Sunday, March 21, 2010

Last Call

And the House bill passes 219-212.  Two Republicans apparently were too depressed to vote or something now that the Earth has plunged into the sun or whatever.

Mark Steyn's response:
Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .
Drama queen.

And Bart Stupak tells the GOP to go to hell on the motion to recommit.

The GOP's Circular Firing Squad Takes Aim

The Republicans certainly believe health care reform is a done deal.  And former Bush speechwriter David Frum leads with the opening salvo, laying the blame for the loss directly at the feet of the Wingnuts.(emphasis mine):
A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves.

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Could a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
Needless to say, Frum is already being thrown under the bus by Col. Mustard and friends, who claim victory for stopping socialism, or Marxism, or communism, or whatever ism they are calling the plan this week.

Frum blames the Wingers, Jacobson snarls back that the Wingers stopped the bill from being worse?  They're both wrong.

They're both wrong because the Republicans abdicated the right to govern.  They refused to take responsibility for the country.  They refused to lift a finger.  They refused to do anything but whine like petulant children who didn't get 100% of everything they wanted.

Republicans?  You rendered yourselves irrelevant to America.  So today, America finally moves on without you.

The joke is that in the end, the Wingnuts, the moderates, the country clubbers, the Club For Growth, the Tenthers, the Birthers, the screaming tinfoil psychos and the old guard of the GOP all now have one thing in common:

You don't matter right now.  And you did it to yourselves.  Each and every one of you.  You took yourselves out of the game.  You dared the Democrats to unite to defeat you, because you were sure they would not.  You managed through sheer stupidity and intransigence to do what 90 years of working with the Democrats couldn't do:  make them go out and actually pass legislation.

Except...they did.  And you lost.  Thank you for stepping aside.  The rest of us have a lot of work to do to clean up your mess, after all.  And that begins now.

Swallow your pride and join us.  It's still your country, too.  But it's not your country alone.  Not anymore.  Get used to it.

On The Rain-Slick Precipice Of...Victory?

The White House executive order on abortion language as a face-saving manuever for Bart Stupak has satisfied his ego.  The Stupak bloc, including Stupak himself, will vote yes.
Breaking News: Sources are telling NBC News that Rep. Bart Stupak WILL VOTE for the health-care bill.
The vote will come very soon.   CNN backs MSNBC's call.
Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, announces that he, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House have reached an agreement that protects "the sanctity of life in health care reform."

Stupak and other anti-abortion Democrats had said they would oppose the Senate bill because of concerns it would expand federal funding of abortion.
The rules debate continues as the GOP tries to run out the clock, but this is starting to look like a win for the Dems.  Will the Senate complete the victory?

On the other hand, the GOP is losing with all the grace and dignity that you've come to expect.
Moments ago, while members were on the floor for a vote, a protester stood up in the visitor's gallery and began shouting "Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!" Clerks quickly removed him. But as they were doing so, a number of Republicans--at least half a dozen, from what I could see from a few feet away--were cheering the man.

Representative Barney Frank, who was the target of yesterday's homophobic epithets, told reporters he was "appalled" and that he felt the Republicans "were encouraging him to resist. ... I've never seen members of the House cheering on a guy resisting being kicked out of the gallery. It's a dangerous situation and the Republicans are cheering him on."

Frank says he approached one of his Republican colleagues--I think he said it was Missouri's Roy Blunt--and told them his caucus should not be stoking this kind of emotion. Blunt apparently replied by saying he wasn't one of the Republicans cheering.

Meanwhile, conservative activists are staging a rally on the North lawn, which is right outside the House chamber. A trio of Republicans went to the House balcony and started waving hand-made signs saying "Kill...the...bill" as the crowd chanted. As a colleague of mine remarked, that scene was more farcical than scary--like a scene out of Evita. But there's something just a bit unsettling about all of this.
This isn't over. In fact, the real battle is just beginning.  You thought they were deranged to the point of violence before?  Just wait.

[UPDATE 5:30 PM] And it wouldn't be a day without Winger death threats against the President for the tyranny of expanding halth care coverage to people who don't have it.

You Can See The Concern Etched Into His Face

It's a good thing WaPo's Dan Balz gives the totally relevant Newt Gingrich a platform to voice his opinions on how to save the Democratic Party, otherwise they might make another huge mistake... passing civil rights legislation.
But former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich said Obama and the Democrats will regret their decision to push for comprehensive reform. Calling the bill "the most radical social experiment . . . in modern times," Gingrich said: "They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years" with the enactment of civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

No one doubts that Johnson was right to push for those civil rights measures. And he was well aware of the potential damage they would do to a Democratic Party that was then a coalition including whites and African Americans, liberals from the North and conservative segregationists from the South.

