Random thoughts, dubious rants, curiosities and worthy citations on the media, politics, marketing, music, inanity, and animals, among other things. Words and pictures and stuff, mostly from south central Wisconsin USA
I apologize in advance for going way, way past the "fair use" standards by completely re-posting this piece from Jed Lewison, an editor at Daily Kos. But it's worth getting out there to as many people as possible.
What was the average monthly private sector job growth in 2008, the final year of the Bush presidency, and what has it been so far in 2010?
What was the Federal deficit for the last fiscal year of the Bush presidency, and what was it for the first full fiscal year of the Obama presidency?
What was the stock market at on the last day of the Bush presidency? What is it at today?
Which party's candidate for speaker will campaign this weekend with a Nazi reenactor who dressed up in a SS uniform?
In 2008, we lost an average of 317,250 private sector jobs per month. In 2010, we have gained an average of 95,888 private sector jobs per month. (Source) That's a difference of nearly five million jobs between Bush's last year in office and President Obama's second year.
In FY2009, which began on September 1, 2008 and represents the Bush Administration's final budget, the budget deficit was $1.416 trillion. In FY2010, the first budget of the Obama Administration, the budget deficit was $1.291 trillion, a decline of $125 billion. (Source) Yes, that means President Obama has cut the deficit -- there's a long way to go, but we're in better shape now than we were under Bush and the GOP.
On Bush's final day in office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 7,949, 1,440, and 805, respectively. Today, as of 10:15AM Pacific, they are at 11,108, 2,512, and 1,183. That means since President Obama took office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have increased 40%, 74%, and 47%, respectively.
The Republican Party, whose candidate for speaker, John Boehner, will campaign with Nazi re-enactor Rich Iott this weekend. If you need an explanation why this is offensive, you are a lost cause.
The moral of the story is this: if you vote Republican, I hope you enjoy Election Day -- because you're not going to like what comes next.
If you have some misguided friends who have bought the bullshit coming out of FOX News and similar venues, and might not follow a link to Daily Kos, then send them here instead.
[Major h/t to Jed, and apologies for the shameles lift as well. But I know you'll agree that it's OK in special circumstances.]
I started blogging about a year and a half ago. I didn't actually tell anyone for maybe the first three months. Little by little, I started building an archive of posts, and began to pick up readers... one by one. Today, I may be lucky if I have fifty or so people who come by the site consistently... what I'd call regular visitors.
Traffic to the sight is erratic at best. For the first year, I was usually lucky to see more than ten or fifteen page views a day. Once in a while I'd troll in Google traffic. It took writing about the demise of the print version of the Madison Capital Times newspaper to send me well over a hundred views for the first time, and that went on for several days days. Traffic was driven here from links in other local media and a cross-post at Daily Kos. (It also created a firestorm at my company when the local weekly's blog outed me as the blogger by name, title and company, and thus kind of tipped our hand that we were working for the Cap Times. Whoops! That led to an internal scrutiny of Kerfuffle and it was learned I referred to the company as perpetually financially challenged and other less charitable things. Whoops again. But I digress.)
Recently, as I took a more forward and timely approach to posts and got better at headlining, traffic began to routinely be close to a hundred views a day, mostly from Google search redirection. That's exactly how one grows a blog. Posts on Ralph Nader, RNC partying and a few other topics got me some choice links and drove traffic into the "several hundreds" in the last month.
None of that compares to today. A story on a site I had not heard of (but now list on my blogroll) called Pandagon linked to a post I wrote from Austin while attending Netroots Nation. My piece, titled Lawrence Lessig wants to change Congress, and he's throwing in his 9¢, is one that I was pretty happy with, but drew little traffic at the time it went up on July 19. But today, it received almost a thousand views. Holy shit.
Not just to return the favor, but to send you to a really good post that shows how f***ed up the McCain fund-raising machine is, I recommend you go visit Pandagon and read "Dear Auguste Sr." It's more than worth the effort.
Jeez, I am such a nerd. But this is the coolest thing for me.
[Austin TX] As I review my Netroots notes from today, I can tell that there was a little extra snarkiness in my scribbles. I blame that on Anheuser-Busch and too little sleep. Whatever leaks through now, at the end of a long day, I blame on the the Spoetzl Brewery. It's not my fault. Never is. F*** personal responsibility, I say. Moving on...
