Monday 31 August 2009

those shiftless, troublemaking Republicans

So what is life like on Planet Wingnut?

Republicans like to claim that all the people they don’t like – blacks, Hispanics, women, liberals – are the losers in our current economy, the people who just can’t cut it in the capitalist system without help, the poor, the source of all the violence in our society, lazy, ignorant, completely unrestrained in sexual behaviour, immoral, etc etc.

Well, let’s look at the statistics, shall we?

If you look at where Republican voters are concentrated, what do you find? Low income, poverty, crime, murder, gun killings, low education, teen pregnancy and – my favourite – drinking up hundreds of billions of dollars in the federal dollars which the Republicans claim they hate.

The top ten states by income: all blue states except Alaska (which is awash in a sea of nasty socialist federal money). The bottom ten: all red states, except New Mexico.

Top ten states for poverty: all red states except New Mexico.

Top states for crime? South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, Alaska….

Top states for murder: again the South, the West, the South, the West…

Top ten states for gun deaths: all red states except New Mexico. Bottom ten: all blue.

Top ten states for graduation rates: seven of ten are blue. Bottom ten: South, West, South, West…

Top ten for teen pregnancy: all in the South and West, almost all red.

Top ten states for sucking up federal money: all red except New Mexico. Bottom ten: all blue.

So all the things that Republicans think about the rest of us -- poor, ignorant, violent, lazy and terminally horny – that description actually fits them, not us. When you see wild-eyed wingnuts spewing spittle-flecked insults at Congressmen at those town halls, waving signs that say “Obama Is A Moran”, that’s not an aberration: that’s what today’s Republican party really looks like.

Trailer trash. Wife beaters. Hee Haw fans. Those two snaggle-tooth yokels sitting on the porch playing banjos in “Deliverance”.

The guys who are positive that they’re the only ones fit to run the country, and are willing to start shooting if they don’t get “their” government back.

This, incidentally, is exactly how Hitler started. Our old pal Adolf, a racist loser, practically a homeless person sleeping on the streets of Vienna, decides that a faceless army of “other people” – Jews, liberals, pacifists, intellectuals – is responsible for him being a street bum, rather than his own shortcomings. He puts together a merry band of racist losers, gives them pretty uniforms and truncheons, and an unthinkable catastrophe befalls an entire continent. But it couldn’t happen here, could it?

Well, I don’t think our luck is that bad. And Hitler wasn’t completely stupid – he had to have some talent to get as far as he did. So there’s your comparison: your typical Republican is like Hitler, but without the brains.

And incidentally, these are not people you negotiate with. Just ask the Czechs and the Austrians.

But perhaps I’m being uncharitable. These folks just wore me out this summer.

Support for GOP takeover of Congress: 34 April, 34 August

The GOP is telling itself that America is ravening for a GOP takeover of Congress in 2010. They have thrown everything at the kitchen sink at Obama and the Democrats, and as a result...the GOP has made exactly no progress. 34 percent supported a GOP takeover in April, and it's the same now.

Bitter, gunloving wingnuts? How silly!

We have bitter wingnuts who cling to their guns? No, what an absurd idea!!

Remember April 2008, all the furor over Obama’s comments?

"It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

And oh, my God, the screaming from the Republicans and everybody else, about Obama’s crazy idea about the wingnuts.

Now look what these same wingnuts have done all summer: yelling and screaming at elected officials, howling about armed revolution and secession, clinging to their guns and their Bibles, bellowing that Obama is a Muslim Marxist who hates Christians and hates white folks like them, screeching that Obama wants a national plan that funds Godless abortion, screeching hate and lies at Sonya Sotomayor, screeching lies about Obama providing free health care to illegal Mexicans, and so on, with no sign of it ever letting up until Obama is out of office or (their fondest hope) dead.

In other words, the wingnuts have done everything imaginable to prove Obama right.

So sorry, Republicans: our President rudely called you stupid, because you are.

Mass. lawmakers begin work on Teddy's seat in 10 days

Let the Republican caterwauling begin...

Big GOP health-care town hall is...closed to the public!

Invitation only! LOL!

Let's remember this the next time the Republicans screech that the Democrats are afraid of facing the "wrath of the peepul".

armed wingnut at Obama event did want Obama's death

Beck: Obama's Marxist revolutionary coup, also known as "an election"

BECK: If I could just — if we could just be like Cuba. Let me give you the last piece of evidence that there is a revolution going on, and it is coming. It is — there is a revolution, and they think they can get away with it quietly....They think they — and they — they — you know what? At this point, gang, I’m not sure, they may be able to because they are so far ahead of us. They know what they’re dealing against; most of America does not yet. Most of America doesn’t have a clue as to what’s going on. There is a coup going on. There is a stealing of America, and the way it is done, it has been done through the — the guise of an election, but they lied to us the entire time....Some of us knew! Some of us we’re shouting out, you were: "this guy’s a Marxist!" "No, no, no, no, no, no." And they’re gonna say, "we did it democratically," and they are going to grab power every way they can. And God help us in an emergency.

As Jon Stewart explained months ago, there's a difference between "tyranny" and "losing". You lost the election, and now come the consequences.

wingnuts now targeting "liberal" teachers for intimidation

UT College Republicans are compiling a list of liberal professors who they claimed have a bias against conservative students. The list will include professors who students say have let their political views interfere with the way they interact with students in the classroom. UT College Republicans President Matt Rubin, a junior majoring in political science and public administration, said the list is not an attempt to bash professors who have liberal ideas, but instead, it is an attempt to speak out for students who may have been victims of the bias, which was then reflected in their grade. ...The students who submitted and reported incidents such as these will remain anonymous, Rubin said. “We had a student who said, in an ancient Greece class, Professor William O’Neal claimed that America did not liberate Europe in World War II. However; it was freed by Charles De Gaulle and the free French, not U.S. Soldiers,” Rubin said.
O’Neal, chair and professor of history at UT denied ever making the comment. “To base this on the statement of a single student doesn’t seem as evidence to convict liberalism,” he said. “If you had a whole class come and say, ‘this guy is preaching his own gospel,’ that would be different, or if there was a substantial number of students from that class.” ....“We realize that some professors are liberal, and that’s ok, it’s when they completely disregard a student’s opinion or they have a bias against them that might affect the way they are treated or graded, is what we think is wrong,” Rubin said.

Give us good grades or we'll rat you out to HUAC!

Huckabee insists Obama would have killed Kennedy

"In fact, listen to what I said. It was actually a tribute to Senator Kennedy and an observation that he did what Americans would want to do: follow the best health care advice that they can find. And we don't want the government telling us to go home and take a pain pill and die. When diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at age 77, Senator Kennedy didn't do as President Obama suggested and take a pain pill and ride it home. He did what most of us would do or want to do. He went to the very best medical facilities in the world, had surgery, and sought to live as long and as strong as possible."

OMG Obama wants to slice off your peepee!

Hearkening back to a century of redneck fears that black men might be able to, ya know, outperform them with their "wimminfolk"-- now Obama's trying to extend his advantage!

Funny how the redneck wingnuts haven't punched the "wimminfolk" button yet....

Boehner, Newt: stimulus didn't create a single job

Grassley fundraises with a "kill Obamacare" pitch

Okay, Baucus, Reid et al...NOW do you get it?

You're sitting at the table in front of the big cake like Mrs Haversham, waiting for your gentleman caller to come, but Chuckie isn't coming. He's off to the dance with someone else.

GOP: we'll repeal health reform

First, they're admitting they can't stop the public option -- they're already planning for the next phase.

Second, they're wildly unrealistic regarding their prospects in Congress. As noted recently, the Democrats aren't going to lose Congress anytime soon.

Third, it is appallingly stupid strategy. 70-80 percent of the country wants the public option so they can be liberated from the tyranny of corrupt private insurers, and if the Dems give that freedom, and then the Republicans go on record as wanting to take it away, the GOP will never win another election cycle. Obama's looking good for reelection, Fox and Rasmussen are bogus

In a clash between airplane and mountain, bet on the mountain.

In a clash between Republicans and facts, bet on the facts.

The articles shows that (a) Obama is likely to beat whichever challenger he faces in 2012, (b) Rasmussen's polls are against skewed against the Democrats, which we've discussed before, and (c) as Olberman intimated, Fox is a lot of things, but it's not a news organization.

Another hat tip to Nate.

Sunday 30 August 2009

The Democrats need a "Sherman"

Bob Cesca pointed out the need for a huge, crushing victory over the lie-riddled GOP, on health care:

"The winners write the history, and I want these "comically ridiculous lies" to be remembered and I want posterity to know that it doesn't work. Put another way: not only do I want the Republicans and Blue Dogs to lose badly, I want them to be humiliated by the way they lost. I want posterity to laugh and shake their heads at these pathetic hooples."

