Edwards wrapping up the left blogsphere & Obama's got the Millennial's

Aaron Myers's spams me from the info@edwards.com email addy to inform me about: "...two new additions to the John Edwards for President campaign team. Amanda Marcotte.. as our Blogmaster.... Melissa McEwan as the campaign's Netroots Coordinator."

Amanda Marcotte blogs on Pandagon about becoming a Edwards staffer.

Melissa McEwan blogs on Shakespeare's Sister about her move to Edwards.

This is a interesting angle of hires from the netroots for Edwards. Shakespeare's Sister and Pandagon are blogs that I think would be characterized as 'ideologically-centered' as oppossed to being 'big-tent' democratic blogs.

This is actually the first move by the Edwards campaign in the netroots that I find ground-breaking. Similar to the work that we were doing on Mark Warner's PAC, with the tech and gaming blogosphere. If they look at the blogrolls of Amanda on Pandagon, and the "blog props" of Shakespeare's Sister, maybe Danny Glover and Conn Carroll will be able to tell the DC bubble that a whole new blogosphere exists on the left that engages politics.

Some of them consist of the bloggers that vehemently disagreed with the Crashing The Gate statement that single-issue groups need to put aside their pet issues to work toward the cause of a Democratic majority (the recipe for the success of '06). That said, this move by both Amanda and Melissa represents the sort of pragmatism necessary to actually work in politics.

It's also a great move at mobilizing feminist and women bloggers behind Edwards instead of Hillary Clinton. Sure, that doesn't matter much in the early states of IA, NV, NH, SC, where organizing is king, but it will with fundraising and organizing beyond the first tier of presidential contests. But most of all, it's a move on the issues to the liberal side of the spectrum.  

What this move symbolizes in the blogosphere is that Edwards team understands how to move to the left on the issues. The early move by Edwards to consolidate the liberal wing of the Democratic party at the beginning is very smart. It's how McGovern won the 1972 Democratic primary (I've been reading Gary Hart's "Right from the Start"). As Hart described McGovern's tactic:

He would provide a legitamate candidacy for the disenchanted but was clearly committed to the Democatic Party... his ability to reconcile dissident and regular elements in the party. From this, all present concurred in the so-called left-centrist strategy: co-opt the left, precluding the possibility of other liberal candidates, and at the same time, make the campaign open and acceptable to party regulars. The issues, together with early organizational activity, would help nail down the left, but the most convincing argument for the party regulars, the center, would be orgainzational strength-- visctories in the middle and later primaries and superior numbers of people in the caucuses in the non-primary states.
For Edwards, that show of "organizational strength" means wins in both Iowa and Nevada.

There's also an interesting article out on Barack Obama by DC's CW, Harold Fineman, Is Obama Losing Web War? It seems to confirm the grumble I've heard about his lacking active organizing in the early states and their teams non-understanding of the netroots. That's not to say they won't come to the table and compete within the next 6 months (I think with regards to early state organizing that they will), but with Edwards staking out the ideological left, and Obama stalking a more non-partisan position, Obama could lose the competitive advantage that he gained in street cred from his uber-left stand against the Iraq invasion in 2002. His team's tactical planning, nail down the big money first and organize later, doesn't understand the way that they net has transformed presidential politics.

But there's also an argument to be made, on Obama's behalf, that he's endeavoring on an internet strategy that targets youth as his added-value to the turnout model. On Friday, he's attending a "Students For Barack Obama" Facebook rally. Obama is lucky to have this happening on his behalf, but he's smart to embrace and encourage the effort. Now, I've seen the extra-youth turnout models fall flat on their face in Iowa (with Dean), but Obama's appeal to the Millennial generation, as oppossed to Edwards appeal to the ideological left of older more traditionally politically active generations, is unique and full of possibilities in the big-state primaries.

I'm attending the DNC winter meetings on Friday and Saturday, so I'll hopefully be blogging alot more about the presidential candidates.

There's more...

Weekly Pulse: #DearJohn, Does Banning Abortion Trump Job Growth?

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

With millions of Americans out of work, House Republicans are focusing in on real priorities: decimating private abortion coverage and crippling public funding for abortion, as Jessica Arons reports in RH Reality Check.

In AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte notes that the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, or H.R. 3, also redefines rape as “forcible rape” in order to determine whether a patient is eligible for a Medicaid-funded abortion. Under the Hyde Amendment, government-funded insurance programs can only cover abortions in cases of rape and incest, or to save the life of the mother. Note that the term “forcible rape” is  legally meaningless. Supporters of the bill just want to go on the record as saying that a poor 13-year-old girl pregnant by a 30-year-old should be forced to give birth.

Feminist blogger Sady Doyle has launched a twitter campaign against the bill under the hashtag #dearjohn, a reference to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Tweet to let him know how you feel about a bill that discriminates against 70% of rape victims because their rapes weren’t violent enough for @johnboehner, append the hashtag #dearjohn.

Everybody chill out

A federal judge in Florida ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional on Monday. However, as political scientist and court watcher Scott Lemieux explains at TAPPED, the ruling is not necessarily a death blow to health care reform:

[T]his ruling is less important than the controversy it will generate might suggest. Many cornerstone programs of the New Deal were held unconstitutional by lower courts before being upheld by the Supreme Court. This ruling tells us nothing we didn’t already know: There is a faction of conservative judges who believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Unless this view has the support of five members of the Supreme Court — which I still consider very unlikely — it won’t matter; Vinson’s reasoning would have a much greater impact if adopted by the Court, but for this reason it is even less likely to be adopted by higher courts.

In a follow-up post, Lemieux explains the shaky legal reasoning behind Judge Robert Vinson’s decision. The judge asserts bizarrely that being uninsured has no effect on interstate commerce. That premise is objectively false. Health insurers operate across state lines and the size and composition of their risk pools directly affects their business.

Given the glaring factual inaccuracies, Judge Vinson’s decision may be overturned by a higher court before it gets to the Supreme Court.

Scamming Medicare

Terry J. Allen of In These Times win’s the headline of the week award for an article entitled “Urology’s Golden Revenue Stream.” She reports that increasing numbers of urologists are investing millions on machines to irradiate prostate cancer in the office. The doctors can bill Medicare up to $40,000 per treatment, but they have to use the machines a lot to recoup the initial investment. So what does this mean for patients? Allen explains:

Rather than accessing centralized equipment and sharing costs, physicians are concentrating their own profits by buying expensive in-practice technologies that pay off only if regularly used. One result is overtreatment, which is driving up health care costs, exposing patients to unnecessary radiation and surgeries, and is frequently no better than cheaper approaches.

One third of Medicare patients with prostate cancer undergo the expensive IMRT therapy, as the procedure is known. In 2008, Medicare shelled out over a billion dollars on a treatment that has not shown to be any better for patients than less expensive therapies.

Obstetric fistula in the developing world

Reproductive Health Reality Check is running a special series on the human rights implications of obstetric fistula. Fistula is a devastating complication of unrelieved obstructed labor in which the baby’s head gets stuck in the birth canal and presses against the soft tissues of the pelvis. If labor goes on long enough, the pressure will starve the pelvic tissues of blood, and they will die, creating a hole between the vagina and the bladder, and/or between the vagina and the rectum. Fistula patients face lifelong incontinence, chronic pain, and social ostracism.

The condition is virtually unknown in the developed world, where women with obstructed labor have access to cesarean delivery. However, an estimated 2 million women, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, have untreated fistulas with an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring each year. Without reconstructive surgery, these women will be incontinent for life.

Sarah Omega, a fistula survivor from Kenya, tells her story. Omega sustained a fistula when she delivered her first child at the age of 19. She suffered for 12 years before she finally obtained the surgery she needed. As Agnes Odhiambo explains in another installment in the series, fistula is a symptom of a dysfunctional health care system. Women suffer needlessly because they can’t get access to quality health care.

The most likely victims of fistula are the most vulnerable members of their respective communities. Early childbearing increases a woman’s risk of fistula. Pregnant rape victims may face even greater barriers to a safe delivery, thanks to the social stigma that accrues to victims of sexual violence in many societies. (Not to mention any names, House Republicans…)

Preventing and repairing obstetric fistula is a major human rights issue. The U.S. should make this effort a high priority for foreign aid.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.




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