Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Rahm's Money-Is-All-That-Matters Strategy Will Fail

It's possible that the single lasting legacy of the Obama/Emanuel administration will be defining the point at which raking in campaign cash starts losing you votes.

Because Rahm Emanuel's determination to sell out every last Democratic principle for corporate contributions is about to blow up in his face.

Down with Tyranny explains:

Much of the slippage in polling for Democrats is, in fact, because disenchanted Democrats are unhappy with the unwillingness and inability of Democrats to push forward the real health care reform that was promised during last year's elections. Perhaps some of these voters will stay home in 2010. None will be voting for Republicans, though.

Obama and the Democrats have a big fat albatross around their collective necks: Democrats who behave like Republicans. Bill Moyers captured it beautifully Friday night when he explained Rahm Emanuel's destructive role in the Democratic Party:

The Democratic Party has become like the Republican Party-- deeply influenced by corporate money. I think Rahm Emanuel, who's a clever politician, understands that the money for Obama's re-election will come primarily from the health industry, the drug industry and Wall Street. He is a corporate Democrat who is determined that there won't be something in this legislation-- if we get it-- that will turn off those powerful interests.

Democrats and independents are angry about health care. Will they blame the Democratic Party and reward the Republicans?


Conventional wisdom isn't wisdom. And predictions that African-Americans and young voters who turned out in droves last year to elect Obama won't bother to vote in 2010 may be premature. It depends on how Obama and the Democrats handle health care reform. If the Rahm Emanuel faction wins and health care reform turns into a corporate give-way-- like Bush's drug bill-- it will be all over for the Democrats. If Emanuel's faction gets pushed aside, Democrats could end the career once and for all of ridiculous chicken entrail readers like Cook by increasing their majorities in both houses of Congress.


A year from now, the economy will either be rebounding or if won't. (It looks like it will.) Regardless of what Charlie Cook says now, that will be the determinant-- along with the results of the health care reform struggle-- that will decide the elections. What Democrats need to be doing now is targeting vulnerable GOP obstructionists, like Chuck Grassley, who are blatantly using partisanship to follow Rush Limbaugh's diktat about making Obama fail even if it takes the country down the drain. Voters-- other than the small, noisy teabagger base of Fox viewers-- do not like that.

Read the whole thing.

What profiteth a political party to gain all the corporate campaign cash, if it loses the election? What'll it be, Democrats? Money or votes?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Crime of Being Right

There's a pyschological phenomenon of interpersonal relationships that seems counter-intuitive: it is easier to forgive someone who has mistreated you than to forgive someone you have mistreated.

Maybe it's just the reluctance of human beings to admit when we're wrong, but we're seeing a vicious example in the way the mainstream media is reacting to the growing stream of evidence that it has been dead wrong about defending Smirky/Darth and the repugs against those Dirty Fucking Hippies on the InnerTubes.

Far from apologizing, the MSM is attacking Left Blogsylvania for the capital crime of having been right all along.

Gene Lyons in Salon:

Indeed, the most fascinating aspect of the Ridge revelations has been a flame war that's broken out between establishment Washington pundits and less-reverent bloggers. The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder started it by observing in smug inside-the-Beltway fashion that he and like-minded colleagues were actually right to be wrong about fake terror warnings.

People who smelled a rat, see, "based their assumption on gut hatred for President Bush, and not on any evaluation of the raw intelligence." Whereas, sober-sided thinkers like him credited the Bush administration's good intentions.

Confronted with ample contemporaneous evidence of Bush administration flimflams by Salon's Glenn Greenwald and the scholarly Marcy Wheeler of, Ambinder apologized for the "gut hatred" part. But he alibied: "Information asymmetry is always going to exist, and, living as we do in a democratic system, most journalists are going to give the government the benefit of some doubt, even having learned
lessons about giving the government that benefit."

Yeah, sure. Purely with regard to terrorism and national security, by 2004, Bush/Cheney had already gotten caught deceiving the public about having "no warning" before the 9/11 attacks, not to mention about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. If skepticism was still inappropriate, would it ever be warranted?

Yet people who found the timing of terror alerts suspect, such as then-Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, were dismissed as crackpots.


But here's the big thing about "mainstream" journalism and what Ambinder calls "information asymmetry." Upton Sinclair said it best: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."


Long under siege for "liberal bias," media careerists now find themselves confronted with people they see as passionate amateurs. True, fearless scrappers like my friend Joe Conason have always been around, and somebody like Paul Krugman -- a world-class economist who doesn't care what, say, MSNBC's Chris Matthews thinks of him -- can be
very annoying.

But what's really driving these jokers up the wall is economic and intellectual competition from the Internet: people with first-class minds and a passion for truth that some of them can barely remember.

Nope, they'll never forgive us for being right, for proving them wrong, for showing them up. But mostly, they'll never forgive us for the way they mistreated us.

Read the whole thing.

Keep It Simple: Medicare for All

Maybe the phrase "public option" has become so poisoned by repug lies and Blue Dog whimpering that it can't be salvaged.

So fuck it. Go back to the simple idea everybody can understand: Medicare for All

From TPM Reader BR

...You're right that it makes no sense to not counter lies from Armey about the public option with "expanding Medicare access to those under 65" rhetoric.What I don't understand is why nobody has talked about Kennedy's Medicare for All act, which is an elegant solution for just that - a public option in which folks can buy into Medicare.

The reasons this needs to be a big part of the public debate: This was Kennedy's last piece of unfinished life work. All those reporters who claim to know what Kennedy wanted are doing a disservice by not citing Kennedy's own legislation on the matter.

Kennedy himself was personally pushing for a public option in the form of Medicare for All (this negates any claim that Kennedy wouldhave not supported a public option). This is an example of what he would have wanted to pass (he reintroduced the bill, so it wasn't just some one-time idea of his).

The bill was amazing in its simplicity, countering arguments that all health reform components are by nature arcane and indecipherable: every 5 years (every 2 years in another version) the eligibility for Medicare would be lowered by 10 years (and raised from below by 10 years), with those under 65 being asked to check a box on their taxes if they signed up for Medicare (to be charged for it). It's a simple model for the public option, and hard(er) to lie about.

I believe David Waldman at Daily Kos was correct when he pointed out that it would make sense for the public option to be the "Kennedy plan"; irrespective of the politics, it would make sense because Kennedy's own bill was a public option bill, not a comprehensive reform package with 100 moving parts.

This is an idea whose time has come, and there ought to be robust
public discussion about it.

Keep up the pressure:

Here's a quick way to get to the contact information for your elected officials. (Scroll down to box on the right labelled "My Elected Officials" and enter your zip code.)

Alternatively, Max at Firedoglake explains how to put recalcitrant congress critters up against the wall - the Facebook wall.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy's Bipartisanship: He Never Lost the Prize

In Salon, Joe Conason refutes the latest repug lies that Ted Kennedy would have bargained away the public option in order to get a worthless health care bill.

Kennedy, Conason shows, knew how to attract allies without giving away the prize.

The sheer scope of Kennedy's work is simply staggering. The beneficiaries of his achievement numbered in the many millions. They were poor, elderly, women, gays, minorities, immigrants, veterans, students, workers, the disabled, the mentally ill and, perhaps above all, children. To catalog the landmark bills that he sponsored and managed into law is a challenge; to enumerate his entire achievement may be virtually impossible.

Drawing up lists of bills and amendments is inevitably a dry exercise, but it is Kennedy's spirit of compassion that lives in every human being touched by those laws. The homage we owe him is to honor his bedrock belief that government must lift up the oppressed and defend the defenseless.


It is true that Kennedy, the friendly warrior, excelled in bipartisanship. Nearly all of the domestic reforms mentioned here were sponsored by at least one Republican senator. But in every case, those stodgy conservatives were cajoled and whispered (and perhaps shamed) into venturing much closer to Kennedy's perspective. He drew them toward him, invariably against their own habits, not by selling out his progressive goal, but by appealing to the decency he perceived in them.

Forty years ago he began the quest for universal healthcare that became the cause of his life when he introduced his first bill outlining that goal. His final bequest to the Senate is the Affordable Health Choices Act, his version of the Obama administration's reform proposals, which was passed by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month. Republicans now say that if Kennedy had
not been forced by illness to relinquish the chairmanship of that committee, he would have negotiated away the strongest provisions of that bill to win passage.

