Archive for October 23rd, 2006

In case you haven’t seen the news recently, there’s an election coming up, and there are other things on the ballot besides a couple of fellas jockeying for a Montana Senate seat. And besides the terrible trio of Rich-funded and -implemented initiatives, there’s a couple of Montana initiatives, including CI-151, which will raise the minimum wage in the state.

Although I’ve yet to come out one way or the other on the initiative, it’s probably obvious to my readers that I support the bill. And I do. There’s a lot of noise from the folks who feel it’s their duty to protect big business to point out that, well, not too many people actually try to live off minimum wage, it’s a temporary thing, etc & co. Of course, there’s the flip side to the argument, that companies see the minimum wage as an acceptable amount to pay people because it’s within the law — while ignoring the fact that it’s not a livable wage. Big business will scr*w us if they can, and they often do.

Raise Montana has posted the MSU-Billings poll (pdf) that shows the minimum wage initiative is quite popular with Montanans (but not Conrad Burns or Dennis Rehberg), as 76.3% of respondents favor the wage increase and a meager 14.4% oppose it. So it’s not like this initiative needs a lot of support right now, but it’s a good cause and worth writing about.

Chicago blogger Mike Doyle gave me the heads up about a pretty cool project called Seven Days at Minimum Wage, a series of web-based videos hosted by Rosanne Barr about people who live on a minimum wage. The stories are pretty d*mn moving, featuring people working their *sses off just to keep afloat.

To understand the impact these stories should have, consider Doyle’s experience helping film some of the project:

I never thought I’d be called on to interview anyone. But this past week was crunch time and I had a video camera. So I mobilized my friends and colleagues and set out to find a few folks who wanted to tell America their stories of living at a wage that, though legal, is in most cases incapable of allowing anyone to pay rent. Or in the case of one woman I interviewed over the weekend, to buy food for both her and her four children.When someone not much different than you, about your age, sitting five feet away, begins to cry uncontrollably because she tells you–and maybe you’re the first person she’s ever admitted it to–that she can’t figure out anymore how to feed her family on a consistent basis and doesn’t feel like she has a future, it’s hard not to put down the camera you’ve got pointed in her face and reach out to hug her. Pretty much all you can do is cry with her too, trying to keep the picture from shaking around too badly or your own sobbing from being picked up on the mic.

This was my experience more than once in the past few days. In Chicago. In Hammond. Different people with different backgrounds, all united by the burning desire to get the hell out of poverty. And all uttering the words, through unexpected, bitter tears, “I hate it.”

That’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s easy to talk about abstract economic theory when opposing something like the minimum wage — or in the case of Burns or Rehberg, it’s easy to support your big-money backers — when you forget that this is an issue that is life-and-death for some people. And when you meet some of those people.

Vote for CI-151. And vote for the candidates that support it.

Update: In the comments, Jim Fleischmann warned against complacency, reminding me of the minimum 1996 wage initiative’s fate:

I don’t think that anybody in Montana should be complacent about the minimum wage’s current favorable polling. In 1995, the polling was equally “good” close to the election. Then the Montana Restaurant Association dropped a meager $250,000 on a single TV buy and we lost the initiative despite being up by about 30 points two weeks out from the election.

The Notorious Mark T posted about his experience with that effort ten years ago. It’s well worth a read.

D*mn good point. There are moneyed interests who have a vested interest in seeing this initiative go down in flames. Good ideas don’t necessarily float through the process on their own: we need to fight for them. Keep the buzz going on the street that CI 151 is the right thing to do.

Who says politics should be mendacious and vituperative?

Change all that! Now’s your chance to take politics to the next level! That’s right – I’m talking Fantasy Congress!

You’ve seen me talk fantasy baseball. You’ve seen me talk up fantasy football. Pah! Children’s games! Earn points while you watch your team literally take over the world!

I now throw down the gauntlet. I have created a league: Blackbirders Fantasy Congress.”

Password: “GoTester” (Apologies to my dextra friends for making you type those words…)

Join now!

This is the perfect time: Congress is in recess. Let’s do it!
Update: Ugh. I guess starting a league on fantasy Congress is about as easy as getting into Congress…

Okay. Try this. League name, “Blackbirds,” password: “Blackbirds”.

Like Craig, I, too, have been recruited to post over at Gather.com my thoughts on the Montana Senate race.

So far, I’ve written three pieces – an overview, guns and the Western Democrat, and one on Tester and the netroots. It’s pretty general stuff, aimed at an audience that isn’t familiar with the race.

And nowhere near as interesting as Craig’s posts on going undercover to a Tester fundraiser.

But the best thing about my posts on Gather may be this picture of me and Mr. Proud practising for Little League tryouts in six or seven years:

Links…

Matt notices that Senator Burns is losing his own push polls, and Shane thinks Burns has been abandoned by Senate Republicans. (Charles Johnson’s take.) Use these news items as incentive to go out and volunteer for Tester’s campaign, not to sit idly home. We’re in a good position but still need that election-day push

Tester makes the cover of The Weekly Standard. Good, honest assessment of the race and our state’s political environment.

Pogie illustrates why you should vote for Jon Tester even if he doesn’t agree with your pet cause.

Burns’ legal fees top $90K. Who else thinks Connie’s ran for Senate to build up a decent legal defense fund?

Moorcat presents the world with part one of his election endorsements.

The Idaho Stateman endorses Larry Grant. Good news, and absolutely the right choice.

Colorado Republicans choose sleaze in the last desperate days of the election. A harbinger of things to come here in Montana?

Intelligent Discontent continues its crusade against bad reporting and critiques stories by Charles Johnson, Walt Williams, and Matt Gouras.

For a little perspective on the Montana Senate race, check out Aspen’s whacky sheriff’s election.

Over 70 House races have been labeled “competitive” by insider prognostication publication, Congressional Quarterly. Insider pundit, Stuart Rothenberg, in January 2005: “As for [MyDD’s Chris] Bowers’ assertion that he wants ‘80 serious challenges’ to GOP incumbents next year, he might as well ask for 120 or 150. I want vacation houses in Napa Valley and Palm Beach, and I’d like to be 35 years old again.” Excellent proof of how insider pundits are generally a bunch of morons.

Barney Frank defends the outing of gay social conservatives.

Mitt Romney coordinating his campaign with the Morman Church? Oops, that violates federal tax rules.

“Stay the course”? Whoever heard of such a ridiculous strategy?

Kevin Drum wonders how long it’ll take before we recover from the Bush Presidency: “If he had set out to willfully and deliberately expose our weaknesses to the world and undermine our strengths, he couldn’t have done more to cripple America’s power and influence in the world. Beneath the bluster, he’s done more to weaken our national security than any president since World War II.” Digby reminds us that this is what’s at stake in November.

Allison Glock on the lack of decent Halloween costumes for women in big-box stores. I’ve noticed this, too. When did the holiday become all about sex?




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