Friday, March 19, 2010

Last Call

Jane Hamsher of FDL makes her final case as to why the unimproved Senate bill must not be passed.  I can't argue against her that the Senate bill is pretty lousy as is, but to accept Jane's argument that this has to die, you have to accept the following conditions:

1)  There is no way this bill will ever be improved in order to meet the criteria Jane wants.

2) Point 1 is true because the House and Senate are not progressive enough.  It must be made so.

3) The only way to achieve the goal of Point 2 is to primary the Dems that are not progressive enough until they are replaced with those that are, then win general elections with them, then create and pass a new bill with far more progressive elements.

4) Point 3 is only possible if this bill is killed now.

5) The status quo is bad, but the zero odds of ever improving the bill means that Point 4 must happen and that we must accept the status quo until we can get to the promised land.

Therefore the bill must die.

The counter to that, the "we must pass this bill now" argument, entails these following conditions:

1) This bill can be improved incrementally later.  The first step will be in reconciliation in the Senate this year.

2) Point 1 is true because an incremental change to legislation is easier than going from the status quo of nothing straight to the criteria Jane wants.

3) The only way to get incremental change in Point 2 is a stopgap bill that can later be improved as people see the provisions make their lives better, meaning the bill must pass.

4) Point 3 is only possible if we pass this bill now, because failing to do so will hand Congress over to the Republicans, who are satisfied with the status quo, which is worse than the Senate bill.

5) The Senate bill is bad, but we must improve it.  However the only way to gain the ability to achieve the incremental change in Point 4 is accepting that the Senate bill is necessary.

Therefore, the bill must pass.

I believe argument two is the correct one.  The main reason was we tried argument one in 1993.  That hasn't exactly worked out so far, ya know?

Blind, Deaf, And Dumb Man's Bluff

You can always count on the DC Examiner's Byron York to report GOP talking points as "news", and he's not even hiding his stenography in this article on GOP House whip Eric Cantor:
House GOP whip Rep. Eric Cantor has sent out a brief memo outlining the health care vote count from the Republican perspective. The best way to look at it is not to ask whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi has gotten the 216 votes needed to pass the Democrats' national health care bill, but whether opponents have the votes to defeat it.
York goes on to repeat Cantor's claims almost verbatim. Eric Cantor's basically calling it 216-215 for Pelosi, and then counting on all 12 Stupak group votes to switch to no, and notes that Pelosi and the Dem leadership only have 5 switch to yes votes to counter, leaving them seven votes short. 

If Cantor's right and all 12 members of Stupak's group are solid, uncompromising no votes, then Pelosi's the most incompetent party leader in American history for calling the vote on Sunday.  Of course, Cantor also predicted the Republicans would win back Congress and keep the White House in 2008, too.  Somehow, I'm confident that the person bluffing in this scenario isn't Nancy Pelosi.

What benefit would the Democrats gain by bluffing?  Who would they end up fooling here?  The vote's Sunday.  If the vote's going to clearly fail as Cantor suggests, if the Dem whip count is off by that much, what's the benefit of holding the vote NOW?  That scenario makes zero sense.  Delaying the vote may give them time to cut a deal.  Forcing a losing vote is a 100% chance of losing.  Why do that?  What does Cantor think Pelosi's going to gain by calling a vote without having the actual votes?  Will she cut the power to the Capitol building and then secretly switch people's votes in the darkness and chaos like a Scooby-Doo villain?

If Pelosi's right, she called the vote now because she has the votes to win.  This makes logical sense.  If Cantor's right, Pelosi called the vote now and still doesn't have the votes to win. That makes zero logical sense.  In fact, a number of wingers have said Pelosi's bluffing.

But Pelosi bluffing makes no sense.  Cantor bluffing on the other hand makes a tiny bit of sense...but ods are overwhelming he still loses.  Ideally, the vote is called when the outcome is known in advance.  Cantor just looks like an idiot if he's wrong, and the odds of him being right are very, very low.  Granted, I guess it's better than taking the 100% chance of loss by agreeing with Pelosi, but it all seems like a stupid thing to do in the end.

Cantor knew he lost the moment Pelosi scheduled the vote.

And The South Shall Rise Again

This just in:  Southern GOP Wingnut Congressmen don't much like the notion of health care reform.

"If Obamacare passes, that free insurance card that's in people's pockets is going to be as worthless as a Confederate dollar after the war between the states -- the Great War of Yankee Aggression."

I do declare, what is that high-pitched whistlin' sound?  Boy, I say, boy, you're about sharp as a drawer full of spoons...

The Last Skirmish Of The Old War Is The First Of The New

President Obama's final stump speech on health care reform will take place today in the crucial state of Virginia, a state that hasn't been so kind to Democrats in 2009.
Obama kicked off his general-election campaign with two stops in the state, including one in Prince William County. He returned to Northern Virginia for his final stop, drawing thousands to a Manassas rally not far from the George Mason University arena where he'll speak to about 10,000 people on Friday. A day after those stops, he became the first Democrat in 44 years to claim the Old Dominion.

