Heading out to searing Las Vegas for Netroots Nation and am hoping to provide updates of my adventures in this gathering of godless, communist, socialist, white-hating enemies of America. BTW, should I hit on 16?
Hope I don’t disappoint, so much going on I may have only fleeting moments to update this post but I promise to provide a complete report upon my return.
More soon (I hope)!
UPDATE: Friday, July 23 – 9:30pm
I’m blogging from a bowling alley in the Rio Hotel, bowling with a US Representitive Paul Hodes from the great state of New Hampshire. His very cool son was throwing some strikes and his dad unsurprisingly had a strong spin to the left.
Earlier today, I attended the California Caucus and there were many substantial folks there from such orgs as Courage Camaign, Credo, SEIU, etc., maybe 30-40 people there.
The main discussion was about which propositions on the Nov ballot in CA were the most crucial to invest time and energy on. The consensus was that they are
19 – Legalization of marijuana
23 – Defeating this prop paid for by TX oil men to increase greenhouse gas emissions back to 1990 levels (“to build jobs”…in what, the Space Ark construction industry?!)
25 – Reducing the 2/3 majority needed to pass a budget to a simple majority
26 – Defeating this prop put up by corps and the CA Chamber of Commerce, which would require a super majority of voters to approve any tax increase. Of all the props, this one would doom CA for good.
Out of all the dedicated and strong minded people there, the one who stood out most to me was the woman who explained that her husband, who had just died from cancer had after much suffering found some relief after trying medical marijuana. She expressed that getting out more personal stories like hers should be a strong tactic to make the case for undecided voters to support Prop 19. I agree, personalizing issues makes them so much easier to grasp.
So, Nancy Pelosi is having a Q&A tomorrow morning, should get at least one hour of sleep so I can get there early and hopefully ask a question.
UPDATE: Saturday, July 24, 10:03 am
Jan Schakowsky gave an intro speech this morning and already answered KQuark’s question, a Public Option bill has just been introduced in the House.
Her intro was followed by a video address to NN by Pres Obama who made the case again that his admin has made an amazing array of accomplishments and that the election is critical this year in not returning to the failed policies that put us in this terrible situation with the economy.
Pelosi explained that though she and others support the Dream Act and other immigration related bills, she feels that passing the more attractive elements of Immigration Reform independently would make comprehensive reform less likely so they really want a full package to pursue.
The Senate amendment to the Unemployment Ins extension stripped a huge array of jobs funding, including summer jobs for youth. Family values GOP? Really? And BTW, this bill was passed by the house 6 MONTHS AGO!
Talking about passing fair elections, anti-Corp election financing legislation, Pelosi again stressed Politicians do need citizens to make them do what they may even support, it really does matter and make a huge impact when people contact their reps, it really does make things happen!
UPDATE: Saturday, July 24, 11:02 am
Citizens United Panel – The panelists:
Marge Baker – Executive Vice President for Policy and Program at People For the American Way
Rep. Donna F. Edwards
Lisa Graves – Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy
Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen
Representative Alan Grayson
Weissman explained that The Chamber of Commerce represents now a third political party, one aligned with the GOP but a Corporate Party.
Public Citizen’s Pledge For Democracy is pursuing Congresspeople to sign a pledge to vote for a constitutional amendment to overturn CU.
Rep. Edwards spoke inspirationally, she is spearheading the legislation in the House for a Constitutional amendment and has a couple dozen co-sponsors already but here too, asks people to contact their reps to join on.
Rep. Grayson was as entertaining and on target as ever. He expressed an optimism that democracy is resilient enough to overcome the corporate takeover of our democracy but it requires a lot of activism on our part, in concert with their efforts.
He suggested that in order to get the reality of what CU means, he might need to videotape a Corp lobbyist saying, “Vote our way and we’ll spend millions for you or else we’ll spend it to defeat you.”
Graves was passionate and committed to getting Progressives to accept the legitimacy of being able to pass a Constitutional Amendment. She asked, “How hard do you think it was to imagine and pass a Constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote?” The RW has been pushing a Right to Life amendment for 30 years and though it hasn’t passed, it powered legislation and worked as an organizing tool for them and this issue. We need to pursue a Constitutional Amendment.
Rep. Edwards recounted how she and others in her local community each bought five shares of a Corp, went to a shareholder’s meeting and disrupted the status up which caused that Corp to rethink and change policies.
I asked a question of the panel about working on a state by state, initiative process to attack corporate power and influence, Weissman responded affirmatively, particularly identifying public financing of elections.
UPDATE: Saturday, July 24, 12:27 pm
Panel: Building a Progressive Economic Vision
Elizabeth Warren spoke first and was greeted like the rockstar she is. She spoke of her grandmother coming to OK and living modestly until wiped out in the 1900’s but ended her life with her own home and financial security thanks to the financial reforms under FDR.
