Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Last Call

Iowa Republican Steve King: still classy on same-sex marriage.
But if, there also would be no rational argument against group marriage. And I just take this along the rationale even further and would say if relationships between individuals cannot be prohibited by the state legislature then there is no ban that can actually be constitutional that would ban group marriage. And it wouldn’t have to be for reasons of, let me say, love or lust. It could be reasons of profitability or avoiding taxes or accessing benefits.

So in the end this is something that has to come with a, if there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis.

Gotta love Republicans.

"You know, you liberals say we're all racists and that's an unfair generalization. We're really exercising our free speech rights to disagree with you and call you all Socialists before Obama's dictatorship outlaws free speech anyway and has us all practicing polygamy in government communes, I don't see what the big deal is."

Quote Of The Week

John Cole:
If you ever wondered how the rest of the world views our wingnuts when they speak on the global stage, you should turn on CNN right now and watch Gadhafi’s rambling and incoherent speech.
Ain't that the damn truth.
Gadhafi said the Security Council hasn't provided security, but "terror and sanctions." He said no one should accept the resolutions of the Security Council, which he said should be called the "terror council." He suggested abolishing the Security Council in favor of the General Assembly, which would become a "world parliament."

Gadhafi slammed U.S. military actions in places such as Korea, Panama, Vietnam and Grenada. He called the invasion of Iraq "the mother of all evils," criticizing the hanging of deposed leader Saddam Hussein and the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

He also said there should be investigations into many incidents, such as the Afghan war, and that the Taliban should be able to form an Islamic emirate, similar to the Vatican, and not be an enemy.

He called for probes of the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in 1982 during the Lebanese civil war, Israel's Gaza offensive, and the killings in the 1960s of former President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

On other issues, Gadhafi said the solution for Israelis and Palestinians "is a democratic state without religious fanaticism" and said people on both sides want to live in one state. He has put forward an idea called the Isratine proposal that calls for a one-state solution in the region.

Citing tough U.S. security, Gadhafi also broached the idea of moving the U.N. headquarters out of the United States and suggested putting it in another location, like China or India.

He called the H1N1 flu virus a military tool and a weapon of proliferation.

I still say McCain needs to put this guy up in his backyard.

And yes, as completely screwball off his rocker as this guy sounds, he makes our own extremist wingnuts looks sane by comparison. After all, we have an entire political party run by them.

Taking Aim At Insurance Companies

Rep. John Conyers has set his sights on the insurance industry, big time.
Both the House and Senate today have introduced identical language to reduce insurance prices for consumers. This legislation would extend antitrust enforcement over health insurers and medical malpractice insurance issuers, which currently enjoy broad antitrust immunity under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. This immunity can serve as a shield for activities that might otherwise violate federal law.

"This legislation would specifically prohibit price fixing, bid rigging, and market allocation in the health insurance industry," said Conyers. "These pernicious practices are detrimental to competition and result in higher prices for consumers. Conduct that is unlawful throughout the country should not be allowed for insurance companies under antitrust exemption. The House Judiciary Committee held extensive hearings on the effects of the insurance industry’s antitrust exemption throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. It became clear then that policyholders and the economy in general would benefit from eliminating this exemption.

"The legislation we introduced today is intended to root out unlawful activity in an industry grown complacent by decades of protection from antitrust oversight. In doing so, we aim to make health insurance more affordable to more Americans. I want to thank my friend Senator Leahy for his leadership on the bill and for working with the House on this joint introduction."

"The average American family already pays an extra $1,100 in premiums every year for a broken system that supports 46 million uninsured Americans," said Johnson. "The Enforcement Act is long overdue. I am concerned that the shield this industry enjoys have resulted in market consolidation and higher premiums for the people of my district. As millions of Americans continue to go uninsured, we cannot continue to support the insurance companies by providing them with legal cover for anticompetitive actions."

Imagine that. Insurance companies, some of which dominate as much at 80% of a single state's insurance market, are currently exempt from anti-trust legislation and have been since the end of WW II.

Regardless of the state of Obamacare, this legislation has to pass and I strongly believe it will. Republicans dare not protect an insurance company's right to have a monopoly.

Still Not Going Anywhere

Gov. Mark Sanford: still fighting the "good" fight against his own party who wants to see him gone.
Gov. Mark Sanford said this morning he has no plans to resign, will fight any attempt at impeachment and believes he may have the best chance next year at pushing for government restructuring.
In an interview with GreenvilleOnline, Sanford said he believes it is best for the state that he stay in office for the remainder of his term.

He said he believes any violations of law found by an ongoing state Ethics Commission investigation would be “technical” ones and he will fight any attempt by legislators to use those to oust him from office.
He's not a crook!

And yet he's being eaten alive by his own party in a southern, GOP friendly state. Any wonder why the GOP has been reduced to a southern regional party?

Running Obama's Numbers

Steve Benen crunches the digits on the latest NBC/WSJ poll. Among the highlights:
* Presidential approval: President Obama's approval rating stands at 51%, the same as last month's NBC/WSJ poll. His handling of the economy is up just a little to 50%, and his handling of health care is up five points to 46%. A combined 77% of Americans say they like the president personally.

* Uptick for reform plan: While a plurality of respondents still oppose the Democrats health care proposals, 39% believe the plan is a good idea. That's up three points from August, and is the highest percentage since the beginning of the reform debate.

* GOP not capitalizing: Just 21% approve of the Republican Party's handling of health care, less than half of Obama's support. Overall, 28% have a positive impression of the GOP, while 43% have a negative impression. (Democrats have 41%-39% positive/negative score.) Nevertheless, on a generic congressional ballot, Democrats only lead by three, 43% to 40%.

