Sunday, March 7, 2010

Last Call

Somebody want to tell the Republicans that nobody is buying this, least of all Republican voters?
Top Republicans had harsh words Sunday for a leaked Republican National Committee document containing images skewering President Barack Obama and other top Democrats.

"There is no excuse for that type of stuff," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told NBC's "Meet the Press." He added that he is "ashamed" of it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, on ABC's "This Week," was asked whether such messaging is helpful. "I can't imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful," he responded.

The PowerPoint presentation described high-level Republican donors as "ego-driven" and claimed they could be enticed with "tchochkes." The document included a slide - titled "The Evil Empire" - with cartoonish images depicting Obama as the Joker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille and Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.

Since the presentation was leaked to Politico, Republicans have been working to distance themselves from it.

Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele described the document as a presentation that "a staffer" put together for "a small group of about nine or ten folks and thought that they would intersperse the presentation with humorous shots.

The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, is expected to come out with an ad this week highlighting the controversy and the images that many consider offensive. The commercial asks, "Today's Republican Party: Is fear all they have left?" The DNC says the ad should start running on cable television in Washington and a few other markets beginning Monday or Tuesday.

Steele condemned the document, but would not say if disciplinary action would be taken against the official who created it.

McConnell, when asked Sunday by ABC whether someone should be held accountable, responded, "I don't run the RNC. That's up to them. But I don't like it, and I don't know anybody who does."
Racists and sexists hate to be caught red-handed like that.  The really funny part is that all voters know that fear and hatred really is the only things the Republicans have left now.  Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch running as far away from this as possible is fooling a grand total of nobody who paid any attention to the last 18 months in politics.

Note again the speed at which the Senators are throwing Michael Steele under the bus for this one.

Consent Of The Gullible

It's the Republican way.  Tom Delay on State of the Union this morning:
"You know," Delay said, "there is an argument to be made that these extensions, the unemployment benefits keeps people from going and finding jobs. In fact there are some studies that have been done that show people stay on unemployment compensation and they don't look for a job until two or three weeks before they know the benefits are going to run out.
Digby once again finds the truth here:
I would guess that this is going to catch on among the dittoheads. The right is reasoning that they can appeal to a good number of the majority who are employed and make them question why they should subsidize all those losers who are not. It worked with health care.

Empathy for your fellow man, or even a selfish sense that you might personally need some assistance someday, is being attacked by the right wing head on. And I would guess that there are more than a few people who secretly have thought these things but didn't have the social support necessary to say it out loud. Now they do.

This isn't a widely accepted point of view. Yet. But its infecting the body politic. 
Empathy for your fellow man is socialism.  Republicans want to teach selfishness to the point that spending tax dollars is evil, and that the federal government itself is illegitimate when it does so.
But now things are looking a bit dicey. According to a recent Rasmussen Poll , only 21 percent of American voters believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed. On the other hand, Rasmussen notes, a full 63 percent of the "political class" believe that the government enjoys the consent of the governed.

It's tempting to stress the disconnect here, and that disconnect is certainly huge. Unsurprisingly, the political class -- which talks mostly to itself -- thinks that it is far more popular, and legitimate, in the eyes of the country than is in fact the case. In this, as in so many things, America's political class is out of touch with reality.

But forget the views of America -- where, it seems likely, more people believe in alien abductions than in the legitimacy of our rulers -- and look just at the more cheerful view of the political class.

Even among the rulers, only 63 percent -- triple the fraction of the general populace but still less than two-thirds of the political class -- regard the federal government as legitimate by the standards of America's founding document. The remainder, presumably, are comfortable being tyrants.
Obama Derangement Syndrome has become so bad that it has turned into Government Derangement Syndrome.  The normal process of governance that Democrats are engaging in is no longer legitimate to Republicans, simply because Republicans are not in charge.  If the GOP cannot be in charge of the government, then the government's legitimacy must be called into question.  That is their plan.  They are openly and overtly attacking the basic principles of governance now, when wielded by Democrats, as something that must be halted by any means necessary.

