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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
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If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
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Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
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It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are out to get you

by: Jay Stevens

Thu Jul 08, 2010 at 10:13:30 AM MST


There's been plenty of talk about LiTW's new policy on featured writers, some of it constructive, some of it...well...a tad paranoid. And the accusations that have been flung about our loyalties in the wake of the discussion on health care, for example, have been pretty hilarious.

Of course, the majority of criticism against Matt specifically have come from a vocal minority with their own agendas and apparent keen insight into the hearts and minds of people they've never met, and normally I wouldn't bother responding, but during the discussion in the comments, I remembered this quote from the Missoula Independent profile on Singer from way back in 2007:

Not everyone in progressive politics feels comfortable with Singer's dual role as progressive political organizer and left wing blogger. Tester spokesman Matt McKenna says it's hard to know how to deal with the likes of Singer, who wears many-and very different-hats from time to time.

"Left leaning bloggers in Montana are trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up," McKenna says. "Do they want to be journalists, activist, insiders, strategists, or critics? You can't be all of those things. Yet that's what a lot of these guys are trying to do."

McKenna says it can be frustrating dealing with Singer, who at times supports Tester publicly, at times criticizes Tester and other Democrats, and at times attempts to reach out as CEO of Forward Montana for support.

I guarantee you that's a common, unspoken sentiment among many political insiders who are still uneasy with blogs, bloggers, and people like Matt.

It's probably worth reminding everyone, but this is a blog, and meant to be the personal political opinions and policy ideas of its writers. Sometimes our opinions change. Sometimes our interest and enthusiasm about different policies or politicians change. Sometimes our opinions don't match yours.

Jay Stevens :: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are out to get you
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Just curious Jay... (0.00 / 0)
but it strikes me as somewhat odd for you to be highlighting a quote from a 3-year old article. Hasn't quite a bit happened over the past three years in terms of the economy, politics, policy, etc?

While I don't believe I've personally ever accused anyone here at LiTW of "selling out," I do think a pretty solid case could be made that some LiTW posts over the past 12 months on topics ranging from health care policy, financial reform and Tester's logging bill have a distinctly less progressive bent than they once did. It seems to me that this fact is what's motivating people to be critical of certain posts, bloggers or opinions here at LiTW.  


three years... (0.00 / 0)
A blog was a story three years ago. It isn't now. And Matt's still doing the same work he was then; I'm not surprised there hasn't been a story or profile since. Blogs are old news.

As for "less progressive," I'm not sure what to say. Matt and I (and others) disagreed strongly on health care reform, but never over the underlying principles that drove it. The difference seemed to be about notions of pragmatism and effective policy to achieve those principles. Matt's notions differed from mine, which differed from McKenna's and Ochenski's.

Personally, I think all the rancor and frustration (at least for me) resulted from having to change my mindset from a critical or oppositional voice to one that engaged allies who I see as falling far short of the mandate that people like those who congregate here gave them. There are institutions I'd like to tear apart (the health insurance industry, say) that stubbornly resist, with help from my friends. Good stuff has happened, but it's easy to focus on the bad.


[ Parent ]
Tests of progressivism (4.00 / 1)
I understand I fail several of yours and Ochenski's. I'm pretty sure if I understand y'all's economic policy statements, y'all fail mine.

I don't spend a lot of time on debates of what progressivism is, though, because navel gazing never did much to change the world.

On health care, I exchanged: 1) coverage for tens of millions and 2) the beginning of addressing the huge fiscal threat our health care faces for 1) some corporate profits and 2) some continued inefficiencies.

As far as I can tell, that was the bargain. It's one I took. I had no real power to negotiate a different bargain.


[ Parent ]
Matt: Just what "economic policy statements" have I made? (0.00 / 0)
Honestly, I don't recall releasing any "economic policy statements" so please refresh my memory, Matt. The only thing I can think of that may have come close was my idea for establishing a "sustainability filter" when it comes to government spending our tax dollars. You can learn more about that here:

http://cleangreensustainable.w...

However, I do believe - as many, many others in the environmental movement have articulately and passionately expressed for decades now - that our economy has simply been running on fumes and that the era of over-consumption and over-development is quickly coming to an end...as it rightfully should.

