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Monday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians! I know I’ve been a bit out of if for the past few days–is that why I have a feeling that there is no news worth discussing? Sure, there is another earthquake, this time in Turkey; there are elections in Iraq, there is a new “Al Quaeda” arrest in Pakistan, and there is the ongoing nightmare of “health care reform.”

So why do I feel as if nothing is really happening? Is it just me, or is this country paralyzed, waiting for–what? The other shoe to drop? Another depression er– “recession?” Is there anything that can get us moving? Can anything force this scaredy-cat President to do something–anything!–to change the disastrous course we are on?

In the big media and at “progressive” blogs Rahm Emanuel is being blamed for the paralysis. The Hill had a long piece by Sam Youngman about this “controversy” yesterday.

A spate of recent reports have portrayed Emanuel, known for his aggressive brand of Washington politics, as either the voice of reason in a weak, liberal White House or the wet blanket preventing President Barack Obama from pursuing the kind of change he promised as a candidate.

Emanuel has become the flash point in those arguments as liberals express betrayal over Obama’s failure to convince Congress to pass a public option in healthcare reform and close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

According to Youngman, “Democratic strategists” are blaming the netroots for the attacks on Rahm, but other anonymous sources say that efforts to undermine him are coming from inside the White House. The article references Huffington Post pieces by Dan Froomkin and Michael Moore. As we at TC know all too well, these “progressives” still can’t face the fact that they helped elect Bush III. They want to believe that Obama is being duped by Emanuel–and the subtext is that it’s the Clinton’s fault. From the Hill article:

But what Rahm represents to the left dates back to liberal anger with Clinton and his kindred spirits at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Emanuel is seen by some progressives as wanting to win, to a fault by sacrificing principles of the party.

“Rahm believes in being elected; not in the glory of losing or failing,” the strategist said.

In another “think piece,” at Business Week, veteran Village insider Al Hunt calls this “faux White House intrique.” Hunt doesn’t seem to want to blame Obama either, but he nibbles around the edges of doing that:

Yet there is a larger self-created problem for which Emanuel and Axelrod are only partly to blame. Go back to the remarkable Obama campaign of 2007-2008. More than any of its rivals, it had a strategic sense of what it was, where it wanted to go.

This provided a shield against setbacks: losing the New Hampshire primary, the candidate’s careless remarks about rural Pennsylvania voters or even the incendiary remarks of Obama’s pastor. These became speed bumps in the strategic narrative.

That is missing in the Obama presidency. Too often it seems situational rather than strategic, reactive more than proactive. Thus setbacks, from minor ones, such as the handling of the Christmas Day bomber, to major ones, like the loss of the Senate seat in Massachusetts, throw team Obama off stride, and leave voters confused.

Hint, hint…but no one wants to come out and say it: Obama is clueless–he has no idea how to lead our country and no goal in mind even if he could lead. How are we going to survive three more years of this kind of inertia? Continue reading

Message to Democrats: Don’t mess with us

I’m not sure that Democrats are getting the message.  They still think there is no place for us to go.  It’s either them or Republicans and we know that the Republicans are morally bankrupt.  Lately, we’ve seen that moral bankruptcy extends to the other party as well.  Two recent communiques stand out for me in this respect.

First, take this post, Does the Obama Administration Even Want to Win in November? , from Simon Johnson as proof that the Democrats just don’t give a f^&*.  Simon says:

There’s no story in the culture about what the big banks did and why. There is no attempt from the top to push through the key message for the day — financial reform — and to explain what this can do and how. The administration, in effect, is not even trying.

The inner team apparently thinks that 2012 will go just fine — as long as unemployment is down around 6 percent. And, they reason, the people who lose their seats this November won’t be around to complain.

Really?

If the administration fights hard and loses in November, that is one thing. If it fights on clear issues — forcing the other side to support Too Big To Fail structures — they may still lose, but such a loss will clearly communicate that the political strength of the big banks is now out of control. That is an issue to run on — and win big – -in 2012.

And if the administration doesn’t even care and hardly tries now, who will come out for them (or send a check) in two years?

The Obama team — both political and economic wings — seems to feel that their base has nowhere else to go, and all they need to do is drift towards the right in a moderately confused fashion to assure re-election for the president.

In short, the Obama administration is betting that you will be too desperate to salvage what little safety net is left after the GOP retakes control of Congress in 2010 that you will vote for Obama in 2012.  That’s what they’re betting on.  You will be so strapped, penniless and depleted of your retirement savings that you will automatically vote for Obama as a defense mechanism.  Who knows?  Maybe in September of 2012, we can expect the stock market to take another dizzying plunge, just to rattle everyones’ cages a bit.  Won’t that be fun?

Is that the Hope and Change that Obots voted for or does that sound like the machinations the oligarchy of some third world nation?

The second message is more disturbing considering its source.  I love Al Franken.  Everyone knows I do.  And I would walk over hot coals to vote for him if I were a Minnesotan.  But I really did not like the email I got from him on the Health Care Reform bill.  He is urging us to put pressure on House members to vote for the Senate bill with reassurances that it will be fixed later in reconciliation.  Al, there’s only one thing that Reagan ever said that I took to heart: “Trust, but verify”.  Any smart progressive or liberal would have to be nuts to believe that there will be a successful reconciliation *AFTER* the Senate bill passes in its present form.  I don’t want to know about secret deals or 11 dimensional chess or any other supposed secret plan to scuttle the Republicans.  I want you guys to act like Democrats.  If the House members vote for the Senate bill as is, they’re signing their political death warrants with the base.  The Senate bill violates core Democratic principles and so does many elements of the House for that matter.

So, let me deliver a message from the base to the Democrats.  Here are the things we want to see you guys get your asses in gear to do before November 2010.  And remember, there are just enough of us marginal voters out there to really harsh your electoral mellow going forward.  Just keep Corzine and Martha Coakley in mind.  We don’t have to vote.  If you want to stay in power, you need to start kissing up to us and fast.  And just forget about our support for Obama in 2012.  Nothing could make us vote for him now that he’s proven to be the empty suit, opportunist that we predicted he’d be.  If you don’t want a Republican in the White House, you’d better start working on the Obama problem now.

