donner, party of two 63


I learned to love Fridays these last few months, newly appreciative of weekends after 18 months of telecommuting contract work.  I had finally landed a Dream Job at a Dream Company.  Life had stabilized into something more suitable for long-term planning.  I started reading both Krugman and Brooks on the train ride to my Dream Job each Friday, marveling at the irony of how unhinged the former sounded, notwithstanding my agreement with many underlying policy principals, now that the latter was writing from a minority position.

This past Friday was no different.

Scratch that.  It was totally different.  I found out on Monday the 9th that the Dream Job was over after only three months and Friday the 13th would be my last day.  I was promised a year-long contract (“That is sure to become two or three years…”) but was being preemptively laid off.  The Dream Company had steady profits and a sunny outlook but was “forced” to dispose of someone who took six months to source and another three to train on their highly complex global information systems to meet some unattainable Wall Street metric.

“These are Perilous Economic Times,” Dream Company told me, an arm thrown companionably around my shoulder.  “We must remain cautious.  Perhaps we can reevaluate our relationship in Q3?”

America has created a business environment that requires public companies to focus tactically at the next quarter independent of long-term strategic goals for the organization, let alone for the country or the

economy.  We can’t allow for slow or no growth during perilous times to prepare for new opportunities when they arrive.  Instead, American companies must cannibalize their already scarce resources, laying off valuable

(not to mention fragile and human) employees and sabotaging the company’s ability to deliver on long-term strategic goals.

This leads to uncertainty and fear for the employees who remain when what we need is innovation and risk to provide the momentum for all of our success.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI5hrcwU7Dk&hl=en&fs=1]

Companies pursue moronic tactics with atavistic glee (the 1920s called and they want their decade back) or else the idiots on Wall Street might start panicking and drive the market down by a hundred points.  I am not sure

how we allowed such shrinking violets to be in charge of a central piece of our society, but that is different blog altogether.  I am not bitter about the premature ending of what had promised to be a long-term and fruitful relationship.  I understand the reality of a contract worker’s place in the hierarchy of American business.

I am a little heart broken, of course, but still believe each challenge is quickly followed by an opportunity and have yet to be proved wrong by maintaining optimism in the face of adversity.

Which brings me to America’s lack of confidence and how Barack Obama failed to achieve what was actually possible in these initial rounds of going toe-to-toe with Congressional republicans by way of Congressional democrats.  Barack may have gotten his bill through Congress using a left cross where George Junior used a right hook, but he missed a huge opportunity to tell America a different story of how we would fix our Republic.  He let partisan divisions and the media spotlight paint a narrative for the American people that was independent of historical context or strategic vision.

He didn’t describe a progressive America and the two trillion dollars we would have to spend to get there.  He didn’t call special interests to account for leading us to this precarious position.  He didn’t tell us all we have to fear is fear itself.

Instead, Barack allowed the democratic Congress to blow the dust off of everything they couldn’t  get through the republican idiots on Capital Hill for the last eight years and present it as the foundation for a Revolutionary Recovery Package to Meet These Troubled Economic Times, Our Greatest Challenge Since The Great Depression.  They gathered in Committee like so many Councils of Nicea to create a liberal Frankenstein monster that would provoke a predictable response from both the republican minority as well as the media.

Our “leaders” in Congress didn’t look at our current moment and craft new solutions to address old weaknesses and take advantage of new opportunities, settling for uninspired and reactionary measures instead.

This country suffers deep psychological wounds inflicted over four decades of brutal partisan warfare.  Even when our very future is at stake, our Ideological Warriors can’t break free of their destructive embrace.  Barack campaigned (and won) on the desire to change all that.  The “common wisdom” on the left now says Obama needs to forget about all this bipartisan nonsense and Bring the Hammer Down.  The GOP is intractable and want the Country To Fail, so the president has no choice but to get Medieval on Their Republican Asses!

I think that misses the reality of the opportunity by a mile.

