26 March 2010

Next Step: Medicare Buy-In; My letter to my Congressman

Dear Congressman Berman:

First, I want to thank you for being a strong supporter of the historic and vital health care reform legislation which just passed. I know from communicating with you in the past that you were and are a supporter of stronger measures, including a robust public option.

Now I want to urge you to sign on as a co-sponsor of the newly introduced "Medicare You Can Buy Into" bill, HR 4789. This is what is really needed.

It's a simple 3-and-a-half page bill that would let everyone have access to Medicare if they were willing to pay for it.

There are 80 co-sponsors already. I believe that this bill will go a long way to making health care really affordable and control its spiraling costs, by giving people a real alternative to the wasteful private insurance market, and providing real competition which will have the effect of making everyone's health care less costly and more effective.

As a Democrat, I don't need to argue to you that what makes for competition is not just a laissez-faire, anything goes system, but a balanced and regulated market, where public institutions actually ENSURE competition.

Please support HR 4789, and help make the first step towards real health care reform which has already been taken just that... a first step... towards a balanced and competitive system that really does guarantee efficient and affordable health care for everyone.

Thank you.

David Studhalter
North Hollywood, CA
What I hope to eventually see is real Medicare for All, where health care is treated simply as a right, to be paid for from taxes, with those who want to purchase more luxurious coverage or directly buy private care free to do so on the private market. But this bill would be a tremendous improvement over the current system, and would allay many of the potential problems foreseen by many economists with the newly passed system.

President Obama signs historic arms pact with Russia

While the Party of No Deal continues to froth and rail against their historic legislative defeat this week, the President, flanked by the Secretary of State, continue to do the vital work they were elected to do.

The Party of No Deal to Continue ... not dealing

"[O]ur people are pretty upset. The consequences of doing something this big in such a partisan, sleazy way--those consequences are real."  
--Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), March 25, 2010.

WTF. I'm sorry, but this is just beyond belief. Let's get this straight. Alan Grayson was being theatrical when he put up posters on the House Floor saying: "Republican Health Care Plan: 1. Don't Get Sick. 2. If you do get sick... 3. Die quickly." But there is truth in this portrayal. The administration and Dems on the Senate Finance Ctte. worked for months and months to try to get any constructive cooperation from even a small number of Republicans, but they offered absolutely nothing constructive or even halfway realistic; and they obstructed and opposed everything, entirely, always, and finally (other than what turned out to be a little phony pretend cooperation from Olympia Snowe).

Meanwhile, other critical issues languished, and the Obama legislative agenda was effectively derailed by the tactics of obstruction and delay, with no cooperation, no negotiation in good faith, and no realistic alternatives.  This can be contrasted with what often seemed to Progressives like embarassingly excessive cooperative attitudes from many Democrats during the Bush presidency (and Bush I's and Reagan's, let's not forget, but not... remember Newt's shutdown?...reciprocated by them during Clinton's).

The Democrats are partisan? The Democrats are sleazy? Because they used majority rule to pass legislation? Because they used the reconciliation process, which has been used more often by Republicans, including in passing multi trillion dollar non-offset tax cuts that have ruined our fiscal health going forward for decades? Because they used their congressional majorities to pass the cornerstone of what President Obama ran on, however watered down?

Puh-leeze, Republicans, cut the palaver. Go ahead and continue obstructing, but don't give us that crap. The consequences are real, all right. Eventually enough of the electorate is going to wake up to the fact that you are all shills for ultrarich and corporate interests, you are all liars, and you are all hypocrites, who care nothing for the real interests of ordinary people, and you will be politically marginalized. Even your own so-called moderate supporters have already mostly left.

Some day the Republican party will remake itself, just as the Democrats (largely unfortunately) did after the historic defeat of George McGovern. But until then, I think their trajectory is unlikely to be upwards, given this kind of negative and angry refusal to work with anyone on anything. The public, ultimately, will judge this childish and elitist conduct harshly.