Kennedy's Republican friends should not make that disingenuous argument in his lamented absence. Lest there be any doubt about what he truly wanted, his bill includes a robust public option along with all the insurance reforms and cost controls that the president has endorsed since this process began.

How would he have handled the intransigence and dishonesty of the Republican opposition? We know that he could shout as well as whisper — and that he could be partisan as well as bipartisan. He believed that the time for incremental changes had passed. He was ready to fight. The tragedy of his death is not only that he didn't see the triumph he had dreamed, but that he fell before he could lead the nation to that final victory. Now that victory will have to be won in his name.

Read the whole thing.

Then tell them to fight:

Here's a quick way to get to the contact information for your elected officials. (Scroll down to box on the right labelled "My Elected Officials" and enter your zip code.)

Alternatively, Max at Firedoglake explains how to put recalcitrant congress critters up against the wall - the Facebook wall.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our Enemies Are Not Honorable

And by enemies I mean every single member of the republican party.

Down With Tyranny reminds President Obama just whom he's dealing with.

...“They say one should not speak ill of the dead,” wrote Bill Bennett on the National Review’s website. “True. But I am of the view that one should not lie about the dead either. So I will not go on.”

Bennett did go on, however, saying there was “no one in the Senate” with Kennedy’s “force power, and impact”-– even if the Massachusetts Democrat “assaulted our causes and nominees.”

Their causes? Like implementing a barbaric society based on the Law of The Jungle? If conservative "causes" had prevailed we wouldn't have had a Bill of Rights; we would still have slavery; women wouldn't have the right to vote. There would be no public education, no labor unions to protect workers, no protection for consumers, no Social Security, no environmental protections, no protections for the disabled, no Medicare, no regulations of the unbridled power of corporations. These are all what conservative "causes" are and have always been all about-- preserving the status quo on behalf of the wealthy elites who prosper and bribe them-- that simple.

And you know what? I'm sure Ted Kennedy would proudly stand up and plead guilty to that charge of Bill Bennett's. I wish I could be as sure Barack Obama would. Maybe Obama plans to really give the public option a Teddy Kennedy-like push when support climbs above the measly 79% mark. That includes 89% of Democrats and 80% of independents. I guess what's holding back President Bipartisan is that only 61% of Republicans favor the public option... and that means the 33% who oppose it won't like him. Maybe they'll say he's a socialist or Hitler or born in another country or that they wish he was dead.

Time to grow up and accept the mantle of leadership we gave you.

Read the whole thing.

Don't Fall for the Hype: Public Option is Still Alive

Robert Reich has a great explanation of how and why the "public option is dead" meme is manipulative horseshit.

Horseshit that can be easily overcome, but only through organizing and mobilizing now.

He closes with the perfect anecdote for dismissing the cowardly incrementalists:

Years ago, as the story goes, Britain's Parliament faced a difficult choice. On the European continent drivers use the right lanes, while the English remained on the left. But tunnels and fast ferries were bringing cars and drivers back and forth ever more frequently.

Liberals in Parliament thought it time to change lanes. Conservatives resisted; after all, Brits had been driving on the left since William the Conquerer's charriot. Parliament's compromise was to move from the left to right lanes -- but incrementally, on a voluntary basis.

Truckers first.

Lest anyone in Washington repeat this story authoritatively, it's a joke -- but with a kernel of truth. Sometimes reform has to occur in a big way, everything or nothing, if it's to happen at all. That's the way it is with health care reform at this stage. Every moving piece is related to every other one. That's also why a public option is necessary.

So forget the authoritative sources. Mobilize and organize. We can get comprehensive, meaningful health care reform if we push hard enough.

And we must.

Read the whole thing.

Then keep up the pressure:

Here's a quick way to get to the contact information for your elected officials. (Scroll down to box on the right labelled "My Elected Officials" and enter your zip code.)

Alternatively, Max at Firedoglake explains how to put recalcitrant congress critters up against the wall - the Facebook wall.

Politicize My Death

The wonderful Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon demolishes the faux pearl-clutchers in the Grand Old Poopyheads:

I’m almost 32 and I’m in good health, so this might seem a little premature. But as the President pointed out that even young, healthy people should have living wills, the occasion of Ted Kennedy’s death---and Paul Wellstone’s before it---makes it clear that anyone who is a liberal in the public eye at all should explicitly spell out their wishes about the “politicization” of their deaths, or else the wingnuts will declare that the only proper way to honor your legacy is to start by undermining it. So, in the event of my passing, I want it to be clear these are my wishes:

1) Please honor me by continuing to fight for the liberal causes I held dear.
2) Explicitly state in any obituaries, memorial services, etc. that what I would have wanted was to keep the fight going.
3) Impassioned speeches about the fight ahead for progressivism are especially welcome.
4) Indeed, the only way to honor my memory is to double down and fight for a better world.
5) Conservatives who don’t like this should shut the fuck up.

Obviously, I’m a mere blogger, so this is mostly irrelevant. But I’d like to get this out there in hopes of inspiring others. Hopefully, those who are truly influential to the point where wingnuts will try to use their death to undermine their legacy would be well-advised to spell out their wishes, so their survivors have a trump card.

Pass it on.

The Measure of a Liberal Man

President Obama is going to have to stretch quite a bit to make his Saturday eulogy beat this:

Finally, we must take a measure of the man. Not the person, or the legislator, or the family member. No, the man. Ted Kennedy was more of a man's man than any of the brush-clearing, hick-talking, pick-up driving politicians who overcompensate again and again by faking it. No, Kennedy demonstrated, through all the ups and downs, again and again what a real man is. It is a type of masculinity that we rarely see anymore because it is a fearlessness that few are allowed to embrace.


A man works to help those who need help. A real man is a liberal because a real man is unafraid of change and progress and difference.

Read the whole brilliant thing.

I'm Proud to be a Liberal

By David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

h/t They Gave Us A Republic commenter paulfromportland.

Order reprints here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Make the Eulogy a Declaration of War

The wingnuts are hysterically screaming orders to Democrats not to "politicize" Senator Kennedy's death. Why? Because they are justifiably terrified of the power inherent in a eulogy to the nation's Greatest Modern Liberal.

And who but the nation's greatest living orator to give a rafter-shaking, foundation-cracking, send-'em-into-the-streets Liberal Call To Arms?

John Nichols of The Nation makes the case for the only kind of eulogy that would truly honor Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

The only question is whether Obama will honor the moment and use it, as Kennedy once did, to speak not merely of a life lost but of a cause unbowed.

To do right by Kennedy, Obama must make his words on Saturday more than a eulogy.

He must deliver a renewing address, both for the causes Kennedy championed -- of which the first and foremost is universal health care -- and for the presidency in which the late senator invested as much hope as the most idealistic Obama volunteer.

Obama must speak in the Kennedy tradition when he rises to speak Saturday morning at Boston's Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.


My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.'

With those words, Ted Kennedy grabbed the flag of American liberalism and raised it aloft -- reshaping the anguished cry at his brother's assassination into an inspired call to action.

Obama faces a different task than the one Kennedy performed on June 8, 1968, at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. He is eulogizing a friend, not a brother. He is speaking of a man who died in relative old age, not the youthful victim of an assassination.

And, yet, the stakes are just as high.

Few would seriously debate that Barack Obama has been too cautious, too unfocused in the first months of the presidency that Ted Kennedy imagined would be characterized by: "New hope for justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few. New hope -- and this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality healthcare as a fundamental right and not a privilege."

Obama has an opportunity to honor Kennedy by turning this moment of loss into a moment of renewal.

This is not just what Kennedy would have requested.

It is what the liberal lion would have demanded.

Read the whole thing.

The Cub's First Roar

For everyone younger than me, who has never heard a modern politician make a full-throated liberal call to arms, a gift from David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

The brief post I did yesterday on Ted Kennedy's April 7, 1968 speech
to the Alaska state Democratic convention didn't really do it justice. It's a grainy black-and-white film but the audio of Kennedy's lilting Boston accent is clear, and the speech Kennedy delivers, which I was not familiar with until yesterday, stands even 40 years later as a close-to-perfect expression of modern American liberalism.