The strategy of bringing Americans together to achieve progressive changes demonstrates Barack’s innate understanding of our structural weaknesses as well as awareness of our greatest strength, but the tactic of using the

republicans in Congress (not to mention democrats) as a vehicle for change shows the president’s learning curve in action.  Barack missed his first real opportunity to go straight to the grassroots of both parties with his vision for an America renaissance financed by all of our hard work and sacrifice over the decades to come.  He failed to build on the momentum provided by both his election and his inauguration.

Our new president should use the opportunity presented by our current media environment to speak directly to voters of both parties and inspire them to force Congress to be as big and as bold as our current situation demands.

The bill may not be exactly what we need, but Barack can use the Bully Pulpit to keep the American people involved in the process and inspire them to provide eyeballs at the local level where the money could easily hemorrhage into the black hole that is government contracting.  The administration can use the distribution process to force common sense changes in governance, transparency and accountability.  All the fine details of how the money is allocated should be immediately reviewed to ensure the holes that led to the money being needed in the first place are plugged even as we deploy massive new infusions of capital into some obviously broken programs.

We’ll need to fix our systems of government even as we seek to transform America into a 21st Century nation, but until the voters get mad, our dysfunctional Congress won’t be able to find its ass with both hands.

Barack needs to help to country get through the Anger and the Fear and the Regret of eight lost years.  Twenty-eight lost years, actually, because this story is not new.  Obama promised to bring the country together and I think our shared feelings of vulnerability are a great place to start the conversation.  He needs to articulate a Dream Nation we can all be inspired to support and work our asses off to achieve.  Given the president’s approval ratings, I think America is finally ready to listen.  Once we understand the opportunities and risks involved with pursuing innovative solutions to our various and sundry and well-entrenched problems, we can pester our ineffective Congress to continue modifying what might be an adequate plan right now into something that will truly deliver the sustainable future dictated by both our Common Sense and our Common Need.

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63 thoughts on “donner, party of two

  • quinn esq

    Bloody hell, Jason, I’m really sorry. I know the difficulties of living in contract world, and all I can do is support your decision to be positive and keep firing on all cylinders.

    As for the rest, the bringing forward of large-scale transformative measures – whether in energy, health, transport, housing – is difficult as yet. We don’t have full, worked-up plans; the population isn’t ready, nor are the media nor the financiers or companies involved. The need to move money out the door IS pressing, because we could easily add millions more unemployed before we get our heads around the changes needed. So, they bundled up the best of what they had existing on the books. Obama supported it, because he knew that was the ammo he had. If W hadn’t been W, perhaps we would have had a lot more.

    Nonetheless, this is secondary to wishing you well, hoping you hammer as hard on the work front as you do when battling here. I suspect, from what I’ve seen of you, that you’re the epitome of “persistence pays off.” Keep walking brother.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, quinn. Things always have a way of working out for me, no matter how desperate things may appear in the rear-view mirror.

      I agree with you that many of the needed processes and solutions aren’t on the government’s radar, but Obama must get them up to speed faster than any president before him if the goal is success and not more wasted money. We need to reform from the ground up and dumping a bunch of money into a broken system buys us time but certainly not success.

      I agree that something needed to be done and that getting the country moving forward was more important than standing still. We still need to fix while we implement or we are doomed to failure. I hope Obama will take his game back to the people and force us to make Congress be much bolder than the institutionalized inertia has been capable of performing.

  • Viper 123

    Any President that stands up for the working American people must realize the true battle that must be fought. For too long the American people have been treated as no more or less then “lemmings” in considering the historical treatment in the American workplace. So it looks like only Barack’s election was historical; his leadership style appears to be just more of the usual same; hanging with the elite and entitled. Fuck the “800lb. gorilla in the room; they do not need the American peoples help. I’m sorry for your current plight Jason and do expect that this current problem will assuredly lead you to something much better.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Too true, Viper. The first president to inspire a nation wins. I think Barack has it in him, he just needs to get back to his grassroots organizing and we’ll be just fine. Thanks for the encouraging words. These things have a way of working out in my favor. At least I have a lot of practice!

  • lastquarter

    Jason, it is a damn shame about the dream job. I too know that world, when your up it’s the best, & when down not so much, but with your tenacity you will see it through.

    Loved your well thought out post, kept thinking we put the right man in the job & if we hadn’t how much more dismal it would be. I do not see a way disaster could have been avoided.

