Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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David Bossie's unethical pitch to small donors

Last month I was on the receiving end of a push-poll/fundraising call from Newt Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions. Mark Blumenthal of Pollster.com read my post and said it “sounds like a clear cut example of fundraising under the guise of a survey (‘FRUGGing’)”. The Marketing Research Association considers FRUGGing unethical, because

The use of a poll to conduct fund raising has raised the distrust of the public to a point where they refuse to cooperate with researchers trying to obtain the opinions of any number of issues, including political campaign, and government: federal, state and local research. In a country inundated with telemarketing and direct mail fund raising it is more and more difficult for marketing and opinion researchers to get accurate data.

Although I declined to give Newt’s group any money, I must look like a sucker for conservative groups peddling fake surveys. On Wednesday, May 20, the phone rang around 8:25 pm and the caller asked for me by name. She worked for Infocision (the same company that made the calls for Gingrich’s group), and she asked whether I would participate in a brief survey for David Bossie’s group Citizens United.

As I always do when I receive any political call, I grabbed a pen and paper to take notes. More details are after the jump. You be the judge of whether Bossie’s group is also FRUGGing.

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