, 2007

Presidential candidate John Edwards missed a chance to deliver a stinging rebuke of right-wing conservative commentator Anne Coulter and, by extention, the Republican Party. Instead, he offered what came across as a tepid response to an epithet hurled by Coulter. In a press conference in Berkeley, California, Edwards said, “I think it’s important that we not reward . . . . umh . . . . hateful . . . . uhh . . . . selfish . . . . childish behavior.” Edwards looked and sounded tired.

While the tepid response in no way injures his candidacy, nonetheless, under the glare of a number of TV news cameras, Edwards displayed little “pep” in defending himself and, as bad, missed an opportunity to “frame” this incident in a way that moves uncommitted Democrats toward his camp. Edwards also missed a chance to steal the spotlight from Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, whose dueling Civil Rights commemorations that same day in Selma, Alabama was closely followed by the national media. Coulda-shoulda-woulda! . . . There’s always next time.

(For perceptive analyses of Coulter’s comments, see write-ups in Daily Kos and In addition, Robert Scheer’s weekly syndicated column in the SF Chronicle touches on how this helps Edwards.)

let us now praise . . . bush

February 26, 2007

Let us now praise George Bush. . . . H.W., that is.

Yes, Bush 41 is a Republican. And, it is difficult to forget the Willie Horton attack ads. But time heals all wounds, and, as for campaign ’88, as Truman said, “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

But I think all Americans should take a moment to reflect on the contributions of George H.W. Bush. He is\was moderate in temperament and politics, and that even-keel served the US and world well.

On the economy and US’ fiscal outlook, Bush looked at the facts and concluded that he needed to raise taxes, despite his famous “read my lips” pledge. National interest super-ceded personal ambition and political ideology. He also introduced “pay-go” to control the run-away federal budget, a policy that Democrats recently re-introduced to reign in out of control Republicans in Congress and the White House.

On global matters, Bush rallied a true coalition of nations to thwart Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Having defeated Hussein and established supremacy over Iraq, Bush reflected on the pros and cons of overthrowing Saddam Hussein altogether, and acted accordingly. Allowing Hussein to remain in power was not optimal, but, as a realist, Bush early on grasped that with Hussein or any central authority gone, an Iraq divided along sectarian and other lines and at war with itself was not in our vital interest, particularly with respect to how this would increase Iran’s influence over Iraq and the Middle-East generally.

In what is perhaps his most overlooked contribution, in a show of even-tempered resolve in the face of change in Hungary first, then East Germany, and eventually Russia, Bush did not over-play his hand politically or rhetorically and thus force the Soviet Union into a corner from which the only way out was with all pistols blasting. Historians and politicians will credit Ronald Reagan (and Jackson Democrats!) for accelerating the decline of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, but George H.W. Bush should be remembered as the manager of that transition, particularly during the pivotal years between 1990-1992.

One matter that Bush handled poorly was the Tianneman Square massacre. For my generation, I think what happened there was a signature moment in which forces for change clashed with forces of inertia, and that our side was far too silent as events unfolded in Tianneman.

Then and now, I did not see how realpolitik considerations could explain our silence; speaking out would not have stopped or significantly slowed economic reforms underway since the late 1970s. China’s leaders saw what was wrong with the Soviet Union and were determined not to go that route. Hence the inevitability of economic reforms there.

Even if they haven’t yet, sooner or later China will need to adopt social reforms that give rise to a free and independent civil society — otherwise economic growth withers on the vine. And so at a pivotal moment, George H.W. Bush missed an opportunity to plant, if only in a subtle manner, the idea of United States as an ally of democracy and freedom in China. To her credit, when Hillary Clinton visited Beijing in 1995 to attend the World Conference on Women, she talked about justice and equality for women – a kind-of-subtle jab at the PRC for its lack of justice and equality in general.

On balance, our nation and the world around us is a better place because of George H.W. Bush’s stewardship through pivotal moments in world history. But much of that leadership, key parts of which were carried forward by Bill Clinton, has been undone in very recent years. I read somewhere that Bush has decided to not write a memoir of his Presidency. (Yes, yes, I know: Bush released letters and other materials in his book called “All the Best.” But that’s not the same as a detailed, thought-provoking memoir). I hope he changes his mind, as Democrats and Republicans alike have much to learn from his successes and mistakes as he led this nation through pivotal moments in US and world history.

nice article on tauscher

February 21, 2007

There’s a nice article on Ellen Tauscher in today’s Washington Post. She sounds pretty reasonable, and frankly, “Working for Us” also comes across as restrained and judicious, i.e. not out to chop the heads of all moderate democrats. It’s a good start.

“third way’s” new report explodes myths

February 13, 2007

Third Way, a Washington, D.C.-based strategy center that seeks to reframe a variety of issues of concern to Democrats, recently issued “New Rules Economy: A Policy Framework for the 21st Century.” The report debunks a myriad of conventional wisdoms regarding America’s middle class, citing hard data showing that the “glass is half full” and not “half empty” as many doom-and-gloom Democrats like to say.

With this report, Third Way begins to reframe the relationship between the Democratic Party, middle class and the larger economy in which we all live, moving policy away from simple-minded notions where all corporations are bad, and markets and free trade are evil.

The report begins by showing rising middle class incomes, particularly for prime-working age households (25 to 59 years). In doing so, Third Way removes one important card on which neo-populist’s political house of cards is stacked: middle class stagnation. Their opposition to NAFTA and other free trade accords, Wal-Mart, and lower corporate taxes is, at its core, based on perceived causal relationships between all that and a world in which “the poor are getting poorer” and the “middle class is stagnating and swimming in debt.”

But what if you demonstrate that the middle class is not stagnating, as Third Way does? What if you show a relationship between middle class jobs and globalization? What if you show that the bulk of the debt middle class are swimming in is mortage debt, which, as Third Way writes, is not a “negative event”?

Thus, Third Way shows that the world in which the middle class lives and thrives is more complex than caricatures painted by neo-populists. Coming right as the new presidential election season is getting underway, hopefully this report will spark conversations and policy-making that is as robust as the reality in which we all live.

by the way…

February 9, 2007

By the way, you can contribute on-line to Tauscher’s campaign by going here. I made a small contribution there and hope you do too.

here come the borgs

February 3, 2007

President John F. Kennedy once said, “If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.” This quote bears repeating in light of the formation of a new political action committee whose goal is to eradicate differences of opinion within the Democratic Party. Washington D.C.-based “Working For Us” will train the full muscle and might of its coalition of labor and liberals on moderate Democrats, to compel uninformity with respect to “economic issues such as wages, health care and overseas job losses.” It seems to me that the best way to deal with the issues of our day is to hear all sides of a debate in a frank and respectful discussion the outcome of which involves some kind of comprise between liberal and moderate positions. But “Working for Us” seeks to bully moderate Democrats into silence and submission. So, we have a choice: we can remain silent and let “Working for Us” run amok. Or, we can get behind people like Ellen Tauscher not necessarily out of love for her but, given the bullying by “Working for Us”, because it’s the right thing to do.

Ellen Tauscher for Congress
P.O. Box 1285
Alamo, CA 94507
FEC ID# C00310706

Website: Working for Us