Therefore, I'm not really sure that we can blindly spend our way out of this self-inflicted economic crisis by pumping, for example, hundreds of billions of dollars putting tiny band-aids on a wholly inadequate, 1950s era transportation infrastructure.

This economic crisis is what you get when corporations, governments and people abandon any semblance of sustainability in exchange for living way beyond their collective means.

And even though I was a straight C math student, I can't help but look at the tremendous deficit our country has accumulated over the past 8 years, add to it the tremendous debt countries around the world are accumulating, subtract the significant mid- to long-term wage/work reduction many families are facing and toss in about 80 million US baby boomers (trillions more in social security, medicare, pensions, etc) and come to a rational conclusion that we can spend and borrow our way out of this global economic meltdown. Especially if much of that spending and borrowing appears to be haphazard or just propping up the institutions, corporations or policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

According to the US Debt Clock, the US National Debt is currently $13 trillion and counting and the total personal debt is over $16.3 trillion.  Pretty interesting numbers for certain. Check it out: http://www.usdebtclock.org


[ Parent ]
The deficit stuff is what I was referencing (0.00 / 0)
We do have a long-term problem, but you've cried foul a few times over near-term deficits, which we actually need to run.

Cracking down on deficits in the next few years might trigger a deeper recession, which would ironically kill tax revenues and possibly actually worsen the budget situation.

Like I said, I'm not really interested in having a "Who is more progressive" conversation. I just know that we come at some of these questions from different places. That's cool.

As for sustainability filters, I like the idea in concept and think we should do more. I think this latest round of economic turmoil could actually be OK if we decided to handle it by making sure the "pain" was felt equally or born most by people situated to handle it. The problem with a lot of sustainability movements is that pairing them with wild inequality means that the difficulties around scaling back the economy are likely to be felt most acutely by low-income individuals and there won't be much training in how to adapt.


[ Parent ]
less progressive bent? (0.00 / 0)
I think it is more likely that each person's idea of what "progressive" and "liberal" is has changed somewhat in the last three years. As far as Matt is concerned, his postings haven't changed a lot - at least from my point of view. What has changed is the addition of posts from others and that, for me, is what has changed this site. Stories like politicians liking Victoria Secret and other "fluff" bs is why I don't enjoy or even take seriously many of the posts here anymore.

McKenna's comment (0.00 / 0)
suggesting that Matt and others are immature are far more offensive to me than an occasional reference to Victoria's Secrets.

I think Matt, Jay, and most others are trying to be reasonable.  Whatever labels we attach to their views are irrelevant. The fact that Matt sometimes supports and sometimes objects to Tester's positions shows that he's not a party flack.  


When's the last time (0.00 / 0)
that Matt publicly objected to a Tester policy?

And what would a McKenna's statement about Matt sound like today?

And why is "being reasonable" a tenable policy position in these days as they country slides to the right and slowly self-destructs?


[ Parent ]
I didn't like the $25 cut to unemployment (0.00 / 0)
But from what I could tell, some weird deals were being cut to try to keep the benefits extension alive.

I actually don't like everything in the forest bill and I've been open about that. I just support the underlying process and the result. That's where I came out on health care.

What other policies does Tester have right now that are active? His online transparency system that would do for the entire federal government what Ochenski is celebrating in his article for happening to one set of documents? I support that bill whole-heartedly.

What's the right number of policies to object to? 1? 15?

On a different point, I've yet to see people are being unreasonable stop the slide to the right. But if you've got a different model for accomplishing things, go organize and write and do your thing.

My biggest source of confusion with the steady stream of criticism of me is that it seems to think that changing my mind will somehow portend some other massive changes. Maybe I'm massively underestimating some innate power that I have and my own personal decision to take a hard-line stance on single-payer instead of supporting the mixed system bill would have triggered a chain reaction.

But that would also indicate that my biggest problem is humility, which I really doubt.


[ Parent ]
If you don't like everything in a bill (0.00 / 0)
how can you support the results? This sounds like an "ends justifies the means" sort of argument. And as to the process, it stunk. But arguing process about the Tester logging bill just mucks up the analysis of how bad the policy is.

