Friday, March 05, 2010

Quotable: Senator Robert Byrd on his OWN Byrd Rule for Reconciliation

Responding to an editorial by the Charleston Daily Mail, Senator Robert C. Byrd, author of the so-called “Byrd rule” for reconciliation that has been used by opponents of healthcare reform to excoriate the reconciliation process, gave his blessing to the use of reconciliation for merging the House and Senate healthcare bills and passing reform. In so doing, Senator Byrd killed another Republicant talking point. This is what he said, in a letter to editor of the Daily Mail:
“[A] bill structured to reduce deficits by, for example, finding savings in Medicare or lowering health care costs, may be consistent with the Budget Act, and appropriately considered under reconciliation.

With all due respect, the Daily Mail’s hyperbole about “imposing government control,” acts of “disrespect to the American people” and “corruption” of Senate procedures resembles more the barkings from the nether regions of Glennbeckistan than the “sober and second thought” of one of West Virginia’s oldest and most respected daily newspapers.”
What’s that popping sound I hear . . . Could it be the air released from exploding Teabagger, Republicant, and Beckista heads?

Hmm . . . would citizens of the virtual paranoididiotautocracy of “Glennbeckistan” be considered “Beckistas” or Beckistanis?

Scholarly Tweet From Right Wing Think Tank Cato Institute Director of Health Policy Studies

“From a March 4 post on Twitter by Michael F. Cannon, Director of Health Care Policy Studies at the Cato Institute”

Source: Media Matters (Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are good!)
The Cato Institute is a “libertarian” think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Institute’s stated mission is “to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and peace” by striving “to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, lay public in questions of (public) policy and the proper role of government.

Source: Wikipedia

The President’s Call to Arms: Make Your Voices Heard

For those of you who missed it, this is President Obama’s clearest statement of intent and determination about finally getting healthcare reform done, and the first time since this long, arduous process began, when Mr. Obama first voiced three broad requirements for reform, that he drew an unmistakable line in the sand. Healthcare reform is going forward, with or without Republican support.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A relieved Congressman Anthony Weiner echoed what progressives felt saying he wished President Obama had made this statement six or eight months ago: “Everything there is to say about healthcare has been said,” acknowledged the President. Finally.

Zeigeist or not, President Obama –- yes, finally -- affirmed what we’ve been urging him to for months:

It’s about what kind of country we want to be.

Let’s get it done.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Under the Belly of the Beast, Would You Believe . . . Scooby Doo?

The top-secret RNC (Republican National Committee) fundraising strategy targeting the Democratic Party came to light in a 72-page PowerPoint presentation document obtained by POLITICO from an enterprising Democrat who snatched an extra copy left behind at the luxury $2,500-a-head GOP donor retreat after the presentation had concluded.

Among the highlights, if you can believe it, are:
  • The Democratic Party as Ronnie Reagan’s recycled “Evil Empire” moniker for the Communist Soviet Union, in turn borrowed by Reagan from the movies (Star Wars);
  • The RNC’s bizarre co-opting of the stupid, racist, and offensive Teabagger graphic depicting the President of the United States as the “Joker” from Batman;
  • Silly, infantile cartoons of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as animated children’s characters “Cruella De Ville” and “Scooby Doo” (?!); and
  • Lookalike Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged front cover graphic of a wannabe John Galt (Paul Ryan?) holding up the globe weighed down by socialists everywhere, under your bed, in Hollywood, NYC, SF, rising from Joe McCarthy’s grave, hiding in the Cheneys’ basement, etc., with the ominous warning: “Save the country from trending toward Socialism!”
But that’s not the worst of it. Wait until you read what the RNC thinks OF ITS OWN VOTER BASE! Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean was rendered “speechless” by how “contemptuous” this Republican Party is toward the very people they work for –- “you can’t talk about your own team like this” -- and “astonished” by how they “turned the firehose on their own people,” their “Direct Marketing” donors, a.k.a. the Tea Party people:
  • First, push those “Visceral Giving” buttons! Appeal to FEAR and “Extreme negative feelings toward existing Administration” –- YESYESYES! FEAR! FEAR!! FEAR!!! The GOP’s tried-and-true political strategy to drive our country into the GUTTER from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove: push that FEAR button in those REACTIONARY morons driven by “issue/circumstantially oriented” attitudes, meaning they’re REBELS WITHOUT A CLUE who REACT to fearful circumstances in their lives rather than objective facts and reasoned arguments!
(I couldn’t have said it better myself . . . ) That’s right, Teabaggers: Be afraid, be very afraid of President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, because the RNC is targeting your wallets with FEAR, FEAR, FEAR, FEAR!!!!
  • Second, schmooze the “Major Donors” ($30,000 and up) with lots of “Personal” attention and “EGO DRIVEN” appeals!
Yikes . . . Talk about a party self-destructing using obsolete PowerPoint technology. The presentation, delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart, was prepared by the party’s finance staff. POLITICO reports that “the RNC reacted with alarm to a question about it Wednesday, emailing major donors to warn them of a reporter’s question, and distancing Steele from its contents.” Incidentally, there was not a single idea in any part of that 72-page document.