To set the scene, Martin Luther King had been assassinated on April 4, a Thursday. Sen. Robert Kennedy, then campaigning for the Presidency was supposed to address the convention on that following Sunday in Sitka, but sent his brother instead so he could monitor violence in the wake of King's murder. Robert's own murder would come just two months later.

So the speech comes at a momentous time. Yet even in the heat of that moment, the speech transcends the shock of recent events. I assume it was written for Robert to deliver, but Ted delivers it was a seriousness and forcefulness that belies his age at the time: 36.

Maybe I'm falling into the trap of inflating the significance of the deceased's life, but the speech is so well-written and powerfully delivered that it deserves consideration among the great American political speeches. Fast-forward to the 5:20 mark, where Kennedy uses the King assassination to launch into his passionate assertion and defense of liberalism.

I can't be at Arlington Saturday, so these are my tribute. Enjoy or ignore, but until Sunday I'm holding vigil.

"Fighting for Progress Without Shame or Obfuscation"

Another wonderful tribute, with lessons for Democrats, this one from Digby:

The Kennedys always pissed off the wingnuts to an absurd degree, and yet they never complained about it, even though they paid such a huge price for their public service. It's one of the things I like the most about them.


But once it became clear, he didn't just turn his seat into a sinecure or retreat into cynicism, he carried on valiantly, becoming one of the few master legislators in American history, insisting on making progress by hook or crook even during the long era of conservative rule in which he served. And he took the slings and arrows from his enemies along the way with humor, dignity and class.

John McCain said the other day that Kennedy's great gift was in making concessions to Republicans. That may be correct, but not in the way McCain meant it to be. Kennedy's great gift was fighting for progress without shame or obfuscation, making the moral argument for liberalism, and always trying to move the ball forward, inch by inch if that's all he could get and in great leaps if the opportunity presented itself. If he made the right concessions, it sure as hell wasn't in service of McCain's pinched and cruel agenda.

He was everything the conservatives hate: a proud, fighting liberal who didn't shirk from the label. Each day his presence was a rebuke to everything they believed in. So when you hear the inevitable lugubrious paeans from the right over the next few days, keep in mind that their movement and its people spent the last 40 years treating Ted Kennedy the way they treat Barack Obama today -- with utter, single-minded contempt.

And all the while, Kennedy just kept going, getting more concessions from Republicans by being true to his principles than mealy mouthed centrism ever did. There's a lesson in that.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What Kennedy Really Did

The Rude Pundit puts Senator Kennedy's accomplishments in plain language even conservatives can support:

Do you like your state and not the federal government controlling the curriculum of your kids' schools? Thank Ted Kennedy.

Do you like being able to vote starting at age 18? Thank Ted Kennedy.

Do you think low-income people should get help with heating their homes in the winter? Thank the man.

Do you think the federal government should fund cancer research? Yep.

Do you believe that Meals on Wheels is a good thing? Ditto.

Does your daughter (or you, if you're female) like playing soccer or basketball or softball at school? That'd be because of Ted Kennedy.

Do you think that disabled people should be able to go to school? Have access to buildings? Not be discriminated against for housing and loads of other things? Kennedy, big time.

You like your cheap airfares? You know the answer.

You think people on welfare oughta get jobs? So did Kennedy.

And on and on and on. Read the whole thing.

Constitution Wins One Over Freakazoids in Kentucky

Oh, frabjous joy! We liberal commie atheist members of the reality-based community will be toasting each other tonight with the tears of Baby Jeebus.

A judge on Wednesday struck down a 2006 state law that required the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to stress “dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the commonwealth.”

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that the law violated the First Amendment’s protection against the establishment of a state religion. Homeland Security officials have been required for three years to credit “Almighty God” in their official reports and post a plaque with similar language at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort.

“Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God by choice for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now,” Wingate wrote.

“This is the very reason the Establishment Clause was created: to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority,” he wrote. “The commonwealth’s history does not exclude God from the statutes, but it had never permitted the General Assembly to demand that its citizens depend on Almighty God.”

State Rep. Tom Riner, D-Louisville, a Southern Baptist minister, placed the “Almighty God” language into a homeland security bill without much notice.

Riner said Wednesday that he is unhappy with the judge’s ruling. The way he wrote the law, he said, it did not mandate that Kentuckians depend on God for their safety, it simply acknowledged that government without God cannot protect its citizens.

“The decision would have shocked and disappointed Thomas Jefferson, who penned the words that the General Assembly paraphrased in this legislation,” Riner said.

The Herald-Leader reported on the law last November, prompting jokes about Kentucky on late-night television shows and a lawsuit by American Atheists of Parsippany, N.J., and 10 non-religious Kentuckians. Wingate was ruling in that lawsuit.

“We’re delighted,” said Edwin Kagin, a Boone County lawyer and national legal director for American Atheists, on Wednesday. “It’s what a judge should do. This law was unconstitutional on its face.”

“I think we can all feel a little safer now,” Kagin said. “The real threats to our society come from within, not without, and that includes building a theocracy here in Kentucky.”

Attorney General Jack Conway defended the law in court, arguing that striking down such laws risked creating a secular society that is wholly separated from religion. A Conway spokeswoman said the attorney general’s office is reviewing the ruling and will decide whether to appeal.

Yes, Riner really is that stupidly freakazoid, and yes, it's possible Jack Conway, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, is too. Although as Attorney General it is Conway's job to defend the state in lawsuits of this type, he may do so with minimal effort in cases he prefers not to win.

If he appeals, however, we'll know he's the shallow, spineless hairdo Mongiardo claims he is.

Advice for Jack Conway

From a 2002 profile of the greatest Senator in American history: (emphasis added)

The 1995 speech came in the context of Newt Gingrich being sworn in as Speaker in the wake of the GOP's gain of fifty-three House seats in November 1994--the same day that Mario Cuomo was defeated in the New York gubernatorial race and Tom Foley was trounced in the Washington State House race.

In this sail-against-the-wind speech, given at the National Press Club, Kennedy rejected the conventional wisdom that the 1994 elections proved the country was veering sharply to the right. He argued that the reason the Democrats lost so many elections was that they had compromised too much and shed their distinct identity. Kennedy famously declared:

"If the Democrats run for cover, if we become pale carbon copies of the opposition, we will lose--and deserve to lose. The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties."

Before Kennedy made this argument in public, he delivered it in private to President Clinton, who was in a deep funk over the 1994 election and being urged by pollster Dick Morris to compromise even more and embrace portions of the Gingrich-Dole agenda.

Kennedy told Clinton to fight for incremental national healthcare, jobs and an increase in the minimum wage, and to resist making any cuts in education. He gave Clinton a memo that summed up his thinking on what a Democratic Party in power should stand for. The memo said:

"Democrats are for higher wages and new job opportunities. Republicans are for cuts to pay for tax breaks for the rich."

Kennedy's October 2001 speech on the Senate floor, opposing Bush's stingy, elitist economic stimulus package, is another road map for lost Democrats. In it, Kennedy asserted that any effective economic stimulus should "target the dollars to low- and moderate-income families, who are most certain to spend it rather than save it."

The key to Kennedy's politics is his belief that Democrats must simultaneously advocate for the poor and the middle class at the expense of the wealthy and corporate America.

As someone whose policies and politics are so well integrated, Kennedy knows that liberals win elections when the poor and the middle class vote together. And liberals lose when the suburban, independent middle-class votes with the upper classes.

Time to show what you're made of, Jack. Whose side are you on?

The Superb Senate Health Care Reform Bill We Already Have

Don't let anyone get away with sniffling "if only Kennedy were still in the Senate, we'd have a real health care reform bill."

We have a Senate health care reform bill, it has a strong public option, and it's the one produced by Senator Edward M. Kennedy's own committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

All I keep hearing is politicians wishing that Ted Kennedy was able to be involved in the health care reform process. Republicans are actually saying that -- guys like John McCain.

Well then, he should honor Kennedy's legacy and negotiate in good faith, but that will never happen:

Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, John McCain argued that the real hindrance to health-care reform is the absence of Sen. Ted Kennedy. "It's huge that he's absent," McCain said, "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."

