Healthcare Reform: Baby Steps

Posted December 20, 2009 on 1:18 pm | In the category Healthcare, Lieberman Watch, McCain, nelson, Politics, Republican Party, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

Watching the healthcare reform legislative process was like watching someone remove a huge splinter from my finger. Hurt like hell and made me mad. But maybe I will feel better when this particular splinter is out. Not really sure. The Senate bill that is finally about to pass eliminates the public option and the buy into Medicare for those over 55. It is basically an insurance reform bill that does little to control costs or to improve delivery. But it is all we could get due to Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and all of the Republican Senators.

Theories abound as to just why Lieberman continued his evolution into one of the Senate’s worst obstructionists. Some think it is because he is not so bright; others that he was in the pocket of the insurance industry; for a few others it was more simple and basic – that his core values influenced his obstructionist behavior. But the explanation that may make the most sense is that he is seeking revenge on the liberal wing of the Democratic Party for having forsaken him. He ran for president and got nowhere, lost the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat and then had to run as an independent. Whatever the case – whether it is one or more or all of the above – I do hope the day will come when the Democratic leadership will finally tell him to go screw himself.

Ben Nelson used his opposition to mollify Christian right folk in his state of Nebraska (whose population is about .6% of the country) by reducing the separation between church and state to get stronger anti-abortion language in the bill. Curiously, the day before he agreed to support the Senate bill he was lobbied by three religious leaders in Nebraska to support the bill; one of those leaders was a Jesuit priest. The other payout he got for his fellow cornhuskers was a permanent increase in federal contributions to the cost of expanding Medicaid in Nebraska. The fact that other states did not get this – or require being bought off – is indicative of just how venal Nelson is.

As for the Republicans, they are as hypocritical as ever. They fell all over each other to support Bush’s criminal Iraq War that killed hundreds of thousands but cannot bring themselves to support a bill that will save people’s lives. Sam Brownback is crying over the continued existence of at least a shred of the separation of church and state; John McCain has supported wasteful wars his entire career but cannot find a way to stomach spending a dime to improve his constituents’ healthcare. Olympia Snow had a day or two in the spotlight only to disappear into the Maine woods and Judd Gregg continues to pontificate with self-serving charts and elegant ways of saying “no” to everything. But they have done their damage. We will have a bill that gives the health insurance companies a windfall and avoids the tough issues related to costs.

If the final bill actually gets passed some 35 million Americans will newly have access to health insurance, children under the age of 18 will not be denied insurance for “preexisting conditions” and, in time (2014) all Americans will have that protection. It is a baby step on the way to full maturity and compassion in the way we provide healthcare in this country. But it is a start.



Posted December 15, 2009 on 10:04 pm | In the category Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin | by Jeff

Nominations are being taken for politicsandpress annual Cheney: Dick of the Year Award. With just a few weeks left Joe Lieberman is the frontrunner but certainly more nominations can be accepted. Ohio Congressman Boehner (pronounced bo-ner) remains in the running, and John Nutso McCain is a dark horse. S. Palin has been disqualified after failing the physical. But the race is still open. Final results will be announced in early January.

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Democracy is Coming to the U.S.A.

Posted November 14, 2009 on 2:45 pm | In the category Healthcare, Lieberman Watch, Politics, Press | by Jeff

From the wars against disorder,
from the sirens night and day,
from the fires of the homeless,
from the ashes of the gay:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.
Leonard Cohen

Three weeks on the road was a welcome break from the silliness of American politics but back home in the U. S. of A. and time to begin to catch up.

Good to see our old friend Joe “LOOK AT ME!” Lieberman once again finding a way to suck himself onto the national stage. While it is difficult to imagine his doing more damage than his unbridled support of the unnecessary and ultimately failed war in Iraq, his fighting to deny health care insurance to 36 million Americans is a pretty good start. Coming from the state that is home to 72 insurance headquarters, with three times the U.S. average of insurance jobs as a percent of total state employment I suppose it should not be surprising. Nor should we be surprised by his pompous, pontifical commitment to self-interest.

Also good to see the state of Maine – population 1.3 million (or ca. .004% of U. S. population) finding itself one of the chief arbiters of  health care reform through its Senator Olympia Snow. Having watered down the stimulus package to satisfy Maine’s other Senator, Susan Collins, Senate Democrats seem to be doing all they can to emasculate the health care bill to satisfy Senator Snow. All in the name of a kind of faux bipartisanship.

Then there is the Catholic Church hierarchy and its willingness to threaten the fires of hell on any Catholic senator ignoring its health care reform abortion edicts. This from the church that discriminates against women, forces celibacy on its priests, facilitated thousands of pedophiliac rapes, seems to believe that condoms increase the risk of HIV infection, and actually still believes birth control to be a sin.

One highlight of our recent travels: sitting in a Munich apartment watching CNN’s Wolf Blitzer spend an entire hour interviewing the balloon boy and his family about the great fabricated adventure that managed to suck Wolf into a kind of parallel universe where truth is irrelevant and a family’s bizarre hope for attention is satisfied by a lazy, gullible press, willing to track an empty balloon for hours on end only to learn that they were the victims of a fraud. This turned out to be perhaps the funniest TV show of the year. Can’t wait for the Emmys.

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A Tale of 2 Joes: The Plumber and The Turncoat

Posted November 8, 2008 on 11:58 am | In the category Election 2008, Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin, Politics | by Jeff

Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you?” McCain called into the crowd, “Where’s Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today…”

In the post-election haze it is easy to bask in America’s victory over racism and the incompetence of the McCain-Palin campaign. Or to relish the schadenfreude of the ongoing mud slinging between the McCain and the Palin camps. But a couple of annoyances remain to be addressed.

