Billie’s Quickies … “How very”

bllieddoseI agree with and respect Glenn Greenwald (@glenngreenwald) an awful lot.  He’s an uber smarty pants who – even when I do find something with which to disagree (and I do, even in the article where the quote below came from) – I can still see where he’s coming from and respect him for educating me on something I most surely either simply did not know about or hadn’t thought about in a particular way.  Whether others like him or not, I have to hunker down to read his commentary because it sure ain’t a quick or thoughtless sound bite, and he always gives me something to chew on.  Glenn Greenwald is great for nuggets like this:

“If the Democratic Party is to become a meaningful alternative, free from corporate control, that will happen not because party leaders such as Obama cause it to happen.  Instead, it will only occur from efforts on the part of Democrats to cease support for, and begin working to eject, those elements which keep the Party beholden to the same interests as the ones who own and control the so-called ‘other party.’  Systematic, credible primary challenges — to impose a price for the Party on this behavior (by forcing them to divert resources to fending off primary challenges) and to make incumbents more accountable to their constituents — is the best, perhaps the only, means for accomplishing that, if it can be accomplished at all.”

  • Earlier this year, a small-town business owner decided he would try to stimulate the local economy by handing out $16,000 in cash to his 24 employees.  But,  they had to donate part of it to charity and spend the rest at local businesses.  HuffPo followed up by finding similar stories in April.  Really is a neat idea.  Bootstraps people! And, here’s an interesting “progression of the recession” thingie.
  • Speaking of the economy.  There’s also health insurance reform.  On that topic, here’s some advice on translating your medical bills, spotting errors, and fighting mistakes.
  • Although I don’t necessarily agree with the title or a few remarks in this excellent commentary of the state of feminism today, I totally understand the sentiment … and the noteworthy and ongoing conversation in the comments between it’s author and his complimenters and critics.  A testament to how to begin a conversation – and not abandon it.
  • Because you can’t have Melrose Place come back without it … HEATHERS trivia! Yay.

Finally …

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Americans Get President’s Message, Democrats Not So Much

briefing1At today’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cited an NBC poll that shows that shows that only 45% of Americans currently believe in “Death Panels.” He cited this as evidence that the President has been effective in debunking myths about health care reform.

I would argue that 45% is an awfully large number to believe in a health care Sasquatch, but even granting that, the President’s effectiveness at combating myths is cold comfort if the Democrats in congress don’t get the message.  I asked Gibbs what happens to the next health care provision to become the subject of an urban legend:

TC:  On health care, you were talking about Chuck’s poll earlier, that — I mean, the good news that most Americans no longer believe in death panels. But the fact remains that Section 1233 was taken out of the House bill. So what can you do to reassure voters that the same fate won’t befall other provisions of the bill if some rumor like the death panels gets started about the public option?

MR. GIBBS: I don’t — I’m not following the thesis of your — the section that’s been pulled out.

TC:Section 1233 about the end-of-life care.

MR. GIBBS: It’s been?

TC: There was a report earlier this week that it’s been dropped.

MR. GIBBS: Well —

TC: Is that not true?

MR. GIBBS: This is in a Senate Finance Committee bill that nobody has seen? Look, what I’m saying is, I think the President is going out there and explaining what those provisions are and what they’re not — regardless of whether they’re in what section of what bill at what time, I think it’s something that the President has been focused on doing and correcting the record. I think it has more to do with a sustained dialogue in dealing with the misrepresentations as it has whether or not a provision may or may not have been dropped.

While I’m happy to credit the President with quelling some of the “death panel” nonsense, I would be more comforted if he could lend some of his, shall we say, fortitude to his panicky congressional standard-bearers.

Public Option the True Test of President Obama’s Game

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This has seemed like a bad week for healthcare reform.  Congressional Blue Dogs are doing their damnedest to kill the public option, and the White House seeming to backtrack on their support of it.  While expressing strong support for it, Gibbs has consistently refused to draw a line in the sand on the public option, and this week, inched back a little.

If this were any other politician, I’d be throwing my hands up in disgust, because this is how these backslides start.  The obvious interpretation is that the White House is innoculating itself from the public option’s defeat.

In Barack Obama’s case, though, this isn’t so obvious.  I’ve spoken before about his unique political MO, likening it to the “rope-a-dope.”  In this case, I hope, he’s being more of a chess player.  Since I’m more of a Gnip-Gnop player, I haven’t got it all figured out yet.

It is important to note that my confidence in the President, to this point, is based on past performance, not magical thinking.  He’s a progressive in triangulator’s clothing.  I’ve been sure he was blowing it before, only to be proven wrong.