This stuff just isn't plausible. Kennedy was around in 1994 and there was no deal. More to the point, Kennedy's committee, the HELP Committee, has passed health-care reform. Kennedy's staff, as you might expect, led their effort. But neither Kennedy nor his staff can make the deals for another committee. If Kennedy were in the Senate now, health care would be exactly where it is: Through Ted Kennedy's Committee and stuck in the morass of Max Baucus's Gang of Six.

Meanwhile, if John McCain wants to honor Ted Kennedy, he shouldn't just talk the guy up. He should play a constructive role in passing the legislation that Kennedy considered the cause of his life. McCain says that Kennedy "had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions," but surely McCain can decide what concessions those should be and present them to Max Baucus — or the New York Times — in exchange for his vote.

McCain and the Republicans would be playing the same games with or without Ted having an active role right now, but his power would be in dealing with the American people. He'd be pounding the talk shows, town halls and radio airwaves with solid reasoning behind his health care reforms. And President Obama needs good surrogates to go out there and explain to Americans why we need health care reform.

I think we all miss Ted and wish he were knocking heads in Congress and in the media, but Chris Dodd has taken over his committee and they released a bill that was crafted by Kennedy's staff which I assume is one that he's in favor of. So we have four bills done and a fifth one that's in limbo but should be done soon. Why is it that the only bill that matters to the Villagers is the Baucus/Senate Finance Committee bill? Why is that the Holy Grail? Would some talking head at least explain to America what is contained in the HELP bill? Is that too frakkon' much to ask?

So keep up the pressure:

Here's a quick way to get to the contact information for your elected officials. (Scroll down to box on the right labelled "My Elected Officials" and enter your zip code.)

Alternatively, Max at Firedoglake explains how to put recalcitrant congress critters up against the wall - the Facebook wall.

Kennedy's Legacy: Support the Public Option

What we've lost.


Only reconciliation can save the public option now.

Reconciliation and us.

Subject: Sign On to the Public Option Resolution

Dear Friend,

Can you call on your local Democratic Party and other local groups to adopt the Public Option Resolution demanding inclusion of a strong public health insurance option in any health care bill passed this year?

A whopping 76% of voters want health insurance reform to include the choice of a Public Option. In the words of President Obama, the choice of a Public Option will, "keep the insurance companies honest."

So the insurance companies and right wing are fighting tooth and nail to get Democrats to cave on the public option and vote for fake reform like a "trigger" or co-opts. We can't let Democrats capitulate, we need to support Democrats only passing a bill with a strong public option.

Public Option Resolution.

That is why bloggers like FireDogLake have joined forces with CREDO Action and Democracy for America to pass Public Option Resolutions at local political groups across the country.

Please join us and forward this email to your friends, chances are they are part of the 76% of Americans who want Democrats to be resolved for a Public Option.

Public Option Resolution.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Again: We Tortured. It Failed. Prosecute the Fuckers

As always, The Rude Pundit nails it.

1. It didn't work. That's what needs to be hammered home again and again. No matter how much Dick Cheney wants to insist it did, it didn't fucking work. How does the Rude Pundit know this? Two reasons:

A. If there was a single, demonstrable instance of a correlation between threatening to power drill the nutsack of Abu al-Fuckingbadguywithamoustache and the prevention of a terrorist attack, that shit would be a new book in the right-wing Bible. It'd be the trump card for every conservative bag of fuck on every news show, in every Bush administration self-justification memoir; it'd be tattooed on John Woo's sneering lip and on Alberto Gonzales's dick. Instead, all we get is the assertion that torture worked by the people whose asses' freedom depends on it.

i. It ought to be noted that even if torture "worked," it's still illegal.

B. Even the CIA reports that Cheney wanted declassified show jackshit about the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation techniques."


8. The Rude Pundit knows that many of those interrogated enhancedly are probably awful fuckers who would gut him the second they had a chance. So?

I've left some of the best stuff out, so Read the whole thing.

Repug Compassion Revealed

Shorter Senator Tom Coburn: "If you can't afford medical care, not only do you deserve to die, but your family deserves to suffer destitution."

Steve Benen explains:

We're probably past the point at which one concerned American asking one question at a single town-hall forum can change the nature of the larger health care debate. But this clip, posted by Zaid Jilani, struck me as both powerful and illustrative.

For those of you who can't watch clips from your work computers, CNN'sRick Sanchez aired an exchange yesterday between a woman desperate forhealth care assistance and Sen. Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma. The womanin the clip struggles to even speak through her tears, but sheexplains to her right-wing senator that her husband has traumaticbrain injuries. Their family's private insurer, she said, won't coversome of his treatments. "We left the nursing home," she said, "andthey told us we are on our own." She breaks down, pleading for help.

Coburn's response was fascinating. "Well, I think, first of all, yes, we will help," the senator said. "The first thing we will do is see what we can do individually to help you through our office. But the other thing that's missing in this debate is us as neighbors helping people that need our help."

When that generated some applause, the Oklahoman added, "The idea that the government is the solution to our problems is an inaccurate, a very inaccurate statement."

This struck me as interesting for a few reasons. The first, which Rick Sanchez noted to viewers, is that Coburn said his office would try to help this woman's family, right before saying government isn't the answer. Sanchez asked, "Isn't he the government?"


Coburn's answer represents mindless, reflexive opposition to government, for opposition's sake. It's a worldview that's as shallow as it is destructive.

Is government intervention always the answer to every societal problem? Of course not. But health care is critically important -- literally, a life-or-death issue -- for just about every single person and family in the country. It's a basic public service -- not unlike police protection, fire departments, roads, or schools -- that every industrialized democracy manages to provide its citizens, expect us,
thanks to "leaders" like Coburn and those who share his ideology.

Benen, as usual, is way too forgiving of repug I-got-mine-fuck-you displays. What is horrific here is two-fold:

First, no one is calling Coburn and all his repug/Blue Dog fellow travelers out on their Anti-American belief that everyone who is not rich, white and male is sub-human.

Second, because no one has called them out on that for the last 30 years, people have forgotten the obvious: "neighbors helping neighbors" IS government. We all contribute, through taxes, to the commonweal so that we all benefit from public spending on things we all need. Things too expensive to buy on our own, and too essential to leave to the vicious cannibalism of the market. Like health care.

They used to teach this in elementary school.

Inconvenient Health Care Truths

Yes, it's pointless and a waste of breath to repeat facts to people who for whatever reason prefer the lies, but for the record, Down With Tyranny has a list of Facts About Health Care Reform for you to keep handy.

... although much truthful info is available in uncounted articles about health care reform, it might just be very practical to simply gather it up and compose a list of FACTS, not Republican “facts” or lies as rational folks call them, but FACTS. Presented in this JUST THE FACTS FORM, they could be useful to readers who encounter crazies at the water cooler, at town hall meetings, or in Congress itself. Why, you could even mail it to your own Congressperson, whether they are sane or not. If your Senator is a Republican, you could even go over to your local airport and plaster the men’s room stalls with it. If you are having family over for any Labor Day festivities and your family suffers the shame of having a Republican in its midst, it might also come in handy for such an occasion. Come to think of it, though, you might mention that you are surprised that a Repug celebrates Labor Day.

With a bonus 10-point list of Facts About Canadian Health Care!

Read, copy, forward, print, distribute.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Your Health Care Reform Hero: Rep. Anthony Weiner

I never watch Morning Joe; life's too short to waste on Teh Stooopid. But last week Public Option Advocate Hero Rep. Anthony Weiner actually ignited something resembling sentience in Dense Joke and Ditsy Mika.

Leslie Savan at The Nation:

Something rather remarkable happened on Tuesday's Morning Joe. Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York pointed out that the health insurance industry has no clothes, and Joe Scarborough, after first trying to spin it some gossamer threads, broke down and said, By God, you're right, this emperor is a naked money-making machine!

Well, he didn't use those exact words, but Joe did seem to finally get that America has granted insurance companies the right to create bottlenecks in the financing of healthcare in order to extract profits out of the suffering of ordinary people--without providing any actual healthcare whatsoever.

