18 June, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

There's good news today, my darlings. Americans aren't as stupid as Cons think they are:

I've seen a few Republican blogs today crowing about the latest national polls, which show some lukewarm support for some of White House's policy priorities. There are a couple of numbers, though, that should give them pause.

For one thing, President Obama's approval ratings still look quite strong. In the New York Times/CBS poll, for example, the president's national rating stood at 63% support, the same as it was a month ago. In the WSJ/NBC poll, Obama fared slightly worse, with 56%, which is still not a bad rating under the circumstances.

But what's gone largely overlooked is the numbers for the Republican Party. Consider this tidbit from the NYT/CBS poll:

While Republicans have steadily increased their criticism of Mr. Obama, particularly on the budget deficit, the poll found that the Republican Party is viewed favorably by only 28 percent of those polled, the lowest rating ever in a New York Times/CBS News poll. In contrast, 57 percent said that they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party. [emphasis added]

The WSJ/NBC poll added:

25 percent hold a favorable view of the Republican Party, which is an all-time low for it in the poll. 45 percent hold a favorable view of the Democratic Party. [emphasis added]

Pretty pathetic showing, innit? Looks like the majority of Americans aren't all that happy with the GOP becoming the Party of Incompetent Fuckwits. Imagine that.

There's other bad news for Cons on the poll front:

If this one doesn’t stiffen the spines of Dems who are wavering on whether to include a public health insurance option in the reform package, nothing will.

A new poll by a nonpartisan, D.C.-based research group finds truly overwhelming support for the public option. The kicker: The poll was bankrolled partly by previous opponents of health care reform, including one of the nation’s best-known insurance companies.

The poll — which was just released by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a D.C. policy think tank — finds that a majority (53%) strongly back the availability of a public plan, while another 30% “somewhat” support it. That’s a total of 83% in favor of a public plan — a staggeringly large majority.

Even more interesting, guess who paid for the poll? From the release:

This survey was made possible with support from AARP, American Express, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Buck Consultants, Chevron, Deere & Company, IBM, Mercer, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Principal Financial Group, Schering-Plough Corp., Shell Oil Company, The Commonwealth Fund, and Towers Perrin.
Not exactly a band of raging lefties. The American Association of Retired Persons and Blue Cross Blue Shield were among the opponents of HillaryCare in the 1990s.

Not to mention, it's amusing to see just how much traction the Cons' scare tactics about evil socialized medicine have gained: zilch. Pretty piss-poor return on talking points there. Could it have something to do with the fact that 75% of Americans think Cons are full of shit?

Speaking of Cons, health care, and raging stupid, let's watch Steve Benen and Paul Krugman put the Smack-o-Matic to good use:

It's always struck me as something of a no-brainer -- comparative effectiveness research helps point to the most reliable medical treatments. To conservatives, though, CER is a nefarious scheme that will lead to bureaucratic overlords dictating which patients are eligible to receive which services.
This is especially relevant in the context of Medicare and Medicaid. Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) introduced a bill yesterday to make sure the government doesn't use CER to deny coverage for treatments deemed ineffective.

Paul Krugman helps highlight some of the more conspicuous flaws in the Republican senators' approach.

1. Politicians who rail against wasteful government spending are taking action to prevent the government from reining in ... wasteful spending.

2. Politicians who warn that the burden of entitlements is killing the federal budget are stepping in to block ... the single most painless route to reducing the growth of entitlements.

3. They're doing it in the name of avoiding "rationing of health care" ... but they're specifically addressing taxpayer-funded care. If you want to go out and buy a medically useless treatment, Medicare won't stop you.

4. These same politicians are, of course, opposed to efforts to expand coverage. In other words, it's evil for government to "ration care" by only paying for things that work; it is, however, perfectly OK, indeed virtuous, to ration care by refusing to pay for any care at all.

Yep, it's that bad.

I'd say it's the icky science that scared Cons into sounding like complete lackwits on this issue, but inconsistency and dumbassery are GOPSOP. I'm afraid this is probably normal behavior. And those four points might be useful things to have in hand the next time you have to discuss health care with a Conservative. The looks on their dear little faces should be priceless.

Here's another fun tidbit, useful to have to hand the next time some clueless soul tries to proclaim that the Cons are not in the pockets of megacorporations:

Leaders of a new GOP group, the “Rural American Solutions Group,” are distributing a document attacking climate change legislation as an economic burden to most of the country. As it turns out, the information in the press release was provided to the Republican congressmen by Peabody Energy, a juggernaut of the coal industry. Staffers for GOP Reps. Frank Lucas (R-OK), Sam Graves (R-MO), and Doc Hastings (R-WA) are emailing around a map that purports to detail “how the Democrats’ National Energy Tax unfairly targets rural Americans.”


Two employees of Peabody Energy are listed in the metadata of the map document: Chairman and CEO Greg Boyce and Communications Manager Chris Taylor. The congressmen opposing climate change legislation — Reps. Lucas, Graves, and Hastings — are simply copying-and-pasting information that has been directly fed to them by Peabody Energy.
My own dear Dad used to work for Peabody, so I know just enough about the company to understand that if Peabody says coal's good for the environment and there's no such thing as global warming, it's about as believable as Cons claiming they're watching out for poor folk.

If you yourself buy the claims of either entity, I would like to discuss the oceanfront property in Arizona I picked up while I was on vacation down there. I'm willing to sell cheap, due to the economic climate, you see.

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