* Public option: The good news is, a 48% plurality believes it's "extremely important" to "give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance." That's up seven points since June. When another portion of the sample, however, was asked, "Would you favor or oppose creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies?" 48% said they're opposed; 46% said they're in favor. 26% said a public option must be part of reform; 24% said it must not.

* Blame Game: If health care reform falls apart, and nothing passes, most Americans are prepared to blame Republicans. The poll found that a 37% plurality believes congressional Republicans will be "most to blame" if the bill fails. Only 10% said President Obama would deserve the blame.

In other words, the GOP effort to kill Obamacare over August and early September is not working. The President's message blitz is having an effect, but it's the best he can do to stanch the bleeding.

People do want a public option, too. Will Democrats listen?

The Race May Be Over

Back on Monday I mentioned it could be a race to see which happened first: a Senate vote on the Baucus Bill or Sen. Ted Kennedy's replacement being named (giving the Dems 60 votes again). That race may have been decided today as Brian Beutler reports.
This is somewhat complicated, and I'll flesh it out and get you video just as soon as I can. But with Democrats anxious to pass a health care bill, and avoiding delays seen as a high political priority, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) indicated today that there may be major delays in the health care process going forward. During today's health care hearing, he told CBO chief Doug Elmendorf today that the Senate Finance Committee must be provided with a complete CBO score of the final package before the panel can hold a vote on it.

"With respect to the issue of when scoring might be available, is critically important that we have scoring before a final vote is cast in the committee," Conrad said, "it is important for us to know, once there is a package, after the amendment process here, can you give us some rough estimate, in days to have a CBO score."

How long will that scoring take?

Elmendorf estimated that the full reporting could take two weeks:

"I think we can update our preliminary analysis...within a few days of the package actually being set. A formal cost estimate would require...two weeks of work by us, once the package is settled."

Two weeks means that Kennedy's replacement will surely have been appointed by then, meaning that the Dems can face things going forward with the votes to crack a filibuster...then again, there's some evidence that they might let Dems get that up or down vote.

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele told students at a historically black college in Arkansas yesterday that Martin Luther King Jr. would be disappointed with President Obama.

"Dr. King would be disappointed in the political leadership of this country for failing to address the least of us," he said.

As Think Progress points out, a student then approached the microphone and asked, "In all seriousness, I'm curious what you think that Dr. King would think about your party's current attempts to block universal health care?"

"It's a great myth that we're doing all this blocking. I wish we had that kind of control with the numbers, but we don't," Steele responded. "As I've said to the president many times, 'If that's the bill you want, vote it up or down.'"

Now I'm 99.9% sure this is Michael Steele being Michael Steele, the world's worst Republican at actually being a Republican. But hey, if he doesn't want to filibuster, craft a real bill then and pass it.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

If Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi is having such a hard time finding a place to stay here for this week's UN world leader meetings, maybe he should pitch his tent over at John McCain's backyard and have a barbecue.

That's what a real maverick would do.

Lucy Yanks The Football, Take 235

Republicans: still no intention whatsoever to allow health care reform legislation to pass. Democrats: still unable to learn from the obvious past events that Republicans will never negotiate on good faith on anything while a Democrat is in the White House, least of all something like health care reform.
Democrats are bracing themselves for a new line of conservative attack against a provision in the health care legislation once considered so non-controversial that it was endorsed by several major Republican officials.

On Tuesday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) described the health care legislation being considered by the Senate Finance Committee as a "stunning assault on liberty" due to a provision that would require individuals to buy insurance.

Earlier in the week, the individual mandate also came under attack when Tim Phillips, who heads Americans for Prosperity, described it as an assault on individual liberty.

"When you have health care, that's a choice that impacts yourself," Phillips told MSNBC's Hardball. "Drivers' insurance impacts other drivers you may have accidents with."
Yep, that's right: Republicans are now attacking Obama on health care mandates, even though every Republican health care idea put forward includes mandates, the insurance industry, big pharma and doctor's groups support mandates, and that they are key to controlling costs.

Now mandates are an attack on liberty and Obama is the most evil fascist dictator in world history.

At what point do the Democrats realize that the Republicans will never work with them in a bi-partisan manner, that the Republicans in Washington will do anything to regain their former power and will do anything for their own interests above anyone else's? In short, when do the moron Democrats get the point that the Republicans want to eliminate them and anyone who would vote for them from having any power at all?

They won't. They'll keep offering like idiots, and the Republicans will simply break any deals and stomp on them the moment it becomes politically viable to do so. Everything the Dems are trying to do ends up just another chunk of firewood used to burn Obama in effigy. As Aravosis says:
Our party, and our advocacy groups, are run by freaking morons.

Using A Nuke To Kill An ACORN

In their holier-than-thou zeal to rid the world of ACORN, House lawmakers may have flattened military contractors and other fundraising allies suffering from bad press too.
The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who's Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.

The language was written by the GOP and filed as a "motion to recommit" in the House, where it passed 345-75.

POGO is reaching out to its members to identify other companies who have engaged in the type of misconduct that would make them ineligible for federal funds.

Grayson then intends to file that list in the legislative history that goes along with the bill so that judges can reference it when determining whether a company should be denied federal funds.

It's hysterical. Lawmakers can't single out ACORN in the legislation, they'd sue and win, but designing a category of people to punish that only includes ACORN and not the hundreds of other organizations and companies on both sided of the aisle that are facing fraud allegations is impossible.

Just goes to show you that poorly planned, knee jerk reactionary legislation is stupid, no matter which party's responsible for it.


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