Archive for December 29th, 2009

Tea partiers: GOP should demand full repeal of health reform

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

Avi Zenilman:

In an interview with me just now, Max Pappas, the Vice President for Public Policy of Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, said that if the bill passes, politicians should call for a full repeal.

“This has an unusual ability to be repealed, and the public is on that side.” he said. “The Republicans are going to have to prove that they are worthy of their votes.”

He emphasized that all the different parts of the bill fit together, and that Congress would need to try to repeal the whole thing.

Obviously, the final health care reform package has yet to pass, and you can’t repeal something that isn’t law, but final passage is a virtual certainty once House and Senate negotiators reach a final deal. As I wrote last week:

After the legislation is enacted, the question of whether the public believes Congress should pass health care reform becomes largely moot. At that point, the question becomes whether to repeal it, improve it, or leave it as is.

Although Republicans are dithering to some extent (witness Mitch McConnell), it’s impossible to imagine that they won’t end up in the “repeal it” camp. (If they don’t, they’ll be forced to admit some aspects of health care reform are actually good, which would enrage their base and undercut their message.)

Meanwhile, as Republicans line up to repeal health care reform, Democrats will be confronted with the same range of options: repeal it, improve it, or leave it as is.

Although it is certainly possible to take a principled (and progressive) position against the bill as doubling down on our failing system, it’s hard to imagine many Democrats supporting repeal. For most on the left, there are simply too many major accomplishments in the bill (expanding insurance coverage, regulations to restrain insurance company abuses) to throw the entire thing in the trash.

At the same time, even if the House-Senate conference goes as well as possible, very few progressives will be able to look themselves in a mirror and declare that this health care reform bill is “Mission Accomplished.” A huge step? Yes. The ultimate reform measure? No way.

Pitted against a GOP pledge to seek full repeal of health care reform, a Democratic message focused on strengthening and improving it is likely to be received quite well by voters. To deliver that message with credibility, however, Democrats must concede that health care reform will be an ongoing process. This bill creates a framework, but there are still finishing touches to be done and important additions (like the public option) to be made. Just as importantly, Democrats must deliver, developing — and committing themselves to — new proposals to improve reform.

As Paul Krugman has noted, the Massachusetts experience shows that most people favor the “mend it, don’t end it” approach. 59% of residents there support the state’s reform law and even more — 79% — want it to continue. Only 11% favored repeal.

Those numbers don’t mean people in Massachusetts are fully satisfied with health care reform, however. 43% say the state cannot afford the law unless it changes (just 40% say the state can afford it).

The bottom-line is that people in Massachusetts are not satisfied with the status quo, but they don’t want to go back in time. For them, the biggest issue is cost control and affordability, and the same experience is likely to be repeated in the nation at large.

Once reform passes, Republicans will find themselves looking backwards, arguing for repealing the new health care reform law. That isn’t a good position to be in. On the Democratic side, passing the law and declaring it the ultimate and final step in health care from would be equally untenable. But if Democrats credibly make the case that they not only have passed health care reform — extending coverage to 94% of residents and protecting Americans from insurance company abuses — but also have plans to improve it and make it even better, they very well may end up proving the political consensus — that health care reform is a political disaster — upside down.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

Late afternoon/early evening open thread

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

What you missed on Sunday Kos ….