Here’s the CHANGE we want in very simple, straightfoward terms:

  • NO MANDATES WITHOUT REAL COMPETITION in the health care insurance market.  For EVERYONE.  That means strengthening antitrust legislation and allowing everyone who has a policy to go shopping for a better one with a standard benefits package. We’ll know it when we see it.  So far, we haven’t seen it.  Don’t expect support until this requirement is met.  You may have to piss off Max Baucus.  That is fine with us.
  • We want you to SOAK THE RICH.  This is what you were elected to do.  You may have thought you were just riding the coattails of the first black president phenomenon but that’s not true.  The CHANGE we wanted was protection of the middle class against the rape and pillagers who had Bush’s ear for 8 years.  Go back to the Clinton tax levels for everyone.  Claim a national emergency.  Put in a sunset provision for 2020. Dump the excise tax or pay for it with your seats.
  • We want you to SOAK THE RICH when it comes to the financial industry.  Get the bonus money back.
  • We want you to SUPPORT GENDER EQUALITY.  No more deals with Stupak.  Draw a line in the sand with him and then dare him to cross it.  Don’t give him money to run in November.  Make HIM the poster child of bad behavior.  If you don’t, your party can never again use protecting reproductive rights as an incentive for any woman to vote for you.  Your credibility will be permanently shot.  No, this is not negotiable.  No one will ever believe you again.  It’s up to you.  There are a lot of American female voters out there.  You gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky today?”
  • We want you to SAVE AMERICAN JOBS.  Figure out a way to keep the TARP money from going overseas to speculate in emerging markets.  That’s our money and we shouldn’t be betting against ourselves.
  • DON’T TOUCH SOCIAL SECURITY.  Some of us have been paying the extra payroll tax all of our working lives.  That’s our insurance policy, we’ve paid for it and we have every expectation that it will be paid to us as advertised.  No, don’t even go there.  We aren’t buying it.  You depleted the trust fund?  You figure out how to get that money back.  See SOAK THE RICH above.

If you don’t start playing the game by our rules, you’ll be out on your asses before you know what hit you.  This is the age of mass communications and viral memes and social networking.  Your ability to fool enough of the people most of the time is going to lose it’s mojo pretty soon.  Cable news audiences are going away.  More and more people are looking at the wreckage of their middle class lives and they’re not buying the propaganda you’re catapulting anymore.  They’re starting to trust their lying eyes.  All you need is one good movement to catch fire.  It ain’t the Tea Party movement.

You will be surprised what people can do from the comfort of their own homes.  A protest doesn’t require hordes of people marching in the streets carrying banners and shouting slogans.  Self organizing is remarkably easy to do without the sting of tear gas or police batons.  It can be quick and painless.  Just because it’s quiet out there now doesn’t mean that the atmosphere isn’t charged.  Depending on the energy behind the movement, the pendulum may swing a lot farther than you anticipate.

If you have any sense of political self-preservation, you won’t test us.

Eric Massa

I met Eric Massa in Las Vegas in 2006 at the first YearlyKos convention.  He was milling around the lobby of the Riviera, trying to round up people to walk down the street to the tackiest bar you’ve ever seen for a drink.  I thought he was buying.  As we sat in the faux fur covered lounge pit groups around a blazing fire, in a scene that was more like apres ski cross pollinated with Hooters, Eric Massa delivered a riveting stump speech.  He was an energetic, charismatic, full monty, unapologetic politician with principles.  At the end of it, he asked for twenty bucks from all of the rag tag followers hoping to get a free beer from him.  I ponied up my share, bought my own drink and thought it was money well spent.

I wasn’t at all surprised when he won his district in 2008.  But I was very surprised that there are allegations of harrassment against him.  Call me a cockeyed, pollyannaish type but I’m not buying it.  In fact, I am not the kind of person who thinks everyone has a heart of incorruptible gold.  Most people have something they would prefer to hide from the world.  There’s  a Stranger lurking in the dark recesses of every human soul. But this ethics charge doesn’t quite ring true.  All of the breathless reports from  Politico and WaPo sound more like tabloid journalism.  It’s all extremely vague.  Someone said something about something else and they were brought to the ethics committee in chains and forced under duress to suggest that there was something going on.  Well, what can you expect from Politico?  You know where they stand.  They’re the Fox news of what appears to be legitimate political journalism.  They specialize in rumor, innuendo and wild speculation.

I can do wild speculation too.  So, here’s my best guess as to why Eric Massa is retiring.  He bucked his leadership on the health care reform bill.  He held out for single payer.  Being a Navy vet, he probably sees the benefits to a single payer system. (We should at least explore the idea)  And now he is being made a poster child for what happens to you if you cross Steny Hoyer.  Maybe they told him he wouldn’t get any help from the home team in his re-election bid this fall.  Massa comes from a swing district.  Just to put the cherry on the sundae, Hoyer follows up on Massa’s announcement by idly speculating on the ethics charges.  It *almost* sounds like he’s instigating whoever is making them to go to the ethics committee and report Massa.  Now, why would you knife one of your own like that?  Presumably, you still need Massa’s votes for upcoming bills, at least until he actually goes back to NY.  Maybe it’s because Massa isn’t expected to cooperate on much of anything Hoyer wants, to which I say, good for Massa.

But it must be putting a chill on anyone else who doesn’t want to play the establishment political game.  Step out of line and not only will we make your re-election difficult, we’ll ruin your reputation and your family life.  Nice.

Well, I’ll just leave it at that.  What more is there to say?  I hope that Massa hasn’t suffered a relapse of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and I really hope that the ethics charges are a whole lot of sound an fury signifying nothing.  But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see  Congresscritters with a lot less determination than Massa cave to the demands of the House leadership on health care reform.  Let’s face it, most of them are craven, don’t-rock-the-boat, let’s-all-get-along, student council types anyway.  Even the bravest among them still want to be loved by their friends.  They’ll cave.

Good luck, Eric.  We’ll miss you.

Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!!

A giant 8.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Chile and triggered a tsunami

President Michelle Bachelet confirmed 47 deaths and said more were possible. Telephone and power lines were down, making damage assessments difficult in the early morning darkness.

“Never in my life have I experienced a quake like this, it’s like the end of the world,” one man told local television from the city of Temuco, where the quake damaged buildings and forced staff to evacuate the regional hospital.

According to The New York Times,

The quake downed buildings and houses in Santiago and knocked out a major bridge connecting the northern and southern sections of the country.

It struck at 3:34 a.m. local time and was centered about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was some 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live.

Phone lines were down in Concepcion as of 7:30 a.m. and no reports were coming out of that area. The quake in Chile was 1,000 times more powerful than the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti on Jan 12, killing at least 230,000, earthquake experts reported on CNN International.

The U.S. Geological Survey and eyewitnesses reported more than a dozen aftershocks, including two measuring magnitude 6.2 and 6.9.

Only hours earlier, there was a 6.9 magnitude earthquake off the southern coast of Japan. A tsunami was predicted, but did not take place.

The late late night TC crowd was discussing this insane video of Trent Franks (R-Arizona) being asked about hate radio and Rush Limbaugh and then doing a quick pirouette to talking about abortion and “killing innocent babies.” He calls Obama “the abortion president” and he thinks African Americans were better off under slavery because (he claims) “half of all black babies are aborted.” Oh, and Rush Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox because he cares so much about humanity.

Just who is voting for politicians like this? Thinking about the possible answers to that question gives me the creeps.