    Thank you & the best of luck.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Funny thing about dreams. They have a way of being a lot mundane than the nightmares. My road may be rocky, but I can’t say it isn’t exciting! I think we elected the right guy, too. I hope he can get back his Shoe Leather days and inspire a nation rather than tame a Congress.

  • LisB

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dream job, Jason, and I wish you the best of luck in finding steady work as soon as possible. Great post, though. I highly recommend it.

  • markg8

    I second Q, good luck with the job hunt. Looking at your bio you apparently have some valuable skills jason so hopefully it won’t take long.

    As for America has created a business environment that requires public companies to focus tactically at the next quarter independent of long-term strategic goals for the organization it’s been thus for a long time. The movie you excerpt was made in 1987. Joni Mitchell wrote these lyrics to Chinese Cafe in 1982.

    Uranium money
    Is booming in the old home town now
    It’s putting up sleek concrete
    Tearing the old landmarks down now
    Paving over brave little parks
    Ripping off Indian land again
    How long how long
    Short sighted business men
    Ah nothing lasts for long
    Nothing lasts for long
    Nothing lasts for long

    If it makes you feel any better your former employers aren’t the only ones who were blindsided by today’s reality. As Obama clearly stated last week, he didn’t start running for office to pass a $800 billion stimulus bill and as late as last fall it wasn’t part of the plan.

    Since the election it’s obvious Paulson’s plan to unlock the credit markets wasn’t working and wasn’t enough. The disastrous financial mess and the continuing economic contraction led to all kinds of decisions downstream that has resulted in companies laying off workers. Contract workers are the easiest to shed. The only upside to that system is contract workers are also easier to put on the payroll. So when business picks up, theoretically at least, so will employment in the US, faster than in EU countries. Like I said in theory.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the encouragement. I am certainly blessed in ways that many people going through the same situation are not.

      I am glad I was able to make the point that “they” have been selling us this same failed set of solutions for decades now. We really need some innovative thinking in evolving government if the country is going to get through this in one piece.

      I am still waiting for something innovative.

      • eds

        “I am still waiting for something innovative.”

        I hope you can shift out of waiting for Godot” mode and into the mode you hinted at re creativity from the grass roots up. Create the innovation… maybe your posts and comments here are part of that gestation.

        I hope your personal financial situation is not suddenly perilous.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Thanks, eds. Our situation is pretty perilous, but not as bad as most. I suspect things will from bad to better in short order.

          As far as innovation goes, in the absence of said innovation from the top, I will indeed keep shouting from the bottom and hoping the grassroots gets there without someone at the to to guide them. I see what we are all doing here as part of that gestalt, but still would love to see some of that campaign magic rub off on the administration’s current efforts.

          Maybe the paradigm we are breaking is needing a “leader” to help us define the promise land and devise a strategy to get there?

  • OldenGoldenDecoy

    .

    Well . . . Jason

    To a young blustery guy like you, from a crusty ol’ curmudgeon like me, please accept my condolences for the temporary bump you face in your journey on life’s road.

    You are now at a point of “Crossing the First Threshold” (“The Call to Adventure”) and heading for the “Road of Trials” on life’s journey.

    And I suspect this isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last.

    ~OGD~

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Thanks, OGD, for the heads-up as well as the words of encouragement. It is certainly as you say – neither my first journey on the Road of Trials nor my last. Cheers!

  • Boyd Reed

    Good luck on the job search, JEM.

    As for the post…I don’t believe a $1 trillion (which would still be too small by at least half) stimulus bill would ever have made it through Congress.

    Of course, as I mentioned in a discussion I had a short while ago with Skybolt, what good is a 65% approval rating if you don’t take it for a spin on the big stuff?

    It is my belief that Obama will be back for a second helping o’ stimulus before Christmas. His chances of success depend almost entirely on whether this stimulus produces any results, and on how aggressively Obama sells it.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, Boyd. Things should rebound in short order.

      I think Americans would have pressured Congress to spend whatever the president said we needed to spend in order to get to a grand vision of America. Barack still hasn’t really sold that vision nor been straight with what it will cost and why.