  • In More detail on what’s next for health insurance reform, David Waldman walked readers through the complicated process ahead in merging the two versions of the health care bills, and outlined the easy way and the hard way to go to conference in the Senate. Another must-bookmark reference post to have on hand when legislators begin to get down to business next year.
  • In Crossing the Aisle, Steve Singiser reflected on the history of party-switching in light of Parker Griffith’s jump to the GOP last week, and pointed out how Griffth’s defection is not in line with precedent in previous cases of changing teams.
  • In Exits, 2009, Devilstower bid farewell to those who died in the past year, from actors and sports stars to novelists and porn stars, in a masterful wrap-up that could serve as a primer to current pop and historical culture.
  • In Blast from the Past. Gene Hasenfus: December 1986, Meteor Blades took readers on a journey back through the twists and turns of CIA plots and Reagan administration involvement in Central America, with a focus on the one man who told the truth and paid the price.
  • In Germs, Viruses, and Secrets: How The Obama Administration is Addressing Biological Threats, Plutonium Page discussed the legacy of the biological weapons programs that were active in the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War — and what those programs mean to the world today.
  • In Romance Reader, Unashamed, Laura Clawson confessed to being a fan of the romance genre, and went about knocking down stereotypes about both the readers and the content of the novels.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , , ,

Dick Cheney, Patron Of The Arts

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

How many times have we seen Dick Cheney’s mug plastered across our TV screens over the past 12 months, spewing garbage about the Obama administration putting the lives of the American people at risk?

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an “art therapy rehabilitation program” and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.

Somehow this brings to mind what Cheney had to say just weeks after President Obama took office:

When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry.

So, how’s that protecting America one still life painting class at a time working out, eh, Dick?

Of course the question now is, will Cheney again be booked on every Fox News to peddle more criticism of President Obama, or will this little “oops” moment mean that Dick is slithering back to his undisclosed location?

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Top 5 Nat’l Security List Misses a Few

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

It’s that time of year for Five Best and Ten Worst lists. And whether it’s best and worst movies or best and worse politicians, everybody will find at least one choice on every list that s/he thinks should not have been there. Or should have been switched from the best to the worst category, and vice versa.

For instance, the once-neoconservative, still mostly conservative Foreign Policy magazine picked The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers and put Ben Bernanke in the No. 1 slot. Not my first choice by a country mile. But then, consider the source. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington presented its Top 10 Ethics Scandals. The SEC’s 16-year failure to stop Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was high on the list, which certainly it deserved to be. But not a word about how America’s wealthiest cheat the IRS out of billions of tax dollars every year.

John Nichols at The Nation came up with the 14 Most Valuable Progressives of 2009. These included: Most Valuable Federal Appointee – Elizabeth Warren; Most Valuable Local Official – JoAnn Watson; Most Valuable Grassroots Advocacy Group: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Most Valuable Agitator – Cleve Jones; and Most Valuable Union – California Nurses Association. Good choices. Too bad the country lost out on having No. 15 on that list be Van Jones.

Spencer Ackerman at the The Washington Independent came up with Top Five National Security Players of 2009, the guys “who did the most to craft America’s approach to keeping its citizens safe in 2009.”

General Stanley McChrystal captured the top slot. He was followed by Dennis McDonough chief of staff for the National Security Council, who “could be Obama’s single most influential foreign policy adviser.” No. 3 was Michael McFaul, National Security Council director for Russia. Then, there was Samantha Power, who directs multilateral and human rights affairs at the National Security Council, and is said to have had a great deal of input into President’s Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. And finally, at No. 5, was John Kerry who is viewed as having rejuvenated the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s prestige with “a yearlong series of probing, thorough and intellectually vigorous hearings on Afghanistan-Pakistan policy.”

No mention of General Dynamics, General Atomics, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman or Raytheon.


Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Top GOP Congressman to billionaire Ponzi schemer: "I love you"

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

Oh my:

Just hours after federal agents charged banker Allen Stanford with fleecing investors of $7 billion, the disgraced financier received a message from one of Congress’ most powerful members, Pete Sessions.

“I love you and believe in you,” said the e-mail sent on Feb. 17. “If you want my ear/voice — e-mail,” it said, signed “Pete.”

The message from the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee represents one of the many ties between members of Congress and the indicted banker that have caught the attention of federal agents.

According to the Miami Herald’s report, Stanford used his ties to Congress to establish himself as a respectable businessman and also to avoid the unwanted gaze of federal regulators.