Read the whole thing. Or watch below:

Part One

Part Two:

Brett Guthrie, Lying Hypocrite

The last time we checked in on baby gooper Brett Guthrie, he was revealing his socialist true beliefs by claiming America needs health care reform.

Apparently he has been visited by gooper goons, because in Bowling Green Saturday, he was repeating the standard repug lies.

“I feel like they’re shoving it down our throats,” said Brian Norman of Glasgow. “It took Obama six months to get a dog, but he’s trying to (push) health care reform in three weeks.”

Note that the Second District's only congresscritter let that go without slapping the idiot upside the head and explaining that liberals have been trying to get a modern health care insurance system past the repugs in this country for 75 years.

While the government should consider issues, such as Medicare, government-run health insurance could smother private insurance companies, resulting in a single public option, Guthrie said.

That's a LIE. Government-run health insurance is MEDICARE, which has been paying for health care for millions of seniors for more than 40 years without putting a single private insurer out of business.

U.S. health care would mirror systems in countries such as Canada, where “you go to the government, and they approve you ... then you get in line to get service,” he said. “Once you’re authorized by private health insurance, then you get your procedure in this country.”

LIE. Everybody who's gotten a medical procedure approved the first time around by a private insurer, stand on your head. Not to mention that no one in this country is proposing a single-payer system like Canada's, more's the pity.

“A lot of people are sick and tired of Congress trampling on the Constitution,” said Brian Birchell of Warren County. “This health care bill is another example of that.”

The entity trampling on the Constitution for eight solid years from January 2001 to January 2009 was not Congress, Mr. Birchell. That was the drunk-driving, military-deserting, soul-less psychopath in the White House for whom I am sure you voted. Twice.

“We want you to take a message back to Washington with you: that we are watching, we’re listening and we’re aware,” said Clark of Warren County. “We do not want this garbage shoved down our throats anymore.”

Garbage like reform to ensure you aren't denied cancer treatment by your private insurer?

Tom Stuller and his sister, Ann Stuller, both of Halfway, came to show their opposition to government-sponsored health insurance.

“The government’s going to run it, and they can’t run anything,” Ann Stuller said. “The government doesn’t owe me health care.”

Ann Stoller of Halfway, Kentucky, doesn't want Medicare. Got it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Master Sausage Maker Back in the Kitchen


For all the claims that President Obama and Senate Democrats have finally accepted reality and stopped thinking any republican will vote for any health care reform bill, no matter how castrated and worthless, both the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are letting repug Sen. Charles Grassley continue torturing reform to death in the Finance Committee.

Robert Reich writes:

I really don't get it. We have a Democratic president in the White House. Democrats control 60 votes in the Senate, enough to overcome a filibuster. It is possible to pass healthcare legislation through the Senate with 51 votes (that's what George W. Bush did with his tax-cut plan). Democrats control the House. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is a tough lady. She has said there will be no healthcare reform bill without a public option.

So why does the fate of healthcare rest in Grassley's hands?

It's not even as if the gang represents America. The three Dems in the gang are from Montana, New Mexico and North Dakota – states that together account for just over 1 percent of Americans. The three Republicans are from Maine, Wyoming and Iowa, which together account for 1.6 percent of the American population.

So, I repeat: Why has it come down to these six? Who anointed them? Apparently, the White House. At least that's what I'm repeatedly being told by sources both on the Hill and in the administration. "The Finance Committee is where the action is. They'll tee up the final bill," says someone who should know.

Maybe Obama and Reid haven't slapped Grassley and his gang down because they know they've got an ace in the House: Master Sausage-Maker Henry Waxman, 20-term Democrat of California.

At FiredogLake, emptywheel writes that Waxman has just begun to fight.

In a jello-wrestling match between Rahm Emanuel and Henry Waxman, I think I'd bet on the latter. While Rahm has been frantically and loudly pursuing two opposing strategies--the Messina-Baucus welfare program for the insurance industry hidden under the guise of the public option kabuki, Waxman has been quietly preparing for battle in September. And it sounds like the insurance industry is getting increasingly worried that Waxman will be better prepared than Rahm and his little kabuki dance.

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman raised eyebrows this week when he launched a financial probe into the nation's largest insurance companies, which are at the center of the health reform battle.

Now POLITICO has learned that Waxman's recent investigation began almost a month earlier than previously thought - with letters to the insurance industry's powerful trade group and its consultant regarding grassroots tactics.


I'm getting a feeling that the untold--and developing--story of this health care debate is that when Waxman was forced to push through an imperfect bill with the Blue Dogs on his committee, when he got stuck in negotiations with Rahm just before the break, he realized he was getting screwed. And, lucky for us, he was in a position to do something about it, to prepare for the fight that will come in September.

Read the whole thing.

This is not going to be over until the final bill emerges, covered in the blood of Blue Dogs, from the conference committee.

So keep up the pressure:

Here's a quick way to get to the contact information for your elected officials. (Scroll down to box on the right labelled "My Elected Officials" and enter your zip code.)

Alternatively, Max at Firedoglake explains how to put recalcitrant congress critters up against the wall - the Facebook wall.

UPDATE, 6:45 a.m. On a conference call with Sen. Max Baucus, Montana county Democratic Party chairs force the Senate Finance Committee Chairman to declare his support for a public option.

A Peek at a Villager Stripped Naked

The Beltway Villagers who direct and destroy our national political discourse pride themselves on their insider "knowledge," the personal relationships with lawmakers and powerbrokers that give the Villagers "insight" denied to the hoi polloi, especially the blogger variety of hoi.

But now Aimai gives us an insider look at Villager Extraordinaire Joe Klein, as he postures for party-goers at The Vineyard:

I was standing at the cookout minding my own business when Klein started pontificating for the rubes on how “surprising” and “shocking” it was that Grassley, of all people, should have come out and endorsed the “death panels” lie. I walked up and said “why are you surprised?” [edited to remove typo] to which he, in best pundit debater fashion (never allow yourself to admit you were just posing!), shot back “who says I'm surprised?” I said “well, you did. You just started your lecture saying “Its surprising.”” Its not surprising, the republicans have nothing left to lose and nothing left to gain at this point outside of pleasing the crazy base and attacking Obama and the dems.”

Aimai challenged him! How dare she! And Klein responded with the screaming, foot-stamping hysteria you rarely see outside reality tv shows. The more Aimai stripped away his facade of secret wisdom and above-it-all detachment, the louder he screamed.

Read the whole thing - it's hysterical. You'll never read the MSM the same way again.

And don't miss Greenwald's take.

When "Repent or Die" Becomes Literal

If health insurance reform fails, there's something worse than a system that provides health care only to people who can afford private insurance:

a system that provides health care only to people who worship an invisible sky wizard.

Yes, we've had faith-based health care in this country since its founding, and yes, most of the truly compassionate and non-judgmental health care provided to the poorest of the poor is provided by those who do so out of religious conviction.

But when the freakazoid largest congregation in Lexington - the second-largest in the state - makes providing health care to the uninsured secondary to "meeting the spiritual needs" of desperate people, I hear alarms screaming.

The Fayette County Refuge Medical Clinic, one of two non-profit organizations initially funded by Southland Christian Church, opened six months ago to provide free medical, dental and chiropractic care. There are at least six other similar clinics, without which hundreds of uninsured people couldn't be pro-active in their health care.


The Refuge provides not only some of the best medical care available but also tries to meet the needs of the whole person, spiritual as well as physical, Smith said.


Volunteers and staff members have devotions every morning and pray for patients who have asked for prayer on cards left in the lobby.


As far as Smith knows, even if a health care reform plan is passed, her clinic will continue to operate. But who knows what services it will offer and how? A clinic board member has read the current proposal and discussions about the clinic's future are under way with board members.

"We've definitely thought about it," she said. "We will adjust when that happens. Maybe we would shift into more dental care. But to be completely honest, the type of care we provide rivals any care that is out there."


Melrose believes there would be little need for government intervention or universal health care if more people lived their faith.

"I want people to read this and be challenged by it," he said. "I want them to get up and do something for this community.

"If we get focused on doing it God's way, all these other issues are non-issues."

