Friday Mashup (7/31/09)

July 31, 2009

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  • First of all, best wishes to Sen. Chris Dodd for a full recovery from upcoming prostate cancer surgery (here).
  • HS_03-homer_simpson_drunk

  • Also in a medical vein, the Bucks County Courier Times tells us the following from its “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” segment today…

    (Thumbs Up) to Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who’s lobbying City Council for a law that would require bars to report fights to 911. The proposal follows the beating death of a Lansdale man who was pummeled and kicked outside a sports bar at Citizens Bank Park.

    Oh sure – this is great. Pass a law obligating the police to call 911 and divert precious, comparatively scarce resources that could be used to save lives to break up tend to the victims of bar fights started by a bunch of drunks.

    You want a more constructive idea? Well then, as noted here by Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz…

    “Tele-nursing allows better prioritization of emergency responses,” said (Butkovitz). “Our fire commissioner says that 80 percent of the city’s 220,000 emergency calls each year should not be getting rescue squad response. With tele-nurses handling non-emergency 911 calls, those who have ‘drop-everything’ emergencies will have more rapid responses.”

    “It is possible that the use of tele-nurses could save the city as much as $2.5 million per year and save lives,” Butkovitz reported.

    Memo to the Courier-Times editorial board: stick to opining on matters “closer to home” in your typically provincial manner, since that seems to resonate better with your predominantly-right-wing audience.

  • George_Voinovich_0001

  • Also, I’m still waiting for the howls of outrage from our corporate media punditocracy over the recent comment from departing Repug Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio that the downfall of the Republican Party has occurred because, as noted here…

    “We got too many Jim DeMints and Tom Coburns,” Voinovich told the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s the southerners.”

    That is easily one of the most astute remarks I’ve heard from a politician of either major party affiliation in a loooong time.

    And yes, while it’s true that there are some random blog posts I found out there on the subject, I have yet to hear Messrs. Krauthammer, Kristol, Will, Cohen and their brethren weigh in (a few Google searches produced nothing).

    This is typical, though; as Media Matters notes here, it is much easier for the news organizations with initials for names to focus on real or alleged Democratic missteps than it is for the Repugs.

    Also, as long as we’re talking about the South, this post from kos tells us that they are primarily the individuals comprising the Obama “birthers” out there (the life forms who still agitate themselves over the fantasy that our president was not born in this country).

    I would give Voinovich credit for interjecting some much-needed reality into the political discussion, but since he’s leaving, what he says really isn’t going to matter. Now saying it and then defending his words in Congress in the midst of a re-election campaign – that would be truly admirable.

  • Corker_6a00d83451581569e2010536626b78970c-800wi

  • I must point out the following amusing item from The National Review Online pertaining to Repug Tennessee Senator Bob Corker (here)…

    Corker says President Obama recently met with him, something he appreciates. But Corker doesn’t think Obama “has his feet on the ground with regard to what appropriate health reform is.” He adds, “And he personalizes everything, it’s all, ‘I, I, I.'” Corker suspects that for Obama “doing this with some massive bill is about politics…To him, it’s about a political victory, not about doing what’s in the long-term interest of citizens.”

    Here is Corker’s statement on the matter of whether or not he will vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court…

    “Judge Sotomayor has an impressive background and an inspiring American story. I enjoyed meeting with her in June and let her know I would reserve judgment on her nomination until the conclusion of a fair and thorough hearings process,” said Corker. “After much deliberation and careful review, I have determined that Judge Sotomayor’s record and many of her past statements reflect a view of the Supreme Court that is different from my own. I view the Supreme Court as a body charged with impartially deciding what the law means as it is applied to a specific case. I believe Judge Sotomayor views the Supreme Court as more of a policy-making body where laws are shaped based on the personal views of the justices. Unfortunately, nothing I heard during Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings or in my meeting with her in June sufficiently allayed this concern. For this reason, I’m disappointed to say, I will not be able to support Judge Sotomayor’s nomination.”

    And we’re supposed to deal seriously with these people on matters of legislation critical to our economy, our health care, and our planet in general…

  • Malcolm

  • And finally, I must communicate this even-more-absurd item from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm at the LA Times…

    According to a new Washington Post survey, a clear majority of Americans (55%) approve of the job (Vice President Joe) Biden’s doing, perhaps because thanks to schedules like today’s, they can’t know much about what that job he’s doing actually is.

