Notes from Netroots Nation

I’m at Netroots Nation (formerly Yearly Kos). Having attended California Democratic Party conventions, I find NN strikingly lower on b.s. and rah-rah and pitched at a much higher intellectual level. I’ve never been to CPAC, so I can’t do that comparison, but there’s remarkably little “red meat.” Absoutely nothing resembling a Coulter or a Limbaugh.

The evening session just ended had six or seven speakers, leading up to Bill Clinton. I’m easily bored and annoyed by political speechifying, but there wasn’t a single talk I would have preferred not to listen to. The tone was mostly serious and analytical, with no more than a decent minimum of collective self-congratulation.

Clinton was at his best, reminding me of why I was once a Clinton enthusiast. He made a strong argument that the netroots should push hard for the best possible health care bill, but that no bill would be the worst outcome of all.

If a video gets posted, as I assume it will, I’ll link to it. Well worth watching.

Worst news of the day: The Allegheny County Executive, who claims credit for turning around the Pittsburgh area economically with infrastructure investment and a concentration on manufacturing components for “green” buildings and who hopes to ride that claim to the Pennsylvania State House next year, has (with big help from the President) attracted the G20 summit to Pittsburgh, hoping to show the delegates a model of economic resurgence. So far, so good.

The bad news is that the anarchists are comming to town, planning, in the words of a sympathizer who spoke at one of the panels, “something massive” that will be “mostly non-violent.” Of course, some telegenic left-wing rioting would be a godsend to the teabaggers and their political sponsors right now. Since the teabaggers are not smashing any store windows, it’s going to be hard for the good guys to make the case that it’s teabaggers rather than anarchists who represent a threat to democratic deliberation.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.