Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Last Call

Still feeling under the weather, so an early night tonight for me.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bart Stupak says if his anti-choice amendment is taken out of the combined Obamacare bill, that he can and will scuttle the entire bill.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) pledged on Tuesday morning to defeat healthcare reform legislation if his abortion amendment is taken out, saying 10 to 20 anti-abortion-rights Democrats would vote against a bill with weaker language.

"They’re not going to take it out," Stupak said on "Fox and Friends," referring to Senate Democrats. "If they do, healthcare will not move forward."

Stupak's amendment prohibits any insurance plan on a potential healthcare exchange from accepting federal subsidies if it covers abortion. Pro-abortion-rights lawmakers say that language is too broad and would drastically reduce access to abortion.

White House senior adviser David Axelrod said over the weekend that he expected Stupak's language to be "adjusted."

Stupak disagreed.

"We won fair and square," Stupak said of the House vote. "[T]hat is why Mr. Axelrod is not a legislator — he doesn’t really know what he is talking about."
That's quite a fight Rep. Stupak is picking with the White House, not to mention with 51% of the population.

But the fact remains:  The language is too vague, and it means that any private insurance plan would have to drop abortion coverage or it wouldn't be eligible for the new health insurance exchange system, meaning no insurance plans would cover it, and no women would have access to the plans that do without paying astronomical costs.

And Bart Stupak is willing to scrap the entire bill should women be allowed coverage.  Hey folks?  While there are legitimate complaints about sexism in the media's political world, let's try to keep some real perspective about outright misogyny being written into America's laws, shall we?

There's the sideshow, and then there's the real battle.  Learn which is which.  Thanks.

In The Blood

A year into Obama's presidency, and people are still playing the foreigner "other" card with such clumsy ham-handedness that not only is it obvious racism, but it's also a dare to do something -- anything -- about it.  Now keep in mind Wesley Pruden is pretty much ironclad in the safety of his position at the Washington Times as opinion editor, and the guy gets paid to write stuff like this about President Obama.
But Mr. Obama, unlike his predecessors, likely knows no better, and many of those around him, true children of the grungy '60s, are contemptuous of custom. Cutting America down to size is what attracts them to "hope" for "change." It's no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of "the 57 states" is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.
Oh please, there's no point in using 100 words when "The ignorant darkie is a goddamn embarrassment to my white America" will suffice.  You're an editor, you know.  Edit.

So the question is, what will become of Wesley Pruden here, for this new nadir in the field of spittle-flecked invective?

My guess is much like everyone else in the Village who says things like this, nothing.  You thought the racism was bad before?  Wait.  It's only going to get worse the more legislation Obama signs into law, and the closer we get to 2012.

Then again, even Clusterstock thinks Pruden is an asshole.

Law Of The Cyber-Land

CNN takes a look at how Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites are changing the legal landscape almost as fast as they are changing the tech one.
In a case that would have been impossible even five years ago, bad-girl rocker Courtney Love is being sued for libel by a fashion designer for allegedly slamming the woman on Twitter.

The suit claims that after a disagreement over what Love should pay Dawn Simorangkir for the clothes she designed, Love posted allegedly derogatory and false comments about the designer -- among them that she had a "history of dealing cocaine" -- on her now-discontinued Twitter feed.

But as technology evolves faster than the laws that govern free speech online, it's not just the famous who are finding trouble.

Consider the case of Amanda Bonnen and her former landlord. Bonnen, an Illinois resident, is accused of using Twitter to tell another user: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon Realty thinks it's okay."

Horizon Group Management LLC, the company that owned the apartment in question, sued Bonnen for libel over the alleged tweet. Horizon is seeking $50,000 in damages.

Legal experts say such Internet-related cases are being watched closely because they confront new and unaddressed areas of American law.

For example, how should a libel case be handled when it comes to social media? How can society balance accountability with free speech? And if information -- from private thoughts to public data -- is so readily available, how do we define what constitutes privacy?
And that goes for blogs like this one too.  People say all kinds of stuff on the 'net, but where do you draw the line?  I often say that there's no punishment for lying on the net, certainly there are political operatives who ride that train for a living.  Where are the boundaries of free speech on a tweet or a Facebook post?

What counts as libel?  What counts as fraud?  Those are legal questions that I think are going to be answered sooner rather than later.  Will political blogs like this one become extinct down the road?  How can it possibly all be monitored?  How do you stop a malicious e-mail campaign (Obama's a Muslim, anyone?)

The 2010 and 2012 campaigns may shape these laws for decades.

The Rose Is Off The Bloomberg

It was only a matter of time before the GOP started attacking NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg for actually supporting the idea of bringing Khalid Sheikh Muhammed to trial.  Arizona GOP Rep. Mike Shadegg goes for the classy move and suggests Bloomberg's family is now in danger.
Shadegg spoke from the House floor to rail against a criminal trial for alleged 9/11 conspirators in New York City. In particular, the far-right Arizonan was incensed that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) believes, "It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered."

