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Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 08:32 AM PST

My Breakfasts with a Conservative

by philinmaine

13 months ago I participated in a recount for our DA. In Maine, DA's cover one or two counties and the vote was close (under 100 votes). A recount is an ordeal. You count stacks of votes (50 to a pile), change piles with a volunteer for the other campaign and so on for a day or TWO. It's awful, I'd rather watch grass grow. However, there is opportunity to talk and my fellow counter and I talked most of the day. Not just politics but life, family, etc. Clearly there were huge differences in our political outlooks but both of us were making an effort to find common ground and not make the day a total disaster. In fact, we got along so well we traded phone numbers and agreed to have breakfast 'Sometime'.

That sometime has turned into a regular breakfast meeting every 3-4 weeks, for the past year. I've learned a lot...follow along for a little more and a sample meeting.

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I haven't been posting on DK for a while but Joan McCarter's blog got me thinking about one of my favorite subjects-campaigns and what they are really like.  The word campaign has an impersonal sound to it, like corporation or bureaucracy or some kind of machine. Campaigns have a pulse, they're populated by real people and they are a pressure cooker under which both brilliant and terrible decisions are made.

In most campaigns, even those with a candidate, there is not always a final decision maker (depends on the candidate) but an issue campaign often has a leadership group and the success of the campaign may well depend on their interaction. Follow along for part of the story....

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There's been a building meme that the Democrats did not pass appropriation bills and that's why we're having this budget crisis and passing continuing resolutions and it's Congressional Dems and President's Obama's fault. This has been a constant refrain in the media recently and repeated endlessly by the Republicans. Here's the basic talking point: "We wouldn't be in this situation if the Democrats when they had the majorities in Congress had passed a budget."

True? Have you heard it? Did you kinda agree the Dems should have passed a budget when they had the chance? Have you heard this meme challenged? I looked around at current news outlets and didn't see much so went to the internets and here's what I found.......

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Once again I come back to Daily Kos. I still read fairly often but haven't been posting much. This time I have a story that should be told. It's a snowy day in Maine. We're used to it, you might not be but if you're looking for a little inspiration today, here it comes.

A little background. Washington County (aka Downeast Maine) is poor and elderly. You notice it when you're driving thru but stop and look around and you notice it more. From the barely holding on second hand stores to the older trailers one can tell it's a tough economy at best. It's the only county east of the Mississippi where the life expectancy of women is falling. It's also amazingly beautiful seacoast and home to tough people who 'make do'.

My two friends are remarkable people. Katherine has run for the legislature twice (came real close) and is a true champion of the county, always looking for ways to raise it up. Frank is a court appointed lawyer, meaning he represents poor people for not much. They get by ..read on please...

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Sat Aug 28, 2010 at 06:31 AM PDT

When you get Old it's about

by philinmaine

Security. This may be a tangent into a rant but let's start with at least a couple of facts. As people get older they do worry about their future and hoped for 'retirement' (social security). When we're young we think SS won't be there and we don't really care...it's a ways off. When we're getting there we check the letter from the government and think about it, often worry about it. We may think about surviving until we're on Medicare and can get treatment or at least see a doctor.

Our opposition knows this and that is why they use every fear tactic they can think of to get older people worried and scared. SS is going broke, the deficit, the Dems spending like there's no tomorrow. Forget about yesterday and the tax cuts for the rich while running wars, that has nothing to do with the economy in ruins. Look it's a year later and Obama has done Nothing. The more they can get the left and the right pissed off at Obama, the more they win. Let's see how this plays out....

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So, all these problems we're facing, big issues, reluctant, CYA pols, equivocating Administration, frustrated activists, and so forth. There may be a fundamental problem. Money. Lobbyists are essentially running the show because whether it's Dems or Reps, it's all about the money. Follow the money and you see how things do (or don't) get done. Most people agree, if we had a different system, a fairer, cleaner, closer to the voter system that allowed (even encouraged) everyday Americans to run for office, we could begin to fix the broken system we have that requires candidates to spend most of their time dialing for dollars. What if we took elections back from the corporate and special interests and returned them to the people. Allow me to take you behind the curtain and show you a clean election system that works, why it's under attack (and why it's about YOU).....

UPDATE: Fox gives $ 1 million to RGA and they want to spend in Maine. Helps explain the lawsuit.

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So, all these problems we're facing, big issues, reluctant, CYA pols, equivocating Administration, frustrated activists, and so forth. There may be a fundamental problem. Money. Lobbyists are essentially running the show because whether it's Dems or Reps, it's all about the money. Follow the money and you see how things do (or don't) get done. Most people agree, if we had a different system, a fairer, cleaner, closer to the voter system that allowed (even encouraged) everyday Americans to run for office, we could begin to fix the broken system we have that requires candidates to spend most of their time dialing for dollars. What if we took elections back from the corporate and special interests and returned them to the people. Allow me to take you behind the curtain and show you a clean election system that works and why it's under attack.....

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Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 04:22 AM PDT

Last week recced, this week???

by philinmaine

Last week's diary Why I haven't blogged for almost two years was a surprise. It made the rec list, got lots of comments and tips, it found an audience and that was really nice. I know luck is a factor 'cause I've read great pieces (and written some) but they fail to find an audience. In last week's diary I said

The Republicans are not wrong about everything. Less intrusive government is not necessarily a bad thing. Fewer top heavy, insulated bureaucracies is a good thing. The Rebaggers are terrible at delivering on that but they're not necessarily bad goals. Bureaucracies, whether in the private or public sector are stifling and serve primarily to protect the bureaucracy. If you've ever tilted with an agency (or faceless corporation) you'll probably know what I mean. Doesn't mean we don't need regulation but it does need to be sensible and customer oriented.

and I'd like to expand on that a little bit...

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The short answer is I've been busy but the rest of the story is I had a couple of jobs that did not allow me to blog. Technically, I would have had to submit the blogs and get approval, it wouldn't have been timely and more of a pain. I'm not currently in that position and there are a few things  on my mind so I hope you'll indulge me.

I've been working on health care and financial reform efforts. I've got lots of behind the scenes stories (no, not from the White House) and some of them I can share. I barely took a day off for the first 8 months so it was a ton of work. Was it worth it? Only time will tell but I think we'll look back in 10 years and say, 'Wow, that was a bigger deal than I thought at the time'. Follow along as I distill my observations into a few key points.

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Have a credit card? Use it? Pay off the balance every month or do you carry a balance as most Americans do? Checked the interest rate you're being charged lately? You're probably in for a big surprise. Seems without much notice credit card companies are raising rates across the board due to the 'ongoing financial crisis'. Not just .5%, not just 1% or even 2-3% but 6-9%. Think I'm kidding? Follow below....

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Sun Mar 09, 2008 at 04:14 PM PDT

America is Ageist (and more)

by philinmaine

In an amazing turn of events MSM just served up a portion of the truth. I'm surprised. I'm used to the excuses and self laudatory attitide coupled with dismissing most of the country but telling the truth? Allowing it on TV?

Who'd a thunk it? But they did, today, on NBC's This Week when they released and discussed the results of their latest survey. Would America elect an African American, a woman or a 72 yr old? Results on the flip plus a bonus review of grassroots organizing in action...

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Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 01:37 PM PST

Locker Room Conversations

by philinmaine

Let's get one thing on the table. Elections are decided by people talking to people. The most trusted source of information are people we talk to, more than once, over a period of time. Each of us has a circle that includes family, friends, people we work with and so forth.

Allow me to tell you about one of my circles on the flip

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