Thursday, December 10, 2009

Last Call

Reports of a health care deal have may have been greatly exaggerated.
Though Reid announced late Tuesday that negotiations among a group of 10 liberal and moderate Democratic Senators had largely resolved the intraparty standoff over the public insurance option, participants in the group said their “agreement” had been mischaracterized and that they agreed only to send the proposal to the Congressional Budget Office for a cost estimate, saying more information was necessary before making any firm decisions.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), a key centrist, said the group of 10 — of which she was a participant — felt they had to move forward with something. She said negotiators had hit a wall and needed CBO scores in order to determine whether any deal was workable.

“We worked very hard and we worked collaboratively to try to come up with solutions and listen to one another,” Lincoln said. “We got to a point where we couldn’t go any further until we got CBO scores. And so, all of the different ideas and things that were on the table — in order to move to something that was more final, we couldn’t get to without CBO scores.”
So the CBO scores are key to this working.  Me...Well the whole Joe F'ckin Lieberman thing has me really annoyed, if not upset.

I just don't know at this point.  Here's hoping tomorrow brings better news.

Now The Deal Starts To Make Sense

I've been saying since the Obamacare deal was reached in the Senate that the devil was in the details.  Jon Walker over at FDL has a very compelling reason why the public option part of the deal -- the federal insurance plans extended to Americans through the Office of Personnel Management -- should be ringing major alarm bells.

The OPM is not in fact under the auspices of the Senate Health, Environment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, which would be great news for Americans if it was.  It's under the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee... by Joe F'ckin Lieberman.

Yeah.  Let that sink in for a bit.  Joe F'ckin Lieberman in charge of regulation and oversight of the public option.  Suddenly, I have a hell of a lot more reservations about this deal, to the point where opposition of it from the left isn't as nearly as crazy as it sounded this morning.

We've found the devil in the details, for sure.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

House Republicans held a presser today to attack the Obama administration on trying terror suspects in the US. The all-time most stupid argument I have ever heard for just about anything belonged to Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King.
Gitmo is "the best place to have [trials], it's the best place to house them. It's the safest place," Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told reporters. "More importantly, it's the place that keeps activist federal judges from making activist decisions that could end up turning [terror suspects] loose on the streets of America."
After the press conference, King elaborated on his worries about U.S. judges. "We wouldn't even be thinking about trying these detainees on U.S. soil if it hadn't been for activist judges who decided they were going to confer constitutional rights on people that have never seen the United States of America," he said, referring to the 2006 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld Supreme Court decision that said military commissions as set up by the Bush administration violated the Geneva conventions.

King suggested that "activist" judges could be inclined to release terror suspects over some liberal legal principle or another. "A judge can rationalize most anything," he said. "If you're a living, breathing -- how should I say it? -- 'evolving' constitutionalist than you can write anything you want to justify your own rationale."
To review, we can't try terror suspects because they might not be guilty.  Please allow this to sink in for a moment.

Then weep for our country like I am right now.

Taibbi On Obama's Econ Team

Shamelessly stolen from Digby, here's Matt Taibbi on Obama's Economic Team.

And the thing is, I don't disagree with a single thing Taibbi says. Robert Rubin really is the guy who fubared our economy and put into effect the Citigroup rule and convinced Clinton to sign Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Rubin's son Jaime was on Obama's transition team along with his father after Obama canned his campaign economic squad in favor of Wall Street.  Rubin basically is the one that hired Timmy.  And the bills that both Obama's team and Congress will put into effect exactly how to bail out the banks the next time they fail.

And there will be a next time.  But then again, that's the whole point.

Smear Campaign

Now I understand in Israel that the word "Muslim" is less of a religious designation and much more of a pejorative term and all...but this is just silly.
The New America Foundation's poll of Israelis, released today, contains a finding suggesting campaign-trail rumors about Barack Obama's religion penetrated deeply in the Jewish state.
The survey, by Jim Gerstein, asked Israelis (both Jewish and Muslim) whether a series of terms describe President Obama well, and 39% of respondents said the term "Muslim" describes the president, who is Christian, well. Of those, only 15% said the term described him very well.

A plurality, 49%, said Obama isn't well-described as a Muslim.
Honestly, two in five Israelis?  Shouldn't you guys actually be able to recognize an actual Muslim and differentiate one from a Christian or a Jew?  If there is a country on Earth where the population should be able to easily do that, it should be Israel, yes?

Oh, and bonus Ben Smith Of Politico Verbatim Expert Punditry:
But in a country engaged in decades of violent conflict with its Muslim and Arab neighbors, the fact that well over a third of Israelis buy into the groundless rumors about Obama's faith suggests the depth of his image problems.
So, the fact that 39% of Israelis buy the "groundless rumors" perpetuated in part by the Village to attack Obama is Obama's problem?