Since then, however, Virginia hasn't been quite so accommodating. Despite Obama's personal campaigning, Democrats lost the state's three top jobs last fall, getting trounced in each race by more than 15 points

Republicans having been using their perch in Richmond since then to stoke sentiment against Washington.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell delivered the Republican rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union address from the state capitol. Last week, Virginia became the first state to pass a law making a key piece of the federal health-care reform package illegal -- a measure that would not have passed without support from some Democrats. And Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) said this week that he will mount a constitutional challenge if the bill passes. 
And Virginia isn't the only state that will sue to stop health care reform, either.
Idaho took the lead in a growing, nationwide fight against health care overhaul Wednesday when its governor became the first to sign a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy health insurance.

Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states.

Constitutional law experts say the movement is mostly symbolic because federal laws supersede those of the states.

But the state measures reflect a growing frustration with President President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The proposal would cover some 30 million uninsured people, end insurance practices such as denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, require almost all Americans to get coverage by law, and try to slow the cost of medical care nationwide.
It's largely symbolic because they expect the Supreme Court to stay out of the mess and let the states and the federal government continue to handle their own disputes.  But this is a Supreme Court that had no problem striking down a century of precedent in campaign financing laws to give corporations the power to pour unlimited money into elections.  I wouldn't call it a done deal yet.

On the other hand, your average insurance company is thrilled at the mandate with no public option bill we face now.  They stand to make tens of billions off tens of millions of new customers, so somehow I don't think the corporate powers that be will want to see this one pushed too far.

The Village Loves A Winner

More than anything else.  John Cole has a point:  this NY Times article makes the Dems look like...they spent an entire year carefully getting this bill right.  If the Dems follow through and win this vote, they will get more favorable coverage:
The article makes the Democrats look capable, competent, and in control- not the impression we have had the last year. But the media loves a winner, and if they manage to finish the job, in the face of zero help from the Republicans, the media is going to be filled with positive stories about the Democrats and Obama finally achieving something close to what they have been after for decades. Hell, Sarah Palin was treated like the second coming of Christ for weeks in 2008, and all she did was read what someone else wrote for her at the NRC.

If the Democrats pass this bill, their electoral chances will be far better than they are now. They have the control to write the media narrative. So pass the damned bill.
Absolutely.  Because if the Dems don't, the Village story for the rest of this year will be "How come the incompetent, feckless, wimpy, stupid Losercrats couldn't pass the health care bill?"

P.S.  The Village will not reward Dems that vote against the health bill as sensible centrists.  They'll be the first ones on the Village "Why Dems are losers!" articles.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Going over my bills for this month, I've discovered that my health insurance premiums have gone up 10% a year every year for the last three years running.  It's an individual plan, so it's not a deal-breaker, but I'm a relatively healthy guy in the early half of his 30's.  I don't really use my health insurance, but I have it.  I may need it tomorrow, I may not need it for another 40 years, I don't know.

But to see my premiums have gone up 30% in 3 years does annoy me.  However, it will go up more without health care reform.  I look at the stories of rates for people in the individual market seeing yearly premium increases of 30, 40, 50, 60%.  I'm glad I have insurance.  But these rate increases are simply not sustainable for me and millions like me.

So yes, I support the bill.

The Anger Just Beneath The Surface

In a stunning modern update of the famous Milgram Experiment, a French documentary maker captured a disturbing experiment set up as a reality TV game show where the contestants were encouraged to "torture" an actor who missed quiz show questions.
The fictitious game show had all the trappings of a real TV quiz show, including a beautiful and well-known hostess, and a raucous audience. A group of contestants posed questions to a man sitting inside a box in front of them in an electric chair.

The hostess and a chanting audience urged the players — who had levers in front of them — to send jolts of electricity into the man in the box when he gave an incorrect answer.

Even when the player screamed out in pain for them to stop, 80 percent of the contestants kept zapping him. In reality, the man in the electric chair was an actor who wasn't really being shocked — but the players and the audience did not know that.

The documentary makers say reality television relies increasingly on violent, humiliating and cruel acts to boost ratings. They say they simply wanted to see if we would go so far as to kill someone for entertainment.

Christophe Nick produced the documentary, The Game of Death, with a group of scientists and researchers.

"Most of us think we have free thinking and so we are responsible for our acts," Nick says. "This experience shows that in certain circumstances, a power — the TV in this case — is able to make you do something you don't want to do."

The idea that something deeply rooted in the human psyche makes most of us unable to resist authority is not new. The French documentary was based on an American experiment carried out in the 1960s by psychologist Stanley Milgram.

Milgram had participants delivering what they believed were electric shocks to a man every time he answered a question incorrectly. In that experiment, 60 percent of participants obeyed the sadistic orders until the end.
The French documentary, which was broadcast in France on Wednesday night, included footage of the Milgram experiment.

Sociologist Jean Claude Kaufmann says the French version combines Milgram's use of authority with the power of live television. He says the result in the French experiment — a higher percentage of participants willing to shock the subject — shows that the manipulative power of television further increases people's willingness to obey
If you're wondering why Americans so willingly supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and turned a blind eye to the killings we continue to perpetrate there, if you wonder why the Bush administration was obsessed in controlling the media by giving gravitas and access to Fox News, and Fox News in turn relaying the authoritative decrees that the Cheney media shops wanted you to hear, if you wonder why we turned into lemmings after 9/11 and a man like Bush gained a 90% approval rating, if you wonder how this country turned into a bloodthirsty mob over the last ten years...

Keep that phrase in mind.  "The manipulative power of television further increases people's willingness to obey."  Does a pretty good job of explaining how we got here over the last decade, doesn't it? 


Related Posts with Thumbnails