Here are some of those HILARIOUS RNC OFFICIAL documents, boys and girls:

Even Republican Lite “Morning Joe” calls this “shameful” and says whoever is responsible “should be fired.”

Palin Posse “Like Locusts” Goes Hollywood Hillbillies

Following her Tonight Show appearance, Sarah Palin and her posse descended on Silver Spoon’s Oscar gifting Suite, benefiting the Red Cross. Despite reports that Palin planned to donate $1,750 to the Red Cross, E! Online says, “too fab she gave money, but we can assure you she did not give up any of her swag” as the Palin posse swarmed the freebies “like locusts.”


According to E! Online: “We're told Palin was quite the prima donna and that she insisted the suite be opened two hours early so she could come when no looky-loos would be around.” One “annoyed source” said they were told to get there “super-early” for the Palins, “then, she wouldn't let anyone take her picture or do any interviews.”


Explains E! Online: “For those of you who think that's a standard request—uh, it's not, especially when you're getting thousands of dollars worth of free goods. Some of the products Palin picked up included Bloom facial products, which she told the vendor she needed for her under-eye area.”

The free loot valued in the thousands included United Hair Care products, jewelry from Pascal Mouawad, watches from Skagen and product from Lash Food. They also received a “blow-out” by colorist Erick Orellana from the Chris McMillan Salon.

One vendor at the suite described the Palins and the “large group of hangers-on” in Sarah’s posse: “They were like locusts. She showed up with like 20 people, and they immediately swarmed the place taking everything!”


Sister Sarah might have to buy a bigger trailer to fit all her free loot from the lower 48.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

SNL Presidents Reunion Appear to Obama in a Dream

The SNL actors who played every president since Jerry Ford -- Will Ferrell, Fred Armisen, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond -- plus Jim Carrey doing Reagan team up to urge passage of a consumer financial protection agency. Funny stuff:

Plus a hilarious Dana Carvey "Bush 41" outtake:

Healthcare Toon Time

Clueless teabaggers cannot decide what they’re for:

. . . while timorous Senate Dems run from the mousy elephant in the room.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Putting Reconciliation in Context

Ezra Klein, the wiz wonk from the Washington Post/Newsweek, made an important point about the process being contemplated through reconciliation for the House and Senate healthcare bills, which he termed “micro-reconciliation.” That is, essentially reconciling both bills by making minor tweaks, as suggested by the President, contained in the 11 pages posted by the White House.

That is exactly what the reconciliation process is intended to in this instance: to reconcile the two bills passed in the House and Senate without drafting an entire new bill. The Senate bill has already passed with a 60-vote supermajority, and the House needs to pass it with 216 votes. According to Sara Rosenbaum, chair of the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University, “the way in which virtually all of health reform, with very, very limited exceptions, has happened over the past 30 years has been the reconciliation process.”

