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Monday, August 31, 2009

Texas please just go -

The sooner the better! To bad time travel ain't possible - yesterday would be lots better than today.

Take your stupidity and racism and just go -

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Even the New Republic is pissed!

Wow! Glory Glory Hallelujah!!! Even the New Republic is pissed with the Blue Dogs and Corporate Democrats and their attempts to destroy Health Care reform.

The magazine I usually refer to as The New Republican has for years been the supporter of the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Finally they have started to see the light. Last Thursday Glenn Greenwald showed the beginning of the New Republic's rehabilitation from a corporate flack to what it historically was - the spokesmag of the Left. However there is much work yet to be done. I leave it to Greenwald to explain where the New Republic's thinking still stinks:
While it's lovely that The New Republic has now joined that movement and decided that corporate-owned "centrists" need to be purged from the Party, Chait is laboring under complete blindness about the reasons these problems have arisen. Chait accuses me, Dan Froomkin and "liberals" generally of "confusion" because we believe that the Obama White House bears some of the blame in the dominance of corporate interests generally and in the health care battle specifically. Chait echoes the facially absurd excuse of the most hardened Obama loyalists everywhere: namely, that Obama, Rahm Emanuel and friends are just helpless, impotent observers who wield no influence over the health care debate and can do nothing but sit back and hope and pray that the Senate will pass a good, progressive health care reform bill free of excessive servitude to the health care and drug industries. If the Congress refuses to, well that's obviously not Obama's fault -- a President isn't in the Congress and can't really influence what it does, so this excuse-making goes.

For the moment, leave aside all the evidence to the contrary: that, as Chait's colleague Jonathan Cohn detailed, the Obama White House secretly entered into a deal with the drug industry not to negotiate for lower prices; that Obama has repeatedly sought to empower the Baucus-dominated Senate Finance Committee at the expense of more progressive committees; that the White House aggressively threatens, berates, and cajoles House progressives who impede the President's agenda but hasn't done anything against Blue Dogs; that the strategy of the White House from the start has been to ensure that the health care and drug industries are pleased so that they continue to use their ample largesse to fund the Democrats rather than get behind a GOP takeover in 2010; and that Emanuel built his career and power base by controlling the Congress through the expansion of the Blue Dogs and other "centrist" and "conservative" members and by pleasing corporate donors, thus rendering the image of him as a helpless, passive bystander in the health care debate transparent fiction. Even Dick Durbin -- the Senate's number two Democrat -- acknowledges that, even with a huge Democratic majority, the banking industry "frankly owns" the Congress.

More important than all of that is the fact that there is one principal reason that Blue Dogs and "centrists" exert such dominance within the Party: because the Party leadership, led by the Obama White House, wants it that way and works hard to ensure it continues. While Chait seems to envision himself as the pioneering inventor of the primary challenge strategy (something he first articulated six weeks ago), Accountability Now has actually been working continuously for the last year on recruiting credible primary challengers and building an infrastructure to support those challenges -- all in order to unseat the unresponsive, corrupt and corporate-owned incumbents who ensure that the same factions control government no matter which party is in control. But the principal barrier to those efforts has been the accurate perception that the White House and President -- along with key party institutions such as the DCCC -- will use their vast resources to keep Blue Dogs and "centrists" in office and crush any efforts from within the party to unseat them.

It's hard to overstate how many promising potential primary challengers with whom we've spoken -- highly energized and impressive members of City Councils or County Commissions or state legislatures or just private citizens -- who are eager to run against their corporate-owned Democratic Congressional incumbent but are deterred by one primary fear: that Obama and the Party infrastructure will undercut their efforts by actively supporting the Blue Dog incumbent. That fear is particularly pronounced for potential African-American challengers in districts where the corporate-serving "centrist" incumbent is wildly out of step with the interests and views of the typical (and sometimes overwhelmingly African-American) Democratic voter. Such potential challengers anticipate that Obama will intervene on behalf of the Blue Dog against the progressive challenger -- as he's done before -- and sabotage not only their primary challenge but perhaps their future viability as a candidate in their community and district.

That's what makes Chait's insistence that the Obama White House is just an innocent, impotent bystander in all of this so painfully naive and wrong (Obama says he wants a public option, so doesn't that settle it?, asks Chait, vacantly batting his eyes with child-like trust and innocence). When the White House genuinely wants a bill to pass -- rather than paying irrelevant lip service to it -- they know how to apply pressure on the defiant members of Congress
The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won't get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday.