The Netroots organizers knew what they were doing when they announced the "Ask the Speaker" forum with Nancy Pelosi would be moved from 9:00 to 8:30am. Everyone seemed to make it in by 8:55, so it started at 9am anyway. I am guessing that was the plan all along. It worked.
Once again, I ask myself what makes people just yell shit out in the middle of a speech or when someone else has the floor. Kind of third grade, don't you think? Are these people rude, overly passionate, overly caffeinated, or suffering from a mild form of political activist Tourette syndrome. This is NOT the Jerry Springer Show, and yet...
I like the term "organized disruption," as in "If there is any kind of organized disruption, we'll stop the meeting right away." That's what Gina Cooper, executive director of Netroots Nation, told the crowd awaiting Speaker Pelosi while looking directly at the members of Code Pink. And she was right to expect some whacked behavior from those folks. I'm sure the Code Pinkies' motivations are well-intended, but let's call it what it really is: political performance art. Bad political performance art. But the crew from Fox News probably had their b-roll right there and just went home.
Al Gore is a class act. And he has an organization you should get to know called the Alliance For Climate Protection. Take a look here.
The more I hear about how the Democrats have been turning things around in Texas, the more I think anything is possible for progressives across the country. Along those lines, we need more state legislators like the Lone Star state's Garnet Coleman. (I am starting to like Texas. Well, some of it.)
Congresswoman Donna Edwards (MD 4th) is a great Netroots success story. It was a pleasure to listen to her address the crowd as a keynote speaker tonight. She is a shining example of how a single Congressional election can become a national election by way of the netroots bloggers. It's too bad people had to wait through a whole bunch of chaff in the form of a few struggling comedians, too many speachettes from the Netroots leaders, and an uncomfortable and drawn out plea for cash to support next year's Netroots fellowships. This came after a 40 minute delay in starting the 8pm program, ostensibly waiting for the crowd to build (though it didn't). Ms. Edwards was well worth the wait, but she deserved better. As my new pal, Taylor Norrish from Govit.com (check it out) said, "This is kind of a 'duh' thing... it's the end of a long day, Saturday might in Austin and people want to listen to [Edwards], not to be hit up for money." Yup.
It's never too soon to plan for next year. Netroots Nation 2009 will be held August 13-16 in Pittsburgh.
Register here for the low, low way-early price of $175. I've only been to Pittsburgh once, and all I remember is that I really liked a bar called Froggy's. Meet me there the Wednesday night before NN09 kicks off. It will be two days after my 50th birthday but I will still be accepting birthday drinks (excluding shots or things with more than three liquors in them).
[Austin TX] When Netroots Nation let fly an email blast a while back to announce Lawrence Lessig would be a keynote speaker this year, I had no idea who they were talking about. Clearly my bad. Anyone with a resume like this is worth knowing, and worth knowing about. Here's just a smidgen from his bio...
Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.
For much of his career, Professor Lessig focused on law and technology, especially as it affects copyright. He represented web site operator Eric Eldred in the ground-breaking case Eldred v. Ashcroft, a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. His current academic work addresses a kind of "corruption."
He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, and was named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries, for arguing "against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online."
What made me an instant fan during his speech was his presentation of a non-partisan organization he, along with Joe Trippi, has started called Change Congress. The site describes the mission as follows...
Change Congress is a movement to build support for basic reform in how our government functions. Using our tools, both candidates and citizens can pledge their support for basic changes to reduce the distorting influence of money in Washington. Our community will link candidates committed to a reform with volunteers and contributors who support it.
A leading idea behind the organization is that voters should be able to know exactly where a candidate stands when it comes to campaign financing. Change-Congress.org provides a place for candidates to register their positions in the form of a pledge that they may tailor to their specific needs. It's not just a yes/no thing; it has room for some variables. The whole idea is for the candidate to be forthcoming, whatever their position may be. By making a pledge to stick to their expressed position, candidates can access the coding to put a Change Congress link on their fund raising and other sites as well as be listed in the Change Congres site itself, where voters can directly make donations. And Congressional candidate, regardless of party affiliation, may participate.
Voters have the same opportunity to register their position. This creates a pretty specific, mapable measure for the desire for campaign finance reform and for cleaner, more honest elections. Individual citizens have the same opportunity to tailor their position, register, and place the code-protected link on personal sites or blogs.