I'd like to take it further. We need to destroy the Republicans so thoroughly that they never dare try these tactics again.

Robert Kagan's verdict on General Sherman, the guy who devastated Georgia in 1864:

"The northern generals who prosecuted the war most effectively , and most ruthlessly, had more understanding of its ideological purposes..."We are not only fighting hostile armies," William Tecumseh Sherman declared, "but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war"....Therefore the North must "make the war so terrible...[and] make them so sick of war that generations would pass away before they would again appeal to it "...The Union's conduct of the Civil War would remain, for American commanders in both world wars of the twentieth century, the very model of a great war...a war of 'power unrestrained' unleashed for 'complete conquest.'"

That's what I'm talking about! The Democrats need to do to the GOP what Sherman did to Georgia. To repay redneck evil with complete and total destruction, so they never try this crap again. And these thugs won't get the message until we destroy their plantations, burn down their homes, burn their crops, poison their wells, and make their women cry.

Actually we're fighting the same people that Sherman fought: southern white trash who hate blacks and despise all progress.

Obama gave the Republicans a year to make nice, and they repaid him with total war -- lies, attacks, armed goon squads, the works. The Republicans see this as a battle for their very survival, so they will stop at nothing. Accordingly, Obama needs to take off the gloves and "go Sherman". He needs to stop listening to Reid and Sebelius and start hanging with guys like Schumer and Emanuel, guys who want to, you know, win. Wartime consiglieres.

And at a certain point, Vito Corleone would even reach beyond his wartime consigliere, Genco Abbandando, and go to...Luca Brasi. We need a Luca Brasi. Because the GOP has an army of them.

Obama wanted to build a centrist consensus, but that is not possible. This is a war, and there are two sides. One must win, one must lose. Standing out there in the middle, in no-man's-land, will just get you shot. Clinton never learned that; either did Gore or Kerry. Or Dukakis.

And if he does "go Sherman", all the Democrats who have soured on him will leap to their feet, jump out of their trenches, and kill, kill, kill.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Pawlenty slams stimulus, his team brags about getting the money

Enzi: Obama will raid Medicare

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), one of the three Republican negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee, said in the GOP weekly address that bills introduced by Democrats "fail" to lower health care costs and will "raid Medicare."

The Battle of Arkansas

As the Democrats prepare to round up 50 Senate votes for the public option, things are looking good. Depending on who is doing the nose-counting, Obama already has 45-46 committed votes, and has another 15 or so people he can ask for the last few votes, most of them Democrats.

Two of the pivotal “maybe” votes are Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

Arkansas despises Obama. Not only did he lose the state by 20 points, but a comparison of the 2004 and 2008 elections showed that Arkansas was one of the places in which Obama lost the most ground for the Democrats. Serious redneck country. Louisiana is similarly anti-Obama, and their Senator, Mary Landrieu, just stated that she is a probable “no” on the public option.

Pryor just ran for his seat in 2008, so he is in no immediate danger. When he ran, he had no Republican challenger at all, and beat the Green candidate by something like 60 points. In 2002 he scored an 8-point victory against Republican Tim Hutchinson who had just divorced his wife. He voted for children’s health and stem cell research. He was part of the Gang of 14 that forced a compromise on filibusters; perhaps he was hoping for progress from the Gang of 6. Pryor has a sign on his desk “Arkansas comes first”, but he would have five years to persuade his state that health reform will help them. I think Obama can reel him in.

Lincoln won her Senate races by 13 and 12 points, but she’s up for reelection next year, and currently is in a dead heat with the potential challengers. She doesn’t like class action, so she might be a fan of tort reform; she said in July that she didn’t want to hurry the process. She called the teabaggers un-American and then apologized. However, we do know that she wants universal coverage, she’s committed to reform, she says the current system is unsustainable, and she wants to help small businesses. She said “options should include private plans as well as a quality, affordable public plan or non-profit plan that can accomplish the same goals as those of a public plan.” So she wants either public option or public option lite. I think she will sign a well-written bill, but won’t commit until the last minute.

One thing to remember: since they come from Arkansas, they could easily score points by speaking out against Obamacare, if they opposed it. So it’s likely that they don’t, at least on philosophical grounds. They’re just trying to figure out how to vote for health reform without trashing their careers.

I wonder if Bubba could schmooze them into "yes" votes, figure out a way to help them back home?

Friday 28 August 2009

GOP Senator: The No. 1 assignment in 2009 is to kill Obamacare

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) -- “The No. 1 assignment in 2009 is to kill Obamacare”.

Warner is in for public option

Or, rather, he said he won't vote against a bill just because it has the public option in it. A couple more and we have 50 votes.

Obama still leads 2012 challengers by 9 to 19 points

Obama beats Romney by 9, Palin by 19, Gingrich by 18, Huckabee by 10.

And this is when Obama is at his lowest poll numbers all year. Once he passes health reform, his numbers will spike upward, and his leads against the Republicans will widen.

Obama only beat McCain by 7, so if these numbers hold, Obama will blow away his opponent in the Electoral College by even more than in 2008.

SarahPAC under investigation for illegal activities

Thursday 27 August 2009

We’re done talking to the GOP

Obama has said that you Republicans have until 15 September to work seriously on health care, and then the train is leaving the station without you. But seriously, we are already finished listening to you Republicans. You guys had their chance, fellas, and you royally blew it. A solid year of stupid, guys.

We’re not listening to you because you are so lacking in leaders that loons like Palin and Gingrich and Steele and Limbaugh, the Mount Rushmore of Wingnut Lunacy, have managed to seize the reins of what is left of your “movement” and dominate the Party of Lincoln.

We’re not listening to you because you’ve been proved wrong, and in fact outright dishonest, on virtually every issue: on Obama’s birth certificate, which almost every party leader finally had to admit was a bogus issue; on Obama’s stimulus which has already saved or created thousands of jobs, as even Republican economists admitted; on Sonya Sotomayor, which made plain the GOP’s fear and hatred of Hispanics; on Cheney’s illegal effort to torture and murder detainees without trial, the diapers, the threats of rape, the beatings, the threats of murdered children, the ominous waving of power drills at the faces of prisoners.

We’re not listening to you because the screeching of your teabaggers is, as intended, making all rational debate impossible. When you’re not howling “Heil Hitler” or issuing death threats against Democrats, you are dropping bon mots about lynching Democrats, shooting Obama, stabbing Howard Dean, poisoning Nancy Pelosi.

We’re not listening to you because you’re not listening to any of us. You are laboring with might and main to destroy, not just Democrats, not just independents, but even Republicans who aren’t crazy enough to suit you. You’re even slamming rock-ribbed conservatives McCain and Bob Bennett and Lindsay Graham and John Huntsman. If the Reagan of 1980 were still around, even he would have been condemned by you wingnuts for making too many deals with Democrats.

We’re not listening to you because of your inane howling about Obamacare: Obama will kill seniors, kill our troops, kill Republicans, promote suicide, let people go blind, invade your home and decide how to raise your kids, impose martial law – all while your own Republican leaders wrote and supported the same dreaded “death panel” provisions you’re screeching about.

We’re not listening because we know who sent you. It was the corrupt thugs who run the insurance industry, with GOP leaders cheering them on, who directed your “spontaneous” goon squads to launch violent attacks, and shout so much that democratic debate is possible, and send armed thugs to Obama events, and commit acts of vandalism, and tear up posters of Rosa Parks, and paint swastikas on the doors of black Congressmen, and prevent our elected representatives from even doing their jobs because it’s too dangerous – the next step to killing democracy outright. We don’t intend to listen to psychotic lynch mobs sent by well-heeled criminals.

We’re not listening to you because you’re not listening to us on health care. Americans have said in poll after poll that we want the public option. But you’re listening, not to the people, but to the insurance firms who bribe you with campaign money every year, and to other Republicans who are putting pressure on you to ignore the needs of the people. That’s why your Congressional leaders are bragging about stalling all progress on Capitol Hill, and admitting that all efforts at compromise are a sham, and rejecting one proposal after another, and spreading lies and fear, and promising to oppose any bill regardless of the contents, and screeching that Obama must have an 80-seat majority to win, and whining that the same reconciliation process which the GOP used to ram fat-cat tax-cuts down our throats is now an outrageous “nuclear” tactic, and proposing unworkable co-op plans although you’ve admitted that you will oppose even a co-op plan in the end; and offering absurd amendments on abortion and health care for pets; all after admitting that you had no real health care plan of your own, so why would anyone listen to you anyway?