      Problem is, Obama relied on the existing systems too heavily and we became the victims of lowered expectations as result. I am not so sure coming back to the well over and over to fill up the same leaky bucket is the answer.

      Still looking for innovation beyond the ability to win an unprecedented campaign,.

      • Boyd Reed

        Leaving aside the question of how much public pressure would have been applied under the approach you suggest…

        I think the big problem is that the bill doesn’t get through the Senate if it’s any bigger.

        The legislative math is pretty easy. The GOP in both houses signaled early that they were going to fight the bill. Obama had the votes in the House to pass, but did NOT have the votes in the Senate without GOP help.

        Schiliro & Co. identified the moderates who could possibly be moved (Voinovich, Specter, Collins, Snowe). Voinovich eventually dropped out of the negotiations, and the other elephants spent a lot of time reducing the final bill in size while reinserting a bunch of AMT provisions. (Collins in particular has a lot to answer for by removing whistleblower protections.)

        Until Democrats can get reliable crossovers, or 60 Dem/I votes, compromise is going to be the order of the day. (As for threatening Collins, she was just re-elected in ’08…sadly, plenty of time to gloss over her poor behavior in these negotiations.)

        I just don’t believe a larger stimulus would have ever passed. In fact, a $2 trillion stimulus might have even failed in the House (remember, GOP + all Blue Dogs > Other Dems in the House).

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Republicans opposed the bill reflexively because it contained money for every democratic poster child from the last eight years. Perhaps a better strategy would have used multiple smaller recovery bills meant to address a specific part of the problem, while articulating that grander vision of what all of the investment is trying to achieve or a defined period of time.

          There is plenty of support on the right for spending money. Just look at the last twenty-eight years. Problem is you aren’t going to use the same With Us or Against Us tactics and expect to unite a nation. Obama can invite Congressional republicans over for tea all he wants, but that doesn’t change the nature of negotiations in Committee nor does it inspire the conservatives at home to support his initiatives.

          I see a lot of the same people behind the scenes right now that created this disaster under Clinton. Further, the tactics we are now seeing are straight out of the DLC. That gives me pause as well.

          TARP was already sitting there approved and ready to go. That might have been a better use of political capital to use that to federalize a few of the larger banks with the shadier balance sheets and stabilize the economy before dumping billions of dollars into broken government contracting systems. Use that additional time to craft multiple bills over multiple years, like FDR did.

          I think Barack sacrificed taking the time to develop the best long-term, strategic plan in favor of winning a short-term tactical victory. That doesn’t mean the need to go big went away nor does it negate the fact the government at every level.

          • Boyd Reed

            (Sorry for the delayed response; my dashboard hasn’t worked in a few days, and this post fell off the rec list.)

            This has to get unpacked a bit.

            Republicans opposed the bill reflexively because it contained money for every democratic poster child from the last eight years.

            Revisionist history. Republicans squawked about a number of things (education infrastructure money, school assistance, AMT protection, more tax cuts in general, contraceptives) that all got changed as they wanted. They STILL didn’t vote for it. The truth is, they opposed the bill for political reasons, and are praying their gamble pays off.

            Perhaps a better strategy would have used multiple smaller recovery bills meant to address a specific part of the problem, while articulating that grander vision of what all of the investment is trying to achieve or a defined period of time.

            More recovery bills are coming. I know it’s hard to think of $800B as “smaller”, but I am very confident that this will not be the only such measure Obama seeks to get through Congress in this session.

            So, the question is whether he should’ve tried for it all at once, or used the strategy of multiple appropriations. I tend to think the former strategy would never have passed. You clearly disagree. I can agree to leave it at that if you can. 🙂

            There is plenty of support on the right for spending money. Just look at the last twenty-eight years. Problem is you aren’t going to use the same With Us or Against Us tactics and expect to unite a nation. Obama can invite Congressional republicans over for tea all he wants, but that doesn’t change the nature of negotiations in Committee nor does it inspire the conservatives at home to support his initiatives.

            Two problems with this.

            (1) Most of the money spent over the last 28 years (totaling about $9 trillion of our current debt) didn’t have any relation to the vast majority of Americans. It was corporate, military, and rich-folk spending.