As Matt Finkelstein reported, Shadegg doesn't see it quite the same way. "I saw the Mayor of New York said today, 'We're tough. We can do it,'" the Republican congressman said. "Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it's your daughter that's kidnapped at school by a terrorist? How are you going to feel when it's some clerk -- some innocent clerk of the court -- whose daughter or son is kidnapped? Or the jailer's little brother or little sister?"
Mike Bloomberg's response was probably along the lines of "Why don't you go back to Arizona and worry about your little cacti there before I punch you in the friggin' nose?"  Or it should have been, at any rate.

But really?  You're going to play the fear card on Mike Bloomberg?  That's funny.

[UPDATE 7:28 PM] Rep. Shadegg has apologized to Mayor Bloomberg.

Ride The Moose

Nate Silver believes Sarah Palin will run in 2012, and has 3-1 odds of pulling off the nomination. Why?  Nothing to lose at this point.
Another motivator for Palin to run is that her opportunity cost is not very high. Having quit her governorship and apparently declining to challenge Lisa Murkowski for her Senate seat, Palin's next opportunity to run for some sort of high-stature elected office wouldn't come until 2014, when Mark Begich's seat is up in the Senate. Is Palin, who already has a reputation as a quitter, likely to run for that seat, only to have to quit again if she wants to run for the Presidency in 2016? Not hardly.

Until she runs for office again, rather, Palin's role is basically that of a celebrity on her own behalf, and a rabble-rouser on behalf of the GOP. Although each of those things can occupy a goodly amount of one’s time, the media is likely to tire of Palin if she’s not actually making news, and Palin herself may grow tired of not being the center of attention. Moreover, there’s not any evidence that laying low seems to help Palin’s standing with the public; on the contrary, her numbers seemed to have have declined a lot during the past several months, a period during which (until recently) she was not making much news.

The reason I suspect this may be the case is because Palin’s popularity seems to stem not from any particular attributes that she possesses as a candidate, but rather from the reactions that she seems to induce from other people. Only by being in the spotlight can Palin induce liberal pundits to say rude things about her, fellow candidates to behave awkwardly around her, etc. Only in this way can she be the martyr and the underdog, qualities that conceal some of her potential inadequacies. Oddly, the more attention Palin gets, the more of a Rorschach blot she becomes -- which is good for a candidate who most people don't think is qualified to be President on her own merits.
So she can snipe from Facebook all she wants to, doesn't have to defend budget cuts from the governor's office, and can pretty much say whatever she wants to keep gaining the spotlight.  In a very real sense, she's the perfect candidate for the 2012 race.  Sarah Palin's not running for president, the perception of Sarah Palin is running for president.

Besides, it's not like the GOP has anyone better right now.

Right Down The Middle

The latest WaPo-ABC News poll shows 48% for Obamacare, 49% against it.  Crunching the numbers naturally shows both good and bad news for both sides:
The new poll provides ammunition for both advocates and opponents of reform. For opponents, a clear area of public concern centers on cost -- 52 percent say an altered system would probably make their own care more expensive, and 56 percent see the overall cost of health care in the country going up as a result. 
Few see clear benefits in exchange for higher expenses. Rather, there has been a small but significant increase in the number (now 37 percent) who anticipate their care deteriorating under a revamped system, putting that number in line with opinion in July 1994, just before President Bill Clinton's health-care reform efforts fizzled.

Among those with insurance, three times as many continue to see worse rather than better coverage options ahead (39 to 13 percent), and fewer than half of those who lack insurance see better options under a changed system. Six in 10 see it as "very" or "somewhat" likely that many private insurers would be forced out of business by a government-sponsored insurance plan, a potential result that GOP leaders frequently warn about.

But reform proponents have other findings to bolster their case. Two-thirds of those surveyed support one of the basic tenets of the reform plan, a new requirement that all employers with payrolls of $500,000 or more provide health insurance coverage for their employees or face fines.

As in previous polls, a majority supports a government-sponsored heath insurance plan to compete with private insurers, although the percentage supporting the general idea has slipped slightly over the past month to 53 percent. Support for the scheme jumps to 72 percent when the public plan is limited to those who lack access to coverage through an employer or the Medicare or Medicaid systems.

While Americans overall are divided on reform legislation, the Democrats have made some progress among at least one key group. Support among senior citizens, while still broadly negative, is up 13 points since September to 44 percent.
So Americans are worried about the cost, and their care (and do think private insurers will go out of business)...but they want the public option and employer mandates anyway. Americans also overwhelmingly think the public option is a great idea for those without access to health insurance now.

Despite all the slings and arrows and Town Hall Blitzes and death panels and socialist fascist nonsense, Americans still think this is a good idea in the end.

Your move, Senate.

[UPDATE 12:40 PM]  Steve Benen has more analysis.


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