Where to start? Despite how much of the day I’ve spent on buses and light rail, not to mention the time spent chit chatting with other bloggers and networking in general, I still heard more I want to report than I have a prayer of finding time to write about.
At the Missouri caucus breakfast this morning, for example, I ran into Jim Ross, who works for Jill Schupp’s campaign (she’s trying to hold onto Sam Page’s House seat, HD 82, for the Dems.) Jim tells me that she and her volunteers have already knocked on all 14,000 doors in the 82nd (well, except for gated community type situations) and are starting to go round for a second time. And it’s looking good in that district. Her campaign ran a poll hat showed Obama and Nixon with double digit leads in that district and Jill herself with a “substantial lead”.
Jim worked as well for Andria Simckes this year, and I talked to her as well, asking her what the future holds for her now that she’s out of the treasurer’s race. She had a broad smile when she told me that I haven’t heard the last of her in Missouri politics, but for the nonce she’s working as a surrogate speaker for “the team”, meaning Nixon, Obama, Page, perhaps even Zweifel. And of course, the upside of losing that race is that she gets to reintroduce herself to her husband and small children. It’s a treat having a personal life again.
Other nuggets I picked up this morning will be showing up in later postings as I have the time to write about them in some depth.
The bloggers’ tent is mayhem. It is elbows next to elbows, the unrelenting hubbub of friendly bloggers, and some determined souls tuning it all out like white noise as they hunch over their laptops. I fled, for peace, to the panels. They were excellent.
If Bobby Kennedy can’t light a fire under you about the climate change issue, then you’re a corpse. When asked what we need to do in this country about the energy crisis, he spoke in favor of an open market instead of a rigged one, emphasizing that our current policies reward bad behavior and penalize good behavior.
For example, we give a trillion dollars a year in subsidies to the oil industry, another trillion to the coal industry, and half a trillion to the nuclear industry. What we need instead is a new grid, a federal backbone instead of the archaic, inefficient and misaligned lines we now have, one that will carry the electrons efficiently across the continent, so that the windpower of Montana and other western states can be carried to New York instead of petering out before it crosses the Mississippi.
And we need an open grid. Houses using solar power should be reliably able to sell their excess power to the grid. The fact that the grid is not open to such an arrangement is an inexcusable obstacle.
“In fifty states, we get fifty different utilities and commissions, each with an arcane and byzantine set of rules that restrict access to the grid.”
Kennedy says the federal government needs to pass laws forbidding the states from controlling access to the power grid. But rather than take the sensible measures of building a new and efficient grid and making it open so that any home can become a power plant that sells electricity to the grid, we have subsidized coal, for example. And the costs environmentally are huge, from fish dead of pollution to mountains destroyed in West Virginia and 2200 rivers buried as a result of mining. Those hidden costs should not be allowed. As for oil, allowing drilling off the coasts is, to his way of thinking, like offering more crack to a coke addict.
He decries the $156 million that the oil and coal industries have poured into the political process, money that has turned our public servants into “indentured servants”–and they’re not indentured to us.
Finally, Bobby Kennedy spoke about the possibilities of moving to electric cars. Israel, he says, is doing so rapidly. They expect to move from gas powered cars within three years, making driving less expensive, instead of 40 cents a mile, they’ll costs 6 cents a mile. What that takes is political will.
Uh oh. It’s getting on toward ten at night and we old folks need to be moseying off to bed. But I haven’t even begun to report on the panel, moderated by Thom Hartmann, in which John Podesta, Paul Krugman, Arianna Huffington and David Sirota talked about the ongoing conflict between progressivism and conservatism. The panel was well worth while, but I’m giving it short shrift and quitting for the night.
Huffington stressed that we should not frame this election as left versus right, but as the center versus extreme right. On all the progressive issues, huge majorities of Americans–60-70 percent–favor our side, whether it be maintaining Social Security and Medicare, obtaining universal health care, shifting the policies in Iraq, or dealing with global warming.
David Sirota agreed and felt that progressives and Americans generally are ahead of our leaders, that the way to get Washington to do what we want is to make them understand that the populace will have their back when they make the important changes. We don’t so much have leaders as people who get into office looking for a parade. As soon as they spot one, they run to the front of it and pretend they’ve been leading it from the beginning. What we need to do to get them at the head of the “fair trade” parade, he said, is say two words: Sherrod Brown. Brown defeated an incumbent in Ohio in 2006 by focusing on progressive ideas about the economy.
It’s late; I’m sleepy. Whatever else I of interest that I heard I’ll have to save for another day.