• As well as high-information people who have the time.

    "Only" is to strong, but certainly these are the people who spend time in the trenches, get volunteered as precinct captains, sometimes go to district meetings and/or feel the civic duty to participate.

    You could also say these are the people paying attention six months out from the election. The full-primary electorate is a larger pool, which has to mean lower-intensity, and lower percentage of activists. Thus, Romanoff benefits more in the caucus because he has nurtured that audience a good many years, and the Party activists don't like the fact that Governor Ritter ignored them to appoint someone without Party credentials.

    Politicians in Colorado can't win without any party grassroots support, but the Party machinery is not all-powerful, and to win the primary means appealing to the broader audience where advertising, TV, press are more important than contacts in your political network.

    The grassroots beauty-pageant showed that Bennett has sufficient support that he will probably pull in the win at the primary.

  • comment on a post Health Insurance Reform over 4 years ago

    As Paul Krugman repeatedly points out:

    In order to get everybody covered with guaranteed issue (no pre-existing & no recissions), then everybody has to be paying into the system. That means a mandate. It also means sliding scale or subsidies for lower income people. You could get it cheaper by socializing insurance (single payer) and using a progressive tax, or you could get it by forcing people to buy private insurance.

    Universal insurance means risk sharing by everybody. The free-loader problem is that healthier, younger people are willing to take their chances rather than pay, meaning that some portion of them will get sick, go to the hospital and have others pay their bills. 

    Yeah, it sticks in my craw to be forced into expensive, private insurance. Maybe I don't like it on ideologically grounds, but from a practical standpoint, the fiscal argument is much more objective: Private insurance is 30% more expensive than socialized insurance.

  • comment on a post CO-Sen: Primary Challenge Pushes Bennett Left over 4 years ago

    Neither candidate would be mistaken for Alan Grayson, but either candidate seems to be a decent choice for a pale-blue state like Colorado. Our Democrats are more liberal than Bennett or Romanoff, and our Republicans extremely conservative. Conventional wisdom in the state holds that you have to be a centrist to win the general. Registration has improved to approximately 33/33/33, but in fact the enthusiasm of the base will be significant.

    Romanoff showed well in the beauty-pageant caucuses, but these tend to be political activists, with a high proportion of Romanoff supporters. By the time we get to the actual primary, Bennett's name recognition and incumbency will be a greater factor.

    The biggest issue in the primary is the simple fact that Bennett was appointed, bypassing the Party activists, most of whom are fairly progressive. So, the primary has been beneficial as it forced Bennett to defend himself by making some decent, progressive votes, and he has shown a willingness to stick his neck out on some key progressive ideas. Also, Bennett has provided good constituent service and made a big effort to market himself. I wouldn't read too much into his sponsoring of the Public Option letter; I don't think it had much chance of actually winning, so the most you can say is that Bennett was willing to go on the record... no small thing. 

    I think the biggest criticism you can make of Bennett, is that we don't have a sufficient record on him to know whether he is just running to the left because of primary pressure.

    While Andrew Romanoff is no conservative, it's not like he has a huge progressive record. To be fair, his career started in the midst of a Republican ascendency and he presided during a period of slow, steady Democratic gains. His background is DLC, not Liberal. In trying to run from the progressive side, Romanoff simply doesn't have the record, and carries the embarrassment of calling for a stupid "special legislative session on Immigration", which was intended to inoculate Colorado democrats from the accusation of being soft on immigration. Health care reform efforts in the Colorado legislature have been carefully neutered by the Party mucky-mucks, despite strong pressure from the Party base. I mean, they didn't even get much through on Health Insurance regulation.

    I think the biggest criticism you can make of Romanoff is the ineptness of his campaign.

  • comment on a post David Brooks Wouldn't Mind a Single-Payer System over 4 years ago

    So the Senate passes their HCR reform on Christmas eve with Ben Nelson's "Federalizing Medicaid for Nebraska" amendment. This could be really good or really bad, as the other states wake up to the implications (NYT). Charles Lemos wrote about this the other day in "States React to the Nebraska Compromise".