And why would I put a number on what is the "right number of policies to object to?" That's as silly as the notion of "being reasonable." I was referring to Tester's policies. And I couldn't remember any attempts by you to take Tester to town for his policies. Actually, I have greater problems with Tester putting out policies that he has no interest in upholding. Like his efforts on the Senate banking committee to assure Wall Street got some more concessions from Congress, at the behest of his new lobbyist buddies.

As to your attitude and decision about single-payer, again it smacks of getting on board the "reasonable policy" bandwagon. I am not one to get on board just to get a political win. I will stand on the side and push and pull till the last vote is counted. Then take stock of what was gained, what was lost. Again, I base my policies on principles, not pragmatism.

I'm not asking you to change your mind, Matt. Just looking for clarity--and my questions in this thread were intended for Turner. Politics, and it is politics we're discussing here, is all about reading between the lines. And there's still a big story there left untold.


[ Parent ]
Gotta disagree on this one, Matt (0.00 / 0)
Since I seem to be showing up in this discussion so often, I guess I'll at least bother to weigh in on Matt's suggestion that Tester's "online transparency system would do for the entire federal government what Ochenski is celebrating in his article for happening to one set of documents."

Actually, I don't think it will, Matt, unless it includes all inter and intra agency emails as well as government documents.  The emails John Adams received, if you read his article, were delivered in hard copy from the Department of Interior.  This was a blatant attempt to foil his (or anyone's) efforts to determine if there had been or was a plan under way to designate National Monuments in Montana.  Could the Obama administration have delivered those emails to the Republican Congressman who requested them in electronic format?  Sure they could have.  But that would still have left you with 229 separate digital documents comprising 383 pages.

Could you have used a standard search to find what you were looking for?  Maybe.  But DocumentCloud was developed to ensure that investigative reporters can do just what I was "celebrating" -- namely, plug it all into one searchable file with the capability of finding names, places and things and drawing the connections between them.  Maybe I'm off-base for lauding DocumentCloud, but that would mean ProPublica is wasting its time, as is the NY Times, and the funders are wasting their money.  If all it took was an electronic version of federal documents, why would they bother?

Just for historic purposes, you should know that in 1989 I wrote a bill that required all state agencies to put all their environmental assessments, documents, budgets, etc., on a state electronic bulletin board (this predated modern e-mail, as old nerds will tell you) with a toll-free number so people could call up on their computers with their smoking hot 300-baud modems and read the documents from anywhere in our far-flung state for free -- thus putting them on nearly equal footing with those who live in Helena and had live access to hard-copy state documents.  

Jack Ramirez, the Republican Majority Leader that year, sponsored the bill for me as a pilot program because he was headed to DC to work for Conrad Burns and they would only be able to access state government here when state offices were open.  The time difference obviously means a large part of DC's day would go by before Montana's state offices even opened.  The electronic bulletin board (they were called BBS) allowed around-the-clock access from DC, which was worth it to Ramirez, so he carried the bill.  It's also worth noting that the idea of electronic documentation and communication was so foreign to most legislators that I had a very tough time finding anyone in the Senate who was familiar enough with computers to even explain the bill on the floor.  Nonetheless, it passed and was funded.

Then, along came the internet, websites replaced electronic bulletin boards, e-mail became much more sophisticated than our old one-line-at-a-time yellow or green letters, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But here's the deal.  Even though we now have a statute that still requires state agencies to post public documents online, they do not and will not post their emails.  In fact, if you make a request to state government, say, the Governor's Office, for all his email communications, they will charge you for the time it takes them to find all the emails, go through them and redact anything they feel violates individual privacy, and most likely give them to you just the way Adams got his -- in hard copies of the originals with chunks blacked out.

If you doubt the veracity of this, just check out what happened when PSC Commissioner Molnar requested the emails from the Governor's Office on communications concerning the Mountain States Intertie Line (MSTI).  

Now mind you, Molnar is a PSC Commissioner, an elected state official, and he was requesting emails from another elected state official's office (Schweitzer).  So what happened?  The Gov's office told Molnar that he could only have the emails if he paid the costs associated with finding them, reading them all, redacting whatever they thought was protected by individual privacy, and copying them.

Here's the opening paragraph from Mike Dennison's article on it and the website where you can read the entire piece.