Zandar's Other Thought Of The Day

Who will be the first Wingnut to suggest that Obama's brownshirts made sure Tiger Woods's ass got the OJ Simpson treatment in order to distract America from Climategate and Obamacare?

Trouble In The Buckeye State

Ohio's Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, is looking at a long slope to climb to get re-elected if the latest Rasmussen numbers are correct.
Unemployment in Ohio has jumped to 10.5%, the state is wrestling with an $851 million budget shortfall, and Governor Ted Strickland has proposed delaying a tax cut approved in 2005. Add it all together, and it’s a tough environment for the incumbent Democratic governor who now trails his expected general election opponent by nine percentage points in an early look at the 2010 race.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in Ohio shows Republican John Kasich getting 48% of the vote while Strickland picks up just 39%. Three percent (3%) say they’d prefer a third-party candidate, and 11% are not sure who they would vote for. In September, the two men were essentially even.
Not good news.  Then again, pretty much any incumbent Governor is in trouble in 2010 due to unemployment numbers.  The good news for Strickland is the new casino measure passed, and that will mean jobs.  The bad news is they won't be finished until 2013, which probably means Ohio will have John Kasich in Columbus.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I've got a new nickname for GOP Sen. Mike Enzi.
Republicans have been complaining about the length of the health care reform bill for months, printing it out and carrying it around to press conferences and sometimes dropping it on the ground for auditory effect. But today, at least one Republican is singing a different tune.

"Why is it only 2,074 pages?" Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) asked this morning, Wonk Room reports.

"We talk about 2,074 pages, which seem like a lot, and it would be for a normal bill that you could debate in a limited period of time, which is what we're being asked to do. But 2,074 pages isn't nearly enough to cover health care for America," he said.
Senator Longcat demands bills that are loooooooooooooooong.

Cabela's Dangerous RINO Hunts

Steve Benen documents the continuing Hoffman Effect on the GOP.
By most measures, congressional Republicans have spent 2009 executing a scorched-earth strategy. The GOP has moved sharply to the right, has abandoned even the pretense of bipartisan cooperation, has embraced and elevated some of the more radical elements of the party's coalition, and recommended policy proposals that even some conservatives described as "insane."

And yet, there are still some Republican officials who are outraged by their party's moderation.
Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on Wednesday called out the leadership of the Republican Party for straying too far from conservative principles.
DeMint, in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, also said that he is trying to recruit a new crop of GOP lawmakers to challenge the party establishment.
"The problem in the Republican Party is that the leadership has gone to the left," he said. "I need some new Republicans."
DeMint's comments coincide with Rush Limbaugh lashing out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for -- I hope you're sitting down -- the lack of obstructionism among Senate Republicans.
Well Steve, nobody likes a loser.  And despite saying saying NO to everything Obama does like a bunch of obstinate three-year-old children, the Republicans are still a bunch of losers who really can't do much.

It's not the incumbent Democrats who are in trouble in 2010 from the Teabaggers, folks.  More and more are turning on each other, because nobody wants to be standing on the leftward edge of the Republican Overton window when the Teabaggers jerk it to the right.

If you thought the Republicans of 2009 were childishly obstructive to the point of brattiness the coming class of 2011, where Mitch McConnell is thrown under the bus for not saying no enough.

Fire Up The Lowlights

Real Clear Politics's Robert Tracinski goes into meltdown mode over Obamacare, rattling off all the GOP talking points in an impressive storm of puffery and fallacies that just begs to be knocked down.

Our hero, bravely defending America's precious health insurers (our national treasure), starts off with a classic:
Three provisions constitute the vicious heart of the Democrats' health-care overhaul.
The first is "guaranteed issue" and "community rating." This is the requirement that insurance companies have to offer coverage to people who are already sick, and that they be limited in their ability to charge higher rates for customer who pose a higher risk. The extra expense to the insurance companies of covering people with pre-existing conditions will get passed on to existing customers in the form of higher premiums. But why spend years paying these inflated premiums for insurance you're not using, when you can get exactly the same benefits by waiting until you actually fall ill? The obvious result is that million of people, especially healthy young people, will quickly realize that there is no reason to buy health insurance until they get sick.
Rather than increasing the number of insured by making health insurance more affordable, this bill makes health insurance more expensive and increases the incentive to simply drop your insurance until you need someone to pay for your medical bills. It is an attempt to turn health insurance into what the left really wants: another welfare program in which everyone is entitled to free benefits, mandated by the government. But this would wreck private health insurance, making the whole industrial financially unsustainable.
Yes, imagine that.  Health insurance companies having to pay for sick people means they make less money.  Better to let sick people die because they can't afford care at all, or go into emergency rooms and receive health care that is the most expensive to administer, or go into medical bankruptcy because their insurance company doesn't cover enough than to threaten insurance company profits, however.  Certainly those outcomes aren't driving up health care costs for the rest of us, right?
(More after the jump...)

