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Epiphanies & Ramblings On A Drive to Denver

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I am something of an organizational freak - a status you have to attain when you work for yourself. So this last week of moving has been particularly traumatic for me because my entire life in Montana was shoved in a box and is now lying all over our new house here in Denver. I hope you'll thus forgive the rambling nature of this post - my mind feels like it is in 15 different places. Thankfully, I still have that calming(if now obstructed) view of the Rocky Mountains in my new place - a similar view from my place in Helena which reminds me that while I am sad to have left Montana, I am nonetheless still here in the wonderful American West.

The move was, well, like all moves: grueling, tiring and with its share of bumps - and a big thank you to Matt Singer of Left in the West for picking up my blogospheric slack through it all. We drove about six hours the first day, from Helena to Sheridan, Wyoming. Pulling in at around 11pm, we scrambled to find one of the last remaining motel rooms (apparently, "this is the season in Sheridan" as we were told as an explanation for why everything was pretty much booked up). About three hours after going to sleep, we were treated to the real life version of My Cousin Vinny as we were awoken by multiple blasts from the whistle of a cargo train whose track was about 100 feet from the room's window. These blasts didn't stop the rest of the night.

The next day, we hustled through the mid-section of Wyoming - a beautiful and barren place whose rolling countryside is dotted with small grasshopper-looking oil wells and a few massive coal burning power plants. During this part of the drive, I thought a lot about our decision to leave Washington, D.C. and move out to this region, probably because we were driving through the state at precisely the time that the Beltway was abuzz with chatter about the Wyoming Senate race.

I always get the feeling that places like Wyoming and this region in general only get attention from political elites when something like this happens - as if this area is a sort of remote colony that's important only for how it occasionally affects the D.C. chess game, and nothing more. This is not something I'm dreaming up. Over the last few years, a lot of folks in politics condescendingly chuckled when they found out I lived in Montana - as if living out there is just so hilariously quaint. And I've run into more than a few who seem to see even the bustling city of Denver as some isolated outpost, significant only because it happens to be in the middle of a potential presidential swing state.

But I realized on our drive that one of the reasons I've chosen to live out here is because I really want to be a good journalist and writer, and that the fact that so much of our political debate is so utterly dominated by elites geographically anchored on the coasts is precisely the reason why our politics is afflicted with such a dismissive view of the American heartland (By the way - I'm in no way saying there's anything wrong with living on the coasts - but there is something wrong with most of our national political discussion being disproportionately dominated by people who live there). So as we rolled past Cheyenne and hit Denver, I started feeling even more excited. With my new weekly, nationally syndicated Creators newspaper column starting later this summer, I'm hopeful I can make the most out of living here and representing a different perspective than that which currently dominates America's political conversation. I think that would be the best way to honor Molly Ivins, probably Creators' (and the country's) most important progressive columnist.

Unfortunately, I haven't actually been here for most of the time I'm supposed to have been here. About 72 hours after getting to Denver, I headed off to Washington, D.C. for the Take Back America conference just a few days after we arrived in Denver. Yes, I know - there's something weird about spending one of my first full days as a Denver resident in Washington, D.C., but it was well worth it. The conference was really terrific, and the panel I appeared on was totally worth being there for. I joined Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH), the Sloan Foundation's Ralph Gomory, the AFL-CIO's Thea Lee and economist Rob Johnson in discussing trade policy, and specifically the Secret Trade Deal (which I will have an update on early next week).

I was supposed to head back to Denver immediately after my panel so as to help my wife with the unpacking process. But, alas, when I got to National Airport, my connecting flight was delayed, meaning I would probably get stuck in Cincy for the night. So I bailed out and went back to the conference, where I got to see Digby's awesome speech. My buddy Robert Greenwald told me that I will now owe my wife at least 1 year of penance for leaving her and our dog Monty at home to unpack while heading off for a business trip.

Now, finally, we've made some headway setting up our new place in the Mayfair/Montclair section of Denver. For those who read this site only because they are interested in Monty, rest assured he is adjusting, though I will admit he - like us - was pretty sad to leave Montana, to the point where he stopped eating for a few days (he's back on track - and, as you can see from the picture, resting comfortably right here in my new office).

In the few days I've been here in Denver, I've already met with some folks over at the Denver Post about some of their upcoming plans for regional political coverage in advance of 2008. I've also been in touch with the folks I know over at Progress Now - a fantastic group whose work makes clear that Colorado has a lot of potential for progressives both in elections and in passing good public policy. I've also been to Radio Shack, Staples, and the Spicy Pickle about five times each for household, office and eating trips. And, this morning, I taped two segments as a guest on Fox News' "Cost of Freedom" weekend business show, which appears sometime between 11am and 12noon on Saturday and is replayed on Sunday (check local listings to watch). There's nothing like a good old fashioned Fox News screamfest with a few economic royalists to get your blood boiling in the morning - even when you are exhausted from moving boxes and furniture.

I've been in a real news vacuum for the last week, so I'm going to take the weekend to get caught up to speed in between unpacking and reorganizing everything. So, expect this blog to get back up to full speed by early next week. In the meantime, check out the video of the Progressive States Network's joint event at the Center for American Progress reviewing the progressive accomplishments in the 2007 state legislative sessions.

A lot has gone on in just the last 7 days or so, and I'll do my best to do some post-facto reporting. Oh, and one more thing: If next week I breathlessly blog on something that's already old news from last week, please tell me in the comments section that I'm embarrassingly behind.

Ok, now back to all the boxes...