"A Republican public service commissioner fighting a proposed power line in Montana is demanding to see computer records of Schweitzer administration officials promoting it, but has been refused unless he pays costs associated with the records search."  http://helenair.com/news/state...

What does all this prove?  Far as I can tell, only one thing: When partisan politics clash with open government, open government loses no matter which party is in power.  We all know that somehow millions of emails "disappeared" from Bush-era computers, but it was the Obama administration that obfuscated the request for the national monument emails and the Schweitzer administration that did the same for Molnar's request.

None of this has anything to do with the topic at hand, far as I can tell, and maybe you and Jay will just scrub this post because of that..which is your prerogative because it's your blog.  

I don't know how much wading through complex government documents you've ever done, but I think you've overstated the efficacy of the Tester bill's provisions and understated the value of DocumentCloud in foiling political and bureaucratic attempts to circumvent public access to information.  I'd have loved to have these capabilities in the early days of trying to obtain, read and track EPA and corporate documents on the Anaconda Smelter, Butte and the Clark Fork, but of course it wasn't around 30 years ago.

So I'll stick with "celebrating" John S. Adams bringing DocumentCloud into use here in Montana because it won't just be useful for federal documents and emails, it'll come in handy for state information, too, and that's good news for open government and the citizens' right to know -- regardless of which party you do or don't like.



[ Parent ]
Here's the nuts and bolts of the bill (0.00 / 0)
Which has gotten applause from the Sunlight Foundation, which is one of the premiere and most innovative organizations working on transparency.

Daily Kos: Sen. Tester Introduces Transparency Bill


[ Parent ]
You make my point, Matt (0.00 / 0)
Here's what Kos posted in May, so the rest of the readers can see it.
"Tester introduced the Public Online Information Act, which would require the executive branch to post all of its public information online in a timely, user-friendly format. Tester told reporters that all too often, important documents gather dust in government warehouses and filing cabinets, instead of being shared with the public."

The key words here, as I tried to explain in my long post above, are "public information."  Unless that is defined to include personal emails, inter and intra-agency and Congressional communications, it wouldn't provide what Adams got. Congress, as I'm sure you know, isn't the "executive branch" and the U.S. Constitution does not have the open government provisions of the Montana Constitution.  Furthermore, "user-friendly format" is another term that, at least in Kos' post, is undefined.

In the meantime, I never dissed Tester's bill -- I was saying I think you're off-base concluding it would deliver the same results as the innovative DocumentCloud software developed by ProPublica and only currently available to select journalists and publications.  It was you who whacked at me for lauding Adams' introduction of DocumentCloud here in Montana and said Tester's bill would do for all federal documents what I was "celebrating" Adams doing for one document.  I'll stick with my opinion on that, having seen it's impressive capabilities demonstrated by Adams from my own laptop.  Maybe you ought to investigate it a little more and see if your opinion changes.  It just might.

And hey, why the whack job?  What's wrong with having both?  Remember, first Tester's bill has to pass, be funded, and fully implemented...which is a lot different than just being introduced. I assure you, having done a similar bill here in Montana 21 years ago, as I explained above, federal agencies will scream bloody murder and predict billions in costs to comply with the bill, especially if it's as broad as it needs to be. All that could take years and years -- even if the bill passes.  And somehow, I suspect there will remain a significant volume of communications and documents that will be omitted for any number of reasons.  Just think of the "national security" umbrella Bush used to avoid disclosure of almost everything.  

DocumentCloud, on the other hand, is here today, so you really ought to "celebrate" it, too.


[ Parent ]
when is "unreasonable" a tenable policy position, ever? (0.00 / 0)
When faced with huge crises, I suspect it's good to form policy around sound judgment. IMHO.

[ Parent ]
I guess if you base policy positions (0.00 / 0)
on some undefined notion of "reasonable", then "unreasonable" is just as undefined. Reasonable is in the eye of the beholder--or in what one thinks Congress can pass.

I have never based my policy positions on as silly a notion as "being reasonable." I base my policy positions in a variety of ways, which usually includes and ethical or moral factor. I have no problem holding what some may deem to be an "unreasonable" policy position.

Which is why when somebody holds up Tester's logging bill as an example of reasonable policy, all I have to do is say "NREPA" which is a bill I helped to conceive and write 20 years ago.