Karl Rove Goes For Broke

Rover throws down the gauntlet (on his own foot) and games out how the GOP might retake both chambers of Congress in 2010.
Democrats have so far failed to convince first-tier candidates to take on the 12 GOP incumbent senators up for re-election. An exception is Louisiana, but Democrat Charlie Melancon faces long odds against Republican David Vitter in a state that gave Mr. Obama only 40% of its vote.
Republicans have also recruited good candidates for their open seats. New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte is competitive, as are Ohio's Rob Portman and Missouri's Roy Blunt.
Republicans in Florida have to get through a primary fight, but either Gov. Charlie Crist or former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio will likely hold the seat. (I've donated to Messrs. Blunt and Rubio.) Only Kentucky's open seat vacated by Jim Bunning causes the GOP squeamishness.

The GOP probably won't win control of the Senate, but Republicans lead five incumbent Democratic senators in the polls, often by double digits, and trail in just one seat of their own (by a point). A lot can happen in a year, but if Democrats keep telling themselves that their greatest danger will come from not passing monstrosities like Mr. Reid's health-care bill, Republicans will have a target-rich environment next year. We are once again in a GOP ascendancy, sparked by talented, energetic challengers.
Once again?  Karl?  We're always in a GOP ascendancy, haven't you noticed?

I like that "probably won't win" control of the Senate thing.  To the Future Stupidity files you go!  And I also like how even the Rover is worried about Rand Paul completely Hoffmaning the GOP in here in Kentucky next year.  We'll see.

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims up this week to 474K, continuing claims fell by 300K to 5.16 million.  On the surface that's good news.  On the whole, it means people are rapidly running out of unemployment benefits and are falling into the limbo of long-term unemployment.  Part of that is seasonal volatility, but a whole lot of it is people passing into a very dark place.

Having been there after the dot com/9-11 bust, I can tell you it's not pretty.

Horse Trading

There are two camps setting up on the progressive side on the Medicare buy-in/OPM-run insurance compromise in lieu of the public option.

Camp #1 believes it's a good deal because it will now be far easier in the future to expand the buy-in to cover more and more people to get to a "Medicare for all" single-payer system, or something like it where there's private supplemental insurance in addition to the federal plan (the current Canadian system).  This camp includes Chris Bowers, Bob Cesca, Susie Madrak, and BooMan.

Camp #2 believes the deal is complete and utter garbage, roping the Dems into expanding a system that doesn't work and that will ultimately hand the country over to the Republicans and the insurance companies.  This camp includes Jane Hamsher mostly, and while I like Jane, I'm going to have to go with Camp #1 on this with a caveat.

The caveat is that there's a lot of detail stuff here at the micro level that could easily turn this all into Jane's nightmare scenario, and that's important to remember.  The fight's not over yet.

Not even close.

Epic Alan Grayson Wins The Internets Win

Did I mention Alan Grayson is just damn awesome?

Grayson also addressed Republican complaints about President Obama bowing when he greeted the Emperor of Japan. Grayson said how he remembered when George Bush Senior "did something really awful" to the Prime Minister of Japan at a state dinner -- to which Matthews objected that vomiting on someone is an accident, not an action done on command.

"Well what about Bush Junior?" said Grayson. "I remember Bush Junior kissing Prince Abdullah on the cheek, and then holding his hand for an extended period of time. Maybe if he'd let him get to second base, then gasoline would be a dollar a gallon."

Matthews also asked Grayson about Cheney's statement that Obama's bow to the Emperor of Japan was a display of weakness that would lead to more terrorist attacks. "It's just too bad that it's too late to impeach him," Grayson answered. "That's all I can say."
And the Republican response? We wish you weren't born!
NRCC spokesman Andy Seré released this comment: "The foul mouthed man-child from Orlando is at it again, taking to the airwaves to bring shame to struggling Central Florida families who want jobs, not nut-jobs. But speaking of bases, Alan Grayson's constituents surely find themselves wishing his parents had never gotten past first."
Yeah, that's classy. We're sure the NRCC's going to apologize for implying that some of Grayson's constituents want to physically erase him from existence. There's no violence inherent in that statement or anything. Grayson would like to see Cheney face rule of law. The Republicans in turn want Grayson not to be alive at all. I'm sure they'll apologize for that any minute now...

Grayson meanwhile earns an EPIC WIN.


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