Friday, July 24, 2009

That's Some Spirited Revolution You Got There

Let me see if I can get this straight. Two days ago, the founder of Free Republic, the flagship of the conservative intertubes, basically issued a Fatwah against the entire U.S. government. "The govmit is oppressing us, taking away our guns and bibles, imprisoning us in FEMA trailers, and so on, so we have a natural right to rebel and throw off said oppressive govmit, which is illegally headed by a muslim born in Kenya." Sounds pretty provocative. They even want to unilaterally dispense with some Constitutional Amendments in the process. And while the call to arms is obstensibly peaceful--they merely want everyone in the gov to resign--there's no telling what happens if this demand is disobeyed. Could get violent.

But fear not. They don't really mean it. Stay calm. Because this week, barely a day after Free Republic's call for holy war, or at least for state conventions across the heartland to secede, conservatives got all in a snit because an uppity black man in his own house in the middle of the day in a pretty swanky neighborhood protested being arrested for contempt of cop. And the illegal muslim president said the cops acted "stupidly". This was too much for the die hard patriotic rebels in the conservative movement who, immediately after collapsing onto their fainting couches at such an affront to law and order, rushed to defend the right of socialized police forces everywhere to unapologetically take away a person's Liberty and Freedom, and arrest anyone anywhere for whatever reason, even if the charges are bogus and have to be dropped later.


Not sure what this means for the conservative revolution and the spirit of '09. What happens if during their god-given right to purge the country of heretics, liberals, and humanists, these conservatives are approached nicely by the men in blue and told to stand down? I shudder to think. With this kind of meekness, defeatism, and cut-and-runism, how can we ever hope to have a non-ballot-box revolution?

The Do-Nothing Caucus

Not sure who’s been spiking Steven Pearlstein's coffee, but this observation by someone in the press is welcome:

The challenge for the Blue Dogs is that they want an America where everyone has insurance but are reluctant to force workers to buy it or employers to help pay for it.

They understand that achieving universal coverage will require subsidies for low-income workers and small businesses, but they insist that none of those changes add to the federal deficit or raise anyone's taxes.

They want to introduce more competition into the private insurance market, but not if it comes from a government-run insurance plan.

They complain constantly about the need to rein in runaway Medicare costs while at the same time demanding higher Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals in rural areas.

The fact is, that unless you have an abortion-restriction idea, or want to eliminate the right of workers to unionize, or have a new grand scheme for "tort reform", the "blue dogs" aren't interested.

Meanwhile, a news flash: McCain voters don't like Obama's health care plan:

Like many in the country, Mr. Brown, a 36-year-old father of four who lives in an Atlanta suburb, has grown increasingly anxious about Washington’s efforts to reconfigure health care and what it may mean for his middle-class family. Although he and his wife, Judith, supported John McCain in the presidential race, they find Mr. Obama an earnest and compelling pitchman. But they remain frustrated by the lack of available detail about his plan’s contours and cost.

"The bottom line is there are so many unknowns," said Ms. Brown, 35, who works part time at her church and cares for her young children. "What we do know is there is going to be more government control, and with more control you’re going to have fewer choices. It’s an innate part of being American to have those choices."


But the Browns said Mr. Obama and the Democrats had not convinced them of the need for radical change. They said the notion of establishing a new government health plan to compete against private insurers seemed un-American. They questioned the wisdom and fairness of taxing the rich. And they said individuals should bear more responsibility for staying healthy.

"I know the system is not perfect, but I’m not completely convinced it’s broken," Mr. Brown said. "And even if it’s broken, I’m not sure the government is the solution."

I see. So government "control" means no or fewer innately American guaranteed, employer provided "choices", but the addition of a government health plan "choice" to compete against other private plans is un-American. Teh stupid. It hurts.

I also guess this dude hasn't heard about Medicare. Or Medicaid. Or Social Security. Morans!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just Do It

I've been reluctant to delve too deeply into the health care reform debate, mostly because I just haven't kept up with all the ins and outs of the policy details over the years, so I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about (not that that has ever stopped me before). Better to leave the arguments to people like this, and this dude.

Nonetheless, even though the cat's pretty much already out of the bag in terms of political strategery, here are my thoughts, driven in part by worries over the current stalemate and reactions to Obama's presser last night.

1. Drop the word "reform" from the issue. It sounds too much like "overhaul" and my guess is that's what scares some people, many of whom already have coverage, and provides openings for obstructionists.

2. Focus on the basic goals--expanding access and reducing costs. The first, it seems to me, needs to be addressed by something like a public option, a Medicare-like buy-in. My sense from most polls and political discussion generally is that this is seen by much of the public as a worthwhile objective. The second is related to the first, that the problems of cost are partly a function of higher cost, profit-driven system that's inefficient. Expanding access through a public option could help lower costs.

3. Don't make a big deal of it. Whether in some objective sense the American health care system is in crisis, I'm not sure the public has been so receptive to such an appeal (see: 1994). Leave the alarmism for the conservatives, many of whose concerns have been aptly demonstrated as contradictory.

4. Keep the bill as simple as possible, try to address any reasonable concerns Democratic opponents might have, and if their objections aren't reasonable, subject them to public ridicule. Reach out to certain select Republicans, but since Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congress, don't fret too much about bipartisanship.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The "birthers" are sore losers. Plain and simple.

Gosh, times are gettin' so rough, a Republican congressman can't even go to his own townhalls anymore.

Look. In addition to being psycho nutjobs, the "birthers" are just sore losers. Plain and simple.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Giving the blue dog dems what they want

From TPM I learn that the blue dog dems are unhappy with the pace of health reform legislation--or that it is being discussed at all--and want Obama and everybody else to slow the hell down on it.

Since these loyal blue dog dems seem to have too much going on for the next five months--maybe they all have really hot dates or something--I thought I would try to solve the impasse by suggesting some alternative timelines for reform, which I hope the loyal blue dog dems will like.

1. December '10 after the congressional elections, that way if the Republicans should happen to pick up even one seat in either house, the Blue Dogs can claim that the public just issued a stinging rebuke to Obama's health reform efforts and any reform if it precedes at all, should be delayed for an indefinite period.

2. December '12, after the presidential elections. If Obama wins by a margin smaller than 8% or so, the Blue Dogs can claim that he lacks a mandate, etc. If Obama loses, then of course, the Blue Dogs can spend their time kissing Repub as#$@. If Obama wins by 8% or more then the Blue Dogs can say that of course health reform should be done right away, just as soon as a comprehensive plan to slash Social Security and Medicare spending is passed.

3. March '15, If Obama wins in '12, this would be an opportune time to cement his legacy during the time he's a lame duck when people really care what he says and about his agenda.

4. August '17, after there's a new president and after entitlement reform.