Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gail Collins on Conservatives and Huckabee

From today's NYT:

[W]hy aren’t the social conservatives rallying around this guy? Unlike any of the major candidates, he’s still on his first wife and first position on abortion...

Yet the leaders of the Values Voters keep waiting for one of the top-tier candidates to change — a strategy that any woman who’s had an unsatisfactory boyfriend could warn them is never going to pan out. They pace around muttering that maybe Fred Thompson will start acting more ... alive, or that Mitt Romney will stop being a Mormon. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, seems to think Rudy Giuliani has come around on gay marriage. (Perkins should talk to Rudy’s gay former roommate Howard Koeppel about the time the then-mayor promised to marry Koeppel and his partner as soon as the laws change.)

Huckabee’s problems say more about the leaders of the religious right than about him. They’re united mainly by their hatred of abortion and gay marriage, and a desire to win. Considerations like who has the most Christian attitudes toward illegal immigrants don’t register. And the fact that as governor Huckabee spent a lot of time trying to spend money on the needy doesn’t go over all that well with the ones who believe that God’s top priority is eliminating the estate tax.

Lately, anti-Huckabee conservatives have been suggesting he’s soft on crime. The story involves an Arkansas man, Wayne DuMond, who was accused of kidnapping and raping a high school cheerleader in 1985. While he was free awaiting trial, masked men broke into his home, beat and castrated him. His testicles wound up in a jar of formaldehyde, on display on the desk of the local sheriff. At the trial, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years. When Huckabee became governor, DuMond was still in an apparently hopeless situation, though theoretically eligible for parole. Huckabee championed his cause, and wrote him a congratulatory letter when he was finally released in 1999. Then in 2000 DuMond moved to Kansas City, where he sexually assaulted and murdered a woman who lived near his home.

“There’s nothing you can say, but my gosh, it’s the thing you pray never happens,” the clearly tortured Huckabee recently told The National Review. “And it did.” If by some miracle he became the presidential nominee, there would obviously be many opportunities to point out that Michael Dukakis never sent a letter to Willie Horton celebrating his furlough.

Why do the leaders of the religious right keep sidling away from a Baptist minister whose greatest political sin seems to have been showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it? Why can’t they rally around the candidate who pushed for more government spending to promote poor children’s health and education, and reminded his conservative critics that when they talk about being pro-life, “life doesn’t begin at conception and end at birth?”

I think we have answered the question.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"The Standard Washington Way of Doing Business"

The NYT reports today about contributions to Senate Intellegence Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) from the executives at the two biggest telephone companies, AT&T and Verizon. Rockefeller's Intellegence Committee is supporting legislation to grant legal immunity to the companies regarding the company's participation in the NSA wire-tapping, eavesdropping program, which it turns out, was illegal under the nation's FISA law. AT&T and Verizon, unsurprisingly, strongly support the legislation. In the eyes of some observers, the contributions, a sudden increase from past contributions from the company's executives to the Senator, are indicative of some kind of pay-for-play.

But no, we're assured, this isn't really the case at all.

“The idea that John Rockefeller could be bought is kind of ridiculous,” said Matt Bennett, vice president for Third Way, a moderate Democratic policy group that has supported immunity for the phone carriers.

“That these companies are going to focus their lobbying efforts where their business interests are is no revelation,” Mr. Bennett said. “That’s the standard Washington way of doing business. But you’re not going to buy a Rockefeller.”

Somebody smarter than me is going to have explain to me how this statement is consistent and logical.

On the one hand we're told that it's quite natural for companies to "focus their lobbying efforts where their business interests are"---and by "lobbying" I assume this would include making cash payments to the politicos connected to the company's "business interests". But on the other hand we're told that in now way is such lobbying or such payments in any way indicative of a politician's being bought. Then what are the companies giving money for?

I guess it's just all too difficult for me to understand, this "standard Washington way of doing business."

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Have Too Much Health Care

I confess I am guilty of violating the new rule about health insurance coverage. Simply put, I have too much health care.

I went to have a physical exam today (I'm 41). According to the statement I received at the end of my visit, the charge for the exam was $385. That, plus a barrage of blood tests recommended by my doctor brought my total doctor visit bill to over $1,000. Of course, like the true welfare dependent I am, I did not fork over that much money. I only paid $15, my co-pay set by Blue Cross and Blue Shield and my employer.

I realize now I should have spent time going through the entire Washington, D.C. and Maryland phone books for doctors, asking each about their charges, instead of relying on the professional referral of someone else. I also should have delayed my bloodwork until I was certain that it would be analyzed by the lab offering the lowest price.

I sincerely regret my actions, but the devil--I mean, my insurance company, made me do it.

%*@# private health insurance companies! We need "market reform".

I see Matt Yglesias is guilty of the same offense.

Isn't "Market Reform" an Oxymoron?

Matt Yglesias visits Mitt Romney's website:

I was interested to learn more about Romney's plans for health care reform. So I clicked over to the Romney health care issues page where I learned that "The health of our nation can be improved by extending health insurance to all Americans, not through a government program or new taxes, but through market reforms." And that's it. Absolutely no further explanation or elaboration.

Aren't markets supposed to be, you know, kind of self-generating? Supply and demand, all that stuff? Why should government "reform" the market if markets are inherently good, efficient and unneedful of government interference?

Even More Belly-Aching from the "Values Voter", Part II

Indeed, for three days, it was a huddle of people with "shared values." The 2,000-plus participants banded together, bracing themselves for the constant attacks they expect on their beliefs as Christians. They are fighting on multiple fronts -- fighting the government, fighting pop culture and fighting universities.

"I think people of conservative beliefs, people who take their faith beliefs very seriously, find themselves very isolated," said Alan Sears, CEO and president of the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian-based legal group.

The first bolded segment highlights the culture of paranoia and victimology that permeates the fundamentalist community.

The second bolded segment highlights the fundamentalists' belief about themselves, which is that they claim to take their "faith beliefs" very seriously, and that as a consequence, they are a poorly understood lot. But do they in fact take their faith beliefs all that seriously? Do they really believe in and practice all the things written in their holy books? And if their beliefs are a matter of faith, and not evidence, is there a reason why people should take them seriously?

More Belly-Aching From the "Values Voters"

From today's Wash Post Style section:

In a session addressing the plight of Christian rights on campus, David French, senior attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, told those assembled: "You will find more political diversity in a suburban mega-church than you will find in an elite university faculty. Now, that has consequences. One of those consequences is professors do not like Christians."

You mean, like the political diversity at the "values voters summit"?