Thursday, March 18, 2010

Last Call

There's a lot of anger out there, folks.  The mess that Bush left behind is pretty nasty.  Obama's going to have to make hard and unpopular decisions in order to even attempt some semblance of cleaning it up.  And not everyone is going to like the consequences.
A teacher at a failing Rhode Island school where he and all his colleagues were fired hung an effigy of President Barack Obama in his classroom, apparently in reaction to Obama's support of extreme measures to ensure accountability in schools.

The teachers union on Thursday condemned the effigy, discovered Monday in the teacher's third-floor classroom at Central Falls High School, saying it was wrong and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.

The effigy was found in the unidentified teacher's classroom by Superintendent Frances Gallo, Nicole Shaffer of the Rhode Island Department of Education told The Associated Press. Shaffer said the department would not have any further comment.

Gallo did not immediately respond to calls from the AP seeking comment, but she told CNN that the foot-tall Obama doll that she saw Monday was found hung from its feet from a white board and was holding a sign that said "Fire Central Falls teachers."
I talked about the failing Rhode Island school last month.  They were given options to improve, and they refused to compromise, and as a result, the school board was authorized to fire the entire staff.  They did so.

A teacher hung Obama in effigy as a result.

Honestly, as an educator of children, that's a line you just do not cross.  No sympathy here.  None.  Not all sufferers of Obama Derangement Syndrome are alike, but all have one thing in common:  they blame the President for their own problems.  I give Bush a hard time.  But I don't personally blame him for the difficulties I've experienced in my life over the last decade.  I know better than that, and that's a cop-out, plain and simple.

The Count Of Charlie Crist, Oh! Part 13

The latest Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll on Florida's Senate race confirms what I've been saying for a while now: Charlie Crist is done.
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 3/15-17. Likely voters. MoE 4% (5% for primary samples). (11/16-18/2009 results)
GOP Senate Primary
Charlie Crist (R) 30 (47)
Marco Rubio (R)   58 (37)

Other polling has shown Rubio blowing past Crist, so that's not so much news. But only we are asking this question:
Do you believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States of America, or not? (Republican primary voters only)
Yes 33 (35)
No  30 (29)
Not sure 37 (36)

Obama born in US:
Rubio: 23 (16)
Crist: 66 (73)

Obama not born in US:
Rubio: 74 (54)
Crist:  8 (31)

Not Sure where Obama was born:
Rubio: 76 (45)
Crist: 16 (33)
In other words, Rubio has a solid lead over Crist now and isn't looking back.  28 points, even with the Primary still more than five months away, only means that Crist will keep crashing.  But here's Rubio's problem:  He's losing independents in a general election as fast as he's gaining primary voting Republicans from Crist.
Favorable/Unfavorable/No opinion
Charlie Crist 44/45/11 (59/23/9)
Marco Rubio   29/36/35 (21/22/57)
Kendrick Meek 25/18/57 (23/9/68)

Meek is still invisible. But Rubio is now well into net-negative territory. And particularly disturbing for him, that fall has come from independents, going from 18/21/61 last November, to 26/38/36. Independents aren't liking what they see from him. It would be nice if Meek improved on his numbers, but at this point, he's the only candidate left with a net-positive favorability rating.
All Meek has to do is keep doing what he's doing to come across as the non-Rubio candidate, and he can win this mess.  As Rubio keep pulling further and further to the right to beat Crist, he's going to find himself in a situation where he loses the middle to Kendrick Meek.

Classic Hoffman Effect.

Bunker Busted

I didn't think Obama had the stones to do it, but after Israel politely told Obama to go eat a ham and bacon sandwich on a Saturday, he actually hit Israel right where it hurts:  military aid.
In 2008, the United States approved an Israeli request for bunker-busters capable of destroying underground facilities, including Iranian nuclear weapons sites. Officials said delivery of the weapons was held up by the administration of President Barack Obama.

Since taking office, Obama has refused to approve any major Israeli requests for U.S. weapons platforms or advanced systems. Officials said this included proposed Israeli procurement of AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, refueling systems, advanced munitions and data on a stealth variant of the F-15E.

"All signs indicate that this will continue in 2010," a congressional source familiar with the Israeli military requests said. "This is really an embargo, but nobody talks about it publicly."

Under the plan, the U.S. military was to have stored 195 BLU-110 and 192 BLU-117 munitions in unspecified air force bases in Israel. The U.S. military uses four Israeli bases for the storage of about $400 million worth of pre-positioned equipment meant for use by either Washington or Jerusalem in any regional war.