    Biden’s numbers are tied closely to Americans’ belief in the economic efficacy of President Obama’s stimulus package. Those who think it’ll work, like him; those who don’t, don’t.

    Those Biden approval numbers still aren’t quite as good as Dick Cheney’s April approval of 64% from a 2001 Post poll.

    Oh mah gawd…

    To communicate a more up-to-date approval rating on “Deadeye Dick” that actually isn’t AT LEAST EIGHT YEARS OLD, this tells us that the former veep is only slightly less popular than Cuba and Venezuela (though, as Matt Yglesias points out, “China and Russia are kicking his ass”).

    Well, as least “Big Time” can look on the bright side; he’s bound to be more popular than Iran and North Korea.


  • On Sotomayor, It’s “Lock And Load” Time For The NRA

    July 30, 2009

    kid-with-gun-sm
    In an example of still more gun-related cowardice by the Democratic Party, Think Progress tells the following from here…

    Noting Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s record on the Second Amendment, Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) told Roll Call that that he is “undecided” on her nomination to the Supreme Court (although he added that he is “leaning toward voting in favor”). Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) expressed similar uncertainty:

    Both senators’ equivocal statements come in the wake of the NRA’s decision to “score” the Sotomayor vote in determining where each lawmaker stands on the NRA’s pro-gun agenda. The NRA claims, falsely, that because Sotomayor once upheld a New York law against a Second Amendment challenge this somehow proves that she is hostile to gun rights. That decision, however, did nothing more than apply well-established law.

    Because lower-court judges are required by law to follow the commands of the Supreme Court, Sotomayor once joined an opinion which followed a Supreme Court case holding that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to the states. Nevertheless, the NRA launched a smear campaign against Sotomayor this month, claiming that she “deliberately misread Supreme Court precedent to support her incorrect view” in this case.

    (It’s pretty sad when a Repug shows more courage than a Dem on the gun issue, by the way, as Lamar Alexander does in the Think Progress post.)

    Also, as noted here, conservative judges Frank Easterbrook and Richard Posner, both appointed by The Sainted Ronnie R, also held that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states in accordance with a prior ruling from Judge Sotomayor.

    All of this comes in the wake of the vote on an amendment sponsored by Senate Repug John Thune of South Dakota here which basically would have allowed an individual who owned a firearm in a state with looser gun laws to transport it to a state and use it – and thus supersede what could be tougher laws in the state where the gun is transported – as he or she saw fit (or, as Think Progress explained, “31 states currently prohibit ‘habitual drunkards’ from carrying guns. The Thune amendment would render these provisions useless.”).

    As the prior posted linked to above also tells us, the Thune Amendment was barely defeated in the Senate by a vote of 58-39; as noted here, Colorado Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet voted Yes, as well as PA’s own Bob Casey.

    To me, this prompts the following question: with “Democrats” like these, who needs Republicans?

    I realize that such laws pertain primarily to smaller caliber weapons, but I cannot help but wonder whether or not such an amendment by Thune or anyone else (assuming the dark day ever comes when it passes and is signed into law, thus ensuring my political opposition to any person responsible for such an atrocity, be they a Dem or a Repug) could somehow make it easier for someone to sneak a decidedly more lethal weapon (such as an assault rifle) into a public place.

    And with that in mind, I should note that last July 18th marked the 25th anniversary of the San Ysidro, CA McDonald’s massacre, in which James Oliver Huberty murdered 22 people (including himself) and injured 19 with a 9 mm Uzi semi-automatic (the primary weapon fired in the massacre), a Winchester pump-action 12-gauge shotgun, and a 9 mm Browning HP (as noted here by Wikipedia).

    I tried really hard to find some principled Democratic opposition to the NRA and the pro-gun forces in this country, but unfortunately, aside from Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, I couldn’t. However, I was able to find the following from columnist Mark Shields here from last April, in which a legendary Repug with whom I frequently disagreed spoke what I would call “truth to power” on assault weapons…

    Washington and the leadership of both political parties in the city need a collective vertebrae transplant. Just listen to what one of the country’s great conservative leaders, the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., said about these assault weapons in 1990: “I am completely opposed to selling automatic weapons. I don’t see any reason why they ever made semi-automatics. I’ve been a member of the NRA. I collect, make and shoot guns. I’ve never used an automatic or a semi-automatic for hunting. There’s no need to. They have no place in anybody’s arsenal.”

