Friday, March 5, 2010

Last Call

What Bob Cesca said:
Sam Stein reports today:
The market concentration for health insurance is so monopolized in some areas that insurance companies are willing to raise prices and lose customers in an effort to improve their bottom line, a leading insurance broker told Wall Street analysts on Wednesday.
But we should listen to the Republicans. Vote for more Republicans, in fact, who want to preserve this status quo.
The status quo will double the cost of your health insurance again in ten years.  The Republicans are running on that platform.  The Democrats are trying to do something to fix that.  The Republican plan, which is do nothing, guarantees that this doubling will occur.  That's an average.  We're seeing yearly increases now of up to 60% on individual health plan premiums.  The Republican plan is to let that continue.

You have two choices:  the Republican status quo or the Democratic plan.  Could you afford your current insurance if the price doubled in ten years?  Could you afford it if you lost your job and it doubled in two years?

Choose wisely.

And A Massa Mom's Barbecue

So not only is Dem Rep. Eric Massa of New York not running for re-election, he's flat out resigning Monday based on the other shoe dropping on that sexual harassment claim.  That's bad news for health care reform:
In a statement posted to his official website this afternoon, Massa acknowledged that his departure date is being moved up in part to avoid an Ethics Committee investigation that might "tear my family and my staff apart." While his statement does not point to any specific areas of wrongdoing, the congressman concedes that he used language that might have made others "uncomfortable." Massa's statement also admits that his "language failed to meet the standards that I set for all around me and myself."

Announcing his resignation, effective 5 p.m. (ET) on Monday, the New York lawmaker added that he steps down "with a profound sense of failure and a deep apology" to his constituents.

As this relates to health care reform, Massa's resignation will drop the necessary number of votes to pass the legislation in the House back down to 216. Massa, a supporter of single-payer health care, voted against the Democratic proposal in November, but was considered a possible swing vote on the final package.
Now, if having a foul mouth is worth an ethics investigation, half of Congress would be gone.   On the other hand, a male Representative accused of harassment by a male staffer is pretty serious (as any harassment claim should be).

Still, Massa's completely calling it quits.  Even Mark Foley stuck around longer than this.  There's more to this story.  A lot more.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Steve M. on the latest politically motivated shooting in the country:
My question is, why does it seem that people who've been angry for a long time, as all of these guys were (von Brunn, I think, has been angry longer than I've been alive, and I'm 50), suddenly turning violent now?

I think it's the atmosphere in the country.

Now, you might say it's the endless recession, but I don't think any of these guys had a recent reversal of fortune -- Stack, for instance, seemed to have been struggling through good times as well as bad. I think it's more the tone of the rhetoric out there, especially the radical, hateful, revolutionary rhetoric that's showing up in mainstream media outlets.

Maybe tea party and Bunning-style GOP rage, broadcast through the powerful Fox and talk radio loudspeakers, isn't making teabaggers violent, and it isn't making moderates and liberals and lefties violent (to varying extents, we're all still hoping some good comes out of Washington, even if our hopes are fading), but it's making people who are off-the-charts wacko more and more inclined to politicized violence. Maybe people who are already riled up are getting even more riled up by the tone of the rhetoric, but, since they don't feel they have a dog in the fight, they just go even crazier, and seek bloodshed.

It's just a theory, but I wish the most overheated folks out there -- the vast majority of whom I think are on the right -- would ponder it.
That's the great thing about the internet:  it allows for venting of endless rage without any real consequences. We forget at times that the rage itself is the problem, and if all you have is rage, you're eventually going to act on it.  Rage sells, folks.  It used to be sex, but the real money?  It's in rage.

Foldorama On Terror Trials

Obama's throwing in the towel on a civilian trial for KSM in order to get Congress to close Gitmo.
The president's advisers feel increasingly hemmed in by bipartisan opposition to a federal trial in New York and demands, mainly from Republicans, that Mohammed and his accused co-conspirators remain under military jurisdiction, officials said. While Obama has favored trying some terrorism suspects in civilian courts as a symbol of U.S. commitment to the rule of law, critics have said military tribunals are the appropriate venue for those accused of attacking the United States.

If Obama accepts the likely recommendation of his advisers, the White House may be able to secure from Congress the funding and legal authority it needs to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and replace it with a facility within the United States. The administration has failed to meet a self-imposed one-year deadline to close Guantanamo.

The administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the president's legal advisers are finalizing their review of the cases of Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators. Asked about the process, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that "no decisions have been made."
The price you have to pay for civil liberties for terrorists is...denying terrorists civil liberties. Sure, that's a great deal.

As I've said before and continue to say, Obama's biggest failure has been his expansion of Bush's terror program directives and the adoption of those John Yoo extra-legal methods and specious reasoning. We are now a country that tortures routinely and will always continue to do so.

Let Them Eat Rotten, Festering Cake That Is Actually Poop And Not Cake

AIG's Financial Division wizards, you know, the guys that lost a trillion bucks?  They're not happy with you, the taxpayer.  In fact, they basically want your world to collapse for daring to think bad thoughts about financial traders as a transcript of an AIG conference call reveals:
The employees said that the corporate leaders who had driven the firm into the ground were already gone from the company. Those who had remained behind to help clean up the mess and repay the taxpayer bailout were due their compensation, they told Pasciucco.

"You made a commitment to us, and we made a commitment to you. And for anybody to look beyond that, as the politics and the media are at the moment, is missing the point," said an employee. "You can't expect us to just roll over and ignore that commitment because there is a bunch of immoral bigots that intend us to do something different. It's not going to happen."

Another was even more irate, lashing out at the public for scapegoating AIG employees. "To be honest with you, I really hope it blows up. I think the U.S. taxpayer deserves to lose a trillion dollars over this thing for the way they have behaved."

And then he turned on politicians who had joined the anti-AIG posse. "They only care about the next election, just like we only care about the next bonus. Well, none of them cares about the country, none of us cares about the institution," he said, adding: "They really don't care, and I really don't care. And frankly, if a trillion dollars gets lost, fine."

The AIG retention bonuses have rankled many in the public because the company has received a federal rescue package of about $180 billion in loans, stock investments and other commitments from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. Closing down AIG Financial Products' trading portfolio has been vital to stemming further losses and repaying the public money.

As the employees were confronting Pasciucco last spring, lawmakers in Washington were contemplating a 90 percent tax on the bonus payments. AIG's chief executive, Edward M. Liddy, had been berated on Capitol Hill. Employees had received anonymous threats, some violent. 
You stupid bastards.  We give you guys at AIG a trillion dollars -- oh and we're still paying you billions and billion each quarter to cover your continuing losses because you're not fixing the problem, you're just losing more money, mind you -- and you think we deserve to lose this money because we don't acknowledge your inherent superiority as financial traders?

If you're so smart, how come you assholes keep losing money?  

On the other hand, they were smart enough to buy our political system, so there's nothing we can do about it.  Maybe they do get the last laugh after all.  because let's face it, when they need another trillion, and they will, they will get it.

Alan Grayson Is That Much Of A Badass

Via the Rumpies, we learn that Florida Dem Alan Grayson is leading the primaries for the House district, as expected.  What's not expected:  he's leading the Republican primary.
The poll has Grayson leading the 13 Republicans -- among Republicans -- with 27.8 percent of the vote. The congressman who mocked the GOP health care plan by saying that it amounts to telling people not to get sick and if they do, to die quickly, received more support than all of the Republican candidates combined.

No GOP candidate scored above 3.7 percent; 57.7 percent said they were undecided. Grayson did particularly well with women, undercutting the notion that referring to a Washington lobbyist as a "K Street whore" would turn female voters away. (Grayson later apologized for the word choice.)

The poll was conducted on Feb. 26th. There were 324 respondents, all registered Republicans in Florida's eighth district. The poll was conducted by Middleton Market Research.

Naturally, the national GOP establishment dismissed the results -- "This is the most bogus thing I've ever seen in my life," said Andy Seré, Regional Press Secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Grayson told HuffPost that some of the support comes from Republicans who appreciate that he speaks his mind, while some is due to his far-superior name recognition. But the poll also found at least one area where Republican voters thought favorably of him.

In 2009, Grayson, who carries a copy of the Constitution with him, passed a resolution calling on schools to teach the document for one week in September each year.

Over half of the Republicans polled said that they were more likely to vote for Grayson because of the resolution. He has distributed tens of thousands of copies of the Constitution throughout the district, including one to each high school senior. This September, he said, he plans to go to high schools and teach the Constitution personally in the district. 
Well isn't that so very interesting.  The conventional Washington wisdom is that Grayson is a liberal nutjob who's going to be the first bounced out in the Republican takeover of the universe in November because he's too liberal and too crazy and blah blah bloogedy blah blah blah LIBERAL!