The Republicans are going for scorched earth here.  They are going full out now for the destruction of the United States of America.  There are those out there that fancy themselves patriots, who take this Second American Revolution thing seriously.  The Republicans are overtly appealing to them now with talk of rising up, with talk of "no other choice", with talk that if Democrats pass HCR, the American Experiment comes to an end.  They are looking for martyrs.

If they can't run the country, they will foment its destruction.  Period.

Things are about to get very, very bad.  And soon.

Sunday Funnies: Katie Bar The Door

Bobblespeak Translations are up for this week.
Gregory: Obama wants to control costs but I talked to anonymous Republicans and Warren Buffet
said it doesn’t do that!

Sebelius : calm down Fluffy

Gregory: but why not just do what the GOP wants?

Sebelius : yeah RomneyCare worked great

Gregory: Big Shoulders are covered

Sebelius : idiot

Gregory: you don’t deal with tort reform!

Sebelius : that’s a lie Greggers

Gregory: but not malpractice reform!

Sebelius : that’s another lie

Gregory: but you can’t possibly disagree with
Saint Warren of the Buffet

Sebelius : brace yourself Fluffy - I do disagree
with the richest man in America on the need for guaranteed health care

Gregory: [ falls on fainting couch ]

Sebelius : I heard you were a moron
Still cracks me up time and time again.

The Other Piece Of The Puzzle

It makes sense that in Washington, if somebody wins in the Village press, somebody else has to lose.  Its a zero sum game they play up there.  In the case of the Village raising up Rahm Emmanuel we now know who the ordained loser is in the battle:  Obama's budget guru, David Axelrod.
Critics, pointing to the administration’s stalled legislative agenda, falling poll numbers and muddled messaging, suggest that kind of devotion is part of the problem at the White House. Recent news reports have cast the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, as the administration’s chief pragmatist, and Mr. Axelrod, by implication, as something of a swooning loyalist. “I’ve heard him be called a ‘Moonie,’ ” dismissed Mr. Axelrod’s close friend, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. Or as the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, joked, “the guy who walks in front of the president with rose petals.”

Still, it is a charge that infuriates Mr. Axelrod, the president’s closest aide, longest-serving adviser and political alter ego. “I guess I have been castigated for believing too deeply in the president,” he said, lapsing into the sarcasm he tends to deploy when playing defense.

No one has taken the perceived failings of the administration more personally or shown the strain as plainly as Mr. Axelrod, who as White House senior adviser oversees every aspect of how Mr. Obama is presented. As such, Mr. Axelrod, the president’s mustachioed message maven, has felt the brunt of criticism over what many view as the administration’s failure to clearly define and disseminate Mr. Obama’s agenda and accomplishments for the country.

“The Obama White House has lost the narrative in the way that the Obama campaign never did,” said James Morone, a political scientist at Brown University. “They essentially took the president’s great strength as a messenger and failed to use it smartly.”

Mr. Axelrod said he accepts some blame for what he called “communication failures,” though he acknowledges bafflement that the administration’s efforts to stimulate the economy in a crisis, overhaul health care and prosecute two wars have been so routinely framed by opponents as the handiwork of a big-government, soft-on-terrorism, politics-of-the-past ideologue.

“For me, the question is, why haven’t we broken through more than we have?” Mr. Axelrod said. “Why haven’t we broken through?” 
The entire point of this piece is to be the answer to "Well, if Rahmbo's head doesn't need to roll for Obama's perceived failures, whose head does need to roll?"   Read between the lines and you see that Mark Leibovich has already had Axelrod fall on his sword in this piece, taking the blame for the "bubble" that the President's in, being responsible for Obama's "out of touch arrogance" and "messaging failures" and that he doesn't have the answers.

