Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last Call

George Will has apparently thrown in the towel on another war...the war on pot.
Appearing on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, the Pulitzer-winning journalist and longtime icon of America's political right declared that with President Barack Obama's new policy which respects the states right to allow medical marijuana, the United States is "probably in the process now of legalizing marijuana."

He added that if there were to be a serious effort to fight the increasingly violent, powerful Mexican drug cartels, "you'd legalize marijuana," the sale of which provides the gangs the vast majority of their funding.

Will's comments come not even a week after a Gallup poll found record-breaking support across the United States for the legalization of marijuana, with nearly half of U.S. citizens in favor and a clear majority of support emerging among liberals, Democrats and moderates.

Will's proclamation, as a well-respected conservative thinker, is especially significant given that Gallup found the only two political groups in the U.S. that are still very strongly opposed to legalization are conservatives and Republicans.

Honestly, you'd think Republicans and conservatives would jump at the chance to have Big Pharma or Big Tobacco sell pot.

Go fig.

They Do It Because They Care

The Denver Post is reporting that women, on average, pay up to 50% more for the same insurance coverage, if not higher.

Checking the "female" box when buying health insurance is likely to cost extra — perhaps up to 50 percent more than a man would pay for the same coverage.

Gender-rating — or what some term as flat-out sexual discrimination — is linked to the simple fact that women, particularly those under age 50 or so, go to the doctor more often than men.

But outrage over how women are treated in the individual health insurance market is mounting as stories emerge of companies refusing to cover maternity benefits and denying coverage because of past domestic violence or cesarean sections, including a Colorado woman who was told she would have to get sterilized to qualify for insurance.

Federal proposals, as well as pending state legislation, would ban gender-rating and require maternity coverage, even as the insurance industry warns that lowering premiums for younger women could mean higher premiums for most everyone else.

Colorado women age 40 and under shopping for health insurance in the individual market, not through an employer, pay from 10 percent to 59 percent more than men, according to analysis by the National Women's Law Center.

They pay more even when maternity coverage is not included. And in many cases, a female nonsmoker pays more for health coverage than a man who smokes.

But in America, that's fair. And the insurance companies are more than happy to gouge the millions of American women who have no health insurance the same way.

Suzanne Pariser, a Denver lawyer and mother of 2-year-old Willa, is putting off expanding her family because she cannot find an affordable insurance plan that includes maternity coverage.

"That's the main reason we're not having a baby right now," she said. "We definitely want to have another child."

Pariser is annoyed that insurance company executives, in essence, are determining her family planning.

"My anger is mostly that insurance companies view having a baby as a medical complication that costs them money," she said. "They view it as a disease."

The only plan she could find that offered maternity coverage was more expensive in the long run than paying out of pocket to have a baby, Pariser figured.

Costs vary by hospital or birthing center, but the average bill for a vaginal birth with no complications is about $7,500 and for a cesarean section, $13,200.

A uterus is nothing more than a pre-existing condition to insurance companies, and that means dollar signs.

But Republicans keep telling us that the key is removing insurance regulations to foster more competition.

Sure it is. Insurance companies really do want to compete over which company will be able to overcharge people, you know.

Are there no women who work in the insurance industry? Honestly?

The Spin We're In

It doesn't actually matter what Doug Hoffman does in NY-23's special election a week from Tuesday. If the Conservative party candidate wins overwhelmingly, loses badly, splits the GOP vote allowing the Dems to win with less that 50% of the vote, comes in dead last with a single digit total or gives the Dems a substantial win, the message will be that only ideological purity can save the GOP.

The National Republican Congressional Committee remains committed to embattled GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava in the upstate New York House special election, even as many of the party's top names throw their support to Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman.

Two party officials tell POLITICO that the NRCC will continue to air TV ads propping up Scozzafava in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 contest and plans to keep up a near relentless barrage of press releases slamming Hoffman.

Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman who supports gay marriage, abortion rights and has a close relationship with leading labor officials in her region, has been the target of sustained criticism from conservatives who claim she is too liberal for them to support her candidacy.

Hoffman, an accounting executive, is attracting an ever-growing group of conservative backers, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) have also endorsed the third-party candidate.

Public and private polls have shown Hoffman gaining on Scozzafava but both trail the Democratic nominee, attorney Bill Owens.