The reality is that people in both parties respect Grayson for speaking out and sticking to his principles, and those principles include knowing the Constitution and teaching others how important the document is.  Those principles also include a strongly populist progressive viewpoint.

Why more Dems won't follow Grayson's lead, I don't know.  Oh yes, they're too busy being owned by Washington lobbyists.

Twenty To Fifteen

Democrat Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts is not running for re-election, making 20 Republicans and now 15 Democrats bowing out this year.
Representative William Delahunt will not seek re-election to Congress, the seven-term Democrat will announce tomorrow, ending a nearly 40-year career in elected office and giving Republicans hope of capturing the seat, which stretches from Cape Cod to the South Shore.

"It's got nothing to do with politics," the Quincy Democrat said today. "Life is about change. I think it's healthy. It's time."

The 68-year-old lawmaker said he has been considering leaving the House for several years, but was talked out of it two years ago by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who convinced his friend he should stay and help President Obama with his first-term agenda.

"He said, 'Come on -- this is a new time. It's a new era. We [will] have a new president. We're all needed," Delahunt recalled Kennedy telling him. Once Kennedy died last year, Delahunt said he grappled with whether to stay and work on the issues Kennedy held dear.

"Clearly, since his death, there's something missing. There's a void. With the void, you feel the need to be here because there's much to do," Delahunt said wistfully in an exclusive interview.

But the congressman said he concluded that after nearly four decades in public service, the grueling House schedule was taking its toll on his personal life.

"I've got a granddaughter," the divorced father of two said. "Given the pace down here, I don't want to miss out on her childhood, her first year."

The congressman has faced recent questions about the handling of the 1986 Amy Bishop shooting case, which occurred when he was Norfolk County district attorney. Delahunt has said consistently that his office was not told that Bishop fled with a loaded weapon after killing her brother in what police then called an accident.

But the case has absolutely nothing to do with his decision to retire, Delahunt said. Several of the congressman's friends and associates confirmed that the lawmaker has been mulling his departure for years, and very seriously considering it for many months.
Well, now he's out.  I'm fairly sure more will be coming in March, but will they be Republicans fleeing the teabaggers or Dems fleeing progressives?


Only 36k jobs lost last month, unemployment rate remained at 9.7%.

U-6 number 16.8%, unadjusted 17.9%, so basically this was a holding pattern month.  Still, that means no recovery in sight.  The best the Senate could do was $15 billion for jobs, which is an order of magnitude too small (if not two).  Bush got us into this disaster, but Obama needs to be doing far, far more to get us out.

The Greater Good

President Obama made it clear to House progressive Dems this week that the public option is dead, and that progressives need to swallow their pride and need to line up behind the Senate version of the bill and go with reconciliation...or there will be no reform at all.
Speaking to reporters in the Speaker's lobby off the House floor, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) said the President reminded them that "If this opportunity passes, much of our agenda, on the progressive would be difficult, if not impossible for a generation to get back to this issue."

I asked if the message was convincing to those in attendance.

"It's pretty compelling," Grijalva said.

That's a significant change from his tone earlier in the week, when Grijalva said he was inclined to vote against the bill from the left.

Obama reminded the assembled Democrats that doing nothing would be politically disastrous. "To maintain a strong presidency we need to pass this bill," the President said, according to Grijalva.

Progressives aren't without demands of their own. They are looking for all assurances that the Senate bill won't pass without a companion reconciliation bill amending it. Obama assured the members he sees the two bills as companions.

"We don't want to get trapped voting for the Senate bill as is without a full understanding that what he signs, and comes to his desk, are the two pieces of legislation, and the other part being the critical part being the reconciliation," Grijalva said.

Obama also apparently pledged to revisit the public option in the future. 
Sure you are, Barack.  Sure you are.  I know that 31 million people getting health coverage is better than zero, but for the other 140 million of us or so on non-Medicare/Medicaid, "what's in it for us?" is a legitimate question.  All the advantages we're supposed to get would be made even better by the public option, but apparently that's going to be a battle Obama wants to fight later.

Still, Nate Silver notes the Intrade line on HCR is just barely over 50-50 in favor of passing right now.  There's still a long fight ahead.


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