In January 2010, the administration agreed to an Israeli request to double the amount of U.S. military stockpiles to $800 million. Officials said the bunker-busters as well as Patriot missile interceptors were included in the agreement.

The decision to divert the BLU munitions was taken amid the crisis between Israel and the United States over planned construction of Jewish homes in Jerusalem. The administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has warned that Washington could reduce military aid to Israel because of its construction policy. 
No shiny  bunker busters to hit Iran with for you, Israel.  Maybe now somebody over there in Tel Aviv will remember who is in charge of this little partnership.  Hint: it's not Israel, not matter what the Israelis think

In all seriousness, it's good for Obama to send the message.  The Netanyahu was frankly completely ignoring Obama's requests to stop with the settlements in East Jerusalem, and it was getting embarrassing.  Good to see Obama stand up for himself.

Honestly, what's going to happen to him domestically?  The Republicans already think he's a Marxist socialist tyrant Muslim anyway.  What is the GOP going to do, refuse to support his agenda in any way?  Block his executive branch and judicial branch nominees?  Berate him in fiery speeches on the floor of Congress?  Target him personally in 2010 campaign ads?  Play the race card?  They're doing all that now.

Where do they go from here, seriously?  Throwing eggs at the Oval Office windows?  Pin a "Kick Me" sign on Bo, the First Dog?  Throw water balloons at Michelle Obama?

Obama's looking pretty damn good right now, and frankly, the GOP has bigger issues to worry about.

Hippie Punching 202: The Village And HCR

Digby postulates:
I'm sure this is very frustrating to the villagers, who want more than anything to blame the liberals for the failure to pass the plan. Kucinich is making that impossible. On the other hand, they will be able to blame the unpopularity of the plan on the liberals so that's almost as good. After all, if Kucinich likes it, they know it must be bad.

Still, if the plan fails, the Democratic villagers won't be able to blame it on Dennis the menace or the pro-choice Divas and that's a problem. If Real Americas like Stupak and the Blue Dogs are the sole problem I don't see how they hold it against the hippies --- and I don't think they know how to explain that.
This one's easy.

If the bill fails, it failed because the bill itself was too liberal.  All the Democrats who voted no are heroes, and all the ones who voted yes are Dirty F'ckin Hippies.  Disaster was averted, the bill was terrible and horrible and the Villagers will lie about it.  You know, until the next time these guys vote with Obama on something, then it's all over and they are all Kucinich again.

It really is that simple.

Extreme History-onics

Glenn Beck and Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King really, really should never be allowed in the same conversation ever again.  Stuff like this happens.
Glenn Beck and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) expressed harmonized outrage on Beck's radio program Thursday about news that the House might vote on the health care reform package this Sunday. Voting on a Sunday, they said, was offensive and heretical.

"They intend to vote on the Sabbath, during Lent, to take away the liberty that we have right from God," King said.

"Faith has been perverted," Beck responded, then repeated. "They are going to vote for this damn thing on a Sunday, which is the Sabbath, during Lent."

Beck continued:

"Here is a group of people that have so perverted our faith and our hope and our charity, that is a -- this is an affront to God."

Though Beck conceded that he didn't believe that the Sunday vote was consciously chosen as a plot against God, he did find the timing apt.

"I think it's absolutely appropriate that these people are trying to put the nail in the coffin on our country on a Sunday -- something our founders would have never, ever, ever done. Out of respect for God."
Yes, because Republicans never, ever, ever voted on Sunday.  Ever.
On Palm Sunday in 2005, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a controversial bill to allow a federal court to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo. The House passed the same bill shortly after midnight on Monday morning.
Oh wait, so there's a standing precedent for voting on Sunday when health care is involved.  After all, Terri Schiavo was a life and death issue for a single American.  Surely the Republicans would have no argument in Democrats doing the same for potentially saving millions of Americans, yes?  Glad the Republicans could lead the way on it!

Way to be compassionate, guys!

Start The Clock

With the CBO score out and the bill released, President Obama has canceled his Asia trip in order to finish health care reform legislation.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that Obama will postpone the trip until June and that he phoned the leaders of those nations to express his regret but to say that the health care vote was too important to be out of town.

"The president is determined to see this battle through," Gibbs said during the first ever press briefing held in the White House Rose Garden.