Support reforms to increase Congressional transparency
Support publicly-financed campaigns.
Wondering how much money your own Congressman is pocketing from PACs? Change Congress's home page has a handy interactive map that lets you point and click on any district to find out. It draws its data from another helpful tool, GovTrack.us.
The site also offers a link to a video archive of some of the many excellent presentations Lessig has made on the subject of Congressional transparency (or lack thereof) and the myriad of problems lobbyist and PAC money presents. As he said today, this whole mess that begs for campaign finance reform isn't our country's biggest problem. But it is our country's first problem. The other, bigger issues can't be solved at any real level of success without getting this out of the way.
As he closed his remarks, Lessig asked two things of the audience. First, he asked that each time any of us make a campaign contribution, regardless of size, to a Congressional candidate, tack on nine cents. Make a $10 donation $10.09. $100 should be $100.09. It will be a reminder that we, as voters, are mindful of the shameful 9% approval rating Congress has right now. The second thing he asked is that everyone in the room text "fixtheflaw" to 69866 to get started as a member of Change Congress.
Lawrence Lessig is a person to watch. He's making a difference, and he's just getting started.
If there is one phrase that describes the theme of this year's Netroots Nation, it has to be Bill O'Reilly's infamous" F#@% it, we'll do it live!" explosion from an outtake of Inside Edition, which the FOX Noise anchor used to host.
The phrase has been used everywhere, from Netroots Nation newsletters to T-shirts to banners for the Daily Kos party at Maggie Mae's in Austin, which I just returned from. Most of the television sets in the bar were continuously playing the best parts of the Inside Edition clip (video only, no audio) with some editing, so that O'Reilly's angry gestures and convulsive mouth looped over, and over, and over.
[Austin TX] When the Democrats achieved a majority in Congress in 2004, a whole lot of people were salivating over the possible impeachment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or both. But before people could even fully savor the thought, Nancy Pelosi announced that it was off the table.
Huh? Wha? WTF?
Close to four years later, there remains some serious animosity over this table clearing by the Speaker among Progressives, Democrats and other pissed-off folks. The room was full of them for Nancy Pelosi’s Netroots Nation appearance. Gina Cooper, NN08’s executive director asked people to show some decorum and made it clear any planned disruption during the Speaker’s appearance would bring things to a quick close. Fair enough. But some attendees seemed to think that Cooper and Pelosi didn’t play fair. When the questions from the audience started to get dicey, Cooper tossed a pre-arranged question to Pelosi about environmentalism. That was the cue to bring surprise guest Al Gore to the stage. Of course, the crowd (including me) went goo-goo crazy. Gore gave an impassioned speech, which was both informative and inspiring. It also did a great job of eating up Pelosi’s Q&A time. Nice how that worked out for Madam Speaker. Well just look at the time. I have to go!
One angry man sitting near me could no longer contain himself, since I think he came to ask one question and one question only. He finally shouted it out: “Hey Nancy! Where’s our god-damned impeachment?” There was no mistaking the question, nor that the Speaker heard him. He didn’t get an answer. He should have, even if his way of asking wasn’t exactly polite.
I’m glad Speaker Pelosi came to Netroots. I wish Cooper had been a bit truer to her mission and held the Speaker to her commitment to do a lot of Q&A. Expanding Pelosi’s allotted time under the pretense of allowing more discussion, which was how it was positioned when they moved up the start time, to actually accommodate the surprise appearance by Gore was, to me, somewhat disingenuous. Gore would have made a much better addition to the evening’s keynote instead. I hope this was just a poor management decision rather than an intentionally deceptive one. It was probably a bit of both.
DK has a lot more on the content of the Pelosi and Gore appearances here. The New York Times weighs in here.
[Austin TX] Friday was a long day. It started early with a radio thing before 7am and ended around bar time. In addition to the other posts I tossed up yesterday, a few things are worth noting...
Harold Ford Jr., the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, does not share many of the same opinions as Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, aka "Kos." But they appeared together for a sort of keynote/interview hybrid in a general session. I gained a measure of respect for Ford as a resukt of this appearance. He shares the same ultimate goal as the rest of us in the room, which is to elect Barack Obama. It's OK to disagree on some of the other stuff. That's how democracy works.