We’re not listening because you’re the same crowd that defended the Bush gang as they stole two elections, trashed the Constitution, trashed the army, trashed New Orleans, trashed our international reputation, trashed Iraq for no reason, destroyed our economy, turned the entire U.S. justice system into a political weapon to smash enemies with, launched the torture program, and lied about it all.

We’re not listening anymore. Almost 80 percent of America wants the public option (the AMA and drugmakers are on board, and even the CBO admitted it would run a surplus, once they finally scored a completed bill), and we want to cancel the tax breaks for the rich, to pay for it. We want to stop the needless sickness and death and bankruptcies and foreclosures and corporate betrayal and fear caused by the health care mess we have now. GOP support outside the south is in the single digits, and the Democrats have actually gained on the electoral map, so Obama will crush whoever opposes him in 2012.

We’re not listening to you anymore because you’re no longer a political party. You’re a terrorist group.

The 80 percent of the country that is not insane has stopped listening to the 20 percent that is.

Pretty scary, looking in the mirror, huh?

Blue Dog: ain't read it, ain't gonna vote for it

new lie: Obama won't allow treatment for anyone over 70

This from an Arizona doctor.

GOP candidate jokes about shooting Obama

An Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful insists he was only joking when he said he'd buy a license to hunt President Barack Obama....Rammell told The Associated Press Thursday he was just being sarcastic and sees no reason to apologize for the comment.

Reid and health care

When I look at Reid's performance in trying to shepherd health reform through the Senate, my reaction is...LBJ was a wartime consigliere, Reid is not.

SONNY I want you to find out where that ol' pimp Tattaglia is hiding -- I want his ass now -- right now!
TOM (after he stops Sonny) Hey -- Sonny...
TOM Things are starting to loosen up a little bit. If you go after Tattaglia all hell's gonna break --
SONNY (background) Oh, Tom...
TOM (continuing) -- loose. Let -- let the smoke clear -- Pop can negotiate.
SONNY No, Pop can't do nothin' til he's better! I'm going to decide what's going to be done --
TOM All right, but your war is costing us a lot of money; nothing's coming in! --
SONNY (background) Whattsa matter?
TOM (continuing) -- We can't do business.
SONNY Well neither can they! Don't worry about it.
TOM They don't have our over-head!
SONNY Please, don't worry about it!
TOM We can't afford a stalemate!
SONNY Well, then, there ain't no more stalemate -- I'm gonna end it by killin' that old bastard! I'm gonna...kill...
TOM Yeah, well you're getting a great reputation! -- I hope you're enjoying it...
SONNY Well you just do what I tell you to do! Goddamn it! If I had a wartime consiglieri -- a Sicilian -- I wouldn't be in this shape! Pop had Genco -- look what I got.

More nose-counting in the Senate

According to TPM, the 13 Democrats who have not signed on publicly for PO are:

Baucus says he wants PO.
Carper will support a bill with PO.
Tester is okay either way, PO or not PO.
Pryor could support PO if it increases competition instead of eliminating it. Done!
Warner won’t rule out PO.
Nelson FL, nobody knows.
Bayh said he’s agnostic; his wife is on the board of a private insurer.
Lincoln staying mum – reelection concerns.
Nelson NE has supported and opposed at various times.
Begich – very liberal from very conservative state.
Conrad was pushing for co-ops because he claimed PO couldn’t pass.

Landrieu is a probable “no”, also Lieberman.

Sounds like they’re saying Byrd and Wyden are already onboard (Byrd sounded pretty pro-PO yesterday, but then he needs to be well enough to show up, too). If that’s true, Obama has 46 and only needs 4 more from the 13 above, or could pick off one of the ladies from Maine too, or perhaps Isakson or even Hatch.

I think that of those first 11, few if any would be able to resist if Obama sat them down and said “I need your vote on this”. I think he pretty much has the first four in the bag already, which will probably forestall any Senator trying to hold Obama hostage so they can be that 50th Senator, the way Bob Kerrey tried to do to Clinton in 1993. The other seven want to be reassured that they won’t get crushed when they run for reelection, or that the PO plan won’t break the private insurers or the federal budget. And they all went plenty of ego-massaging.

OMG! Obama will use voter cards to deny Republicans health care!

Source: the RNC.

United Health Care has the same end-of-life provisions their GOP defenders are condemning

Lincoln on health care and Kennedy

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

As Lincoln would have said -- don't just have a week-long ceremony for Kennedy, finish what he started!

"We're covered by the Kennedy Plan!"

Great idea from Kos -- name the insurance plan after Kennedy, not the big bill.

more Republicans brag about getting the stimulus money they condemned

Inhofe will vote "no" without even reading the bill

Just like McConnell, and Dole before him in 1994.

Let's all remember this when the Republicans start screeching "did the Dems even read their own bill??"

Landrieu opposes public option, won't help stop filibuster

Is she sincere, because she's from a red state?
Or is she angling for a political bribe from Obama?

Congresswoman wants GOP to find the "great white hope"

Wednesday 26 August 2009

support for public option at 77 and 79 percent in 2 polls

The first poll says that 79 percent want the public option, and that includes about the same percentage of independents, 4 out of 5.

The second has U.S. support at 77 percent.

McConnell brags about stimulus money at home, slams stimulus in D.C.

Byrd on Kennedy and health care

"In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American."

The Kennedy Health Reform Act. Hmm...

Is Grassley angling for a committee job?

The more plausible argument is that Grassley fears his fellow Republican senators. I'm hearing that Grassley is getting reamed out in meetings with his colleagues. The yelling is loud enough that staffers in adjacent offices have heard snippets. But the real threat isn't the yelling of his colleagues. It's their capacity to deny Grassley his next job. Ruth Marcus hints at this in her column on Chuck Grassley today, but it's worth explaining in a bit more detail. This is the final year that Grassley is eligible to serve as ranking member — the most powerful minority member, and, if Republicans retake the Senate, the chairman — of the Senate Finance Committee. His hope is to move over as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, or failing that, the Budget Committee. But for that, he needs the support of his fellow Republicans. And if he undercuts them on health-care reform, they will yank that support. It's much the same play they ran against Arlen Specter a couple of years back, threatening to deny him his chairmanship of — again — the Judiciary Committee. It worked then, and there's no reason to think it won't work now.

Gang of Six Republican admits "compromise" is a sham

Mike Enzi, one of three Republicans ostensibly negotiating health care reform as part of the Senate's "Gang of Six," told a Wyoming town hall crowd that he had no plans to compromise with Democrats and was merely trying to extract concessions. "It's not where I get them to compromise, it's what I get them to leave out," Enzi said Monday, according to the Billings Gazette.

...So we know (and knew all along) it was going to be no, no, no, no....

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Fox News admits reconciliation is allowable

John McCain (R-AZ) said he is “unalterably opposed” to using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform. “It would be a drastic change in the way that the United States Senate does business.” Fox News’ Shep Smith fact-checked McCain’s claim immediately upon the conclusion of the town hall. “The truth is Republicans used this in 2001, 2003, and 2005 to pass then-President George Bush’s tax cuts,” Smith said. Armed with some research, he then reported this quote from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH): Reconciliation is a rule of the Senate (that) has been used before for purposes exactly like this on numerous occasions.” … “Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don’t think so. … The point, of course, is this: If you have 51 votes for your position, you win.” Smith concluded that if Democrats “were to take health care and put it in under reconciliation, they could do that.”

Threats of rape, murder of children, power drills, diapers, enemas...

So, let's see, what are the new approved GOP torture techniques? Forcing prisoners to crap their pants? Forced enemas? Threatening to bust people's heads open with power drills? Threatening to kill children and rape wives?

Today's GOP.

Wingnuts launch violent attack at Democratic HQ in Colorado

Months of anti-Democratic hate, and now the result: thousands of dollars in damage to the Colorado state party headquarters.

Senate nose count on the public option

Assuming the Democrats seeking the public option for health reform through the reconciliation process, they only need 50 votes in the Senate, plus Biden breaking the tie.

According to a recent whip count, there are already 45 “yes” votes for the public option, 15 “maybes”, 1 unknown, and two “no’s” who might be persuaded to switch.

Here are the 45 “yes” votes:

Boxer/Feinstein CA, Bennet/Udall CO, Dodd CT, Kaufman DE, Akaka/Inouye HA, Harkin IA, Burris/Durbin IL, Kerry/Kennedy MA, Cardin/Mikulski MD, Levin/Stabenow MI, Franken/Klobuchar MN, McCaskill MO, Hagan NC, Dorgan ND, Shaheen NH, Lautenberg/Menendez NJ, Bingaman/Udall NM, Reid NV, Gillibrand/Schumer NY, Brown OH, Merkley OR, Casey/Specter PA, Reed/Whitehouse RI, Webb VA, Leahy/Sanders VT, Cantwell/Murray WA, Feingold/Kohl WI, Johnson SD, Rockefeller WV.