Finished vomiting yet? Then don't read the whole thing. The writer goes on to claim that if enough freakazoids step up to the plate, we wouldn't need government programs at all. And this is from a professed liberal who is often crucified in letters-to-the-editor from professed conservatives.

This is the real danger: that ignorant, deluded freakazoids will use societal breakdown to justify the goals of the Dominionists.

This isn't a slippery slope; it's a 12-lane, no-speed-limit superhighway direct to denying medical care to all non-Xians.

We gave faith-based social work several decades to work between the Civil War and the Depression - I'll let you guess how well it succeeded.

But today it's not a question of faith-based social work failing to meet people's needs; it's a question of giving up on the whole idea of diverse people in a secular society creating a system that works for everyone, regardless of belief.

Not to mention the idiocy of putting your health and life in the hands of people who would deny gravity if the voices in their head told them to.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Lying to Students

Just when I start to despair that the idiocracy of our current political discourse is being perpetuated by Texas' control over textbook standards, I am reminded that sometimes - though not often enough - the lies backfire.

PZ Myers has the latest example:

A short letter in this week's Science echoes a point I made in my last article: lying to students will not win them over to your cause. It's what will eventually lead to the defeat of creationism, which prompts them to lie ever more in order to drown out that damning evidence.

I was always a mediocre student, especially in high school. I never really knew what I wanted to do, and nothing seemed to excite me. This changed in my senior year, when a creationist visited my biology class.

On that fateful day, all the science students were herded into the school auditorium, where we listened to a long and richly illustrated lecture describing literal creationism. We were informed that in an effort to "balance" our education, we would soon hear an equally long lecture on evolution. This, like many things I heard that day, turned out to be false. The evolution lecture never materialized. Remarkably, I graduated from senior biology having learned only about creationism.

School had finally gotten my full attention. I wanted to know what we were missing, and why. For the first time in my life, I willingly (eagerly even) picked up my textbook and studiously read it. With growing interest, I realized that evolution made an awful lot of sense, and that I was being hoodwinked by my biology class.

It's hard to overestimate the appeal of rebelling against the system to a teenaged boy, and that day marked the beginning of my path to a career in evolutionary biology. We learned other things in science class that year, too--for example, that all actions have an opposite reaction. For at least one sulky teenager in the small town of Owen Sound, Ontario, it took a creationist to make him into an evolutionary biologist.

There aren't enough of them. Not nearly enough.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Myths and Morality in Health Insurance Reform

Personally, I'm not going to be satisfied until President Obama makes Rahm Emmanuel apologize personally to every single-payer-supporting liberal in the country, and then abase himself at the feet of Howard Dean live on national television, but this is a step forward.

"This is our chance to march forward. I cannot promise you that the reforms we seek will be perfect or make a difference overnight. But I can promise you this: if we pass health insurance reform, we will look back many years from now and say, this was the moment we summoned what’s best in each of us to make life better for all of us. This was the moment we built a health care system worthy of the nation and the people we love. This was the moment we earned our place alongside the greatest generations. And that is what our generation of Americans is called to do right now."

Full transcript here.

Accept No Apologies

For those of us who just missed being old enough to die in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the defining event of the Vietnam War was the My Lai Massacre, and the trial of Lt. William Calley for murdering innocent Vietnamese civilians.

My Lai confirmed everything we'd suspected about the war - the waste, the stupidity, the war crimes - and Calley confirmed everything we'd suspected about the military officers who defended it - their soul-less, conscience-less, blind obedience to criminal leaders.

My Lai was the line that separated us from them. We shouted "murdered civilians!" They shouted "following orders!" That many of the ones defending Calley were World War II veterans who had shed blood to prove that following orders was no defense to war crimes was an incomprehensible and intolerable insult.

Calley's lack of remorse made it easy to hate him, but after 41 years I don't think I can accept his apology.

William Calley, the former Army lieutenant convicted on 22 counts of murder in the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, publicly apologized for the first time this week while speaking in Columbus.

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai," Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus on Wednesday. His voice started to break when he added, "I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."

In March 1968, U.S. soldiers gunned down hundreds of civilians in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai. The Army at first denied, then downplayed the event, saying most of the dead were Vietcong. But in November 1969, journalist Seymour Hersh revealed what really happened and Calley was court martialed and convicted of murder.

Via dakine01 at Firedoglake, who has an excellent take.

So here we are, forty plus years after the massacre where former 2nd Lt Calley is quoted

"There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai," Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus, [GA] on Wednesday. His voice started to break when he added, "I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry."

And as always, there are two or three relatively anonymous heroes in this story, most especially Warrant Officer One, Hugh Thompson, Jr, who led a helicopter crew that confronted Lt Calley and his men.

One man (and his crew) stood up for what is right. One man "followed orders" and was convicted (officially of 22 murders although the death toll reported ranged from 347 (the official US Army number) up to 504). No other convictions of anyone at any level. Cover-ups at multiple levels. The victims were all "VC" or "guerrillas."

Over forty years for the one man convicted to apologize.

I do hope folks aren't holding their breaths waiting for George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and all the others to apologize for their atrocities.

The ones who issued the orders Calley claimed he followed were never officially identified, never charged, never tried. Of course they've never apologized.

Accept no apologies. Arrest, indict, remand, try, convict, imprison. Nothing else works.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ...

Cross-tab Revelations

One of the many ways that the repug-worshipping Village misrepresents the popularity of liberal policies in this country is by generalizing poll results. Any "disapproval" of President Obama is assumed to be of his supposed leftists tendencies and coming from the right and center.

But now somebody has finally looked at the cross-tab detail and discovered - surprise! - the disapproval is coming from the left, and what they don't like is his dancing to the repug tune on health care reform.

The president's slip isn't entirely the result of frustrated liberals and Democrats, but their aggravation is clearly having an effect. The number of liberals who are confident that Obama will make the right decision, for example, has dropped from 90% to 78%. Liberals who approve of the president's handling of health care has dropped from 81% to 70%.

These almost certainly aren't people expressing disapproval because they're watching Fox News or buying into McCaughey's lies -- these are progressive supporters who disapprove of unhelpful concessions to conservatives and overly-cautious centrists.


... if the White House political office wants to see these numbers improve, these poll results offer a pretty big hint. It's not complicated -- take a firm stand in support of the already-articulated principles, stand up to obstructionist Republicans, and tell centrists that the days of slow-walking reform are over.

As the missed-more-every-day Molly Ivins wrote back in 1993 in condemning Clinton's rejection of the liberals who'd elected him: Ya dance with the one that brung ya.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Common Story

Eve (nyceve) Gittelson at Firedoglake has a timely reminder of what the reform fight is really all about.

Susie Madrack at Suburban Guerilla received the following email about a Facebook death announcement. It arrived via an old friend.

My commentary. This is Murder by Spreadsheet writ large.

Late this afternoon I was gobsmacked by a Facebook announcement that a high school friend had died. I tracked down the story, and it is an absolute textbook example of everything that’s wrong with our health care system - so knowing that we share a passion for this topic, I’ll share it with you.

She was 49 years old and in good health, other than a propensity to develop bronchitis. A couple of weeks ago, after a trip to Disneyland, she came down with a terrible flu. After running a high fever for four days she knew she should see a doctor, but she didn’t - no insurance. Her husband, who owns his own business, had cancer a year and a half ago and is not insurable on his own. She originally had insurance through her job, but had been placed on disability after developing carpal tunnel syndrome (she was a transcriber). Eventually she was no longer eligible for insurance through her employer, other than COBRA, which she could in no way afford - her husband’s business had been hard hit in the recession.

So. She waits six days before finally dragging herself to an urgent care clinic, but the wait is so long and she feels like shit on a stick so she goes back home. Eventually ends up in ICU with pneumonia, and, as it ends up, tested positive for H1N1. By then the infection had gone too far, her organs started failing, and after a week in the hospital she died this morning, leaving a teenage daughter and a husband who don’t know what hit them. As though grieving isn’t enough of a burden, imagine the hospital bills they’re going to face. This man is certain to lose his business, his home, and anything else he ever had - on top of losing his wife.

It’s heartbreaking, completely unnecessary, and absolutely infuriating.

