Saturday, December 19, 2009

Must Reads

Paul Krugman: Pass The Bill

driftglass: Senator Liebenezer

Christopher Brauchli: Catholic Charities Meet the D.C. Council

The Rude Pundit: What Would Jesus Lie About? (Health Care Reform Edition)

Bob Cesca: I'm Really Pissed Off About Health Care Reform

Steve Benen: If It's Sunday...

John Cole: Dear Rahm, Please STFU

Victoria Reggie Kennedy: The moment Ted Kennedy would not want to lose

Dick Cavett: Almost Nothing About Tiger Woods

President Obama's Weekly Address - December 19, 2009

The Patient's Bill of Rights and Health Reform

Friday, December 18, 2009

Climate Change Denier Fail


Senator James Inhofe in Copenhagen:

...Inhofe’s aides eventually rustled up a group of reporters, and the Oklahoman — wearing black snakeskin cowboy boots — held forth from the top of a flight of stairs in the conference media center.
“We in the United States owe it to the 191 countries to be well-informed and know what the intentions of the United States are. The United States is not going to pass a cap and trade,” he said. “It’s just not going to happen.”
A reporter asked: “If there’s a hoax, then who’s putting on this hoax, and what’s the motive?”
“It started in the United Nations,” Inhofe said, “and the ones in the United States who really grab ahold of this is the Hollywood elite.”
One reporter asked Inhofe if he was referring to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Another reporter — this one from Der Spiegel — told the senator: “You’re ridiculous.”
For this, Inhofe made an 18-hour round trip flight.

Every Vote Is Important...

...not just Joe Lieberman's, or Ben Nelson's, or Olympia Snowe's. And while these Senators are wielding their power because of an elusive 60th vote and making health care legislation exponentially weaker in the process, the White House assumes that the liberal votes will be there in the end. They shouldn't be so quick to count on those votes if they keep stepping on the throats of liberals and progressives instead of the extortionists they've been trying to appease for the last three months.

Now that the Senate Democratic leadership has stripped the last vestige of the public option — the Medicare buy-in provision — from its bill, progressives are feeling doubly betrayed.
“It’s time for the president to get his hands dirty,” Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, said in a statement this week. “Some of us have compromised our compromised compromise. We need the president to stand up for the values our party shares.”
...“I don’t sleep well,” [Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie] Sanders said. “I am struggling with this issue very hard, trying to sort out what is positive in this bill, what is negative in the bill, what it means for our country if there is no health insurance legislation, when we will come back to it.”
This in combination with Ben Nelson's new movement of the goalposts for his vote is having everyone walking a fine, thread-bare tightrope.

Although I still think this whole thing may backfire, as I believe not passing anything would be a more devastating blow to the Democratic party and the progressive agenda than passing a weak bill, I really do want to see liberals and progressives push back hard and let it be known that they can't be taken for granted. Their votes count just as much.

Fuck You, Ben Nelson!

DailyKos: Nelson is now demanding that the bill be "scaled back" to cover fewer than the 30 million promised by Pres. Obama, that its revenue provisions be eliminated, and that its Medicaid expansion be made voluntary. Not surprisingly, he says he can't imagine that the legislation will pass the Senate by Christmas.

ENOUGH! Call his bluff.

Music Break! Spike Jones

Cocktails For Two

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Progressives Fight Back

I'm expecting (hoping) more progressives push back on the acquiescence of the "get anything passed" mindset just to show that they can't be pushed around.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said late Wednesday that he cannot support the Democrats' healthcare reform legislation in its current form.

Asked by Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto asked Sanders if he could support the compromise bill. The senator replied "I’m struggling with this. As of this point I am not voting for the bill..."

Rep. Anthony Weiner says the Senate bill is getting worse:
"Every time conservatives or those that are concerned about costs step forward and say they have a problem, they take out something that helps reduce costs. You know, the public option was something that increased competition for private insurance companies and drove down costs; they took it out. Expanding Medicare to allow people not just 65 but 64, 55, the most expensive group to insure get covered under Medicare, now that's been dropped out," adds Weiner. "You know what's puzzling about all this is the very same people who say they're concerned about cost are the ones responsible for stripping out cost savings measures, so it really is a frustrating process to watch going on in the Senate."
This is going to come to a breaking point.

