Healthcare Debacle

President Obama bet the farm on health care reform, then did nearly nothing to help its passage, and got what  he deserved.  Of course, we deserve better.  We deserved a decent health care bill in the Senate that wasn’t held hostage by Senator Nelson.  We deserved something that improved the circumstances of a good chunk of 45 million Americans, just as many are put at risk because of lack of health care, thanks to 10% unemployment.  Here’s a little math: 10% of 320 million people that live in the U.S.  = 32 million people right there.

Shame on Democrats for not getting a bill through.  Great shame on them.

Now we have nothing.  If the situation remains as is, if we get nothing by the election, then no party is going to touch this issue with a 10 foot pole for our lifetimes.  How good that must be for insurance companies!  If we get nothing, our elected officials deserve less. I say THROW THE BUMS OUT, ALL OF THEM, Republicans AND Democrats.

Including President Obama.

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Cynicism at its worst: A Republican healthcare plan

AP reports that Representative John Boehner is touting the Republican healhcare plan, and that it is in some ways better than the Democratic plans.  The laugh is that every resident of the United States is living the Republican healthcare plan right now.  The Republicans had 12 years to offer a healthcare plan, and while they did create a drug plan for Medicare, that was only an earlier cynical attempt to stave off more sweeping legislation, that will actually make a difference to the 46 million people who have no coverage.

You don’t get to cry about other peoples’ ideas when you’ve been given an opportunity to test your own and chose not to.  That’s called taking pot shots, which is what the Republicans and the WSJ have been doing.

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Are Employees of the CIA above the law?

Update:  CNN’s Peter Bergen points out all the flaws in Dick Cheney’s logic here.

Over the last few days there have been a plethora of conservative commentaries that range in their argument from Dick Cheney accusing the Obama administration of a political vendetta to The Wall Street Journal repeatedly arguing that the prosecutions are just wrong headed (such as this one) to Debra J. Saunders in the SF Chronicle, arguing that the employees in question should be pardoned.  There are at least two problems with the arguments now appearing on the street:

  1. In all cases, torturer sympathizers seem to forget that we, the American People, don’t actually know what happened yet.  That is what an investigation is for.
  2. In some cases, the argument seems to be that members of the CIA who were acting on orders should be shielded by the fact they were just following orders.  We tried people and convicted them, not withstanding that defense, in Nuremberg.  They were known as Nazis.  We as a society need to send a message that no one is above the law.  It may take years to catch up with people who have been politically shielded from their crimes, but they will be brought to justice.
  3. According to the CIA, torture has been shown to be unreliable.

That leaves the argument that the current investigation by the Justice Department is politically motivated.  I would have to say that if one’s politics require one to believe that torture is illegal and immoral, then the answer is yes.  Our morality throughout the world has been called into question.  Do we condone the torturing of human beings?  What, then, separates us from those we accuse of being evil?

On the other hand, I do not see any evidence that this is some sort of game of political Gotcha.  While Debra Saunders writes that General Holder has in the past been inconsistent in his views when it comes to pardons, that means nothing in the context of a factual investigation.

As to Mr. Cheney, let him speak.  He may, at best, be shielded by the fact that the vice president cannot order anyone in the executive branch outside his own staff to do anything.  He would be the wrong person to go after, anyway.  If President Bush ordered a crime to be committed, let him be held accountable, assuming a crime was committed.

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“Republican Moderates to Blame” – Now THAT Was Predictable

The rats are out of the ship, now that Senator McCain has lost.  Although they are on all sides of the spectrum, here is an article from CNN that demonstrates just how fast the Family Research Council has started complaining that moderates are to blame, and that Republicans should shift right.  While anyone’s 20/20 hindsight is less than interesting, as we discussed prior to McCain’s loss, his problem was that he tried to advance two separate strategies and alienated both of his bases.  John McCain did not simply run a moderate race.

Arguably, however, the reckoning will go the other way: President Bush’s administration is about as unpopular AND as far to the right as one could possibly get in America, and John McCain could not run farther from it.  As proof, where was President Bush the last month of the campaign?  Answer: he was hiding, keeping a low profile, as we previously discussed.  Elizabeth Dole, a conservative, lost her seat in the Senate, and Virginia has gone blue.

The fight for the soul of the Republican party is on.  Whether they will remain right wing conservative will very much depend not only on how the electorate views the McCain loss, but how President Obama and the economy fares in the first two years.

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Spinning a Hurricane

In general it is considered to be in extremely poor taste to talk about the politics of other peoples’ suffering, especially while they are suffering.  And so I will do so.  This week both the Democrats and Republicans have the opportunity to make hay of the trek of, and losses by many thousands of people fleeing New Orleans, again.  The Republicans are in interesting position.  On the one hand they can’t be seen as making hay, and so they have postponed the beginning of their national convention.  Moreover, if things go wrong, like they did with Katrina, it will leave a clear impression that they cannot govern.  And so things won’t go that wrong.  This is also the perfect opportunity to keep President Bush and Vice President away.  They’re already wildly unpopular, but it is a very difficult thing to not have the elected heads of the party speak.  Gustav provided the perfect excuse.

The Democrats have fewer options.  The best they can do is stay quiet, because anything else will seem like making hay.  They can also hope for the storm to dissipate quickly without much damage, as can we all.  Aside from the human relief that would bring, the Republicans would have lost the spotlight to a non-event.  Sadly that seems unlikely.

And so in this case human suffering will serve Republicans – to a point.

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