And speaking of forced servitude, why don’t they just set Tilikum the serial killer whale free?

Three years ago, Russ Rector, a Fort Lauderdale dolphin trainer turned marine mammal activist, said he wrote SeaWorld a letter warning it was pushing its show mammals too hard to wow audiences, thereby inviting attacks on trainers.

On Wednesday, a killer whale named Tilikum implicated in two previous fatalities attacked a trainer during a show at the Orlando theme park, dragging her around like a toy and drowning her in front of horrified visitors.

“I warned them this was going to happen,” Rector said. “Happy animals don’t kill their trainers.”

Another opinion:

Naomi Rose, a senior scientist for the Humane Society of the United States, which has campaigned at marine parks, said Tilikum’s reputation was well known and that SeaWorld specifically forbade trainers from entering the orca’s tank.

“He clearly has some sort of issue with people in the water with him,” she said of the orca.

Rose and many marine mammal activists believe the stress of life in a tank is acute for orcas, large animals that roam deep waters in close-knit pods.

“They’re moody,” she said. Rector, who has campaigned for years to free Lolita, a female orca that has spent nearly four decades in captivity at the Seaquarium in Miami, says it leaves them “demented.”

Lolita, Rose said, has not been linked to any serious attacks on trainers, but its old tank-mate, Hugo, died of a cranial bleeding in 1980 that activists blamed on the orca ramming its head against the sides of a small tank.

Can you blame a whale for getting mad when he is kept in a tiny container and forced to perform tricks for humans instead of being able to swim freely in the ocean? And get this, another trainer says Dawn Brancheau’s horrible death was all her own fault.

A former co-worker told the station that trainer Dawn Brancheau was to blame when her hair floated over the mouth of killer whale Tilikum. The massive creature responded by dragging her under Wednesday, and she drowned.

Thad Lacinak, a former head trainer at SeaWorld, said the trainers knew to stay away from the whale’s mouth. “The protocol was not to be around Tilikum’s mouth while you’re laying down,” he said.

Reporter Emily Turner explained that Lacinak said Brancheau “became too comfortable with the animal she loved so much.”

And can you believe there are still pictures and video on-line of Breacheau’s last moments? What is wrong with us? Set these beautiful, intelligent animals free!

Did you know that Matt Taibbi and an expat named Mark Ames ran an alternative newspaper in Russia for years? I didn’t. Yesterday I posted a link to an article by Ames on Ayn Rand’s obsession with a vicious serial killer who liked to dismember little girls.

From there, I was directed to Ames’ website and learned that this month’s Vanity Fair has an in-depth story on the “The unlikely life and sudden death of The Exile, Russia’s angriest newspaper.” Ames is also the author of a book on workplace and school shootings in which he argues that Americans don’t want to face what is really going on in this rage killings–that bullying and alienation in schools and workplaces are driving both kids and adults to the point where they just can’t take it anymore. Sounds controversial yet interesting. I reserved it at my local library.

President Obama got up really early this morning so he could offer more “compromises” to Republicans in his weekly radio address.

“I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care if the other side is serious about coming together to resolve our differences and get this done. But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge,” Obama said.

“The tens of millions of men and women who cannot afford their health insurance cannot wait another generation for us to act. Small businesses cannot wait. Americans with pre-existing conditions cannot wait. State and federal budgets cannot sustain these rising costs.

The President didn’t mention that the bill he supports doesn’t do anything to help lower health care costs for ordinary Americans or prevent insurance companies from refusing to pay for care for people with preexisting conditions.

This article in New Scientist reports on research suggesting that ancient humans may have communicated in a written language much earlier than previously thought: The writing on the cave wall

Until now, the accepted view has been that our ancestors underwent a “creative explosion” around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, when they suddenly began to think abstractly and create rock art. This idea is supported by the plethora of stunning cave paintings, like those at Chauvet, which started to proliferate across Europe around this time. Writing, on the other hand, appeared to come much later, with the earliest records of a pictographic writing system dating back to just 5000 years ago.

Few researchers, though, had given any serious thought to the relatively small and inconspicuous marks around the cave paintings. The evidence of humanity’s early creativity, they thought, was clearly in the elaborate drawings.

While some scholars like Clottes had recorded the presence of cave signs at individual sites, Genevieve von Petzinger, then a student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, was surprised to find that no one had brought all these records together to compare signs from different caves. And so, under the supervision of April Nowell, also at the University of Victoria, she devised an ambitious masters project. She compiled a comprehensive database of all recorded cave signs from 146 sites in France, covering 25,000 years of prehistory from 35,000 to 10,000 years ago.

What emerged was startling: 26 signs, all drawn in the same style, appeared again and again at numerous sites (see illustration). Admittedly, some of the symbols are pretty basic, like straight lines, circles and triangles, but the fact that many of the more complex designs also appeared in several places hinted to von Petzinger and Nowell that they were meaningful – perhaps even the seeds of written communication.

I’ll wrap this up with a feel-good story from a few days ago about a 3-year-old girl who was saved from freezing to death by her dog Blue: Police Credit Dog With Saving Lost Girl’s Life

“She was able to stay warm with the dog. And it probably was one of things that saved her life. It was extremely cold out here,” Sgt. Jeff Newnum of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office told KPHO, a CBS news affiliate in Phoenix. “God watched over her last night.”

Victoria Bensch vanished while playing outside with the family’s Queensland Heeler around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Search teams scoured the rocky terrain surrounding Victoria’s Cordes Lakes, Ariz., home, but as the night wore on, and temperatures dipped into the 30s, there was still no sign of her.

When the sun rose Friday morning, a rescue helicopter spotted movement below. It was Blue, hovering close to the missing girl, nearly half a mile from their home.

Even as medics approached, Blue kept Victoria, who was only wearing a T-shirt, pants and tennis shoes, safe.

“I think the dog was initially apprehensive of me. I was a little concerned he might bite me when I first walked up, but as I just walked right past the dog, the [animal] realized I was there to help,”

Awwww….

So what are you reading this morning?

HAVE A STUPENDOUS SATURDAY!!!!!!!

Friday Morning News and Views

Good morning Conflucians!!! TGIF!

When I first wrote that I really thought it was a good morning. I just spent around 2-1/2 hours writing a long morning news post, and when I tried to save it, I discovered that WordPress had logged me out. Therefore, my entire post was wiped out. I’ll try to recreate some of it, but here are some non-political stories to get you started. Too bad I got so involved in writing that I didn’t save till the end…

We were back in the deep freeze this morning in New England–12 degrees where I live, but we aren’t facing what the Twitter folks are calling “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse.”

the main event with this storm will be heavy snow in the Mid-Atlantic States. Snow will begin in the Washington area this afternoon and spread northward towards Philadelphia by evening.