            (2) I submit that Obama has earned the support of many conservatives. The cross-tabs from the last Gallup poll on the stimulus show that Obama got 56% of self-identified independents supporting the measure. Yes, the Republican numbers drop to 28%, but I believe that many of the “independents” are conservatives who stopped ID’ing as Republicans.

            I see a lot of the same people behind the scenes right now that created this disaster under Clinton. Further, the tactics we are now seeing are straight out of the DLC. That gives me pause as well.

            I disagree mightily about the DLC equivalency. The DLC approach would’ve involved more caterwauling, and virtually no hard lines drawn anywhere. Obama certainly did not do that. Also, what do you expect to see as far as DC Democrats? There’s been one Dem President in the last 28 years. Damn near everyone who’s qualified for a job in the Obama administration is going to have some Clinton contact on their resumes.

            TARP was already sitting there approved and ready to go. That might have been a better use of political capital to use that to federalize a few of the larger banks with the shadier balance sheets and stabilize the economy before dumping billions of dollars into broken government contracting systems. Use that additional time to craft multiple bills over multiple years, like FDR did.

            Who says those banks *aren’t* going to be federalized? But you can’t make that determination until Geithner’s had time to stress-test all these institutions.

            To fully understand what Obama and Geithner are up to, I think you have to take a careful look at what they HAVEN’T said, just as much as what they have. The language for the second TARP tranche certainly leaves federalization as an option. And Obama has not taken the big measures off the table either.

            But I think announcing that ahead of time – before you’re really ready – doesn’t make sense. So, you step forward with a commitment, but leave yourself angles if your subsequent investigation makes it necessary to change your course.

            I think Barack sacrificed taking the time to develop the best long-term, strategic plan in favor of winning a short-term tactical victory. That doesn’t mean the need to go big went away nor does it negate the fact the government at every level.

            And I think your error here, in general, is seeing this as the end of the road. It’s not. And, for future measures, Obama doesn’t really have to spend much time courting Republicans. He’s already checked that box, as Frank Rich points out.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You still mistake my criticism for some misunderstanding of the finer details of the legislation or the steps Obama is taking.

            This whole process has been the same old, same old with the same players making the same tired pronouncements with the same lackluster results as being the only possible consequence of those tactics. Obama missed an opportunity to go bigger and bolder and smarter. He didn’t properly use the Bully Pulpit and the mandate the voters gave him in November to stop the madness that is our legislative process.

            I am not making a judgment based on how well he used the existing levers of power. I am of a mind that the existing structures are insufficient to our need and Obama missed a chance to change that system on day one. Instead, he allowed the old way of doing business cloud what a very clear message of change. The message that got him elected.

            I didn’t vote for Obama to get the same sort of White House I could have gotten from Hillary Clinton. The only thing different between them right now is a pronoun.

  • FDRdog

    So sorry to hear about your plight, Jason. I’ve been there and it hurts. Judging from your bio, might you find a place in the administration? In any case, good luck with the job search wherever it leads you.

    Obama has learned from this first round, I hope and believe, but he doesn’t even have all the people he needs yet. I am an optimist, though and I think he will pull things out. Good blog, though. rec’d.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, FDR. I am throwing out my resume far and wide, but I thinking that getting something of my own going is the only way to get myself to stable ground.

      I am with you that I hope he is learning as he goes as to who he can trust to be big and bold and who can’t be trusted to use the toilet on their own. As he has his “victories” I suspect each will be picked apart to see what worked and what didn’t. I also suspect he will be a quick study on how entrenched our current dysfunction is and what it will take to root it out over the next four years.

      I remain optimistic, yet not quite sold on the promise of an Obama administration is being put into action. There is a lot of the same old, same old going on which is cause for vigilance if not concern.

  • Evainne

    Jason, I am so very sorry. I hope your optimism will open another door for you really soon. I send you good thoughts. Thanks for a fab post. Rec.

  • dijamo

    Hey Jason, sorry to hear about the job. If you can take on trying to reform the GOP, surely you are resilient enough to take on this job market.

  • agio

    Sorry to hear about the layoff, best of luck in getting resituated.