Here are the 15 “maybe” votes, with ideas for how to nail down their votes:

Begich AK, Lincoln/Pryor AR, Landrieu LA: vulnerable Democrats in red states. Offer help in reelection races.

Bayh IN, Conrad ND: Blue Dog deficit hawks who care about policy. Make the numbers balance for them.

Wyden OR, Isakson R-GA, Snowe R-ME: others who actually care about policy. Snowe and Isakson are Republicans so winning them over will be tough, but Isakson is the one who actually wrote the end-of-life language that everyone screamed at Obama about, so perhaps a chat about that would do the trick, while Baucus could tell us what Snowe's major concerns were when she was in the Gang Of Six. Widen fielded his own reform proposal, so throw some of his ideas in the final package.

Nelson NE, Baucus/Tester MT, Warner VA, Carper DE, Nelson FL: guys who may just need their egos massaged. Nelson and Baucus were bloodied early in the health care battle, Nelson when his effort to round up opponents to the public option collapsed, and Baucus during his tenure in the Gang Of Six; both need to save face, particularly since they come from red states. Warner has presidential ambitions so he needs a schmooze from Obama; Carper comes from Delaware so he needs a schmooze from Biden. Byrd probably needs a schmooze too just because he's Byrd.

A number of these people might be swayed by trying all three approaches: massage their egos, sell the policy, and help them with any political vulnerabilities -- a bunch of these folks are from red states.

Here's the 1 we don’t know:

Byrd WV – he is a stickler for Senate procedure and for his own Byrd Rule, so treat both with respect. This assumes he is well enough to vote (same for Kennedy, which is why getting to 52 is better than 50).

Here are the 2 “no” votes, which we could try to turn:

Lieberman: threaten to take away his chairmanship; he’s already gotten one mulligan from Obama and doesn’t deserve another.
Collins: If you get Snowe, get her to persuade Collins. Collins really does her homework, so whoever tries to persuade her needs to do his homework too.

So out of the 18 maybe/unknown/no votes, Obama needs 5.

For the Republicans to win, they need 14 of the 18; and only 2 of the 18 are Republicans. So they need a sizeable bunch of Democrats to publicly defy their President.

Advantage: Obama.

Wingnut Convergence Of Crazy

As I said back in April, the thing to watch for is a convergence among the many factions of the anti-Obama lunatic fringe.

Down in Florida, the wingnuts now want to have a “leaded tea party” where opponents of Obama can exercise both their First and Second Amendment rights – by giving speeches, offering horse rides for kids, and also by firing their guns at an illegal gun range. The cops told them to stop, but they’re going ahead anyway, and they have grandly declared that law enforcement personnel are not welcome, which presupposes an armed standoff with the cops. The maniac who set all this up also runs part of a group that has ties to the health insurance industry and to Jack Abramoff.

So you’re going to have a wingnut connected to the insurers and Abramoff, holding a wingnut hootenanny so they can screech hate at Obama and fire their guns, with kids on horses right in the middle of it all, presumably surrounded by police intent on arresting the bunch of them.

And a band will play too.

Just imagine if “Triumph Of The Will” had been directed by Fellini instead of Riefenstahl….

This is the face of the new GOP.

"Gang Of Six" Democrat backs reconciliation

Jeff Bingaman said he's ready to use budget reconciliation if there's no other way forward.

This tells us:

Like everyone else, he doesn't expect the Gang Of Six to get it done.

He sounds like he'd rather go with reconciliation than give up on reform.

And he's firing a warning shot at the Republicans -- the clock is ticking, girls!

wingnuts target Bob Bennett of Utah

Bennett is one of the most conservative, far-right guys in the Senate.

But he made the terrible mistake of working with -- gasp! -- a Democrat on some sort of chintzy little health insurance co-op plan.

So now the far right is targeting him for defeat in the GOP primary.

If this guy is too much of a communist for them, they really have gone round the bend.

This is the mentality of the far right: in the few red-red-red states they have left, they are doing all they can to ensure that the Senate seats in those states are filled with true-blue wingnuts -- even conventional conservatives aren't good enough for them. And of course they are working with hammer and tong to drive away all moderates and independents.

This is why the popularity of the GOP outside the South is down to 7 percent.

Monday 24 August 2009

Who decides what can go through the reconciliation process?

The Senate Parliamentarian, Alan Frumin, will be the one who, if necessary, will decide which aspects of Obamacare are legitimately relevant to the budget process, and therefore eligible for passage by the reconciliation process, which only requires 51 votes to pass rather than 60. Frumin has wide latitude in interpreting the Byrd rule: "A provision shall be considered extraneous if it produces changes in outlays or revenues which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision."

He can be fired by the majority party; his predecessor was fired by the Republicans for ruling against them too often, including one ruling that only one tax bill per year could go through reconciliation, and another that stopped the Republicans from using the reconciliation process to end all federal funding for abortions, which the parliamentarian interpreted to be social rather than fiscal policy. But firing him just for blocking health reform would be overkill, unless his rulings were really over the line.

Both parties seem to like Frumin. He is willing to help people write legislative language so that it passes muster.
So he was hired by Republicans (potentially bad for Obama) who wanted someone who prefers broader use of the reconciliation process (potentially good for Obama). Highly speculative tea-leaf reading.
Obama just needs to write his bills carefully. They're probably working on it already. It really shouldn't be hard to show that passing a multi-billion-dollar health care program is a legitimate budget issue, provided that Frumin doesn't take the hardline position that it contains too much social policy -- which isn't really in the spirit of the Byrd Rule anyway. And of course the Democrats can probably ask Frumin for help in editing the text.
Of course if Obama can round up 60 votes to bypass the Byrd Rule, Frumin doesn't have to do anything -- Obama wins.

How Obama will win budget reconciliation

Now I know why Obama looks so relaxed out on Martha’s Vineyard. Apparently the people who explained the budget reconciliation process to me had their facts wrong. October 15th isn’t the date by which the reconciliation process must be completed. That is the date it must begin. So Obama has all the time in the world.

In April, when Obama was getting his budget passed, the Democrats slipped a tiny bit of text called a “reconciliation instruction” into the budget bill. What that means is that if a particular legislative issue (health care in this case) is not resolved by a certain date (October 15 in this case), that particular issue can pass through the Senate by means of reconciliation, which means there is only limited debate, and that it only needs a majority vote to pass, not 60.

There are two kickers.

First, everything that goes through budget reconciliation must obey the Byrd Rule: that means that the legislation must pertain to major changes to the budget; the Democrats would carefully write the public-option language to make sure they meet that standard, and presumably consult the Senate parliamentarian, and possibly Byrd himself. Anything that does not pertain to the budget would need to be passed in a separate bill which would require 60 votes like any other Senate bill; an example of such provisions would be the controls which Obama wants to impose upon the insurance industry, proposals which are actually very popular. Back in 1994 the parliamentarian shot down most of Hillarycare, deeming it “non-budget”, but the parliamentarian was backed up by a much stronger Senator Byrd than we have now, and by a much more conservative Senate than we have now. Today it wouldn’t be as hard. There is, however, a way around the Byrd Rule, even if the provisions are ruled “non-budgety”: with 60 votes, you can get a “Byrd-Rule Waiver” which reduces the threshold back down to 50+1.

Such waivers have in fact been used successfully, once with a Democratic Senate in 1990 and once with the GOP in 2001. So when the Republicans screech that the Democrats are breaking the rules, point out to them that not only have the Republicans used reconciliation in the past to ram their bills through, they have also used the Byrd-Rule Waiver. So STFU.

Second, Obama had to pay a price to get the reconciliation instruction into the budget bill. Two Democrats (Kent Conrad being one) objected to the instruction, so Obama got them to change their minds by promising them that any health bill would meet the “pay-go” standard: it must be revenue-neutral. That’s why Obama has harped on the issue of making the books balance for the health care bill.

So there are several scenarios, which lead to a big Obama win:

The Democrats persuade the Senate to waive the Byrd Rule, and the whole package passes under the 50+1 threshold (50 Democratic Senators, and VP Biden breaking the tie). Some Democrats want to do it all in one go, because it’s quicker and there are fewer opportunities for Republican mischief or last-minute extortion from the Blue Dogs.

The Democrats persuade the parliamentarian that virtually all of the package does address budget issues, and therefore the whole thing is acceptable under the Byrd Rule, with the 50+1 threshold. One way to do that would be to give the non-budget items enough fiscal backing to make them “budgety”, but that might also violate the “pay-go” line, so they need to be careful. If they do make that sale, the whole package passes.