Heavy snow will continue into Saturday before winding down by evening. Travel may grind to a halt for a time, especially overnight and Saturday.

By the time the storm ends, many areas in northern Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and southern Pennsylvania will have over a foot of snow. Some places may end up nearly two feet of snow from this storm.

As the low pushes off the coast, it will strengthen quickly and produce very strong winds, especially along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Gusts between 45 and 50 mph are possible from southern New Jersey to the Norfolk area Friday night and Saturday morning.

Blizzard warnings are in effect for southeastern areas of New Jersey as well as much of Delaware.

It is also worth mentioning that this storm will spread snow as far west as the Ohio Valley.

Amazingly, the storm is expected to blow out to sea before it can get up here to New England. It’s our second weekend of nice weather while those south and west of us suffer. I feel for the people in the areas that will be hard-hit, but I’m sure glad I won’t have to shovel snow this weekend (fingers crossed, because you never know with the weather).

Police Arrest Drive-by Ass Grabber (with video!)

RIDGELAND, Miss. — A Madison man was arrested by Ridgeland police and is accused of driving up and grabbing a woman’s butt, police said.

Christopher Johnson, 26, was arrested Friday and is charged with disorderly conduct, Ridgeland police said.

He is accused of grabbing Debbie Thweatt’s butt as she was walking out of Walmart in Ridgeland Tuesday, police said.

The guy grabbed another woman’s ass before he was arrested!

Beware lottery winners: Friend of slain lottery winner arrested on accessory charges

A Florida woman has been arrested in connection with the death of a lottery millionaire, whose body was found buried under recently added concrete at a home, authorities said.

Dorice Donegan Moore, 37, was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of accessory after the fact regarding a first-degree murder in the death of Abraham Shakespeare, 43, said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.

Moore befriended Shakespeare after he won a $31 million Florida lottery prize in 2006 and was named a person of interest in the case after Shakespeare went missing, authorities said.

******************************************************************************

Can I just say again that I love Al Franken?


Al Franken lays into David Axelrod over health care bill

Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats.

Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration’s failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact.

The sources said Franken was the most outspoken senator in the meeting, which followed President Barack Obama’s question-and-answer session with Senate Democrats at the Newseum on Wednesday. But they also said the Minnesotan wasn’t the only angry Democrat in the room.

“There was a lot of frustration in there,” said a Democratic senator who declined to be identified.

“People were hot,” another Democratic senator said.

But apparently Franken was the only one with real guts.

And then there’s this: Sen. Al Franken Rips NBC, Comcast Execs Over $30 Billion Merger

and this: Franken telling weak-kneed NARAL to beware of the current SCOTUS, especially Chief Justice Roberts.

What redeems my faith in the system is the fact that every so often, a politician comes along who actually exceeds my expectations, who comports themself the way we expect a politician to — without fear of losing, with more of a focus on the people they represent than the next election. The late, great Sen. Paul Wellstone, DFL-Minn., was one of those politicians. He ran a spirited campaign and talked a good show, but once elected he backed up his words with actions. He walked the talk.

And now, the man who holds his seat in the Senate is doing the same thing.

On Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken, DFL-Minn., served as the keynote speaker for the NARAL Pro-Choice America Roe v. Wade anniversary luncheon. And his remarks to the group were outstanding. Franken gave a full-throated, unapologetic defense of the right of women to choose their own reproductive destinies — and did so with both humor and grace.

I like this piece on Franken by Allison Kilkenney at True/Slant

Kilkenny is very good. She had a great snarky post yesterday too: Another columnist asks administration for blanky, cup of cocoa. It’s about “Terrorism Derangement Syndrome.”

Another loudmouthed politician whom I don’t like or trust as much as I used to, Barney Frank, made a very good speech recently about how the Right Wing Noise Machine works.

I have to agree with Frank that John Fund is a slimy, scurrilous liar and he deserves to be shunned.

Dennis Kucinich (another member of the House whom I don’t trust as much as I used to) has a post at Truthdig on health care reform after Massachusetts.

The verdict in Massachusetts was a verdict on the overall economy. But it was also a commentary on how the entire health care debate was flipped upside down by insurance interests who were able to intervene so that the final product that was offered out of the Senate was nothing more than a sell-out to the insurance industry.

We can still have health care reform in America. We need to take a short-term and a longer-term view. On the short-term: We need to take away the antitrust exemption that insurance companies have. We need to make sure, on the short-term, that we can see everyone with a pre-existing condition have access to insurance. There are things that we can do with single-initiatives to help regain the momentum on health care.

And for the longer-term: The answer is “Medicare for All.” The answer was never to continue to give the insurance companies one out of every three dollars in our health care system.

If only someone would listen to him!

Please check out this autobiographical piece on living under DADT by Retired Navy Capt. Joan E. Darrah.

OK, that’s about all I can remember of my lost post. I know I had more links, but I can’t remember them all. I’ll leave it to you Conflucians to post your stories in the comments. I love you guys!

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!

Saturday Morning News and Views: Populist Uprising Edition

Good Morning Conflucians!!!

President Obama was in Ohio yesterday trying to impersonate a populist.

“I won’t stop fighting for you,” he thundered in a campaign-style speech in economically sagging northeastern Ohio, remarks that provided a likely preview of the themes in his first State of the Union speech next Wednesday.

Trying to shore up public support, Obama urged people to “stand by me, even during these tough times.”

Like you stood by us Mr. President? When did you fight for us anyway?

Obama acknowledged that the healthcare overhaul — suddenly in limbo on Capitol Hill — had run into a political “buzz saw.” He dismissed concerns that his lengthy focus on healthcare meant he had taken his eye off the economy, the country’s No. 1 problem.

“Let me dispel this notion that we were somehow focused on that (healthcare) and so as a consequence not focused on the economy. First of all, all I think about is how are we going to create jobs in this area,” Obama said in Elyria, Ohio.

The president’s switch to a more populist tone followed his own admission in an ABC News interview earlier this week that he had lost a direct connection with everyday Americans.

I’m not so sure he ever had a connection with “everyday Americans”–those gun-toting bitter knitters? And those uppity women who don’t know their place? No, I don’t think so.

If Mr. Obama wants to make a “direct connection” with “everyday Americans,” he is going to have to give them more than “just words.” He is going to have to pretty much do a complete about face and become as “transformational” as he pretended to be when he was campaigning. He is going to have to stop impersonating Herbert Hoover and start impersonating Franklin Roosevelt. I’m really not sure if he is capable of that, but if he manages to do it, I’ll be the first to cheer him on.

From the Toledo Blade:

A defiant President Obama assured Ohioans yesterday that he will continue to fight for health care, banking, and energy reform despite recent political setbacks that some argue have endangered his agenda.

He made the promises at Lorain County Community College even as Ohio announced its unemployment rate had hit 10.9 percent in December, up from 10.6 percent the month before. The national jobless rate is 10 percent.