Democrats may have their differences but in the end, they're together. The Republicans? By the time this civil war clears, there won't be much of a party left.

The Problem Is Affordablity

Remember, when you see articles like this in the Village media and the Wingers claim a mandate to buy health insurance will destroy America, isn't the problem the affordability of the insurance and not the mandate?

The proposals now before Congress would require just about everyone to buy health insurance or to get it through their employers — which would generally result in lower wages. In other words, millions of people would be compelled to spend lots of money on something they previously did not want, at least not at prevailing prices.

Estimates of this burden vary, but for a family of four it could range up to $14,000 a year over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Right now, many Americans take the gamble of going without insurance, just as many of us take our chances with how much we drive or how little we exercise.

The paradox is this: Reform advocates start with anecdotes about the underprivileged who are uninsured, then turn around and propose something that would hurt at least some members of that group.

To ease the burdens of the insurance mandate, the reform proposals call for varying levels of subsidy. In some versions, such as the current Senate bill, subsidies are handed out to families with incomes as high as $88,000 a year. How long will it be before just about everyone wants further assistance, and this new form of entitlement spending spins out of control? It’s possible to lower insurance subsidies, but then the insurance mandate would impose a bigger burden on the people we are trying to help.
The solution therefore is an affordable government run plan, is it not? Glad to see Wingers are on board then!

On Again, Off Again

Friday and Saturday we had news that the White House was behind the public option and had finally weighed in supporting Dems in the House and Senate to get the plan to his desk.

Today however HuffPo is reporting that Obama is now trying to stop the public option in Congress and he's pushing for the Snowe Queen's trigger plan.
"The leadership understands that pushing for a public option is a somewhat risky strategy, but we may be within striking distance. A signal from the president could be enough to put us over the top," said one Senate Democratic leadership aide. Such pleading is exceedingly rare on Capitol Hill and comes only after Senate leaders exhausted every effort to encourage Obama to engage.

"Everybody knows we're close enough that these guys could be rolled. They just don't want to do it because it makes the politics harder," said a senior Democratic source, saying that Obama is worried about the political fate of Blue Dogs and conservative Senate Democrats if the bill isn't seen as bipartisan. "These last couple folks, they could get them if Obama leaned on them."

But with fundamental reform of the health care system in plain sight for the first time in half a century, the president appears to be siding with those who see the Senate and its entrenched culture as too resistant to change. Administration officials say that Obama's preference for the trigger, which is backed by Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, is founded in a fear that Reid's public option couldn't get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. More specifically, aides fear that a handful of conservative Democrats will not support a bill unless it has at least one Republican member's support.

The president's retreat leaves Reid as the champion of progressive reform -- an irony that is not lost on those who have long derided the Majority Leader as too cautious.

"Who knew that when it came down to crunch time, Harry Reid would be the one who stepped up to the plate and Barack Obama would shy away from the fight," emailed one progressive strategist.

HuffPo's usually better than this, but it's clear that there's a long way to go in this fight still, and that the President's current level of support is not good enough for some.

We've seen this before. Bob Cesca has some good advice:
Over the last several months it's almost become a regular feature of the news, like weather reports and stock market updates. Every week, stories about how the public option isn't going to happen, or how the White House is telling the House progressives to STFU about it. We've seen numerous stories about alleged White House support for co-ops or triggers or nothing at all. And every time, there's a wild kneejerk spaz attack about it.

The fact remains that the only named source in the piece is Dan Pfeiffer who insists that the whole trigger/Snowe story "is false." Now any quote should be taken with a grain of skepticism, but in relative terms, it's a good rule of thumb to take a named quote more seriously than an unnamed one.

Agreed. Every news cycle it's how the public option is doomed...when it refuses to die and a majority of Americans still want it. The always reliable BooMan with some much needed perspective:
Let me tell you something. If Harry Reid went up to the White House with a plan to pass a public option and the president did not like the plan, you never would have heard about it. Reid never would have taken the step to float putting the public option in the base bill if he didn't already have a green light from the White House. The truth is that the administration never believed they could pass a public option through the Senate on the first pass. That was what Obama was telling us on that conference call back in July. But things changed when Kirk replaced Kennedy and Byrd regained his health. We have 60 senators now, and if Reid thinks he can get 60 votes for cloture that changes the plan.
In the end, we have to trust somebody. It's a representative democracy, after all.

