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Open Columnist: A Call for Input (January Edition)

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This is the third installment of what I have been calling Open Columnist - a call for reader input into the nationally syndicated newspaper column I write every week for Creators Syndicate. As the first nationally syndicated newspaper columnist with direct connections to the Netroots, I am working hard to make this column something very different on all sorts of levels, one of which is its use of new technologies to stay as close to readers - and thus, the real world - as possible.

In the four months since the column officially kicked off, readers and editors have sent me an incredible amount of valuable information and feedback - and my writing is all the better for it, and I hope you will take a moment to give me your input today.

Some updates before we get down to the feedback. Since my last Open Columnist installment in November, my column has been picked up by the Seattle Times, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, the Idaho Statesman, the Idaho Post Register, and the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. There is no doubt that expansion is due to tremendous reader support in getting in touch with local editors, and I appreciate it. The column now reaches a total audience of roughly 1.3 million newspaper readers a week, and has been cited in publications like Editor & Publisher for accurately predicting trends in the Iowa presidential caucus well before any other reporter/columnist was covering such trends.

Over the last six weeks since my last call for input, the presidential race has heated up to a boil, and I have tried to straddle the need to cover that national event with the more substantive work of investigative analysis that I want my column grounded in. I hope I hit the right balance and I will be interested to hear what you think in the poll and in the comments. Here is a short review of the last period of columns, from most recent to oldest:
  • Stay Classy, Mike Huckabee: Underneath all the rhetoric about race, gender and partisanship, economic class is being forced onto the presidential stage by a new kind of Republican exposing the rift's in the GOP coalition.
  • The Path to a National Popular Vote: Many Americans are asking why certain states like Iowa and New Hampshire have such disproportionate influence over national politics. They will be asking the same thing during the general election about Florida and Ohio thanks to the Electoral College - unless states pass an innovative plan to make presidential elections more democratic.
  • Fear, Loathing & the Crisis of Confidence: Recent polls show that the level of anger Americans are feeling toward their government is reaching historic highs. When you look at the mundane behavior of alphabet soup agencies like the FCC, is that anger really surprising?
  • When Barbarians Take Hostages: Private equity managers like Henry Kravis, who is the subject of a new Robert Greenwald film, are taking the American tax system hostage - and come April 15th, we'll all be paying the price.
  • The Last Row of the Plane: A holiday plane flight - and a seat pushed back into my lap - explain a lot about the human behaviors that lead to trampling the commons and ultimately, such ills as global warming.
  • Conservative, Or Just Plain Corrupt?: A group of Democrats calling themselves "Blue Dogs" are using the veneer of supposed "conservatism" to help big banks foreclose on thousands of homeowners. Since when did "conservative" mean corrupt?

Over at DailyKos, I have posted a poll asking you which column you think was the best. I hope you will vote in the poll and give me some feedback. The poll, of course, is a very blunt instrument, so for those who have a bit more time, please use the comments section either here or over at DailyKos to expand further on your vote. Which of the columns did you like and why? Which did you hate and why? Do you think my rationale about where to focus and where not to focus is sound? What issues do you think I should delve into? What issues should I avoid because they are too overexposed? And obviously, if you have specific column ideas, send them along to me.

As always - if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use Media Matters' directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site.