31 July, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

You may notice the temperature in the cantina is nearly tolerable. That's because my Holmes Twin Window Fan arrived this morning, and the Murphy's Law sub clause pertaining to items becoming obsolete as soon as you obtain them came into full effect. The heat wave started breaking nearly instantaneously.

You're welcome, Seattle.

That said, it's still not anything approaching cold around here, so having a twin window fan lodged in my bedroom window is one of the best things that's ever happened to me. For all of you living without A/C who've ever wondered if one of those things is worth the expense: it is. Buy yourself one forthwith.

Although the weather is no longer burning hot, the stupid most assuredly is. Let us begin with the ongoing saga of Con dumbfuckery regarding health care reform. The next time some idiot Con starts spouting to you about how Obama's coming to kill your granny, ask them if they knew that the plot actually began with a Republican:

As I’ve been noting, conservatives and Republican leaders have been running wild with the claim that the House Dems’ health care reform bill, by offering Medicare funding for “end of life consultations,” could lead to mass “government-encouraged euthanasia.”

But it turns out a GOP Senator, Susan Collins, sponsored a virtually identical initiative this spring, before this became an anti-reform GOP talking point — and praised it as necessary to improving our health care system’s “care for patients at the end of their lives.”

This sharply undercuts the GOP and conservative claim — unless, of course, you believe Collins backed an initiative she thinks could lead to mass government extermination of the elderly. Though this talking point has been debunked multiple times, conservatives and GOP leaders like John Boehner continue to employ it with abandon.

On May 22nd, Senators Collins and Jay Rockefeller introduced the “Advance Planning and Compassionate Care Act,” according to a press release sent over by a source. The measure provides Medicare funding “for advance care planning so that patients can routinely talk to their physicians about their wishes for end-of-life care,” the release says.

This could only mean one thing: the GOP wants to kill Grandma!!1!11!one!

Either that, or people who actually care about seniors are trying to make sure they have all the resources they need when making tough choices about their final days, not to mention ensuring their wishes are understood and respected, and a bunch of flaming fuckwits in the GOP decided for political reasons to put a murderous spin on the whole thing.

When it comes to killing health care reform, no lie is too big for them. Why, Mark Pence is telling a trillion-dollar lie right now:

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has taken a leading role in the Republican efforts to lie and fearmonger about the Democrats’ health care plans in hopes of killing it. Last May, Pence argued the public option “will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage,” a claim PolitiFact.com deemed to be “false.”

Pence was at it again this morning on MSNBC. This time, he claimed that the House health care bill recently scored by the Congressional Budget Office “will literally cost nearly a trillion dollars in higher taxes.” Host Carlos Watson immediately jumped in. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” Watson interjected, “unless you’re looking at different data than I’m looking at, I don’t remember there being a trillion dollars in new taxes.” Pence said he was “rounding up,” and then later revised his figure to $800 billion. But Watson wouldn’t budge, and neither would Pence:

WATSON: I’m very clear that we are not talking about anywhere close to a trillion or $800 billion in new taxes…so if you’ve got data from the CBO that suggests that some of the proposals on the table…represent that much in new taxes then that’s significant new information. Where are you getting that?

PENCE: Well I don’t think that’s significant new information I think the estimates we’ve all been working with from the CBO are in the — I’m trying to remember — it’s about the $800 billion range in the estimated cost of new taxes. … That’s really all out there Carlos.

[snip] Pence’s claims are indeed “out there” in that they aren’t true. In fact, the CBO’s preliminary estimate of the House bill said that its entire cost would be just over $1 trillion over 10 years. $540 billion of that (i.e. not $800 billion or $1 trillion) would be paid for with new taxes on the rich affecting just 1.2 percent of U.S. households. The rest of the bill would be fully offset by savings in Medicare and other health systems.
Meanwhile, Florida Cons are doubling down on insane stupidity, and trying to outlaw health care reform before it's passed:
As the Obama administration and Congress work to pass legislation that would expand affordable coverage for all Americans, some state lawmakers are trying to preemptively undermine those efforts.

