More thumbs up

Roger Ebert takes on that 911-fee I mentioned a few days ago and goes much further, reflecting on the state of the United States that we find ourselves in today. I feel compelled to label Ebert’s journal as a must-read once again.

Roger Ebert: The gathering storm / 2.24.10

Partisan political blogging

I have been trying to curb bluntly partisan posts, but I am compelled to react to this new poll of 2000 self-identified Republicans. The poll was commissioned by left-wing site DailyKos, but it’s a scientifically valid survey with statistically significant results.

It’s nearly impossible to imagine that President Obama will ever get any cooperation from a party that must answer to the constituents described by these poll results. Years ago, I thought of the two parties as having distinct ideologies, where I definitely had a strong preference for one party over the other. I may have had a strong dislike for the other party, but I’d occasional remember that, deep-down, most in the other party were well-intentioned and cared about the well-being of the country. In 2010, I’m afraid a majority of that party, the GOP, is just bat-shit crazy. If Obama continues to seek bipartisanship, I’m afraid his presidency is doomed. And the next decade or two or ten are doomed. Ironically, this is the same opinion that most Republicans have, but based on the premise that Obama might get something done.

The poll results

Highlights:

Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?

Yes 39
No 32
Not Sure 29

Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?

Yes 63
No 21
Not Sure 16

Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?

Yes 53
No 14
Not Sure 33

Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?

Yes 8
No 73
Not Sure 19

Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?

Yes 77
No 15
Not Sure 8

The Atlantic‘s Andrew Sullivan hopes for bipartisanship:

I do not believe that, given the fiscal and healthcare crisis we are in, that we should simply surrender to the basest impulses of partisanship. And I believe that was the core message of the Obama candidacy. And if this opportunity is simply thrown away, the bitterness will deepen, the polarization will widen, the public cynicism will explode and the country will truly pass the point of no return on its core and pressing problems.

Meanwhile, the President has submitted his 2011 budget, which Noble-winner Paul Krugman finds “depressing” and is indicative of “how sick our political system is”.

What we’re witnessing is an awesome national failure.

Why do I follow politics? There’s never any good news.*

* End of DADT is a good thing. It’s a stupid, offense policy.

UPDATE Apprently, pesky Al Qaeda is going to be attacking us on our own soil soon. Heard that one before, but not in a long, long time. Just terrific. Obama will be blamed if anything happens. Then we can really abandon all hope.

59-41 (cont’d)

I forgot. Before Al Franken was seated, which wasn’t until JULY, the Democrats only had 59 votes. Before Arlen Specter switched parties back in April, the Democrats only had 58 votes. Do you mean to tell me that they had no plan to pass meaningful health reform back when they ONLY had a 16-seat edge in the Senate?

What the hell?

And as for the liberal House members who now say they will refuse to rubber-stamp the Senate bill…good for them. Last night, I felt like the Dems ought to salvage something, like a healthcare reform bill. Right now, I feel like the progressives need to salvage their principles, and that means rejecting a bill that fattens the pockets of the insurance companies and does not bring down costs. Or just pass the friggin bill. I don’t friggin know…

59-41

Five years ago, it would seem like a great premonition to imagine that the Democrats are going to have 59 votes in the Senate, a huge majority in the House, and the Presidency. But suddenly, with the Massachusetts Senate disaster, it’s said that Obama’s agenda is shot and Democrats won’t get anything done. They have an 18-vote advantage in the Senate, and it’s the worst thing ever. It’s as if they’ve always counted on Joe Lieberman’s vote, and they’ve assumed that nonagenarian Robert Byrd would make every vote. It’s hard to believe anyone ever thought that Dems would push through healthcare reform with 60 votes.

Last decade, I remember Bush had 50 votes, and he’d get stuff rammed through.

This Massachusetts Senate debacle, and the tenuous state of healthcare reform are yet more reasons I don’t know why I bother following politics. I constantly stressed out about politics. There is so much disappointment in following politics, so little reward. But I can’t help following politics; I really wish I could.

That’s the end of my rant. I have nothing intelligent to say. I’ve got to turn off MSNBC.