A History Of Reconciliation -- from an NPR (National Public Radio) report:

For 30 years, major changes to health care laws have passed via the budget reconciliation process. Here are a few examples:

1982 — TEFRA: The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act first opened Medicare to HMOs

1986 — COBRA: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allowed people who were laid off to keep their health coverage, and stopped hospitals from dumping ER patients unable to pay for their care

1987 — OBRA '87: Added nursing home protection rules to Medicare and Medicaid, created no-fault vaccine injury compensation program

1989 — OBRA '89: Overhauled doctor payment system for Medicare, created new federal agency on research and quality of care

1990 — OBRA '90: Added cancer screenings to Medicare, required providers to notify patients about advance directives and living wills, expanded Medicaid to all kids living below poverty level, required drug companies to provide discounts to Medicaid

1993 — OBRA '93: created federal vaccine funding for all children

1996 — Welfare Reform: Separated Medicaid from welfare

1997 — BBA: The Balanced Budget Act created the state-federal childrens' health program called CHIP

2005 — DRA: The Deficit Reduction Act reduced Medicaid spending, allowed parents of disabled children to buy into Medicaid
Of course, Fox viewers wouldn’t have an earthly clue about this. After all, NPR is to Fox “News” what the New York Times is to National Enquirer. Which is why Fox viewers are generally referred to in polling parlance as “low-information voters.”

So when Senator Lamar Alexander stated that reconciliation would be a “political Kamikaze mission” for the Democrats, his rapturous apocalyptic warning rings hollow indeed. Particularly, considering that Senator Lamar “the hypocrite” Alexander has himself voted for reconciliation four times on Republican agenda items. Next, the Republicans mischaracterize reconciliation (see above) as a “nuclear option” (yeah, right) to “ram/or jam through” healthcare reform that has been debated for the past 13 months and passed with a supermajority in the Senate and a sizable majority in the House.

Enough is enough. It is time for Republicans to step aside, stop obstructing the will of the majority, and allow an up-or-down vote on healthcare reform. As for Senator Alexander, he doth protest too much. If the Republicans really believe passing this bill is the equivalent of a “political Kamikaze mission” for Democrats, why are they being so nice as to counsel their opponents against it? Knowing the Republican MO, if they really really believe this “political Kamikaze” crap, they would be encouraging the Democrats.

Here’s a shovel, Lamar, and it’s not to shovel snow.

Quotable: Jim Bunning

Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, flips the bird to a Democratic colleague, and throws 400,000 unemployed Americans and seniors dependent on Medicare under the bus:
Senator Bunning is filibustering a bill extending unemployment and COBRA benefits as well as Medicare payments for doctors, which the AMA said would result in a “meltdown” for seniors in urgent need of medical care, as well as furloughs for highway workers with a halt in funding. Just so that he can make a point about deficit spending on the backs of the most needy. This hypocrite did not block any of the deficit-exploding measures passed by the Bush regime, such as tax cuts for the rich, Medicare prescription drugs sweetheart deals for corporations, and off-budget war funding. In fact, Bunning voted for all of them.

As the great Brazilian band, Legião Urbana (Urban Legion) defiantly asked: What country is this!?


Memo to the White House: Dump the DINOs or Pay the Price in November

Progressives are pushing back against the DINOs (Democrats in name only) in the Democratic Party along with the White house’s stubborn support for them. Yes, it’s a good thing that the White House is finally getting off the dime and moving toward passage of desperately needed healthcare reforms without the obstructionist Republicans.

But President Obama’s posture continues to baffle. His Republican healthcare chum, Olympia Snowe, told him to take a hike, refusing to attend the White House healthcare summit. During all this time wasted courting Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, Mike Enzi and the DINOs, the President could have used his clout to twist some Democratic arms into accepting the public option, or at least negotiate better concessions. Instead, the President came away with precisely the wrong message, that the public option is some sort of ideological cause célebre for progressives rather than good public policy that stands to reduce the deficit even further.

Water under the bridge. The time for reckoning has come.

