Sunday, December 27, 2009

Many on the left have been bemoaning the passage of the Senate health care bill, believing it has been gutted to the point where if anything it has become more of a Christmas gift to insurance companies, therefore better to sink it.

While there is much truth in this sentiment, the many positives in the bill have been seemingly tossed by the wayside, receiving little if any well-deserved attention. Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum have both done yeoman's work in their efforts to highlight many of the bill's pluses.

A key point Kevin makes is this imperfect attempt at reform is a move forward and essentially lays a foundation on which to build, to years down the road not just modify what is in need of fixing, but to also pass measures that compliment existing policy in the bill. Before you know it, a once severely compromised bill "matures" into an increasingly stronger bedrock of reform -- much like how coral serves as the foundational base of a reef. If not for the coral, all that follows in terms of growth and life forms taking hold would be impossible.

If anything, we should look at this bill as a first salvo or shot across the bow. It serves as a tipping point that could set the stage for several additional reform initiatives to come in the future. Looking back, we could one day attribute this bill as that which got the ball rolling. After all, civil rights reform or environmental progress did not come about overnight, with the passage of one comprehensive piece of legislation. It took several steps and much political debate and fights over years to achieve gradual, but meaningful, change. We should expect the same with health care.

In effect, with this bill insurance players may breathe a sigh of relief -- but going forward the extremely favorable terms they've been accustomed to should only get increasingly tougher. Like "peak oil," conditions have likely crested for these companies and their time of unfettered dominance is over. In exchange, we should finally get the health care system we not only deserve, but one that won't bankrupt us. It won't happen next year, or in 2011 for that matter, yet over time it will happen and this bill serves as a crucial starting point.

Happy Holidays & New Year!
WTF? In his annual hot-air fest of recognizing those individuals who were especially courageous during the year, Joe Klein awards a Teddy to -- wait for it -- David Frum. Yes, the once strident right-wing hack who is another wingnut who (supposedly) finally saw the light, the err of his ways, and has spent time trying to make amends by wishing his party would be less obstinate and unreasonable.

That takes courage? Are you kidding me?

And Frum doesn't sound like the sober-minded convert here....

But then maybe the award has something to do with this -- "The Sunshine Boys" are looking quite chummy....

Monday, December 21, 2009

I more/less agree with Kevin. After all the clamoring and drama concerning heath care reform, it won’t amount to squat for the 2010 elections.

The bill will pass and it will likely be forgotten within several weeks. It won't mean much for a few years and the media will have suffered from HC fatigue and look to move on. Tea baggers were not going to vote for Dems anyway, and upset liberals will eventually come to their senses.

Moderates and independents – who matter most during election years – will be influenced by issues other than health care. Perhaps Obama and the Dems know this, which in part is why get HC passed and done with sooner. The key will be what issues surface in the next several months that become the driving force re 2010 elections. But it won’t likely be health care.

It’ll be interesting to see which party is able to best manage the message re which issue(s) does rise to the top....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thank you Think Progress for today's GOP Hypocrisy Moment.

John McCain: "I’ve been around here 20-some years. First time I’ve ever seen a member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks."

Flashback to 2002:
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator’s time has expired.

Mr. DAYTON. I ask for unanimous consent that I have 30 seconds more to finish my remarks.

Mr. McCAIN. I object.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks to Kevin Drum, I'm just getting around to this doozy from Jonah Goldberg. Goldberg attempts to make the case the uber-rich are overburdened by pointing out that on an absolute basis the bottom 95% of income earners have paid 1/3 less in taxes, versus a doubling by the top 1% of income earners.

What he's reflecting is income has dropped by 1/3 for the bottom 95%, and risen by over 100% for the top 1% earners.

Whereas he seems to believe he's making an egalitarian case for the rich, in fact he's just illustrating what we've known for years: the affluent have gotten more affluent since 1980, and the less affluent have increasingly lagged behind.

As I've always said, you should root for wanting to pay more taxes -- as Jonah makes clear.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The right-leaning AP thoroughly reviewed Climategate and their verdict is pettiness exists but no fraud was found.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Further proof these people are certifiable:
"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term," she [Dana Perino] told Sean Hannity.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Food stamps now help feed one in four (25%) children. Simply astonishing.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding Kevin when he wrote, "I remain pessimistic on the ability of Congress to rein in the financial community in any serious way. They just don't have the power."

Assuming he doesn't mean willpower, then I beg to differ. I would argue that in fact Congress does have the power, but what they do lack is the will to confront the financial lobby that pays them quite well to look away. Laws and regulations could be passed that significantly curtail the wrongdoings perpetrated by these large firms, however our political system is so riddled with corporate influence nothing with teeth ever gets enacted.

But again, it's not that they don't have the power, it's that they don't have the incentive and/or fortitude to do what's right, and therefore piss off those entities which allow them to remain incumbents.

On a separate topic, I completely agree with Kevin when he discusses how Afghanistan could become a "political nightmare" for Obama:
[W]hat it demonstrates most strongly is the fantastic political nightmare involved in ever pulling out of a war that hasn't been decisively won. Vietnam is the big-ticket example here, of course, but there are better ones. Take Somalia. After the Black Hawk Down incident in 1993, conservatives demanded that Bill Clinton pull out immediately. Not another American life was worth risking for a barren patch of dirt on the Horn of Africa. Clinton refused, insisting that we "finish the work we set out to do," and kept troops in country for another six months before withdrawing in an orderly way.

And what happened? Conservatives turned around and immediately started building up a mythology that Clinton had lacked spine and immediately ran for the exits at the first sign of trouble. Just like a Democrat to be so weak-kneed! What's more, it's now received wisdom on the right that it was this panicky withdrawal that first convinced Muslim fanatics that America was weak and could be attacked with impunity. In the end, Clinton took a hit for withdrawal even though he was the one who insisted on not cutting and running.

If that's what happens to a Democratic president who played a hawkish role in a small, unimportant war, what would happen to a Democratic president who played a dovish role in a big, important war?