    Regarding your statement,

    He didn’t describe a progressive America and the two trillion dollars we would have to spend to get there. He didn’t call special interests to account for leading us to this precarious position. He didn’t tell us all we have to fear is fear itself.

    Instead, Barack allowed the democratic Congress to blow the dust off of everything they couldn’t get through the republican idiots on Capital Hill for the last eight years and present it as the foundation for a Revolutionary Recovery Package to Meet These Troubled Economic Times, Our Greatest Challenge Since The Great Depression. They gathered in Committee like so many Councils of Nicea to create a liberal Frankenstein monster that would provoke a predictable response from both the republican minority as well as the media.

    Though I agree with you in principle (the fact you are such a good writer helps) I would just remind you that politics is the art of the possible, and I do believe that Obama did more or less what was possible given the poisonous and counterproductive climate that pervades our nation’s capital.

    Obama knows, better than anyone, not to telegraph his punches. If he is planning on getting Americans to spend two trillion dollars getting their society back into shape, he’s not going to say it and give the opponents of such a vision enough time to prepare to sabotage his plans.

    Opportunity lost? Perhaps. But by not letting the better be the enemy of the good, he at least got something accomplished, and quite early in his tenure at that.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I agree that politics is the art of possible, but I think what Barack misjudged was what was possible given where the country is right now.

      He aimed low and wasn’t disappointed with the results. I would rather have him aim high and miss than set our sights too low to begin with. It isn’t a matter of telegraphing his punches as much as getting the American people in his corner to keep his cuts from putting him out of the match.

      I am glad that he didn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but I am a little worried that he is letting the doable ne the enemy of good as well.

          • bluebell

            He should have started a lot farther left. He’d still have gotten the same votes with a “compromise” farther left. It was all a charade anyway. We’re being played. Look at what the Republicans are doing with the Coleman-Franken farce. They play hardball. If we can’t, the whole country is going to be toast.

          • Boyd Reed

            Starting farther left? As in, more money? Stripping out most tax cuts?

            Personally, I like the approach. Legislatively, it is not realistic. Specter, Snowe and Collins are NOT going to come along in that scenario – and Nelson may well abandon ship too. Without ALL of them, the final bill fails.

          • bluebell

            I doubt Specter, Snowe and Collins cared much what they signed for as long as they could play their role. It’s all a game. They don’t care what they are in the center of as long as they can claim they are in the center of it. You have to wonder if any of these folks give a damn about the American people. If we’re going to be branded as left-wing socialists might as well be left-wing socialists and make them compromise on liberal.

          • Bwakfat

            You have to wonder if any of these folks give a damn about the American people.

            If I may hazard a guess?

            No.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          At least that would meet the requirement of being bold and innovative when crafting a vision for America.

          I think it would need to be a little more realistic and broader in scope (not to mention language) than Sanders and Kucinich could write on their own, but would be a great starting point. We need to allow the “center” to be redefined as doing shit that works and then move as many people as we can to that place, right and left.

          It isn’t about more cowbell this time.

  • GregorZap

    Yup, it sucks to be without work, but attitude makes the difference and you’re staying positive. Good on you, JEM!

    It is a keen observation that the Dems took everything off the shelves and put them into the package. Now the real work begins. What else can they do? What else should they do? I think they need to revisit the projects FDR put into place, as part of a PR campaign. We do not need to renovate those projects necessarily, but mentioning their names, i.e. Mt. Hood Lodge, and other parks, might help people see the good things developed as we dug out of the last depression. It might also bring those seniors to talk about them and remind their children how it worked for America to undertake those projects. McCain got the senior votes, but those seniors have stories to tell and successes to remember that might bring them to partner with the Dems to rebuild this country from the inside, from teh bottom up, like we did last time.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I understand the impulse to move quickly as well as to use all the old stuff to avoid losing momentum, Gregor, but I think a more effective approach that was logical and solutions-oriented might have delivered bigger dividends, albeit with a lot less theater.

      There was a ton of money just sitting there with TARP, so addressing our emergent economic concerns should have been a no-brainer with a smaller, more focused initial recovery bill. Perhaps something that didn’t prompt the predicable response from entrenched interests.