    So much for the sportsman’s argument for assault rifles of the kind that the Binghamton (NY) killer used to fire, according to police, 98 shots in one minute.

    Shortly before Goldwater made his position so abundantly clear, the then-California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, a Democrat, stood on the floor of the Assembly in Sacramento holding in his hands an AK-47 semi-automatic weapon and said to the legislative body’s 80 members: “Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at your watches and start counting. You are lucky that I am the attorney general and not some nut. Because if I had the ammunition, I could shoot every member of the Assembly by the time I finish this sentence — about 20 seconds.”

    But 1994 will forever be remembered as the year when Democrats lost their heart for standing up to the gun lobby. The Democratic-controlled Congress and President Bill Clinton had enacted a ban on 19 types of automatic weapons. That ban had passed the House on a 216-214 vote, guided by the then-Clinton White House adviser (and now Obama White House chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel — and it was blamed by many Democrats for their party’s November loss, for the first time in 40 years, of House control.

    (By the way, I read the comments to Shields’ column, one of which chided him for not knowing the difference – as far as the commenter was concerned – between a fully-automatic machine gun and a semi-automatic rifle…as if that would have made any of the victims described by Shields “less dead” as a result.)

    And on the matter of the Dems’ ’94 loss of Congress owing to the assault weapons ban, I thought New York Times editorialist Dorothy Samuels made the following good points last May here…

    It is hard to make a case that the assault weapons ban was decisive in 1994.

    The law certainly enraged many N.R.A. members and might explain the loss of certain Democratic seats. However, there were other major factors in the Democrats’ 1994 loss, starting with perceived Democratic arrogance and corruption (overdrafts at the House bank came to symbolize that).

    Add to that voter unhappiness with Mr. Clinton’s budget, his health care fiasco, the Republican Party’s success in recruiting appealing candidates, and that ingenious Republican vehicle for nationalizing the elections known as the “Contract With America.” The contract, by the way, did not mention guns.

    Mr. Clinton’s successful 1996 re-election campaign actually stressed his gun control achievements. James and Sarah Brady spoke in prime time at the ’96 Democratic convention, and Clinton campaign ads trumpeted his role in enacting the assault weapons ban and the ’93 Brady law requiring background checks for gun buyers.

    And returning to the Shields column once more, I would advise Casey, Udall, Bennet and the other “chicken Dems” on this issue to read the following…

    President Obama has long been on record for a permanent ban on assault weapons. But one respected Capitol Hill Democrat, a longtime champion of gun control, despairs: “These (recent) killings have, unfortunately, not moved the needle.”

    What would be required to get this Congress to act? “It would take at least a major massacre of kindergarteners.”

    I can think of no more damning indictment of our politicians – and really, our country’s collective retreat on this issue – than that.


    Some “Stugots” By The Murdoch Street Journal On Corzine (updates)

    July 28, 2009

    corzine_smI have to tell you that William McGurn’s editorial rant today about the New Jersey governor’s campaign conjures up some odious ethnic stereotyping, so be prepared; God forbid that you criticize the rich as far as Rupert and his minions are concerned, though, lest you engage in “class warfare.”

    And the timing of such propaganda definitely favors McGurn, given the recent revelations here about the 44 individuals swept up in a corruption probe centered in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Deal, N.J. (how apropos); and Israel (they include three mayors, two state lawmakers and several rabbis…and apparently, a whole bunch of black market kidneys hawking $160G apiece – Gail Collins of the New York Times had an uproarious column about this last Saturday…and yes, I know it really isn’t funny).

    Here is some of what McGurn said ostensibly about New Jersey (in a column written in Rome, thus giving him an excuse to compare the “Garden State” machinations to that which currently embroil Italian Prime Minister “Uh Oh” Silvio Berlusconi…note: I used to track the “ups and downs” of Italy’s most famous – and probably most notorious – politician, but my time grew short and his excesses grew too large, so I gave up).

    Much depends on (Corzine’s Repug Gubernatorial challenger Chris) Christie. As a U.S. Attorney, Mr. Christie put scores of dirty New Jersey officials behind bars. And his lead in the polls—one of them puts it at 12 points—is bound to widen with the indictment of so many officials from his opponent’s political party in an investigation he initiated.