Gibbs cited the timing of the legislative process, and that the final health care bill is being posted online today, starting a 72-hour clock for public comment. That sets the vote at mid-day Sunday at the earliest, and the president had been set to leave Sunday early evening.

Obama has been having face-to-face discussions with individual wavering House Democrats to help leadership secure 216 votes needed to pass the plan. The White House and Democratic leadership haven't said when the Senate would be expected to vote on the legislation to send it to Obama's desk for a signature.

"This has been a long hard process," Gibbs said. "The president believes that the House leadership wanting to talk to the full caucus and get a CBO score was the right thing to do."
So, with a vote possibly as early as Sunday evening, the process now turns to getting the votes...which the White House does not have yet.  Still.

We may not know the outcome of this until late this weekend.

Score One For The Dems

TNR's Jon Cohn reports the CBO score on health care reform is a significant deficit reduction over the status quo, to the tune of $1.33 trillion over 20 years.
Democrats in the administration and Congress have agreed on a set of amendments to the Senate health care bill. And, according to House leadership, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is certifying that the amendments will reduce the deficit. That should fulfill the parliamentary requirements of the reconciliation process, satisfy the demands of many nervous Democrats, and clear the way for the House to vote on health care reform.

Overall, according to leadership aides, the underlying Senate health care bill plus the amendments will reduce the deficit by $130 billion in the first ten years and $1.2 trillion in the second ten years. Democrats are calling it the "biggest deficit reduction measure in 25 years"--that is, since the 1993 Clinton budget.

This news should ease the anxiety of reform critics, both in Congress and beyond, who worry that health care reform will bankrupt the government or the country. CBO projections are not an exact science, but they're as reliable as anything we have. If anything, their projections err on the side of excessive caution.
So a significant savings over 20 years.  Republicans, as usual, are lying when they say the bill will make the deficit worse.  It's just false.  Like Cohn says, if Republicans were serious about fiscal responsibility, they would sign on to Saturday's House vote.

Alas, that will never happen.

What Could Still Go Wrong

TPM's Christina Bellatoni warns that plenty of things could still derail health care this week.  We're still talking about the Dems in Congress, after all.
Signs point to a done deal, and the White House says health care reform will soon be the law of the land. But the Democrats are, well, Democrats. The long slog toward passing a final health care bill has been met with potholes and partisan shenanigans. Deadlines came and went.

Confident Democratic leaders say they are nearing the end, and Republicans are resigned to the idea that the bill will pass and that their focus will soon turn toward campaigning against it. But that's not to say it's over yet. From gambling on a favorable ruling from the Senate parliamentarian to last-ditch messaging successes on the Republican side that gums up the expected House vote, there are plenty of potential pitfalls. We've given it some thought, and while these things are unlikely, here are the top five things that could go wrong between now and President Obama penning his signature on a health care bill.

I posed the question to several members today on Capitol Hill, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) summed it up. I asked, "Could something go wrong in the next week?" Blumenauer lauged: "This is Congress. You answered your own question."
Those five things are failing the vote in the House, failing the vote in the Senate, the parliamentary stuff goes haywire, the student loan fix goes sour, or something completely unexpected happens.  Any one of those will basically kill the process.

It's amazing it has gotten this far.  Do read up.  It's not a done deal yet, by far.

Feeling Randy, Part 5

Digby has a point:  Republican physicians turned politicians are the ones saying there's not enough profit margins in health care, and that "reforms" need to consist of making us pay more to stay healthy.  As far as first doing no harm,'s my favorite Galtie ophthalmologist, Rand Paul!
AB: You’re a doctor. We see a lot of doctors who go into politics, from both sides of the political divide. What can a doctor bring to lawmaking that perhaps a lawyer wouldn’t bring?

RP: Doctors, myself included, bring a perspective on the health care problems and what we should do with health care reform, and that will be an issue that has great interest to me. But I bring to that table the same arguments I would bring for every other area of the economy: capitalism works, competition works, and the reason health care’s broken is not too much capitalism, it’s too little capitalism. We could get it to work if we could bring capitalism to play.

AB: Bring capitalism to play in what way?