Oh…the House better go ahead and pass the Senate’s crappy bill. At least it’s something. Yes, a few months ago, it sounded spineless to advocate that Obama just “sign something,” but the Dems screwed this all up, and they’ve got to salvage something.

Franken pwns Lieberman

I believe this is my first-ever use of the term pwn. Younger folk speak up if I am using it improperly.

Healthcare Debate Roundup

Alright. I’m not in the mindset to write about this healthcare debate that’s turning into a debacle. I’ll leave it to two of my favorite political figures, Howard Dean and Al Franken.

This bill is no longer reform.
- Howard Dean (link to video)

We’re entitled to our own opinions. We’re not entitled to our own facts.
- Al Franken (link to video)

More crazy from Foxx


I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that [health care] bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country. — Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) (video here)

I posted back in July about Foxx having said, “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare. Everybody in this country has access to healthcare”.

Previously, this North Carolina GOP caricature said that the notion that Matthew Shepherd’s murder had been a hate crime was a hoax.

Baucus Plan Crapitude, Take III

PREFACE I was going to write a well-thought-out, sourced piece about healthcare, but I’ve gotten lazy, so it’s just a bunch of related and unrelated points running together. Sometimes I will just keep such posts in eternal draft mode. But since I don’t generally have solid idea pieces on anything, there’s no reason I must start now. Besides, I really like using the Jim Backus image.

The Baucus-led, conservative-leaning Senate Finance Committee voted down two public option amendments today. I wish there would be more headlines about the other bills out of Congress that do have a public option. The great hope now would be that a strong public option winds up in whatever comes from the merger of the Finance bill and the HELP (Health Education Labor Pensions) bill or that it winds up in a ultimate reconciliation between a House bill and a Senate bill. But that so many Democratic senators are reluctant to embrace the public option is very disappointing. Two years ago, we’d always hear from Dem leaders, “But we don’t have 60 votes!” Now, they’ve got 60 votes in the Senate, and it feels as if it doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, I find Obama’s lack of forcefulness to be mystifying. He’ll tell an audience that he supports a strong public option, but where is the pressure on Arkansas’s Blanche Lincoln and Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu? I feel like Mitch McConnell is right when he claims that Obama will sign anything that says “health care reform”. From everything I’ve read, co-ops, triggers, and even a weak public option plan, when it is not allowed reimbursement rates comparable to Medicare, are b.s. reform.

Meanwhile, where’s the outrage that a sitting member of the House of Representatives has called Obama “an enemy of all mankind?” Not only do the Democrats seem to put up with this type of behavior, but they (particularly the Senate Dems) seem to want to placate the GOP on health care reform, even where there are no votes to be had.

Obama has been in office for eight months now. I’m getting inpatient.

Baucus Plan Crapitude (Cont’d)

The Baucus bill is a gift to the insurance industry that fails to meet the most basic promise of health care reform: a guarantee that Americans will have good health care that they can afford. The Baucus bill would give a government-subsidized monopoly to the private insurance industry to sell their most profitable plans – high-deductible insurance – without having to face competition from a public health insurer.

Under the Baucus bill, employers would have no responsibility to help pay for their workers’ coverage and would be given incentives to have workers pay more for barebones insurance. Americans who don’t get health benefits through work would still not be able to get good, affordable coverage.

We urge Senators on the Finance Committee to replace the Baucus plan with legislation that will do what the Senate HELP Committee and three House committees have done: guarantee that Americans have good health insurance that they can afford with the choice of a strong national public health insurance option.
- Healthcare for America Now (HCAN) via Jackie Schechner

That’s a tad more articulate than what I tried to summarize yesterday.

By the way, I just caught a minute of one of our local newscasts, and it happened to be the whole minute they devoted to the Baucus plan, which they described as “a plan that’s supposed to bring Democrats and Republicans together”. (Who writes this crap?) There was a ten-second sound clip from Orrin Hatch (R) about it costing too much and then a five-second sound clip from Baucus all proud of himself for steering the debate. No comments from any of the many Democrats who flat out think the bill stinks like rotting roadkill. No wonder most Americans have absolutely no clue what’s going on in Washington and how policy will help or hurt them in actuality.

(And, yes, again, I know that’s a picture of Jim Backus and not Max Baucus. I just like the photo now as an icon for health reform).