This is the reason we fight. Don’t give up, don’t get sidetracked, don’t be swayed, never forget. This is about people’s lives.

Say it again:

This is the reason we fight. Don’t give up, don’t get sidetracked, don’t be swayed, never forget. This is about people’s lives.

Super-DINO Baron Hill Calls Repug Lies ... "Lies"

Prepare for the Apocalypse.

As Blue Dogs go, there isn't a liberal bone in Baron Hill's body. The Indiana congressman rarely endorses the Democratic agenda and just doesn't stick to the Democratic message. Ever. When counting votes for health care reform, Rep. Hill isn't exactly a lock.

And even he's sick of the conservative attacks on reform. Eric Zimmermann reports on a town-hall event Hill held in his district yesterday.

"You'll have choices, regardless of what the detractors tell you," Hill said. "They are lying. That's a strong word, but it's true."

Thank you, Baron Hill. When Blue Dogs get sick of conservative misinformation, you know it's getting out of hand.

As for what got Hill going, this exchange seemed to set him off.

"I'm not a Democrat or a Republican," the man said. "I consider myself a political atheist. But from what I've heard about the plan on TV, there's a lot about it that I disagree with."

"What part do you not like?" Hill asked.

"Well, just some of the stuff they have been talking about on TV," the man responded.

"OK, and what was that?" Hill asked.

But the person couldn't come up with an example of what he disagreed with.

Are you paying attention, Ben Chandler, you fucking fake? "Democrat" Baron Hill is so republican he makes you look like Dennis Kucinich, and even Hill has the balls to call out the motherfucking liars for lying about fucking their mothers.

NOW can we have a real Democrat to primary this worthless piece of shit?

Please Not Yet

Last summer, I wanted Ted Kennedy to survive brain cancer long enough to see Barack Obama elected President.

By Christmas, I wanted Ted Kennedy to survive long enough to see Barack Obama inaugurated President.

Now, I won't be grateful for those unless Ted Kennedy survives to witness President Barack Obama sign into law the legislation for which Senator Kennedy has fought his entire political life.

bmaz has a while-he-still-lives tribute to the Lion of the Senate that I doubt any future obit will match.

The question has gone unasked out of respect, or murmured only quietly in back rooms: What about Teddy's health? Nobody wanted to be the one to say it in public. Nobody had to; once again Ted Kennedy is ahead of us. In a posting late Wednesday at the Boston Globe, comes news that Senator Edward M. Kennedy has authored a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Congressional leaders requesting that provisions be made for his successor.

Literally generations of politically active American citizens have been motivated to study and participate in the political process by the men--and women--of the Kennedy family (I am one). Since the tragedies of the 60s however, the Old Lion of the family, and, indeed, the US Senate (and Democratic politics as a whole), has been Edward M. Kennedy. The sturm and drang of the current health care fight? That has been his battle cry for decades. Barack Obama? Likely still a Senator if Ted Kennedy had endorsed Hillary Clinton instead. Name an important piece of social legislation passed in the last four plus decades and his fingerprints are on it.

So the question of "what if" about his health is an unpleasant, emotional and difficult one. But recent events have made the question undeniably germane. Senator Kennedy wasn't present for the Judiciary Committee consideration of Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination; you knew he wanted to be there, but his absence was understandable. When he also was absent from the Senate floor for the historic confirmation vote for Sotomayor, the first Hispanic American elevated to the Court, you had a feeling he was seriously ill. A week later, when he could not attend the presentation when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Barack Obama, a man he likens to his brother John, you knew it was bad. And then he was absent from the funeral for his sister Eunice. Ted Kennedy always gave the eulogies for Kennedy family members; he always had to, and he was always there. Always. Until now.

From The Globe:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in a poignant acknowledgment of his mortality at a critical time in the national health care debate, has privately asked the governor and legislative leaders to change the succession law to guarantee that Massachusetts will not lack a Senate vote when his seat becomes vacant.

Ted Kennedy is still a lion representing the interests of Massachusetts and the country, and still doing so selflessly and honorably by laying contingency plans for his own succession and drawing the sting from everybody else in addressing the subject head on. When the wind comes for the Lion he wants to insure we are ready. And that there is a vote for healthcare.

Read the whole thing.

White House Won't Admit That the Liberals They Disdains Saved His Ass on Health Care Reform

Scarecrow at Firedoglake has a terrific explanation of why this week's sudden turnaround on the public option is the result of political panic, not policy chess.

One can only guess at what finally convinced the White House to publicly admit that the Republicans have become a party of irresponsible, lying crazies.

Did they only just realize that Chuck Grassley, who had repeated every Republican talking point for weeks, would pander to the death panel zombies? Did they just learn that his Party would never allow him to agree to anything meaningful? Are they surprised that Orrin Hatch has a problem with truthfulness?

Is it really news to them that Jim DeMint and John Kyl can't distinguish between a public option, a co-op and a door knob? Or that John Boehner would threaten the drug companies to avoid cooperating with reform efforts, just as he threatened to blackball the industry in 1993?

Or did Rahm suddenly realize that Hamsher woman and the progressives she's helped unite were serious?

Whatever the reason, after misleading Obama's followers and losing more credibility and momentum than they could afford by recklessly hinting the Public Option was just a bargaining chip, "senior Administration officials" *cough* hurried to the New York Times to let us know that they've discovered those Republicans probably aren't serious about negotiating in good faith. Who knew?

Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny report the . . . uh, cover story:


This week’s careful administration maneuvering on whether a public insurance option was an essential element of any final bill was seemingly part of the new White House effort to find consensus among Democrats, since the public plan has been resisted by moderate and conservative Democrats who could be crucial to winning the votes for passage if no Republicans are on board.

I suppose you could describe running frantically through a minefield as the mines were blowing up "careful maneuvering," but you'd be more likely to use words like "panic," or "in denial" or "scrambling to regain control of the message," and that's being charitable.

It's good that the White House is finally hinting that, gosh, those Republicans don't seem to function in good faith, and gee, we're sure surprised at that Grassley fellow, and darn, why are Boehner, Kyl and Hatch such liars?

But whom does Rahm think he's kidding with this cover story? He's miscalculated from the beginning; he's demaging the President's credibility; he's blowing health reform, and badly, and if it weren't for a lot of hard working, dedicated progressives who stepped up to save the reform effort, we would have lost already instead of just barely hanging in there.

Read the whole thing.

It's Firedoglake Day today - they've been exceeding even their usual high standards lately, and I'm going to feature some doozies.

Kentucky Sentences 400 Women to Sexual Assault

No, not for sexual assault; to sexual assault.

A day after Hawaii announced it will pull inmates from a troubled private prison in Wheelwright, Kentucky officials said the state will keep more than 400 female inmates in the facility despite allegations that several prisoners have been sexually abused.

Kentucky public safety officials said Wednesday that the state will keep inmates at Otter Creek Correctional Center because Corrections Corporation of America — which runs Otter Creek — has agreed to make improvements to ensure inmate safety.

The Department of Corrections is currently negotiating its contract with the Nashville-based private prison company. Otter Creek houses both Hawaii and Kentucky inmates.

Hawaii officials announced Tuesday at a legislative hearing that the state has already removed 40 inmates from Otter Creek and the remaining 128 Hawaii prisoners will be moved to other facilities by the end of the month.

Both Hawaii and Kentucky have launched investigations into sexual abuse of female prisoners by guards at the facility. Several guards have been charged with sexual assault over the past several years and the Kentucky State Police plan to present another alleged sexual assault case to a grand jury soon.


Last year, Kentucky paid CCA $8.1 million to house an average of 431 inmates.


An investigation into more than a dozen possible sexual assaults at the facility is still ongoing, Brislin said. If the department is not satisfied with changes at Otter Creek, the state has a 120-day “out clause” in its contract.

In July, when the state of Hawaii started investigating claims by Hawaiian women at Otter Creek that they were being raped, Governor Linda Lingle said the state had no other place to keep those female prisoners.

Lingle noted the costs involved in housing the prisoners in Hawaii. "It's a concern because there's no where to put them," she said. "If there's a desire to bring prisoners home -- whether they're male or female prisoners -- we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that we don't have right now. ... We don't have a facility right now where we can house them."