      I like your idea of bringing some of our national parks into the 21st Century. That is a good investment with nationwide results. My uncle got married at the lodge on Mt. Hood. It is actually pretty-well kept for such an old place. It was also an awesome look through history at a similar period of time and the creative response that was offered to address our problems.

      I would have like a little more creativity, which of necessity takes time. Even FDR took multiple years (not to mention nearly three terms) to shape his plans and implement them.

  • CVille Dem

    Beyond everything else, when I hear about someone losing a job, my first thought is this:

    What are they going to do about health insurance?

    I don’t know about your situation; whether you can be covered under your wife’s policy, but this whole issue is enormous.

    The only way to get decent health insurance in our country today (unless you were EVER a senator, congressperson, supreme court justice, or however many other people get life-time gold-plated insurance) is through an employer. Yes, you can get it as an individual, but heaven forbid you have ever been sick, because your premium will be unafordable. If your premium isn’t unaffordable, then your deductible will make your “insurance” moot.

    I’m on my usual soapbox here, but I am assuming you are covered. Please tell me you’re ok with insurance.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      My wife has us covered,s o no worries there. I don’t go to doctors anyway since they are the quickest way to an early grave. I just stay away from the standard American diet of high-fructose corn syrup, soy oils and fat-laden meats as well as getting off the couch on a regular basis.

      Many people are much worse off than we are, both financially and physically, so I consider my path blessed by some agency that has yet to allow me to fall too far to pull myself back up. I am not a religious man, but the Universe clearly has a process that can be tapped into with the proper mindset.

      Thanks again for the positive thoughts!

  • Saladin

    Jason, So sorry abut the job… Had a good comment but it did not appear- said that the blog owner needed to approve.

    This is the first time that a comment has been held. Does anybody know if this is this a standard thing, or did I inadvertly break something? Where did it go?

    • Saladin

      Nevermind Art Appraiser filled me in I guess thats what happens to comments with more than 2 links. Too bad Jason’s excellent writing had inspired me to give it a lot of thought.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Thanks for the kind words, Saladin.

        That limitation frustrates me as well since the “Bots” it is meant to frustrate would be much more likely to put in a single link rather than many. It can be hard to reply with two paltry links when there is a wealth of information to share.

        I guess you’ll just have to do a blog post as a reply instead!

  • San Fernando Curt

    I know how you feel. My own job will be fading in a few months, and then… I try to keep my optimism and hope alive. It must be hard for you right now, Jason, I know. The real wolves at the door are our responsibilities – always there, always hungry.

    And I agree: We needed, more than anything else, a top-to-bottom, fresh approach to the stimulus instead of old pet projects and gasbag Democratic fetishes. As is, any benefits will be leached – almost by accident – from a fatty, inefficient package that reflects officials grasping at personal advantage more than their recognition of national loss and responsibility.

    But we have the Congress we have – imperfect, profoundly flawed and corrupt. We must find in ourselves the resouces and resourcefulness to get through this dark passage. My prays and thoughts are with you.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, Curt, for the positive thoughts! Ditto as your own roller coaster ride starts up in a few months. One good thing about being a good communicator, though, is that you are already head and shoulders above any competition.

      Most people have a hard time articulating their name.

      Which kind of leads into what you were saying about having the Congress we have rather than the Congress we need. I think that is exactly right. We need to figure out a way to make them effective despite their obvious and sundry flaws. I believe Barack needs to go directly to the grassroots in order to force Congress to straighten up.

      We’ll give them a message in the 2010 primaries, but can hardly let them have free reign until then or we are screwed. The Obama administration (Axelrod really) needs to remember how they got elected in the first place and mobilize the country around a singular and magnificent vision of progress.

      They we can argue about how much money it is going to cost. It’s all Monopoly money anyway. Either we spend whatever it takes to engineer a society that is sustainable and equitable or the planet dies.

      Seems pretty cut and dried from a “What are the stakes?” standpoint.