“I did not run for President to turn away from these challenges,” he told a town-hall meeting of about 1,300 people.

“I didn’t run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them once and for all. I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for the fortunate few, but for everybody who’s willing to work hard in this country,” he said.

Uh huh. Talk is cheap, Mr. President. Now lets see some action. Continue reading

Oh, For Cryan Out Loud! Do Dems REALLY Want Coakley To Win???

Along with all of the other email I got yesterday from Senators John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Bob Menendez, some DNC ijits and Barack Obama, urging me to help support Martha Coakley, I got yet *another* email from Joseph Cryan, the New Jersey Democratic Party Chair. (Note to Cryan: after the 2008 RBC meeting, I asked to be removed from the Democratic party roster. You can take me off your email list, thank you very much.)

So, the Democrats are in full panic mode if they are going to these lengths to get Coakley elected. Oh, yes you are, guys. You’re having an “Oh, $hit!” moment. Because, let’s face it, if you can’t get a liberal Democrat elected in Massachusetts, what the hell is that saying about your party and the Lightbringer you forced on the rest of us to lead us into the era of “Hope and Change!™”?

But look at the content of Cryan’s email:

What can we do to help? Please commit to helping the cause by clicking here: http://my.barackobama.com/CoakleyN2N

You can call voters in Massachusetts and help Martha Coakley continue Senator Ted Kennedy’s remarkable legacy.

As Massachusetts’ first woman senator, Martha Coakley will help advance Kennedy’s legacy – fighting for equal rights, a strong economy, and our families and communities. Without her vote, health care won’t happen.

Ok, here’s the problem with this appeal.  First of all, it makes it look like the entire Democratic party is owned by myBarackObama.  It is not.  Massachusetts and New Jersey did not vote for Obama in the primary of 2008.  He was rammed down our throats until we choked on him and only Massachusetts was actually allowed to cast some of their delegate votes for Hillary at the convention.  If you want our support, putting the Unity Pony’s name on the URL was a baaaad move. (and let me add that I have spoken to a LOT of people, many of them social conservatives, who really wish Hillary Clinton was our president right now.)  Secondly, and this is tied to the first problem, no one likes the health care reform bills proposed by the House or the Senate with Obama’s blessing.  We’re not just talking about Republicans and people who watch Fox News.  They’re going to vote for Brown anyway.  No, we’re talking about Democrats.  Democrats do not like this bill.  In fact, many of them hate this bill.  HATE IT.  And they hate it because it wasn’t written with Democratic principles in mind, which is why, if it passes, it will be a reflection of Barack Obama’s lousy negotiation skills and Max Baucus and friends dismissive attitudes towards Democratic voters who put them in office to Change!™ things.

Democrats hate this bill on so many levels that it’s really hard to know where to begin but let’s just start with the latest travesty, the union exemption from the excise tax.  Do you party people know how damaging that’s going to be to the public perception of unions?  Once again, the White House makes concessions to one group, that is only doing its job to represent its constituents, something Congressional reps should try for a change, and the result is that everyone else who happens to have decent, but not luxurious health care bennies at work will take a hit.  The optics of this whole thing are wrong in so many ways that I can’t believe the party would even let this happen.  Now, you’ve got working people fighting with each other and hating the party’s guts.

You’ve written a bill that locks average struggling people into insurance policies, forbids the vast majority of them from shopping around for better deals, bent over backwards to kiss the asses of the evangelicals on the issue of women’s reproductive rights, imposed an excise tax on those policies with the anticipated result that the benefits themselves will be trimmed for working people and you’ve made everyone mad at the unions for just doing their jobs.  Try to get their endorsement after this once the blowback from non-union people hits them.   You forced them into the untenable position of looking like special interests when they are really just trying to protect the workers who gave up wage increases for better health benefits.  Suddenly, they look like the bad guys.  And now you send out letters to Democrats who haven’t been the least little bit interested in the ridiculous Tea Party movement asking them to help support Coakley for the very same reasons that voters in Massachusetts are pissed off at her.

Have you Democratic big wigs completely lost the plot??

I would LOVE to see another woman in the Senate but I sure am glad I’m not voting in Tuesday’s election.  If I were living in Massachusetts, I’d be seeing so much red when I went to the polls, Brown would win by a landslide.

If you really want Coakley to win, take my advice: Table the health care reform bills and go back to the drawing board.  Take the bills out of contention and Coakley *may* have a fighting chance.  I know that the longer you wait to pass it, the more the Republican message machine will make it harder to pass.  But if it’s already a bill nobody wants, not even your friends, then the Wurlitzer isn’t doing as much damage as you’re doing to yourselves.  Table it, fix it and try again later.  Better later than never.  We’ve got employment issues and a broken economy.  You’re going to need all 60 votes.  Take HCR off the table, tell Michelle Obama to register as a lobbyist for for-profit hospitals just to make it official and start all over again.  Make the announcement today before it’s too late.  This is Massachusetts where the residents are already living with a health care system imposed on them by the state that is very much like the one you want to hang on the rest of us.  There are far more registered Democrats in Massachusetts than there are in other states.  If they are willing to vote in a Republican, it’s not because they bought the “big government” schtick.  It’s because they don’t buy the post-partisan, across-the-aisle, “let’s put everything on the table and negotiate our principles” away, Unity Pony type Democratic way of doing things.

And stop the frickin’ emails already.

Christmas Day News and Views

Peace on Earth

Merry Christmas Conflucians! I hope everyone has a lovely day today. News events march onward, of course, despite the holiday season. Here are some stories that caught my eye this morning. Please add your own important and interesting links in the comments.

If you haven’t see in it already, please go read this excellent post at Corrente by Tony Wikrent: How the status quo can kill: the example of free trade

Boy, was this writer’s talent ever wasted on the progs at dailykos! There is really no way to provide an excerpt that will do this piece justice. You really do have to read the whole thing.

A woman leaped over a barricade at midnight mass at the Vatican and knocked Pope Benedict onto the marble floor. Here is some amateur video of the events.

More Vatican news:

NYT: Vatican Defends Status of WWII Pope

In an effort to calm growing tensions with Jewish groups, the Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision moving the wartime pope Pius XII closer to sainthood was not a “hostile act” against those who believe Pius did not do enough to stop the Holocaust.

Really?

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a statement saying that the beatification process evaluated the “Christian life” of Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, and not “the historical impact of all his operative decisions.”

Moving Pius toward sainthood “is in no way to be read as a hostile act towards the Jewish people, and it is to be hoped that it will not be considered as an obstacle on the path of dialogue between Judaism and the Catholic Church,” Father Lombardi wrote.