25 March 2010

Dem No votes on HCR Reconciliation: Lincoln, Pryor, Nelson

The three Democrats who failed to vote for the Senate reconciliation bill are:

Blanche Lincoln (AR)

Mark Pryor (AR)

Ben Nelson (NE)

All three should face primary challenges, for many reasons, but one of them being this vote.

Note that even Lieberman, Conrad, and Bayh voted YES.

Repubs are nuts to base campaign on repeal of Health Care

Maybe, maybe, I'm totally out to lunch on this, but I seriously think that the Repubs are out of their minds to try to campaign to repeal health care reform. There was an immediate uptick in support for HCR, the President, and even for Dems in Congress; if the GOP folks think the anger they've stirred up with lying propaganda will increase once the bill becomes law, I think they're nuts. But have at it, you lousy lying hypocrites... I do believe it will eventually be your undoing.

24 March 2010

Petition to AGs not to sue to block health care

Chris Kelly, candidate for Calif. AG, asked his e-mail audience to sign this petition, calling on the rightist AGs nationwide who've filed frivolous suits to grandstand on health care (since it's generally recognized that even with the right wing judiciary in some areas and in the Supreme Court, these suits are very unlikely to go anywhere). I added the following comment when I signed the petition:

This litigation is frivolous, as the AGs well know. Only radical interventionist judges (of which, to be sure, there are several on the Supreme Court) would even consider upsetting foundational stare decisis to give these cases more than cursory examination. Moreover, as I say to all my conservative friends, if you really believe that our country cannot afford to provide public health care which is a shadow of that provided by South Korea and Taiwan to their people, then your hero George W. Bush's unpaid-for trillion dollar war and non-offset multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for the rich apparently did even more damage to our economy, and created a debt crisis of even more monumental proportions, than I imagined. Better to spend our energies fixing those problems than trying to deny decent health care to the poor and middle class. For shame.

23 March 2010

David Brooks's column

David Brooks just annoys me to no end. First, he gives a précis of glittering generalities about the social progressivism of Democrats over the years. Then he says the health care bill will stifle the American prospect because of fiscal irresponsibility. Ignore for a moment the economic realities which belie his assumption that health care reform will not actually help to reduce the growth of health care costs as a proportion of the overall economy (which has been the actual experience, as T. R. Reid documents, of every single country which has adopted universal health care). How someone who supported a trillion dollar unpaid-for war which has been wholly destructive of American interests, and a multi-trillion dollar not-offset series of tax cuts, can complain about fiscal irresponsibility is beyond me. Oh, yeah. He's a Republican. Highfalutin' or not, they're all hypocrites, and he's no exception. 

Read this «Open Letter to Conservatives»

Read Russell King's Open Letter to Conservatives.

22 March 2010

Newsmax Propaganda Poll

I sent this to the right wing piece of crap Newsmax in response to their propaganda poll on the passage of health care. 

Do you people really think your ridiculous health care poll isn't an obvious marketing gimmick for your right wing cyberrag? First, you deliberately choose a menacing looking portrait of Obama. Then, every question is farcially propagandistic, taking a page straight from Goebbels' propaganda manual. You even (no doubt deliberately, or at minimum illiterately) misspell "democrats'" as "democrat's". To top it off, in order to submit this nonsense, one has to agree to receive marketing e-mails from you. This is not only not scientific in any way, it's blatant propaganda. You folks should be ashamed of yourselves, but, unfortunately, I'm quite sure you aren't.

Please sign petition in favor of final passage of HCR reconciliation

I don't know how much difference it makes, but if you support Harry Reid's effort to finally, finally, get Health Care Reform done and on President Obama's desk, please take 5 seconds to fill out four fields and submit this electronic petition.

Thank you.

Health Care Reform will be bad for Party of No Deal

The Health Care Bill... assuming reconciliation passes the Senate, is a solid start to eventual real Health Care Reform. 