Those battles over civil rights set off a political realignment that played out over decades and led eventually to a Republican domination of the South that continues to this day.
Yeah, that sure was sad to see all that damage that happened forty-five years ago when we stopped actively trying to deny minorities the right to vote.  Hell, one's President now!  Look at the damage to the Democrats!  They'd never gain a majority in the House or Senate or control the White House ever again!  We certainly wouldn't have any Democratic presidents from southern states like Georgia or Arkansas!

We all know that in Newt's world, politics only exists to maintain power, not to pass legislation that does the right thing against the objections of the party out of power.  Why, the Republicans would have passed their own health care reform, except when they controlled the House, Senate, and White House they never had time to do it.  They were too busy with....umm...fighting terrorists!

In conclusion, Newt Gingrich would like you to know that Democrats would be in power if they kept minorities from voting in southern states, so kill the bill!

Yep, sure is good we have Villagers like Dan Balz around to take Newt seriously.

Sunday Funnies: Health Care Vote Pre-Game Edition

Bobblespeak Translations are up for the week, and it's all about gaming out this afternoon's vote...and after.  Orange Julius and Steele Trap spent most of the morning going BLAH BLAH BLOOGITY BLOO SHARIA HEALTH CARE ZOMBIE KITTEN EATERS while Steny Hoyer praticed facepalming.
Boehner this is an immediate takeover of everything!

Gregory: what else about the bill is bad?

Boehner it doesn’t kick in until 2014!

Gregory: the CBO says this will cut the debt and stave off disaster

Boehner: yes but we have a great plan that isn’t a dangerous socialist plan

Gregory: why didn’t you enact it before?

Boehner we didn’t know a skillful black guy would
be elected President

Gregory: you can’t trust the CBO - they like Obama’s plan and I hate it!

Hoyer: Calm down Fluffy

Gregory: Bohner will Democrats lose the House
in the fall?

Boehner well it’s a steep climb - after all everyone hates Republicans

Gregory: will you try to repeal this law?

Boehner well let’s not get crazy - after all people
like insurance

Gregory: so what is the GOP plan?

Boehner yell and scream that Obama will bankrupt this country

Gregory: anything else?

Boehner: file a lawsuit saying that we are all the Jews for Obama’s Indonesian cannibal cauldron of Sharia Kenyan Marxist Sacrificial Commission of Death

Gregory: well good luck with that
Sad part is this really isn't parody.

Home Stretch

As I said yesterday, it's all down to the Stupak bloc now.  The more Pelosi can peel away, the weaker they get until they may collapse entirely and leave Bart Stupak himself blowing in the wind, where presumably Pelosi will give Stupak a chance to save face and vote for the bill, allowing it to pass.

Two developments this morning strongly point to this scenario playing out as you read this.  First, Stupak bloc number two, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, is voting yes according to Greg Sargent.
“Yes I will,” Kaptur said, when asked if she’d be supporting the Senate bill. Asked why, she continued:

“We received assurances last night that we will work with the administration and Secretary Sebelius and the President to ensure existing law is maintained.”

That’s a reference to HHC secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and appears to mean that the Stupak bloc was given these reassurances last night at the White House.

It’s unclear right now whether this means the White House agreed to an executive order reaffirming the ban on Federal funding on abortion, or whether White House aides made more general assurances.
The Stupak bloc is crumbling hourly.  The important thing is that some sort of deal is now in the works, and that brings us to Stupak's face-saving manuever so that he agrees to the vote.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Sunday morning that he is close to striking a deal with the Obama administration on abortion provisions.

"We are close to getting something done," Stupak said in an interview with MSNBC.

Stupak said he engaged in talks late into Saturday night.

The possible deal would focus on an executive order that would specify there would be no public funding for abortions in the healthcare bill.

"We're close but we're not there yet," Stupak said.
Of course, that's what the Senate bill does now anyway, the Stupak language was always an attempt to go well and beyond the existing federal rules and make health insurance that did cover abortions impossible to get by kicking out any plan that did cover it from being eligible for subsidies, effectively pricing them out of the market.  Stupak lost that fight yesterday, now he's getting a chance to atone.  That's a smart move by Pelosi to fix a moronic one by Stupak, and that's what House Speakers are supposed to do: keep the big picture and the long haul in mind.  Stupak's vote will be needed again in the future for the rest of Obama's agenda.  Allowing him to save face instead of torching him makes the rest of 2010 a bit easier.

Having said that, he does have a primary challenger in Connie Saltonstall.  If you're in Michigan, you can send Stupak another message that way as well.  Let's not forget that much of this last minute mess is on Bart Stupak's head personally.  Forgiving is one thing.  Forgetting is another.

[UPDATE 12:40 PM] A reader at TPM sums this up perfectly.
Health care reform has been central to the Democratic Party since well before any Democratic member of Congress was even serving. It has been central to the Democratic agenda since before most of them were even born. That any Congressional Democrat is running away from this is a scandal. What did they expect to be voting on when they ran for Congress? Why on earth are they even a Democrat if they're not going to vote for health care?