The Axeman has just been offered up as a sacrifice.  Make no mistake about it, if this is Rahm vs Axe, Rahm is winning the Village game by three or four touchdowns.  It's even worse that Axelrod is Obama's "messaging maven" and should really have known better than this.  It so obviously throws him under the bus you have to wonder if he's naive or just incompetent...and that's deadly in Washington circles.

While the blogs have been going after Rahm, the Village is going after the Axeman.  Who will win this battle?

And isn't the far more important battle concerning what decisions Obama is making?  Isn't either outcome painting Obama as a puppet being led rather than a President who leads?

That's the far more important point here.  It seems neither side is getting the point of this Village hit job, that the real target is Obama himself.

Coming Through At Last

The NY Times editorial board finally comes through with some truth about HCR, and they finally address where the Republicans have been able to do the most damage: people who are already insured, and people scared of debt.
BUT I LIKE MY INSURANCE: Most Americans get their insurance through large companies, with large group bargaining power. While they complain about premiums and paperwork, most seem satisfied with their coverage.

For them the real fear is what happens if they lose their jobs or decide to change jobs. Will they be shut out of coverage because of a pre-existing condition or forced to pay high rates to buy their own insurance?

For this group, the real advantage of reform is security. If they get laid off, decide to be self-employed or switch to a smaller employer that offers no insurance, they will still be guaranteed coverage — even if they are a cancer survivor or have heart trouble or any other pre-existing condition. And they will be able to buy insurance on the exchanges.

I’M JUST WORRIED ABOUT COSTS: You should be. The cost of medical care is rising far faster than wages or inflation. And despite all of the talk about reform “bending the curve,” no one is yet sure how to do that.

Many reforms that people instinctively believe should cut costs — computerization of medical records, paying doctors for quality not quantity of services, and prevention programs to promote healthy living and head off costly illnesses — cannot yet be shown to lower costs.

Pending reform legislation, specifically the Senate bill, would launch an array of pilot projects to test reforms in delivering and paying for care. It would also create a special board to accelerate the adoption of anything that seemed to work. That seems a reasonable way to go and a lot better than standing by as costs continue to spiral out of control. The Republicans’ proposals — including their call to cap malpractice awards — would make only a small dent in the problem.

WHAT ABOUT THE DEFICIT?: Republican critics of health care reform have done an especially good job of frightening Americans with their talk of bankrupting the Treasury. The truth of the matter is that the pending reform legislation has been designed to generate enough revenue and savings to more than offset the substantial cost of expanding Medicaid and providing subsidies to the middle class.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Senate bill would reduce deficits over the first 10 years by $132 billion and even more in the second decade.

What critics certainly do not talk about is what happens to the deficit if Medicare costs continue their relentless rise. That is something that should keep Americans up at night.

The pending reforms would cut the growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary in half — from 4 percent a year to 2 percent — by demanding productivity savings from Medicare providers and cutting unjustified subsidies to the private plans in Medicare.

There is some skepticism that Congress will stick to its guns if health care providers say they cannot survive on the reduced rations. But Congress has stood by most previous Medicare cuts (physicians excepted) and should have its spine stiffened by new pay-go rules requiring that any Medicare increases be offset by other savings or taxes.
If reform is defeated, it seems likely that most of the proposed experiments designed to cut costs — first within Medicare and then throughout the rest of the health care system — will die as well. The legislation needs to be passed to establish a structure to force continuing improvement over the years. That is the best chance of restraining soaring medical costs that threaten the solvency of families, businesses and the federal government. 
And while this has been true all along about the Dems' HCR bill, it's the Village itself that has allowed the Republicans to direct the "debate" by allowing them to lie repeatedly and scare millions of Americans into believing this is a "socialist takeover of healthcare".   The simple fact of the matter is that doing nothing is not an option right now.

But the really angering part is this is what the Village should have been saying about HCR since last year.  Instead the Village is printing an editorial on how there's all this misinformation out there when they're the ones responsible for failing to challenge the misinformation in the first place over the last year.

I only hope it's enough.
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