She made a rallying speech about the importance of protecting the middle class and how the consumer office created through the financial reform bill, though it can’t solve everything, can make a huge contribution to bringing back that kind of security and fairness that the middle class needs in our economy.
She said there are four things this office should do:
1. It must stand for families, making sure loans and credit cards are priced fairly, easy to understand and when the powerful can decide who will be helped or hurt, there needs to be someone at the table to ask, How will it affect American Families?
2. The financial system has to be realisticaly based with workable, viable system, for example, policies that destroy community banks.
3. The bureau has to be able to grow and change because the rules after the Great Depression worked well but ultimately failed because they didn’t change.
4. This will be the first major agency built in the digital age. It can communicate in both directions with millions of Americans the agency’s research function can have this built in to how they deal with regulations.
Three things she’s asking of us. Use our voices for economic security for middle class. Use and discuss ideas. Use your conscience.
Wrapping, we can use the tools of the Consumer Department but it will be tough.
Union leader Richard Trumka spoke powerfully about the fight for economic equality for the American People. He made many salient points and provided a slide show, the most remarkable graph showed very clearly that the biggest components of our deficit come from the Bush tax cuts and his wars. The stimulus is a tiny, tiny fraction and yet all we hear from Repubs is about the fractions that contribute. AND they want to keep the Bush tax cuts as permanent..which would make the deficit impossible to reverse.
UPDATE: Saturday, July 24, 3:25 pm
Sen. Harry Reid Q & A
He began by saying the consolidation of the media and corps especially growing since Reagan, started tipping the balance of power hugely towards them and away from us.
“I’m told that at times I get on your nerves. And there are also times when you get on my nerves,” he said jokingly as he praised the blogging and Internet community for helping to spread and expose the truth.
Lt. Dan Choi, in attendance and just discharged due to DADT, just gave Reid his West Point graduation ring. Reid first tried to give it back but the audience pressed him to keep it until the repeal of DADT is done.
Reid addressed a question many have asked (including me) about reforming the filibuster rule. He said they’ve got to change it but all that he’s done is have a study done on it and continue working on what they might be able to do…I was not alone at not being too pleased with that response. He can change the rules of the Senate by simple majority at the beginning of a session but it would enrage Repubs and no doubt inspire legal action from them. But so what? The SCOTUS can’t dictate Senate rules, the filibuster is not mentioned in the Constitution.
Reid wrapped by offering remembrances of Teddy and Sen. Byrd.
Two hours until the closing event for Netroots starring Al Franken. I guess he really is special!
UPDATE: Saturday, July 24, 6:59 pm
A group (writing this a half hour later, forgot the group’s name but will add shortly) presented a video of testimonials and first hand stories about how the MSM is ignoring the poisoning an illness being spread in the Gulf by the dispersant with which BP has flooded the gulf.
Chuck Rocha, a union leader who led the movement to unseat Blanche Lincoln, displayed the kind of fire in the belly and smarts that Dems can only applaud.
Tarryl Clark, the Dem opposing Michelle Bachman appeared after introed by an amusing Rocky type video. She was greeted very warmly and has a strong shot at taking Bachman down. If you want a big Dem victory story in Nov, helping Tarryl defeat Bachman is a very viable effort to invest in.
Linda Chavez-Thompson, a labor leader running for Lt. Gov in TX, covered many meaningful issues and knocked it out of the park, great sense of humor and incisive, showed what great folks and candidates there are in TX. She closed by saying, “I believe we can turn Texas.”
Al Franken took the stage as the Progressive star he is. He recounted how the netroots transformed politics especially through the last five years…helping to elect many Progressives…including him.
He described how the Repubs are as driven and motivated as Progressives were just about a year and a half ago when we were fighting against a permanent GOP majority.
Franken also said the GOP is trying to spin the success of Dems as a fluke. “I know that people are frustrated. I’m not satisfied with where we are.” He explained that there are more Progressive Senators than before but not enough to pass the agenda we want. “But you can’t check out now.”
He said that while Dems are grumbling about what hasn’t been done, Repubs are planning on killing what has been accomplished.
Franken warned about corporations, how easy it is for them to be evil of they want to. “And your rights are being taken away, one 5-4 Supreme Court decision at a time.”
Net neutrality is the biggest 1st Amendment issue of our times, he said. By monopolizing usage of the Internet, the flow of information and netroots strength could be controlled by corps in a way unimagined now.
Corporate domination of the Internet could mean there may not be new YouTubes or Twitters unless they give ownership to the corps owning the means of distribution…that is, the Internet.
“if we don’t rise to this challenge, no one else will.”
“We have to fight back..but we also have to take credit for our progress.”
Netroots Nation 2011 will take place in MInneapolis, MN.
Thanks so much to my fellow Planeteers for all of your interest and comments. I have been reading all your comments, I will have replies and more to add when I return!