    The States are waking up to two things, (1) The HCR bill sticks them with a huge, unfunded mandate at a moment in time when they're facing a budget crisis due to the impact of the recession on tax receipts. (2) Why can't we all get the same deal as Nebraska?

    I would like to see #2 for a number of good reasons:

    (1) The Federal Tax code is more progressive than most states. Federalizing Medicaid shifts more of the tax burden to the wealthy taxpayers.

    (2) Having the Feds regulate medicaid insurance helps define a guaranteed minimum to health care benefits, which will secure the floor of for all other plans. Presently, Medicaid benefits can be variable depending on each state's budget or opposition to providing welfare to its citizens.

    (3) Yeah, there is the little thing of Taxes vs Debt, but the economy could certainly use additional stimulus money. Providing medical care to people has a very high stimulative effect. The recession is killing state budgets everywhere as they are prohibited from running debt. Federalizing Medicaid would provide a huge kick in the stimulus package.

    (4) Medicaid doesn't have the famous 20-30% cost hit from private insurance. To the extent that more people are served by an insurance program with 5-10% overhead, national health expenditures will go down.

    (5) Cost Control. Medicaid health delivery is frequently offered through FQHCs (Federally Qualified Health Centers) which are much more efficient at delivering cost effective health care than big, for-profit hospitals.

    However, you can bet that the States are freaking out over #1.

    I have no doubt that every governor in every State is on 24 hour lobbying to their Senators and Representatives. The unfunded Medicaid Mandate has a much higher impact on Blue States, which means that Democratic Caucus will be getting the highest pressure. As pointed out in the NYT article:

    Existing Medicaid coverage varies widely. Arkansas, for example, extends Medicaid to working parents who earn up to 17 percent of the federal poverty level, and Alabama offers coverage for those making up to 24 percent of that level. Minnesota covers working parents making up to 215 percent of the federal poverty level, and New York, up to 150 percent. New York also covers childless adults up to 65 making up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • The Sanders amendment provides funding for clinics and FQHCs.

    Again, the more we shore up the bottom of the safety net, the more people get health care and the whole system becomes more secure.

    This HCR bill is a mix of Insurance Reform and Health Care reform. Expansion of Medicaid and funding for FQHCs addresses more directly the Health Care side.

  • comment on a post States React to the "Nebraska Compromise" over 4 years ago

    By all means Federalize Medicaid for all states.

    Ideologically, I'm happy to do anything to expand the social net. The slippery slope to Single Payer gets steeper and slipperier with each expansion to new segments of the population, and the more we get federal involvement. There are a number of great reasons to push on this.

    (1) The Federal Tax code is more progressive than most states. Federalizing Medicaid shifts more of the tax burden to the wealthy taxpayers.

    (2) Having the Feds regulate medicaid insurance helps define a guaranteed minimum to health care benefits, which will secure the floor of for all other plans. Presently, Medicaid benefits can be variable depending on each state's budget or opposition to providing welfare to its citizens.

    (3) Yeah, there is the little thing of Taxes vs Debt, but the economy could certainly use additional stimulus money. Providing medical care to people has a very high stimulative effect. The recession is killing state budgets everywhere as they are prohibited from running debt. Federalizing Medicaid would provide a huge kick in the stimulus package.

    (4) Medicaid doesn't have the famous 20-30% cost hit from private insurance. To the extent that more people are served by an insurance program with 5-10% overhead, national health expenditures will go down.

    (5) Cost Control. Medicaid health delivery is frequently offered through FQHCs (Federally Qualified Health Centers) which are much more efficient at delivering cost effective health care than big, for-profit hospitals.

    The cost savings of FQHCs doesn't get the attention it deserves. Why are they so efficient? First, primary care delivery, is inexpensive and has a huge impact on health costs down the road. Most important: FQHCs are required to provide cost transparency, while for-profit hospitals hide costs and do a lot of cost shifting, i.e. those $10 aspirins and $100 crutches.