John McCain introduced us to Joe the Plumber and used him as an emblematic American workingman for the last few weeks of his bizarre campaign. The man is a certifiable ignoramus who misrepresented himself as a potential purchaser of a plumbing business, is not a licensed plumber, does not pay his taxes, believes social security is a “joke” and compared Senator Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.

Well, surprise surprise: this Joe has a new “watchdog” website in which he will “bring together individuals who want to help others, while at the same time ensuring our government keeps answering our tough questions.” You can get what is called a “Freedom Membership” to the website for $14.95. This will include a copy of his book due out in 6 weeks which makes him Joe the Speedwriter. One more reason to thank Senator McCain.

Joe the Turncoat is, of course Joe Lieberman, certainly one of the most unctuous, pious, arrogant men to ever grace the U.S. Senate. The only visual more disturbing than poor Cindy McCain standing forever frozen in place behind her husband at every campaign stop was the ghost of Banquo in Joe Lieberman drag smirking while his pal John continued to throw shit at his opponent’s good name.

Now Joe wants to come back to the Democratic caucus and keep his Chairmanship of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. This after attacking the Democratic ticket at the Republican convention, on the campaign trail, and at virtually every opportunity on radio and TV. The fact is that Lieberman did nothing for McCain – the Jewish vote went for Obama at a higher rate than it went for Kerry four years prior and his state of Connecticut came through with only 37% of the vote for McCain. So maybe Lieberman was actually working for Obama…….

But Democrats have to ask themselves whether they really need Lieberman whose career has four more years before the Connecticut voters finally puke him out of office. We shall see.

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McCain’s Leadership Deficit

Posted September 6, 2008 on 5:25 pm | In the category Election 2008, Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin, Politics | by Jeff

One reason we have political campaigns is to test the character of candidates under the fire of a campaign that more often than not turns out to be messy, nasty, full of fraudulent claims about oneself and outright lies about the opponent. Which means that much of what gets said in a campaign can and should be dismissed as bullshit. But watching a candidate’s behavior under pressure is instructive and during the past week we have come to understand that Senator McCain speaks softly and carries a twig.

A candidate for president makes many decisions but none as important to the country as a whole than the selection of the Vice Presidential candidate. McCain had two people in mind – Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge. Regardless of one’s party affiliation it is easy to dislike Lieberman for his self-centered, blathering pomposity but it is nonetheless possible to make a case for his candidacy based on his experiences and knowledge. It is he after all who has had to correct McCain on foreign affairs issues in front of the press. And Tom Ridge has been a U.S. Representative, Governor of a large state, and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

So how did McCain come up with Governor Palin? The answer is he didn’t come up with her – his ideological enemies in the party found her and forced him to take her at the last minute to satisfy what is aptly referred to as the “base”. As for vetting – we know pretty much how that went.  McCain made the most important decision of his campaign under pressure from political hacks and with limited information. So much for strength of character and purpose. So much for putting country before party. So much for the myth of McCain as maverick. So much for leadership.

If John McCain can be pushed around by the likes of Karl Rove what could we expect of him in the White House? Who will control him?

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Lieberman’s War Tax

Posted February 7, 2007 on 6:15 pm | In the category Iraq, Lieberman Watch, Politics, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

It has been easy to resist writing about AIPAC’s favorite senator, but Joe Lieberman’s suggestion for a war tax to pay for the Iraq War is kind of interesting.  Not that anyone on either side of the aisle is likely to seriously consider it, but rather for the entertainment opportunity it could provide for watching the Congress discuss and debate the Iraq War in terms of its impact on American domestic policy.

The Bush-Cheney budget proposal presents a case for reducing health, education and environmental programs to reduce a deficit that results at least partly through the enormous costs of the Bush-Cheney Iraq Thing. The Washington Times gloats that Lieberman’s proposal would force the Democrats to raise taxes in order to maintain those  non-defense programs, but of course, it could also be an opportunity for Americans to hear a substantive debate on the cost of the war and the trade-offs it has allowed Bush-Cheney to make.

Improve education for Americans or bomb some towns in Iraq? Distribute $12billion in cash to unaccountable Iraqis or help shore up Social Security? Pay billions to Halliburton to construct crappy facilities in Iraq or provide food to poor American school children? Spend some money on developing alternative energy sources or spend billions to prop up Iraq’s corrupt oil industry?

The Congress would not treat this seriously because it would force both parties to face reality and address it publicly and maybe even courageously. And of course Lieberman knows that, but his suggestion allows him to play both ends of the debate – support the war and maintain social programs but pay for it with a tax that no member of Congress would have the courage to support.

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Matt Taibbi on Lieberman

Posted August 16, 2006 on 2:53 pm | In the category Lieberman Watch, Uncategorized | by Jeff

In the current issue of Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi does as good a job as any I have seen looking at some mainstream press comments on the Lieberman fiasco.

“…Lieberman himself has been stumbling around like a deer that has just been hit and thrown 200 yards by an F-150, taking the utterly insane position that his candidacy — his, Joe Lieberman’s candidacy — somehow represents a fight against the “same old” Washington politics. You have Dick Cheney and a whole host of conservative talking heads, all pretense of two-party politics gone now, openly parroting the talking points of the supposed other side, the Democratic Leadership Council. And then you have Times columnist David Brooks, acting like a man high on laughing gas, committing to print that positively amazing assertion that “polarized primary voters should not be allowed to define the choices in American politics…”

Fun, lively and right on at:

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