This time may be different, however.  He was right to determine that momentum was key to passing strong reform.  Already, this week, one poll is being used deceptively to claim support for a public option is slipping.  The spineless sellout Blue Dogs think they’re in the driver’s seat.  Opponents of the public option continue to pound the public with lies.  Now, it seems like the White House is sounding the retreat.

If Barack Obama is the chess player I think he is, he’s got a plan to rescue the public option from the Blue Dogs.  If I’m right, it will involve Rahm Emanuel and some blunt conversations about mid-term elections.

I don’t think that Barack Obama is a bad enough politician to take the disastrous hit of no public option when he’s got airtight majorities in both houses of Congress.  On the other hand, he likes for it to look like the other guy’s idea.

Either way, I hope the President knows that defying his base, and 76% of Americans, is not an option.  Time to use that powder.

Embarrassed Blue Dogs Flustered by Sarah Palin’s Offer to Campaign

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If I know my political media coverage at all, this is going to be played as an embarrassment for future former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, but I don’t see it that way.

Politico is reporting that, all over the Hill, congressional Blue Dogs are channeling their inner keyboard cat when asked about Palin’s offer to campaign with them:

Some of the members lunged for elevators, others moved to get into meetings (or at least behind closed doors), and a few just chuckled nervously and replied in a clipped fashion that reflected an immense desire to not discuss the topic at any length.

It should have been obvious to anyone that Palin’s offer was more about burnishing her “maverick” cred than any expectation that Democrats would take her up on it.  So the fact that Dems are hemming and hawing is no surprise.

The real embarrassment here is that these are Democrats being asked if they want Sarah Palin to campaign with them.  Given their recent attempts to eff up the healthcare bill by killing the public option,  maybe the idea that they’re being equated with the Thrilla from Wasilla will make them re-think what it means to be a Democrat.

Palin’s offer, on the other hand, may or may not have been politically wise (I think it was one of her rare good moves of late), it displays at least the appearance of something the Azure Lapdogs lack: stones.

Update: President Obama responds to ‘Public Option Cave’ Story

Update: I told you so.  Jump to the end for a statement the President released this morning, obviously in response to the WSJ article.

The Huffington Post is running the scare headline “WHITE HOUSE MAY CAVE ON PUBLIC OPTION,” linking toxraybanner this Wall Street Journal report that seems to have Rahm Emanuel begging Republicans and Blue Dogs to punch the public option in the face:

It is more important that health-care legislation inject stiff competition among insurance plans than it is for Congress to create a pure government-run option, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said Monday.

“The goal is to have a means and a mechanism to keep the private insurers honest,” he said in an interview. “The goal is non-negotiable; the path is” negotiable.

What the frak, Rahm?  Didn’t I just get done saying how you guys punked the Blue Dogs with the $611 billion HELP committee bill that includes a public option?

Coming, as it does, on the heels of President Obama’s urging that outside groups stop attacking cojone-free Democrats on the public option, supporters of the public option are not too happy with Rahm’s comments (or “Rahmments). Continue reading

Help Al Franken Get Ready to Go to Work

Al Franken says he’s ready to get to work:

WASHINGTON — Democrat Al Franken has arrived in Washington offering no jokes _ just a promise that he is “ready to get to work.”

This immediately put me in mind of Kool Moe Dee’s awesome track, “I Go to Work,” and the hilarious idea of adding a Franken-inspired verse.  Y’know, like,

“I go to work, like a Senator.

The floor’s a battlefield, and I’m Pat Benatar…”

But then, I got a load of the video for Moe’s track, and now, I can never listen to it the same way again.  Your dual mission:  To write Franken a verse to the song, and to shoot, edit, and publish an acceptably cool video for the original song.

Senate HELP Committee Releases $611 Bil. Bill With Public Option

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I think President Obama and the “Good Democrats” may have punk’d opponents of the public health care option, and of the President’s vision of health care reform.

The Senate Committe on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (originally Pensions, Labor, Education, and Health, but PLEH didn’t sound as good) has released a health care reform bill that’s going to be pretty tough to argue with when compared with the version that the CBO originally scored.  That incomplete bill carried a 10 year pricetag of over $1 trillion, and only covered about 70% of Americans.  The new bill?

The plan carries a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600 billion, and would lead toward an estimated 97 percent of all Americans having coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Chris Dodd said in a letter to other members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

I’m not complaining, but it sure looks a lot like that earlier version, and the White House’s sparring with the CBO, were a classic rope-a-dope.  After the outcry over a $1 trillion plan that didn’t cover everybody, this one looks like a TKO. Continue reading