[ Parent ]
I'll take a stab at that (0.00 / 0)
undefined notion of "reasonable"

One needn't define the general word "reasonable" to show some specific thing as unreasonable.  For example: 'Agree with me or you're just wrong and not really a progressive.'  Since we're all being stricken here, it strikes me that that's a pretty unreasonable stance.  If fact, it's one of the very primary claims that most here 'bouts have loathed about the right for lo on this last decade.  'Agree with me or you're just wrong and not really a patriot.'  It is extremely unreasonable to expect that any have the power to define another based on that others compliance with such random and unfounded definitions.  


[ Parent ]
how about you, JC? (0.00 / 0)
I don't see a post from you since May criticizing Jon. What does that make you? I guarantee you McKenna's comment would sound nearly the same.

[ Parent ]
Since May? (0.00 / 0)
I moved out of Missoula and didn't have internet access for the month of June. Just got it a few days ago. Had plenty to say, but was unable to.

[ Parent ]
On change. (0.00 / 0)
Endless pressure has worked in the past, and will again if enough people try it.

Some progressive thoughts -- an excerpt from a Sam Smith article at http://prorev.com/wherechange....

".....Even the best president steps into the Oval Office surrounded, beleaguered and manipulated by the most skillful organizers in the country - those who organize the bankers, corporations, religious extremists, polluters and other assorted hustlers - while well intentioned but nave ordinary constituents of that president assume their work was finished when they left the voting booth.

This is one major reason why the Democratic Party has done so poorly in recent years. With the election of Clinton, its liberal wing became subservient acolytes at the altar of the most reactionary Democratic leader of modern times. For the crowd on the inside, it was playtime.

Consider in contrast, Franklin Roosevelt, constantly being pushed from the left by everything from communists to socialists to Midwestern populists, or Lyndon Johnson, shoved towards progressive politics by forces like the civil rights movement..."

Change comes from the bottom up. So many spectators have replaced democratic activist it's hard to imagine how the next great wave will coalesce.  



Singer is not Progressive nor Left (0.00 / 0)

 He is a tool of the DLC 3rd Way Triangulating Neo-Liberals. A false and ambiguous river, of nothing but centrist and Repug drecht is ALL that he has been able to produce.
  Insidious is the best word - because they are good at making it look like they are 'democrats' but really NOT a single one is Working Class with Working Class politics in Mind. How often does itW pin point the key economic issues are the War, Wall Street, the FED and not a word on the new Organizing for Montana Neo-Lib/charlatans/SEIU/NWFCO/CRA that i've seen. As Baucus and his gang, Boyles and Simpleton hack up social security and medicare to pay for two wars NOTHING from the hacks at Centrist in the West. The Working Class didn't want these wars yet it's ok for us to pay for them while Cent in the West looks for other stuff to side track You with.
   When LitW is changed to Centrist Pool 101 the truth will begin.  

Singer is not Human nor Sweet smelling (0.00 / 0)
He is a tool of the DemonLizardCollective 3rd Way Triangulating Neo-carnivorists. A false and ambiguous river, of nothing but farts and Repug stench is ALL that he has been able to produce.
 Insidious is the best word - because they are good at making it look like they are 'human' but really NOT a single one is not an alien overlord with not-eating-human politics in Mind. How often does LitW pin point the key economic issues are the War, Adequate supply of human flesh, Wall Street, the FED, adequate supply of human flesh  and not a word on the new Organizing for Montana Neo-Lizard/charlatans/SEIU/NWFCO/CRA/WITCH/PAGAN/Sunning on a Rock/Lizard tongue flip that i've seen. (Dude, that sentence didn't make any sense before I screwed with it.)  As Baucus and his gang of Lizard people, Boyles and Simpleton, and Arrhhgh and Gack hack up social security and medicare to pay for two wars NOTHING from the hacks at Lizards Want To Eat You in the West. The Human Food didn't want these wars yet it's ok for us to pay for them while Lizards Want To Eat You in the West looks for other stuff to distract You with, while they seek to eat you.
  When Lizards-i-t-West is changed to To Serve Man the truth will begin.  

[ Parent ]
I can't prove he's human (0.00 / 0)
but the dude is definitely not sweet smelling...

[ Parent ]
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