I understand that politics is a messy business. I understand that Democrats have a big tent. I understand that ideological differences and political realities will require some Democrats to part company with their peers on many issues. But health care is different. I can forgive a vote against health care in only a handful of truly difficult districts. The rest of them have no excuse.
Amen to that.  Given the centerpiece of Obama's campaign was health care reform, every Democrat that ran and won in 2008 knew this vote was coming.  If you're not supporting health care reform, why are you a Democrat?

The Mendacity Of It All

Friday the Moonie Times printed an editorial calling for the impeachment of Obama if the "Slaughter Rule" was used.  It's not going to be.  Should health care pass today without it, do you think the Wingers will suddenly stop calling for Obama's impeachment?  Well, let's take a look at Jeff Kuhner's screed.
Mr. Obama is imposing a leftist revolution. Since coming to office, he has behaved without any constitutional restraints. The power of the federal government has exploded. He has de facto nationalized key sectors of American life - the big banks, financial institutions, the automakers, large tracts of energy-rich land from Montana to New Mexico. His cap-and-trade proposal, along with a newly empowered Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to impose massive new taxes and regulations upon industry. It is a form of green socialism: Much of the economy would fall under a command-and-control bureaucratic corporatist state. Mr. Obama even wants the government to take over student loans.

Yet his primary goal has always been to gobble up the health care system. The most troubling aspect of the Obamacare debate, however, is not the measure's sweeping and radical aims - the transformation of one-sixth of the U.S. economy, crippling tax increases, higher premiums, state-sanctioned rationing, longer waiting lines, the erosion of the quality of medical care and the creation of a huge, permanent administrative bureaucracy. Rather, the most alarming aspect is the lengths to which the Democrats are willing to go to achieve their progressive, anti-capitalist agenda.

Obamacare is opposed by nearly two-thirds of the public, more than 60 percent of independents and almost all Republicans and conservatives. It has badly fractured the country, dangerously polarizing it along ideological and racial lines. Even a majority of Democrats in the House are deeply reluctant to support it.
Numerous states - from Idaho to Virginia to Texas - have said they will sue the federal government should Obamacare become law. They will declare themselves exempt from its provisions, tying up the legislation in the courts for years to come.

Mr. Obama is willing to devour his presidency, his party's congressional majority and - most disturbing - our democratic institutional safeguards to enact it. He is a reckless ideologue who is willing to sacrifice the country's stability in pursuit of a socialist utopia. 
No mention of the Slaughter Rule there in the heart of his tirade.  Gee, I'm going to take this as a "No, we're going to try to impeach him anyway as soon as we can" kind of thing.

The Slaughter Rule was a flimsy excuse anyway.  The Republicans used deem-and-pass dozens of times the last time they controlled the House in 2006-2007.  No, the real problem here is Obama Derangement Syndrome as it always has been.

These self-same crusaders of liberty and freedom cared not when Bush and Cheney shredded the Constitution. spied on US citizens, took us to war under false pretenses and cost us thousands of brave soldiers and trillions of dollars.  All this was normal, everyday occurrence in the world of the Winger.  Attempt to regulate health insurance in order to expand coverage to millions of people that don't have it, and suddenly it's tyranny, socialism and time for armed revolt in the streets.

Republicans were perfectly fine with a ginned up war and wiretapping, torturing, and incarcerating Americans without their consent, without trial, and without recourse just because the President said so.  But use the Republican idea of an insurance mandate, and it's The End Of America.

The logic begs the real question as to why these idiots are threatening violence and armed revolt against a government that's the first to be led by an African-American Democrat.

Then again, I believe I've answered my own question.

March Madhouse

Turning to only the second biggest sport in the nation right now other than Full Contact Politics, the NCAA basketball tourney is under way and it's been a hell of a ride.  Kentucky, Baylor, and K State are in, Villanova, New Mexico and shockingly enough #1 Kansas are all toast.  The rest of the Sweet 16 will be decided today with Duke, Syracuse, W. Virginia and Ohio State looking to get in, and locally Xavier's looking to upset Pitt to meet Kansas State, and Cornell's playing Wisconsin for the right to take on the UK Wildcats.

But nothing was bigger than yesterday's Northern Iowa shocker over Kansas.
Leading by one against the colossus of the bracket, Ali Farokhmanesh stood at the 3-point line, no one around. The prudent play? Pull it out, burn some clock.

Not a chance.

Taking his shot at history, Farokhmanesh let fly from the wing.


The biggest upset in a tournament full of them was done. Northern Iowa had taken down mighty Kansas.

Playing with poise down the stretch and getting another big 3-pointer from Farokhmanesh, Northern Iowa pulled off one of the biggest NCAA upsets in years by knocking No. 1 overall seed Kansas from the bracket with a program-defining 69-67 win on Saturday.

''If anybody's going to shoot that shot, I want it to be Ali,'' UNI's Jake Koch said. 
America will remember how to spell "Farokhmanesh" in the future, I think.  Rock, Shocked, No Jayhawk.
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