Richard Clarke is a fascinating man. I could listen to him for hours. (Or I could buy his new book.) But it sure is depressing to hear how incompetent our government has been over the last eight years... as if I didn't know that already. And it is distressing to be reminded of how poorly our men and women in the military have been and are being treated. Inadequate training, lousy health care, ineffective equipment, too many/too long rotations, and so forth. (But if you have yellow support-our-troops- magnetic ribbons on your car, it's all good.)
Texas politics is a contact sport. I must go back and read old Molly Ivins stuff, because she really seemed to nail it when she labeled the state a laboratory for bad government. Attending a forum loosely titled as such, I heard a lot of interesting stories that make Wisconsin politics look like child's play. It is more reminiscent of the old Richard J. (the Boss) Daley's Chicago machine and the mess that followed Daley's death in 1976.
There is a lot to be said for 24-hour room service, especially if you have doubts about eating pizza sold through the window of a converted motor home but can see though a beer-induced haze that beer alone is not a balanced dinner.
[Austin TX] I am so glad Netroots Nation is in Austin this year. This is one great city. No lie; what a cool place. Of course, this may be influenced by the fact that I wandered out of the hotel several hours ago with a few fellow bloggers who claimed they were part of the GLBTQXYZ Texas and Sort-of-Nearby caucus. Oh boy.
Some random observations:
Along 6th Street, where most of the bars are, one might thnk they were walking that few blocks in along Division between State and Dearborn. Every bouncer is pitching $1 shots and cheap cans of Lone Star. Change that to Old Style anbd you'd think you were in Chicago.
There are a lot of bars here. And a lot of bars with rooftop decks even thought it is unbelievably hot in the summer here. So that makes it a lot like other places. Except the hot part.
Honest to god, I saw something in a bar I don't recall seeing in easily a decade: a cigarette machine. I had totally forgotten about those things.
There are places that sell pizza by the slice, New York style, all over the bar district. Some of them ae converted Winnebegos. And I saw two carts both operating as "Best Wurst," and implying they had Chicago Style hot dogs for sale. And yet, not a taco stand in sight. WTF?
Daily Kos and Drinking Liberally throw a great party. They more or less rented out a legendary place called Maggie Mae's near the hotel. Great zydeco band, free food and beer.
Kudos to the Kossacks who threw the cash for the hansom cab (that’s what they call those horse-drawn carriages, right?) the four blocks from Maggie Mae’s to the Hilton. Well played. But I would have kicked in if you had only stopped.
It doesn't matter what city's drinking district you visit, there will always be some poor sap slumped in his own pool of barf. But he did not have a name badge with an orange lanyard.
Guys with their Texas accents sound kinda gay, not that there's anything wrong with that. But it does mess with the gaydar.
A good rule of thumb is to make your last stop a bar within sight of the hotel. That's it in the background, looming over the rooftop deck of one of the bars on the crawl.
And toward the end of the evening, it looked more like this... I gotta get some sleep. Got a date with Speaker Pelosi at 8:30 in the morning. Well, the Speaker and 2000 bloggers.
[Austin TX] One of the most respected organizations people are talking about at Netroots Nation is Media Matter For America, for good reason.
Media Matters does us all a real service by keeping its eyes and ears open for irresponsible, untruthful, or just f***ed in the head media content. They aren't in operation for censorship. Rather, they exist to correct the many, many wrongs that are out there.
Here's a particularly offensive piece of right wing hate-radio poop. And it comes from one of the biggest offenders, Michael Savage. Read and cringe at this e-mail from Media Matters' director of new media, Erin Hofteig...
On July 16, the No. 3 syndicated radio talk show host in the country, Michael Savage, made the following statement on autism:
"Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism? ... A fraud, a racket."
Savage went on to say:
Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is.
What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, "Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot."
Autism -- everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, "Don't behave like a fool." The worst thing he said -- "Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry." That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.
I'll spare you the balance. If you must, you can read the whole article here. Sickening.
The e-mail has a lot of links that didn't make the cut and paste as I am doing this on the fly between meetings. But if you go here, Media Matters will give you information for calling out your local affiliate that carries this crap.
I am proud to say that no station in Madison stoops so low as to carry Michael Savage (real name Michael Weiner... appropriately enough). Good on you, WIBA-AM, because if any station did carry this ass-clown, it would be you.