The Party of No Deal's assumption that it will play politically for them, especially beyond the immediate midterm election, is, in my view almost certainly overly optimistic on their part, and not something we Progressive Democrats need fret overly much about. I offer David Frum's piece here, about how passage of HCR is the GOP's waterloo, not Obama's, as an indicator, and the following, Glenn Greenwald commenting on a CNN poll, as actual evidence: 
 A new CNN poll today finds that Americans oppose the current health care plan by a margin of 59-39%, but a sizable portion of those opposed -- 13% -- oppose it because "it is not liberal enough" (see questions 20 and 21):

Thus, a majority of Americans either support the plan or believe it should be more liberal (52%), while only a minority (43%) oppose the plan on the ground that it is too liberal.
To my mind, this indicates that the proportion of the public that wants "change"... meaning at least modestly progressive reform, is about 39+13 = 52%, just about the same proportion as elected President Obama. So, Republicans, don't be so damn sure this will inure to your benefit, especially in the long term. I think it will not. 

19 March 2010

Wingers Gone Mad

Georgia Congressman sees parallels between health care reform bill and "Great War of Yankee Aggression.'

I think it's fair to say some of these right wingers have literally been driven mad in frustration at no longer being in control.

18 March 2010

Ryan says GOP will repeal health care: Bring it On!

The mentally challenged Ayn Randite Paul Ryan, author of the Republican Roadmap budget (that would increase the deficit, transfer even more wealth to the superrich, increase middle class taxes, and destroy the most popular social programs in U.S. History), has a new line: the GOP, if it takes back control of Congress, will repeal the Health Care Bill. 

Let's parse this a bit. First, it effectively concedes HCR will pass. Second, it ignores the fact that the President would obviously veto such a repeal. So what does this mean? They think they can win elections by arguing that HCR was a bad idea, after it becomes law?

I hope so. We can use this same idiot's budget plan to paint Repubs as shills for the very rich, who want to screw ordinary people out of every benefit they now have, including the most recently passed (more or less) universal health care. If they think this is a winning strategy, I say, they're nuts, and let's have it, because it will not work for them.

17 March 2010

Right Wing Congressman Supports Single Payer (!?)

I suppose it should not surprise me that a right-wing Republican would be a self-contradicting idiot (from TPM):
[MSNBC's] Shuster accused Republicans of supporting insurers, [Rep. John] Shadegg [R-AZ] balked.
"No we don't! You guys keep saying that, but I'm not the guy pushing the bill that says we should compel people to buy insurance from the for-profit guys. That's the Democrats," he said.
Then, after some back and forth with Shuster: "I would support single-payer."
"You would support a government-run medical system?" Shuster asked.
"Absolutely," Shadegg said. "I would support forcing American insurance companies to compete. Right now they have a monopoly."
He also said that the best way to pay for those with pre-existing conditions is to "spread their costs among the healthy, among the taxpayers."
On his web site, Shadegg is described as "known for his strong advocacy for free market health care reform" and once compared single-payer to Soviet gulags.
Go figure. (Might take a while, because it doesn't add up). Interesting, though, almost despite himself, he actually was giving at least the core of a case for single-payer. I guess the essential logic of compassion somehow penetrated the fog of his mean-spirited ideology.

Erick Erickson, extremist, on CNN

Here's my comment to CNN about their execrable decision to give airtime to the notorious right wing extremist, Erick Erickson:

I had long ago concluded that CNN's former reputation for reasonable objectivity and temperateness was no longer deserved, in light of its consistent tilt to the right since the commencement of the Second Bush Administration, but the selection of the GROSSLY intemperate and extremist Erick Erickson as a commentator has pushed the network entirely off the cliff in my book. I will consider the slot on the dial occupied by CNN to be a vacuum, unsuitable for viewing, like FoxNews, henceforth.

Final March for Reform and What's Ahead for Democrats

The materials being put out by OFA (Organizing for America, the President's outreach organization), on the "Final March for Reform" are very good, and very well organized. I hope this is a blueprint for greater activism from the President, in particular as to the specifics of the legislation he wants to see passed. 