    Really? Christie supposedly got this ball rolling, as they say? Well then, he should have been featured prominently in the MSNBC story (if you search for his name in the story, though, you’ll find Christie isn’t featured – or even mentioned – at all).

    And by the way, as noted here, the Christie Campaign a Christie ally is facing bribery allegations; we also learn the following…

    You may recall that the corpulent Christie recently hit some head winds with revelations of his authorizing tracking people through their cell phones without first obtaining a warrant when he was district attorney (as the ACLU charges), the $50 million no-bid contract he gave to John Ashcroft (John Ashcroft was the U.S. Attorney General in 2003 when the decision not to prosecute Chris Christie’s brother Todd Christie for insider trading was made, though everyone else in the scandal was prosecuted), and the no bid contract he gave to David Kelley, also on the Todd Christie case.

    And that doesn’t even mention Christie’s treatment of Essex County executive James Treffinger, a popular Republican who spent more than six hours in handcuffs and leg shackles allegedly because he made a comment about Christie’s “hulking frame,” as noted here.

    Back to McGurn…

    But even harder than winning an election will be transforming the New Jersey political culture. If he is to succeed as governor, (Christie) will need to use the remaining time in the campaign to build public support for a radical reform agenda. Primarily this requires bringing home to Garden State voters something he does not yet seem to recognize himself: the link between his program to fight corruption and his program to revive the state’s economy.

    And we all know the reason, don’t we, according to McGurn (wait for it)…

    That link has to do with reducing Big Government. Big Government is why New Jersey created only 6,800 private sector jobs from 2000 to 2007—while public sector jobs grew by more than 55,800. Big Government is the reason New Jersey ranks as the worst of 50 states on the Small Business Survival Index. And Big Government is a leading reason New Jersey has a “corruption problem” that an FBI agent at Friday’s press conference characterized as “one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation.”

    See, as far as McGurn is concerned, Big Government = Fewer Private Sector Jobs = More Crime. Got that?

    However, I think the following should be considered (from here)…

    Adjusted for population, New Jersey’s in the middle of the pack (in terms of private sector job losses). Twenty-six states have had larger declines in private-sector employment than New Jersey’s 3.82% drop over the last 15 months. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., are faring better, including three – Alaska, North Dakota, D.C., Wyoming and Louisiana — that have added jobs in that time.

    Since the Democrats took control of the New Jersey governor’s office in 2002 (including the tenures of Jim McGreevey and Dick Codey), the state is down 86,900 private-sector jobs. Only three states have lost more. Six states have had bigger declines than the state’s 2.56% drop since January ‘02.

    Actually, at this point, I very reluctantly have to give McGurn a bit of a nod here, particularly since the bottom line is that only eight states have lost more private sector jobs than New Jersey because the line about only six states losing more private sector jobs is telling indeed.

    I try to avoid posting on the Garden State since it has its own – how shall I put it – peculiar political environment, and what inevitably happens is that voters, probably out of abject disgust more than any other reason, “return to the fold” and vote Democratic come election time.

    However, that is entirely problematic this time around (particularly with Christie leading Corzine here by 12 points, as noted here; again, I have to “give the devil his due” and point out that McGurn is right on that number). Also, Corzine recently signed a stimulus bill of sorts for New Jersey which, as noted here, is opposed by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton-based liberal think tank, and the Sierra Club of New Jersey (if you’re a Dem seeking re-election, those definitely are NOT groups that you want opposing you instead of supporting you).

    In short, there are legitimate reasons to criticize the job performance of Governor Jon Corzine (who, like all governors, has to deal with the worst economic climate this country has seen in about 70 years – Dubya’s “gift that keeps on giving”…and by the way, I admire the hell out of him for this). However, you’d have to be a real “mook” to blame it solely on some stereotypical, and rather cartoonish, criminal (in all likelihood) behavior.

    Update 8/12/09: Hmmm, Christie and Turd Blossom, huh?

    Update 8/18/09: Christie’s bad week continues.

    Update 8/19/09: Somehow I don’t quite think “oops” covers this on Christie.

    Update 8/22/09: Is it just me, or is Christie’s whole “law and order” facade starting to crumble (here)?

    Update 8/24/09: Is the Christie juggernaut “off the rails” (here)?

