Woah! Tom McClintock on hate radio!

According to the CARepublic.com website and an email announcement this morning, conservative State Senator Tom McClintock appeared on a Disney-owned talk radio station with a ten year history of hate speech, racist fearmongering and authoritarian and eliminationist rhetoric this morning. This is the station that has prompted this letter from Media Matters to Disney executives, with examples of some of the on-air violence and death threats that are typically employed.
The questions that arise from this are troubling. Does Senator McClintock support and endorse these points of view? Do we really want to live in a state where death threats can be broadcast to millions of people so that they become just another part of the background noise?
The standard conservative dodge is that “we were just joking.” But is any of this remotely funny? When did it become ok to say things like this and have there be no consequences?

Crackling with new energy

Last Thursday night, Bay Area for Barack kicked off their grassroots push for the Senator’s 2008 campaign, organized through the campaign’s Meetup-on-steroids social networking tool. For those who were around to experience the Dean grassroots energy of 2003, the feel to this meeting was familiar to the grassroots push then – but with three particularly interesting new developments:

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In Sunday’s SF Chron, clever seeming anti-urbanist critic Joel Kotkin tells an increasingly familiar story about the tarnished reputation of the Golden State:

Our magnificent state may still be the home to Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the nation’s largest port complex and the world’s richest agricultural valleys, but by many critical measurements the state is slipping.

What are the problems, and how can we move forward through them? Is Mr Kotkin or anyone else in the state proposing serious solutions?

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Obama and narrative

[Cross-posted at dailykos.]
Barack Obama’s announcement speech was terrific. It had some genuinely spine-tingling moments; moments we haven’t had in far too long, like where he stands tall against right wing scapegoating of immigrants and gay people. But about two thirds of the way through, he gets into the “Let us” section. There are 20 uses of the construction “let us…” packed into the next six paragraphs. This was the weakest part of the speech. It felt like an ordinary laundry list, like he stepped out of telling an otherwise compelling story for those few paragraphs.
Education, health care, support for unions, ending of poverty, energy independence – these are all great goals, these are my goals as a progressive. So why did this part feel so flat?

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Engaging the Powers, Part I: Five Worldviews

[Cross-posted over at Street Prophets]
In his recent widely-discussed Call to Renewal speech, Senator Barack Obama dropped a throwaway reference to “powers and principalities”…

I believed and still believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change, a power made real by some of the leaders here today. Because of its past, the black church understands in an intimate way the Biblical call to feed the hungry and cloth the naked and challenge powers and principalities.

This phrase may be unfamiliar, but it was deeply resonant for me because of a book that had a huge impact on both my own personal spirituality and my understanding of this historic-political moment, Walter Wink’s 1992 Engaging the Powers. This is one of those books that you come across that just seems like it needs to be out there more. I’ve recommended it countless times, even bought copies of it for folks, but it is a heavy, serious read, grand in scope and meticulous in its details. There are 77 pages of footnotes and 9 single-spaced, 3 columned pages of biblical citations alone.
Because of this – and because I believe this book offers a progressive historical narrative that our movement is starving for…

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Effectiveness, evolution and vision

Bob Salladay responds to my earlier post:

I happily come from a leftist-hippy family (see photo of my wood-fired hot tub – it’s semi-liberal), so I know from where progressives are speaking. But I am struck by how progressives feel the California Democratic Party establishment doesn’t represent their views.

Getting our sallow on at the AD13
meeting. Click the pic for more.

He then goes through a perfectly reasonable laundry list of things that California Democrats have accomplished or taken great strides towards: LGBTQ marriage equality, global warming standards, minimum wage increases, and health care. These are are all great and it’s true, seeing them in one place makes me proud to live here. But ideology, especially in the most basic “laundry list” sense, isn’t our beef with the state party and it never has been, as he notes:

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Sallow Depressives on the march

Bob Salladay gets charming with the party activists yesterday:

For both parties, the honor of delegate status normally attracts sallow depressives who enjoy debating meaningless bylaws more than, say, interacting with human beings. In politically manic places such as San Francisco, people actually campaign and spend money to get the awful job.

Mr Salladay writes here as a spectator. It’s fine to poke fun and god knows a lot of bloggers (including me, I’m sure) need it, but it’s important to get the story right, too. And in this case, Mr Salladay (uncharacteristically) misses it. The degree of new energy being aimed at the party in this state over the past few weeks is unprecedented, even while it’s a clear and linear continuation of processes that have been happening for at least four years now…

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The gleam in the Governor’s eye

During the debate with Phil Angelides, one of the Governor’s “hey look, I’m a movie star, I can say whatever I want up here” lines was accusing Mr Angelides of getting a “gleam in his eye” when he talked about taxes.
What gives the Governor the gleam, though, is the spending. On some level this is great: pro-civilization Republicans are unfortunately few and far between. But at some point, the Governor has to square his love of spending with some thinking about who is going to pay for all this stuff. He simply can not keep putting everything on the credit card. If you missed the State of the State address last night, the Gov has an incredibly fancy website up where you can go for the details.
There is broad agreement across left and right on this. The FlashReport’s Jon Fleischman agrees

I opposed the Infrastructure Bonds on last November’s ballot because I felt that with a state budget of well over $100 billion, the Governor and legislators should be making a large, very real annual contribution towards infrastructure in current dollars (and not just by committing a fraction of the budget towards bond repayment).

Speak Out California did not oppose the bonds because it’s blindingly obvious that the future prosperity of our state requires them. Ditto for what the Governor calls his “Strategic Research and Innovation Initiative” – investing in the future of this state is the definition of a wise investment. But we made the case then and continue to believe that this spending must be coupled with a realistic assessment of the state’s revenue picture. We still have a structural deficit (which could get much worse over the next few years as the housing slowdown kicks in) and we still have a essentially a flat to slightly regressive tax distribution. Until those problems are fixed, the legislature should act to keep the Governor away from the credit cards.
Also, the Governor went zero for two on our health care principles. More on that soon.

The impending Schwarzenegger health care disaster

The big news this week is going to be the release of the Governor’s health care plan. Ordinarily, giving the Governor a shot and seeing what he comes up with would be the right thing to do, but you read it here first: this is going to be an unmitigated disaster.
This is a complex topic, but from my perspective there are two simple principles that any health care plan has to adhere to to have any hope of success. One is easy, and one is difficult:

First, get employers out of the loop. This should be the easy one: there isn’t a single employer in the United States that honestly wants to be in whatever business they are in AND in the health care provider business. This system barely made sense when it first started, and given the changes that have happened in the economy since then, it makes no sense whatsoever now.

There are two primary sources of political capital that are going to power reform in this area: the very high level of ambient citizen disgust, and – if someone makes the case to them – small and large businesses whose competetiveness is being harmed by the current system. Every last drop of political capital from both sources is going to be necessary to put the second and much more difficult principle into effect, which is:

Second, housebreak the insurance companies. They may need to be removed from the system entirely. It’s possible that any for-profit entity where providing care is a cost subtracted from the bottom line is simply never going to successfully provide care.

But maybe they can. I can imagine a system where cleanly regulated insurance companies do add value, by helping contain costs both on the demand side (through promoting wellness) and on the supply side (by being a countervailing power to the service providers) And given the political reality of where we’re at, making them go away completely isn’t going to happen soon. So regulating them, giving the marketplace some basic ground rules like stopping the cherrypicking of healthy customers, would be a great start.
Why the Governor is structurally incapable of getting this right is on the flip…

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