The Democrats lose the Byrd-rule battle, so they must split the package into the budget half and the non-budget half, but they still persuade 60 Senators to approve the non-budget half, since it contains some very popular provisions to prevent insurance companies from screwing people over when they get sick. Some Blue Dogs could have their cake and eat it too, by voting with Obama on blocking the filibuster (which means you only need 50+1 to win), but against him on the bill itself. Both halves of the package pass.

The Democrats pass the budget half, but not the non-budget half. They circle back and pass the second half next year.

The Democrats pass the budget half but not the non-budget half, and use that issue to beat the Republicans to death with, during the 2010 campaign, gaining more congressional seats. And then the non-budget half passes in 2011.

The ONLY scenario which leads to an Obama loss, is if the public option itself fails to receive 50 votes. That would mean 11 Senators either being too sick to attend, or openly defying their still-popular president, and risking disaster for their own party in the next two election cycles. Even counting Byrd and Kennedy as shaky, the Republicans would still need to persuade NINE Democratic Senators to openly betray their president and their party. Unlikely.

So things are looking pretty good for Obama, out there on the beach. And there are two more reasons for him to smile.

First, the Republicans have shot their wad. They have launched an endless series of progressively more silly lies and outrageous attacks, and 77 percent of the American people still want the public option. What do they have left to fight with? Another two months of even sillier lies? Obama’s golden, unless McConnell pulls out some unforeseen parliamentary miracle. And as smart as McConnell is, he either failed to see the reconciliation instruction coming in April, or he failed to figure out a way to stop it.

Second, Obama is going to throw all the GOP lies right back at the Republicans next year, on the campaign trail. “Hey, look, folks, we passed health reform! Did government take over health care? No. And where are all the dead grandmas and dead soldiers? Where are the illegal immigrants crowding into our hospitals? Where are the free abortions? Where is the rationing?” That’s the trouble with lies….

confusion regarding reconciliation

I have seen very different explanations regarding the budget reconciliation option, from reliable sources.

Some sources say reconciliation would need to be completed by October 15.

Other sources say reconciliation can't even start until October 15.

If the latter is true, Obama is in a much, much better position.

Is there a parliamentarian in the house?

Interrogators threatened rape and murder of children

So the GOP wants an alley fight?

Compare and contrast the kiddie version of law and order, and the grownup version.

1. A Republican Congressman is yelping that he may launch yet another doomed lawsuit against Obama regarding his birth certificate.


2. The Attorney General has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA’s illegal use of torture. Also Obama is reopening an FBI investigation which Bush blocked, regarding the massacre of prisoners in Afghanistan, a war crime. It is not impossible that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Wolfowitz and others could be subpoenaed, indicted….

Hey, Republicans! Obama didn’t want to declare war on the GOP, and spend four years investigating Bush’s crimes. He wanted to move on, to build a new post-partisan world. But you Republicans weren’t interested. Obama extended the hand of bipartisanship to you, and you tried to chop it off with an axe, time after time after time, on the stimulus package, on health care, even on the Somali pirate case. You attacked him with lies, you sent armed goon squads to his speaking engagements, you called him an alien, a traitor, and Nazi….And the whole country saw it – that’s why support for the Republican party outside the South is below ten percent.

You people didn’t really think through what it means, when you dare a popular sitting President to take the gloves off and fight bare-knuckle.

So: you want war to the knife, you got it. After we ram health reform down your throats and indict half the Bush administration for war crimes, we’ll go into all of the other crimes of the Bush crime family: outing Valerie Plame, violating Congress’s prerogatives by lying to them to get us into a war, blackmailing Congress into funding unnecessary troop deployments, defying subpoenas, using illegal signing statements and administrative actions, perverting the executive branch into a partisan political weapon, illegally prosecuting Democratic politicians and firing Democratic attorneys, directing government offices to spread dishonest political propaganda, failing to uphold Article II responsibilities by keeping or financial system safe or enforcing product safety laws, sending thugs to disrupt officials from counting votes while screaming “don’t count the votes!”, trying to convert the Vice Presidency into a fourth branch of government with no oversight, violating the prerogatives of the courts by defying orders to preserve emails and concealing evidence, illegal spying and secret prisons and torture, keeping innocent people behind bars indefinitely…

You wanted partisan warfare? Welcome to the sawdust ring, try not to step in the blood.

By the time Obama is done prosecuting your crimes and ripping your party to shreds, you will face yet another bloodbath at the polls in November 2010. And assuming you insist on nominating a wingnut airhead like Palin in 2012, your doom is assured.

I’m sure you guys think you’re tougher than Obama. Hillary and McCain thought the same thing. Look how well that turned out.

Big Mo for P.O. – the public option is coming!

The signs are everywhere: the public option is gaining momentum.

Obama is working on a plan to pass the health package, presumably to include the public option which he still wants, without relying on Republicans. Senate Democrats are confident they can use the budget reconciliation process to pass the public option with only 51 votes, since it affects government outlays and is therefore relevant to the budget. Schumer indicated that Baucus has until 15 September to cut a deal with Grassley – an unlikely prospect -- and then the bipartisan phase of the process is pretty much over. Watch for Obama to step out and publicly call for the public option right after 15 September, perhaps on the succeeding Wednesday or Thursday, in time for the PR campaign to gin up and hit the Sunday talk shows.

Even Harry Reid, hardly a wartime consigliere, said he’s willing to pass a bill by whatever means necessary; in fact he warned the Republicans back in April that the Democrats could pursue this route if the GOP refused to cooperate, which they clearly have. Reid faces a tough reelection race next year – a win on health care would certainly help him, and he knows it (although it wouldn’t bother me if the Majority Leader job went to someone with some nads like Schumer).

The Democrats know they might as well pass the public option language they want, because even if they water it down into a co-op plan (which has already taken fire as an impractical idea), the Republicans admitted they still won’t vote for it – in fact they won’t vote for any reform bill, regardless of what’s in it, as Kyl admitted.

The Republicans clearly fear the budget reconciliation plan, which would allow the bill to pass with 51 votes instead of 60. They are now whining that a bill this important should pass only with an 80-seat majority, a suggestion which is not only an idiotic deviation from Constitutional law, but is also completely contradictory to the way the Republicans used the very same 51-vote process to ram many of Bush’s policies down Democratic throats. In fact, the Senate Democrats are already launching a PR war, highlighting the GOP’s use of the reconciliation tactic when it was to their advantage. For instance, Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who hates the reconciliation idea now, loved it back in 2005:

"The fact is, all this rule of the Senate does is allow a majority of the Senate to take a position and pass a piece of legislation, support that position. Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so."

In yet another desperation measure, the Republican members of the Gang Of Six are trying to ensure that their bill not only does not include the public option, but also precludes the public option from ever being added later, for example in a final conference bill. This will simply make it easier for Obama to give up on the Gang Of Six.

Watch Mitch McConnell: he is a sharp parliamentarian, and if he can figure out a way to gum up the works in the Senate, he will surely do it. Reid needs to have everything nailed down perfectly and cleared through the Senate parliamentarian, before he pulls the trigger, and he needs to be ready for all manner of stalling tactics. McConnell will do anything he can to slow down the train: demanding that the whole 1000-page bill be read backwards in Latin, whatever.

Republican resistance to the real world of fact is beginning to crumble, just a bit. Olympia Snowe, a Republican member of the Gang Of Six, made the extraordinary admission that insurance corporations do indeed have too much power. In the same vein, Grassley, who we now know will face a serious Democratic challenger for his Senate seat in a very blue state, finally admitted that he lied about the death panels (although, from pure reflex, he blamed Obama for the whole misunderstanding).

Of course these are Republicans – they’re not going to give up lying entirely. Fox is screeching that Obama has prepared a “death book” to kill off our troops (as in the “death panel” case, again they are referring to texts originally disseminated by…the Republicans). And the Republicans are working on a Scare Grandma Resolution, demanding that Obama guarantee that he won’t pull the plug on old folks, cut their Medicare, impose rationing or government interference in health care for seniors, reduce treatment options, jack up fees, interfere with end-of-life decisions, kill puppies, drown kittens, cancel reruns of “Matlock”, etc etc. This is going to backfire, badly, particularly since the guy pushing this, Michael Steele, now has bigger problems, since he just publicly insulted John Boehner and Roy Blount.

Footdragging Democrats are getting angry messages from their constituents regarding health care: stop screwing with Obama and pass the public option! It now has 77 percent support across the country! The Democrats in question include Blue Dog Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Max Baucus himself, who was finally impelled to tell the locals that he does indeed want the public option (finally!) and to admit that the Republicans simply aren’t going to accept health reform. With their constituents, the polls, their party leaders and their president all telling them to do what they know they should do anyway, it will be (pardon the expression) progressively harder for them to resist common sense.

[UPDATE -- Cooper is now backpedalling. Oh, no, I always favored the public option!!]

Speaking of footdragging Democrats: Lieberman is currently whining that budget reconciliation is an unacceptable idea, and that spending money on health care should wait until the recession is over. Surely he realizes that his treachery last summer almost cost him his committee chair: as far as Obama and Emanuel are concerned, he has used his last “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, and a betrayal on Obama’s signature legislative program could get Lieberman dumped into the Senate Committee on Janitors and Paper Clips. Or, a primary challenge in his next race – Connecticut is a very blue state which would like to have, you know, a real Democrat representing it.

TPM made an excellent point: Democratic footdraggers like Kent Conrad keep saying the Democrats couldn’t muster the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, if it comes to that – but at no point has any Democrat identified himself, or any other Democrat, as a vote in favor of supporting the filibuster. Name me a Democratic Senator who is going to stand up on the Senate floor and filibuster his own president’s signature legislative effort.

We’ll wait…

Sunday 23 August 2009

OMG Obama wants to kill our troops!

Fox is now telling people that Obama has a "death book" for veterans. Check the link for the debunking...

Grassley admits he lied about death panels

Texas rewrites schoolbooks to sell wingnut philosophy

More Republican assaults on reality: the state of Texas is rewriting its history books, taking out anything that smacks of liberals (like mentioning Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall) and adding in lots of neat-o conservative stuff like the thrilling rise of Gingrich and the Moral Majority.

The Board of Education stacked with ten Republicans and only five Democrats, also wants to add Rush, Sean and the NRA. In their eyes a scumbag like Rush is more important to U.S. history than Thurgood Marshall.

The GOP knows that the facts of the real world work constantly against them, so know they actually want to create an entire generation of ignorant, mis-informed dunces. You know, the GOP base of tomorrow. They know they can't win without the Stupid Vote, so they're creating more stupid people. Why have schools at all, if the point is to make them more stupid than when they went in?

Would-be President McCain moans "if only we had a leader like Kennedy"

Today on ABC McCain was moaning that Kennedy was "as close to being indispensable as any individual I've ever known in the Senate....He had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations. So it's huge that he's absent, not only because of my personal affection for him, but because I think the health care reform might be in a very different place today."

Senator McCain -- a year ago you told us that YOU were the leader who could move America forward, and solve problems like this. But since then, what leadership have you shown? Just the same brain-dead obstruction that any first-year Republican Congressman could manage.

2008: By golly, I'm the leader America needs!
2009: Dang, if only there was a leader around here!

Everybody remember this in 2012 when the Republican presidential hopefuls start crowing about what great leaders they are.

Lieberman praises Gang Of Six, rejects reconciliation

He also said there wasn't any point in taking care of the uninsured until after the recession is over.

Why doesn't this guy just join the GOP and get it over with?

Saturday 22 August 2009

Rethinking John Edwards….what if?

Word of John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter began leaking out in August 2007; he admitted the affair in August 2008.

Then add the wife battling cancer, the baby of unknown provenance, and the potential money irregularities.

Now let’s play…what if?

If it hadn’t been for outright election fraud by the Republicans in Ohio in 2004, Kerry and Edwards would have won in 2004.

What if Edwards’ rise to the Vice Presidency had brought greater scrutiny, and the affair had been exposed much earlier, in 2006, in time for the Republican Congress to impeach him? In fact, with a bombshell like that, the Republicans might have kept Congress in 2006, so they would have been able to impeach in 2007 or 2008 (and actually the Republicans really lost Congress because Bush dragged the party down, which might not have happened if Bush had lost in 2004, but I digress…).

Contrariwise, supposed Edwards had used the power of the Vice Presidency to cover his tracks more carefully, and the truth was NOT discovered as quickly….and then he runs for President, and wins, and THEN the affair is exposed…?

And if the exposure had followed the original timetable: would Edwards have fessed up to Kerry in 2007, and quit the ticket quietly? Or would Kerry and Edwards have accepted their renominations in the summer of 2008, only to have the affair hit the newspapers afterward? Would Edwards have been bounced from the ticket with only a couple of months left in the election campaign?

Or if the Iowa caucus of 2008 had gone as everyone expected – Edwards, and not Obama, being the Democratic candidate to successfully challenge Hillary in Iowa, and then using Iowa as a springboard to win the 2008 Presidential nomination?

I used to be a big fan of Edwards, but when you add up what he did to his wife, his family, Hunter, possibly the baby, and then add in all the jeopardy he could have put Kerry, his party and his country into, in the middle of an election race and two wars abroad….

Yes, yes, I know it’s unusual to hear me banging on Democrats, but seriously, this guy was a potential threat to my party. Yeesh. Clinton’s weewee damaged the party some, but nothing like Edwards could have done.

PS -- here's another one: what if he really did get the Attorney General's job? Chief law enforcement officer in the land, one of the highest positions of trust in the U.S. Government?

Even Snowe admits the insurers have too much power

Good article – it explains how many markets are dominated by a single insurer, so costs skyrocket and no one can control the insurance firms. The domination by the big firms grows year by year. Even Olympia Snowe admits it, although she wants to give the insurers one more chance to show they can control costs. A recent study showed that a public plan would save consumers $200 billion to $400 billion.

So let's hold her feet to the fire -- if she admits the insurers need to be brought under control, where's her plan for fixing the problem? And if she doesn't act, why shouldn't we find a challenger to boot her ass out of the Senate next time, since Maine is a blue state anyway?

Grassley is up for reelection in 2010 in a blue state

...and the Dems are lining up a challenger.

Grassley could save his job by signing on for health care, but he's too stupid to do it.

PS Olympia Snowe is also catching hell from pro-reform Democrats in Maine. Baucus has the same problem in Montana.

Friday 21 August 2009

Obama beat me to it!

I was just getting ready to do a piece on the political environment a year ago -- OMG, the Republicans have Obama on the ropes, he had a terrible August, run for the hills! And we know what happened after that.

But Obama got there first:

"And then last year just about this time, you'll recall that the Republicans had just nominated their Vice Presidential candidate, and everybody was -- the media was obsessed with it, and cable was 24 hours a day, and "Obama's lost his mojo." You remember all that? There's something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up. I don't know what it is. But that's what happens." —President Obama

Even Baucus is starting to get it

“The Republican leadership in the Senate and in the House is doing its utmost to kill this bill,” he said. “They are putting intense political pressure on Chuck Grassley, Olympia Snow and Mike Enzi, to bow out, because they want to kill it. So I’ve got a challenge ahead of me to work out all this on policy as we go through these meetings.

“The other thing is the politics of it: ‘People, this is the right thing to do for America. I know you’re under intense political pressure, but do the right thing. I know it’s easy for me to say right now, because I’m getting beat up by both sides, but not nearly as much as you are by the Republican hierarchy.’ ”

Even Montana is screaming at Baucus to get moving

Montanans are not terribly keen on the job that home state Senator Max Baucus is doing on health care reform, according to a new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll. Only 42 percent of Montana residents -- and 34 percent of Democrats -- said they favored the work Baucus had done in shepherding health care legislation through the Senate Finance Committee. Forty-four percent of respondents said they disapproved, according to the poll of more than 600 people in the state. The results may be partially attributable to Baucus's apparent decision to craft legislation without a public option. Within Montana, 47 percent of the public supports creating a "public health insurance option," while 43 percent oppose it. Looking closer at the numbers, slightly less than one-quarter of Republicans (23 percent) support a public plan. Forty-eight percent of independents and 78 percent of Democrats support the provision.

Baucus gets sucked into Grassley's "go slow" strategy

From the Washington Post:

Senate health-care negotiators agreed late Thursday to ignore the increasingly strident rhetoric from Republican and Democratic leaders and to keep working toward a bill that can win broad support from the rank-and-file in both parties, according to sources familiar with the talks.
In a conference call, the three Democratic and three Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed to redouble their efforts to craft a less costly alternative to the trillion-dollar initiatives so far put forward in Congress. They discussed the possibility of also reining in the scope of their package, the sources said. The senators rejected the idea of imposing a deadline on their negotiations, and they agreed to talk again Sept. 4 -- four days before lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington from their August break. The consensus, one participant said, was "to take your time to get it right." In a written statement released after the approximately 90-minute teleconference, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the finance panel, said the group had "a productive conversation" and that they "remain committed to continuing our path toward a bipartisan health-care reform bill." "Our discussion included an increased emphasis on affordability and reducing costs, and our efforts moving forward will reflect that focus," he said.
Before leaving for the month-long recess, Baucus had pegged the cost of the negotiators' ideas at less than $900 billion over the next decade. Thursday's discussions focused on driving that cost lower, the sources said.