    Update 9/5/09: Christie is nothing but a bully and a thug (here – h/t The Daily Kos).

    Update 9/6/09: It’s getting harder to keep up with all of the Christie revelations (here and here…this guy shouldn’t be running for dog catcher, let alone governor of New Jersey).

    Update 9/12/09: And it sounds like Christie’s running mate has a case of foot-in-mouth disease herself (here).

    Update 9/24/09: Not an appearance of wrongdoing by Christie on this, but interesting anyway,


    Jimbo “Hits The Showers” For Good

    July 27, 2009

    bunning
    Via Mark Halperin at The Page (and USA Today here), it seems that longtime Repug Senator Jim “High And Tight” Bunning has taken the hint from John Cornyn, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao and his other “peeps” and, at long last, decided to fade into the GOP sunset.

    (Hey, Bunning looks absolutely honorable compared to his fellow Repug Sen. John Ensign and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who would have long since given up their respective public lives had they a shred of decency.)

    However, since we are talking about Jim Bunning here, you can be sure that his departure will not be graceful; according to the statement published in USA Today, he blamed “some of the leaders of the Republican Party in the Senate (who) have done everything in their power to dry up my fundraising” (tee hee). Also, according to Bunning, “Kentuckians should know that I will continue to be a strong voice against the domestic policies pushed by the White House and Congress that – if enacted – will put this country on the path to socialism.”

    The mantra of The Party of No, my fellow prisoners…

    Actually, the Repugs are getting off a bit lucky, considering that Bunning threatened to quit here in March, promising he “would get the last laugh. Don’t forget Kentucky has a Democrat governor,” one of the sources quoted Bunning as saying (meaning that, if Bunning walked, his replacement would surely have been a Dem).

    Classy all the way, Jim…

    And I’m sure his fellow party members didn’t want to see a repeat of the behavior described here from his 2004 campaign, which looked like a walk until Jim started “hearing voices,” thus trimming his once-insurmountable lead to a mere six percentage points…

    First, (Bunning) compared (Democratic long-shot challenger Daniel) Mongiardo’s appearance to one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. Then he made an unsubstantiated claim that opposition staffers beat his wife “black and blue” at a political picnic.

    … Bunning (also) backed out of a televised debate with Mongiardo, giving the relatively unknown Democrat 30 minutes of air time. Bunning joined another debate via a satellite hookup from Washington, where he read his opening and closing statements from a teleprompter. An executive of the TV station that broadcast the debate called Bunning’s use of a teleprompter “despicable,” according to the Washington Post.

    And as noted here (from December ’08)…

    Bunning was invited to a sports card show in Taylor, Michigan to sign autographs. “But Bunning was kicked off the schedule after he helped derail an auto-industry loan package in the Senate”

    At least he was consistent in opposing both that and the TARP bailout, as noted here…consistently wrong, but consistent.

    And as noted here, Bunning also held up the appointment of R. David Paulison as the head of FEMA in 2006 a month or two before the beginning of hurricane season (with the horrors of Katrina and Rita still fresh in everyone’s minds, to say nothing of the people whose lives were ruined in the process).

    And who can forget, upon Senate passage of the so-called Patriot Act despite the brave, valiant opposition of Russ Feingold, Bunning’s remark that “civil liberties don’t mean much when you’re dead” here?

    The Repugs could afford Bunning’s antics when they rode high and mightily roughshod over our political discourse and our national institutions of government, and many statehouses as well. They can ill afford them at this moment as our country marches in the opposite direction, leaving their precious coalition of “values voters,” government do-nothings and greed head capitalists hopelessly fractured.

    As Bunning knows full well, all successful major league baseball pitchers (which he definitely was for a time) have to rely on guile (an effective curveball or slider) and power (the fastball) to be effective.

    Well, there really wasn’t much craft in the positions he advocated or the government policies and legislation he supported (the subtle part, if you will). And considering that that left him with only one weapon, it was only a matter of time before he “ran out of heat.”

    (And by the way, my compliments to another of Bunning’s departing Repug peers, Sen. George Voinovich, for echoing what I’ve pretty much been saying all along here.)


    Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

    July 27, 2009

    There are times when I just give up trying to engage those on “the right,” particularly when video is readily available to make the case for me instead. And this is one of those times.