  • on a comment on In Chile, A Second Round over 4 years ago

    Now? Or a few weeks ago?

    I mostly saw Frei alone, or Frei with the local senate candidate. I don't recall ever seeing Bachelet on a poster, but I was only in the South, Santiago and some central-coast areas.

  • on a comment on In Chile, A Second Round over 4 years ago

    My comment about middle class may seem to contradict Carlos's comment about wealth disparity. The Gini coefficient measures income inequality, not average income. Two of the relatively poorer countries: Nicaragua ($2.7k per capita) has the best GINI coefficient at 43, while Bolivia ( $4.4k has the worst at 60.

    See this wikipedia chart for comparisons. Chile, Mexico, Argentina are all above $14k in per capita income. Uruguay, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica and Brazil are above $10k. These countries rank around middle of the pack compared with some Eastern European countries

    To compare GINI coefficients for the three wealthiest countires by per capita: Mexico 46, Argentina 51, Chile 55. So my impressions comparing Chile to Argentina didn't correspond to the numbers. But, there is a "tidier feel" about Chile: the streets and sidewalks are better maintained, fewer empty storefronts.

    This still doesn't really answer the question: What does "middle class" mean? But you can look through the chart for other indexes of development.

  • comment on a post In Chile, A Second Round over 4 years ago

    I was recently in Chile, 30 years after previous visit. (I hardly recognized Santiago due to growth and building. You get the sense of a fundamentally middle class country, even compared with Argentina. )

    Political posters were everywhere, which is typical in Latin America. There was a huge volume of high-production value Piñera signs in every part of the country, and the Piñera coattail candidates were inevitably youthful, handsome/gorgeous, and photoshopped with a sparkle in their eyes. This aligns with Jonathon's comment about lots of money for astroturf.

    Several things were notable.

    (1) The signs didn't emphasize political party initials or slogans, instead using logos, branding images, and generic slogans. Clearly, there was an intention to down-play traditional Conservative vs Socialist vs Christian Democrat labels. This crossed all parties. This isn't typical in LA.

    (2) I didn't see anything in the signs to indicate the candidates were aligned with Bachelet or wanted to claim her legacy. It was kind of weird. I'm sure the Chileans knew who was who, but it wasn't part of the street campaign.

    (3) Gen-X and post gen-x, i.e people who came of age after 1973, were apolitical, almost anti-political. This was in strong contrast to the political awareness of 30 years ago. Back then, even private, as it had to be, Chileans were extremely aware and very political.

  • comment on a post Colorado GOP Sticking with Dick Wadhams over 5 years ago

    Wadhams pursues a very aggressive style of politics, which did have some success for the Republicans in some elections over the past decade. But, that anger doesn't play so well with Coloradoans who are kind of live-and-let-live, trust in honest Government people. The Republican Party followed the a classic example of hard-right corporate-cons, theo-cons and anti-tax libertarians dominating the Republican Party.

    This isn't to say that Colorado is a true blue state. Basically we moved from pink to purple because the moderate Republicans bailed out of the Party as the wingers took over. Only CO-05 and CO-06 remain in Republican hands. If the Republicans weren't so wacko, they would probably still control the mountains (CO-03) and the plains (CO-04), which are culturally more like Wyoming-Montana and Kansas-Nebraska, respectively.

    The Democratic side of the political spectrum isn't really as stalwart as we would hope. The Democratic establishment is fairly Conservative, with strong ideological ties to the DLC and fiscal conservatism. They gradually won back the political offices across the state during the hey-day of Republican anti-tax ideology, which has made them very moderate and very timid. Governor Ritter and Senators Udall and Bennett are rather less Progressive than the rank and file state Democrats would prefer.

    My problem with Wadhams is that he continues to drive the Republican Party to the right which makes Conservative Democrats look Moderate in comparison. To achieve real reforms (Health Care, Jobs, Labor, "trickle-up" economics) we need the lines between the parties to be a bit more to the left.