"We're not going to help you. You'll never hear from us again," Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.
Rahm Emanuel, Tom Delay, and the Bush/Cheney White House have left no doubt that where there's a will to influence the actions of Senators and House members in one's own party, there's a way. But the Obama White House has done nothing in the way of attempting to change the behavior of the supposedly obstructionist Blue Dogs and centrists whom Obama-defenders are eager to blame for the health care standstill. In fact, they've done the opposite: Emanuel has repeatedly leapt to their defense and attacked progressives who sought to influence or otherwise put pressure on them to change behavior. White House threats that "you'll never hear from us again" are issued to defiant progressives only. Not only are such threats never issued to "centrists" and Blue Dogs who are supposedly impeding the President's health care agenda, but the White House does everything it can to protect those ostensible obstructionists and further entrench them in power. Isn't all of this fairly strong evidence that the White House knew, accepted and likely even desired from the start that -- despite the President's public assurances to progressives -- the "public option," understandably despised by the insurance industry, would be dropped from bill?

Nobody suggests that the President could easily or single-handedly change the behavior of Kent Conrad or Mike Ross. But there are certainly things -- effective things -- he could do to try, including making it more difficult for those politicians to stay in office, exactly as they threaten to do with defiant progressives. But they don't do that. They do the opposite. The reason that Blue Dogs and "centrists" exert such control in the Democratic Party and are able to ensure the Party remains beholden to corporate interests is because that's how Party leaders want it. That's how the Democratic Party has been built and it's how they continue to maintain their power.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Baucus speaks to Montana!

From the Montana blog Montana Maven's Opinions Worth Ropin' it looks like the nice folks of Montana have finally put some heat under Senator Baucus - good for them!
This is the press release from the Coalition of Montana Democratic Central Committees:


U.S. Senator Max Baucus has finally broken his silence regarding his personal position on including a public option in health care reform legislation. Last Monday night (8/17), in an unprecedented conference call to Montana Democratic central committee chairs, the powerful leader of the Senate Finance Committee told his strongest supporters that he supported a public option. While discussing the obstacles to getting a public option through the Senate, he assured his forty listeners, "I want a public option too!" The conference call was groundbreaking in that none of the recipients could ever remember this kind of call ever happening before. The teleconference was set up seemingly in reaction to rising discontent among the local Democratic leaders with the Senator's failure to take a clear position on the issue. The discussion, which became contentious and rancorous at times, also touched upon the wisdom of creating insurance cooperatives as an alternative to a public option.

When several of the county chairs objected, commenting that they did not trust the health insurance companies to police themselves and limit their outrageous corporate profits, Baucus commented, "Neither do I."

In the aftermath of the teleconference, a coalition of eighteen Montana counties in the Senator's home state decided to move forward with their plan to issue a Unified Statement accompanied by a joint press release. The statement sends a loud and clear message to their Senator: Any health care reform package coming out of his Senate Finance Committee must contain, at a minimum, a provision for a strong public option. The action is a show of unity not previously seen in Montana political history. The statement asserts, "Here in Montana, the need for real health care reform could not be greater. Families, small business, and small ranches and farms are suffering and being crushed by the rising cost of health care. Thousands of Montanans are uninsured, and many more are losing their homes, businesses and ranches due to exorbitant medical bills."

Calling themselves the Coalition of the United Montana Democratic Central Committees, the group's statement announces it has "established a position in support of a strong public option as an essential element in health care reform." In specifying the necessary components needed for such a public option, they list:

• National Coverage
• Availability to all Americans
• Portability, which includes maintaining coverage even if one loses his or her job
• No exclusions for preexisting conditions, denial of coverage if one gets ill, or develops catastrophic costs
• Publicly run and administered with full transparency and accountability to congress
• No triggers

Christina Quijano, a Billings physician, is Chair of the Carbon County Democratic Central Committee. Carbon County is located in south-central Montana not far from Yellowstone National Park. Speaking for the Coalition, she pointed out, "For this number of counties from all across Montana to join together sends a strong signal to our representatives in Washington that their constituents here in Big Sky Country are unified and stand firm in their insistence that a public option be included in any health care reform bill." Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont) has said he would not vote against a public option, while Montana’s sole US representative, Denny Rehberg (R-Mont) remains opposed to such a measure. Max Baucus, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has emerged as a key player in the ongoing health care reform deliberations and, until now, has remained quiet about his personal view. In the final portion of the Coalition's Unified Statement, Quijano emphasizes Senator Baucus’ significant role in this piece of legislation: "We are counting on Senator Baucus to use his influence and leadership to create the most meaningful legacy of our times, real health care reform. 'Max, Montana's Senator', please don't let Montana down!"

Is Bingaman Obama's man in the Gang of Six?