  • tao

    Fine words Jason. Thank You. Sorry about the work reversal, but look at it as an opportunity for a new adventure. I know you will do well in the end.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      My Tao is certainly to attack every reversal as if it was my best opportunity for Nirvana. So far, I have been rewarded with ever increasing levels of happiness, so something is working right. Thanks for the kind words!

  • bluesplashy

    Good luck to you Jason. I think that Obamas focus was getting something through quickly so he did the best he could. Congress just sucks, just plain sucks. Sometimes I can’t believe either side. The congressional dems that are singing we are the champions better get off the stage and nose down tail up working or they will be on the same side of the door as the republicans when it slams shut behind them in 2010. Of course it would help us a whole lot if we could eject the MSM right now for one that believes in facts and reality.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks for the well wishes. Except for huge challenges along the way, I would say my luck has been mostly good. Of course, luck is when preparation meets opportunity, so I try to always be prepared. I wasn’t even a Boy Scout!

      I think what Obama ran into on this first go around was his inexperience and naivete. The opportunity was there, he just wasn’t quite ready to take advantage of the moment. I don’t fault him for that. The right man for the job was always going to have a steep learning curve.

      I think he is up to the challenged, but must compile quick after action reports on his efforts and adjust accordingly. As you said, the first opportunity for the American people to have his back is the primary elections of 2010. Until then, all we can do is respond to calls from the Bully Pulpit that have been basically absent since January 20.

      No more Mr. Nice Guy, Barack. Time to flank Congress and get the American people involved ahead of schedule.

  • bluemeanie

    Great post, Jason. I am in near total agreement, except I think the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (I’m so over “stimulus,” “stim” or the other inane shorthand) is more progressive and not quite as nearsighted as you give it credit for.

    I’m a bit disappointed, as you are, that the President didn’t work the grassroots harder and earlier on this one. Organizing for America seemed slow out of the blocks following Mitch Stewart’s appointment, although absent a crisis three weeks really isn’t a lot of time. I think Barack is committed to this and it will come.

    Your indictment of corporate culture is right on and admirably articulate. Although we’ve never met (I would like to, sometime), it’s clear to me that your current situation is direct evidence of its stupidity.

    I can’t add anything substantive to the well-wishes you’ve received from the TPM community, so I won’t try. You have mine.

    Rock on, my brother.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, bm. Rockin’ on as usual. Still looking for the rest of the band, though.

      I think the name of the legislation is a great place to start with changing the lexicon. Why not the American Recovery and Investment Act? ARIA is so much easier to say, one can sing it almost, and implies we are investing in new strategies rather than doubling-down (reinvesting) in things that have had modest performance at best and are tragically flawed at worst.

      My problem isn’t with the specific programs and policy priorities as outlined in ARRA, but rather the leaky bucket we are using to transport those funds to the scene of the fire. By the time it reaches the flames, it could very well have been wasted in countless ways by numerous dirty hands.

      I think we should have gone as big as we needed to in order to fill the immediate need and take a little longer to craft a long-term strategy and budget to address our larger, more systemic problems over Obama’s entire first term. We needed a little more deliberation and common sense process improvement than the situation allows us, so scaling our expectations should have been the first step in a wider grassroots effort at moving such a massive ship of state.

      My lamenting of this missed opportunity certainly doesn’t close me eyes to the ones still remaining. The quicker Organizing for America is running full-speed, the better I will feel about some of the problems at the deck-plate level getting fixed.

      We need local eyes and hands because that’s where all the holes are.

  • dickday

    Jeez Jason. You get interested in ‘the news’, interested in new elections, in government and boom–events kick you right in the gut.

    We need cites, charts, statistics…but real personal stories are so important. And I thank you for telling me about you!!!!

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Hi, dick, and thanks for reading my tragic tale of woe. It isn’t often that my personal life collides with my political beliefs.

      I got kicked a little lower than the gut, but the sting wore off rather quickly. I have full-metal jacket cajones that have taken a beating these last few years. Still, I have been mostly blessed despite a Job-like journey, so much of my TPM fodder is focused on advocating to fix things that are kicking an asses other than my own.

      I’ll try to bring a little bit more of my personal journey to my blogs if it helps set the context. As my new venture gets spun up, I hope to involve all my TPM cohorts in the effort.