  • The average blog owner should realize that you don't usually find all the necessary skills in one person. The owners should obviously direct personal attention to content and operational issues (ads, links, writers, audience). I'm as cheap and controlling as anyone, but sometimes you get a lot of value by knowing what other things you can hire out. Treat your blog like a business, and figure out your costs over two, four and eight years.

    Graphic design is done once, and it is really worth spending some money having it done well.

    Drupal (or whatever) setup and structure is also done once, a cost that can be amortized over the lifetime of your website.

    Hosting can be cheap, but the SoapBlox situation showed that your expenses probably should be closer to $50 per month than $15. 100 blogs at $50 each might actually support a robust support infrastructure. You need the confidence that backups, security, updates and maintenance are being handled.

    Content.... well I guess that is up to you, your writers and your commentors.

  • The main issue is how to have small admin overhead while handling multiple installations. SoapBlox may have been understaffed, but it is admirable that one, part-time guy could host (or service) so many blogs.

    I'm willing to believe that Jerome's Ruby on Rails project will be successful. Ruby claims rapid implementation of DB driven websites, which works if you already know what you want.

    Drupal offers flexibility, as well as a trajectory of improvement due to its open-source community. I've just done my third Drupal design, and it went far faster easier than numbers 1 & 2.

    Atain, with either the Ruby or Drupal implementation, the key will be whether the admin & hosting can be turnkey to the user.

  • on a comment on A Drupal-based DailyKos over 5 years ago

    2. Real time updating of comments and diaries (as in Kos)

    DK has this really cool thing, so I want it also. Well, Markos spent a lot of money coding and customizing. In order to get exactly the cool things on your website that you want, you need to go custom... which costs money.

    The advantage of SoapBlox is that it is (1) turnkey and cheap, and (2) that it is optimized for community blogging, even if it doesn't have all of Markos's specific cool things.

    The advantage of Drupal is that you can do anything (!!!), but you do have to spend the time and money to do it. LINC says ajax module. Well, yeah, but who implements it? And who updates it when Drupal goes to Version 7.0. Ooops, that module programmer graduated from college and doesn't have time to do it anymore.

    This is not to dis anybody, but I'm going to suggest that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

  • comment on a post A Drupal-based DailyKos over 5 years ago

    For Drupal to be a good solution for a non-techie blog owner you need two turnkey (or easy-to-use) pieces: hosting and blog setup. Hosting includes install, updating, backup, maintenance, etc.  Blog setup includes layout, design, structure, and configuration of blogging modules. The Blog-owners want to have the desired blog design magically appear on the internet so that they can concentrate on content.

    I would like to point out that these tasks can be partitioned, which lends itself to a team approach. You have the hosting side (database, sys-admin, security, servers).

    You also have the Blog setup side: Design.css, Layout.css, Blog-Module-set maintenance, Blog-Module configuration, User administration, Advertising, Content writing, etc. All of these skills might not meet in one person. Not every database guy is a graphic designer, if you know what I mean.

    Open-source, Obama Websites

    Beyond the Blog application space. Drupal is getting a lot of use as a CONSTITUENT Management System, along with serving as the front-end website for a lot of advocacy groups, membership organizations and non-profits. In other words, learning Drupal could be a progressive career path. CiviCRM may be it's own, separate career path.

    Anyway, I had a vision of 100 SoapBlox to Drupal transitions overseen by a volunteer task force of 50 Drupal programmers, and 50 layout specialists, each of whom get two or three sites to convert. At the end of the day, you would have 100 people who know this Drupal-Blog-Platform inside and out, and who could go on to careers in Progressive advocacy groups or membership organizations.

    A Drupal wesite plus CiviCRM is far from being a turnkey operation, but maybe the practice of creating a Drupal-Blog-Set could be extended to the Drupal-Advocacy-Set.

  • on a comment on SoapBlox meltdown and Drupal over 5 years ago

    This discussion is about automatic installation and management tools.

    I use Cpanel and Fantastico for many purposes, but Drupal wasn't set up at BlueHost, so I installed that by hand.

    Updates by hand must be carefully done. Again, this indicates your technical overhead is a little higher with Drupal.

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