The President was great in Ohio the other day, and I think this is just what reform actually takes: highly visible presidential leadership.

I hope going forward that the lesson learned from Health Care is that you must come to the table with the best reform you can think of... and compromise from there. The mistake we made, as Democrats, in HCR was to compromise away Medicare for All or something of that sort before we even came to the negotiations.

Also, I think it must by now be abundantly clear that the Party of No Deal is just that... and that we have to convince the people to demand that their Republican (and some Democratic) congresspeople and Senators vote for their interests.

And, in the campaign, we have to be willing to call them out, point out their hypocrisy, point out how they represent corporate interests and the interests of the Very, Very Rich, and not the interests they pretend to represent.

With Dennis Kucinich having yielded to pressure (including even from Daily KOS's Markos Moulitsas), I am now reasonably optimistic that this HCR reconciliation bill will actually pass, and that it will, in fact, serve as a springboard for further critical reforms.

I have seen commentary (not sure about actual polling) indicating that possibly the election of Brown in Massachusetts was actually the low water mark for Democrats, and that things are actually swinging back already. If that's true, then a huge push to counter the lies and hypocrisy of the Party of No Deal may minimize the damage this MidTerm, and from there, we just have to continue to shape the message, pull together as a party to make sure that there actually is a reform agenda that can be simply and clearly explained to be in the best interests of the great majority of the public, and fight like hell to regain and build on victorious margins in the Congress.

To this end, I would like to see the President's supporters organize to actually buy time for Presidential Fireside Chats, (including advertising to get people to watch them). I have been critical of the President and especially of some of his advisers, but I do think his communication abilities are second to few, if any, and that if he will get out there with real "fire in the belly" and ask the public for support, with strong, albeit straightforward and simple, arguments for his policies, he could actually easily turn around the perception that his presidency is floundering, and create a big momentum of public good will for his agenda. So far, the Party of No Deal has been winning the Message War; they're good at it; but now is certainly not the time to give up.

16 March 2010

Shout Down Bush War and Tax Cut supporters!

And on the subject of Lying Hpocrite Republican hypocrisy, could we just stipulate, please, that anyone who supported the Not-Paid-For Trillion Dollar War for Iran's Interests (aka the Second Iraq War), and the Two Giant Not-Paid-For Wealth Transfers to the Rich (aka "Tax Cuts") under Bush, should be permanently banned from braying about budget deficits? And if they won't shut up, let's just shout them down!

After all, these two events account for the bulk of the current national debt. Let's have some truth around here. 

Lying Hypocrites hypocritical once more (surprise)!

I have no strong opinion on whether it's a good idea to use the "Self-executing" rule to pass the Senate HCR bill in the house at the same time as the reconciliation markup.

But I have to comment on the now continual total hypocrisy of the Lying Hypocrites Republicans in bleating about it, since under Bush they used exactly this parliamentary maneuver dozens of times

Damn, I'm sick of these people. 

T. R. Reid: no-brainer: hate abortion? Support Universal Health Care.

T.R. Reid, author of The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, writing in the Wa. Post:  
  When I studied health-care systems overseas in research for a book, I asked health ministers, doctors, economists and others in all the rich countries why their nations decided to provide health care for everybody. The answers were medical (universal care saves lives), economic (universal care is cheaper), political (the voters like it), religious (it's what Christ commanded) and moral (it's the right thing to do). And in every country, people told me that universal health-care coverage is desirable because it reduces the rate of abortion.
  It's only in the United States that opponents of abortion are fighting against expanded health-care coverage -- a policy step that has been proved around the world to limit abortions.

Tea Partiers truly nuts

"Tea Party Crowd Calls for Pelosi to be Tried for Treason"

--TPM headline today.

Truly, deeply, these people need to get a grip.