Among the DINOs, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas was boldly intransigent in blocking the public option despite repeated polls in her state that gave the public option solid majorities. Now progressives, the netroots -- derided by Chris Matthews who used his program Hardball as a platform to bash the public option -- have launched a dump Lincoln/draft Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter drive, raising substatial funds for Halter's campaign even before he made his challenge. The netroots message to candidates contemplating a challenge to DINOs was support healthcare reform and the public option and the netroots will have your back. Lt. Governor Halter has officially tossed his hat into the ring. Did the netroots have a role in nudging Halter? Hard to say, but the money’s real. Certainly Matthews’s obstreperous outbursts and techy asides are fundraising boosters.

Matthews’s delusional argument is that the netroots are now trying to defeat “centrist” Democrats like Lincoln. Wrong, Chris! First, corporatist is not centrist. Second, the public option is good public policy; it is neither left nor right. His interrogation of Dr. Dean was not only transparent but utterly ridiculous. The so-called “weakness” in Dr. Dean’s position is not yet apparent, yet Chris continues to go over that waterfall and keeps coming back for more. Realistically, Matthews should do that promo drenched to the bone. It’s his show. So far the netroots have raised $400,000 for Halter’s campaign out of a 500K goal for the week. Thanks for your support, Chris; keep saying stupid things!

Here’s a new anti-Lincoln pro-Halter ad:

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Amazing Grace, Beer Belly Advantage, Hard-Drinkin’ Cigar-Smokin’ Gals, and Russia vs. Naperville

Well, the latest four-year lollapalooza known as the Winter Olympics has come to a close with a grand finale: USA v. Canada in Olympic hockey. For our Canadian hosts, there was one bit of unfinished business in an otherwise successful Games: The men must match the women’s hockey team and beat the Yanks, as a matter of national (and gender) pride. As Bush 43 said, “Fool me once, shame on . . . We won’t get fooled again!” I mean, the women laid down a cigar-puffing, champagne-guzzling gauntlet on center ice, but the men's celebration was deservedly more exuberant.

Great game: 3-2 Canada in overtime! Well done, lads:

And how about the USA 1 four-man bobsled team! Piloted by stocky and cocky Steve Holcomb, the U.S. team tamed the world’s fastest and most dangerous track to break a 62-year Olympic gold medal drought in the sport. Holcomb’s strong but non-athletic shape, with a respectable beer belly has given every couch potato, near-sighted, beer-guzzling “athlete” hope that one day he, too, can become an Olympic champion, provided:
  • It’s a downhill sport all-the-way!
  • Gravity, manual dexterity (not unlike reaching for a beer bottle), and
  • The aerodynamics of your couch-like cockpit, determine how fast you plunge downhill, while
  • You ride sitting in a crouch (not unlike reaching with outstretched arm for a chip on the coffee table) from start to finish.
Holcomb’s deteriorating tunnel vision – the result of a degenerative eye disease – helped him learn to steer his sled downhill at breakneck speed. So much so that after Steve recovered 20-20 vision with an experimental procedure, he said he still likes to attack the 50-50 curve (named by Holcomb because 1 of 2 teams wiped out there in the World Cup) with a slightly scuffed visor that reminds him of his impaired vision.

Like a great thoroughbred, Apolo Anton Ohno proved that it’s not only speed that wins races, but class above all. And like every great thoroughbred he has a best distance.

Sean White is head and shoulders above anyone else in the art of half-pipe snowboarding. Maybe he makes the sport so mainstream that those silly baggy pants won’t be so cool.

Naperville’s own, Evan Lysacek won the Olympic men’s skating gold fair and square. The defending world champion skated a clean program that was rich in every element, not just the jumps. Russia’s great champion, Evgeny Plushenko, came up short in his comeback. His program wasn’t as good or as clean as Evan’s. Simple as that. Get over it, Putin, and don’t be such a sore loser, Evgeny. There’s no such thing as a platinum medal.

Great as the hockey game was, the lasting memory of these Games for me was Canadian Joannie Rochette skating through her grief, days after her mother’s sudden death from a heart attack, to win a bronze medal. The medal was de minimus. Joannie Rochette’s memorable performance exemplified the best of the Olympic spirit: Amazing grace.

The Games are grrrrrreat, eh!