Earlier this week, Florida State Senator Carey Baker (R) and State Representative Scott Plakon (R) introduced a state Constitutional amendment that, if adopted, would prevent Floridians from enrolling in any federal health care plan. The language of House Joint Resolution 37 states:

To preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care:

A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system.

“We believe this unprecedented power-grab by President Obama and Congress is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens of Florida,” Baker and Plakon said in a joint statement.
[snip] The Orlando Sentinel notes, “Nearly 4 million Floridians are uninsured presently, and an effort last year by Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature called ‘Cover Florida’ to try and make more no-frills coverage plans available without placing mandates on businesses or insurers has so far failed to make a dent in that number.”
So, two of the cornerstones of health care reform - mandates and a public option - would be outlawed if Florida Cons have their way, even though they have proof that no mandates and no public option don't fucking work. Brilliant. A shining example of how Cons fail to govern.

And people do notice, despite what they believe:

I noted below that the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests that Obama’s “brand” has taken a real hit, as voters start to take a dour view of his handling of health care reform.

But the flipside of the story, which isn’t getting any real attention today, is that today’s polls also paint a dire picture for Republicans, and suggest they’re really taking it on the chin for blocking health care reform. The internals of today’s New York Times poll say this:

* Only 28% view the GOP favorably, the lowest since at least 2005.

* A huge majority wants major changes to the health care system, and a plurality says Obama is reforming health care at “the right pace.” The public wants change now, meaning voters will probably extract a major price if it doesn’t get done.

* Voters blame Republicans, and not Obama, for obstructionism: Fifty nine percent say Obama is working with the GOP on health care reform, versus only 33% who say Republicans are working with the president.

* Fifty five percent says Obama has the right ideas for health care reform, versus only 26% — barely more than one-fourth — who say the GOP does.

Those numbers should make the Cons wonder just who voters will blame if health care reform fails. Should, but won't - not even when they're sitting around in 2010 wondering just why they got shunned at the ballot box again. Some people never do learn.

Speaking of learning, it appears Max "Must Eviscerate Reform for Con Approval" Baucus could suffer a painful and humilating lesson if he doesn't take a hint:

When it comes to health care, there are some strong Democratic voices on the Finance Committee, including John Kerry, Debbie Stabenow, Chuck Schumer, Maria Cantwell, and John Rockefeller, but they're not invited to the negotiating table. It's Baucus who's in the lead, and it's Baucus who won't advance reform until he can win over some conservative senators.

Apparently, there are some senators who are wondering why Baucus has this much power, and what the caucus might do to change this.

In an apparent warning to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), some liberal Democrats have suggested a secret-ballot vote every two years on whether or not to strip committee chairmen of their gavels.

Baucus, who is more conservative than most of the Democratic Conference, has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over healthcare reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering.

"Every two years the caucus could have a secret ballot on whether a chairman should continue, yes or no," said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "If the 'no's win, [the chairman's] out."

Well, that's certainly one way to get Baucus' attention. "That's a nice gavel you have there, Max. It'd be a shame if something happened to it."

Well, Max, you can only fuck your party so many ways before they start considering how to fuck you back. Democrats are a tolerant lot, but there's limits. Have you broken them? Let's just say that if the limits in question were speed limits and your actions as chairman represented your speed, you'd be desperately trying to explain to Officer Friendly why you were going 97 in a 25mph zone.

Moving on to non-health care reform related stupidity (despite the fact Last Hussar hates it when I do this), Bobby Jindal's still having difficulty giving credit where it's due:

Yesterday on CNN, host Wolf Blitzer asked Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) about the state of the Louisiana economy. Jindal quickly boasted that he was “proud” of his state’s job growth and “economic development.” Given Jindal’s apparent belief that the recession is over in his state, Blitzer then asked if he was willing to give Obama “some credit” for the $3.2 billion dollars Jindal is accepting from the Recovery Act:

BLITZER: Are you ready to give the president of the United States some credit for turning — helping to turn this economy around?

JINDAL: Look, I love what he says. And I — I do have a lot of skepticism about, in D.C., the fact they think that we can spend our way into prosperity, borrow our way into prosperity. Now they want to tax our way into prosperity. [...]