That sounds a little odd and hypocritcal to me, but then I don’t really believe in the concept of sainthood. The Catholic Church made Maria Goretti a saint because she supposedly forgave the man who raped and murdered her. That tells me that the Church’s decisions about sainthood actually do send messages.

Amy Sullivan, Time Magazine: No Churchgoing Christmas for the First Family

But there’s one common Christmas practice not on the First Family’s schedule: a visit to Christmas Eve church services.

Why am I not surprised?

Church, in fact, has been a surprisingly tough issue for the Obamas. They resigned their membership with Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in 2008 after Obama renounced the church’s controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. And while the First Family intended to find a local church to attend when they moved to Washington, concerns about crowds and displacing regular worshippers has prevented them from finding a new religious home during their first year here.

The Obamas have attended Sunday services in Washington three times this year — once at the predominantly African-American 19th Street Baptist Church, and twice at St. John’s Episcopal Church across Lafayette Square from the White House.

Three times in a whole year! Amazing, for such a deeply religious man {snort}

At Huffpo, the ever-hopeful Cenk Uygur argues that progs can move Obama to the left! {hysterical laughter}

There are many debates among progressives now on the true nature of Barack Obama. Did he mean anything he said on the campaign trail? Is he really a progressive? Did he ever mean to challenge the status quo or was he using the word “change” as a campaign gimmick? Is he just a corporatist like most other politicians?

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! That’s funny. I know Cenk can’t possibly think there’s a chance in hell that Obama actually meant any of the promises he made while campaigning. Come on!

Does he mean well or does he have bad intentions? Come on, don’t be ridiculous. Of course, he means well. But in his own mind, George Bush thought he meant well too (for the most part). I’m positive that Obama thinks that he is doing the best he can to bring about as much change as he can within the limits of this system.

Ooops! I guess Cenk has a way to go before he finally gets all that Koolaid out of his system.

Is he a true progressive or a corporatist sell out? Well, that depends on what you mean. Has he wound up helping corporate America tremendously through health care “reform,” finance “reform,” etc.? Well, Wall Street certainly seems to think so (and so do most progressives). Did he do that because he thought, “I can’t wait to help corporate America and screw over the little guy”? No, I’m sure he thought he had to accommodate the powers that be in order to affect any change at all in this system. But the bottom line has been the same, either way – the system has been tweaked but corporate America chugs along with even more government largesse than before.

I’m sure Obama is a progressive that would help the average American if he thought he could. But apparently he thinks he can’t. He can only bring them a small amount of change because of what he thinks the system will allow.

Uh huh. Keep on telling yourself that, Cenk. Maybe it will somehow make you feel better about being hoodwinked into voting for Bush III.

Paul Krugman thinks that the Heath Care bill will save millions of future Tiny Tims–after 2014, that is.

Krugman scolds people like us who think the bill is nothing but a big mess of corporate giveaways and efforts to control women’s bodies:

Finally, there has been opposition from some progressives who are unhappy with the bill’s limitations. Some would settle for nothing less than a full, Medicare-type, single-payer system. Others had their hearts set on the creation of a public option to compete with private insurers. And there are complaints that the subsidies are inadequate, that many families will still have trouble paying for medical care.

Unlike the tea partiers and the humbuggers, disappointed progressives have valid complaints. But those complaints don’t add up to a reason to reject the bill. Yes, it’s a hackneyed phrase, but politics is the art of the possible.

Oddly, Krugman never mentions either the anti-abortion language in both the House and Senate versions of the bill; nor does he address the shoring up of the Bush conscience rules in the Senate version. How very very strange. I guess Krugman thinks it’s just fine if Congress passes a health care bill for men that allows the government and health care workers to control women’s choices.

The News side of Krugman’s paper isn’t as sanguine as he is.

Health Care Changes Wouldn’t Have Big Effect for Many

what about the roughly 160 million workers and their dependents who already have health insurance through an employer? For many people, the result of the long, angry health care debate in Washington may be little more than more of the same.

As President Obama once promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.”

That may be true even if you don’t like your health plan. And no one seems to agree on whether the legislation will do much to reduce workers’ continually rising out-of-pocket costs.

Chris Good at The Atlantic: Insurance Industry’s Reaction: Senate Bill Would Raise Costs


And some Christmas-oriented stories:

BBC News: In pictures: Christmas around the world

Longmont Times-Call: The true Father Christmas: Before there was a Santa Claus, there was the generous St. Nicholas

BBC News: Christmas in Iraq: Muslims buy Christmas decorations in a Baghdad market, where both faiths have worshipped side by side for centuries

China View: World pray for peace on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem

NYT Op-Ed: Everyone Is Invited

Kansas City Star: Excerpts from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

Christmas Eve in West Fargo, North Dakota

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!

Failure was the plan


Many of the posts and comments urging progressives to support the health care reform bill are based on a false premise. When you remove that false premise you realize that all the arguments for passing this horrible bill are bogus.

Right now Left Blogistan seems to be in agreement that the current version of health care reform is a horrible bill. Months ago I quit paying close attention to exactly what is in the bill because it was already bad and kept getting worse. The current argument among progressives is whether or not they should support a horrible bill.

Some people blame Joe Lieberman, others blame Harry Reid, or Rahm Emmanuel, Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Republicans, tea-baggers or even Hillary Clinton.  There are some newly-minted PUMAS accusing Obama of selling out but others are still in denial and want to believe that Obama tried to do the right thing but misjudged what he was up against or was badly advised.

Whether they blame Obama or someone else, their arguments contain the same false premise. That false premise is the idea that Obama and the Democratic leadership actually support health care reform, but the Republicans and the Blue Dogs have joined forces with the lobbyists to obstruct them.

Obama and the Democratic leadership DO NOT support health care reform.  The problem isn’t that they’re apathetic about it, it’s that they are actively opposed to it.They aren’t opposed on ideological grounds or because they want to see people suffer, it’s just a simple conflict of interest.  There is no financial incentive for them to reform our nations health care system, but obstructing and opposing reform is very lucrative.

This health care reform clusterfuck was not an accident, it was planned.

Suppose you had a co-worker who on a daily basis kept “accidentally” spilling her coffee on your desk, messing up what you were working on and making you miss deadlines? What if your supervisor was a clumsy oaf who unintentionally grabbed your breast or your ass 2-3 times a week? How about if your boss kept making mistakes on your pay, invariably shorting you 10-20% on your sales commissions?

Assume that each of these people apologized each and every time it happened, and always sounded very sincere. How long would it take before you realized that they were doing it intentionally?  Not long I would hope.

The conservative movement has been on the rise most of my adult life. They have been well organized and heavily funded, and even before FOX News was created they had their own propaganda network in the media.  The Republican party is their political arm, but the real power isn’t the politicians, it’s the wealthy corporatists.