Yet another exhortative e-mail to the White House

I was impressed by the President's passion speaking in Ohio yesterday, only wondering why he couldn't have done that 6 or even 9 months ago. But having said that, I am seriously disappointed that the White House is yet again failing to stand up for the best reform possible. Even now, there's every reason to believe that with real effort, the Senate could muster 50 votes for a reconciliation bill that would include a decently robust public option, but YET AGAIN the White House has dragged its feet.

This is truly disappointing. Mr. President, Democrats are unenthusiastic because they feel that you have tended to concede too much too soon, when there is no such thing as bipartisan support for anything anymore. We must fight, and convince the American people that it is the Party of No Deal that is blocking progress, and that it is Democrats who stand for jobs, reigning in financial abuses, etc. You don't need to be told that the public overwhelmingly supports a public option... much of the reason the crappy bill now before Congress has such weak support is because it is so poor on cost containment and choice for non-employer market folks that it appears hardly worth passing to many. So why can't you at least TRY to get a bill with public option passed? Many in your party look at this scenario and shake their heads, concluding you never really supported it in the first place. And the evidence isn't too clear that you ever did, sadly.

Next comes financial reform, assuming some miserable excuse for a health care reform bill passes. The Dodd bill sucks. That's plain. The president just MUST fight for a much more robust bill. The Tea Partiers have hijacked the anger of much of the public by appearing to be more opposed to Wall Street's excesses than Democrats in Congress and the White House. The only way to change that impression is to DEMAND real reform, and fight like hell for it. Let's see some righteous anger. Let's see town halls, fireside chats (buy half hours on TV... the base will contribute for that if they feel the President is on our side). Convey to the people that the President is on their side and will whip congress into shape to get it done!

Thank you. 

15 March 2010

Paul Ryan, typical GOP right wing lying hypocrite

If in doubt that Paul Ryan, the author of the GOP "Roadmap" model budget which actually increases deficits, cuts core social programs which are historically popular (particularly medicare and social security), dramatically shifts wealth to the rich and increases taxes on the middle class, is a lying hypocrite like most right wingers, see this

12 March 2010

Clinton right to rebuke Netanyahu

I approve entirely of the tack taken by Secy of State Clinton in sharply condemning Israel's provocative and decidedly unhelpful announcement of additional settlements in East Jerusalem. To my mind, it's high time the obstreperous conduct of the Israeli right wing was condemned in the strongest possible terms, as presenting a huge obstacle to any chance of lasting peace in Palestine.

Krugman on Three Big Health Care Reform Myths

Despite the usual right-wing (= "lying hypocrite") smears, Paul Krugman is actually pretty moderate in his assessments of the actual impacts of legislation, as today's column on three big health care reform myths attests.

11 March 2010

CO Republican Nutcase calls Social Security a Ponzi Scheme

I love it when Right Wing Republicans campaign against social security, the most popular social program in U.S. History. Keep it up, Repubs. This will help Democrats more than you can imagine (with your teeny-tiny little minds).

Ryan Roadmap: Nihilistic Civilization Destroyer

It seems very telling to me, that legitimate experts find that the mean-spirited and nihilistic "roadmap" submitted by Right Wing Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), supposedly to reduce deficits going forward, actually not only does not do this, it actually increases deficits, increases taxes the middle class, and destroys the social safety net which this country decided in the midst of the Great Depression 70 years ago, was the bare minimum we must do as a civilized society to care for our citizens in need. 

Look in vain, however, for mention of these facts in the mainstream media.

Why does no one ask the obvious question: why should we be cutting taxes for the wealthy still further? They already pay far less as a percentage of income than they did fifty years ago, when our country was so prosperous (Glenn Beck's golden age), and have already reaped the benefit of multiple broad cuts in taxes. I can see no rationale other than sheer greed and lack of concern for the future of our country to slash taxes on the rich still further. Why, then, are Democrats so fearful of lodging the obvious accusation against these people: that they are unpatriotic? Because, as I see it, that is exactly what they are.