In 2001, he pressed successfully to kill a bill that would have exposed the flow of millions into his secretive offshore bank in Antigua.

The next year, he helped block legislation that would have drawn more government scrutiny to his bank.

While he was fighting reforms to financial secrecy and offshore banking laws, Stanford was hobnobbing with dozens of lawmakers.

Stanford hosted New York Congressman John Sweeney’s wedding dinner at his five-star restaurant in Antigua in 2004 — toasting the couple for photographers — and staged a cocktail fundraiser for now-disgraced Ohio congressman Bob Ney at his bayfront Miami office.

“He legitimized himself by having himself vetted by powerful members of Congress,” said Steven Riger, a former vice president at Stanford’s Miami brokerage. “It was all about the public’s perception.”

How come even though Republicans are always talking about freedom, the one and only freedom they seem to be fighting for is the freedom for thieves like Allen Stanford to steal your money?

Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,

Pres. Obama statement on failed Christmas Day attack

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

President Obama took a short break from his Hawaii vacation to make the following statement on the failed Christmas Day attack on Northwest Flight 253:

President Obama said he had ordered a full investigation and that authorities will pursue all who were involved with the planned attack. President Obama also said he had ordered a full review of policies and procedures designed to thwart future attempts. President Obama also said that Americans would never give in to the “fear and division” the attackers hoped to sow.

Finally, on a separate note, President Obama condemned the Iranian government’s “iron first of brutality” used against its own people for exercising their “universal rights.” President Obama called for “the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran” and said he was “confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.”

Updated with transcript, below the fold.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , , ,

Midday Open Thread

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments
  • Former Democratic Representative Parker Griffith continues to get less than a warm welcome from his new party — this is from one of his Republican primary challengers, on Griffith’s past political donations:

    We definitely believe these contributions are fair game. Dean and Reid want to socialize medicine, attack American values, raise taxes and capitulate in the war on terror. When Parker Griffith wrote these liberals big campaign checks, he told everyone that they represent his values. He can do that if he likes, but I can tell you this: Reid and Dean do not represent the values of the people of this district.

  • When psycho love goes bad — from Orly Taitz’s partner-in-crime and former “law clerk’s” blog:

    By mid-October, when we were in New York together and Lucas Smith published his “declaration”, I had wrapped my life around Orly’s and I guess I honestly believed she had wrapped hers around mine and she said over and over again how much she was committed to me and how she never wanted us to separate. Three weeks later she had abandoned me, and yet some people have the nerve to call ME mentally unstable …

    Orly’s lack of judgment in the handling of our relationship exactly paralleled her lack of judgment in handling the constitutional eligibility litigation. She needed me and probably still needs me in every possible way, but I don’t have her husband’s money and so she chose to DUMP me, to DUMP real love, for the illusion of piles of federal reserve notes and other credits, and she goes on with her reckless rage and fire.

  • From Kaiser Family Foundation, calculate your premiums and government assistance under the House versus the Senate health care reform bills.
  • What’s going to George W. Bush’s Presidential library? What’s described as “still evolving” American history, with items like cowboy hats, a surfboard, a gun — or as the library registrar put it:

    I like to think of them as a good time capsule that reveals everything that is going on during his eight years in office.

  • Is it time to declare a war on weather?
  • According to a Pew Research survey, Mississippi is the most religious state in the country — which brings to mind Proverbs 16:18.
  • Holiday spending was up compared to last year:

    Retail sales rose 3.6 percent from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 3.2 percent drop in the year-ago period, according to figures from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which track all forms of payment, including cash.

  • Going to a 3-D movie and wondering what kind of glasses will give you the best 3-D experience? Depends who you ask.
  • R.I.P.:

    A museum official says Knut Magne Haugland, the last of six crew members who crossed the Pacific Ocean on board the balsa wood raft Kon-Tiki, has died. He was 92.