Their primary goal is returning this country to the golden age that existed before the New Deal.  No unions, no  government social spending, and no regulation of banks and business.  Because this country is still officially a democratic republic we still have elections, but the corporatists have been successful at rigging the outcomes in their favor.

With the exception of the Big Dawg in 1992 and 1996 I watched Republicans run rough-shod over Democrats for decades. As the minority party in Congress they have been able to block progressive legislation and judicial appointments, but when they became the majority that’s when the Democrats really got steamrollered.

I used to get frustrated watching the Democrats get outmaneuvered tactically and many times I shook my head in disgust as they made concession after concession. The worst part was when they surrendered without a fight. I wouldn’t have minded losing quite so much if they at least put up a fight.

Because of Iraq and Katrina you could sense that the public mood had turned against George Bush and the GOP by early 2006. But even though polls showed the war was very unpopular the Congressional Democrats were reluctant to push the issue. But in spite of doing everything they could to lose the Democrats won big.

But when Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker of the House one of the first things she did was declare that impeachment was off the table. I couldn’t understand why the Democrats did nothing to stop the war or end the lawless behavior of the Bush administration.  The Democratic leadership couldn’t maintain any discipline.  It was very rare to see a Republican voting for a Democratic bill, but there were some blue dogs that voted with the GOP more often than they voted with their own party.

Then one day the light came on in my head. It was about the time that Alberto Gonzales was telling the Senate he couldn’t remember a single thing about his job as Attorney General.  Then the “loyal Bushies” started stonewalling with claims of privilege and by pleading the Fifth.  There was ample evidence to justify a special prosecutor or the appointment of a special committee to investigate.  But all the Democrats did was make a little noise and then drop it.

That’s when I realized they didn’t want to win.  They were like the Washington Generals – the team that always played the Harlem Globetrotters – they got paid to lose.  The Democrats would say the right things, but when it came time to vote they let the Republicans win.  They would make speeches scolding bankers and then turn around and deregulate Wall Street.  They pretend to be on our side, but their loyalty goes to the big money special interests.

I’m not saying there aren’t any good Democrats in Washington anymore, but they are an endangered species.  The Democratic leadership has gone over to the enemy, and that includes Obama, Pelosi and Reid.  Why would they do something like that? During the Watergate investigation Mark Felt/DeepThroat supposedly told Woodward and Bernstein to “follow the money.” That is where the truth is.

The pressure for health care reform has been building for years. It was obvious after the 2006 midterms that the Democrats were going to re-take the White House in 2008 and health care costs have been spiraling out of control for the past couple decades. Add in Hillary as the presumptive front-runner and even Stevie Wonder could see what was coming.  So the corporatists shifted their attention to the Democratic party.

Last year what party and which candidate got the most money from Big Pharma and the health insurance companies?  I’ll give you a hint – it was the same party and candidate that got all the Wall Street money.  They gave him millions back in 2007 when he was a rookie Senator to start his campaign  and they spent  lots more buying him the nomination.

You didn’t really think all those career Democrat politicians in Washington suddenly got starry eyes and tingly legs just because they heard Obama make a speech did you?  The party insiders helped Obama because Obama had rich and powerful friends that asked them to help Obama.  The same thing goes for the media.  Early on Obama was getting more media attention than he deserved, and it was mostly positive.

After decades in Washington shilling for the special interests Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd could barely raise enough money to compete in Iowa.  Even though they were both regulars on Sunday morning news shows their campaigns got little attention.  Richardson, Vilsack, Kucinich and Gravel were even worse off.  During 2007 the six of them combined raised about $25 million.  Obama raised that much in the first quarter of the year.

They took a light-weight politician with virtually no accomplishments and hired David Axelrod to turn him into Candidate Obama.  He was nearly perfect for them, an unscrupulous man with no core beliefs except his own ambition.  Best of all from their point of view, Obama doesn’t have the strength of character to defy authority.

During the campaign Obama resurrected “Harry and Louise” to attack Hillary’s plan, and criticized her for proposing health insurance mandates.  He also promised to televise the health care reform discussions on C-Span.

People think that after he took office Obama made secret deal with Big Pharma and the health insurance companies. That’s not true.  There might have been some specific details to discuss but the basic outline of the deal was made when Obama sold them his soul in exchange for being President.

Despite his promise to consider all the options Obama made sure single payer got buried. Max Baucus helped him in the Senate and the A-list progressive bloggers cooperated to keep the subject taboo on the front pages of their blogs.

So they’ve supposedly been wheeling and dealing on health care reform for months now, and some parts have changed quite a bit but other parts haven’t. (Keep in mind the speed and efficiency with which the FISA revision and TARP moved through Congress without major changes. Nancy and Harry were in charge back then too.)

They started with a “robust public option” and after weakening it until it it was meaningless they still took it out. There was a provision for a Medicare buy-in for people 55-65 years old. Lieberman liked it, then demanded it be taken out. The House version included the Stupak-Pitts amendment.

Who will be covered and how much will it cost? Fuck if I know, but whatever the current version says will change again before it’s over. But one thing hasn’t changed.

Mandates.

I’ve seen my state government mandate the purchase of insurance, but this is different. If you drive a car in California you have to buy auto insurance. When that law took effect the insurance companies saw a big jump in profits. But you’re not required to drive a car. If you own a business that hires employees you have to buy Worker’s Compensation insurance. But you don’t have to be self-employed.

Obama and the Congressional Democrats are proposing to solve the problem of people without health insurance by making them buy health insurance from private companies. That is truly unprecedented and historic.

Will there be effective cost controls and guaranteed coverage? I wouldn’t bet on it, 30 Democratic Senators voted against allowing the importation of cheaper prescription drugs.  It doesn’t appear they give a fuck about us little people.

They have generously included subsidies for the working poor (the non-working poor already have Medicaid) but all that means is that they will use tax dollars to help cover their premiums.

Right now the health insurance companies are paying out in benefits about 2/3 of of what they collect in premiums.  The remaining 1/3 goes to overhead and profits, and the health insurance companies are very profitable. Soon they will have their profits guaranteed by law and subsidized with tax dollars.

That was the plan from the beginning.

The primary beneficiaries of the plan are the health insurance companies. They invested millions and they will get back billions.  The plan does nothing to reform the system. This is not half a loaf, it is a windfall for the health insurance companies disguised as reform.

The Democrats didn’t try to write a better bill. They didn’t want one. The Democrats wanted this bill because the people they work for wanted this bill.  Unfortunately we aren’t the people they work for.

I expect the bill to pass.  The Democrats aren’t worried about public opinion or job security.

The A-list bloggers can’t stop it, just like they couldn’t stop the FISA revision.  They’re as useless as tits on a boar hog. All it took was a David Axelrod whispering sweet nothings and promises of insider access and they abandoned the idea of a democratic, grassroots progressive blogosphere and became the disseminators of White House talking points.