One other statement came out of the last 3rd Thursday Meeting - this time if was from Bingaman's representative at the meeting. During his defense of Bingaman's involvement with the Gang he justified this treachery by informing us that Senator Bingaman was Obama's man in the Gang of Six. I assume he thought it might calm the crowd - trust me it didn't.

Wonder if Obama knows this?

Baucus must go -

Please go to Credo Action and sign the petition to tell Senate Dems to get rid of Max Baucus - the Insurance Industry's best friend in the Senate.

Another meaningless Heath Haussamen poll

Up today at his Republican leaning blog is another of Heath H's unscientific polls. This one's title is "In the health-care reform debate, which of these ideas do you support?".

Please have at it!

    In the health-care reform debate, which of these ideas do you support?
    A public option
    Non-profit co-ops
    I don’t know
    Free polls from

Friday, August 21, 2009

A "Tell" from Heinrich's chief of staff

From Wikipedia:
A tell in poker is a subtle but detectable change in a player's behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player's assessment of his hand.
Outside of poker a "Tell" is an inadvertent release of information while discussing an issue.

In this case the Tell occurred during last night's Third Thursday meeting. The topic was of course health care. There were representatives from Heinrich, Bingaman and Udall. Steve Haro, Martin Heinrich's chief of staff, was probably the most talkative of the three and the source of the Tell.

During an exchange where he was asked if Martin would join the 60 other members of the House that had signed a pledge promising not to vote for a Health Care Reform bill without a strong public option he challenged the fact that such a list existed and then came the "Tell" when he said that if such a list existed Health Care reform was already dead.

Tells are always tied to a hidden piece of information - in this case the inference is clear - the public option won't be part of the bill and if there are indeed 60 members of the House that won't vote for it without a public option the bill is dead.

We can only hope that this is true - what Baucus & Associates (the Gang of 6 including our very own Jeff Bingaman) are crafting will no doubt be worse than the present situation. Better to do nothing than enact a bill written by and for the health care industry.

There was one amusing aside - Haro thanked us for his job. Sad to say it but the way things are going he needs to enjoy it now because he won't have it for long.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ruh! Roh! There goes Whole Foods!

Wow, via JUSIPER and then OpenLeft looks like the CEO and founder of Whole Foods, a.k.a. Whole Paycheck, stuck his foot is some of Scooby Doo's doodoo when he published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal blasting the whole ideal of Health Care Reform. Seems all we have to do is free Mr Market from its shackles, let Insurance Companies do anything they want and everything will be hunky dory over night. Sini at JUSIPER feels a boycott of Whole Foods in in order. Fine with me, I can do without listening to announcements like "Phone call for Natural Living" over their PA system, but I will miss their bakery - its the only decent one in town.

Bingaman has turned his back on New Mexicans

For several weeks now I and others have become increasingly upset with Senator Jeff Bingaman and his work with the Gang of Six to torpedo health care reform. This felling only grew after his interview with the Albuquerque Journal last Saturday.

For whatever reason Jeff Bingaman has decided to "negoiate" with 2 fellow Democrats (M. Baucus & K. Conrad) and 3 Republicans (C. Grassley, O. Snowe & M. Enzi) to come up with a "bipartisan" bill to shove down out throats. The leaders of this special gang of 6 are Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley. They are both notable for how much money they have received in political contributions form the Health Care Industry and how strongly they oppose the "Public Option". Just to get the numbers straight:
- Senator Max Baucus Senate Finance Committee chairman and recipient of "$3 million from the health and insurance sectors from 2003 to 2008" (about 20% of the total donations from that sector)

- Senator Chuck Grassley - he's gotten about $2,000,000 from the same folks since 2003

Those are indeed large numbers. Certainly they are both bought and paid for representatives of the Health Care Industry. But, as they say, it only gets better! Now it turns out that not only is Jeff Bingaman sitting at a table with Health Care Industry flacks but also a "Deather" and that's no other than Senator Chuck Grassley, his partner in these "bipartisan" negotiations. From the Iowa Independent
“In the House bill, there is counseling for end of life,” Grassley said. “You have every right to fear. You shouldn’t have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. Should not have a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.”
That should end the charade of Grassley's bipartisan concern for Health Care. Grassley got up and lied in front of a group of folks in Iowa and knew it when he did so. How can anyone take his "bipartisan" concerns seriously now?

Its time for New Mexico's senior Senator to stand up and condemn Grassley for his lies and Baucus for his corruption and end the charade that this little gang of 6 has any bipartisan concern for Health Care Reform at all. Jeff - as my dearly departed granny used to say "birds of a feather do flock together!"

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Birther nonsense

This simply can't be seen enough! Bill Maher deals with the birther nonsense.