BLITZER: Excuse me for interrupting. Let’s stay on the stimulus for a second. Louisiana — we just checked — they were getting, your state, $3.3 billion, part of the economic recovery, the stimulus money. Already, they have made, what, they say, $2.2 billion available. They have paid out almost a half-a- million — a half-a-billion dollars, $480 million. I assume, even though you — you hated the stimulus package, you’re taking the money, and it’s helping. [...]

He's not only taking the money, he's signing his name to the checks and bragging about how good he is for Louisiana, even though he rejected some of the desperately-needed funds, and even though it's federal money he's handing out. Good on Wolf for actually spanking him over it.

In other news, anti-pork crusader Pete Sessions just got caught with his nose deep in the trough:
Rep. Pete Sessions (R) of Texas, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, probably wants to focus his energies right now on recruiting and fundraising. He may want to take a moment, however, to explain his support for this earmark from last year.

[Sessions] steered a $1.6 million earmark for dirigible research to an Illinois company whose president acknowledges having no experience in government contracting, let alone in building blimps.

What the company did have: the help of Adrian Plesha, a former Sessions aide with a criminal record who has made more than $446,000 lobbying on its behalf.

While lawmakers routinely support earmarks for their home district and/or state, this particular measure has nothing to do with Sessions' Dallas-area district. The company, Jim G. Ferguson & Associates, is based in a Chicago suburb. It has an office in Texas, but it's 300 miles from Sessions' district.

What's more, when Sessions submitted the earmark, he used a Dallas address for the company, but it was actually the address of a friend of one of the company's executives.

Earmarks aren't always bad. Earmarks for a company that can't do what the money's intended for, and that are gained through a bunch of chicanery, are bad. I look forward to Pete's explanation. It should be highly entertaining.

Pete, of course, isn't the only one feeding at the trough. Lawmakers threw a lot of unwanted gifts into that legislation:

And gee, I wonder how many of the people voting for this expensive pork barrel of a bill are the same Blue Dogs who are restricting health care because of "fiscal responsibility"?

The Democratic-controlled House is poised to give the Pentagon dozens of new ships, planes, helicopters and armored vehicles that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says the military does not need to fund next year, acting in many cases in response to defense industry pressures and campaign contributions under an approach he has decried as "business as usual" and vowed to help end.

The unwanted equipment in a military spending bill expected to come to a vote on the House floor Thursday or Friday has a price tag of at least $6.9 billion.

If Obama doesn't use his threatened veto, I hope Gates can use the UPS Regifter to his advantage.

And, finally, for your LOL moment o' the day, here's an image so ridiculous you'll likely spill your drink:

I can appreciate outside-the-box thinking as much as the next blogger, and I realize the appeal of contrarian arguments hold for many editors.

But Newsweek ran a piece yesterday from Gregory Levey arguing that President Obama should make George W. Bush his envoy to the Middle East. Seriously.

Indeed. This is the person Levey recommends:

And the media wonders why they're such a laughingstock.


Woozle said...

The GOP seems to be able to effectively clobber any initiative that involves raising taxes simply by mentioning those higher taxes, despite the fact that the raise does not in any way affect the target audience.

It's like a sort of Class Warfare Stockholm Syndrome: lower-middle-class redstate sheep are identifying more with rich republicans than with their own interests...

...while still seeing "the elite" as the big enemy.

Taking a tip from Dr. Haidt, then, obviously what we need is to reframe the narrative to put it in terms more favorable to liberal interests, i.e. accurately describing reality rather than distorting it.

I recommend that Democrats stop referring to such taxes as "a tax on only the uppermost 1.2% of the population" (math isn't narrative -- especially if it has decimals) or even "taxes on the rich" (rich people live the way we want to live and are the people we want to be -- are you trying to stop us from being rich, or to say that rich people are somehow bad, so maybe we're bad for wanting to be rich?)...

...and start using the term elite tax.


Efrique said...

Which countries with public health-care have legal euthanasia?

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one, the Netherlands. Guess what? Even there, they don't go murdering your granny. What they do there is if granny is sick and in pain and really, really wants to die, they won't try to make it impossible for her to do so.

Woozle said...

Efrique: this may be true, but Conservatives are against ending pain and suffering for any reason. Just ask Mike.