Taxes are the price of civilization, and unwillingness to bear the fair burden of supporting your country's continued stable existence is just as unpatriotic as refusing to defend her against foreign enemies. 

10 March 2010

Support Howard Dean's Democracy for America

Please support Democracy for America, Howard Dean's Political Action organization, which is currently pressing Senators to support a public option through reconciliation (currently 38 Democratic senators (and no Republicans, of course)) have agreed to do so.

02 March 2010

E-mailing Senators to Support Public Option via Reconciliation

I sent this message to every one of the Democrats who have so far not announced support for Public Option via reconciliation:
Dear Sen. x:

Please join 33 of your colleagues in declaring support for a Public Option via the Health Care Reconciliation Bill.

If enough Senators make clear they will vote for this, maybe the White House will exercise leadership and urge its passage.

65% of Americans favor a public option!

Thank you.

David Studhalter

How about favoring a DEMOCRATIC health care idea, Mr. President?

I see where the President sent a letter to the congressional caucus saying he likes four of the Republicans' ideas on health care. Fine, and these aren't exceptional or objectionable (although I oppose pressuring people to enroll in HSAs in place of real insurance), but couldn't he also have taken the opportunity to say he also likes a Democratic idea that's not in the current drafts, namely, the public option favored by 65% of the public!? For CRYING OUT LOUD ALREADY!!? Sheesh

01 March 2010

Please Support Barbara Boxer's reelection campaign

Californians! Or others who care about progressive voices in the Senate:

Please support Barbara Boxer's re-election campaign. The Right in this state is determined to defeat her, and in this anemic year for Democratic energy and political moxie, she could be in trouble! Thank you.

Link here.

Hall of Shame in the Democratic Caucus in the Senate

I've made clear my view that when people who call themselves Democrats prove that they don't even come close to representing what the majority of Democrats believe in, they should be challenged in primaries, and replaced if possible by real Democrats. There's nothing to lose, because these people are not really Democrats anyway, and they stand in the way of the kinds of reform and change that people voted for President Obama to see happen.

Here's a list of Senators whom I think Democrats should work to defeat in their next primaries:

Max Baucus
Ben Nelson
Mary Landrieu
Blanche Lincoln
Dianne Feinstein
Kent Conrad 
and, of course, Joe ('Say No!') Lieberman, who isn't a Democrat anyway

A week ago, I would've included Evan Bayh, but he fortunately decided to quit politics. Good idea, I wish all of these people would follow his lead. Ditto Byron Dorgan, although he has a bit more integrity. Unfortunately, we now are given to understand that Ellsworth, who is the Dem. running to replace Bayh, is worse.

Sen. Feinstein is pretty good on social issues, but she's horrible on civil liberties and 'national security' issues, and has repeatedly demonstrated that she cares nothing for the views of the majority of her constituents. She should retire, and let someone take over who is more in tune with what Democrats in California by and large support.

My letter to the White House today: put PUBLIC OPTION in the Reconciliation Bill (for crying out loud!)

With the announcements today bringing the total number of the Democratic Senate caucus pledging support for a meaningful Public Option in a reconciliation bill to 30, it is time for the White House to demonstrate some real leadership and push for this in order to bring along the remaining 20 Senators needed to pass it.

It just amazes me that Democrats think the public will be pleased, and vote for them, when they compromise away real reform before votes have even been taken. The reason the public has "soured" on health care reform is not because they don't want real health reform, it's because the Democratic party has botched this process, and passed a bill in the Senate with all kinds of unsavory "deals" and precious little to actually control costs (like the Public Option will!). By putting this essential reform into the final bill, and corralling enough Senators to vote for it, both the President and Congress will be seen to have finally exercised some real leadership ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE, and not special interests. THIS is what garners support in mid-term elections. The endless deal-making and compromising before there are even negotiations is what makes people who voted for the President in 2008 vote, however irrationally, for the other party, out of sheer frustration.

Thank you.
David Studhalter