My Katrina, Your Katrina, His Katrina, Her Katrina, Wouldn't You Like Katrinas Too?

Last night I predicted after President Obama declared a national emergency over H1N1:
No doubt this will be viewed as more Obamafascism, trying to get more vaccine to Americans faster in order to save American lives and prevent illness is of course an egregious offense that no doubt requires impeachment by a court of armed patriots.
And lo and behold this morning, we have the Wingnut Response.

Wizbang's Shawn Mallow could give a damn about those that Swine Flu have killed already.
For some perspective, here are death statistics for several flu viruses that have occurred:

Spanish Flu (1918-1920): 50 million
Asian Flu (1957-1958): 1.5-2 million
Hong Kong Flu (1968-1969): 1 million
Asiatic Flu (1989-1990): 1 million
Influenza (Normal yearly world-wide): 250-500,000
H1N1/Swine Flu (2009 world-wide): 5,000

It's a variation of the classic Winger trope, The Ol' Iraq War Didn't Really Kill That Many Americans, Quite Whining, It's Fine You Liberal Pussies play. That of course didn't go over real well when families of those killed started calling the Wingers out on this one, but it's nice to see assholes believe in recycling.

Clifton B at Another Black Conservative has a similar response:
I know I may catch hell for saying this, but I just cannot get all worked up about H1N1. When I look at the numbers, especially in light of the fact that there are 300 million of us, I just don’t see what all the panic is about
Nope. Nothing to worry about here, stupid libs...or IS there?

Jules Crittenden is scared that Obama has already failed America on stopping the deadly H1N1 virus and brings up the K word...Katrina.
I got the news yesterday on the car radio while driving back from the supermarket with my son. He and his sisters got their swine flu shots at the pediatrician’s office the other day. But he’s been studying the Black Death in history class. (So proud. In parent-teacher conference last week, the teacher related that she asked the class, “Who knows what the Black Death is?” and his hand shot up. “It’s a disease that killed half of Europe in the Middle Ages!” Their minds are like little sponges.) Anyway, just yesterday morning, he and I had been discussing again how the Black Death caused massive social turmoil, how all of us alive today are plague survivors.

So, about this swine flu state of emergency, I told him:

There are two pieces to this. One is that it makes sense, if you have a serious situation, to let the hospitals and various government agencies bypass regulations so they can treat more people.

Then, there’s something called CYA. It means, “cover your behind.” It’s political. When you have a disaster looming, you need to look like you’re doing something.

I told him swine flu is like Hurricane Katrina. It’s coming, and it’s going to do what it’s going to do. Big force of nature. Might be bad, might not be so bad. Dunno yet. But when it’s over, everyone is going to want to know whether the president did everything he could do to limit the damage. People are already starting to talk about swine flu as Obama’s Katrina.

And, given the headsup the feds had, and the drastic shortfall and delay in vaccine preparation and distribution, it isn’t looking good for him if this thing gets bad.

Wait, what? H1N1 is Obama's Katrina? Are you f'cking serious? Talk about intellectual dishonesty. It seems that Obama has simultaneously destroyed the Constitution by declaring a health emergency for nothing and has failed to protect America from a deadly virus, resulting in his "Katrina" the same time. H1N1 is harmless and Obama is wasting America's time with his feeble attempts at fascism and we're not scared unless he has failed to craft a strong enough government response to this DEADLY KILLER YOU MUST FEAR THE OTHER IN THE WHITE HOUSE REBEL NOW PATRIOTS!

For the record, I thought the Cash For Clunkers program was Obama's Katrina. No wait, it was the ice storm here in Kentucky last year. No wait, it was the Georgia floods in August, yeah that's no no it's the wait it's just everything Obama has even tried this year!

Boy with all those Katrinas, America must hate the President worse than George W. Bush's low 20's approval numbers.

Wait, Obama's approval rating average is still thirty points higher than Bush's nadir and rising?

Gosh, it's almost like conservatives are full of bullshit or something and have no idea what they are talking about, automatically declaring anything Obama does to be the most evil thing since Hammurabi's code of laws.
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