RP: Well, right now there’s almost no capitalism involved in health care. Capitalism involves freely fluctuating prices that consumers engage on a daily basis. Fifty percent of what I do is Medicare, the price is fixed, 5% of what I do is Medicaid, the prices are fixed. You can’t choose your doctor based on price. You can choose premiums with the insurance company, but there’s no market place. We need higher deductibles. We need multi-year insurance plans. Health insurance needs to be more like term life insurance, so there are some reforms that we could bring into it.
Wow.  The problem with this multi trillion dollar industry, 1/6th of our economy as the Republicans will tell you every 35 seconds, is that there's not enough profit in it.   If people have to pay more, and health care becomes more expensive, more people will be doctors because that's where the profits are.  Of course that means you have to pay significantly more than you do now, making the most expensive health care system in the world even more expensive.

Yes, let's bring Wall Street to the doctor's office even more.  Not enough profits in this $2 trillion mess. Somebody's getting all this money.  And it's not you.

And Rand Paul want to bring that to all sections of the economy, not just health care.  Time to pay up under the Teabaggers, folks!

Open up (your wallets) and say "Ahh!"

Better Than Zero

Steve M. perfectly sums up my thoughts on the Democrats and HCR.
After a while last year I started to wonder whether comprehensive health care reform would have been a poltical third rail for even a competent party -- but I wanted to see more accomplishments than this. I wanted some sort of real jobs legislation and some sort of real financial reform. I at least wanted Democrats to fight for bills in those areas that had teeth. I'm not on board with HCR now because the Democrats have followed a brilliant strategy. I'm on board with HCR as it is because achieving it might mean my party isn't completely hapless.
And really, my main reason is all that plus " A 59% majority has to be good for something, dammit."

Seriously, that's the best you can say about this.  There's no public option, there's not going to be a public option, the Dems have completely failed to defend the plan on its merits because the merits are simply "it's better than the status quo and not by a hell of a lot, either" and the Republicans completely controlled the narrative from day one thanks to the Village they've trained since 1994.

In the end, it's looking like this is going to pass.

Then the REAL battle begins.  Isn't that going to be fun?

Uncivil Suit

As if Toyota's problems weren't bad enough from a criminal standpoint, the civil charges against the automaker now include federal racketeering charges.
Using federal racketeering laws to amend the consumer class-action complaints, which have grown in number to more than 80 suits in at least 40 states, exposes Toyota to much greater potential liability.

Under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, a commercial enterprise can be found liable for triple the damages for any harm caused by its fraudulent activities.

As a result, litigation that originally stood to reap more than $2 billion in damages for Toyota owners could end up costing the cash-rich Japanese automaker in excess of $10 billion, said Tim Howard, lead counsel for a team of law firms handling about half the cases.

Each of the revised lawsuits is "a much more robust and thorough complaint than the first rounds because of how the evidence has evolved since then," Howard said.

A Toyota spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday. The automaker has declined to comment on pending litigation to date. 
While Toyota definitely deserves to pay if their products are guilty of beinf defective, my immediate thought on reading this story was "If only there was this kind of effort to go after the banks for their defective securities products that cost us trillions..."

Here endeth the lesson.

The Sound And The FOX-y (Signifying Nothing)

The Wingers are already declaring "victory" over FOX News's Bret Baier scoring an interview with President Obama, and proving why the President was leery about granting an interview to the "fair and balanced" network. What you expected to happen was exactly what did happen.  Time's Kate Pickert:
But yet, Bret Baier – the lucky Fox News personality who was granted an exclusive sit-down with the President today – spent about 80% of the health care section of the interview asking Obama about process. This is not surprising, but it's still worth pointing out. Baier said Fox News viewers e-mailed in 18,000 questions for the President, then implied that most of them were about the special deals for certain states contained in the Senate bill and about the "self-executing rule” House Democrats may use to take health care reform over the finish line.

To be fair, anyone who interviewed Obama today would have asked about process – and probably even the “self-executing rule.” Baier asked if Obama supports the procedural tactics House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering? Fair question. Obama implicitly answered yes, saying he doesn't get hung up on procedure. Which sweetheart deals that are in the original Senate bill will be stripped out by the House package of “fixes”? Another fair question. But on this one, Obama started to answer, but Baier – later saying he was trying to “get the most for our buck here” – cut the President off. Check it out:

Watching Baier interrupt the President off made the interview jarring to watch. I also think it's silly to spend the vast majority of an interview segment on health care asking questions about a procedure Republicans used when they were in power. But I give Fox News credit for not letting Obama turn the interview into an infomercial for Democratic health care reform. Aren't we all a little tired of those?


Related Posts with Thumbnails