And yet, barely a month later, Hawaii is removing all 169 of its women prisoners from Otter Creek.

To force a republican governor to spend millions to transfer a bunch of criminals who complained about bad treatment, that investigation must have found some pretty bad shit going on.

But hey, Kaintuck wimmins is tuff. Do the crime, do the time. Be thankful it's just rape; in Saudia Arabia it'd be 100 lashes, too.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Shouldn't Have Apologized, Jack

The first independent poll of the U.S. Senate race in Kentucky has Dan Mongiardo up 39-31 over Jack Conway among Democratic respondents.

Cross-tabs aren't available yet, and the respondents weren't likely voters, but only one politically significant thing has happened in this race in the last month, since Conway smashed state fundraising records with $1.3 million in the second quarter, out-raising Mongiardo four to one.

That one thing is Conway wimping out and caving to Dr. Dan's prissy demand that he apologize for referring to himself as a "tough son of a bitch." Instead of apologizing, here's what Conway should have said:

"Hey, Dan: I'm just a tough son of a bitch, but you're a lying, puling, corporate-cock-sucking motherfucker."

As Media Czech points out, an eight-point gap puts the lie to Mongiardo's claim of a 20-point lead from a manipulated internal poll in May. Jake has more details.

But the bigger lesson here is that Conway can't beat Mongiardo by competing for the Chandler/DINO/Blue Dog/repug-fellating vote; Dan's got that locked up.

Here's what you do, Jack:

  • Congratulate Mongiardo on his 8-point lead, and urge him to enjoy it - it won't last long.
  • Condemn Ben Chandler's and John Yarmuth's surrender to the private insurance lobbies, and declare yourself four-square in favor of single-payer/robust public option for health care reform.
  • Call down shame on Mongiardo for abandoning his home region to Death By Mountaintop Removal, and declare yourself four-square in favor of tight restrictions on carbon emissions combined with heavy public investment in non-coal clean energy.
  • Publicly reject Jonathan Miller's endorsement, and declare that you are also rejecting 217 years of Kentucky politicians serving themselves instead of their constituents.

Grab this opportunity, Jack - set yourself apart. If you don't, you're going to lose the Democratic primary to the most pathetic Senate candidate this state has ever offered up.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

The Guns of August

Count me among those horrified that the Secret Service did not round up and detain the dozen people carrying firearms, including automatic rifles, outside President Obama's town hall event in Phoenix yesterday.

As Josh Marshall explains to a concerned reader, there are good reasons for not arresting the assholes, but the incident still raises troubling questions

First, it's important to say that not only has none of these guys tried to fire their weapon at the president (or anyone else), to the best of my knowledge none of them were within the protective perimeter of the event. In other words, at the event today, no one was in the hall where the president was speaking. They were all in crowds outside the auditorium where he was speaking -- probably across the street, or something like that.

So in a narrow sense, I'm fairly confident (I'd like to be able to say I'm totally confident but I can't) that narrowly speaking the Secret Service agents were sure that no one was a danger to the president at that distance.


That said, I think LAG's larger point is a good one. As Chris Matthews said today in his surreal interview with Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) of Georgia, you don't take a gun somewhere unless you think there's some chance you might have occasion to use it.


I know we have a Second Amendment. And more relevantly we may have many states where carrying an unconcealed weapon is perfectly legal. We also, thank God, have a First Amendment which guarantees freedom of expression. But put me down as not believing we should allow the brandishing of firearms in proximity of the president as an acceptable way of expressing opposition to the president. Shouldn't this be obvious?

As LAG put it, what's going on here?

Read the whole thing.

Playing Calvin Ball* with Health Care Reform

The Rude Pundit attends a health care reform Town Hall, and leaves with this insight:

This is a bullshit movement. Oh, sure, there's real emotions and real people, but it's a limp cock being strenuously fluffed by a media on its knees for the right wing of this country. It's a bullshit movement because it's based on bullshit. It's impossible to have a rational discussion when your opponent is merely throwing lies at you. This is not a fair fight because the people running the discussion at this point, the media, are allowing it to be so. It's like we agreed to play baseball and an opposing player ran onto the field with a football, spiked, yelled "Touchdown," and the umpires said, "We'll allow it. Six points. Who's up to bat?"

Jesus, why don't we just try to lie better? Say that public health insurance will let people grow bigger tits and dicks and hair where they want it and smooth skin where they don't want hair? That'll it'll make you feel orgasms all the way to your eyelids? That you can shit gold? Then let's get people to show up at town halls with signs saying, "Why don't Republicans want us to shit gold?" so that Republicans will be forced to waste their time saying, repeatedly, "You won't be able to shit gold."

Read the whole thing.

*Calvin Ball.

Monday, August 17, 2009

House Progressives Won't Compromise on Public Option

Fuck the Senate.

The Progressive/Liberal Democrats in the House (who significantly outnumber the Blue Dogs) were abused, ignored, bullied and beaten down by Gingrich/DeLay repugs for 14 years and they're not going to take it any more.

The public option (if they can't have single-payer) puts them on the right side of the issue, the right side of the American Public (76 percent), the right side of politics (passing it will destroy the GOP), the right side of history.

Delivering genuine health care reform will be the biggest Democratic policy and political victory in five decades. Failing could very well open the door to President Palin.

Progressives, Liberals and other Real Democrats have nothing to lose by fighting to the death for the public option. And that's exactly what's happening.

This morning, Anthony Weiner confirms it on CNBC:

WEINER: The President does seem like he's moving away from the public plan, and if he does, he's not going to pass a bill. Because there are just too many people in Washington who believe that the public plan was the only way that you effectively bring some downward pressure on prices, and if he says well we're not going to have that, then I'm not really quite sure what we're dong here.

BECKY QUICK: So you would not vote for a bill that made it through, if it got through...

WEINER: Not only I but I think there's probably a hundred members of the House, who believe for various reasons that you need to have something to bring down prices. Otherwise you're basically, what you're doing, you're keeping the cost arc. . . the CBO agrees with that. You know as it was, I think the public plan had been watered down so much. So if the President thinks he's cutting a deal to get Senate votes, he's probably losing House votes.


There was one final amusing moment:

JIM QUINTIANILLA: So you think he will lose the liberal wing of his own party, and you don't think he can make it up by attracting Blue Dogs, Republicans, anyone on the other side of the aisle.

Yes, Blue Dogs are "on the other side of the aisle." And everyone but Rahm seems to know it.

(via The Hill)

As Brian Beutler at TPM reminds us:

Weiner has in recent weeks become a surrogate for the public option in the House. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he called Republicans on their bluff, offering an amendment that would have eliminated Medicare--a single-payer, government run health care system, which Republicans say, in principle, they oppose. The amendment was defeated unanimously.

Firedoglake explains the math that gives the progressives the edge:

There are 435 seats on the House. Of those, 257 are filled by Democrats and 178 by Republicans. Which means a majority is 218. The Republicans have vowed to vote against health care, period. The Democrats can pass health care on their own, but if they lose 40 of their own, they only have 217 votes.

There are 57 Democrats who signed the July 30 letter saying that they "simply cannot vote" for a bill that "at minimum" does not have a public plan (PDF). There are 7 more not listed on the letter who have pledged to vote against any bill that does not have a robust public plan. That makes 64 Democrats who won't vote for the "co-ops" that both Kathleen Sibelius and Robert Gibbs say the White House is "open" to.

Do the math: 257 - 64 = 193. They need 218 to pass the bill.

So thanks to the progressive members of the House who have pledged to vote against any health care bill that does not have a public plan. They represent 76% of Americans who want a public plan, and coming from heavily Democratic-leaning districts as they do, an even greater percentage of their own constituents.

One of those who took the strong-public-option-or-nothing pledge, by the way, is Kentucky's own Proud Liberal John Yarmuth, although Page One reveals he might be wobbling.

Let all your Congress critters know you stand with House Progressives for a public option.

Here's a quick way to get to the contact information for your elected officials. (Scroll down to box on the right labelled "My Elected Officials" and enter your zip code.)

Alternatively, Max at Firedoglake explains how to put recalcitrant congress critters up against the wall - the Facebook wall.