Health care reform is a big shit sandwich and we’re all gonna have to take a bite, but the A-listers deserve a double helping for all the help they gave the cooks.

The worst part is that despite the humiliating way they were exploited and discarded most of the progressive bloggers will go crawling back to vote for Obama and the Democrats because “the Republicans are worse!”


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The abortion “compromise” doesn’t make the health care reform bill good

Nebraska: Allowing gender inequality one state at a time!

Time has the lowdown on what Harry Reid had to offer Ben Nelson in order for him to sign on to the health care reform bill:

In addition to getting a sweetheart deal for his home state, Ben Nelson also got Harry Reid to offer more than the Casey abortion language in the manager’s amendment. In addition to providing stronger conscience protections for medical institutions and health workers opposed to abortion, and expanding adoption tax credits, the manager’s amendment segregates funds and gives states the option of excluding from their insurance exchanges any plans that cover abortion. In essence, that allows states to adopt the strict Stupak provisions without requiring that states do so.

I think there’s a bit of reverse psychology going on with respect to the issue of abortion.  Let’s dispense with the term anti-abortion, shall we?  Let’s call it what it really is: The movement to deny women the ability to decide for themselves whether to be parents as most persons endowed by their creators with unalienable rights have the right to do.  With anti-abortion measures, women are not just subject to the state, they are forced to recognize a religious presence in their lives whether they have faith or not.  Men do not need to recognize any faith.  They are allowed complete freedom of conscience.

In fact, a crisis of conscience is only respected when women decide to end a pregnancy.  If religious people decide to kill innocent civilians as the collateral damage in a proxy religious war halfway around the world, the rest of us still have to pay taxes for this endeavor regardless of our crisis of conscience.  If fundamentalists insist on an eye for an eye with respect to convicted murderers, even if some of those people are victims of mistaken identity, those of us who oppose capital punishment of innocent people are not allowed to segregate our tax dollars from theirs when it comes time to purchase materials for a lethal injection. One would think that their god would have more consistency when it comes to life ending procedures but for some unfathomable reason, he only objects to women doing it when it affects their own personal lives.  If that’s not the definition of inequality, I don’t know what is.   In fact, if we’re going to continue to fight about Roe v.Wade for the duration of the Republic, let’s just get rid of it now and re-decide the case based on equality instead of privacy.  Are women equal persons under the law? Do they have the unalienable right to decide for themselves if and when they will be parents? Bart Stupak, would you like to answer that question so the women of Michigan can know what they’re voting for in 2010?

This is at the bottom of Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak’s argument in favor of anti-abortion language in the proposed bills.  They feel their priesthood status in their chosen Christian faith charges them with ordering everyone’s lives according to their worldview.  Who appointed them their very narrow and specific, fundamentalist and authoritarian Judeo-Christian God’s authorities on earth?  Apparently, the people of Nebraska and a district in Michigan did.  I thought the Constitution guaranteed us no state religion but I guess the founders weren’t thinking about the extra specialness of Nebraska and a district in Michigan.  Nebraska has a population density of 23 persons/square mile and decreasing.  To put some perspective on that, New Jersey’s population density is 1,134 persons/square mile.  Now, I know that we have a new Republican governor  who could conceivably decide to impose his own conservative stamp on the health care reform act in NJ and take the Nebraska Compromise but if he does, he probably shouldn’t be surprised if women here send their friends around to break his knees.   And then they’re going to be really angry at Congressional Democrats for making it possible for a handful of religious hardasses in Nebraska to control the equal and independent women living in the crowded suburbs of New Jersey.

Look ahead, Democrats.  Do you really want to piss off more women in New Jersey?  Remember what happened to Corzine.

It’s important that we separate abortion from health care reform if for no other reason than there are buggers inside Congress that are trying so damned hard to conflate the two.  So, here’s the deal, guys.  There is no deal. We don’t like this bill.  You apologists for the Democratic party can rationalize it 6 ways to Sunday but there’s no denying that it doesn’t go far enough.  It’s not the New Deal type legislation we desperately need and everyone knows it.  It’s going to saddle a lot of people at the edge with another major expense they can’t afford to pay.  It will rob Petra to pay Paula and even though Petra and Paula are friends, Petra gets relatively little out of this deal.  We aren’t going to end up with a Canadian system, heck, we’re not even getting Germany or Switzerland.  We’re getting a uniquely American system where the middle class and everyone under it is going to be forced to buy from virtual monopolies that will join the cable companies and telecomm giants and banks in screwing them out of every disposable dollar they have.  It’s socialism for the insurance industry.

There were a multitude of permutations that would have succeeded in covering poor and sick people but the Democrats picked the one that is most likely to piss off their own constituents in the highest numbers.  Congratulations, guys.

But this abortion thing?  I gotta wonder why it wasn’t sufficient to stick the knife into health care reform without adding the agonizing poison.  You should have never even entertained Stupak and Nelson no matter how much they howled and screamed.  That’s going to come back to bite you.  And no matter how much theater comes up on the floor of the Senate during debate in the next couple of days to try to remove the amendments and compromises, taking them out is not going to make this bill smell any sweeter.  The jig is up.  We see through the distraction.

Leave the Nebraska Compromise in and you’re massively screwed next year by all of those involuntary female converts to fundamentalist Christianity and Catholicism no matter where they live.  An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

Take it out and you’re still going to alienate all of the Democrats who now have your number.  Either way, your failure to deliver a truly transformative health care reform bill is going to bite you in the ass.

Put the champagne flute down and sober up.

Update: The official talking points troll has arrived in the comments and has a message prepared in the best marketing, manipulative language the Democrats can buy.  It’s obvious that it’s prepared because the commenter didn’t really bother to read the post.  So, here is a summary for those of you too lazy to read the whole thing:

Here’s the bottom line:
If you don’t take the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?
The answer is never. The Democrats are shooting their wad right now on an insufficient and fatally flawed bill because they are afraid they will lose their majorities in congress in 2010.
We want to decouple abortion from this bill, not because leaving in the restrictions are abominable but because it distracts from the badness of the bill.
And don’t tell me about how non-profits have to now take care of the abortion needs of women. American women are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for this country. They deserve to be treated like independent persons with dignity and respect, not like fucking second class citizens and beggars.
The equal rights issue is going to last waaaay past the resolution of this bill. Democrats should be a lot more careful about these things. They WILL pay for it.

Addendum: We need to dump Roe v. Wade. All it has ever done is empower the religious right and allows both parties to use it as a political football.  It is time for the country to decide once and for all whether women are equal persons under the law entitled to equal pay, equal rights and the equal ability to decide if they are going to be parents.  Dump the damn POS.  Put the politicians of both parties on the hotseat and make them defend their primitive inequitable treatment of women. Repeat after me: “I will not support any politician who invokes Roe v. Wade in order to get my vote.”

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