    What appears below shows a supposed clash between some teabaggers in Long Island, New York and a large, angry African American male who may or may not be affiliated with ACORN (background here). Then, you see one of the teabaggers telling a reporter that “this isn’t racial,” or words to that effect, even though the African American male is not identified, and a clip is shown a few seconds later of some African American women in a slightly agitated state (again, they are not identified as members of ACORN, and it is not at all clear who they are arguing with).

    Though I categorically disagree with the teabaggers as much as you can imagine, I do not begrudge them the right to carry out their antics as long as no one is getting hurt; actually, it just further dramatizes how much of a radical fringe they truly are. But as is usually the case, they claim once to be “oppressed” as they “triumph” against those with whom they disagree.

    Also, I have a feeling that even posting about this will generate the same response that I endured over that gun post a month or so ago (wasn’t even much work on my part, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t care about deleting it). And I wish to emphasize that I do not claim to know everything and have no issue whatsoever with a lively discussion with people telling me that they think I’m wrong. However, if I have to shut down the comments again, it is because I have neither the time nor the desire to try and refute personal attacks, as well as deal with remarks about assassinating the president (which is what happened last time).

    All I will say is that, somehow, we are supposed to achieve something approximating “bipartisanship” with these people. If you have a clue as to how I’m supposed to do that without total capitulation to them, please let me know.

    Finally, I wonder if anyone asked Midnight Oil if it was OK to use their song?


    White Like Them

    July 27, 2009

    This video goes out to Pat Buchanan, Sgt. Joe Crowley, firefighter Frank Ricci and the Valley Swim Club.

    And in other non-news for Caucasians, today was Just Plan Folks Sarah Palin’s Last Day As Governor Dontcha Know; even though she confirmed and denied nothing and did the same for the occasion, this “story” was the headline everywhere I went online today.

    Update 8/1/09: More from Bob Herbert here…


    A “Remedy” For An Obama AP Health Care Harangue?

    July 24, 2009

    medical_symbol_mdI read a good portion of this “analysis” of the efforts of the Obama Administration to address the pivotal crises it inherited from Bushco, and I found myself wondering how long it took writer Tom Raum to recycle what he’d discovered in other reports, link to some other sympathetic quotes or sources, press ENTER, and then subsequently retire to a watering hole of his choosing.

    (And to think, these jokers are creating a registry to track unauthorized use of their laughable content, as noted here.)

    Yes, I will grant you that there is anxiety out there concerning how our president (who has been in office for all of six months and three days, let’s not forget) is managing the economy and the Dems’ attempts at health care reform (to say nothing of two other wars and coordinating with Congress on cap-and-trade legislation, among other matters), but I will attempt to provide the detail in this post concerning those issues that Raum, for whatever reason, did not.

    To begin, this recent Gallup Poll tells us that about three quarters of those Dems polled approve of Obama’s handling of health care policy, though he is down 50-44 with independent voters (and do you really need to ask what Repug voters think?). Basically, the Dem and Repug numbers are a wash, and the independent numbers are representative of everyone as a whole.

    And Bob Cesca tells us the following from here…

    In a July 14 Gallup Poll, 86 percent of Americans think it’s “extremely important” for healthcare reform to include allowing them to get insurance regardless of employment or medical status. 58 percent support taxing the rich to pay for healthcare. And we all know about the super-majority support for the public option.

    In a June Gallup poll, only 34 percent of Americans are confident in the Republicans to make the right decisions on healthcare policy. In fact, Americans are one percent less confident in Republicans than they are in the health insurance companies. That’s pretty crappy.

    So one thing’s for sure, we don’t want what the Republicans are offering. And we broadly support significant changes in the healthcare system. The fact that the president is upside-down only indicates that, while on the right track, he isn’t pushing this with the ferocity it demands.

    Well, I would say that that changed this week with his press conference (no other reason to give an idiot like Jim DeMint the time of day), setting the stage for what is described here in August as a “month even more heated and critical in the reform process” (and another media appearance followed, as noted here in the New York Times, from Reuters).