  • Despite the protests, the round-up of wild horses in Nevada has begun.
  • The White House has issued a statement on new construction projects in East Jerusalem:

    The United States opposes new Israeli construction in East Jerusalem. The status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved by the parties through negotiations and supported by the international community. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, and safeguards its status for people around the world.

  • Get. a. life.

Economic Outrage du Jour

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

Congress caves. Surprise! Not.

Three weeks ago the House of Representatives passed a far-reaching overhaul of financial practices, including a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers from abusive lending practices, establish new trading rules and deal with the threat of too big to fail. It was heralded in some quarters as the biggest reform since the New Deal.

That may well be so, but the legislation goes not nearly far enough. Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to regulating complex over-the-counter derivatives. I’ll bet you’re not wondering why. But you’re probably basing your view on mere suspicions about certain people being in the pocket of certain other people. The Wall Street Journal’s  Randal Smith and Sarah N. Lynch confirm it for you:

Lobbying by Wall Street has blunted efforts to step up regulation on derivatives trading by carving out exceptions or leaving the status quo in place.

Derivatives took blame for some of the worst debacles of the financial crisis. But a year after regulators and critics began calling for an overhaul in the way they are traded, some efforts have been shelved and others have been watered down. …

The two main issues concerning regulators were trading and clearing of swaps, which allow investors to bet on or hedge movements in currencies, interest rates and many other things. Swaps generally trade privately, leaving competitors and regulators in the dark about the scope of their risks. In November 2008, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee proposed forcing all derivatives trading onto exchanges, where their prices could be publicly disclosed and margin requirements imposed to insure that participants could make good on their market bets.

When the legislation emerged on relatively close vote from the House on Dec. 11, however, those requirements were diluted or gone altogether.

A lawyer for one big Wall Street dealer said in an interview that the rollback from the first proposals in Congress was the result of an “educational” process by dealers and customers that resulted in “a grudging recognition” that many uses of derivatives didn’t fit such a strict approach. At one point, House agriculture chairman Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) said he suspected dealers had dispatched their customers to lobby Capital [sic] Hill.

When the mark-up begins on the Cantwell-McCain bill that would restore the protections of the New Deal’s Glass-Steagall Act, you can expect – at the very least – dilution again to be the order of the day. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a marxist to know why. Senator Dick Durbin said it in April:

And the banks — hard to believe in a time when we’re facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created — are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.

Some give themselves fancier names than “bank.” But they still have us by the short hairs. And all it takes for them to maintain their grip is a little “educational” effort among the folks we’re told are elected to represent everybody’s interests.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , , ,

Remember, The Party of No Voted Against TSA Funding

December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

With the recent terrorist attempt to bring down a U.S. airliner, naturally the Republicans are doing everything they can to use the event for political gain — but let’s not forget:

Republicans have cast votes against the key TSA funding measure, the 2010 appropriation bill for the Department of Homeland Security contained, which included funding for the TSA, including for explosives detection systems and other aviation security measures. In the June 24 vote in the House, leading Republicans including John Boehner, Pete Hoekstra, Mike Pence and Paul Ryan voted against the bill, amid a procedural dispute over the appropriations process, a Democrat points out. A full 108 Republicans voted against the conference version, including Boehner, Boehner, Hoekstra, Pence, Michelle Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Darrell Issa, and Joe Wilson.

The conference bill included more than $4 billion for “screening operations,” including $1.1 billion in funding for explosives detection systems, including $778 million for buying and installing the systems.

Why does the Party of No hate America?

Categories: Politics Tags: ,


December 29th, 2009 admin No comments

Must be a bad case of selective amnesia amongst Republicans:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) yesterday on his infamous “Waterloo” comment:

I never wanted to break the President.

DeMint on July 17, 2009:

If we’re able to stop Obama on this [health care reform], it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.

Uh, hate to break it you Jim, but not only did you lie yesterday, you didn’t stop President Obama, and if it’s going to be anybody’s Waterloo, it’s going to be yours.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , ,