Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thank you C-SPAN

My apologies if this post does not load quickly or correctly but there are a number of video clips that all should see.

By now, you have hopefully heard of or seen this little fracas between Senator Lieberman (back stabbing asshole) of Connecticut and the wonderful junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken. In the exchange, Joe "Droopy" Lieberman asks for more time to drone on some more and Al Franken, presiding over the senate objects in his capacity as Minnesota's senator.

After Lieberman is denied his extra "moment" Republican John McCain expresses his disgust at someone being denied that extra time. He goes so far as to say he has never, in his 20 years in the senate seen someone denied time to finish their remarks. Poor old John, but it would seem that his memory is fading, or he is lying through his teeth because look at who objected to a similar request from the senior senator from West Virginia.

Thanks C-SPAN.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

GOP Bullshit: Paying now for health care later

Over and over again we hear the GOP senators on the floor continue to whine and moan about how the health care reform bill would have money going into the system years before the bulk of the services would be provided. They sit there making speeches about how unfair it is to the taxpayer to make them pay for something before they get to use it. We have heard every tired analogy from paying for a car a year before getting to drive it, to buying a bus ticket without any buses. Maybe it's all of these Senators' first day on the job and they don't understand how things work in this world.

When the government takes a big chunk of taxpayer dollars and gives it to Boeing, the Boeing executives do not hand the government hundreds of fighter jets before they leave the capitol. Unless the GOP wants the government to act like a California or Florida home buyer and give nothing for something. That works real well until you eventually have to pay up and you don't have any money. The more responsible course, and the best course for the government to take is to pay for things up front. I think that the GOP senators raising this stink know that too, but they are wrapping themselves in a cynical, disingenuous blanket of lies so that their insurance/pharmaceutical lobbyist puppet masters can continue to fleece the American people.

If the health reform bill were to go into effect immediately, then they would be constantly rewriting the bill as it was supposed to be passed in August. Picking a start date in 2013 might not even be that far in the future once the bill actually passes if Senator Coburn keeps asking for a full reading of every amendment into the Senate record. Then we might not be done with the readings before 2014.

Oh yeah, and before I forget, these are the assholes of the week: Senator Coburn (OK) and Senator Lieberman (CT).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Howard Dean on the Health Care Reform Bill

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What to do about: Banker's Bonuses

Mere minutes after the capitulater in chief held a special conference with the country's top bankers it became apparent that his tough talk on CBS's 60 Minutes was nothing more than talk. While he seemed to be quite upset about the large bonuses being paid out by banks that have just repaid their TARP money, he seems unwilling or unable to do anything about them.

President Obama's ability to think things through may be the biggest hindrance to really nailing the bankers and their obscene bonuses to the wall. After all, how can he seriously denounce a practice that his own economic advisors have helped to create and reinforce during their years in the private sector? No, Obama does not really want to do anything about the bonuses but rather would like to appear, to the American public at least, that he is angry and that he is going to make them do something good for the country to make up for it. Good luck America.

What he really needs to do is follow the UK's example and say "fine, you want to give out big bonuses? Well, we'll take big taxes." The UK is likely to raise over a half a billion pounds by slapping a 50% tax on all discretionary bonuses over £25,000. One of the biggest arguments the banks are making right now to support their bonuses is that if they don't pay them, they'll lose their top talent. Well, with a measure like this all banks will have to reconsider doling out those big bonuses or risk paying dearly in new taxes. If they still want to give their top executives those hundred million dollar bonuses they can, but then the taxpayers (we the people) get a taste.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Importing our exports

Why is it that throughout the debate over the Dorgan/McCain amendment (that would allow drugs imported from countries with comparable safety standards to America's) no one has the sense to point out that most of those drugs that would be imported are MADE IN THE USA? Other countries around the world have had the courage to stand up to Big Pharma and say "No way! We won't pay!" As a result, countries like Canada, and many European countries have substantially lower prescription drug prices than we have here in the USA, despite the fact that most of those medications are made here in the USA.

Instead of focusing efforts on trying to import massive shipments of drugs from Canada and Europe, Congress should be looking at how to muster up the courage to go to the drug companies and say "sorry, your free lunch is over." Congress and the administration need to stop giving giant welfare packages to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries under the guise of "health care reform."

And for those out there that keep repeating the false claims that a cut in drug prices would mean less money for research and development of new medicines, that might be true, if it weren't for the fact that drug companies spend as much, if not more on marketing than they do on R&D. That's right, perhaps if every football game on television didn't have to have 100 Cialis, Viagra, Lipitor, and Plavix ads then the drug company could put some more money into developing new medicines, after all, you never know when we'll need something for Restless Arm Syndrome.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Think we have a "do nothing" Congress now? Just wait until Sean Hannity's wish comes true.

According to a recent CNN Poll, the country is presently divided on who would do a better job running the House and Senate. So for all those of you grumbling about Congress today, imagine what it would be like with a 49/49 split (since Lieberman and Sanders are technically Independents). NOTHING would get done. They would never be able to even get past a cloture vote thanks to the non-filibustering filibuster rules.

I believe that the best thing for Congress would be for it to shed itself of the dead wood Blue Dog Democrats who have been holding up the Health Care reform process since the spring. I have absolutely nothing against them voting against specific pieces of legislation that they do not agree with, or rather, that their corporate overlords do not agree with, but by holding up cloture votes and allowing the speechless filibusters to take place they are hurting our democracy. Dump those worthless old mutts and replace them with young, vivacious progressives who want to get into government to make our country stronger and our people healthier and better educated.

Ironically, what the party of No and their allies are hurting even more then the progressive agenda, is the image of Congress itself. By blocking bills and preventing even the debate on the bills to take place, they are proving Congressional critics right in their accusations that Congress is a do-nothing body.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An open letter to the City of Ithaca, NY

Dear City of Ithaca,

It has been over a month now since the "odd/even" rules went into effect and I have had a wonderful time moving my car from one side of the street to the other in order "to facilitate snow removal and street cleaning" (Ithaca city parking information website). I must say it has been quite disappointing to witness the complete absence of any street cleaning, whatsoever since the start of November. I have, however, noticed the NOT absence of ticketing cars for not being moved when parked on the wrong side of the street.

To add further insult to injury, with today's first substantial snow of the season, it was even more of a let down to see the empty side of the street with 7-8 inches of snow, unplowed at 9am this morning. What a wasted opportunity to come by and plow away all that snow before anyone was allowed to move their cars over.

Finally, let me ask if the City of Ithaca has any employees in the DPW that are under the age of 55. Watching three nearly geriatric men shoveling off the corners was awfully sad to see. The huffing and the puffing that went on as they scraped off about 9 square feet of snow just made me bad inside for even witnessing such a poor display.

So let me propose a deal to you, City of Ithaca: we'll keep moving our cars over if you start cleaning and plowing the empty side of the street.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Inaugural Post Bitches- Do We Really Need the Senate?

First of all, I want to thank CP for the opportunity to join this common cause. As a long time reader, I look forward to delivering hot and fresh rants while maintaining the tone well established by the blog. My political outlook is different, so I look forward to seeing where the rubber meets the road, the sparks fly and the metaphors mix.

Remember way back to July 14th 2009? It was a far more innocent time. Tiger was just a golfer, and the Peoples' House introduced a healthcare bill that would cover all Americans. We all know what went down in the intervening months: Democrats ceded the floor to the loudest, craziest voices who told spook stories about euthanasia, immigrants, and abortions on demand. Despite the muttering din, Congress passed a health care bill, HR 3200. It would cover everyone and curb the rise in healthcare costs. There was a vote, 220-215, fair and square, winner takes all. Very democratic.

Now it's the Senate's turn. I get why the founding fathers set it up. It looks good on paper. We have wise, accomplished statesmen who study the issues calmly and cannot be swayed by the vulgar passions of the day. But come on, Wyoming has just as power to influence national legislation as California? California is 69 times larger than Wyoming. The Upper Chamber of Congress is apportioned so that small states- mostly white, rural, and conservative- elect a disproportionate number of senators.

Elections in small states cost less money, air time is cheap, competition is more relaxed. Senators are elected young, serve for lots and lots of years, and gain powerful senior committee assignments. Rich bundlers and corporate interests who deliver large pots of money have more impact on each election, and can weasel their way into the heart of even the purest Jefferson Smith (it was FICTION). Senator Blanche Lincoln (D- AR) is now potentially the 60th vote. She has tremendous power in writing the Health Care Bill. She can straddle the fault line, cagily concealing her intentions, and test the political water before diving in (’s-lr-office-becoming-health-care-reform-battleground/). Arkansas is the 32nd largest State.

While the game ain't over, and we sure didn't play it as well as we could have, look at the obstacles we (me and the President) are up against. Senators essentially each hold the ability to veto legislation that they do not prefer. They can collectively or individually block it in committees, with the filibuster, or ever more obscure parliamentary procedures. No doubt we will pass something and the President can claim victory. After this grinding process we will end up with a bill that Americans increasingly distrust ( I would argue that that trend has more to do with the water torture media spectacle, and less to do with the content of the bill which has been watered down as the support numbers slide. Democrats were elected last year, democracy should allow them to legislate accordingly. The real losers are Americans who must endure the tyranny of small states and big interests.

Hey Sam Brownback, shut the hell up!

I pity the highly religious people of America. Really I do. And some of my friends say it's condescending of me to feel pity. That I am placing myself above those religious zealots and see myself as superior to them and their small minded beliefs. Well...that's true. To use President Obama's oft spoken preface, "let me be clear," if you believe that the Earth is between 6000 and 10000 years old you are stupid. You (Senator Brownback of Kansas) should not be in a position to make laws that I have to abide by if you cannot grasp that simple fact. I'm not even asking that Mr. Santorum embrace the "theory" of evolution, but simply accept that the Earth has existed for thousands of millions of years and that humans and dinosaurs did not exist at the same time.

You might accuse me of being mean, or picking on these simple minded fools. You might feel indignant and ask how dare I attack one's religious beliefs, after all, this country was founded on the principles of the freedom of religion. Religious freedom is fine, so long as it is genuine freedom, and not an excuse to impose the anti-scientific views of flat-Earthers and creationists in an effort to retard the advancement of American progress. It baffles me how we all agree that those who deny the existence of the moon landing, the holocaust or the American civil war are crazies who should not be listened to, yet we continue to allow people who do not believe that anything existed 10,001 years ago to make our laws and determine the fate of the nation.

What if we applied the spirit of the Hyde amendment to all laws?

Listening to C-Span today, I heard Senators Voinovich and Senator Enzi talk about how important it is to apply the Hyde Amendment (that bans federal funding for abortions) to the current Health Reform bill. They continue to say how federal monies going to abortions would compel millions of Americans to pay for things they morally oppose and it would be unfair to use their federal dollars to fund something so abhorrent to their being. While I disagree wholeheartedly with this stance vis-a-vis abortion restrictions, I started to wonder why we don't have a Hyde amendment on the military spending bills.

I was vehemently opposed to the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions on the moral grounds that we would be taking the lives of hundreds or thousands of our own men and women, as well as potentially millions of Afghanis and Iraqis. Since there were millions of us opposed to the Iraq war then it seems only fair that if Senators Enzi and Voinovich get to withhold their federal tax dollars from paying for, or subsidizing plans that offer, abortions, then those of us who oppose these unnecessary wars of aggression should be likewise protected from being compelled to have our tax dollars squandered on the killing of Iraqis, Afghanis, and coalition soldiers in those countries.

Mr. Enzi speaks of safe guarding the "sanctity of human life," but is fine with snuffing out human lives half way around the world. Perhaps if the anti-abortion crowd cared for the lives of our men and women in uniform, or for the lives of the millions of civilians caught up in our bloody wars, as they do for the lives of the unborn, then maybe we wouldn't have wasted so many billions of dollars killing and being killed overseas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Newstip from a reader

Hey, I read your recent post mentioning the Stupak amendment on health care reform. I'm not sure if you've seen this, but executives at Comcast just came out in favor of reform, taking a public stance opposite of the Chamber of Commerce to which they belong:

Anyway, I thought this was something you and your readers would find interesting.

take care,


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Explaining fossils to creationists just isn't worth the effort

Chants of "Socialist!", "Communist!", and "health care rationer!" abound if you turn on the news and see a Tea Bagger rally taking place. Sadly, the irony of seeing simultaneous accusations of fascism and socialism on the same posters long since ceased to be amusing. As the debate on the Health Care reform bills meanders through the Senate, like a carton of molasses spilling across a frozen pond, the opponents of bringing America's health care system in line with the rest of the developing world continue to throw in new challenges and obstacles.

Senator Nelson has stated that he would like to put forward an amendment "based on a proposal by Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.). The measure would prevent the public insurance plan from covering abortion. It would also prohibit any woman who got the tax credit from enrolling in a plan that covers the procedure." He has made clear that he will not vote for the bill if it does not include these restrictions. Fine! So be it. Let him go home to his 156,000 constituents in Nebraska that currently lack health insurance ( Let him tell those families, and those 35,000 uninsured children that he doesn't want them to have health insurance because someone somewhere might try to get an abortion.

The unfortunate reality is that both the Stupak amendment and any potential other anti-choice amendments that are put forward will not ultimately matter for real meaningful reform. If a single payer plan were still on the table, and this asinine ban on abortion funding would mean that large numbers of Republicans would finally start voting for their constituents' interests instead of in the interest of their next campaign contributions, then I might even be ok with it, in the hopes that it would be repealed or declared unconstitutional down the line. But to give in on the issue of choice, when the reform that is taking place is no longer even Health Care reform, but Health Insurance reform makes my stomach churn.

For the past 30 years we have had to keep fighting the same fights that were thought to have been won already. The problem isn't even with the ridiculous views of the Sarah Palins and the Sam Brownbacks who probably think the Earth was created less than 10,000 years ago. Don't get me wrong, that's a serious problem and the millions of Americans that actually believe that nonsense doesn't help our scientific standing in the world, but the real problem stems from the turncoat, traitorous, backstabbing, shortsighted Democrats like Ben Nelson. A line must be drawn! These people need to be cast out and purged. Donations to their campaigns from any DNC or President Obama supporters should come to an end, and they should be left to rot in the beds they've made.

If they have such serious qualms with the efforts to make Health Care something that all Americans experience and can afford, then they should vote no on the bill itself, but they should stop this nonsense of holding up the bill with non-filibustering filibusters. Allow it to come to a vote and VOTE NO if your conscience demands. Democratic senators, no matter their view on health care reform, should not be trying to stop the vote itself with procedural wrangling.

Finally, I wish that those fighting for meaningful change, like the great Senators from Vermont, Leahy and Sanders, could organize their allies and lash back at the disinformation machine that has confused so many Americans this past year. If opponents are concerned about rationed care or medical services being denied due to Washington bureaucrats then they should be equally upset about the "rationing" of OBGYN services through the Stupak amendment. If people are concerned about the rationing of medical care then attack the Stupak amendment as a slippery slope towards bureaucrats, and not doctors, deciding what treatments can and cannot be provided to a patient.

President Obama is supposed to have the most cunning team ever assembled to deal with "the message." If only that were actually true.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just another day as a NY State Senator

Hiram Monserrate, a now (in)famous New York State Senator who took part in the senseless coup last summer, has just been sentenced to community service and probation after cutting his girlfriend's face with a wine glass and dragging her through his building's lobby. Apparently in New York State, it is ok to slash your girlfriend's face with a wine glass, then intimidate her and her family into backing your half-baked story about her headbutting the glass that was in your hand, but it's still not ok for two women or two men to get married.

Not only does Mr. Monserrate get to avoid any possible jail time, but he has also vowed not to resign from the State Senate. While the NYS Senate is already a laughing stock after this past summer's pathetic display of childish behavior (turning off lights while opponents were speaking, bringing two gavels to the sessions, etc) the fact that they will now count among their current members a violent and abusive cretin who STABBED his girlfriend in the face with a broken wine glass.

C'mon New York! What the hell? Vote this shitbird out already. And take Pedro Espada down too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gay rights are civil rights...even if you don't approve of the lifestyle

Now that the District of Columbia has moved in the direction of expanding marriage rights equally to all people, it is time for those who have fought so valiantly all of their lives for equality to practice what they preach. While it is partially a generational issue, and partially one of culture, many of the opposition voices in Washington DC were those of longtime civil rights crusaders who made possible the legislation of the 60s. Now they are angry and offended that people are attempting to frame the battle for marriage equality in terms similar to those that they used 50 years ago.

As Christian Davenport of the Washington Post points out, some of the anger and resentment coming from the former leaders of the civil rights movement stems from some notion that homosexuality is something that can be hidden, while skin color cannot. I would have hoped that in this age we would have come to a point in our society where the goal is not simply to hide what one is to be accepted, but rather to be accepted for what we are or whatever differences exist between us.

The false sense of indignity that is being expressed by members of the black community over the comparison of gay rights and civil rights seems to be coming from the petty rejection they feel towards homosexuals. From the arguments put forth over the past few years, it seems clearer than ever that they object not because of some principled stance to preserve the honor of Black struggle, but rather they object because they just don't like gays, and that is simply not a strong enough argument to continue to deprive people of basic civil rights. Because let's be honest, that's exactly what marriage is, a civil right.
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