    I believe, though, that the issue that is really preventing Obama and the congressional Dems from taking charge on this is the cost (yes, a “master of the obvious” realization, I know). And in an effort to get as much of an understanding of the numbers as I could (truly a daunting task), I navigated here to the OMB site listing the projected fiscal year numbers, and discovered the following:

    The United States spends over $2.2 trillion on health care each year—almost $8,000 per person. That number represents approximately 16 percent of the total economy and is growing rapidly. If we do not act soon, by 2017, almost 20 percent of the economy—more than $4 trillion—will be spent on health care.

    To help physicians get the information they need to provide the highest quality care for patients, the Recovery Act of 2009 devotes $1.1 billion to comparative effectiveness research—the reviews of evidence on competing medical interventions and new head-to-head trials. The information from this research will improve the performance of the U.S. health care system.

    The President has devoted in the Recovery Act an unprecedented $1 billion for prevention and wellness interventions. This will dramatically expand community-based interventions proven to reduce chronic diseases.

    … the Budget sets aside a reserve fund of more than $630 billion over 10 years that will be dedicated towards financing reforms to our health care system.

    The reserve fund is financed by a combination of rebalancing the tax code so that the wealthiest pay more as well as specific health care savings in three areas: promoting efficiency and accountability, aligning incentives towards quality and better care, and encouraging shared responsibility. Taken together, the health care savings would total $316 billion over 10 years while improving the quality and efficiency of health care, without negatively affecting the care Americans receive.

    This is good stuff (and let’s not take for granted the fact that this administration has really made the effort to crunch out the numbers on its proposals perhaps more thoroughly than any other in my memory with the exception of the Clintonites…I don’t have an exact number on how many are now working for Obama, but I’m sure it’s more than a few).

    However, I have two observations:

    1) I sincerely hope the President has a backup plan for financing the reserve fund if the one he proposes here goes up in smoke. As far as I’m concerned, there should be a sliding scale of individual payment rates based on earned income for all workers in this country, not just “the rich” (they should pay more, but to me, that doesn’t mean that anyone under, say, $250G a year, should get off with nothing).

    And please understand that the last thing I want to do here is pay more in taxes, but I think we need to be realistic. I’d propose a three-year tax which would be the equivalent of a nice, healthy round of “V.C.” funding for a startup enterprise, and then the reserve fund should be forced to manage itself based on what would likely be employer payments when companies realize it costs less to pay into the public plan – a public plan is most definitely assumed here, people – than to negotiate health insurance with private carriers on its own.

    (Also, the one person here who has been virtually silent in all of this is Max Baucus, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. I’m quite sure that he is leading the effort to crunch out some of the numbers I’m noting here, and with any luck, he’ll present them first to his own party before the Repugs, as noted here.)

    2) I navigated to the administration’s healthreform.gov site, and I should point out that there is a pretty cool interactive map of this country by state telling you about current and projected health care costs for those working and unemployed, and it’s sourced pretty thoroughly also. However (and I know this is tough), what I think this site should contain are links with some “ballpark” estimates of, again, how much all of this will cost (for employed and unemployed workers, for families, small and large business owners, etc., as well as the cost of doing nothing). And those numbers should be presented graphically in chart form (preferably pie charts or bar graphs – that seems to be the easiest format to digest).

    I think the Obama Administration is relying too much here on the president’s oratorical skills and his commendable efforts to communicate the misery suffered by those who lost their health insurance through their employers. That is certainly a big part of the story, but the “numbers” piece that I believe is largely missing (despite the command of this information by President Obama, as Paul Krugman noted here today) is what’s causing some of the approval numbers to skew downward.

    And as a result, this gives the Party of No more reason to scream in protest, thus obscuring once more the impact the health care crisis is having on our economy (here and here).

    And speaking of the economy, the AP’s Raum tells us the following in his column…

    Job losses have now wiped out all the job gains since the last recession in 2001, the first time that has happened since the 1930s.

    Pretty funny that Raum points that out actually, given the fact that, if you search on “Bush” in his article, you find out that the word doesn’t exist (as all good Repugs know, the economy is all Obama’s fault).

    (Oh yes, I’ll be sooo hurt if the AP tells me that I’m not authorized to use their content; not linking to them will do wonders for the cause of informed dialogue.)

    Update 1: Hat tip to profmarcus at TakeItPersonally for this (it makes me gag that some of these people profess to believe the same things I do).

    Update 2: Potty mouth Jane H. articulates how I feel about the “Bush Dogs” perfectly on all issues (particularly, though, on health care) at the end here (h/t Atrios).


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