My Thoughts On Health Care Reform

Since the evening of "Et tu, Lieberman?" I've been grappling with my thoughts and feelings on the current Senate debacle that is the health care bill debate. Because the two have to be dealt with separately.

Emotionally, I want Holy Joe's head on a plate. I want President Obama to shout from the rooftops that Traitor Joe will not live to see another day as chairman of any Democratic party committee. I want Harry Reid to tell Lieberman that he can forget about seeing any legislation with his name on it come to the floor of the Senate. I want every Democratic Senator to call Lieberman out on the Senate floor and expose his hypocrisy so it can live in perpetuity in the Congressional record.

Emotionally, I'm upset at the party caving to satisfy a handful of Senators with their own agenda. Courting Republicans like Snowe was a ridiculous idea from the start. If it were a matter of one vote, I could understand it to a point. But if it was to feign bipartisanship, it was a useless task. All that should have been thrown out the window when they realized they also had to content with Mary Landrieu(LA), Blanche Lincoln(AK) and Ben Nelson(NE) besides The Lieberdouche. If they couldn't get their own party's ducks in a row, what was the point of Snowe in the first place?

Emotionally, I'm truly disappointed at the lack of arm twisting by the President. I know that's not his style and I'm trying to deal with that considering my constant bitching about another certain leader of the free world in the not too far distant past and his bullying ways when he was using his powers for evil instead of good.

But emotion and ideology are intertwined and ideology is not the friend of politics or pragmatism. This is where we need to take a hard look at the bill that we do have instead of the one we wish we had. The bill that ends the insurance conglomorate's practice of rescission. The bill that doesn't allow exclusion due to a pre-existing condtion. The bill that extends coverage and includes subsidies to those that can't afford health care. The bill that makes the insurance companies spend 90% of premiums accrued on health care, not advertising. The bill that would make possible millions who currently don't have insurance and therefore not got to the doctor a chance at preventative care before it's too late.

That's a lot to simply dismiss as "not good enough." There are progressives who have voiced their harsh opposition for legitimate reasons. And that's their job. None of them however, are elected officials. FDL's Jane Hamsher opposes the bill and agrees with Howard Dean who called it "essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate." But it's easy for progressives to stick to their guns, to throw their principles in your face when there's no downside to their stance. It's easy for Howard Dean's idealogy to dictate what he says when he's not in public office. I wonder what his reaction would be if he were still head of the DNC?  Dean can say what he wants now when there is no accountability, even when his record shows otherwise. The Senate bill is similar to Dean's plan when he ran for President in 2004, which didn't have a public option or a Medicare buy-in either.

What do you say to people who currently can't get health insurance because of restrictions that this bill would now make illegal? "Sorry, wait til next time?" Because if history is any indicator, the next time will be somewhere in 2025 if this bill were killed. There is no do over. Not when the process has come this far, farther than at any other time the government has broached the subject of health care reform.

What do you say to the nearly 45,000 people that die every year because they don't have coverage and therefore put off the expensive proposition of a checkup? "Wait it out, maybe this isn't your year"?

I can't do that. It probably would be easy for me to say that, considering I have good health care coverage through my employer, but if the shoe were on the other foot, I don't think I'd like it so much if someone with health insurance was denying my chance at coverage because of their principles.

We need to take a step back, take a breath and look at what this bill provides instead of what it doesn't, and then ask ourselves if it really is "worse than nothing" knowing that nothing is the status quo. Knowing that nothing is unsustainable, and asking ourselves if "worse then nothing" is just hyperbole.

Although I'm incredibly disappointed, at this point I have to let the process play itself out. Yes, they could have done better initially, but this is by no means over as elected progressives are pushing back and once the Senate bill is done with it still has to be merged with the House bill in conference.

Perhaps a public option can be approached through an amendment in a future spending bill. Perhaps over time, Congress can improve loopholes and make health care stronger, just like Medicare was improved and Social Security was improved over time. But I don't know how I could sleep at night advocating the bill be scrapped when it doesn't affect me as severely as those who aren't covered.

Increase In The Disinformed

The ratings are in.

Fox News will finish 2009 as the top-rated cable news network, a perch it has enjoyed for eight years running. But 2009--the first year of the Obama administration--also marks FNC's highest rated year in the channel's 13-year-history.
I think I have a good idea at what caused the jump: fear of the "other."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Called It

Ben Nelson gets his balls teabagged.

...The effort to win Nelson's support hinges largely on abortion policy, the same divisive issue that nearly derailed action on the healthcare bill at the last minute in the House, where antiabortion Democrats insisted on tight restrictions on the funding of abortion under the proposed new health programs.

Nelson, seeking similar abortion restrictions, continued to withhold his support for the Senate bill despite major concessions made to him on other issues affecting the powerful insurance industry that is important to his home state.

Efforts to address his abortion concerns advanced today as another antiabortion Democrat -- Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania -- floated a compromise designed to strengthen guarantees that federal funds would not be used for abortion.

We already have restrictions on federal abortion funding. It's called the Hyde Amendment, Senator Casey. No need to swallow the Burgermeister jizz.

Michael Steele's "Tea" Party

Self destruction?

"...Though it lacked the size, enthusiasm and racially-questionable signage of it's real-life counterpart, [Michael] Steele's "RNC Tea Party" was all about embracing the ideals of a growing conservative movement that's often been as focused on slamming the GOP as it has on attacking Democrats. There were even official GOP tea bags given out with "Listen to Me!" signs stapled to them. Interestingly, though, the party lacked most of the big Republican names the tea partiers usually turn to at their rallies. Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint were nowhere to be found.

[Steele] acknowledged the tea partier's complaints with the Republicans and he promised that the party would work hard to keep it's loudest constituents happy. Steele said he offered a "mea culpa" to tea partiers since the beginning of this term, agreeing with them that the party had abandoned its conservative "principles.

"But that's all over now, Steele said. Tea is the party's drink now.
"We are moving back, head first, in that direction," he said. "Because that's where we should be."

GOP Obstructionists and Delayers - UPDATED

I've been mulling over the whole disappointing health care issue that has taken place over the last two days and I'm still thinking it over and forming thoughts about it, which I'll then post later.

In the meantime, I just happened to tune in to C-SPAN2 to watch a bill being read on the Senate floor. The chyron at the bottom of the screen read this:

Sanders (I-VT) Single-Payer Amendment
Opens Medicare to all to all US citizens regardless of age, creating a single-payer health care system. The Senate clerk is reading the Sanders single-payer amendment. The reading is usually waived. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) requested that the clerk read the amendment. He has left the Senate floor.
I shit you not.

You can find the entire amendment here.

UPDATE (11:45pm): Sanders withdrew his amendment.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lieberman Doesn't Care About Voters

... He just cares about Joe Lieberman. Why did he decide to kill the Medicare buy-in option? Because it was too good.

...he said he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system.

"Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it's the beginning of a road to single-payer," Mr. Lieberman said. "Jacob Hacker, who's a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, 'This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.'"

Like I said before, Lieberman only cares about Lieberman. He doesn't care about his constituents, or anyone who will die without health care due to his shenanigans.

There's a special place in hell for people like Joe Lieberman.

If Only There Were More Like Him

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dems Cave To Lieberman

Via TPC:

Senate Democrats "emerged from a special caucus meeting Monday night determined to pass a health-care bill by Christmas -- but without the Medicare buy-in plan that liberals had sought as an alternative to a government insurance option," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg notes Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman on the Senate health committee, said he would be willing to drop a "public option" government insurance program to win passage of a health-care overhaul.

Said Harkin: "This bill, without public option, without Medicare buy-in, is a giant step forward toward transforming American health care. That's reality, there is enough good stuff in that bill that we should move ahead with it."

Gee, Tom, that was a quick turnaround. I have to say I thought the party would hold Lieberman's feet to the fire and not cave in ONE DAY. Also, does this Christmas deadline seem like bullshit to anyone else? What's the fucking point if any form of public option, including the Medicare buy-in, is dead?

Yes, I know that the consumer protection rules that (hopefully) everyone in the Senate agree with are important steps in overall reform, but I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I feel right now. My only hope is that progressives will give a big FUCK YOU to Rahm, and anyone else in the White House that thinks this is good idea.

Strip Lieberman now.

ADDING... Now that Lieberman is allegedly appeased, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and have the Senate include Stupak abortion language to win Ben Nelson's vote. I'm really disgusted right about now. C'mon, progressives. Fight back!

Also... Don't for a second think that this is anything other than the Senator from Aetna sucking the cock of his corporate insurance masters based in Hartford. Joe Lieberman is not about cost containment. Joe Lieberman is not about saving the dying Medicare system. Joe Lieberman is about Joe Lieberman.

Time For Joe To Go

81% Of Dems Want Lieberman Punished For Health Care Filibuster

"Eighty-one percent of Democrats said they would like to see the senator's chairmanship -- which he was allowed to keep despite campaigning for Sen. John McCain in 2008 -- taken away should he sustain a filibuster. Only 10 percent of Democrats said there should be no punishment. Even fewer (nine percent) said they had yet to make up their minds, underscoring just how divisive Lieberman is within the party.

An additional 43 percent of independents agreed that Lieberman should lose his post..."

I'd actually like to see it taken away regardless. Let stop kidding ourselves about this 60 vote super-duper majority. It was never 60. Not with Lieberdouche in the mix.  Not with Ben Nelson in the mix.  Not with weak Senate leadership at the helm.

ADDING... Just three months ago, Holy Joe thought a Medicare buy-in was a great idea.

Love Life Problems? Ask A Hooker

Whatever happened to Dear Abby? The New York Post is usually pretty reprehensible, but even this move pales in comparison to their usual hackery and takes them to a low of print journalism quality equalling the National Enquirer or Weekly World News.

The New York Post has hired Ashley Dupre, the former call girl whose tryst with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer led to his resignation last year. The 24-year-old will write a weekly advice column dealing with sex and relationships.
Ann Landers must be spinning in her grave... and writing something nasty about it.

Citigroup To Pay Off TARP Loan

“We are pleased to be able to repay the U.S. government’s trust preferred securities and to terminate the loss-sharing agreement,” the chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, said in a statement. “We owe the American taxpayers a debt of gratitude.”
How about thanking us by lowering your credit card rates to something a little less akin to a loan shark?

You Can't Make This Shit Up

Copenhagen climate talks were suspended when "the G77, a group which represents 130 developing countries, walked out because it is concerned the existing Kyoto protocol will be abandoned."

Many countries at the UN climate summit want a brand new treaty to tackle climate change, but the developing world wants the Kyoto protocol to continue as well.


The UN international climate change conference in chaos as the G77, which represents 130 developing countries "pulled the emergency plug" suspending the talks over wealthy countries' reluctance to discuss a legally binding emissions treaty.

It's chaos! CHAOS, I TELL YOU!!! Meanwhile, during a live television debate a global warming denier had a heart attack. What the fuck?!

Jack Rose Dies at 38

NY Times: Jack Rose, whose complex improvisations on 6-string, 12-string and lap steel guitar earned him a devoted cult following, died Saturday in Philadelphia. He was 38.

His death, apparently of a heart attack, was announced by Three Lobed Recordings, which released Mr. Rose’s album “The Black Dirt Sessions” this year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Healthcare Killers

If years from now, you're wondering what went wrong, remember this.

Two key senators criticized the most recent healthcare compromise Sunday, saying the policies replacing the public option are still unacceptable. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) both said a Medicare “buy-in” option for those aged 55-64 was a deal breaker.
“I’m concerned that it’s the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option,” Nelson said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Lieberman said Democrats should stop looking for a public option “compromise” and simply scrap the idea altogether.
Yeah, yeah, I know, but Obama this, Obama that. Someone explain me how threatening these shameless motherfuckers with stripping them of their chairmanships would have done any good if they have the fucking balls to go on the Sunday talk shows and basically go on the record saying that anything even remotely close to helping citizens with any form of a public option is a deal breaker.

And Lieberman takes offense at being called the "Senator from Aetna"?! FUCK YOU!!!

Texas? Really?!

I'm expecting Texas to break off and float away into the ocean.

Houston became the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay mayor on Saturday night, as voters gave a solid victory to the city controller, Annise Parker.
Cheers and dancing erupted at Ms. Parker’s campaign party as her opponent, fellow Democrat Gene Locke, a former city attorney, conceded defeat just after 10 p.m. when it became clear he could not overcome her lead.
Adding... Mr. Locke called Ms. Parker to concede and congratulate her but could not be heard over the trio of celebratory bands, Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls and The Village People, hired for the campaign afterparty.