The problem: the Democrats will probably need to use the reconciliation route to get a reform bill passed, and the deadline is October 15. Baucus is giving Grassley the tool he needs to kill ALL reform.

GOP Senator admits health reform will get zero GOP votes

In an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) affirmed that neither health care reform bill currently in circulation will get any Republican support. "For either the bill that passed the House Committee or the bill that passed the HELP committee in the Senate, I don't think a single Republican in the Senate would support either of those bills," he said confidently.

NOW does everybody get it? They will unanimously obstruct whatever bill is submitted. So the quest for bipartisanship is a waste of time.

Thursday 20 August 2009

folks with worst health care are most likely to believe GOP lies

The E-I-E-I-O goobers in the south and west who swallow all the GOP lies about health care, hook line and sinker, are the same guys who have the worst coverage -- the same guys who are getting screwed the worst by the current system.

45 percent of southerners sincerely believe Obama plans a government takeover of the whole system.

I said many years ago -- stupidity is its own punishment. Apparently I was right.

poll: 77 percent want the choice of a public option

When people are told that the public option is an option, notwithstanding all the GOP lies about government takeovers with no consumer choice, they want it. Big time.

Orrin Hatch demands 75-80 seat supermajority for passing health reform

Gee, what if Chuck Schumer came out and said it only needs a vote of 35?

Hatch knows what the rules are, because he himself has exploited them endlessly in the past.

Oh, and Grassley and Enzi have seconded the idea.

Nice try.

how would Obama split the health bills

The first bill would go through the reconciliation process, and would include the financial aspects of the program, and with luck the public option as well. Deadline 15 October.

Afterward, the restrictions on the insurance companies. Pass it in November perhaps.

Splitting the provisions that the Republicans and insurers hate into two piles makes it harder for them to attack. And politically Obama really only needs one victory, although two would be much better.

Ironically the notion of splitting it into pieces came from reform opponent Mike Enzi, who wanted to split it into many tiny pieces so the Republicans could kill them one by one. But these two bills will be harder for them to kill.

A couple of bloggers are flacking the idea of Obama speaking before a joint session of Congress on this in the next few weeks.

Hat tip to Bob Cesca.

problems with the co-op idea

Kent Conrad’s claims regarding health co-ops have been debunked by health care experts. He claims his plan could sign up 12 million users and compete effectively, and control costs. But elsewhere Conrad himself has admitted that co-ops wouldn’t save us money, and experts say his plan simply doesn’t fill in any of the details. A co-op can’t survive unless it’s huge, it would cost a ton of money to launch (possibly with government money, which Republicans would reject), and private insurers could easily elbow the co-ops out of many markets because they are well-established and have sweetheart deals that prevent anyone from undercutting their sky-high rates (something which we need to legislate against in any case). It also would do nothing to get the uninsured insured.

A crappy idea that sounds centrist and trendy to ignorant minds remains a crappy idea.

Why Grassley was stalling

Without 60 Senate votes, the health reform package must pass via budget reconciliation, and the deadline for that is 15 October.

That's why Grassley was bragging about dragging out the negotiations until the August recess -- he cost Obama a month.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

My Declaration Of War

From CNN:

“Democratic success could depend on an obscure tactic called reconciliation, a type of budget maneuver that requires only a simple majority -- 51 votes -- to pass. Congressional Democrats authorized the maneuver specifically for health care reform legislation during the debate over the 2010 budget, which passed in April. One top Senate Republican warned at the time that using reconciliation to pass such a measure would be "like a declaration of war."”

Look at the chutzpah on this guy! The Republicans “declared war” on health care reform 15 years ago, and they’re fighting it with every sledgehammer tactic they can think of: lies, attacks, scare tactics, threats, faux martyrdom, vandalism, obstruction, spamming. But now they say the Democrats aren’t allowed to fight back? How convenient! That’s the Washington equivalent of “please bend over and grab your ankles while I take your lunch money and laugh at you.”

Let’s set aside the endless GOP lies, the incessant attacks, threats and intimidation, and look at the health care war where it really matters, in Washington .

Republicans like Bill Kristol have admitted for 15 years that the Republicans must “declare war” on health reform, because the party is doomed if real reform passes. In 1994 GOP leader Bob Dole admitted that he was rounding up the votes to kill the plan although he had never even read it. His GOP successor in the Senate, McConnell, is also rounding up opposition even though he, too, hasn’t even read any of the language. Hatch quit the deliberations without even hearing the proposed language. Portman admitted that the GOP has no health plan of their own. Voinovich, a moderate, admitted the GOP was blocking reform for politicial reasons. DeMint admitted that the GOP was seeking to break Obama, to send him to his “ Waterloo ” by killing reform. John Kyl admitted that the Republicans will not support any bill. Enzi wants to break the plan into small bits so they can be crushed one by one. When word got out that the goon squads were going to the town halls, shouting and hitting people, House GOP leader Boehner publicly endorsed their actions, and McConnell was seen laughing and crowing that it all meant that the Democrats were losing. GOP pollster Frank Luntz claims Obama is declaring war on Medicare, the latest in an endless series of dishonest “death panel” scare tactics. The Republicans sought to antagonize Democrats by trying to add an abortion ban to the health reform plan, to pass a bill providing health care for pets (!), and to convert the public option into tiny state co-ops which the insurers could crush easily (38 states have insurance markets dominated by a single insurance firm). Michael Steele spammed the DNC switchboard with calls. GOP Senators openly collected their bribes for blocking health reform at a recent social function….So, no, there was never any real effort to seek a bipartisan compromise. It was all a sham that wasted months of effort. The Republicans have declared war on reform and on Obama.

Chuck Grassley, who allegedly was the GOP moderate who was supposed to reach a bipartisan deal, comes from a blue state but seemingly is only listening to Republicans in Iowa and in Washington . Grassley admitted that the GOP was pressuring him to kill Obamacare, he resisted all legislative timetables, said he would not vote for any bill which doesn’t have widespread GOP support (which no real reform bill will have), said he won’t vote for the public option, and bragged that his tactics blocked the reform effort; he is now boycotting “gang of six” talks, claiming he’s too busy. He tried exploiting Ted Kennedy’s illness for political purposes, claimed Obama was too ignorant to know what he was doing, and accused Obama of exploiting the death-panel flap right after doing the same thing himself, although he voted for the same provisions in 2003 (when caught, he claimed he opposes it now because it’s part of a bad bill). He helped reform opponent Glenn Beck by flacking his book for him. And this is the guy who’s supposed to be leading the compromise effort? Not hardly. The Republicans have declared war on reform and on Obama.

Oh, speaking of declarations of war: a health reformer’s niece was burned in attack on her car. So the war on health reform, which the Republicans insist doesn’t exist, already has its first casualty. Not counting all the thousands who will sicken and die because Republicans are blocking health reform.

Meanwhile the GOP is concocting more phantoms to fear. In addition to Luntz’s baseless accusation that Obama will attack Medicare, Dick Armey is warning, on no evidence at all, that Obama will exploit swine flu dishonestly in the health reform debate, and Andrew Breitbart is warning, on no evidence whatsoever, that Obama will use “netroots gangs” to physically attack Obama’s enemies. Just keepin’ up the skeer.

(Also, more lies – the intellectually challenged Michelle Bachman claims that the health care plan is unconstitutional, the absurdity of which is obvious to anyone who has familiarity with the general-welfare / interstate-commerce clause of the Constitution, or with the history of Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA.)

Grassley was supposed to bring compromise. Compromise means that both sides give in a bit, but the GOP has made clear that no matter how often the Democrats give in to their demands, they still won’t vote for health reform anyway. They have said “no” to an independent insurance board, to single payer, to mandating employer participation, no to health care information technology, to comparative effectiveness research, to eliminating overpayments to insurers. They have said “no” to the public option, and when Democrats began talking about co-ops and exchanges, Republicans like John Kyl, Eric Cantor and Tom Price said “no” to that too. So giving up the public option in favor of co-ops gains us no Republican votes anyway: they are voting “no” no matter what. Again, the Republicans have declared war on reform and on Obama.

After months of White House efforts to pitch bipartisanship, the Democrats finally gave up: Rahm Emanuel said flat-out that the GOP has made the strategic decision to block any reform. Or, as CBS put it today:

"The White House finally got the message. Loud and clear. Game on."

Abandoning the Republicans might empower the Democrats by simplifying the number of competing demands the bill must meet – the GOP’s refusal to negotiate may actually make the public option more likely. Public support for reform is still high, at least 45 Senators support the public option, and Howard Dean is keeping up the heat by warning Blue Dogs of potential primary challenges if they don’t straighten up, while Schumer is sweetening the deal by proposing that the public plan would need to meet the same regulations and requirements as the private plans. The centrist Democrats are wobbling under the pressure from two sides: Specter opposed the public option but then attacked GOP obstructionism; Conrad admitted that co-ops wouldn’t save money; Nelson, who gets tons of money from the insurance industry, fell flat in his effort to round up opponents of the public option and now is willing to discuss it. But the rest of them know the war is on. Except…

The man at the center of it all, Baucus, averaged almost a million dollars a year in payoff money from the health sector, which is more than any Democrat in Congress; almost 30 of his staffers are now working as lobbyists. His committee is the only one dragging their feet on the reform issue (their bill is the only one with Republican involvement, and the only one with the poison pill of a tax increase). Other Senate Democrats and even his own constituents are already angry with his foot-dragging. He will get a big share of the blame if the effort crashes: his role in the disaster would be the first line in his obituary and the first line in his tiny entry in the history books, the incompetent boob who set the cause back 20 years. He could even lose his committee chair if Reid has the balls to demote him. On a more practical level, the Democrats could just bypass his committee on the health reform issue. Perhaps sensing this, Baucus, after flipflopping on the public option, now says he is ready to begin marking up health care legislation for 15 September, with or without the GOP. Obama is publicly trying to buck Baucus up, but he undoubtedly has a private price for that continued support. And this yuckapuck is supposed to be our field general in the Finance Committee….

Those who have read “The Godfather” in book form may recall the moment at which Don Corleone tried to talk sense into an enemy, and finally rolled his eyes and uttered the fatal phrase “You just cannot reason with this man”. This inevitably was the last thing that happened before police began finding horse’s heads in mogul’s beds and dead gangsters in their streets. The lesson: if exhaustive patience and negotiation an enemy to terms, the only thing left is all-out war. The Republicans refuse to negotiate or be reasoned with, so let slip the dogs of war already. And of course any Godfather fan knows that a war requires a wartime consigliere, which Baucus ain’t. I’m thinking Schumer in the Senate.

The Republicans know that this is a war, and that the health reform issue is pivotal, their one chance to cripple Obama and the Democrats, and Obama gets that too..

Great quote from Crooks and Liars:

“Arlen Specter told us at Netroots Nation that the Republican caucus decided - before the inauguration - that they wouldn't support any stimulus bill at all in order to break Obama. During the Bush era, the Republicans wouldn't even let the Democrats sit in on their committee meetings and used every procedural trick in the book to shove legislation through. Don't you think it's about time the Democrats stopped playing "Mother, May I?"

Obama knows he must fight, and the real Democrats know that in the end they must fight with him. Otherwise, Obama will be pegged for all time as an incompetent wimp, Carter the Second; the Republicans will know they have the power to stop Obama whenever they want, regain their former power, and possibly unseat Obama in 2012. But the Blue Dogs don’t get it, so Obama (or perhaps Emanuel) needs to explain it all to them, and lay down the law: without a little more cooperation, Obama and the liberal Democrats will crush the Blue Dogs, ignore them on everything from cap-and-trade to DOMA to gays in the military, and watch them go down to defeat in 2010. In Bush’s words, either you’re for us, or against us.. Obama is, in fact, already letting liberals attack the Blue Dogs in their own districts, running ads in those districts, attacking foot-dragging Senators, publicly demanding the public option, and promising to do it all without the GOP if need be. Obama also needs to make clear to them: your job as Senators is not to listen to the caterwauling of misinformed constituents who know nothing about policy -- your job is to make good policy even when it’s unpopular.

And all you Democrats out there must fight too. Millions of you worked to elect Obama. For what? If you’re not helping fight his fight now, why did we elect him in the first place? So he could be a piƱata for scumbags like Armey and Grassley and Rush and Glenn Beck and Palin and the goon squads?

Hullabaloo points out a few other options Obama has:

1. Obama demands that no Democratic Senator support a filibuster, even if the Senator votes against the bill itself afterward.

2. Put reformers on the conference committee, like Rockefeller and Mikulski. After the conference bill is submitted, it can’t be amended – only voted against and filibustered. Again, dare any Democrat to filibuster his own President.

3. Use the reconciliation option for the whole bill, or split into two bills with the budget stuff in the reconciliation half of the bill – include the public option, expanding Medicaid, increasing subsidies. Once started, there’s no way any Congress, particularly a Democratic Congress, is going to say “screw you, we’re taking your health coverage away again”.

(Speaking of filibusters and the Senate, how long before the online GOP wingnuts begin praying for Kennedy or Byrd to, you know, move on? Talk about death panels for seniors.)

And while Obama is fighting the Republicans, he must fight the incessant lies, too, because there are plenty of stupid, gullible people in this country. According to Hullabaloo:

“Majorities in the poll believe the plans would give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants; would lead to a government takeover of the health system; and would use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions — all claims that nonpartisan fact-checkers say are untrue about the legislation that has emerged so far from Congress. Forty-five percent think the reform proposals would allow the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care for the elderly. 45% of the American people actually believe the government will be euthanizing the elderly. What the hell is wrong with these people?”

And just one more obvious point from me:


…and in poll after poll the American people said they want reform.

Firedoglake pointed out that even the recent NBC poll, which as it turned out was fiddled with by a Republican pollster with ties to the insurance industry, has encouraging news for Obama.. First, although Obama’s sometimes clumsy handling of health care only gets a 41 percent rating, reform itself is still rock-solid with 60 percent approval, despite all the insane protests, and despite the fact that the GOP lie machine has worked so well that half the country actually believes the “pull the plug on grandma” crap. The poll also showed that the goon-squad attacks at the town halls failed to have any serious effect on support for reform, and that approval for the GOP’s tactics on health reform is down to 21 percent.

Even Rasmussen, a Republican pollster who has been known to cook the books in his polling, was forced to admit that according to the latest polling, 57 percent of Americans oppose passing a health reform bill if it does NOT include the public option.

But even when we’re right on the facts, the war must still be fought. As St. Thomas Becket said (at least according to Jean Anouilh), “the kingdom of God must be defended like any other kingdom.”

Tuesday 18 August 2009

armed wingnuts at Obama event are linked to domestic terror group

Ernest Hancock, the online radio host who staged an interview with an assault rifle-wielding cohort at the Obama event in Arizona yesterday -- and was himself armed with a 9 millimeter pistol -- was a vocal supporter and friend of right-wing anti-government militia members who were convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges in the 90s.
And in an interview today with TPMmuckraker, Hancock said he still believes the Viper Militia case was "manufactured" by the same government that manufactured Waco and lied to its people about 9/11.
The federal government initially accused the Arizona Viper Militia of plotting to blow up federal buildings, which the twelve-member group cased on videotape.
In July 1996, after a grand jury indicted the suspects, federal agents "seized about 90 high-powered rifles and hundreds of pounds of a bomb-making compound from the shabby bungalow of a man whom officials identified as the ordnance specialist of a local paramilitary group," the New York Times reported at the time.

Another "moderate" Republican admits he doesn't want real reform

This is Mike Enzi, the other "moderate Republican" we're supposed to be negotiating with:

"We do need to get it right. We need take the time to do it. I think the only way it will happen is we need to break it down into smaller parts than we have now and put it through one at a time."

More pathetic doubletalk from Grassley

Grassley throws gasoline on the "death panel" bonfire, and in the same breath accuses Obama of exploiting the "death panel" flap.

Grassley called Obama and Pelosi "intellectually dishonest" on Tuesday, saying that Democrats were using the flap over end-of-life consultations to divert attention away from health care legislation currently being considered in the House. The Iowa Republican, while not explicitly mentioning euthanasia or rationing of care, also said that he did not want government policy to "treat life at age 85 different than we do life at 35." (At a town hall meeting last week in Adel, Iowa, the senator said, "We should not have a government plan that will pull the plug on grandma.")

Obama leads "Death Panel" Palin by 23 points in national poll

He even leads by 9 in the south. That suggests that even states like Texas and Georgia will be competitive in 2012.

It also suggests that Palin's death-panel jihad isn't working (except among Republicans).

But Palin is still 73-16 among Republicans; that, coupled with the polls showing that many Republicans really do believe that Obama is is an illegitimate president who wants death panels, suggests the Republicans will still nominate someone like Palin in 2012, and then get crushed by Obama in November.

wingnut protester screeches "Heil Hitler" at Jewish health-reform supporter

OMG! Obama will let you go blind!

Latest GOP claim -- patients with macular degeneration must go blind in one eye before getting help with the second eye, because that disease disproportionately affects white people, and Obama hates white people, right?

Again, it's total bullcrap. As the link indicates, this went from an old report about a British case, to a completely uninformed opinion piece, until it magically became "fact" in the wingnut world.